HR Happy Hour #199: Employer Branding from the Inside Out

Recorded Tuesday January 20, 2015

Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

Guest: Jason Seiden, CEO Brand Amper

Jason co-founded Brand Amper, an employer branding platform that builds brand equity quickly and sustainably by putting employees—the most trusted source of information about a company—at the center of brand creation. For 20 years, Jason has been making professional communication more genuine and productive.  You can find him on Twitter, he’s @seiden.

Listen to the show HERE

In the latest HR Happy Hour Show, we welcomed back our friend Jason Seiden, CEO of Brand Amper, one of 2014’s ‘Awesome New Startup’ technologies from the HR Technology Conference to get an update on what has been happening with Brand Amper, and to talk about engaging employees in the brand and mission of the organization. Often ‘brand’ initiatives are drawn up in corporate boardrooms or by expensive external consultants without much thought or acknowledgement of what the actual brand messengers and deliverers, the employees, think or feel or believe. Jason talks about the importance and power of leveraging actual employees and what they actually think and believe and aspire to in creating, communicating, and executing the brand promises and delighting customers.

Additionally, we lamented the sorry state of Email in the workplace, (it is NEVER going to die), and Jason shared why he wears the same black H&M shirt everywhere he goes. Steve is 100% with Jason on this strategy, while I has some concerns about the mental well-being of both of the gents.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, and using the widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through)

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio

 

As always, you can listen to the current and all the past shows from the archive on the show page here, on our HR Happy Hour website, and by subscribing to the show in podcast form on iTunes, or for Android devices using Stitcher Radio (or your favorite podcast app). Just search the iTunes store or your podcast app for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your subscriptions.

This was a really fun show and I hope you enjoy listening!

In Doubt? Just Coach

picture from shorespeak.com*Sharing from the dusty archives…

Tired of spending 80% of your time on 20 % of your staff?  Tired of walking around the office or shop floor on eggshells due to the actions of one or two employees?  Do you want to demonstrate to the powers-that-be that you are a competent leader, capable of taking on more responsibility?  Well, do I have the thing for you!

It slices, it dices, it can cut a tomato paper thin….

Oh, sorry.

Wrong approach.  This is NOT an infomercial .  But if it was, I WOULD have a simple idea for you.  JUST COACH.

I know, it’s not the newest, greatest thing since sliced bread, but it is proven to lead to your success, your employee’s success, and the success of your team.  But, coaching is not easy, you say.  I know, but most things in life that are worthwhile do not come easy.  Time and again we do what feels easy in the moment and do not give someone some feedback.  We see an employee or colleague behave in a way that we know is blatently counter-intuitive to what is in their best interest or the best interest of the organization.  Well, as leaders, colleagues, and employees ourselves, IT IS OUR JOB TO STEP UP AND COACH THAT PERSON. Think you can’t? Do this:

  • Look fear in the eye- Don’t shy away.
  • Start the conversation- Take the lead.
  • Walk the talk- Demonstrate that you are willing to give fair and honest feedback DAILY.

Don’t wait for someone else to come along and do clean up for you (like HR).  By then, the problem usually has grown so huge that it involves performance improvement plans, action steps, and maybe termination.

You do not have to scream it from the rooftops.  Sometimes the best coaching comes in the form of a whisper. It’s that gentle, subtle approach that gets the point across.

So, do it today!  Go out and give feedback.  Do it to everyone you encounter, not just people who work for you.  Tell someone at a store or restaurant if they do a good job.  Tell them if they could have done something better.  Tell your colleagues, tell your staff.  JUST COACH.

Practice will make perfect.

HR and the Emerging Elephant

elephant-artsToday, I am thrilled to share a guest post by Graham Salisbury.  Graham and I “met” on social media years ago and finally met in person in 2014.  He is the Head of HR for ActionAid, one of the UK’s major relief and development organizations.  He is also one of my favorite bloggers (and people!).  Please add his blog, HR Case Studies, to your regular reading list and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Two stories. One point

Story One (Completely True)

A few years ago I was speaking with the Engineering Director of a very large aerospace and defense organisation (one that makes Big And Expensive stuff. (Did you see what I did there?)) about a new-fangled HR initiative that was to be rolled out across the entire business. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what the initiative was, but chances are it involved some form-filling and a significant amount of time commitment from already over-burdened managers.

“I’ve a question for you, Graham,” he said. “Tell me, why can’t we get one of our Big And Expensive products off the production line in under 24 hours?”

“Poor inventory management?” I said. “Or a failure in component delivery from our suppliers? Inadequate factory layout? Lack of 24-hour shift patterns?”

“No,” he responded. “There’s just one reason. The Laws of Physics. That’s the only factor that makes it a physical impossibility. So our job – and yours, Graham – is to eliminate everything else other than the Laws of Physics that stops us getting our products out of the factory and onto the runway (Whoops! Bit of a clue there!) in the shortest time physically possible. So let me ask you if you think that this HR initiative will help or hinder us in shaving time of the development and production process.”

Stunned silence

Story Two (Possibly True)

On the pavement of a Burmese street sat a man with a rough block of teak in from of him, and a chisel in his hands, watched over by a European tourist. Slowly, bit by bit, the craftsman chipped away at the wood, and slowly the intricate and smooth form of an elephant emerged from the block of wood.

“How on earth do you make something so intricate and beautiful out of something so raw and rough?” asked the European.

“Simple” responded the craftsman. “All you do is take away all the bits of the block of wood that isn’t an elephant.”

One Point

So, dear HR colleagues, here’s your challenge for 2015: do your trendy HR initiatives help get the product onto the runway faster, or do they hinder it? Or, to put it more poetically, what HR initiatives could you discard that would allow the elephant to emerge more smoothly?

Corrective Actions and Compassionate Communication

Photo via www.cirris.com/humor

Photo via www.cirris.com/humor

I recently talked with my mom about getting some very rude service from a cashier at a local grocery store.  Apparently, as she began putting her items on the belt, the cashier told her, “Get back! Get back!”.  My mom is very hard of hearing, so this confused her.  By this time, the cashier was saying it in a very loud voice and other customers were looking.

My mom asked what she had done wrong and the cashier began to berrate her saying that the customer who had been before her was running to another part of the store to pick another item.  Keep in mind that when my mom got in line, there were no other customers in sight, no other items on the belt, and she had no idea that another customer would be coming back to get in front of her.

My mom picked up all her items and put them back in the cart, wheeled to another cashier, and finished her transaction.  I told her that if it had been me, I would have left it all there and walked out….no way on earth I’d spend a dime in a store that treated me that way.  There are many other ways that cashier could have communicated with compassion.  Interactions like this don’t happen to us every day, but when they do, what’s the best way to react?

As I thought about it, I decided that I’d like the ability to write someone up for poor behavior when this happens.  According to common law in many states, citizen’s arrest is still legal if undue force is not used.    In fact, if you see a felony being committed, you can make a citizen’s arrest and deliver the offender to the nearest law enforcement official.  While I’m not a lawyer and certainly am not authorizing arresting just anyone on the street, I love the concept that we, as citizens, can hold people accountable.  Why not in a store or workplace?  I want to be able to make a “citizen’s corrective action”.

I want the ability to write people up in their workplace when their work performance is out of line. I would write down specifics of the behavior, give the employee a copy, and turn a copy in to their manager.  Then, the manager could make a determination if the employee acted appropriately or not and take action if necessary.

What do you think?  Would you do this?  Why or why not?

What’s the Difference: Do You Have a Job or a Career?

www.flazingo.comI was thinking today about the difference between my job and my career.  Many people use these terms interchangably.  I don’t.  I believe my job is the employer that I chose, who chose me, to come provide a service and be paid for that service.  I think that is only one part of my career though.  Additionally, a career is not just a series of jobs.  Although for many people who do differentiate, that is the distinction they make.

I believe your career is a compiliation of all the work you do.  Your career is the totality of how you use all the skills you acquire to bring value to your job as well as the other organizations you participate in.  That includes your paid and unpaid work.

The list is long…

  • Volunteering at an organization
  • Working on PTA or PTO
  • Being a scout leader
  • Being a coach for children
  • Leading efforts for your church
  • Writing
  • Speaking

We choose who we work with.

There are many times I meet someone and think of numerous ways we can work together.  Take HRevolution for example.  This is an effort I embark on with three other people in the industry.   I admire  them (Ben EubanksSteve Boese, and Matt Stollak) more than any people I’ve met.  We CHOOSE to work together. We do it because we have a shared mission, a shared passion, and a shared devotion to each other.  Then, we weave many other people into the fabric and work with them to make the event possible.  It may not be a paid job, but it is a skill building effort and helps my career.

I also co-host HR Happy Hour with Steve Boese, helped write a book with my HRevolutionize team (not published yet but awaiting finishing touches), partner with smart women like Jenny Payne on Women of HR, and constantly come up with new ideas with the likes of Bill Boorman, Paul Hebert, Victorio Milian, Lisa Rosendahl, Robin Schooling and Mike Vandervort.  To me, it’s experiences like these that make my career so much richer.  It’s these experiences that make me better at my J-O-B.

So, am I crazy?  Is there a difference?  Tell me what you think in the comments….

What Makes Technology “Sticky”?

technologyI was looking for something and came across a post I wrote back in 2010 called Mobile Technologies You’ll Want.  In the post, I mention several technologies that were still fairly new back then.  It was exciting to hear about them and I tried all three, however, four years later and I am no longer using any of them.  Fast forward to today and I’ve tried some new apps such as Whisper, Secret and Yo!  I may have lasted a day or two at most on these before I became bored and could not see the value of daily use.

So what makes some apps and technologies “sticky” to users while others are not?

The commonalties I see are:

  • Visually appealing-  The first step is creating a site or app that is visually compelling to the audience.  There are plenty of apps or technologies that can do a task or process but are so plain or inconsistently designed that potential users won’t waste their time.  Colors that compliment or enhance the content are best.  Dashboards or other structural design elements are also important.
  • Intuitive- No one likes to have to read through lengthy instructions.  The app or technology needs to give users the ability to pick it up and use it.  People are on the go with their smart phones and don’t want to have to participate in hours of training.  The other thing is that you need some basic instructions easily visible with one click.  That gives a quick glimpse or how-to should people need it.
  • Makes you want to tell others to use- I remember when I really figured out how to use Twitter for business.  It was back in 2009 and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  I wanted to teach colleagues, share it with all my friends and stop strangers on the street to tell them how it could change their networking.  A great app will be one you’ll want to spread the word about.
  • Understood Value-  This is where many of the apps and technologies fall apart.  Take Yo! for example.  It was colorful and easy to start using.  I just never figured out why people would use it.  If you’re not familiar, the app allows you to send the word “yo” to your contacts.  That’s it.  Then, they can send it back to you.  I guess it’s like the old FaceBook poke or like waving at someone across the room.  So a friend says “yo” at me…now what?  I still prefer a text, tweet or other method where I can use more than one word.

The last thing that I see as a value is a little more personal and certainly all opinion.  I think apps or technologies that do well long term also are not intended to be used for harming someone.  Some of the new apps being created encourage users to be passive aggressive, or even aggressive, in tearing down others.  As a parent, I am even more sensitive to those apps.  All social media can be used in this way, but some are specifically designed for this purpose.

What makes an app or new site “sticky” from your perspective?  What apps are you using regularly that we should all know about?  Be sure to share in the comments.

 

 

Workplace Observations for 2015: The Year of Employee Aptitude

queens-winning-horseOn this final day of 2014, I’m making some observations about the workplace for the coming year.  Why observations and not predictions?  Recently, I talked with Steve Boese about predictions and trends on an episode of HR Happy Hour.  I am very particular when it comes to using those terms.  I think those words are powerful when backed up by research or data that leads to the prediction and I’ll leave that to my work with my colleagues at Brandon Hall Group.   That research viewed over several years can possibly become a trend.  But without actual data, I don’t give much credence to predictions.

Since I’m thinking about just one year ahead, I prefer to make some observations based purely on what I have seen and heard in 2014.     

I think 2015 will be the year of focus on employee aptitude.

Why aptitude?  Well, by definition, aptitude is about capability, talent and readiness and speed in learning.  I think all that boils down to employees taking control of their own careers and not expecting organizations to do all the work when it comes to keeping them engaged or trained.  How might this play out?  In several ways:

  • Upskilling for retention.  Instead of approaching it as training the company provides (or forces), employees today are taking responsibility to improve their skills in non-traditional ways.  One example is online training through sources such as Kahn Academy, MIT, YouTube, etc.  With greater availability of free or inexpensive courses and information, employees can stack the deck in their favor when it comes to promotions.  The faster companies recognize and reward these types of efforts, the better retention rates will be.  
  • Wearable health and wellness-  The last year or two, wearable technology has seen an uptick.  Why?  There are several likely drivers.  First, with an aging population, you will see more people start to monitor their health in order to live longer with better ability.  The other factor could be the focus on national healthcare and people fearing that employer-provided healthcare could be coming to and end in the near future.  Either way, there is a greater focus on personal health and wellness and it’s easy to get sucked in.  Personally, I joined the FitBit ranks.  Being able to track my health habits on my phone or computer has been an eye-opener.  I think we’ll see this become even more common in 2015.
  • Empowerment-  If you’re looking for your leadership team to have the ability to focus more on strategy in the future, you’ll need to provide a culture of empowerment for the managers and staff.  Employees like having more control over their work and if empowered to make more meaningful decisions, they will become better collaborators and more willing to stay with the company.
  • Availability of usable data-  Organizations have an abundance of data, but it is not typically usable because they have no means to gather it together in an effective and efficient manner.  With HR tech capabilities today, it makes it more easily accessible and able to be combined.  What this can mean for employees is they will be able to see where they stand in relation to other employees, they can make better business decisions and they will have the ability to make those decisions faster than ever before.

Those are my observations.  What do you think?  Do you have other observations of what 2015 will bring?  Be sure to share them in the comments.

 

What Gave You Pride in 2014?

2014-pale-blue-beautiful-clip-art-reflection_0Well, there is no getting around the fact that as the year draws to a close, it’s a time of reflection.  I like to look back to see what I did that was expected and what changed.  I’ve been blessed this year to have more good than bad, and even with a few health setbacks, I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish, participate in, and the people I’ve been able to help and collaborate with.

I’m grateful to have tried a new aspect of the HCM profession, to have the ability to travel to too many locations to list, and to meet and spend time with some of the most interesting people.  I’m proud to have a career that is not only challenging but gives me the opportunity to work with people I really like and respect.

Two HR-related things that continue to make me proud are my involvement with HRevolution and HR Happy Hour radio show.  Both have been part of my life for over five years and I have grown as a person because of my interactions through both ventures.  

I have the best partners in both projects.  In 2015, I expect that both HRevolution and HR Happy Hour will take on new direction and that is an exciting feeling I can share with my collaborators Ben Eubanks, Matt Stollak and Steve Boese.  We hope you’ll continue to join us for the ride.

From a work perspective, the thing I’m most proud of is taking on new challenges.  One of those, HCMx Radio, has been some of the best learning for me.  Brandon Hall Group leaders decided we wanted to start a podcast in the HCM space that is different from all the rest.  HCMx Radio accomplishes that by incorporating research into every episode.  We’re the first to make that commitment.

If you haven’t checked out the new show, I hope you will and then add it to your favorites.  We post shows twice a month so it’s the perfect way to add small bites of HCM learning to your month.  Here are the recent episodes:

I am excited to see what 2015 holds.  In the mean time, tell me what you did that made you most proud in 2014….