Your 2016 Guide to Finding Your Adventure in Business

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 11.21.45 AMThe beginning of each year marks a time when many industry analysts and experts make their predictions.  I could tell you about all the HCM technology trends that came into being in the last couple years like predictive analytics, organizations changing from on-premise solutions to cloud-based solutions, or the constant and continued focus on culture, engagement and wellness.  I could do that, but I won’t.  Enough industry experts have covered those 2016 predictions and there’s no need to rehash them.

Instead, for 2016, I’m interested in what HR leaders can do from a practical standpoint to move the needle in their organization.  What’s my secret to approaching this task?  Combining industry knowledge, personal leadership experience, and a more fun aspect of watching the Tournament of Roses Parade.  It might not sound like a chosen method of guidance, but hear me out and I think you’ll agree that it’s an excellent way to get inspired. Change needs inspiration.

The reason the Rose Parade is inspiring is that it has a theme. Each year, a different theme is selected and all floats have to depict and represent that theme using natural materials such as roses, flowers, seeds, fruit and bark.  These floats are also typically high-tech and computer animated which adds to the fun for the parade-goes and TV audience.  It’s this continuity of thought and execution that leads me to a new way to focus my attention on the business year ahead.

From 1952 and the theme “Dreams of the Future”, 1986’s “A Celebration of  Laughter“, 2003’s “Childrens Dreams, Wishes and Laughter” to last year’s “Inspiring Stories“, I can always relate the selected theme to something I’d like to do or think about in the coming year.  2016 will be no different because the theme is “Find Your Adventure”.

When we think about work, the workplace and the technology that impacts those things, it really is an adventure.  With that in mind, every new adventure needs some guidance to find the way and lead to greater success.

 

4 Steps to Find (and Define) Your Adventure

  • Add to your arsenal- As leaders, we often find ourselves overloaded and struggling to keep on top of the business at hand.  A great way to start the year is to add simple, intuitive solutions via app that can aid in your productivity and management.  Try apps like Evernote, Asana or Slack and watch the improvements start!
  • Break processes- We all get stuck in ruts. Make 2016 YOUR year to break out at work and personally by altering your decision-making process, processes in your daily routine and more.
  • Seek to inform ONE mind-  How often do we complain at work, yet never seek to change what frustrates us?  Quite often.  We tend to think there is no option to make meaningful changes.  Instead of complaining this year,  seek out one person to inform and try to change their mind about a situation or issue.  You’ll find that once you can convince one person, the others are much easier to bring on board.
  • Analyze everything and tell stories-  With all the talk of technology incorporating predictive analytics, it will only work if you are able to understand and interpret the findings.  If you’re rusty in the analytics department, make this your year to focus on being able to tell a great story based on your data.
Making a difference IS possible.  
Leading change IS possible.  
If you make small, iterative steps, you can reach new heights this year and find your adventure!. Cheers to a prosperous 2016!

Can Professional Writing Harm Your Blog?

bloggingI’m siting here this morning about to head to the airport on a business trip and I’m thinking about this blog.  For the first four years, it was my outlet, my online journal of thoughts.  Sure, I had some posts that were full of research and took many hours to write, but many were just posts of what was in my head in the moment. After a few years, I actually became a professional writer, paid to come up with intriguing, researched articles.  I’m thinking this has harmed my blog.

How so?  Well, one of the most valuable aspects of blogging (and reading blogs) for me is the free-flow of thoughts.  Now, as I’m used to editors who look for specific learning points, referenced materials, or the “proper” process  of having a thesis and then giving examples to either prove or disprove it, it has changed what I post.  I find that many posts I write sit in my drafts for months, even years.  I am hesitant to share because they are not always fully thought out ideas.

The harm in that is that when I used to post them, it would spark comments and collaboration from all the readers.  We became a writing team of sorts.  We were in this together.  We learned from each other.  Well, going forward I am going to do my best to go back to the way things were.  I will continue writing professionally for clients, but on this blog, I will also add in some posts that are more random and that will hopefully spark your interest to join in a conversation.

What do you think?  What do blogs mean to you and do you think they should always point out a fully formed thought?

Weigh In: The Impact of Talent Management Technology Survey is LIVE Now

cropped-H3_HR_Advisor_300x100.pngH3 HR Advisors is proud to launch our first Talent Management Technology Impact survey in conjunction with iPractice (Perry Timms and Adelaida Manolescu). As the reach and impact of Talent Management technology increases, organizations are looking to compare their use to other successful organizations. This survey will measure and compare those impacts.

Please take a moment to respond and to share with all your HR friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Perks and Upgrades: Why Occasionally Spending More Makes Sense

Datsun B210I read an article that said that the Datsun B-210 was voted one of the ugliest cars of all time.  Now, just looking at the picture, it would be hard to argue that it is not one of the ugliest cars.  I’m not sure why they have it pictured with a train, because it certainly was not faster than a train- not even close.  And the color choice?  That 1978 burn orange is really attractive, if you’re into pumpkins.

I know it wasn’t the most attractive car of all time.  But, it certainly had its good points.  My dad actually owned a car just like the one pictured.  It was small and had no frills.  No air, no power anything.  It did come with an AM radio, but that was all.  I’m sure he bought it just to get to and from work.  He was a plant manager at a zinc refinery so it was definitely not a place you would want to take a nice car.  The chemicals from the plant ruined the paint on every car in the lot.  The reason I had the pleasure of riding in the car was that my dad thought it would be the perfect fuel-efficient mode of transportation one summer to travel from St. Louis to St. Petersburg Beach, FL.  That had to be about the longest, hottest, 21 hours in a car I can say I have ever had.  But, it got us to our destination and back home again.

We only kept that car for about two years.  Sure, it was practical at the time, but with a growing family it just didn’t make sense.  And based on the amount of time spent in the car, my parents realized that they needed a few perks and upgrades.

Really, the car is symbolic of choices each of us make every day.  In human resources, are we no different.  The economy is bad.  Is your company in the market for new HR technology?  A new recruiting tool?  Do you need help from a consultant?  I know the tendency is to shy away from spending.  But, that is only good in the short term.  If you buy the “practical but cheap” technology, you can bet you’ll be sorry in a year or two.  The economy will rebound.  Your business will grow.  Then, you’ll be back at square one and having to pay much more than if you negotiate today.

Some people will disagree, but I feel strongly about this.  Invest NOW in your company.  The time is right, the pricing is right.  Think about your next five to ten years, not just about today.

What do you think?  Is your company keeping spending on hold?  Are they spending but buying the practical or cheaper technology?  Or, are they visionaries who are taking a little risk and investing in the company’s future?  I’d love to hear in the comments.

Do Features Trump Attitudes in Workplace Mobility?

chairMy son is winding down his baseball season.  Baseball at the 11U level can be energizing, invigorating, heart-breaking and flat out tiring.  As a parent, you trek far and wide with a car load of 11 year old boys all talking a mile a minute.  They talk about the team they are about to face, the latest Pokemon cards traded or the most recent conquest in Call of Duty.  It’s a dusty, dirty, sweaty mess of boys and I love every second of it.

One of the reasons I enjoy it is that I have the perfect folding chair.  Now stay with me for a moment…I know that little league baseball, folding chairs and business may not seem to have a direct link, but I believe they do.  You see, I spend a lot of time watching games and sitting, so the chair is important.  Not only is it a place to put my body, it’s turned into a whole functional experience that is fully accessorized for each occasion.

The chair I have is from Gander Mountain and it is more than a chair and the traditional cup holder.  In fact, it has a full cooler that drops down and loads of pockets so that I can stock it with drinks, snacks and all my electronic gadgets.  It’s also mobile so that I don’t have to be relegated to the bleachers at the game, I can take my light-weight chair and move it based on the environmental conditions.  I can get the best view, avoid or seek sun and most importantly, choose who to sit near.  The truth is that I usually sit somewhere near home base and often, by the same people.

Imagine if we had that flexibility at work with our work environment.  It’s not a novel concept.  In fact, organizations have been trying to find the best way to offer mobile furniture options and configurations for over 15 years.  While some are successful, many are not.  It’s not because the furniture doesn’t have the right features or ease of movement, it’s because even though employees ask for mobility, once they settle in, they really don’t want to move.  We become tied to the people and location where we perform the act of work, whatever that is.  We tend to rely on the people around us to say hello every morning, to discuss the same tired stories, and to eat our lunch or take our breaks at the same time too.

So is the issue lack of organizations offering flexibility and mobility or is it the fear of the people?  What if we assume it’s the latter?  How does that change your approach when you think of the workplace in the future?  What changes would you put in place to truly encourage greater partnership, collaboration and movement within your organization?  How would you move the people with the “right” skills around the organization most effectively?

It turns out that all the features, options and mobile workspaces won’t change the attitudes of your workforce.  You have to start at the core….when you hire.  You have to bring people into the organization who embrace a spirit of work flowing through the organization rather than being “owned” by specific departments or divisions.

How does this look in your workplace?  Do you have a truly collaborative and innovative workplace?  If so, share it in the comments.  If not, why do you think it’s not that way and can it adapt to the changes in work styles that are coming in the next 5 years?  If change can’t happen, will you just wind up with fancy folding chairs that don’t help the overall future of work?

Do You, or Your Company, Screw Up Meetings?

no_meetings_funny_office_saying_sticker-r8f98b046a5c14c4eb859a1553d1b3360_v9waf_8byvr_512A friend recently shared a funny video about conference calls and what they would look like if they were in person.  It’s made the social media rounds, but was still good for a laugh one more time.  It got me thinking about meetings… specificaly conference calls, since I work from home.  I pulled up my calendar and just looking at 2015, it appears I spend anywhere between 10- 50% of my week sitting in some type of meeting.

Like many jobs, the meeting has turned into the commonly accepted way of disemminating information as well as a way to bring people together.  The issue is that it has become the most irrelevant mode of communication for many reasons.  Here are just a few:

  • Employees don’t have time to get their other work done.  I don’t know about you, but when I am stilling in a meeting or on a call, there is no way I can do anything else.  I sit there the whole time thinking about all the other work I need to be doing, especially if I’m one of the people in the meeting who doesn’t really need to be there.  This leads me to…
  • The wrong people are invited.  How many meetings are you asked to attend and when you walk out (or hang up) you’re thinking “Why was I just in that for an hour?”  All the time!  Meeting organizers need to think long and hard about who is invited.  As a rule of thumb, if you don’t plan on the person making a verbal contribution to a decision, don’t invite them to the call.  Find another routine way to send information for those who need to know, but don’t need to make the decision.
  • The meeting takes too long.  I was listening to a show about the TED talk recently and they said that TED landed on the 18 minute presentation because it’s about how long an adult can remain focused without drifting to thoughts of something else.  Seems about right when I think of my own attention span at a meeting.  Try this….make your next meeting 18 minutes.  Your colleagues will thank you and be much happier to attend any future meetings you organize.
  • Speaking of time….it doesn’t end when it’s over.  One of my biggest pet peeves in work life is that meetings are scheduled for an hour.  Often, even if the agenda has been gone through, people still hang in there and add more.  We’re all adults here.  If you tell me we’re going to talk about these four things and we finish, end the meeting.  Employees have 20 other things on their plate they can go back and work on.  Don’t drag out what isn’t necessary.  If this means that one meeting is 18 minutes and the next is 31, great.  At least you won’t be keeping everyone the full hour.  I used to have a boss that would say he was “gifting” the time back to us.  I love that and always walked out with a smile on my face.
  • Distractors ruin the moment.  This is a BIG no-no in my book.  If you’re leading the meeting and a person (or two) derail the meeting with nonsense, stop them.  It’s disrespectful to everyone to let that happen.  We’re not all here for fun and chit-chat, it’s work.
  • Late people interrupt the flow.  This is a related cousin of the last one.  If you’re arriving within 2 minutes of the start time, ok.  Anything after that, just don’t come.  You disturb the flow of the conversation and distract everyone.  ESPECIALLY on conference calls…”DING!” Trish has now entered the call.

When I worked at PwC, I had a good policy that if I attended a meeting and I was clearly not needed, I’d discretely get up and leave.  After making it known to colleagues not to invite me if I wasn’t needed, I had fewer meetings to attend.  The ones I attended, I was able to weigh in and add my ideas.  The rest….well, somehow the company still ran without me in them.  It all worked out.

What are your tactics for managing through the meeting madness?  Share them in the comments.

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Work

*From the dusty archives…

A little over a week ago, I was starting to get sick.  With springtime comes allergies so, like most people, I attributed my early symptoms to that.  By day two though, I knew I really had something brewing.  My main signal was sitting at my desk at work and suddenly feeling like I could fall asleep.  I felt like George from Seinfeld when he decided he needed a nap at work and created a spot under his desk where he could sleep.  I contemplated asking someone to come pick me up and drive me home, but instead, I drank a Coke and felt energized enough to drive myself.

Looking back, I know that day at work was not my most productive.  I was trying my best to stay completely focused but the illness and drowsiness impacted my ability to stay focused and accomplish all I needed to do.  Now, we all know that this happens to everyone.  We get sick.  What I am thinking about today is how many people who have long-term sleep issues come to work drowsy every day?  What impact does that have on their productivity?  Are they in positions that put others at risk? 

In a recent article highlighting the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep In America poll, “about one-fourth of train operators (26%) and pilots (23%) admit that sleepiness has affected their job performance at least once a week, compared to about one in six non-transportation workers (17%).

Perhaps more disturbingly, a significant number say that sleepiness has caused safety problems on the job. One in five pilots (20%) admit that they have made a serious error and one in six train operators (18%) and truck drivers (14%) say that they have had a “near miss” due to sleepiness.  Sleepiness has also played a role in car accidents commuting to and from work. Pilots and train operators are significantly more likely than non-transportation workers (6% each, compared to 1%) to say that they have been involved in a car accident due to sleepiness while commuting.”

Statistics like these are somewhat jarring but honestly, not completely surprising.  While many of us do not have transportation related jobs, drowsiness can still have a significant negative impact on work productivity and our results.

As a leader, have you noticed that drowsiness has had an impact on your performance or the performance of your team?  What signs have you seen that drowsy workers in a corporate setting are impacting productivity?  Share in the comments.

HR Happy Hour #201: Putting the Fun Into Analytics

A few weeks ago, Steve and I had the opportunity to record a HR Happy Hour episode with Mike Psenka, SVP of Workforce Solutions at Equifax and Edward Pertwee, Strategic Workforce Consultant at BT.  We had just conducted a panel discussion on how to leverage data and analytics for HR and organizational success.

Mike and Ed both shared some excellent examples, (both in the panel and in the HR Happy Hour podcast), of how, where, and to what effect data and analytics are making an impact in workforce planning, compliance, and to improve business results. There are some amazingly powerful applications for using data in a wide variety of contexts – where to locate company facilities, the effect of demographic shifts on performance, and how long commute times impact engagement and satisfaction.

Additionally, Steve defended Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, I told Steve that the number ‘201’ should not be said as ‘two hundred and one’, and we learned that a husband should never question the strength and intensity of his wife’s labor contractions.

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 McFarlane on 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 with some fantastic guests and I hope you enjoy listening!