Work/life Leader Series

Life ebbs and flows.  It brings all the sweetest moments and peppers in some of the most trying challenges.  Through it all, we somehow each find our way.  Over the years, I’ve looked to my mentors to guide me through with advice on how they handle specific situations.  With that in mind, back in 2009 I started a “Work/life Leader Series” of posts that would give various leaders a place to share their ideas and experiences on the age-old issue of work/life balance.

While I haven’t heard much about work/life balance in the last year, it seems that lately it’s resurfacing.  Often, I get asked by new readers to share my thoughts on the topic.  With that in mind, I decided to take all the posts from the Work/life Leader Series and share them here.  As you’ll see, regardless if you’re male or female, the consensus is that there is no such thing as “balance” when it comes to juggling home responsibilities with work.  Enjoy!

Work/life Leader Series

Work/life Integration Eric Winegardner, VP of Client Adoption at Monster Worldwide

Work/life Unity–  Trish McFarlane

Work, Life and Life/work–  Bill Boorman, Founder of TRUevents, Recruiter, Trainer

Work/life Blend–  Leanne Chase, founder of Career Life Connection

Work/life: 10 Tips to Implement Flexibility Programs–  Beth Carvin, CEO & President, Nobscot Corporation

There’s No Such Thing As Work/life Balance Mike Vandervort, Social Media Community Manager, Publix

Work/life: Zen And The Art Of Focustime–  William Tincup, CEO, Tincup & Co.

Work/life Balance?  Not For Me!–  Jason Seiden, Author, Speaker, and Founder of Ajax Social Media


Workforce Planning And Analytics: HR Week

Recently in NYC and at the end of one conference, I was granted a press pass into the HR Week ‘Human Resource Executive Forum‘.  Many thanks to Eric Winegardner from Monster and Rebecca McKenna from Human Resource Executive Magazine for helping me get there.  I’m always amazed when you go to a “real conference” vs. an “un-conference”.  The vibe at the real conference is so formal.  I was greeted by the very efficient team of people at registration and soon, badge and information in hand, I was rushing down the hall to catch a session.

One I was able to attend was “Workforce Planning and Analytics: New Face of Planning” which was led by Dr. Jac Fitz-enz.  He is a leading authority who specializes in measuring human capital.  You can learn more about him here.

I quickly got settled in the back of the room, next to Eric Winegardner, and we fired up our netbooks to take notes.  I wanted to tweet during the sessions but earlier I noticed that there was no wifi available to participants UNLESS I WANTED TO PAY $100!!!  WHAT??  Anyway, we were just getting ready to take notes when something shocking happened.  Dr. Fitz-enz introduced himself and one of the first things he did was ask participants not to text or use their computers.  I’m stitting there thinking, how on earth am I supposed to cover this session as “press” without being able to take notes?  This attitude is completely behind the times.  I will suggest that conferences going forward should make sure to offer wifi to all participants and should certainly allow netbooks or pcs to be able to take notes to bring back to the organizations.  That said though, I really enjoyed the session and learned quite a bit.

Words matter

Although the session was called workforce planning, Dr. Fitz-enz wanted us to understand that words drive attention and action. So  by using the phrase “capability planning” rather then workforce planning, you will be creating a mindset that is receptive to thinking in terms of the capabilities that individual employees bring to your workforce.

What human capital is about

According to Dr. Fitz-enz, human capital planning is not about, “filling jobs or putting butts in chairs.”  It’s about looking at how capable your workforce is and how that affects your organization’s mission. How capable are the incumbents?   If you’re not considering the skills of the people waiting in the wings, you may lose them.  You have to keep them challenged and progressing.  Human capital is about managing the risk of losing your great players.  You need to find employees that can anticipate what you’ll need them to do A YEAR FROM NOW, not someone who is able to do what they did for you last year. Dr. Fitz-enz says, “when you have about 75% of your mission critical positions with someone ready to step in tomorrow, you begin to see revenue per employee increase. Until that point, it’s flat, and research bears this out.”

What about planning analytics?

Planning analytics is about applying logic, accounting, statistics, and data mining to analyze current and historical data to make predictions.  But, what if people were your brand?  Whenever knowledge is your product, it is much harder to apply metrics and measures.  Even so, you have to find ways to tie performance to business measures so that you can predict.  In addition, Dr. Fitz-enz believes that in the future, HR professionals will need to focus on the future instead of looking at the benchmarks of the past.  You have to look at what is going on in the environment both internally and externally in the marketplace.  Only then will you be able to plan and get all departments integrated and focused on the organization’s vision.

On processes and effectiveness

One critical component of effective workforce planning is how well you organize your workforce. Is the facility they work in configured properly to maximize efficiency?  What steps can you take to improve productivity relative to the way in which people are working?  You’ll also need to take a hard look at your organization’s processes before you just decide to make and upgrade and throw technology at it.  That is not what will drive effectiveness.  Careful analysis of current processes will help guide what type of technology makes the most sense.  This should be done after you’ve taken time to examine each process.

Engagement is not correlated with productivity

This was something that came up in two sessions and really caught the attention of the audience both times.  I think it’s because as HR professionals, we are constantly told that if you have a high level of employee engagement, you will see productivity increase.  It just makes sense.  I think the clarifying point that Dr. Fitz-enz made is that while that may be true in most cases, there is not a mathematical correlation.  So, if the engagement scores increase by 2%, you will not see a 2% increase in productivity.  Related, not correlated.

Where I disagree with Dr. Fitz-enz

Whenever you hear an industry expert speak, you are most likely going to be hard pressed to find flaws.  Not that I was looking for them, but one thing he said I whole-heartedly disagree with.  He said, “Leadership is a finite thing.  There is only so much that can be said about it.”  In my notes that day, I actually followed that sentence up with an expletive.  Very unusual for me to do that.  It just struck me as an odd thing to say for such a progressive thinker.  I think the only way we’ve heard enough on leadership is when we are at the point where a “right” way of leading has been established.  I do not ever think we’ll be at that point.  As long as there are people leading companies, there will need to be many types of leadership styles to put toward making the organization a success.  Therefore, the discussion of what makes good, solid leadership will continue.

Thanks again to Rebecca McKenna for giving me the opportunity to experience part of the Human Resources Executive Forum at HR Week.  I encourage you to mark your calendar now for next year’s event.

I Want To Be An American Idiot

I’m in NYC this week for the Conference Board’s ‘Social Media Meetup’.  I’ve been getting some great ideas and insight from this conference and The Conference Board did a good job pulling together real-life case studies of companies who are “getting it” when it comes to social media.  I’ll write about some of the key learning and take-aways soon.  In the meantime, I have to tell you about something else I experienced in NYC that captured what social media can mean to you.

What is social media really for?

It’s the million dollar question.  It’s for collaborating, debating, sharing, and most of all, networking and relationship building. I saw it come full cycle tonight.  Live and in person.

I met Eric Winegardner (@ewmonster on Twitter) last year.  Since then, we’ve collaborated on a social media event (HRevolution), he’s guest posted on my blog about his views on work/life balance, and he’s leading the charge with the company he represents, Monster, as the premier sponsor of the HRevolution 2010 in May.  But, as great as all those things are, there is something FAR more important.  He is my friend.  I know it may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Tonight I went to a broadway musical, American Idiot, with a true friend.  This new musical tells the story of three American teenage boys as they face the challenges of real life in the post 9/11 world.  The score is made up of all the songs from the Green Day album ‘American Idiot’ and even includes some newer Green Day songs.

Other than being completely outstanding regardless if you’re a Green Day fan or not, there are definite workplace take-aways. This group of performers gave it their all for the audience.  It was heart and soul, laughing, and crying.  It was gut wrenching, eye opening, scream-in-your-face, tender and loving.  By the end of the night I felt as if most of the cast had left all their insides right there on the stage floor.  It was THAT passionate.  And I’m certain that if I see it tomorrow or the day after, the cast will bring that passion each and every time.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a job you love so much that you really BRING IT each and every day? And, I don’t mean just conforming, I mean taking responsibility for your destiny.  I mean changing our attitudes about work.  Those who know me understand that I’m passionate about all things HR.  I think I bring that passion to my work, but I’m going to kick it up a notch.  I’m going to approach it with the attitude that each and every “performance” that I am fully engaged, from the inside out.  There may be laughing.  There may be crying.  But I’m IN.

How about you?

HRevolution Sponsor Spotlight: Monster

This past Thursday on the HR Happy Hour radio show, Steve Boese shared the exciting news that Monster is the premier sponsor of the HRevolution tweetup.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am, not just because of what Monster represents as a company, but because of the way that Monster supports the HR and recruiting community.  As sponsors of the first HRevolution, we learned firsthand that Monster is far more than just a job board.

I’d like to share some information that all HR and recruiting pros should check out.  The Monster Resource Center.

Here are some highlights:

  • Recruiting and Hiring Advice–  They provide articles on how to be a better interviewer, how to recruit using social media, and how to make your company stand out to potential candidates.
  • Workforce Management– Need to find information on diversity, employee relations, management skills, global management, or employee benefits?  This is your source of great information.
  • Market Intelligence–  Here’s where you can research labor stats, occupational reports, market reports, and more.
  • Monster Training– YES, you read that right.  Monster offers webinars to help you do your job better.  Check out the training schedule to learn more.
  • HR Events– Intelligence  webinars to help you.
  • Economic Stimulus–  News and information on the economic stimulus including state specific information.

In addition to that, this is COOL news because that means you all get to hang out with Eric Winegardner (@ewmonster) and Matt Charney (@Monster_Works).  Anyone who knows Eric already understands that he will BRING the fun with him.  And, I am excited to finally get to meet Matt in person.

So, a HUGE thanks to the team at Monster.  We love you and will see you on May 7th.  If you haven’t purchased your HRevolution ticket, do it today.  There are only a few left and it will be sold out until next year!

Putting the Pieces Together: HRevolution

I’m a writer, not a journalist.

I’ve seen this statement several times from bloggers but didn’t give it much thought until now.  It’s only been three days since HRevolution wrapped and I’m feeling this pressure from everywhere to get information out about it quickly.  Many of us who were there have put out summary information or humorous posts.  A few touched on what it all meant and where we go from here.  The one common theme I’m hearing from participants and session leaders is that there were so many ideas shared that we all have this information swirling and stewing in our minds.  The next thing I hear is that we didn’t leave with a plan or steps to take.  But, isn’t that what you’d get from a traditional conference.  We didn’t plan this to be a one day, easy fix on how to revolutionize HR.

revolution-global-voicesI agree that something tangible needs to come out of HRevolution….and it will. But I have this pressing feeling that we need  to think it all through before we just throw it out there for the world.  And, since we are not merely reporters covering the story from 30,000 feet in a 60 second sound bite, we are all posting more in depth, in our own time.  We are  not only HR professionals, we are writers who care about the way we formulate and share opinions on the information we devoured.

As one of the HRevolution founders and also as a participant, I think two things need to happen:

  1. Over the next few weeks, as people have time to chew on what they heard and learned, they will begin writing more about the content in a way that challenges us to think more.  Keep your eyes open because these posts may not be called “HRevolution” but they will be speaking to specific points that were discussed.
  2. The planning committee will be reaching out to each participant with some specific questions regarding what we discussed and learned.  We will then use that information to come up with a takeaway that will be shared not only with participants but also on the HRevolution site so it is available to everyone.

Although there were many sessions at HRevolution, I saw our collective conversations bifurcate (great word I attribute to Laurie Ruettimann– thanks Laurie!) into transactional HR vs. transformational HR.  This is one thing I have been thinking about since I left Louisville.  If you look at the human resource profession as a whole, my estimation is that at least 80% of the people working in the field are fairly content.  Notice I did not  necessarily call them “happy”, but content in the role that they fill in the company they work for.  Whether they are in  a generalist or specialist role is not relevant.  They may have things that they are less than satisfied with but they will never push to change them.

Then, there are at least 10% of the people who really hate HR.  They don’t necessarily hate the company they work for, although they might, but they truly are not cut out to work in the human resource field.  The last 10% are the HR professionals who want to help make a change.  They want to lead, talk about the future, push for change that makes sense, strategize.  These people aren’t asking for a seat at the table because they are climbing on top of it.  These are the professionals who understand that it takes more than a diploma in HR to be revolutionary.  It takes a solid understanding of the business world in general and how accounting, marketing, communications, and all the other elements fit into place.  THESE are the type of people that attended HRevolution.  These are the people that will determine the future of HR.

With that said, there were several things I heard that are sticking  with me.  They are:

  • We need to be talking about stakeholders and shareholders- This idea came from John Nykolaiszyn.  He made this comment in a session and he and I also talked about it offline.  Several other people made similar arguments that it is empirical that we understand business and not just human resources.  The VP of HR is not the one making the big decisions in the company.  It’s the CEO along with heavy input from the CFO in most cases.  If you are in HR and you can’t go toe-to-toe with these people, you might as well go back to your cube and continue on as the policy and fashion police.  BUT, if you are well-versed in business and you have a solid understanding of your company and how it makes money, you can be embraced by the CEO and CFO as a thought leader and trusted advisor.  Call To Action #1: Know more than just HR.  Know about business.
  • Social media is not the answer- It’s a tool.  This idea came from hearing numerous people talk about social media.  Several said they dislike the term because “social” implies that it is not business.  I agree.  Regardless of what it is called though, it is only a tool.  It can be very powerful, just look what was accomplished through Twitter in terms of creating this un-conference out of nothing.  But, it is not the answer to what the future of HR is.  Social media is a mechanism for outreach and networking.  If used, you can expand not only your knowledge and experience, but your reach into the world.  You can share your ideas and debate with others who may disagree.  IT WILL HELP YOU LEARN.  Call To Action #2: Use social media as your Excalibur.  Not everyone will “get” it.  Use that to your advantage.
  • Sometimes you don’t have to know the ROI of something to start doing it- This was one of the more revolutionary thoughts of the day (thanks to Professor Boese and his tweet about the ROI of wearing pants).  On one hand we talked about knowing more about business and being able to equate that to terms the CEO or CFO would understand (like ROI).  On the other hand, there are some times where if the technology is new, it may be difficult to predict accurately what the ROI is.  That’s ok.  You may need to give it a try, then use your sales or communication skills to “sell” it to the c-suite.  The point is, don’t be afraid of change and risk.  How can you ever succeed (or fail spectacularly) if you don’t take the chance? Call To Action #3: Don’t let fear of something new scare you away.  Embrace your fear sometimes.
  • Let us never lose track that HR is a noble profession.  Act like it every day. This quote came from Eric Winegardner of (one of our AWESOME sponsors of HRevolution).  For all the time we can spend being introspective and repining about HR’s lot in life- stop it!  Be part of the solution or get out of HR.  What we do in human resources is noble.  It is about a lot of things but at the end of the day it is about people.  Helping them develop and perform successfully so the company will succeed.  Be proud to be in HR! Call To Action #4: Remind yourself every day why you do what you do.  Give yourself permission to be proud even if there is still more to be done.  Celebrate your small victories.

I left HRevolution and drove home alone.  I spent the first hour without the radio on, which is highly unusual for me.  Why?  Because I left feeling unsettled, like it wasn’t over.  There is more and there has to be because we did not come away with a true call to action or purpose to fulfill.

We MUST keep this going in order to come away with something solid, meaningful, and that will give us all a direction.  It will be up to each individual to pick up that flag- the flag of HRevolution- and carry it proudly.  Viva la revolution!