HR: ‘Merica Style

US_Flag_WavyAs any member of SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) can tell you, for 65 years the organization has maintained a strong political presence and worked to be influential in shaping employment policies and laws.  Staff members in SHRM’s Government Affairs Department attend political conventions, regularly testify to congress, and promote activities that ensure HR’s voice is heard when politicians and policymakers are debating, crafting and promoting legislation. Within the last few years, in an effort to enhance HR’s visibility among policymakers, SHRM launched the SHRM Advocacy Team; a network of SHRM member throughout the 435 US Congressional districts. The Government Affairs team also puts together resources for members and the public including the 2014 Guide to Public Policy Issues.

And yet…

… I’ve recently chatted with several HR professionals who made it clear this doesn’t matter.  “I don’t follow politics” said one with a dismissive wave.  I sensed a bit of preening as this badge of honor was proudly affixed to her HR lady blazer.

I’ve run into HR colleagues who don’t know who their US Congressional representative is, nor do they seem to care.  In a recent discussion there was no recognition when I mentioned the name of the state’s US Senator…who is up for re-election in 4 short months.  A blank stare, a few blinks of the eyes, and a resigned shrug.

I’m not even sure it’s a case of, as Tip O’Neill famously said back in the 30’s, “all politics is local.”  There are numerous US citizens (not just HR ladies) who have fully divorced themselves from politics.  Is it apathy or disgust that has led to many no longer even seeming to care up about the relatively simple and pedestrian issues that affect their neighborhood, borough or city?

I’m not here to contemplate the failures of the US political machine or the disengagement of voters.

I’m here to point out that HR practitioners are doing a great disservice to the profession and to their organizations when they don’t know – and don’t care.

Office politics, one of HR’s well-worn phrases, is nothing compared to POLITICS.

Time to give a damn.


image courtesy of wikimedia

Put #HRTechConf on YOUR Calendar!

hrt_17thannualDo you, like me, ponder the changing way of work?  Do you marvel at what technology has brought – and wonder what is yet to come?

If so then surely you realize that amid the plethora of HR conferences there’s one that stands out as unique for those who work in the HR space. The HR Technology Conference and Exposition will once again land in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay (October 7 – 10, 2014) and this year’s conference promises to showcase more of what attendees have come to expect including coverage of technology trends (mobile, social, video, big data, SaaS, et al.) and sessions highlighting the business processes – and successes! – enabled by HR technology.

I love this conference.  The discussions are about much more than the software and tools; the conversations move beyond “how” and “what” and “why.” While there’s bountiful information about that which is new or trending in products and solutions, the greater value comes in exploring the ideas.  Many of those concepts have been fully formed and brought to market, but sometimes the plans are still percolating right below the surface.  And the people with the ideas are right there – you can strike up a chat with them at the receptions, parties, cocktail gatherings or while hanging out in the Expo Hall.

I love those chats.

Naturally, attendees who wish to explore the latest products – and test, touch and truly understand! – can do so by strolling through the massive (and I mean massive) Exposition Hall.   In the Expo you’ll find the long-established leading vendors as well as start-ups that are relatively new to the HR technology scene.

The session offerings, once again, are spectacular; many feature senior executives and leading strategists.  Just a few of the sessions I’m looking forward to include:

  • “Making the Right Choices in the Second Machine Age”OPENING KEYNOTE by Andrew McAfee, principal research Scientist at MIT and co-author of “The Second Machine Age”
  • “What the End of the ‘Job’ Means for the Future of Work and Talent Management”Jason Averbook
  • “The Social HR Town Hall”moderated by Jeanne Meister and featuring Ron Garrow (CHRO, MasterCard), Ambrosia Humphrey (VP of Talent, HootSuite), Gary J. Kildare (CHRO and Global VP, Global technology Services, IBM) and Kelly Palmer (Global Learning & Development Executive, LinkedIn).
  • “Whole Foods Market Takes a Fresh Technology Approach to Navigating the ACA”Keith Morrison (Global Executive Director, Benefits and Compensation, Whole Foods Market) and Mike Psenka (SVP, Workforce Analytics, Equifax Workforce Solutions)

Also new this year will be the Start-Up Pavilion – an exciting space where new and cutting-edge companies will exhibit their solutions and showcase the innovative products they’re bringing to the market.  (The start-up organizations will also be featured in one of two “Awesome New Technologies for 2014” sessions; the other session will feature more established solution providers who are continuing to innovate and expand).

This conference truly offers an abundance of riches for anyone who works in the people, talent, HR, and technology arena. Plus it’s Vegas – so that’s always lots of fun.  Am I right?

I hope you’ll consider joining me at this exceptional conference as this is one that is not to be missed!

As an added enticement, readers of the HR Schoolhouse can use event registration code SCHOOL14 to receive a $500 discount off the standard rate of $1,945 (your net price will be $1,445!)  Click HERE to register.

See you at Mandalay Bay!

P.S. my lucky slot machine is directly adjacent to the House of Blues.

Building Effective HR and Manager Partnerships

cherriesHR professionals are responsible for aligning HR objectives with business objectives; devising the underlying people strategies that support the attainment of business goals.

This requires that we not only continuously analyze trends and metrics with a focus on developing solutions but also that we’re adept at relationship building in order to gain support and achieve results.  These relationships – these partnerships – are critical and we need to understand that we cannot possibly get stuff done without them!

After all, while there may be day-to-day HR tasks and deliverables we’re responsible for, and we may serve as a liaison between internal Centers of Excellence, our primary role is to deliver state of the art HR to our internal clients – whether that be across the enterprise or to a specific line of business we support.

The key for ANY of these HR/Manager relationships is working together to envision, develop and implement strategies that address competitive – and often complex – business issues. We must develop a shared understanding and commitment to:

  • WHERE we’re going
  • WHAT we’re trying to achieve
  • our PLAN for getting there

Of course we’ve known for some time what needs to happen across the HR spectrum: we need to develop deeper business acumen, strengthen our analytical skills, serve as performance advisors and – in many respects – evolve our thinking of WHAT the workforce needs are today.

We also need to be proactive in uncovering and identifying the needs within our organization and we must understand how everything we traditionally do (talent attraction, performance management, cultural socialization, total compensation and rewards) connects – as well as the critical role managers play in these function that have traditionally resided only in human resources.

Once we demonstrate our capabilities in these areas and build credibility by solving problems and delivering results then it’s time to commit to bringing our managers/partners with us so that we can transform these relationships into true partnerships.

I’ll be leading a webinar on July 10th for the Talent Management Alliance“Building Effective HRBP and Manager Partnerships for Organizational Success” where we’ll discuss the opportunities that HR professionals have for growing understanding – and building partnerships – with managers.  Specifically we’ll take a look at the talent management cycle and discuss how HR professionals can support effectiveness across the entire employee lifecycle and strengthen their visibility as strategic partners/advisors by demonstrating business acumen and workforce management knowledge while effectively creating, innovating, analyzing and providing leadership.

I hope you’ll join us!


Just Because You Can…Doesn’t Mean You Should

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen contemplating a course of action or implementing a new procedure/policy HR practitioners stand at a metaphorical crossroads.

In general the process begins with the question “can we do X?” which is a perfectly acceptable, and appropriate, place to start.  After all, as much as we may take umbrage at the relentless HR stereotype that we’re rule-enforcing bureaucrats who take great delight in policing every action there’s no denying that ensuring compliance and mitigating potential risk is an important part of what we do.

Yet…once it’s determined that “yes we CAN do X” it’s quite rare that the follow up question “but SHOULD we do X” is ever asked.

This doesn’t seem to rear its head in relation to matters that are fairly clear cut; wage and hour issues, EEO requirements and the like. Rather it pops up when there are nuanced decisions to be made or when one can opt to do more than is required.  You know… those times when one has the opportunity to enhance the employment experience and treat people like, well, people.

This has come to mind again after a number of recent conversations, discussions and consultations when business owners, HR colleagues and others have sought clarity on things such as:

  • Eliminating paid vacation and paid holidays for some (but not all) classifications of employees
  • Drastically alternating work schedules/work hours. Immediately. Like tomorrow.
  • Deciding that an internal applicant is not worthy of an interview because “we know we wouldn’t put him in that position anyway.”
  • Requiring an exempt employee to be on-site (8 AM to 5 PM) for the 40 hour Mon-Fri workweek even though a project deadline necessitated her working 16+ hours the previous weekend.  Not at the office Mon – Fri for full 40 hours? Just make sure missed work time is accompanied by a deduction from the PTO bank.
  • Charging employees’ time to their PTO bank for breaks needed to express milk
  • Opting to not disclose to an employee the reason for his termination

Ah yes.

Please…by all means…ask if you can. But don’t forget to wonder if you should.


“All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

Layin’ In The Sun,

Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things

They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done…

But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas

All Ran Away And Hid

From One Little Did.”

Shel Silverstein