Archive for August 30, 2011

What’s in your “Line of Sight?”

Almost a decade ago, shortly after moving to Baton Rouge, I needed to venture out one evening to a meeting.  I printed out my directions (no fancy smart phones or GPS back in the dark ages) and hit the road.  Confident in my ability to get to my destination and then merely reverse course on the way home, I neglected to print out the ‘return’  directions.  After all, as I bravely told Mr. S., “you can get anywhere in Baton Rouge if you follow Dalrymple Drive!” (note – this has now become a classic line used in our family whenever I try to give directions).

My poise and self-assuredness quickly evaporated when, at 9 PM while tearfully navigating the winding roads of the LSU Lakes, I placed a frantic phone call to Chez Schooling and asked Mr. S. to get on the internet and give me some directions to get home.

Sadly, I had no line of sight.


Lately I’ve been putting some thought into ways that we can increase and clearly communicate the line of sight for employees in our organization.  How do we create a clear understanding among our folks so that they can see a direct link between their behaviors and actions and our organizational goals and strategies?

And really, as I’ve pondered over the situation, it has become pretty apparent that (obviously) we need to ensure this clear line of sight exists not just for those long term strategies, but also for plain old everyday objectives.  Perhaps, to begin, we need to make sure we hand out a map so that we can:

  • Make sure the front line staff members get the concept that each interaction with a customer enhances the brand experience and impacts an immediate or long-term objective
  • Determine the best way to ensure that individual contributors understand how their seemingly “behind the scenes” work contributes to the strategic vision for the organization
  • Ensure alignment between silos departments so that each member of a team comprehends how their daily/weekly/yearly actions and activities allow the entire organization to reach the same destination…together


It’s been some time since I got lost while meandering through the lovely LSU Lakes area; I’ve also learned you can’t quite get everywhere from Dalrymple Drive.  At the beginning of that first journey in my new city I needed a map to get around.  But I don’t need a map anymore.  Traveling around town became, well, instinctual.  Now I just know how to get around town.

And ultimately, employees fully in alignment with the organization won’t need a map either.

Say What? The OH comments of ILSHRM11

Today’s post is courtesy of Josh Rock – hockey fan, HR-dude, and social media wonk.  I had the distinct pleasure of hanging with Josh at last week’s ILSHRM11 conference and rumor has it that the two of us conspired to flaunt the rules of the conference center facility – but that’s just a rumor. You can follow Josh on Twitter or give him a shout on LinkedIn.


I recently had the luxury of being able to tag along with a group of conference travelers. Being the new guy I wanted to learn from these people so I brought my notepad just in case. Well, I’m glad I came prepared as I was able to jot down some random statements that caught in particular parts could make many people blush.

With that here are some random liners overheard (OH) at the recent Illinois SHRM State Conference. I am keeping the identification of those who spoke these words private in order to blackmail them at a later date. (Note: I accept drinks, hockey memorabilia or straight cash as payment.)

These are in no particular order:

1)     “It sounds like somebody is peeing on the floor.”  I just arrived when this was heard, I couldn’t resist starting the list right away.

2)     “Nobody enjoys my boobs!” A great topic to focus on since men have no problem easing one’s fear of that.

3)     “Hot Chicks of HR ‘say what? We’re smarter than you think!” This conversation sprang into a full future conference breakout proposal. Coming to a conference
near you….

4)     “On top or on the bottom?” No more about the chicken or the egg coming first, this is the purest discussion available in today’s conferences.

5)     “Is your wife here?” ‘Nuff said!

6)    “We came together, we’re leaving together!” Sure thing, let’s go!

7)     “Wet Dreams & Choreography” Not sure how these two come together but, hey, it’s Illinois.

8)     “1st time I met him, I thought he was albino.  Is that wrong?” Somebody get Don King on the phone, somebody might want to throw down.

9)     “Someone fondled my head.” Sounds like a money maker – massages at the conference.

10) “There’s something on my face.” Don’t ask, don’t tell!

11) “I’m going in with the other foot.” Where’s the first one & how did it get there?

12)  “I’d go down on Buckingham.” Person, place or thing?

13) “Uh – Oh, Can I finish?” If you have to ask, No!

14) “Women country-wide are afraid to fight me.” Somebody call the folks at the UFC, we might have a new league – HRFC.

Well now that you’re caught up on this wealth of knowledge, go forth and carry the torch to your chapters. Wait, please don’t! The last thing we need is for this to circle around and give more ammo to those that uttered the words above.

Until next time…Peace!

Super Heroes and Super Powers

Perhaps because I came back from the Illinois SHRM State Conference late Tuesday night and then dove right into my day-job of HR at the crack of dawn yesterday, I was a bit late releasing this recap post to the world.  On the plane ride home I thought about themes and messages and major conference take-aways.  I scribbled a few ideas and tossed around some blog post titles and figured I would write a post this morning.

So I was intrigued when I read the recap post yesterday by my friend Maren Hogan over at Brave New Talent.   Apparently, in case you didn’t know, we are both amazingly wise and savvy women for we both had picked up on a similar message emanating from the speakers – HR people are ALREADY influential and have the power – we just need to know it’s OK to unleash it.


We, as a collective profession, come armed with lots of knowledge and lots of business savvy.  We have to bring our game in the “how to” every single day because we cover a lot of territory.   China Gorman, in her keynote session, posed some questions to us about the economy, P & L experience and discussed how we go about gathering information and synthesizing all the collective bits we gather.  And you know what people? We DO it.  Every single day.  But we’re too quiet about our role and, quite frankly, our awesomeness.  We go about our bizness, slinking in/out of our HR offices, cubicles and departments rather than stepping up and proclaiming ” I am a super hero.  And I have power!”


I had lots of thoughts about super heroes and power over those few days in Illinois.  Jason Lauritsen talked about Power & Politics (with a few minutes on super heroes).  I attended a concurrent session on Monday where Michael Hahn encouraged HR peeps to “have their say.” Heck –  we even got into a Green Lantern discussion over post-dinner cocktails (I’m looking at you Dwane Lay…).

Overall though, I gotta say it was very refreshing to spend a few days focusing on our future and our strengths instead of wringing our hands over the same old tired issues like “we don’t get any respect.”    But there was no superficial rah-rah kind of stuff; this was evidence-based content about how HR people are doing amazing things.

So yeah – I am a super hero.  Or perhaps a combination of several.  She-Ra? Wonder Woman?  Jem?

Who do YOU wanna be?

p.s.  and don’t even start with me.  Yes – Jem was a super hero.

HR: Have a Voice and You Will Be Heard

This morning at the ILSHRM11 conference I attended a session with Michael Hahn called “Beyond Compliance: The Consultative Approach to HR.”  With his varied business background, including time as a Financial Analyst, Michael provided a view of HR as seen by others and gave some pointers (and yes, re-assurances) as he talked us through serving in a Consultative Role.

Unfortunately, in his work with CEOs and other C-Level executives, Michael has heard many of these Leaders state that HR professionals do not understand that profitability is their primary objective.


It’s the bane of our HR existence isn’t it my fellow HR peeps?  It’s so easy to latch on to FMLA updates and the ‘new’ ADAAA and stuff coming out of the OFCCP that we go into auto-drive and churn along in “compliance mode.”  And we pat ourselves on our collective back for being smart about all that stuff.  Yes, I know – and of course it’s important. We have to execute the basics – flawlessly.  But re-read that profitability line – “HR professionals do not understand that profitability is their primary objective.”

So how does an HR professional transition from compliance-based to consultative-based?  How can one begin that journey?  Michael pointed out that this can be accomplished by following these three steps:

1)  Get HR aligned with the Organizational Goals

2)  Internally consult on Projects

3)  Become a Trusted Advisor


Prior to the conference, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael via telephone.  I asked him to describe some of the characteristics of a successful internal HR Consultant and describe some of the things that HR pros should be doing.  He shared the following:

  • HR needs to evaluate itself and its effectiveness in terms of efficiency & service to the rest of the organization. 
  • HR needs to define the value added activities they perform and MUST be able to communicate that value in the language of the C-Suite – ROI & Profitability. 
  • HR Leaders need to bring forth potential problems and potential solutions, especially contributing this insight during times of strategic planning or when the organization is shifting goals/objectives.  This is what CEOs want.

Michael let us know that it’s easy to begin this journey – this transition from compliance to consultative can begin by:

  • Interviewing and observing within our organizations 
  • Finding out what projects and initiatives will be driving growth and which ones are absolutely essential to success for our organizations. 
  • Being a Talent Pro – Step 1 is simply to ask our Leaders and Business Partners “What skills are essential to success on this project/team/for the future?”

Now there’s one idea Michael champions that I don’t agree with.  He suggests that HR professionals use the term “Pilot Program” for any new ideas they would like to implement as it allows some flexibility in the results and will provide a safer feeling to any teams/Leaders/staff with whom they’re partnering.

To which I say “blech.”  Wimpy.  Does the CFO trot out a pilot program? Or the CMO?  No, they come outta the gate with a bit more guts, not with tentative pilot programs. Their business programs are focused on results and evaluation and outcomes; they believe in them and state that at the front end..  And we need to do the same with our programs.  (Sorry Michael).


Performing personnel file audits and enforcing Fed/State mandatory poster displays is surely not exciting or sexy, but we all know those sorts of things are necessary.  But we cannot lose sight of the fact that it’s so much more necessary to be an effective internal HR Consultant.

So next time you perform that I-9 Audit, do a self-check to determine if the activities you’re performing are focused on the right thing. 

And if you aren’t sure…you damn well better find out.