Archive for June 24, 2012

When the Whip Comes Down, Who’ll Know Next? – #SHRM12 – @weknownext

There are lots of good things coming to the forefront at the SHRM Annual Conference this year (as per usual), but quite frankly, SHRM does an excellent job of providing good things throughout the year.

One of my go-to resources as an HR professional is SHRM’s We Know Next – a resource for business executives, policymakers and HR Leaders that provides information about workplace trends, public policy, and the future of work.  Good stuff, and I’ve also been very fortunate in that I’ve contributed some posts for the site now and again.

As HR professionals we work with everyone in our organizations and it’s critical that we’re aware and prepared to have conversations with our CEOs and Senior Leaders about workforce/workplace changes that will impact our businesses.  We need to ask (and answer) the question “What’s Next?” as we understand and translate business needs, organizational performance and stakeholder expectations into people/talent actions.

SHRM’s We Know Next site allows us to learn about and discuss those things that ARE important.  All year long.

Check it out; bookmark it or subscribe via email or RSS feed.  Be prepared for when the whip comes down.

HR of the Future: The Students Bring It – #SHRM12

Each year, during the SHRM Annual Conference, the SHRM Student Conference is also held.  While we’re here in Atlanta enjoying the heat and humidity, the students are also meeting today and tomorrow (June 23rd and June 24th).

During the conference, the recipients of SHRM’s Outstanding Student Chapter Awards are announced.  The Outstanding Student Chapter Award is given in recognition of significant activities within the following areas: compliance with SHRM bylaws, fundraising efforts, educational events, volunteerism, professional development, internships, mentorships, newsletters and external communications, social media programs, legislative advocacy, support of the SHRM foundation and participation in seminars or conferences.

I’m a big fan of the work of the SHRM student chapters and each year usually make a trip (or two!) to local student chapter meetings.  Apparently they haven’t gotten sick of me yet because they keep inviting me back.  Then again, it might be because sometimes I swear when I’m either (1) sharing an HR horror story or (2) getting all riled up about the good/bad/ugly/exciting aspects of our chosen profession.

So let’s send a hearty congrats to the 2011-12 Outstanding Student Chapter Award Recipients:

  • Eastern Michigan University, #5041, Ypsilanti, MI
  • Louisiana State University of Shreveport, #5335, Shreveport, LA
  • McNeese State University, #5393, Lake Charles, LA
  • Meredith College, #5177, Raleigh, NC
  • Nicholls State University, #5431, Thibodaux, LA
  • Rutgers University, #5154, Newark, NJ
  • University of Guam, #5356, Mangilao, GU
  • University of North Texas, #5017, Denton, TX
  • University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, #5333, Mayaguez, PR
  • University of Tennessee, #5254, Knoxville, TN

And of course I have to add that I’m super proud, as a Louisiana HR pro, of the fantastic showing by the three SHRM Student Chapters from the State of Louisiana who’ve been selected as Outstanding Student Chapters for the 2011-12 award year:   Louisiana State University of Shreveport, McNeese State University, and Nicholls State UniversityAs an added benefit, another Louisiana SHRM Student Chapter was recognized as a Runner-Up for the award  – Southeastern Louisiana University.

There is awesome work being done by SHRM student chapter members and their extremely dedicated chapter advisors.  Thanks to all of them for focusing on HR of the future.

Performance Conversations: A Radical Concept?

Yesterday I attended our local SHRM chapter meeting (menu:  seafood stuffed chicken breast and a delicious chocalte-y cake thing with caramel sauce) and heard my pal Ed Chaffin speak about Radical HR.  He led the group through a discussion of the things we should stop doing…and what we should do instead.  Some good and basic stuff including removing any talk about a certain piece of furniture, and the need to stop ‘sheep dipping’ – including thinking that one size will fit all employees or that we can make an impact on organizational culture by sending everyone off for a 1/2 day retreat.

And then Ed suggested that we “Stop the Annual Performance Review” and the traditionalists in the room clutched their pearls and clucked in disagreement.  Collectively the group cited the need for the performance review – compliance; having records; making sure the work is getting done; using the data for compensation decisions.

“Understandable,” said Ed, (paraphrase) “but rather than focusing on only those things, have conversations.  Provide ongoing feedback.  Think about how you’re driving performance.  Managers should be having monthly performance conversations with their employees.”

To which there was a reply “managers don’t have the TIME for monthly performance conversations in the real world.”


No wonder employees are disengaged.


I’ve chatted about this before (as have many many others).  But the model of the traditional performance review has, apparently, wrapped around HR practitioners like a comfy quilt.  On a cold day.  And no one wants to leave the cozy confines to step out into the scary, dark world where we hold conversations with people…not rating sessions.

When the System Fails: Customers, Processes and Capabilities

My family and I had an interesting customer service interaction this past weekend.  We had some out of town guests visiting New Orleans so we decided to book a few hotel rooms and all stay together rather than hop onto the I-10 in the wee hours and attempt to tackle an hour long drive.

Room check in #1:  Friday evening.  Reservation ‘not in the system’ for a 3 night stay that had been booked several weeks prior.  After a 30 minute tussle with a disinterested complacent desk clerk that included showing her the confirmation email and the corresponding “your payment has been received and your credit card has been charged” email, the situation was finally sorted out (amidst a number of eye-rolls on the part of the desk clerk) and keys were handed over.

Room check in #2:  Saturday evening.  Reservation ‘not in the system’ for a 1 night stay that had been booked several weeks prior.  Thus began our tussle with another disinterested complacent desk clerk (we’ll call her Tammy).  We showed her reservation confirmations and gave her numbers; we rehashed the situation the night before and how, apparently, there was some disconnect between this hotel’s register and reservation systems.  Tammy was hard-pressed to either understand or problem-solve, and after 10 minutes she asked us to stand to the side while she checked in other people.  Because, naturally, there was a line 8 people deep and she was the only clerk on duty.

So we moved on over while the next customer came to the counter.  Another reservation ‘not in the system.’  So Tammy fiddled and typed and let the phone go unanswered.  And after 10 minutes got it sorted out and handed over room keys.  Tammy then asked the next customer in line to step up (as we stood right next to her).  Another reservation ‘not in the system.’  But once again, Tammy fiddled and typed and after 10 minutes got it sorted out and handed over room keys.  During this entire process, even though we were standing 3 feet from her, she did not make eye contact once, nor did she offer any additional information.

When she called the third person to the desk and once again ignored us, I blew up.  I was stern.  I was forceful.  I was pissed.  I asked for the manager on duty and was told there wasn’t one.  I requested that she place a phone call and get a manager on the phone.  She refused.  I insisted that she take care of our check-in and resolve our problem before handling any others.  She refused.  I raised my voice.  She raised hers.  She told me my issue was “bullsh*t.”  We left. 

After a period of time had passed, another family member called back to speak to Tammy, in an attempt to get the check-in processed.  Tammy was, once again, unable to listen, comprehend or offer any resolution.  When she was informed that she had been not only incompetent but also rude by cursing at a customer, Tammy responded “bullsh*t isn’t a curse word.”


Dealing with Tammy was just an all around lousy experience.  But when all was said and done I felt just a tiny bit sorry for her because, it appeared to me, she had been set up to fail:

  • The hotel has 225 rooms with a constant stream of guests checking in/out.  Yet Tammy was working alone at the busiest time with no assistance.
  • Tammy had to move back and forth between two PC’s; one apparently held reservation information and the other was connected to the printer from which she ran receipts.  Back and forth, back and forth – with a phone ringing off the hook between them.
  • When Tammy wanted “proof” of our reservation/confirmation (which she looked at on our phone) we offered to email it to her/the hotel.  She informed us “we don’t have an email address – I need it faxed.”
  • Tammy lacked any sort of problem-solving ability nor, apparently, had anyone ever trained her on how to interact with customers.  I bet she was hired, shadowed a co-worker for a couple of shifts, and was then tossed out at the desk to be the face of the organization



Now I’m sure that just because the Schoolings will be taking their business elsewhere doesn’t mean this hotel is going to have to shutter the doors; they’ll probably do just fine and continue to bring in the business.  And Tammy will, no doubt, continue to handle customers in exactly the same way. 

Oh – and as a note – by the time Tammy decided she could process our reservation and check us in several hours later we had already booked another room at a neighboring hotel.  The desk clerk named Megan was fantastic.

And that’s no bullsh*t.