Archive for Business

Acknowledge THIS

TY cardI think we can all agree that when someone puts in a lot of work it’s important to say ”thank you.”  Not everything requires fireworks, cannons and a corps of dancing Chippendales (or Chippengirls – equal opportunity) of course.  Sometimes it’s enough to send a well-timed email, give a pat on the back, or ring someone up on the phone to merely say “I appreciate all you’ve done.”

People crave personal and heartfelt recognition.  Who doesn’t want an ‘atta boy every now and again?  Am I right?

It seems like something every manager or organization would know is important. Yet, the longer I live on this earth, the more I realize it often escapes a lot of people.  It’s a concept that just doesn’t get pinned down in their brains; like dandelion fluff adrift in the air.  Like tumbleweeds gyrating lazily down Interstate 25.  Like clouds floating in Denver Portland Madison on 4/20.

I recently had a conversation with someone who had worked for an organization for 10 years.  It was not an extremely large organization so his work was known to most every associate.   As he transferred from department to department over the years it only increased his socialization and relationships across the depth and breadth of the organization.

During his tenure he made some pretty major contributions, drove some key strategic initiatives, and contributed to growing success among the organization’s market/customer base. When he retired, with a lengthy notice, he dutifully trained his successor, wrapped up some final items and headed off to enjoy his golden years after a decade of service.

Ten years. A dime. A 10th of a century.

At the end of his notice period he was treated to the standard off boarding experience – “turn in your keys, complete this paperwork and be aware we’ll be changing your passwords at COB today” – and sent on his way.

He wasn’t expecting fireworks, cannons or a corps of dancing Chippendales Chippengirls.

But a thank you would have been nice.

No. Uh. Wait. We’re Rebranding!

noah's arkThe film “Noah” opened this past weekend.  I personally have no intention of seeing it as I am neither a Russell Crowe fan nor someone who enjoys biblical stories writ large with the vengeful God.

Director Darron Aronofsky told the New Yorker that “Noah” is “the least biblical biblical film ever made.” The crazy guy creationist Ken Ham calls it an unbiblical, pagan film from its start.” If my Facebook feed and other online resources are to be believed lots of church-going folks (youth groups and ladies’ Bible groups alike) headed to the theatres in droves only to be upset at the sinfulness and lack of biblical truth.  Movie theatres were promoting the film as an event to churches (“hey, we can sell lots of popcorn after the Sunday service!”) while, more than likely, leaving out Aronofsky’s quote.

The story of Noah as outlined in Genesis is filled with drunkenness, implied incest, animal sacrifice, and, obviously, the murder (by God) of thousands of people.  Death by drowning looms large which, as a child hearing the tale in Sunday School, terrified me no end and was the stuff of my nightmares.

Yet I’ve known many parents who have decorated a new baby’s room in a Noah’s ark theme, filling the space with cuddly stuffed animals and rainbows in soft colors.  Walls were filled with pictures of a wise and benevolent Noah, wearing a head covering and clutching a staff, beaming at a dove.  There was neither a bit nor a bob of Noah’s drunken nakedness in the décor.

Noah, the dude not the film, got a makeover and successfully re-branded himself over the last few millennia.

The lesson for HR in this (because you knew there was one) is that if you wait long enough and have a stellar PR machine you just might be able to recast the stories about your culture, your employment experience and your company.  Hang in there long enough and perhaps the public will forget the origins from which the stories sprung. Then again, despite your best efforts at showing only the rainbows and sunshine, an outsider might come in, a la Aronofsky, and remind everyone about the gritty, dirty and quite disturbing reality.

I guess we’ll see how JC Penney can handle that.

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Low Morale? Here’s What HR Thinks You Want

juan-pablo-galavisWe had a lively monthly meeting yesterday at my local SHRM chapter gathering.  Two teams of 5 were formed – consisting of 4 students from each of our local SHRM student chapters (Louisiana State University and Southern University) plus 1 HR professional.  The teams faced off against each other, Family Feud style, answering with the “most popular answers” in order to win glory, prizes and bragging rights.  Approximately 2 weeks before the meeting, local HR professionals/chapter members were surveyed to gather the top 100 answers to questions including “Most Common Reasons Employees Give for Missing Work” and “Things Candidates Should Not Wear to a Professional Job Interview” (flips flops – shocker! – came in as #1 for that one).

And then we got to “Name a Way to Boost Employee Morale.”  The top ways, as listed by local HR professionals, were:

  • Recognition/Rewards/Appreciation: 28
  • Parties/Company Events: 18
  • Lunch/Picnic: 18
  • Vacation/PTO/Flex Time: 10

What?  No Casual Friday? Cake on your birthday? Employee of the Month parking spot?

Jesus.

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Do you know why morale is low at your company?

It’s because your employees are underpaid, overworked, and have no power.

It’s because they aren’t trusted to make decisions.

It’s because you courted them with promises of champagne and endless sunsets and now withhold your love like you’re Juan Pablo at the final rose ceremony.

It’s because you expect your professional, exempt, high-potential employees to sit with their butts-in-chairs in the office even though they could accomplish their work, probably more efficiently, from home or their neighborhood CC’s Coffeehouse.

It’s because you’re inflexible and enjoy pointing to rules and policies as the answer to every query of “why?”

It’s because your Assistant Supervisor of Quality Input Operations was promoted, received no training on how to manage people, and is a total jackhole who rules by fear and intimidation.

It’s because you don’t realize the world of work has changed dramatically since 2001 2011.

It’s because you, Ms/Mr HR Manager, continue to embrace the Human Resources model born from the industrial-age even though we’re living in the social-technology-EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE age.

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So yeah.  Go and solve that morale problem by hosting a potluck and throwing a picnic.

And then wonder why you can’t get anyone to have a different view of what HR is all about.

(Photo : The Bachelor – Facebook) The Bachelor.

Using Employee Feedback to Drive Breakthroughs

guy at concert .. armsLast week I teamed up with the folks at ClearPicture to present a webinar on “Using Employee Feedback for Business Improvement.”  As we were speaking to an HR audience we focused on what many in human resources are familiar with – gathering employee feedback as part of an employee engagement survey.

We who work in the HR sphere can scarcely turn around without hearing, reading and talking about employee engagement yet even though we discuss this topic ad nauseum we still struggle to come up with a common definition ourselves; for purposes of the webinar we opted to use a definition from author Kevin Kruse “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”

While we used the employee engagement survey as an example our webinar was not about engagement. Rather we talked about how HR professionals should approach any feedback process with a goal of gaining insight that can lead to business breakthroughs. Desired results are organization specific of course and will depend upon one’s industry, customers and organizational strategies.  Organizational goals often include revenue growth or cost-savings but could just as easily be superior project performance, better decisions or even, for government entities or non-profits, how to solve problems that concern citizens/constituents.

Our goal as presenters was to ensure that HR professionals view an employee feedback process in a holistic and enterprise-wide way – whether they have 200, 2,000 or 20,000 employees.

Five Step Process

Clarifying the purpose – At this stage it’s important to set the context and clarify the purpose for gathering feedback.  Answer the when, why and for what reason questions at the outset; include the compelling needs for gathering the data and explain how those needs are tied to organizational goals.

Gathering feedback – Determining the manner in which feedback will be gathered is critical in order to meet the needs of the audience. Several things come into play at this stage including determining the mix/types of questions (i.e., open-ended vs. closed-ended) as well as encouraging employee participation by thinking ‘like a marketer’ – crafting the right message and going to where the employee audience gathers which may include mobile, social or via some sort of gamified technology.

Analyzing the data – For the most part HR practitioners are not trained statisticians but they must put on their statistician hat (or work with someone who can assist them) at this stage in order to accurately review quantitiave vs. qualitative data and also to ensure they don’t fall into traps around causation or correlation or making invalid comparisons between seemingly related pieces of information.

Correlating the data – Remember how we talked about this feedback process having an enterprise-wide focus?  This is the stage where it truly becomes one. HR professionals should look beyond their traditional sources of HR data (HRIS, ATS, LMS, etc.) and link not just HR data and the feedback data but also see how data gathered from other parts of the business fits into the whole.  Questions to ask may be: What are the sales numbers for the company and how does that match up to the organizational hierarchy? What about customer or service trends?  How is shipping of product handled?  Do we have a call center where number of calls per day, customer satisfaction and time-spent-on-calls is tracked?  HR practitioners know that in those functional areas the leaders are tracking it all and now is the perfect opportunity to dive into the human/people elements related to these business operations.

Taking action – The biggest complaint from employees is that whenever feedback is asked for nothing is ever done so this final step is where communication should go into hyper drive.  While taking action includes setting goals, monitoring progress and holding people accountable it also includes ensuring that employees get answers to:

  • “what do we (leaders) know now that we didn’t know before” and, most importantly
  • “Who will be responsible?  When will it happen?  How will we monitor it?  WHO will do WHAT by WHEN?”

Three Key Items

Throughout any feedback process (such as an employee engagement survey) it’s important to:

  1. Have a purpose that is aligned with organizational strategy
  2. Communicate and clarify
  3. Take action by following through and following up

You can check out the presentation slides here. As an HR professional you can guide and influence organizational leaders in meaningful ways that can lead to successful business outcomes, improvements and breakthroughs.