Archive for General HR

Choosing Darkness over Light

darkness lightYesterday I spent some time lamenting the reluctance of HR practitioners to adapt to change and embrace the future. I get on that wagon every now and again.

The information is right there!  How can you not see it?  It’s shiny!  It’s bright!  My god – everyone is talking about < insert it here >!

  • “You absolutely must be able to fully articulate your employer brand.”
  • “I can’t believe your career site isn’t optimized for mobile.”
  • “What do you mean you’re not doing social recognition with an embedded dashboard?”
  • “Seriously?  Posting ads on job boards is not recruiting.”
  • “You still don’t have an ATS?  Are you a luddite?”

Imagine two men seeking out the same object.

The first man, knowing what he is looking for, enters a well-lit room, sees the object of his desire, picks it up immediately, and puts it to use.

The second man enters a darkened room so his vision is not as clear.  As he seeks out this one unique object that bears some similarity to other items he must take his time.  He touches multiple things, turns them over and examines them from different angles.  He mentally categorizes each one, tests them to see how they fit with other existing pieces he owns, and works to understand if this IS, in fact, what he has been seeking.

Perhaps…just perhaps…that second man who struggled to locate the object developed a deeper understanding than the man who picked it up straight away.

Something to think about.

Will We Be Able to Make the Case for HR De-Extinction?

wooly mammoth

Much like scientists who classify living and fossil organisms into domain, kingdom, class, family, genus and species, we in HR often do the same:

  • small/medium-sized business or large business
  • industry A or industry B
  • traditional or cutting-edge
  • local or regional or global
  • stodgy industry or sexy industry
  • well-known brand vs. unknown local organization (“She worked for Nike while he only worked for Acme Community Bank.”)

We use this shorthand in a misguided attempt to categorize the knowledge and competency of any given HR professional.  We make assumptions that if Debbie HR Director worked for a local entity she won’t have the ability to understand the complexity of a regional, let alone global, organization.  This also manifests itself in job postings that require specific industry experience; the assumption being that even though Debbie spent 20 years leading HR functions in health care and technology she would not have the capacity to immerse herself into learning and understanding the banking industry.

We pigeonhole people for any number of reasons; in an attempt to screen candidates, when creating an invite list for an event or conference or, quite frankly, when being cliquish and elitist.

Now there is, I have to admit, one demarcation listed up there that makes sense to me although I may have used the wrong terms. Perhaps they should be:

Traditional: dreary, tedious, humorless, out-of-touch, rooted in the past, focused on HR as compliance…primarily.  Focused on HR as compliance … only.

Cutting edge: future focused, ever evolving, not content with the status quo. Restless, curious, excited.  Ready to challenge and be challenged.

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I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit as I’ve been preparing to head to Cleveland this week for DisruptHR. We’re going to talk about talent, culture, technology and people – in a new way – because DISRUPT is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field.

Lord knows we needs some energizing.

I’ve had a few moments over the last several weeks where, in various conversations with mid-career human resource professionals I hit anew a level of frustration.  Why, I wondered yet again, is there such aversion to acknowledging that the old-ways-you-learned-to-do-HR in 1991 are no longer sufficient?  Why, I marveled during one discussion, do HR practitioners sink in their heels and adamantly refuse to explore the potential benefits of change?

Am I being cliquish and elitist myself?  Are those of us who attempt to push, pull and drag our colleagues to places where they don’t wish to go guilty of emphasizing these segmentations?

I don’t think so.  Nor do I believe that’s the intent of any individual or group. Rather there’s a conviction that a rising tide lifts all boats; collective change is required for the survival of both the HR function and individual HR practitioners.

At some point in the very near future the CEOs, COOs and CFOs who are hiring HR professionals will demand a different kind of HR. When the boomers in charge (finally) retire and the next C-level exec (born during the Reagan administration) in charge of hiring the HR leader takes over, s/he isn’t going to put up with traditional crap; no matter the industry.  No matter the size.  No matter the brand.  Stacks of spreadsheets, outdated and cumbersome hiring practices, love for command-and-control, and an aversion to technology already pegs many HR practitioners as out of touch dinosaurs; keeping up the same old same old means they will soon be merely fossilized remains.

And if our profession perishes will anyone care enough to bring us back a la the Australian gastric-brooding frog?  Or will our business partners be happy to say good riddance – relegating us to museums to cuddle up alongside the skeletons of the wooly mammoth and the T-Rex?

I don’t want to run the risk that someone, somewhere, will have to make the case for HR de-extinction. Unless we all push the boundaries a bit more I don’t think there will be a lot of support for the revival of the HR species.

It’s time to face it; there’s already been disruption in the workplace.

It’s time – well past time – to disrupt HR so we can catch up.

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image: The Woolly Mammoth at the Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British Columbia. (wikicommons)

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.

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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.