Tag Archive for transformation

The Community Has Spoken – #truBatonRouge

global-communication-background003“HR people and recruiters sure think differently, don’t they?” (quote from #truBatonRouge attendee)

They sure do; and I’ve talked about it quite a bit. I feel somewhat able to pontificate on the subject as I’ve not only worked for an agency, been an internal recruiter, and managed corporate recruiting teams, but have also held numerous HR leadership positions over the years.

If we imagine we’re just one ginormous agrarian society, the recruiters are like the hunters and gatherers who track down the talent; they’re out there fishing in the pond where no-one-else is fishing. The HR practitioners are back home tiling the soil; waiting, as it were, for the food to come to them.

It’s endlessly fascinating to me why these two groups – all invested in finding the right people for the right jobs at the right time – have such differing views on what talent attraction and acquisition looks like. So often, I continue to find, the HR leaders/practitioners in an organization operate via the ‘staffing’ model; let’s open the req, confirm the job description, blast an advert of some sort, and assume the people will come to us. Make the offer, close the req, and wait until the next person quits and we have to fill the same job all over again.

Is it a matter of time and resources for many HR practitioners? It can be. One of the #truBatonrouge attendees was from a rapidly growing organization with 600 employees where it’s no doubt a challenge to create a strategic sourcing and recruiting strategy when there are 3 people in the entire HR Department and they also handle payroll, benefits, comp, FMLA/ADA/WC, employee relations, etc. etc. etc. Out of necessity, perhaps more than anything else, they’ve migrated to a model where the hiring managers are fully empowered to handle all their own hiring; HR manages the process, workflow, and tools, but is hands off unless specifically asked to participate.

Without a dedicated recruiter the 25+ open positions they have (I checked) are, more than likely, being blasted to job boards in an attempt to get as many warm bodies loaded into the recruitment funnel as possible.

It’s the HR way.

And I anticipated this sort of tension – if that’s the right word – to rise to the top when I planned the event. Knowing the market here in south Louisiana the attendees were a varied bunch: we had a handful of recruiters, a gaggle of HR professionals (generalists who have recruiting as one of their responsibilities), some entrepreneurs, a health care executive, a bunch of organizational development folks, and a few communication/marketing professionals.

So what did we talk about?

I led a track on the “The Problem with Job Interviews” which focused on exploring things like uselessness due to lack of planning and our focus on hiring for “fit” when we don’t even know what that really means. We dove into the impact of bias – with confirmation bias being one of the biggies as we seek to confirm our initial gut feeling from the first 90 seconds with an applicant. We chatted about the use of data. We conversed about how many interviews is too many; one attendee reported he had multiple visits and met with 15 interviewers for a job. Sweet fancy Moses.

Casey Kugler led a track on “Recruiting Tips from a Corporate Recruiter” and discussed sourcing and searching strategies. He shared the results of an experiment he recently conducted to see if taking the time to personally construct LinkedIn communication (“Hi Joe…I see you like Pearl Jam!”) garnered more results than generic messages (note: he saw a 3% improvement). Darren Sherrard, Associate Director for Recruitment with the VA, discussed recruitment marketing and specifically chatted about paid vs. earned media as well as the evolution/merging/blurring of PR and recruitment marketing.

We had a track called “Fear and Loathing in Succession Planning” and dove into the topic “Are YOU the only one who cares about your Performance Management Program” with Sandy Michelet. The latter discussion was interesting; enough HR/OD people expressed a desire to hang on to numbers, rankings, ratings, and forms that it appears the shitty performance appraisals we’re often saddled with aren’t going anywhere soon.

We wrapped up the day with a free-wheeling discussion merging all sorts of topics together with a focus on how HR/Talent professionals can, perhaps, innovate; wellness (ugh!), use of technology, the digital divide, and spirituality in the workplace/business environment all landed on the table.

It. Was. Awesome.

We held #truNOLA in 2012, but I wanted to hold an event in Baton Rouge to gather more people together who have an interest in talent, recruiting and the evolution of work. I wanted varied experiences and differing opinions. I wanted people to meet and connect and build community.

And we did.

Thanks to Devin Lemoine and the team at Success Labs for providing the space and hosting us for the day, and thanks to my friend Bill Boorman, founder of #tru, who believes in building this global community.

“Those HR people and recruiters can get on the same page after all.” (me)

Why Your HR Lady Likes to Tell You “No”

1950s_family_lifeThere’s an interesting dynamic often at play in the workplace when the CEO/Owner/Company President serves as an ersatz father figure while the beleaguered HR lady is assigned the role of substitute mother. (And yes; I realize I am assigning genders of male and female based along stereotypical lines but since the human resources profession hovers around 70% female, for purposes of this narrative that’s what we’re going to work with here).

While Dad fulfills his often-absent but always-looming role as patriarch to a motley assemblage of children (the employees), Mom is left to perform the day-to-day care taking duties. It’s a 1950’s sitcom wherein she wears sensible pearls and high heels while vacuuming, wipes a stray tear here and there, and serves as the nurturer when little Johnny comes home after escaping a schoolyard taunting. But it’s only when Dad arrives home from the office at the end of his busy day that true wisdom can be imparted and the final lessons dispensed. After slipping off his suit jacket and inserting his feet into soft velvety slippers (monogrammed of course), Dad sits little Johnny down (along with big brother Bobby and middle child Susie) and shares today’s important life lesson; how to deal with schoolyard bullies. Perhaps the lesson covers why it’s important to work hard and save one’s own money to purchase a new bike. Dad likes to cover the sorts of topics that led the children of the post-WWII generation to write songs like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

“Your Mother wants what’s best for you,” Dad is fond of explaining in these fireside chats. “Sometimes she has to tell you “No” so you’ll learn what it’s like to sacrifice, work hard, and earn what you deserve.”

Numerous parents have operated by these instructional principles for decades. And your mom, like mothers everywhere, operates from a place of love where she does things with your best interests in mind.

Your HR Lady/HRMom often thinks the same way.

After all, your HRMom has historically been charged with watching out for your well-being and making sure you’re taken care of from cradle to grave (health care benefit enrollments to retirement plan meetings). She has, unfortunately, been charged with crafting the dress code policy, laying out the rules of behavior and etiquette, monitoring the break room refrigerator, and having conversations with you about hygiene and bathroom habits. In HRMom’s world, Joe in Purchasing might as well be a disgusting teen-age boy the way he clips his toenails at his desk!

As a new parent, she starts off with the best of intentions and tells her friends she needs to “cover up the outlets so the baby can’t stick her fingers in them.”

Before you know it though, HRMom is reminding her children to “Put on a sweater before you go outside because I’m cold” and “We’re going to your Aunt Helen’s so you most assuredly cannot wear jeans!”

“You think it’s not fair? Life isn’t fair” she likes to say. “What part of NO don’t you understand?” she’ll ask when you attempt to argue a point.

When HRMom says “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you” she’s letting you know that you best comply with the antiquated rule/policy/edict she is quoting.

Her coup de grace, as it is for mothers everywhere, is merely to expertly arch an eyebrow and inform you “Because I said so, that’s why!”

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When real mom, living in the pre 2nd-wave feminist world, said “Just wait until your father gets home” she was deferring decision-making authority – and moxie – to the headship.

When HRMom says the same thing it feels a bit like she’s abdicating ownership. Doesn’t it? But perhaps saying “No” is the only way she can retain some sense of control. Power in a powerless world.

Unlike mom-at-home who offers you homemade oatmeal cookies fresh from the oven to demonstrate her love and care, HRMom can float through her day in a somnambulistic state; proffering words of wisdom and platitudes designed to keep you in line; semi-cocooned in blissful tranquility designed to ensure you toe-the-line and don’t drift off into teenage delinquency.

And then your HRmom reads an article like this – telling her that an entire new job category is being/has been created for “Employee Happiness Manager” and “Aim-to-Please Specialists.” HRMom reads this:

“ Nuha Masri, 25, says she can’t imagine working at a company without generous perks. They impressed her at Google, which also offers “nap pods,” and then became “so mundane, you just expect them,” she says.”

So you, figuring that HRMom wants you to be happy while simultaneously forgetting that she has already told you her job is not to ensure your happiness, ask for a change to the cafeteria offerings. Or suggest casual days all week long. Or inquire about adding a “bring your pet to work day.”

And you know what your HRmom – and Dad for that matter – is going to say to that, don’t you?

“I don’t care if Billy’s mom let him do it. If Billy’s mom let him jump off the bridge would you want me to let you do that too?”

In other words…no.

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this post was originally published on LinkedIn

Exploring Art AND Science #KronosWorks

testtubeI’m in Las Vegas attending KronosWorks 2014 which is the user conference for Kronos customers. There are about 2,500 global attendees here (including IT, HR, and Payroll professionals) making it to the top of all-time attendance numbers for the event.

Yesterday’s opening general session featured Adam Savage, co-host of the TV series “MythBusters” speaking on the topic “Art vs. Science: Not a Contest.”

His talk took us through a discussion about how we often view art and science to be opposites; one is liberating and warm, while the other is methodical, rigid and cold. His assessment however is that art and science are not opposites and in fact they are dependent upon each other.

I thought this was a fascinating conversation starter for attendees at a technology focused human resources conference. Prior to heading off to sessions about configuring workforce absence alerts or mobile solutions (a bit methodical, no?) we in the audience thought about inspiration and talent and the formation of ideas.

I liked it.

After all, an HR professional, in my estimation, will be successful when she allows imagination and creativity to co-exist with pragmatism and analysis. And I’m not sure if we, collectively as human resources professionals, do that very well. We compartmentalize what we view as conflicting personal skill sets: “I’m a numbers person so I work in comp” or “I’m creative so choose to work in recruitment marketing.” 

This has taken us to a point where HR practitioners and leaders often believe that creativity is only allowed – or valuable – for certain activities: employee recognition or, occasionally, recruiting initiatives. The approach to other HR/people activities – the foundational, functional areas of HR – is often in lockstep with the past as we end up maintaining the status quo: rigid, unchanging, disciplined and structured.

But new discoveries await. Yes…even in HR. Adam Savage put it this way:

  • Start with an idea.
  • Develop a hypothesis.
  • Test it.
  • Learn from it.

Thinking further about this, what it means to me is:

  • Begin with your knowledge.
  • Expand what you know.
  • Question it.
  • Explore it.
  • Don’t limit yourself to art OR science.
  • Let your mind wander.
  • Be curious.
  • Question everything.
  • Ask “what if we do……?”
  • Ask “what if we don’t……?”

It’s neither art nor science exclusively.

They’re complimentary. And they’re both necessary.

“Culture is a conversation and art and science are the mechanisms by which we have those conversations.” Adam Savage

When is an HR Job…NOT an HR Job?

groucho marx glassesThere’s always a lot of chatter about the upcoming demise of HR; will the profession adapt and change in order to remain viable, effective and relevant in the future world of work?

Ah yes…but the future is here:

  • Technology has reshaped how people connect and it has driven new and different ways for people to share and collaborate.
  • The traditional view of ‘the job’ is being blown up.
  • Employees are consumers of work and they expect immediate and transparent access to information and to each other.
  • Leaders have quickly learned that the old models of managing people (command-and-control anyone?) are withering on the vine; dead and dying.

In the midst of all this change sits the HR professional. She’s often hesitant to use technology and reluctant to realize that candidates are increasingly unwilling to purchase the work experience she’s selling. She’s sometimes unable or unwilling to understand that her role is not about promoting the HR agenda (compliance! structure! benefit administration! policies!!!!) but is, rather, about impacting the business agenda by strengthening capacities and capabilities for success.

Yet even if she is planning for the future of work that doesn’t mean those around her are doing the same.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of two distinct situations that came to my attention over the last year.

Company A has several thousand employees and, in a volatile industry sector, experienced the need to shore up some financial and operational items. A new leadership team, consultants and other interested parties moved into slash-and-burn mode with RIFs, re-organizations and changes/cuts in product offerings and business lines. Working for a labor intensive organization with high turnover (common for the industry) the human resources team always had a lot of fish in the fryer…but no more. HR was gutted. Eviscerated. The new model included the elimination of the CHRO position (“I don’t believe in HR” was uttered by a senior executive) and the removal of various HR generalists and specialists while the lone (as in 1) HR employee was moved under the Risk and Compliance Department. While he still holds an HR title it’s not – really – an HR job. Or is it?

Company B has several hundred employees and, in a hot and competitive industry sector, is in hyper growth mode. The leadership team identified talent, people development, and sustaining of organizational culture as necessary ingredients in the organizational gumbo and looked to grow out the HR/talent function by adding an HR leader to unite the talent acquisition staff (long nestled within business units) with the foundational HR staff (reporting to the COO). They had an idea to implement a fairly traditional model that was later upended for, one can assume, various reasons. Rather than create a human resources department with a defined leader, the HR/talent function (and along with it some plans for revising and revamping that which exists) was assigned to an executive who also oversees a key business division. It was akin to informing the VP of Sales that she’s also now the head of HR. She doesn’t have an HR title and it’s not – really – an HR job. Or is it?

 

So who, at these two very different organizations, has the HR job? If we take the traditional view we would say it’s the practitioner at Company A; he has an HR title and a smorgasbord of tasks associated with human resources are in his domain including policies, compliance, and the vetting of employee relations incidents and calls.

In my estimation though we’ll come to see in the very near future that it’s the multi-tasking executive in Company B who truly holds the HR job; she’s leading the business agenda while maintaining oversight of the talent strategies that lead to the attainment of growth and revenue goals.

Kind of an exciting time to be in HR. Or not.

Depends on what you consider an HR job.