Human resource management from a real world perspective
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Human resource management from a real world perspective

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Social media Blog posts 2008-2013

Social media Blog posts 2008-2013

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    Human resource management from a real world perspective Human resource management from a real world perspective Document Transcript

    • Human Resource Management from a Real World Perspective DBAI Collection of Social Media Interactions 2008-Present DANIEL BLOOM & ASSOCIATES, INC. HR STRATEGISTS Guiding Individuals and Organizations on a Journey towards greater productivity May 2013 Authored by: Daniel T. Bloom SPHR, SSBB, SCRP
    • Page5 About Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. Daniel Bloom and Associates, Inc. (DBAI) began operations in December of 1980 as an independent consulting firm following the reduction in force from the human resource function of the ECI Division of E-Systems where the Chief Executive Officer of DBAI was part of the recruitment function. At the time of the reduction in force, the management of the company referred us to a local corporation who was scheduled for a visit from the OFCCP to investigate their equal employment efforts as a government contractor. Over the following six months we created their entire Affirmative Action Plan. At the completion we were referred to an additional local corporation who was need of an update of their current plan. In February of 1988, Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. became a registered Florida corporation continuing our assistance to local corporations with a concentration in the corporate mobility arena. This was done working on our own and through several local real estate firms. As the economic times turned down in late 2008, DBAI began to expand its services to include further offerings within the human capital arena. The goal was to provide organizations with the requisite strategic outlook to improve their management of human capital assets. In 2013, the organization to better serve our client base, concentrated our service levels around the areas of HR strategic initiatives; Retained HR; HR process Improvement; Training and Coaching. In the course of delivering services to our target market segment we have affiliated the organization with the • Society for Human Resource Management • Worldwide ERC • HR Tampa • National Speakers Association For further information on these service areas contact us at: Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. PO Box 1233 Largo, F 33779 Ph: (727) 581-6216 Fax: (727) 216-8532 E-Mail: dan@dbaiconsulting.com Follow us on
    • Page5 Table of Contents About Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. Page 1 Table of Contents Page 2 Introduction Page 6 Business Strategy Page 7 How you change is the change! Do what you can today; you might not be here tomorrow Do you know what your ROI of your decisions are? Is HR a true management system? 14 steps to HR Excellence It is choice not chance that defines our destiny What is HR Excellence? Let's Play HR The Thrill is Gone!!!! Big is not necessarily better The Diversity Scam: We talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk Politics, Half-Truths and the Workplace Firefighter, Strategist or Catalyst – What is the proper HR role? Where oh where has innovation gone? Why Does HR Not Get It? What is your focus? A New Generation is coming, but are you ready? What is your brand telling the world? Back to the Future HR Strategic Focus Part 5: They are not human capital assets, they are employees HR Strategic Focus Part 4: It is not a talent problem, trust me HR Strategic Focus Part 3: Voice of the Customer HR Strategic Focus Part 2: Are you part of the solution or are you part of the problem? HR Strategic Focus Part 1: What is my role? Productivity Decline: Wake-Up Call for Organizations Sorry, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! It is a sad day in Booksville Hey Houston, we have a problem But, Kris, that’s the way we’ve always done it Do you walk the HR walk and talk the HR talk? Don’t bother me with the details, I don’t care What would the founding fathers think? Is perception reality? What kind of message are we sending? Reflections on Society, Business organizations and the global workplace Have we lost our way? Are we really watching the health of our organization? What are we here for?
    • Page5 Workforce Planning Page 45 Cultural Fit – That nebulous target Seen on Church Electronic Sign - Don't be too Open minded, Your Brain might fall out Mr. CEO, I understand you think you found cheap labor - not so fast Is it really what We Think it is? HR nowadays is an organizational "warm and fuzzy" atmosphere. No need for business acumen Hello - I am a Recruiter's Worst Nightmare Please do not judge a book by its cover: The Marissa Mayer edict Part II Liability or Asset: The Marissa Mayer Edict Those People Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Fairest in the World? If you take this assignment...... Really, is not my job difficult enough already? Engagement or Engagement OMG, did we really create that monster? Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who am I? How do you view the world? Back to the Future Communication and Engagement: What message are you sending? Productivity Decline: Wake-Up Call for Organizations I am your life blood revisited: Two sides of the coin I am your life blood revisited Hollywood versus Reality It’s My Way or No way, end of question How much am I really worth to the organization? Are you really serving your clients? What if we gave a party for the most talented and no one showed up? Have we missed the direction? The Nature of our world view Who am I? The role of human capital in a global workplace We do not have a talent problem A disservice to the economy The Talent War Moment of contemplation Where have all the Elders Gone?
    • Page5 Employee Development Page 72 Back to the Future, or why we forgot the meaning of education Corporate America and the GPS Mentality We are on a journey, but seem to have lost our way Am I Missing something here? Listen to the voice, hear the disconnect I got the message: An educational manifesto Results are in and the picture is not pretty Race to Nowhere In the rush for perfection, have we forgotten what we are supposed be doing? Is the glass half empty or half full? What are we leaving to our business organizations? Can credit checks and criminal background checks have a secondary purpose? What Direction are We Headed In? When Was the Last Time You Really Supported Your Recruiting Efforts? Compensation and Benefits Page 84 Cut them hours. It is survival time I am only worth $.15 to you, really!!! Changing Face of Relocation Employee Relations Page 87 I am a Victim!!! We have fought the war; but just learned we lost I Can’t Grow My Business Politics, Half-Truths and the Workplace Where did we Go Wrong? That is just the way we do things here What is wrong with this picture? I Look, but do I see? Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who am I? Expectations vs. Real World What is my generation’s impact on business? Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and Your Organization Don’t you understand? We are at war! What is Your Business Environment? Communication and Engagement: What message are you sending? Have you considered…….? The Perfect Storm is coming! Are you complacent or proactive? I am your life blood revisited: Two sides of the coin I am your life blood revisited Rules of Engagement Are we walking the walk and talking the talk? Who Am I Revisited Implications for the workplace A week of contrast Where are our priorities? What happened to Equal Protection? Risk Management Page 107
    • Page5 Liability or Asset: The Marissa Mayer Edict Really, is not my job difficult enough already? The World is a Better Place Because of Those Who Refuse to Believe they Cannot Fly It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you think is so that isn’t Truth, Justice and our organizations Open letter to the Chief Executive Officer Circle the wagons, the Indians are coming!!! We have met the enemy and they are us!! The Ability to lie is a Liability Reality vs. Reality What kind of environment are we fostering? When was the last time you visited your IP policy? Do You Really Know Your Hiring Practice? Have we not really grown? Where are we headed? Continuous Process Improvement Page 119 How you change is the change! Is HR a true management system? 14 steps to HR Excellence It is choice not chance that defines our destiny What is HR Excellence? Rush to Metricment It is a sad day in Booksville Are we missing the message somewhere? In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 4 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 3 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 2 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 1 Hodgepodge Page 133 Human Resources Blogs (Why We Do It) How do I Add Value to the Relationship? Human Resources Defined: The Architect of Work The global marketplace changed, but did your organization? Are you still looking at the World from a myopic point of view? What is your legacy? Did you set out to be a legacy? We need to take time to stop and smell the roses Are we really getting the message across? Human Resource Challenges-2008
    • Page5 Introduction The social media realm has been rapidly expanding and Daniel Bloom & Associates, Inc. has been at the forefront of that effort. We entered the blog space in April of 2006 on Blogger (http://hrstrategistatnet-speed.blogspot.com). Nearly 600 posts later our blogging efforts have evolved through Blogger to Posterous to Wordpress. Our initial blogging efforts were centered on letting our readership know about important items that hit the news regarding the corporate mobility and HR markets, with many of the posts reportedly not shared elsewhere with our followers. As we continue our efforts we have moved in the direction of placing a real world perspective on the HR issues we face every day. What do we mean by real world perspective? The founder of the Toyota Manufacturing System had a favorite exercise for new managers. He would ask them to stand in a circle and report what they saw. Much like this exercise our social media presence has been centered on looking at eh world around us and applying what we see to the HR world and our organizations. Whether it is strategic in nature or working our employment processes, there are messages and lessons where ever we choose to look. In the pages that follow, we have divided up the blog posts from the beginning into their appropriate categories based on the Human Resource Certification Institutes Functional areas under their body of knowledge. Additionally we have included the subject areas of Continuous Process Improvement and as with everything in life, not everything can be finely categorized so we have an option for Hodgepodge. We hope that these blog entries will give you some new insight into our HR world and we always welcome comments regarding the content. Our only hope is that you read them with an open mind.
    • Page5 Business Management & Strategy This section looks at interpreting and applying information related to the organization’s operations from internal sources. It deals with developing, contributing to and supporting the organization’s mission, values, strategic goals and objectives; formulating policies; guiding and leading the change process; and evaluating organizational effectiveness as an organizational leader. How you change is the change! (Published 7/1/13) I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Lawrence M. Miller entitled Getting to Lean: Transformational Change Management Beyond Problem-solving to Co-Creating the Future. In full transparency I have known Larry for over 40 years as we were classmates at a small liberal arts college in Iowa called Parsons College. A sub title to the book made the statement that how you change is the change. When we consider that more in depth it begs us to ask how do you go about changing the organization? As a vital member of your organization you have really only three courses of action. First you can choose to do nothing at all. Many organization’s choose to talk the talk about improving the processes within the organization while utilizing an undertone which says change won’t work because that just is not the way we do things here. Management is totally complacent with continuing the way the organization operates even though the customers are telling the organization you are not meeting the needs we have. This track usually leads to loss of the client base as your customers take their business elsewhere. Second, the organization can dictate the change from a high. Management tells the organization via edict that this the way we will change. The expectation is that because the ivory tower says change the organization will change. Surprise the result is a totally disengaged organization. Needs of the organization and the customer are never met. The final choice in implementing change is the total involvement of the entire organization within the change process. The change process is centered on the input of the experts within the organization combined with management. The experts are those on the front line of the organization. The front line experts see the problems before they reach the C-Suite. To be successful the change process requires cross-functional teams which review the entire process and the impact on the customers. It requires the same steps as when you were doing the experiments in HS science class. The change process is the scientific method of the business world. We consistently hear management complaining that the organizational human capital assets are not engaged within the organization. The change process provides a view of the way to change that. We need to be willing to change the way we change the corporate culture. Understand we are dealing with a corporate culture which is a constant state of fluidity. This means we change just from meeting the demands of our customers. This means we change because the marketplace changes. This means that we change because our front line assets see processes evolve which in turn create the potential for new problems that need viable solutions. Which change process is your organization following? Are you walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to organizational change.
    • Page5 Do what you can today; you might not be here tomorrow (Published 6/23/13) Once gain one of our local churches provided the basis for this blog post. Driving past it the other day their electronic billboard admonished drivers to “Do what you can today; you might not be here tomorrow.” When I stopped and gave it some consideration it reminded me of some business organizations out there. Consider first your own personal situations. I am almost certain that each and every one of you has a “honey-do list.” It contains all those projects that you plan to get to eventually. What is your typical response to the items on the list? Most likely you find some way to postpone getting these projects completed. I get it, procrastination is only human. With summer just beginning you probably say it is too nice to not be at the beach, or it is too hot to be working out in the yard today. The run comes when the hone-do list is from work and not at home. Procrastination in the business world can mean the death of the organization. You know you have issues within the organization. Management tells you sales are down. Customers are threatening to move their business to that other organization down the street or across the globe. We come up with ideas on how to resolve issues confronting the organization to resolve these critical problems. So what is our immediate response? We assign it to a study group to investigate it. We get a management team to completely analyze the idea. We send the concept to finance to do a total financial analysis of the details as compared to the organizational bottom line. Then we send to another committee for review. We rapidly reach a point of decision paralysis. Decision paralysis leads to decision death of the organization. When we keep putting off decisions we have a direct effect on the future of the organization. General Electric understood this when they introduced both the GE Workout Process and the Change Acceleration Process. In either case the impetus was to design a process whereby decisions were made correctly and quickly. The design of the two processes was to have a team to identify a problem and its proposed solutions and have management immediately provide thumbs up or thumbs down on the project. If the decision was thumbs down, the management team member had to explain why. No passing it in for further study. No passing it on for a committee to make a delayed decision. The decision was in the present future. As a viable business organization you have as an ultimate mission to locate, sign on and retain customers (internal and external). We do this by delivering our products or services cheaper, better and faster than the competition. We do this by being first in the market with new innovations. In order to reach that goal we need to be assertive in resolving service issues. Take a moment and look at your organization and tell me are you acting on the process improvement needs today or are you hoping that your organization won’t be gone tomorrow because you delayed making necessary decisions?
    • Page5 Do you know what your ROI of your decisions are? (Published 5/13/13) Turn to almost any organization in the country and a familiar thread is going to be heard - What is the ROI (Return on Investment) for this project? Human Resources are no different. Through the works of Bersin & Associates, who in their 2011 report "The Best Practices for the High Impact HR Organization" determined that the top challenge for HR Management was the ability to measure HR programs in financial terms and the work of Jac Fit-Enz and Wayne Cascio who each showed us how to measure HR management we have an idea on how to quantify the ROI of HR. The problem is that this view is concentrated in the metrics of hiring our human capital assets. However regardless of how defining the ROI measurements are for the above efforts, we seem to be missing a whole other metric of HR ROI. I refer to it as the return of decisions. We complain that our human capital asset are no longer engaged with our organizations but then either knowingly or unknowingly allows our organizations to make very dump mistakes in treating those assets as valuable parts of the organization. Consider these recent enforcement activities: 1. On May 1, a federal district court handed down a judgment in the case of EEOC vs. Hill County Farms a verdict in the case of abuse against human capital assets with intellectual disabilities in the amount of $240 million. 2. May 10 a federal court handed down a verdict in the case of New Breed Logistics on a charge of Sexual Harassment which resulted in a fine of $1.5 million. 3. May 1, a travel agency in Florida was found guilty of sexually harassing and retaliating against eight former employees. They were fined $20 million. 4. Several years ago FedEx tried to convince the State of Massachusetts that their drivers were independent contractors resulting in a $3 million fine form the state. So here is my question. It is my understanding that an organization is in existence reportedly for perpetuity and in doing so they answer to their stockholders. We know that the management of these organizations and others constantly review their products and services in order to determine whether these products and services are worth the effort to continue in their portfolio. We get that. As an organization we do the same thing with our portfolio of deliverables. But when do we reach the point where HR becomes the voice in the desert and tells management that the decision process on how we treat our human capital assets is bringing great harm to the future of our organization. I have had some tell me that organizations plan for these fines in the name of running an organization based on their culture. But at what point does the way we have always run the organization come into conflict with the return on investment into talent management by treating them less than human beings. At what point do our decisions governing behavior within the organization reach the point where we would not tolerate it if it was happening to us? The ROI is a critical success factor within your organization as you need a profit to ensure continued operations. The way we normally determine that ROI leaves out the impact of our decisions of management. We can't operate our organizations without the contributions of our human capital assets and we can't ever expect them to be engaged in our organizations when we tolerate the atmosphere which created these large verdicts. Understand if we continue the decision process as it is, the fines will continue and get larger. Where is your tolerance level when you can tell the stakeholders that you are sorry for the increase drain on the corporate pocketbook because you have either allowed these decisions to continue to exist or tell the stakeholders that as the managers of organizational talent you did not know it was going on. What is the ROI of your employee related decisions? Are you the next one we are going to read about who suffered the consequences of preventable illogical decisions in the name of your organization?
    • Page5 Is HR a true management system? (Published 4/11/13) In the LinkedIn groups (TLS-TOC Lean & Six Sigma in particular) there has been an ongoing conversation about when you merge the three. In the course of the discussion we posted a comment regarding an output from a seminar we were facilitating which talked about an organization in which the job requisition was reviewed and approved three times by the same person in a hiring effort. One of participants replied that that was an indication of mismanagement not a system problem. He further went on to state that the system represents a bigger picture than the hiring process. It made me wonder whether he was correct. On page 552 of the Theory of Constraints Handbook edited by James Cox III and John Schleier, Jr. they define a system as being made up of inputs, a process of some kind, outputs and the environment in which these components exist. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Switch ,talk about problems being faced by organizations not being a people problem but rather a "situation" problem. Let me start with the expression of the understanding that most HR executives and in fact many executives do not know how to look at things in a systematic way, but we hope the discussion below will help in that regard. So let's look at the parts of the definition: 1. A system is comprised of inputs - Talk to your peers and you are bound to hear that the feeling is that everyone is trying to tell us how to do our job. These are inputs. But far from that we have inputs from management as we design job requisitions. We get inputs in the form of candidate credentials. We get inputs from outside sources as we benchmark the best practices within the industry. 2. A system is comprised of a process - Accept the fact that everything we do is part of a process. The hiring process is a process. The employee complaints are part of a process. The creation of new benefit components and their introduction is a process. Business would not run half as good as they do as a whole if it was not for internal and external processes. 3. A system is comprised of outputs - If everything we do within HR management is based on a process, then the end results of the process constitute an output. We begin the hiring process then the employment offer is the output. If we begin the process of open enrollment, the employee enrolling in your benefit program is an output. We develop new policies and procedures, the document is the output. 4. A system is comprised of the above factors within an environment - John Donne stated that no man is an island, and in this case the previous components of a system do not operate in a vacuum. The environment that is centered on the environment that we call the workplace. So truly while there may be some arguments HR management meets all the requirements to be called a system. In recognizing this, we need to clearly consider whether our HR management efforts are centered on how to make the system work to its maximum level of productivity. How are you ensuring that your HR Management system is running in a top gun direction? Let us know how you are achieving this goal?
    • Page5 14 steps to HR Excellence (Published 3/26/13) Based on a presentation by the staff of Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, here are 14 steps to successfully introduce a process improvement effort into your HR department: 1. Do not expect a quick fix; seek a long term picture on how to optimize your services to the organization. The continuous improvement effort is not going to happen overnight. Understand that in order to identify the best route to optimize your organization is going to take a collaborate effort through the entire organization 2. Recognize that there is always a better way. Here is a fact of life. You have found the obstacle that is slowing down your organization. That is great. But when you correct one part of the process, inevitably it opens up another problem. It is called continuous process improvement for a reason 3. Seek out transformational leaders - To be successful your organizational leaders must change their views. The question is no longer here is what we do; it is now how we help implement the strategic initiatives of the organization as a business partner. 4. Make the system mistake proof - By creating a standard of work we establish a process that dictates how we deliver the optimized services. The standard must show the organization how to deliver our HR services the same way each and every time we do so. 5. Educate and train the organization - the change effort happens, based on knowledge. So the easiest path is to initiate a solid program to educate the organization what is in it for me and train them how to implement the new process steps. 6. Change managers into leaders - Toyota have shown us that the most successful leaders in an organization are those who guide their staff through the process. Command and control does not work 7. Drive out fear - Command and control leads to an organization that fear taking chances. Continuous Improvement is based on taking chances with new ways of doing things. Human capital assets have to understand that it is alright to try something even if it proves to be the wrong approach. 8. Break down silos - John Dunne told us that no man is an island. The same goes for our organizations. We are not an entity of one but rather part of a total organization. We need to learn that we are part of an ongoing effort not just an HR effort. 9. Focus on the process not the people - The works in the continuous process improvement space tell us that unless the organization is about to close its doors there is no reason to lay people off to make the changes. The problem is always with the organizational processes. 10. Avoid quotas - When we require management to meet certain productivity levels, the tendency are to move away from making the process better. Forget quotas and allow the process to work as it will tend to do oriented on a total organization basis. 11. Go and see - There is a folklore image of three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil. Managers who sit in the corner office and never visit where the action is are operating like the three monkeys. The only way to effectively see where the problems are within the process is to go and see as the process is being implemented. 12. Gain Knowledge - Are you serious about this whole process improvement effort? Then you need to continually make it a requirement of your professional life to take courses, read books in the field, so that you can keep abreast of new changes in the field. If I had sought out only the required texts for the Black Belt courses my library would consist of 6 books instead of the 55 that are in my continuous process improvement library. 13. Do it now - I totally understand that it is human nature to put off what you could do now. But to be successful in improving the organizational processes we must act in a sense of urgency. We must take the steps towards implementing the standard of work and removing the waste under a sense of urgency. 14. Coach - Just because the human capital assets have completed the prescribed training programs to earn a belt does not mean that the training ends. The manager and the organization must work with the human capital assets to
    • Page5 constantly find ways to improve their work output. The manager needs to be there to guide them towards the most appropriate solutions, not telling them what to do but giving them guidance on what to do to gain their objectives. It is choice not chance that defines our destiny (Published 3/6/13) Awhile back we posted a blog entry in this space based on the marque of a local church. When I drove by it the other day the announcement of this Sunday's sermon was on the marque and is the title of this post. I hear everyday people telling me that they know things need to change within the organization, but it will take time and they will wait it out until the organization gets around to changing the culture or the policy, usually by managerial edict. The problem is that is not how we bring about determining the greatness of our organizations. The destiny of our organizations is decided by the critical CHOICES we make each and every day in the workplace. We know we have to cut back on waste in the organization in order to meet our corporate sustainability responsibility but do we take the critical steps to achieve that goal? We know that we need to fill our talent management needs with the best and the greatest, but do we forcefully go after the talent or do we think that they will just fall into our laps. The current workplace environment requires us to determine the ultimate outcome of where we want our organizations to be and to make definitive choices on how we are going to get there. The old adage that this won't work because that is not the way we do things around here will not help reach these goals. Management telling us that this is the way we have always been the corporate mantra will not help reach those goals. So what choices do we need to make to reach that goal of meeting our organizational destiny? • Utilize the 5 Why tool from the six sigma toolbox - Look at a process within your organization that appears to be holding you up. Ask why you do it five times. Trust me at the end of the cycle you most likely find that there is not a valid reason why you perform that process in the way you do. Take the steps to improve the process to meet your goals. • Change your focus from silo to organization - Understand that in today' marketplace a silo is self-defeating. The silo mentality is a true characteristic of determining your organizational destiny by chance. You expect that if you perform the responsibilities of the function than greatness will come to your department. However we do not get there by chance. It is determined by specific, concrete actions on part of the total organization. • Get involved - We seem to see the term employee engagement bantered around the social media space quite often. But employee involvement is a better term for the requirements to reach the organizational destiny. We can only bring about the necessary changes if the entire organization from the C-Suite to the mail room is making the choices to improve the organization. There have been many surveys which indicate that the rank and file knows, maybe even more than management, what is wrong with the organization. Get everyone involved on making the choices to bring you to your organizational destiny. Stop what you are doing for a moment and think, are you moving towards your organizational destiny based on chance or are you making the hard choices to take you on the road to organizational success?
    • Page5 What is HR Excellence? (Published 2/28/13) We had in one of the first posts here asked you to define what you thought HR Excellence was. From the level of responses I am assuming (I know the problems with assumptions) that you are having a hard time coming to some sort of consensus. So let me tell you what I feel the components of the definition of HR excellence are: Achieving HR EXCELLENCE is the result of: CARING more about your organization than others think wise; What are your feelings toward your organization? Are you stuck in that rut of this is what we do as HR professionals? Does that mean there is no room for improvement within the responsibilities of HR? IN order to reach that level of a center of excellence we need to begin to think outside of the box if you were and begin to seriously look at how HR fits into the strategies, initiatives and visions of the total organization. RISKING more than others think safe to change the corporate culture; Achieving HR Excellence means we need to change our organizational culture. Every example of change carries with it a level of risk. The change might not be right for your organization but you will not know until you try. HR needs to be at the forefront of this effort. You have the ears of both management and the work floor human assets. You are the ones who can carry the message that we know the suggested changes are going to make thing unsettled for a time, but here is why we are doing it and what it means to the organization and to them rank and file. You can show them what is in for them. DREAMING more than others think practical about the potential for your organization The late Senator Ted Kennedy in his eulogy for his brother spoke the famous line “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not.” HR must play that same role in or organizations. Every day we see things that are just not quite right and we ask why we are doing them. The usual answer is that because that is the way we have always had done it. No one remembers why we do it; it is just the way we do things here. HR has the role of seeing new ways of doing things and is willing to take the chance that in the long run we will be a better organization. EXPECTING more than others find possible from your human capital assets. One of the problems with many organizations in the workplace today is that we have tended to stereotype our human capital assets. How often have you heard these comments? • They are just out for the paycheck • They are lazy and just do not want to work • They are spending all day playing video games or using social media Why not change the stereotypes to seek out the full potential of the human capital assets. Why not see the extended potential that engaged employees can bring to a dynamic organization. Reaching a state of HR excellence within you organization is an organization wide effort which comes from CARING more about your organization than others think wise; RISKING more than others think safe to change the corporate culture; DREAMING more than others think practical about the potential for your organization ; EXPECTING more than others find possible from your human capital assets.
    • Page5 Let's Play HR (Published 2/10/13) To my HR purist friends I apologize if you think I believe that HR does not have a vital role within our organizations. I am in no way equating HR to playing the child game of house. What I am suggesting is that there is a new visitor in the neighborhood. For some time I have had some elementary interest in a new tool to increase employee engagement called gamification. It came to the forefront when I received a LinkedIn Invite from Noreen Poli of Ready, Set, Go Social who asked me how to introduce her platform to the HR community. The purpose of the gamification effort is to take the concepts alive in the online gaming process and apply them to the business arena. In each instance the employee is rewarded if you will with feedback, rewards and badges to show how well they were involved in the process. According to an article by Rob Garcia in the upMover there are three areas of low hanging fruit where this can apply now - Employee referral programs, talent management and collaboration and health and wellness. In a separate article from Forbes magazine entitled Gamification: Three ways to use gaming for recruiting, training and wellness the author talks about Marriott using gaming theory in recruiting kitchen managers. The link takes you to an app on Facebook.where you are given the assignment to act as the kitchen manager. It is fun. It is engaging and it shows what we are talking about. Your assignment is to prepare food for customers and then have it sent out to the restaurant floor. Your feedback is the format when the plate is returned to the kitchen and you are able to see how much of the food was consumed. I tried it four times and the first plate came back half empty the rest came back mostly or not at all consumed. Marriott uses it as a recruiting tool to show candidates the responsibilities of the kitchen manager. Obviously since the platform allows you to save your results the candidate is able to show Marriott whether they can handle the job. If you are interested in learning more there are several good outlets for more information: 1. The online educational site Coursera is offering a free 12 week course on the concepts behind gamification in business conducted by Professor Ken Werbach from the Wharton School of Business. 2. Professor Ken Werbach has written a book about this area called For the Win and it can be found as a Kindle E-Book for under $10.00 We need to keep searching for ways to engage our human capital assets for the betterment of our organizations. With the increasing role of the younger generations in our organizations, gamification allows us to engage them in the world they are comfortable in. Regardless of our generational level, I am sure that many of you out there play the Faceboook and Zynga games. Gamification allows us to bring that feeling to the business marketplace.
    • Page5 The Thrill is Gone!!!! (Published 1/6/13) Every year my wife and I have a tradition of attending the supposed "final tour" for B.B. King, and as usual last night he sang his hit "The Thrill is Gone." In listening to it last night I began, based on some comments from some of my HR peers, to wonder if that is HR's problem. Have the majority of our peers - deep down inside - lost that thrill about the role HR plays within our organizations? Is the change self-inflicted or the response to a changed view of the function by management? I hear almost every day that some think we need to return to the days when we were called personnel. Our responsibilities were that of handling the administrative aspects of our human capital needs. As the business world evolved so did the nature of what we do. The problem began when we changed the name from personnel to human resource management. We were neither ready for the change nor asking for it. In our attempts to make the change we began to fall far short of the expectations that management now required from their HR departments. We became the organizational fireman or policeman depending on the circumstance, but did not gravitate toward truly managing the human capital assets. This is part of the reason why HR becomes one of the first parts of the organization to be dismissed when times get tough. So has the thrill of being the gatekeeper to the human capital assets gone the way of many other things in our lives? I would suggest that the answer is in the negative. The workplace has changed and we need to change with it. We can still find the thrill within our business lives if we follow some simple steps. 1. Become involved in the understanding of the voice of your customers - Talk with both your internal and exterior customers about the skills, attributes and attitudes they expect from the organizational human capital. Change the job descriptions to reflect these requirements. 2. Change your perspective from that of policeman to that of a coach - Help your management to understand the new roles that human capital plays within the work environment. They have a key role in the innovation of your organization. 3. Coach your management to change their direction - Managers can no longer operate from the command and control attitude. They now need to be the human capital coach. Instead of blaming them for the problems that they occur, they need to sit down and help the employee discover what went wrong and why. To help the manager you need to create new training opportunities which will show them how to make the change. 4. Be an active member of the process improvement efforts organization wide - Become visible throughout the organization. Let the various facets of the organization see you involved outside of your cubbyhole called HR. Your involvement has to be absent of rapid decisions of what the organization can and can't do. Be open to working with the organization to find new and unique resolution to the occurrence of non-value added activities. The thrill might be gone in the careers of many HR professionals but with the right view and the right attitude the thrill can be returned. Are you ready to bring the thrill back?
    • Page5 Big is not necessarily better (Published 12/29/12) I admit it - I have an addiction. Back in 2001 I was introduced to the writings of Kathleen O'Neal Gear and her husband W. Michael Gear, who have written a series of 23 historical fiction books centered on the lives of the North American Native Americans (http://www.gear-gear.com). They are fast reads but full of twists and turns. Their latest one is called People of the Back Sun in which the Standing Stone village is manned by about 400 warriors and they are up against the opponent with a force of several thousand warriors. Throughout the book there are references to how the matron of the Standing Stone village is looking at things from a strategic perspective as she tries to plan a response to this elephant at her door. Turn your concentration away from the Gear book and think for a moment - how do you respond when the elephant is knocking on the door of your organization? Many organizations take the road of trying to imitate the elephant. The view is that the only way for you to win in this market is for you to become the other elephant in the room. Not only is this not practical, it seldom works. As the high matron did in the Gear book, you have another path which more than likely will succeed more often than trying to match the elephant. In People of the Black Sun, the high matron took stock of the assets she had and reviewed what actions she could take strategically to combat the elephant. She reviewed her assets and what her ultimate strategic goals were. How can she utilize those assets to deliver a win faster, cheaper and better than the elephant? Consider these strategic responses: 1. If you are worth your salt you have benchmarked the elephant - Your benchmark survey has shown that the elephant is trying to reach the point where they have the largest proportion of the market share. You on the other hand have looked at what they are doing and you strategically strive for a larger share of customer. 2. Look at their human capital assets - What skills do they have to bring to the market and how can you utilize your human capital assets to match or bring to the table skills which will allow you to do the same job in a better or unique way which will outflank the elephant? 3. Review their marketing materials - Whether it is their web presence or their social media presence, what message are they bringing to the marketplace? Is your message a copycat or can you show you have a different message to bring to the market? 4. Review their mission statement, values and strategic initiatives - The elephant has this large presence in the marketplace, but do they really walk the walk and talk the talk? Turn the coin over and review how close you come to living your mission, values and initiatives. Large or small, the key to success in this dynamic market we are confronted with is the requirement that we establish strategic initiatives which management has established and inbred throughout the organization. If we make those initiatives part of the corporate culture, it does not matter that the elephant is knocking at the door. We do not have to try and match them for size. Instead we can utilize our assets and skills to the maximum advantage for the organization. If you do you will be on the road to being the employer of choice within your market.
    • Page5 The Diversity Scam: We talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk (Published 11/27/12) We have just recently undergone a decisive election era in which some very strong views have been expressed. Some of those comments made me take a moment and reflect on the status of diversity within this country and the workplace in particular. One of the facts that became abundantly clear is that there is a dramatic change in the demographics of the society in which we live. Change is tough but when the majority suddenly finds itself in the minority it raises a wide range of responses. And this is where the Diversity Scam arises. Let me lay some ground work before discussing my reasoning. We find ourselves in a rapidly changing business space. An organization only succeeds when it can meet two very interdependent factors. The first is that we only succeed when we are competitive within the market. We constantly need to be aware and cognizant of the needs of our customers. The other side of the coin is we must be innovative with what we offer to the marketplace. With the changing demographic we need to be open to the inclusion of a wide variety of ideas and backgrounds with the hiring of human capital assets. The problem seems to be, from my conversations with fellow HR professionals that many of the members of the changing demographic seem to want to move to their organizations and organizations. Why? The management tiers of our organizations have traditionally been occupied by white male members of our society. With this they have very set ways as to the methods that organizations should operate under. That philosophy is being challenged. The establishment is uncomfortable with what this means for the future of their workplace. The message from our customers and society is that diversity in the workplace is a necessity. So in order to appear as though we are part of the current global environment , the message is that all of our communications pieces from the recruiting brochure to the annual report sate that diversity is a key component of our strategy. But look at the organization as a whole and what do you find? While there are many exceptional examples of organizations which walk the walk and talk the talk, the far greater numbers extend the message through the communication devices but never intend to follow through on it unless they are forced to jump through the hoops of the EEO-1 form. Instead what diversity is found within the organizations is restricted to the low paying lower levels of the organization. Restricted at the lower levels where what diversity does exist can be pushed off into back corner of the organization. These human capital assets are not exposed to the tools to move up the corporate ladder to reach that corner office. The difficulty is that with "those people" now becoming the majority in the workplace, just talking the talk will not make the organization more sustainable. In fact it will make the organization less likely to succeed. Like most scams, the perpetrators eventually get caught and it comes back to haunt. As we reach the Thanksgiving holiday season and the opening of the run to the end of year, we as organizational management need to re-assess our views and our initiatives. We need to understand and accept that the inclusion of the new normal demographics makes the diversity scam totally unacceptable in the marketplace. It is time that organizational management comes to recognize that they need to change their views of the workplace. First, this is not your father's company anymore. The demographics of the global workplace have changed and it will not survive with a less than true message. Second, the new generational workers are much more comfortable in an open society whether it is life or work and they will force you in the direction of full diversity and finally as a member of your organization's management team your goal is to protect the ability of the organization to survive into eternity. We cannot do that if we purposely forget about a large percentage of the society within which we operate. So stop for a moment and really analyze are you both talking the talk and walking the walk in regards to diversity. Tell me whether your organization is part of the scam or really believes in the inclusion of a wide range of views and attitudes represented by the changed demographics within your portals.
    • Page5 Politics, Half-Truths and the Workplace (Published 8/31/12) Every night and every day between now and November, we will be bombarded with political ads from one source or another regarding the upcoming presidential race. Despite non-aligned groups such as Politico and Fact-Finder stating that the premise is wrong, the campaigns continue to run ads with false data. One campaign pollster even openly stated that in releasing campaign ads we don't care if our facts are wrong. There is a campaign poster running currently which shows grumpy coal miners with the caption "We were told to show up for a candidate appearance without pay or risk being fired." That is not the message that appeared in the main stream media. This makes me turn to our business world and ask - what do we do with the facts? When someone makes a complaint against your organization, is the tendency to truly investigate the issues or do we look to what makes the organization look good? Do we tell an employee that their job is safe and then lays him or her off three days later? We, as organizations, constantly claim that our organizational culture requires us to be the employer of choice and that we have 100% employee engagement. Then we turn around and we are less than honest with all parties. We tell the world how great we are and then we understate the job requirements. I have a friend who took a job with the understanding that it was minimal travel, and he is now traveling 90% of the time. We tell our employees that we want full engagement, but we fail to show the employee that they are a valued part of the organization. The problem is that these half-truths will inevitably come back to haunt your organization. If you stretch the truth, someone is surely going to take you task over it. I am not a lawyer, but from my recruiting days I have heard of candidates who successfully took legal action over half truths. As a human resource strategist, here is my advice to your organization: Determine what your message is and make sure that message is based on creditable, verifiable facts - facts which are not tainted to meet an arbitrary goal. A message that treats everyone involved - employees, customers, stakeholders, management- with the respect that they deserve. You want to be included in the list of the "good-to-great" organizations? Then you need to place yourselves above the morass of tainted messages. Half-truths have no place in a quality business environment - not in the past, not in the future and certainly not in the future. It is not a choice of do or don't. The survival of your organization depends on it.
    • Page5 Firefighter, Strategist or Catalyst – What is the proper HR role? (Published 8/14/12) As I attend various HR related events and read the posts in social media, there seems to be some discussion as to exactly what HR is supposed to be doing. Having said that, I can find some common threads in the discussions. Some of the individuals believe we are there to be policy cops. Our responsibility is centered on the task of keeping the organization out of trouble. In doing that we tend to gain the "we have an app for that" mentality. If a problem arises we have the solution, or we will create it. Never mind if the solution is aligned with the corporate objectives or the business vision or mission. Management tells you they have a problem and you create the solution, only to be told that now HR is a roadblock to the successful organization as a whole. If you want a clearer picture of what we are suggesting, talk to your peers who have been around and ask them what it was like when we were called "Personnel." For several years now I have been telling anyone who asks that I am an HR strategist. We use that nomenclature on our blog and on our LinkedIn profile. But what does that mean? My interpretation was that my role in the equation is to show organizations how to align HR with the overall business strategy, working to show the organization that HR has a major role to play within that strategy. Dictionary.com defines "strategist" as "one who is an expert in strategy." It defines strategy as a plan, method or a series of moves to obtain a specific goal or end result. That was what I thought I was doing. I was talking to clients about getting their HR department to be seen as a critical part of the organization. I was showing them how by some relatively small moves they could have their department run as an efficient hub within the organization. True some of the moves required dramatic changes in the way they have always done things. We expected our peers to challenge the status quo, because at its roots the system was not producing the results that HR wanted or that management expected. Then the other day, along comes a business partner who tells me "you are not a strategist, you are a catalyst." So I had to stop and think about what the difference is between the two. Dictionary.com tells us that a catalyst is "something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected or a person or thing that precipitates and event or change." After considering this for a bit I am not sure if I can give him a direct answer to his proposition. Let me talk a bit as to why. The global workplace is not going to tolerate us being the corporate fireman for much longer. The world will not move forward with the obstacles we sometimes put in place. We are not helping our organizations and we are not helping ourselves. If all we do is put out fires day in and day out, we have not proven (or more importantly, justified) our existence. The same duties and functions can be performed by an outsourced entity. So if we can't be the fireman, then we are left with being either a strategist or catalyst. I am not sure the answer lies specifically within or outside the organization. The answer rests rather in the consideration of what our function is or should be. As we stated above a strategist is one who is an expert in strategy. As HR professionals, are we not experts in how to advance our human capital assets? Are we not the best persons within the organizational structure to know and implement strategic initiatives to advance the collaboration and innovation of the organization based on the way we source, recruit, and train the talent needed by the organization? We have a vital role to play that no other can perform as proficiently as we can. We understand the dynamics of human interaction and can identify those who best fit within the greater picture. If we are catalysts rather than strategists, then we are given the task of advocating change within our organizations with the understanding that we are operating apart from the rest of the organization. I am unclear how you can advocate change within the organization without it affecting your own position. Remember - one of the tenants of the catalyst above was that we advocate change but we are not affected. I find it difficult to believe that, as HR professionals, that if we improve our organizations we will in turn be affected by the raised stature of both our immediate position but the whole profession as well. Could there be an alternative or a merger of sorts? I would suggest that as HR professionals we are both strategists and catalysts at the same time. We advocate change every day to improve the performance of the organization. We may not always be heard, but we do make the attempt. At the same time, we are experts in the implementation of plans,
    • Page5 methods, or moves to obtain a better work environment for the workforce. We are charged with sourcing, recruiting and hiring the right person, for the right job at the right location at the right time. We want our place at the table where the decisions are made regarding the objectives and initiatives of the organization are made. We are not going to get there without determining what our role is within the organization. So what are you - Fireman, Strategist or Catalyst? What role do you want in your organization and do you have the evidence based documentation to support your decision?
    • Page5 Where oh where has innovation gone? (Published 8/4/12) Carefully consider some of the political ads currently running in the media and you would be led to believe that America is going downhill. Part of that is the climate we are in at the current time. Russell Moen of Express Personnel in his presentation "Love them or Leave them" talks about the key to innovation is collaboration. Collaboration indicates the presence of a cross-functional team that brings ideas to the table and looks at all facets of the situation and arrives at a consensus as to the most efficient way to direct the organization in resolving the problems at hand. I grew up in an era when the badge of honor was being a Rockefeller Moderate who did what collaboration means. Now in both governing circles and in many business organizations we see just the opposite. Dictionary.com tells us that the definition of INNOVATION is the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods. That does not mean being so closed minded that we think that there is only one way to introduce new methods of doing things. Management and elected officials tell us this is the way we do things and if it doesn't fit your picture of the world then go somewhere else. The result is that both scenarios place us in danger of falling off the cliff. We reach stalemates which ends up getting nothing accomplished. Problems go unsolved because no one wants to see both sides of the coin. If we want to be the next great organization then we need to look at the facts and then take the best of all views on the situation and find that middle road which will allow us to arrive at unique resolutions to the problems facing us. Do not waste organizational crucial time by forming a cross-functional team as window dressing. Do not form a cross-functional team whose ideas are summarily dismissed by top management because that just is not the way we do things round here. Our economic times have put us in a unique place. We can decide whether we as an organization have a future as real innovators within our industries based on solid consideration of all ideas in the marketplace or we can continue to believe that management is the only one who knows how to move the organization forward and take the road to disaster. The choice is yours, make it wisely.
    • Page5 Why Does HR Not Get It? (Published 6/25/12) In the course of my consulting practice I have the opportunity to talk with a number of individuals within the HR and business space on a daily basis. So when twice in a week I get the same question posed to me, it makes you wake up and think twice about how you answer. The first time occurred during the facilitation of our two day seminar on "Achieving HR Excellence through Six Sigma" when one of the participants remarked that she does not understand why HR people shy away from solutions that will improve the effectiveness of their space within the organization. The second one happened within the groups on LinkedIn when Dr. Ed Holton posted a question with the same title as this post. Does HR have a problem with getting it? I suppose it depends on who you talk to. However here is my take on the response. Many contributors to the HR space believe that we need to change our message and I would agree. The problem becomes what do we change the message to? I would suggest that we need to reassess where you want to take your career. If you are happy with being the corporate fireman and spending your days putting out those fires that arise because we are embedded in the stance of being reactive to the environment around us so be it. But at the same time we would suggest that you stop by your local business supply place and purchase a calendar and begin to cross off each day with a large red X. Why? I would suggest that you are counting the days until you don't have a position. This is not because your organization decides to let you go. This is because the position will evolve into another dimension. Dimension in which there will be more demanded of you then you are currently providing your organization. On the other hand if you want to become a vital part of your organization then you need to change your focus to a proactive stance. You need to change your perspective to one of challenging everything the organization does related to human capital. Become proactive in solving the organizational problems. I just finished reading John Bodreau's Beyond HR in which we suggests that we need to look at HR from a talent ship view. While I disagree with some of his points, the basic point is that we need to become more involved in the hiring process from the point of view of delivering metrics which show the benefits of the talent acquisition process. As Dr. Holton so aptly asks, if accounting, finance, C-Suites and marketing get the message why can't HR. It is a critical point in time that HR has to understand that we can no longer tolerate being the organizational punching bag. We can no longer tolerate being the answer that managers use for why the system does not work. As HR professionals, many of you who are in Atlanta at the SHRM conference, we need to stand up and say enough is enough. We get the message. We understand what our new role in the organization is supposed to be. We are not your punching bag, but rather play a vital role in the success of your organization. We are the ones who understand the valuable role our human capital play better than anyone else in the organization. We are the ones who hear and understand what trials and tribulations they are going through. We are the one who know the obstacles the market is putting in front of us when we source out that next best talent. Why does HR not get it? We do not have a choice but to start getting it. It means the success of both your career and the success of the organizations that employ us.
    • Page5 What is your focus? (Published 3/12/12) Almost every day you can pick up a copy of the newspaper or turn on the TV News and hear about an organization which has announced that it is cutting jobs to lower costs. In this current economic climate I can totally understand wanting to reduce costs. However I ask you what is your goal - to sustain the organization for the long haul or to satisfy the stockholders for a quick response to economic "dire" warnings? Let's consider the two perspectives in place in many organizations. The first one is based in the concept that our human capital is nothing more than an expense item. When the organization is blowing results out of the water, we tend to hire based on the demand. As a result when we find that the economic conditions are headed in the opposite direction the first reaction by many management members is to see how you can cut costs. This includes cutting staff. In order to meet the demands of the board of directors and other stakeholders the strategic direction is cut costs at any cost to the organization. Never mind that as you cut overhead we forget that the workload does not get less. In its place you have added to the stress level within the organization. Typically we find eventually that work does not get done on time alienating the organizational customers. While we may have helped meet the demands of the stakeholders we have not helped the future of the organization Consider the other side of the coin if you will. In this scenario we find a total different view of management. They recognize that our greatest asset is the innovation and thought processes of our human capital. Management fully understands while the short term solution seems to be the logical route, in actuality we have failed to recognize what the knowledge drain will mean to the corporation. Consider this: There was a company about five years ago who decided that the sure fire method to cut costs was to offer early buy out to anyone with 20+ years with the company. Almost all the employees took the corporation up on their offer and they were out of business in 6 months. So let's turn this into a strategic discussion - You are in an industry where sales are dropping due to the economy and its trials and tribulations. So what do you do? The first thing I would tell you that unless you are planning to close your doors, N0 ONE SHOULD BE LAID OFF. Let me repeat that, no one should be laid off. There are other ways to reduce costs and keep the organizations flowing. Review the organizational widgets (We all have them whether we make something or not) and locate the ways we are spending money out the door due to wasteful activities. If you are thinking, we don't do that here; go ask your clients how well you are meeting their needs. Jay Arthur in his book Free, Perfect and Now suggests that for every $100 of corporate spend, you are wasting between 25-40 in wastes. On a continuous basis review how you are doing business to cut these wastes from the operation. Talk with your human capital assets and let them know a true picture of how the organization is functioning. Talk with them about ways to have everyone pitch in to save the organization for the long term. Talk to them about TEMPORARY job sharing. Talk to them about shortening the work week. Each and every one of these strategies is designed to save the organization monies and not hurt the future of the company. Understand that if you have a problem meeting customer needs, cutting staff is not going to meet the customer needs. If you are not meeting the customer needs there is something wrong with the internal processes. So here is your dilemma - we recognize the value of the intellectual properties of our leased, non-owned corporate assets, but we are getting extreme pressure from stakeholders to maximize their return on investment. You need to demonstrate to the stakeholders that the maximum return on investment is not on financial returns for next week or next month. Maximum return on investment is based on what the organization looks like five or ten years down the road. We do not maximize the ROI on the back of our keys to innovation. Take the time to review how you picture the organization in the future. Make the necessary changes to enhance the level of employee engagement within the organization. Think ahead as to what your product or service is going to look like in response to the voice of the customer and start preparing your human capital to be ready for when the time comes. Promise them that unless you are planning to go bankrupt or close your doors, we are going to plan on maintaining all staffing levels. We are going to the very best we can to establish our rightful place within the business community. We are not going to promise the rose garden if we can't deliver it.
    • Page5 So here is your path in front of you - one fork is to follow the path to short term responses to the demands of the organization. The other fork is to look at how to sustain the brand and the reputation for the long haul. One fork looks at the here and now the other looks at the future. A future which can be bright, vibrant and fully supportive of the path the organization has chosen. You make the decision. By the way let me know are you stuck in the short term quagmire or are you following the yellow brick road to the future, where your bottom line increases because of the steps taken by the entire organization- rank and file and management together in consultation to improve the end result of the organizational voice of the customer requests
    • Page5 A New Generation is coming, but are you ready? (Published 1/22/12) We have all seen the vast number of articles regarding the interactions between the different generations in the workplace. We all have our personal views regarding the roles of the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y or the traditionalists. But we are talking about an entirely different generational mix then we are used to hearing about. For the past 15 years, I have religiously read one business magazine cover to cover each and every month. When you book marked it on your PC or Mac it came up as the Handbook for the Revolution. The February issues discussed a new generation called Generation Flux. Based in Chaos Theory it suggests that you as HR professionals need to change your perspectives. The idea of creating precise long term business model or expecting that your human capital assets are going to remain part of your organization is dwindling. So what does this mean for our organizations? The total organization, including HR, must learn to work in small segments. The article contains references from individuals who are part of this new generation which represent all ages. They look at the business world from the view of what is going to happen in the next several hours not five or ten years down the road. This means that HR needs to embrace change and realize that our future as an organization is directly attributable to how well we adapt the organization to this state of flux. Consider these options for your organization: 1. Employees with a constant pressure to learn new things 2. Adaptation to changing environments that can happen in hours not years 3. Short-term careers 4. No guarantee that talent will stay in your industry 5. Human Capital resumes are a collection of roads that have no clear path of direction. Revising the resume opens new paths. What this means is that nostalgia is a thing of the past. The future means we have to be ready at the drop of a dime to change our focus. We need to shift our focus towards hiring as the moment requires and understand when the need drops; the talent is going to move. It will play havoc on our hiring plans. It will have an adverse effort on succession planning. We cannot rely on our HIPE employees being there when the C-Suite retires. We cannot rely on the department staffing needs to be placed on a plateau where we know who is going to fill the needs of the future. The generation flux is going to be the indicator of the strength of our organization short term because that is way we need to look. Command and control and management expecting to have a strong presence in the wave of the future are winding fast. In our presentations on Six Sigma and HR, we focus on an analogy of the fork in the road as the determining factor in the health of the HR function. With the introduction of the generation flux, this is even truer than before. We have a choice of staying the path of "hey this is the way we have always done it, and it works," or taking the path of moving with the flow which will cause us to review where we are, where we are going and how we are going to get there--hourly. It means we need to be able to assist the human capital assets to better prepare for the new world. Forget this attitude that we are not going to train them because they will just leave. They are going to leave anyway. Help them solidify the next skill set that goes in their backpack. These skills may be helpful in the next person you hire. Stop, take a moment to smell the roses and prepare for the turbulent ride as we enter the world of Generation Flux. I highly recommend that you click on the link and read about what Generation Flux could mean to your organization. Contribute to the discussion. Get involved in laying out the future of your organizations.
    • Page5 What is your brand telling the world? (Published 1/20/12) Let me set the playing field; this is NOT about marketing of an organization. This is about the message you as an organization send to two different stakeholders for your organization. The first is your customer base and the second are your current and potential employees. Consider this scenario. I recently had to send some critical legal documents from my home in Florida to an attorney in NY. I decided the "safest" way was to send them next day early delivery by one of the largest service providers. The letter went from Florida to Philadelphia and then by some fluke it ended up in London. Before they could return it to the US it went to Germany. When I called customer service I was told they were sorry about the delay but mistakes happen. I will give them that. But when asked how this could happen, no one from executive offices to the customer service representative could explain the results. So here is my question to you. What does your brand say, when the organization makes a mistake? Is your response that mistakes happen or do you work to try and a) find the reason for the mistake or b) make changes in your processes so that it does not happen again? Your brand response to these matters of nature, have a vital impact on your brand as an organization. Today's human capital assets seek organizations that care for their stakeholders. I am not suggesting that you need to be in love with them. What we are suggesting is that your organization, as part of your culture, needs to strive to show the world that you at least care about their role in the success of your business. Jim Collins in Good to Great suggests that the way for your organization to thrive is to have the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats. If your management does not see the value in your employees and stakeholders then you do not have the right person on the bus. Management is the face of the brand you and if they are sending a message that these investors inn your organization are just a drag your brand is going to tell the world just that message. Put yourselves for a minute in the role of the employee or stakeholder and you were confronted with a brand which tells you that we want your business but it has to be on our terms and if you don't like it go elsewhere. Would your tendency be to stay with that organization or find one that cared about your needs and issues?
    • Page5 Back to the Future (Published 12/8/11) I opened the paper today and read where several organizations announced that they were cutting staff in order to control costs. In the same time span I saw several posting in the social media space which stated that C-suite office holders are saying that their greatest challenge in 2012 is going to be centered around talent issues especially talent retention. I must be missing something here. We cannot state that we are concerned with retaining the talent we have and at the same time discharge them in order to maintain costs. Jeff Cox in his book Velocity tells us that unless the organization is on the verge of bankruptcy or closing its doors then there is no excuse for cutting headcount. Part of the dichotomy here is how the organization views its human capital. The majority of American corporations treat their employees a commodity. When you are considered in this track, then the natural assumption is that employees can be cut or hired based on the economics of the time However if you consider your employees to be valuable assets like Toyota does, then the solution to freeing up funds for headcount is not to cut heads but rather to deep dive your operations with the goal to remove as much non-value added activities as is possible. This in turn we will free up revenue that can be used to maintain headcount. Jim Collins tells us in his book, Good to Great, that the key is to get the right people on the bus. I don't argue that point at all. What I do argue is that all too often we get rid of the wrong people in trying to reach where we think we want to be. As a result we either eliminate people or screen candidates out because we are still working off of an ancient formula for assessing talent. Think you have a talent problem going into 2012? Learn to think out of the box. I recently heard of a local car dealer who could not identify quality technicians for his dealership. Reach out to the training institutes in the area that are training mechanics and see what talent you can grow. I also heard of law firm that posted a position for a paralegal and out of 100 applicants could find only three that fit their mold. How about talking to the local Universities that have Communication programs? Get somebody who knows how to write and teach them the legal parts after they come onboard. Talent is what you make of them. If you show them that you care and respect their input you will have a vibrant organization. If you show them that they are just an inconvenience then you get what you paid for. We have been there before when talent was a luxury. It is plainly not prudent to in this knowledge/service age to approach your talent needs by cutting heads when there are better ways to control costs. Look at what you do not have to do to meet client demands. The answers are right in front of you. They are hidden from your perspective because in many cases you have been too hesitant to look.
    • Page5 HR Strategic Focus Part 5: They are not human capital assets; they are employees (Published 8/2311) In this final installment in this series we want to turn to the need for a new perspective on a critical factor in every organization that is operating today. In this space and others on the web we recently posted a request for assistance in developing the support for the effect of stress and overwork on the productivity within the workplace. One of the respondents returned a rather terse response in which she took us to task in our post by stating "First of all, they are EMPLOYEES, not "human capital assets." They're PEOPLE, not furniture." While we agree that they are people, we also suggest that they are a valuable asset of the organization. Try serving your clients or customers with no employees. They dictate how successful you are in the marketplace. Part of the problem with the above stated comment can be found in the landmark work of Robert Kaplan and David Norton entitled "The Balanced Scorecard." The authors make reference to the Harvard Business Council on Competitiveness project which stated that "the U.S. system favors those forms of investment for which returns are most readily measurable; this leads to underinvestment in intangible assets - products and process innovation, employee skills, customer satisfaction - whose short term returns are more difficult to measure." (The Balanced Scorecard Page 38) In order to reach the stages of innovation that will perpetuate our organizations we have to change the way we look at our EMPLOYEES. The nature of our employees has changed that they are no longer valued on what they make or produce. They are now valued for what is in their heads. They are based on the contribution they make to the organization's ability to create new products or services. Their value is based on how they enhance the organization. So from a strategic perspective organizations need to begin to recognize the value brought to the business. This means they are not truly just expense items on a balance sheet. They are the future of the business. So how do we change the perspective? Consider these strategic directions when dealing with employee issues: Listen to the Rank and File: Instead of necessarily introducing benefits because they are the current fad ask your employees what they need and want. Create benefit package centered on both your corporate culture and the voice of your employees. Flexible Work Arrangements - Many organizations, with great success, have found that being willing to explore new work arrangements have benefits to the organization and to the customers. Best Buy has allowed their corporate employees to switch to a system in which employees are rated on the results they achieve not on what hours they work. This also allows you to assist your employees in achieving an optimal work/life balance. Employee Engagement - Management needs to bring everyone into the planning process. Utilize the creative skills of the employees to change policies or procedures. Use the employees to locate the obstacles in your processes to make the organization run more effectively. Make the employees aware that they are a vital part of the organization. Not in image but in reality.
    • Page5 HR Strategic Focus Part 4: It is not a talent problem, trust me (Published 8/23/11) Toyota recalls a major part of their road fleet due to mechanical problems. Johnson and Johnson recalls much of the product line due a chemical smell in the pills. For many managers the tendency is to counter these problems with the theory that if they throw out the talent for the replacements will improve the problem. But here is the problem with that perspective. Assuming you have done your selection properly and the talent meet the minimum job requirements (some organizations admittedly do not do a very good job in the selection process), and then replacing the talent will not solve the problem. Eliyahu Goldratt, the author of the book The Goal, in one of his last statements before his recent passing made the comment that "I smile and start to count on my fingers: One, people are good. Two, every conflict can be removed. Three, every situation, no matter how complex it initially looks, is exceedingly simple. Four, every situation can be substantially improved; even the sky is not the limit. Five, every person can reach a full life. Six, there is always a win- win solution. Shall I continue to count?" The point here is that when your organization encounters such events within your organization it is not the people. Every process within the organization has its hiccups. These hiccups tend to cause our processes to operate in less than optimum levels. The other problem is that many of these hiccups exist because we are so used to the organizational speak that we never look for them. The real solution here is part of what we discussed in Part 3 of this series. You want to know where the hiccups are. Ask your front line talent. They know better than anyone where the process hiccups are. If asked they will gladly tell you how to improve the process. Your only challenge is to not only listen; you need to be willing to accept the worth of your human capital assets and their insight. You need to be willing to take that voice of the customer and apply it to improving the processes within HR and the other functions in your organization. Forget you are in this supposed HR Silo that knows the ways of organizational development, open up and look at what is good for the total organization. HR Strategic Focus Part 5: They are not human capital assets, they are Employees!!!
    • Page5 HR Strategic Focus Part 3: Voice of the Customer (Published 8/15/11) Stop your whirlwind lives for a moment and think about the answers to several very important questions. You may not think they are important, but they are vital to the health of your career. Question 1: Who determines the specific job qualifications for your positions within your organization? Question 2: Who really are HR's customers, both internal and external? Question 3: Do you take things at face value? Question 4: What is the strategic focus of your department and your organization? If you are like most organizations, your job descriptions are written based on templates available in the marketplace or you have run your positions through some system like the Hays method. But have you really looked to see what your customer base wants in those job descriptions? Do not make the mistake of saying we are HR and we know what is supposed to be in the job requirements. One of the best methods for identifying the actual needed skills, knowledge and attributes your candidates will need is to ask your customers. This brings us to the second question. HR has two customer bases and in developing your organizational needs. To be of contribution to the dialogue you need to meet the needs of both groups. The first are the internal customers and they are represented by both management and the line staff. They know what their department requires to be done. But more important to your organization are the external customers. It should be the standard practice of every HR professional to go out in the filed with your top business development people. While there ask your organizational customers what they expect from your employees. It will provide you with a strong picture of the KSA's you will need in acquiring new talent for your organization. They are your eyes and ears as to what is working and what is not. As we have said in the past, all too often we take steps through our processes based on what we have always done them. Never mind if it makes sense or whether the steps deliver a highly ineffective process to the organization. Because we do it this way we always do it this way. Listen to your FTE's who are in the trenches every day. They do understand and know where the problems lay. They know where the skeletons are hidden. In that same vein do you know what the overall business strategy is for the organization and what HR's role is in that strategy? If you do not then you need to begin that road to understanding today. It is our job to drive the strategic initiatives of the organization. We are the ones who know what the human capital assets of the organization are. We know what their needs are and how they affect the organization as a whole. So get a handle on the voice of customer both for the internal messages and the external messages. Learn what the brand is saying to the marketplace in terms of the human capital you are sourcing and recruiting. Learn what the voice of the customer is telling you about the future health of the organization. Become the strategic animal you know you are and look for ways to do things better, faster. HR Strategic Focus Part 4: It really is Not the People, Trust Me
    • Page5 HR Strategic Focus Part 2: Are you part of the solution or are you part of the problem? (Published 8/12/11) In part 1 of this series, we asked the question about what is the HR role -- is it transactional or transformational in nature. In this second installment we are going to expand on that question. We present a 45-minute program entitled "In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes that Affect the Viability of Your HR Organization" in which we begin by posing to the audience a scenario to be worked through. The question we pose is that you are sitting at your desk and you receive the latest financials for the HR department, what do you do with the numbers? Our suggestion is that the way you respond to the question will determine whether you are part of problem or are part of the solution. Let me explain more in detail. First of all, the majority of HR professionals tell me they never see these types of reports. That is a problem in itself which I will touch on later. Of those who do see the reports, the most common response is that we review the numbers. Review the numbers for what? Are you checking that the numbers add up? Are you verifying that the computer did not err and assign the wrong numbers to the HR account? We would suggest that if this is all you are doing, then stop looking at the financials. Go down to the local business supply store and purchase a wall calendar and begin to cross off each day with a big red X. Incidentally you are counting off the number of days until you do not have a position. If this is the route you take then I am sorry but you are part of the problem. On the other hand, if you take the time to work through the numbers to see what they are telling you then you are part of the solution. We need to ask ourselves why we are getting the results we are. In example if you see that the numbers are telling you that the cost of payroll has escalated over the previous period. Do we understand why? Are the numbers up due to an increase turnover rate which should drive us to ask why so many FTE’s are choosing to leave our employment? Are the benefit costs escalating because we have allowed too many exceptions to benefit guidelines increasing our costs? In every situation such as these you should make it a priority to challenge every decision with a minimum of 5 why's. Why do we do this? BY the time you get to the last of the five why's you will understand what the problem is. With knowledge and understanding of the problem we can begin to work on the solutions, thus transforming the human resource function. HR Strategic Focus Part 3: Voice of the Customer
    • Page5 HR Strategic Focus Part 1: What is my role? (Published 8/11/11) You are sitting in your office and a colleague enters the office and asks you to please explain what the role of the Human Resource professional is both inside your organization and in the business marketplace as a whole. How would you respond to the question? There are only two responses that you could provide to your colleague. The first is that your responsibilities are to ensure that the organization stays out of trouble. You assist the organization with benefit questions and handling personnel problems. I would suggest to you that 90 percent of your colleagues would respond in this manner. If they do so they are involved in the transactional role within the HR world. While what you do is important to the organization at the time it is not forward thinking. The second response is that you as human resources professionals work with the line management and upper management to explore the human aspects of their decisions. These decisions can look great on paper but if you do not take into serious consideration the impact of these decisions on the human capital assets of the organization the path down the road is going to be a nightmare. In this response, the human resource professional demonstrates that they are involved in a transformational role within the organization. The decision is clearly yours. You can either be part of the here and now or you can be part of the future projection of the organization. Being in a strictly transactional role places you within a silo who looks at only what the immediate demands are being placed on you. You do not operate from the macro view of the organization. Being in the transformation role places you at the format of the strategic decisions on where the organization is headed as we progress through these economic times. HR Strategic Focus Part 2: Are You Part of the Solution or Are You Part of the Problem? Productivity Decline: Wake-Up Call for Organizations (Published 8/10/11) The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the second quarter productivity rates for the non-farm employment showing a decline in productivity of about 0.3 percent. This should be a wakeup call for business enterprises worldwide. Corporations in these difficult economic times have resorted to trying to save costs by lying off great numbers of employees. They claimed that the result was that they were reporting higher level of productivity in years. This was achieved on the backs of their human capital assets. Heavier workloads. Longer hours. What has happened is that the stress levels have come back to haunt. It is time for business organizations to realize that they have gutted their human capital assets by drastically cutting their staffs in the name of austerity. When they can then return by reporting high profit levels while gutting innovation and collaboration, the only ones they are hurting in the long run is the reputation of the organization
    • Page5 Sorry, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! (Published 8/4/11) Over the past several weeks we have listened to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC about how this action or that would lead to job-killing legislation from the people we elected to represent us at the federal level. We further have over the past several years witnessed an ever-growing level of unemployment in this country and also in countries around the globe. The rhetoric bemused the fact that we have a large number of ready, willing and able individuals who want to work, but corporations are turning their current situation against them, causing individuals to look for work even longer. Congress keeps turning around and stating that despite all the viable evidence, that if we continue to lower taxes, then the unemployment problem will be solved. It has never worked the way they expect it to. Look at the employment picture globally and we find that there are jobs out there, but they are not in the United States. Every organization looks at their operations from four perspectives which become the basis for their budgetary decisions. First, and unfortunately the primary concern, is how much return on investment we are returning to our stakeholders. We will talk later about how this may not be the area that should hold the primary focus. The second factor becomes the cost of sale. How much does it cost us an organization to get to the point where the client or customer says yes, they want to purchase our product or service? The third factor is that of the margin under which we make our sales. We can sell X for so much, and it costs us so much to produce. The difference is critical in our pricing strategies. The fourth and final factor is the profit we earn from our business operations. Based on these four views of the business operations, we rush to judgment as to the best way to meet the goals. Major corporations decide that the best way to achieve these goals is to do the majority of their hiring overseas. There is absolutely no incentive to keep the jobs in the US. Lowering the tax rate is not going to change this. It will change, however, when the corporations understand that there are factors that they do not take into consideration that could meet all their goals. Listen to your customers. You saved money by sending your work overseas, but did the customer service level remain at the same level? From personal experience I would say probably not. From Starbucks to AT&T to Radio Shack, there are corporations who have come to the realization that bringing the work back to the US would resolve several problems. One, it lowers the unemployment levels. Two, it brings back a concern for the reason you are in business: to acquire and maintain customers. Three, it may in the long run lower your costs because of the shorter problem resolution durations. It is time that this government takes the necessary steps to show our business enterprises that in the long run it makes more sense to keep the jobs stateside rather than sending them overseas. I was at a HR conference last year where one of the presenters stated he was working with an IT company who wanted to open a customer service center in Wisconsin because it was cheaper than running it in India. So if you want to at least attempt to eat your cake and have it too, consider ways to revise your internal processes so that they run faster, better and cheaper and hire or maintain your workforce locally. It is possible if you think out of the box of business think that you have always done. New world, new methods, new focus. Employees are assets and you can utilize them to your advantage.
    • Page5 It is a sad day in Booksville (Published 7/22/11) If you were not keeping up with the news, today began the end of a journey for an organization called Borders Books. By agreement with the Bankruptcy court, the company began the liquidation of its operations. During a period when consulting assignments were on the dry side, I spent some time working for the company, both in the retail end and in its former Corporate Sales Division. While it is sad to see the organization gone, it also provides us with some clear indications on how not to run our organizations. In its efforts to become the premier bookseller, it lost sight of several directions which would have upped its chances to survive. Let’s look at some of those misjudgments: 1. Failure to correctly focus on the customer: The Company failed to live up to its goal, which was to acquire and maintain customers. Picture a client making a special trip to the store to pick up a much-needed order and the store had no idea where the order was. When questioned later, the store's response was that the store operation came before the customer. Wrong answer. 2. Failure to listen to the voice of the customer: Borders was one of the last book stores to sell e-book readers. By the time they got into the market, the I-Pad, Kindle and Nook were far outpacing the space. When you begin to listen to the customer after everyone else has solved the customer concerns, you are doomed. 3. Change of Value Statement: Instead of talking about customer needs, they began to concentrate on providing the best price. They in essence reduced the customer experience to the lowest common denominator - price. I know you are saying that is retail. But let me take these lessons and carry it over to a business organization as a whole. If the organization is to survive in this global marketplace, then there are some clear strategic directions that need to be undertaken. Strategy #1: Create a Value Statement which focuses on the customer. Forget what the CEO says the Board's direction is. Your value statement must be centered on the needs and expectations of your customers. They are the ones that determine whether the doors stay open. Strategy #2: Listen to the voice of the customer. Get out of your corner office. Visit your clients and customers, whether they are inside the organization or external, and learn what their problems are. Learn what they expect from your human capital assets. Learn what they expect from the organization in the way of services, customer service, and employees. Make the necessary changes to your processes in order to meet the customer requests. Strategy #3: Remember who pays the bills. The only way you keep your operations going is to acquire and maintain your customer base. Remember, it is less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Your customer service levels must be at the top of the field. Your operations are NOT more important than the customer demands. Remember the mission statement of the Wegman Supermarket Chain. • Rule #1: The client is always right. • Rule #2: If you question whether the client is right, refer to rule #1. Make your processes as customer friendly as possible and ensure that anything that holds the process up is removed so that they run as cheaply, fast and better than your competition. Follow this advice and you will have a better chance to not follow the Borders path to oblivion.
    • Page5 Hey Houston, we have a problem (Published 7/21/11) Like a number of you, we have been following the drama out of Washington regarding the raising of the debt limit. If you have not, we are faced with the possibility that the US will go into default on its loans because a group of congressmen are so determined to have it their way or no way. They have forgotten the lessons learned from the past that have shown that the way to solve our problems is through compromise and finding common middle ground that we can all agree on. We have that same problem in many corporations. These organizations still operate under the assumption that the only way to run an organization is to do what the CEO edicts down the chain of command. They operate under the concept that as senior management they are the only ones who knows how to run a company. What happens in the long run is that the hardline turns your most important asset into individuals who lose engagement, who come to work for the paycheck and not to enhance the organizational place in the marketplace. The employees take on the attitude that they are just children with no voice in their existence. The key to the success of an organization in the global marketplace is the level of innovation and collaboration that goes on between the organization and its customers- internal and external. So, yes, we have problem, Houston, when we forget that the employee that is in the trenches may know better what needs to done to meet the customer’s requirements than the executive sitting in the ivory tower. The World English Dictionary defines collaboration as something created by working JOINTLY with another or others; the definition does not say that you created something because the CEO says this is the way it will be done. So, yes Houston, we do have a problem. We have many organizations out there that consider their employees as turnips and try to get every last ounce of blood out of them, forgetting their role in the vitality of the organization. They forget that the road to success down through time has always been characterized by compromise towards the middle of the stream in which both sides gain in return for the giving up some steadfast piece of ground. In the Industrial Revolution, this prevailing attitude may have worked fine. Today it just plain won't work whether we are talking about the corporate boardroom or the floors of congress. Move your organization forward and open the discussion to find that middle ground. We will all be better off in the long run.
    • Page5 But, Kris, that’s the way we’ve always done it (Published 7/4/11) Does this sound familiar? How many times have you heard within your organization a member of management or an employee tell you that a new idea won't work because it is not the way we do things around here? I read several HR related blogs on a daily basis, and the other day the HR Capitalist posted a blog entry with the above title (http://www.hrcapitalist.com/2011/06/nsfw-hr-but-kris-thats-the-way-weve-always-done-it.htm) which discussed this very issue. As a human resource strategist we respect the past way we have done things. We recognize the value in what those procedures brought to the playing field. However times change and we need to begin to think out of our silos that we typically find ourselves in. I have a business friend who if he had just resorted to the title of this piece he may very well not be with us today. His name is Ed Hubbard (Colonel USAF Retired) who during another time had the chance to spend 2420 days in Hanoi Hilton as a guest of the North Viet Namese back in 1966-1973. If he followed silo thinking there very well may have been no reason to believe in the future. Our organizations today are very much like Ed's prison cell. We confine ourselves to certain ways of doing things. We do so because some executive suggested that you change your procedures to match this great idea. The source of the idea may be a book he /she read, a suggestion that arose out of a seminar somewhere or even just out of the conversation between two management peers. If you press the organization on the whys for doing it the response is the title of this piece. If we want to thrive in this new global workplace it is critical that we follow Ed Hubbard and escape from the box of our thinking. We need to escape from the narrow view we see our organizations in. We need to take an escape from the box attitude towards how we treat the human capital of our organizations. We need to throw away the silo thinking when we secure and develop the talent within our organizations. We need to be willing to adopt a mission that says that every process can be improved and needs to be done so consistently. This may be once a year or it may be once every three months. It really does not matter the frequency. What counts is the understanding that if we see a problem with our processes we fix it. We do not forgo the improvement because the old system is the way we have always done it.
    • Page5 Do you walk the HR walk and talk the HR talk? (Published 6/20/11) It is now summer and residents of Florida are once again telling children and tourists about the Stingray shuffle. It is a pure example of risk management. You have a choice either you shuffle through the sand when you enter the water and chase away the stingrays or risk getting stung by the barb in their tail when you accidentally kick one. The purpose of the example is that demonstrates the power of walking the walk and talking the talk. I hear all the time HR professionals bemoaning that they are not heard, are not at the partner table and are considered second class citizens within the corporate hierarchy. So my question is do you teach and practice the stingray shuffle within your organization? In this highly competitive, global workplace we function in every day the ground rules are changing. We can no longer say we want a seat at the table and expect we are going to get it. The days when we were judged on what role we play in the organization has basically died. What we need to do is change our focus from asking to showing why we need to be in that strategic environment. We do this by walking the walk and talking the talk. Here are some strategic thoughts on how to place you in the new environment that is our organizations: 1) Do you hear what the customer hears - Have you taken steps to really understand what the organization's clients expect from the organization. Surprise management and ask as a HR professional to tag along with the outside sales people and while there ask the client representative what they expect from their dealings with the customer service representatives of your organization. It may very well change your recruiting efforts. 2) Do you hear what management hears (or doesn't hear) - HR, based on what Dave Ulrich calls the HR deliverables, is a vital part of the organization. But this is only true if you are the voice for the utilization of human capital. We don't mean that you tell management how to handle benefits or compensation. Rather we are talking about knowing and understanding the overall business and its strategic initiatives and how the human capital assets of the organization assist in bringing the strategy to a successful completion. We also do not anticipate that you are the employee’s best friend. We do expect that you are comfortable enough in your expertise as a human resource professional to tell management when they are right and just as important when they are wrong. 3) Can you measure your deliverable - The key to the changed role for HR is to be able to document the outcomes through the use of verifiable, accurate data. It is just as important that you be able to present these data points in a way that is easily understood. The data needs to be presented in not only raw data but in terms of financial metrics which clearly demonstrate the contribution of the human capital assets. So here is your challenge for today and going forward. Are you asking for a seat at the table or are you walking the HR walk and talking the HR talk in order to demonstrate that you need to be at the table. That you need to be at the table not because you asked but because the data you bring to the table enhances the strategic objectives of the organization both internally to the culture of the organization and externally to the needs and demands of the customer base.
    • Page5 Don’t bother me with the details, I don’t care (Published 5/18/11) Have you heard these words or something similar within your organizations? I recently returned from Las Vegas, where I conducted a three day review seminar for a national certification exam. During the course of the three days there were several instances where one of the participants said in regards to some legal situations that their management said they did not care if the process involved something that might lead to adverse conditions they just wanted the situation taken care of. The difficulty here is that in many cases management has not gotten the message. David Ulrich in his book HR Value Proposition makes the argument that management needs to change its outlook about what it is we in HR do. We need to be judged based on what we deliver not what we do. When I was in the mode of trying to find a full time human resource slot I was getting ruled out because my resume stated I worked a consultant. The logic thread read that because I had worked as a consultant I would have the tendency to rock the boat. The old school says that the responsibility of HR is to be the administrative arm of the organization. Do the paperwork, follow the status quo, don't try and make things better, we know what we are doing and the organization is not interested in change. The new world looks upon the total organization, including the human capital management arena, as needing to satisfy the needs of the internal and external customers. In order to do that, we need to look at the effect of our actions on both the community as a whole and our organizations. We should not and even more important can't overlook environmental issues that could detrimentally affect the organizational sustainability. The IRS and other government agencies have stated in numerous cases that ignorance is no excuse. You can't tell your departments we don't care about the details. It is the details that can come back to haunt the organization. Source out the talent you need but don't impact the results by putting constraints on the hiring process centered on the perfect candidate. Work on succession planning but do so by seeking the candidate that is working within your organization who is your mirror. Help the organization to grow by misclassification of an employee because it is the convenient way to do it. You might very well find yourself in the FedEx Massachusetts case where by ignoring the details you just cost the organization three million dollars to rectify an error in judgment. If you are the future of the organization then it is your duty and responsibility to care about the details. Think before you decide that that short cut is the way you want to go. If Human resources or one of your vendors tells you are headed in the wrong direction don't just sweep it under the rug. Inevitably when a new manager comes in they will find the dust under the rug and it will be detrimental to everyone involved down the road.
    • Page5 What would the founding fathers think? (Published 3/11/11) Every business enterprise is continually seeking that next big event that will push the organization to the next plateau in its evolution. One of the center features in this quest is to honor the role that diversity of thought and actions play in this quest. If we look around the globe at this place and time, we are confronted with constant reminders that the world at this moment has forgotten about the role of diversity in making our organizations great. You tell me that you want your employees to become engaged in your organizations, but then you send them the message that this is the way we will think and act. If you have differing views in this regard live with it. Our elected officials in their recent actions have sent the same message to the populous- "There is only one way we can act, my way." Our founding fathers came to this country based on the belief in varying views. It was their anticipation that we would be tolerant of others views. We send the wrong message to the citizenry and our organizations when we act and behave differently. Our employees are now in a different role then they were even 20 years ago. They are vital assets to the success of your operation. When we send the message that we know we need you but you are needed on our terms not yours you lose the investment that employees can bring to your organization. Let me suggest some strategies for taking your corporation to the next level: Strategy #1: Place your one mind view on hold and listen to the voice of your employees. They in many cases have a better understanding of your organization then you do. Strategy #2: Remove all opportunities for silo mentality thinking within your organization. You have a decision to make or a new direction to move into, Get the help of a cross-functional team to assist the travel down the path to success. Strategy #3: Take the time to understand the results of your decisions both pro and con so that you totally understand the outcomes of your decision. While a decision may look good on paper, in reality it may have a completely different result once it is introduced. It is just possible that by the time you realize you have made an error in judgment the damage may have already been done. It is your choice as business enterprise management whether you are able to succeed or fail in this global workplace. It is your choice whether you send the message to your human capital assets that you recognize the contribution that they make or do you tell them that as far as you are concerned they are just another number on the balance sheet.
    • Page5 Is perception reality? (Published 10/26/10) At the recent HR Florida conference as I have previously discussed, a peer asked a panel of social media gurus when his employees were collaborating if they were constantly on Facebook and Twitter? Now I open the paper this morning and find an article about a Social Studies teacher at Clearwater HS. At the beginning of the school year, Clearwater HS became the first high school in the country to issue all of their students Kindles and eventually have all their textbooks on the tablet. Well it seems that this Social Sciences teacher was in the middle of a lecture when she noticed that a majority of the students were seemingly paying more attention to their Kindles then her. Thinking that they were spending more time surfing the web than paying attention in class, she stopped the class. Reality set in. Turns out the students were using the Kindle units to keep their class notes rather than pulling out a piece of paper or a notebook. In fact, the article said they were keeping better notes then before the Kindles were issued. So my question to you is what is your perspective on the use of technology by your employees? Are they using social media as a way to back away from their required responsibilities, or are they actually collaborating more with colleagues to get the job done? Are you ready to accept the new paradigm? What kind of message are we sending? (Published 10/6/10) I turned on the news last night (I know everyone says we should expunge that practice from our habits--sorry, just addicted) and they were running a story about the benefits of same sex classrooms. They were reporting that the standardized test scores were higher in the same sex classrooms than in co-ed ones. As I listened to the story I asked myself whether we were sending the wrong message. We have a problem in many organizations with instances of harassment as demonstrated by the fines being levied by the regulators. So if we tell our leaders of tomorrow that it is to their best interest to learn in segregated classrooms, does this mean that they are not responsible for learning how to work in the real world? If we have hostile work environments, do we resolve that by telling the human capital assets in our organizations that they can avoid working with those who might place us in that environment? Do we tell them that because studies have proven that same sex classrooms work better, do we also tell them the only collaboration that needs to take place in the workplace is between the same sex members of the workforce? When I was going to school we had same sex physical education, but other than that we were all in the same courses. I don't think that had any dramatic result in my education. It has not hindered my creativity. (The news article stated that boys in same sex classrooms are more likely to show their creative sides compared to when they have co-eds in the classroom.) What do you think? Are we going down the wrong path?
    • Page5 Reflections on Society, Business organizations and the global workplace (Published 9/18/10) As I am writing this it is 9:00 PM and our Jewish clients and my family have just finished celebrating the High Holy Days and today we are asked to reflect on our lives. This brings me to the content of this post. We have also heard or read about the Rev Jones in Gainesville, who felt it was his calling to burn the Quran, because it did not agree with his teachings. I have previously talked about the presenter at a recent conference who suggested we should do a multi- faceted background check to determine whether an applicant "fit our corporate culture." We see and hear fairly regularly lately that the US is losing its competitiveness in the global market. You open the newspaper or turn on the news and you hear about "political purity." Competitiveness comes from the introduction of innovation and collaboration. One of the tools of a high performance team is the art of brainstorming. This only works if you consider all views on a particular issue. Not only those views that you agree with, but those that might be totally different to your view. When business enterprises operate from the perspective of ruling out all those who do not think the way they do, dress the way they do, talk the way they do and fit a stereotype of the perfect organizational employee, in the long run you diminish not only your own organization but the global workplace as well. If we go back in history we can find many examples of individuals who made great contributions to our lives, our society and our futures, who if they had been in the mainstream would have been lost in the shuffle. If we are going to talk about diversity of backgrounds within our organizations we need to walk the walk and talk the talk. There is a real possibility that your current corporate culture may be contributing to the root cause of your problems. Strategy: Recognize that different life experiences enrich the workplace by introducing new ideas and viewpoints. These experiences may open doors that you never dreamed of that can take your organization to new plateaus of performance. So in return value the diversity of opinions with your organizations. If you talk the talk that you have an open door policy, be sure that you really do. Refrain from making judgments about the value brought to the table by someone who does not exactly look and act like you do. We don't all like the same kind of music but that does not diminish the contributions we all can make to our organizations. If you disagree with my thoughts or have responses of your own, feel free to let me know your thoughts.
    • Page5 Have we lost our way? (Published 7/26/10) According to a post on Google News today, in a new book entitled A Decade of L.E.A.D. (the Leadership, Employment and Direction survey), which charted workplace attitudes in Australia in the past decade, revealed that while the ranks of HR managers had swollen, the number of staff who believed their needs were being met by them had fallen. Researchers, analyzing data from four big workplace surveys dating to 2003, found the proportion of employees who believed the HR department was addressing their concerns had fallen from 60 per cent to less than 50 per cent. In the most recent results, about 40 per cent of employees said HR had a poor or very poor awareness of what their issues actually were. ''HR departments are plagued by contradiction - they are trying to meet employee needs and expectations on one hand, and the needs and expectations of managers and shareholders,'' Sydney University workplace expert Professor John Shields said. A Decade of L.E.A.D. suggested human resources departments were leaning more towards their paymasters than general employees, and a much larger proportion of managers professed to be happy with their activities. Grant Sexton, the managing director of the Leadership Management Australasia, which commissioned the surveys and compiled the book, said HR departments did not give employees the right training. ''So often internal training is determined by a very narrow conception of what the organisation needs rather than what the individual needs,'' he said. ''There's not enough focus on soft skills - communication, goal-setting, time management.'' He said decisions about training and other HR functions were often taken out of the hands of HR managers themselves. ''How many HR departments do you know that have a seat on the board of their company?'' Mr. Sexton said. ''Too often leaders see HR departments as a way to deal with staff issues but then don't give them any power to actually change anything. ''They end up being the meat in the sandwich.'' The chairman of the Human Resources Institute of Australia, Peter Wilson, said human resources departments were not meant to be trade unions. ''HR is about reconciling the interests of staff and management and in our view they do that very successfully,'' Mr. Wilson said. DBAI Strategic Take: The culture of human resources in today's workplace is all dependent on how you look at the human capital within your organization. If, as Russ Moen from Express Personnel states, that your human capital assets are nothing more than a line in your expense log, then the human resource function will not look at the employees for what they truly are. If we were still in the industrial age, which many of us have forgotten we exited from awhile back, then I would agree that your employees were a line item on the balance sheet. But we have moved on. Depending on who you talk to we are now in the knowledge or creative age where your service or your product is based on what it is in the minds of your human capital. If they leave your knowledge base goes with them. I have heard of situations where the knowledge drain was enough to pull an organization under. So what do we need to change? Here are some suggestions we would like to offer: 1. Take a page from the plate of the new generation and where feasible make decisions based on the collaborative efforts of all employees through the involvement of cross functional teams. 2. Human Resources should not only earn but demand a seat at the decision table. HR is not just about keeping the organization out of legal trouble, but is directly responsible for providing guidance how to best utilize the human capital assets of the organization. 3. Human Resources must remove themselves from the silo mentality of many organizations and ensure that their efforts are utilized across the entire organization. 4. Management must come to the realization that they are not there solely to act as the lord high master. The day of the overbearing manager went by the wayside the day the first millennial showed their face in the workplace. 5. Management must in short order remove from their space the belief that the employees are there primarily to see what they can get away with. Consider flexible work environments which may benefit the employee in the short run, but may benefit the organization in the long run. As one of the final parts of my e-mail signature is the statement that the world is a better place because of those who refuse to believe they cannot fly. Our employees can be the key to the success of an organization as long as we treat them as they would like to be treated.
    • Page5 Are we really watching the health of our organization? (Published 3/6/10) In watching the posts in the social media and in talking with a colleague last week, we are seeing a very concerning environment being created. An environment that makes one wonder about the vitality of our organizations. As a member of management you are presented with dual responsibilities. They both play a vital part in the health of your organization. Let's break it down a little. First responsibility is to enhance the investment of the stakeholders. Your stakeholders are looking for a return on their investment, to indicate that the organization is growing. Growing in sales. Growing in revenue. Growing in profit. How does this come about? The organization increases this investment by becoming better than the competition for your product or service. By becoming known as the best in class for the way you run your operation. One key to reaching this sought after level is based on the human capital resources where you are the employer of choice. This brings us to the second responsibility of making sure that we have the right person in the right position at the right time. We have, during these tough economic times, seen organizations make what we believe to make some very serious strategic decisions that could hinder the health of the organization. Make no mistake about it; we will have a talent shortage in the not too distant future. When we cut staff solely based on financial measures we risk down the road putting ourselves in jeopardy. Point in evidence, I attended a seminar recently where it was described that in order to reduce costs, an organization offered early retirement to anyone with over 20 years’ experience. Lo and behold everyone offered the package accepted. The company was out of business in 6 months. Way too often managers in this market are looking for that right person by trying to fit them into square hole when they need that round peg. Both internal and external recruiters need to get back to looking for those individuals who can positively contribute to the health of the organization. This means looking outside of the box most managers are in today and look at what skills and attributes the person can bring to the table. Do you agree or do you have another focus on this perspective? What are we here for? (Published 1/24/10) While recently looking at some of the available human resource positions, across the country, we came across an ad which was seeking a hands on HR professional. This is fine but it was the punch line that really caught my eye. In the job requirements, this organization specifically stated that it did not want an HR strategist. So my question is if we are not supposed to look at the HR function as being part of the overall organization, then what are we here for? Human resources can no longer effectively contribute to the organization if we are expected to be a silo within the organization. The human resource management arena is not the same as it was five years ago, or even ten minutes ago. Laws have changed. Focus has changed. There are new challenges being faced every day. Here is my take on the content of the job positing. I see the role of the HR manager in today's organization being one of not only coordinating the daily needs of the employee base, but looking at how the HR management arena is part of how the organization utilizes its brand. If we are being told by management that our role is to sit in our little cubical or the office and just pass the time away handling the mundane aspects of our job, then it is no wonder that many of our peers are finding themselves being one of the first out the door when economic times get uncomfortable. If on the other hand we expect a seat at the management table, then we cannot sit idly by and not demonstrate the truly strategic role that we play within the modern organization. What are your thoughts? Do we belong in the corner or are we a vital part of the modern organizational management structure?
    • Page5 Workforce Planning & Employment – This section deals with the development, implementation, and evaluation of sourcing, recruitment, hiring, orientation, succession planning, retention, and organizational exit programs necessary to ensure the workforce’s ability to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. Cultural Fit – That nebulous target (Published 6/25/13) There is an ongoing discussion within our industry about what the primary key performance indicator for success in a hires is. We all accept for the most part as organizations we hire competent people. We hire individuals who on paper at least can perform the duties and responsibilities of the positions. Then we add this thing called do they fit the culture of the organization. But what do we mean by culture fit? Is it some set in stone characteristic of the organization? How do we determine what it is a true cultural fit? Dictionary.com defines corporate culture as the distinctive ethos of an organization that influences the level of formality, loyalty, and general behavior of its employees. John Coleman in the May 6, 2013 edition of the HBR Blog Network wrote that there are six components of a great corporate culture. In which he said the six components are vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. Typically we believe that the basis for this comes from upper management and works its way down through the organization. But the question has to be posed what happens to the corporate culture when the person responsible for its development leaves or is forced out. An example is what happens to the corporate culture at Men’s Warehouse now that the founder and CEO have been forced out. George Zimmer’s passion and view are now gone from the organization. I had the opportunity to attend the local SHRM chapter meeting the other night and the speaker was Jeff Knight (@knightspeaker) who presented a program entitled Culture Rocks. During his presentation he made a very profound statement when he said that “the culture of an organization changes every time human capital assets join or leave the organization.” Stop for a minute and really think about that statement. If we strive to find not only competent human capital assets but ones that fit our particular corporate culture - Individuals who believe and follow our vision, values, practices, narrative and place along with the organizational human capital assets, how do we do that if the target (corporate cultural fit) changes every time we hire someone or let someone go? How do we define our corporate culture when it is like the Midwest weather, changing every few moments depending on the whim of the environment. While we readily agree that human capital assets have to function within our organizations, it is unclear whether corporate culture is a true indicator when it is a nebulous target changing constantly. If you are an organization with zero turn over we may be able to define that fit. However if you are experiencing any degree of turnover then we have an entirely different picture in play. The corporate culture you have today very well might not be the corporate culture in place tomorrow. It changes the playing field if only for a fleeting moment. Consider your organizational culture, how does it change as the human capital asset population changes? Have you had the serious discussion as to the impact of the FTE changes? This morning it was reported on Good morning America that 70% of employees hate their jobs and/or their bosses. If that is true how does that affect your culture?
    • Page5 Seen on Church Electronic Sign - Don't be too Open minded, Your Brain might fall out (Published 6/12/13) As of late I seem to get the inspiration for our blog posts from the local signs on churches of all denominations. The other day I passed one that said “Don’t be too open minded, your brain might fall out.” Really is that what they meant to say? Take a moment and consider your organization. I am not concerned whether you are a small to medium sized enterprise or a member of the Fortune 1000, I continually hear and read in social media about managers who complain that they can’t get their human capital assets engaged in the organization. But there is a valid reason behind this dilemma. Consider the scenarios below: · An employee comes to you with an idea for a new service based on the comments from customers and your immediate reaction is “That’s not the way we do things here;” · An employee comes to you with a view of the organizational processes and says there are ways to reduce steps and your response is “They will not let us make any changes to the processes:” · An employee comes to you asking why the organization does something and your first response is “because that is just the way we have always done things.” On June 11, the Wall St Journal ran an article entitled Employed but not engaged, in which they reported the results of a new Gallup poll that found that 52% of all full-time workers in America aren't involved in, enthusiastic about or committed to their work. Another 18% are "actively disengaged," meaning they have gone beyond just checking out mentally, and could even be undermining colleagues' accomplishments. This is a direct result of the mentality shown by the church billboard. Here is the downside of the scenarios above. We marginalize our human capital assets in a number of ways each and every day. You want engaged employees but shut down any attempt to think out of the box. You want engaged employees but when they suggest ways to better serve your customers, your response is that is just not the way we do things here. Unfortunately you can’t have your cake and eat it too in this situation. You can’t state that you welcome their input and then shut them off when you get it. The only way our organizations survive in this chaotic business climate the concentration shifts to one based in how we solve the organizational problems. We create an environment in which the ultimate goal is the perpetuity of the organization and our ability to meet the voice of the customer. It is absolutely essential that every facet of the organization be involved within the efforts. Consider this story from history-the 3M creation of post-it notes. The Post-it® Note was invented as a solution without a problem: Dr. Spencer Silver developed a unique, repositionable adhesive, but the 3M scientist didn't know what to do with his discovery. Then, six years later, a colleague of Dr. Silver, Art Fry, remembered the light adhesive when he was daydreaming about a bookmark that would stay put in his church hymnal. The rest is history according to the post-it website. Look around your desk. I am not a betting man but I would bet that you have at least one post-a-note pad sitting on your desk. If 3M was not willing to go beyond the corporate mantra would they be on your desk today? The purpose of innovation, collaboration and an open mind towards what the future could hold is the way we become innovative and collaborative in our efforts. The key is to recognize that some of the greatest concepts for new products and services do not come from someone sitting in a corner office and passing down edicts. The greatest concepts came from our rank and file human capital assets who are the real corporate experts and who point out steps within the process that is causing problems. They are the ones who will spot problems way before you do. However when you, by actions, words, and attitudes squash this effort with comments like the one in the introduction you hinder the organizational development. So tell me the next time a non-owned corporate asset approached you and says that they have away to more efficiently meet the needs of the customers are you going to say let’s really look at it or are you going to say sorry we just don’t do things that way here. Are you going to be willing to function with an open mind and not worry if the brain falls out?
    • Page5 Mr. CEO, I understand you think you found cheap labor - not so fast (Published 6/5/13) Almost every college career services department in the country pushes to area employers the benefits of using their internship program. On the first look it is a no brainer for the corporation. They get added manpower during heavy workload times and they can usually get it without any financial impact on the corporation. For the student it provides them with some work experience in the real world and exposure to varying industries from which they can plan out their career. Unfortunately some organizations have chosen to take advantage of the concept in order to reduce headcount expenses. Ever hear of these scenarios: • HR and/or the hiring manager interview a prospective candidate and suggest in order to view their work ethics would the candidate be willing to work on a project with no compensation. • A school wanting to screen a prospective teacher asks them to cover a class for a couple of days as part of the evaluation process at no pay. The concept sounds good but based on complaints the U.S. Department of Labor has said wait not so fast. It is entirely possible that your great thoughts might be a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In order to be sure that your organization is on safe grounds when using an individual as an intern, the DOL says the following conditions must be in place. 1. The internship, even though it includes actual operations of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern 3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 4. The employer that provides training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship While the concept of having an intern within your organization is appealing, the motivation behind the use of an intern is heavy with risk for the organization. As a human resource professional it is your responsibility to ensure that the use of interns within the organization is not abused. It is the role of HR to foresee the potential improper use of human capital assets as interns. Failure to do so can mean that the financial impact on the corporation can outweigh the benefit of their use. Be sure to check with your corporate employment counsel to make sure that all the criteria are properly met. So Mr. CEO you may have found that source for cheap labor, just don't jump the gun before you make sure that the corporation has evaluated the risk of bringing on an intern and not in violation of the FLSA. It is for your ability to sleep at night to ensure that t is done right.
    • Page5 Is it really what We Think it is? (Published 5/2/13) Over the past week I have been going through some family issues which began with a medical emergency last Friday. Everyone we talked to from our family practitioner to the ER medical team believed that the signs pointed towards one thing. When the surgeons went in to operate on Saturday morning, they found an entirely different problem was manifested in the same environment. Upon reflection we do the same steps in the HR world we work in. Every single day we are confronted with important HR issues and we automatically assume we have the answers. But what if we were wrong? Consider these scenarios: Scenario #1- One of your department managers comes to your office and asks if you have a moment. They open the discussion by telling you they have a problem in the department with Johnny. Johnny just can't seem to get with the program and we have to let him go. Do we know why Johnny can't get with the program? The problem could be that Johnny has not been provided with the right training to do the job at the required KPI level. Or is the problem with the interaction between the manager and Johnny? Scenario #2 - Mary reports to the HR department that she has been harassed by a fellow employee, is that really the case or is the problem that the way the fellow employee reacts around people may be contrary to the way that Mary was brought up. Consider if the fellow employee was of Italian descent. If you have been around Italians to any great degree you know they like to show signs of indicating you are part of their inner circle by hugging those they come into contact with. Is this harassment or a show of cultural tendencies? Scenario #3 - Your talent management staff is in the process of interviewing for a high level position in your company, and comes across a candidate who on paper looks like the perfect candidate. The right skills, the right education, the right career progression. But your staff member says that through the entire interview the process the candidate never looked at the recruiter directly. The recruiter rejects the application and the candidate because of it. But what if the reason was that candidate was brought up in a culture where direct eye contact is considered to be a sign of aggressive behavior? If this is the case does this make them a bad candidate? In each of our scenarios above we have looked at everyday scenarios within our global workplace which indicate one environment when they could mean an entirely different actuality. The same thing occurred in the hospital over this past weekend. Everyone based on the symptoms believed we had one problem when we had something entirely different. A separate condition which can and does simulate the same signs. Do your HR decisions recognize the possibility that the symptoms of your workplace problems are actually something else, that while related to your original conclusion mean something entirely else?
    • Page5 HR nowadays is an organizational "warm and fuzzy" atmosphere. No need for business acumen (Published 4/3/13) For the past two months there has been a running discussion in the Linked: HR group on LinkedIn regarding why more HR professionals do not have a degree or background in Business. It has been a lively discussion to say the least. However we were struck by one of the latest responses in which the member stated "HR nowadays is an organizational "warm and fuzzy" atmosphere. No need for business acumen." John Donne in his famous poem stated that No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friend's were. Each man's death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee. Turn the poem around to the business community and it gains a different message. Consider this version for a moment. "No department is an island, entire of itself. Each department is a piece of the organization. The department is less As well as if a promontory were. As well as if an organization of thine own or of thine friend's were. Each error within the department diminishes the organization, for I am involved within the organization. Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the department and the organization. In the current global workplace, we can't squander our assets nor can we afford to operate the HR function as an island. It is more than ever critical that we all become involved in the total operations of the organization. This means that HR absolutely needs to understand the financial sides of the very decisions that we make every day. I do not expect that every HR professional will be a certified accountant, but I do expect them to be able to determine what the effects of their decisions have on the organization. As part of our training programs we have created a cost of hiring worksheet which shows the financial impact of the recruiting efforts on the bottom line. If you do not look for these data points they will stay hidden and in return the organization will suffer. The Quaker Business Model tells us that we have an obligation to look after our fellow workers. I get it that is the warm and fuzzy part of the scenario, but that does not teach us how to become part of the organizational strategies. We have to reach beyond that island we have been part of for way too long. Physics teaches us that for every action there is a reaction. So it is in the business world. If we make a decision regarding our human capital assets it will have an effect on some other part of the organization whether it is from a productivity view or a financial view. We absolutely must learn to understand all the aspects of the ecosystem we call our organization. It is assignment critical that HR understands the business side of the organization as well as the business side understands the role that HR plays in the success of the organization. We are the gatekeepers to the full utilization of the human capital assets within the organization.
    • Page5 Hello - I am a Recruiter's Worst Nightmare (Published 3/30/13) Interesting pronouncement, but I assure you that it did not come from my mouth to heaven's ears. Several years ago when I thought about trying to return to the full time corporate side of HR, a seasoned recruiter made the comment after looking at my resume. He was basing this on the fact that since graduating from college I have been in a number of positions within a number of industries. But the statement is more telling of the state of the recruiting industry then it is of my skill sets. Let me explain that a little more. The typical recruiter today works with blinders on when looking at the candidates available in the workplace. If they are not currently in a position (i.e. passive candidate), they discard them. If they don't have the skills from a particular industry they are out. If they don't meet this preconceived notion of what the ideal candidate looks like you are out. The journey towards corporate excellence and innovation is grounded in diversity of ideas, skills and actions. When we concentrate on trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, it does not work. As the economy begins its turnaround and a majority of our human capital assets are beginning to consider jumping ship, it is critical that both internal and external recruiters change their focus. The Toyota Corporation has taught us that when you hire for skills rather than industry match you find a larger audience for your talent needs. As described in Jeffrey Liker's book Toyota Talent, when they opened their plant in Kentucky they looked for people who had the required Key Performing Indicators - not necessarily industry experience - and the results were as good as they expected. Consider something as simple as creating an excel spreadsheet for recording data. The steps are the same as if you were creating one for a manufacturing environment or a healthcare environment. The skill is the same no matter where you work. The same can be said for management skills. So when the professional recruiter said to me on that day back in time that I was his worst nightmare, he was short- changing both the economy and his client. I am fully cognizant of the fact that every industry believes that there are certain skills that apply only to their industry, but in fact it has been proven over and over again that our human capital assets through their career obtain skills that are transferable across industry lines. The next time you decide to try and fit that square peg into a round hole, stop for a moment and think about whether you are truly giving your organization a chance to grow or are you content to keep in the same pigeon hole you have always worked in. I get it that there are some position skills that do require specific skills (i.e. an auto mechanic or a surgeon) but for the most part we all bring valuable skills to the table and each individual given the chance can show how they can benefit your organization with the accumulation of skills they have acquired during their careers. The Beatles had a song in which one of the lines was "Give Peace a Chance". Turn it around and ask yourself whether you can give a prospective talent a chance to thrive in your organization.
    • Page5 Please do not judge a book by its cover: The Marissa Mayer edict Part II (Published 3/18/13) Over the past almost 7 years that we have been blogging in the HR space we have made much about the bad decision by corporate management to rely solely on the recruitment of passive candidates to fulfill their talent management needs. Now Yahoo has reportedly taken this to a new level - Not only can you not work outside the office, you have to have ivory tower credentials to boot. Let’s get some facts out on the table right upfront less someone accuse me of not appreciating the efforts that have been undertaken by these individuals. Trust me I know about the ivory league college graduates - My late uncle was from the 1935 class from Yale, my late father was a 1940 graduate of MIT and 1946 graduate of Harvard Law, and one of grandfather's was a graduate of University of Pennsylvania. They are all excellent institutions of higher education. Here is the problem; the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Procedures makes NO reference to having to graduate from a particular school. In no Bona Fide occupational qualification statement does it show that where you graduated is an indicator of the requirements for you to perform the job at level that will benefit both the employee and the organization. So to rule out an individual based on where they graduated is equivalent to recruiting solely passive candidates. In both cases you are playing a modern day form of musical chairs in which the number of available seats continues to restrict to you run out of chairs. Toyota has taught us, when they opened their plants here in the US, that hiring for skills rather than strict background creates a far stronger organization. For the record I graduated from a small private college in the Midwest who hired some of the best instructors in the world on the understanding that they were there to teach not do research. My education was of equal value as those who graduated from the Yale's, Harvard's and MIT's of the world.
    • Page5 Liability or Asset: The Marissa Mayer Edict (Published 3/12/13) It has been an interesting week, between Marissa Mayer's clamp down on telecommuters at Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg's pitch that women sabotage their own careers. In both arenas there seems to be a criterion missing: how do you view your human capital in your organization? Are they a liability or are they an asset? Let's look at the two events separately. Marissa Mayer contends that in order to make Yahoo more productive, she needs all human capital assets under one roof. Ms. Mayer, please come clean and admit that the real reason you issued the edict is because you are still operating in the command and control model, which firmly believes that a productive employee is one that is in a see-all, hear-all environment. You know who you are: the non-engaged employee who cannot be trusted to complete the requirements of his employment contract. I understand that a recent staff meeting that you were criticized for hiring only the elite. That you have added steps to the process, which lowers the efficiency of your hiring process, which should be centered around identifying the best person for the job in the right place at the right time for the right job. Just because you restrict your human capital assets to a certain profile does not mean that you will be any more productive as an organization. The argument that the only way to have productive employees is to have them under your thumb has been refuted by numerous workplace studies over the past decade. So here is your question for the day: Are the Yahoo human capital assets a liability or an asset? If you believe that your human capital is a liability to your organization, then Ms. Mayer is totally correct in her assumptions. If you believe that a human capital asset is a liability then you need to take certain steps to control the situation. One of these steps would be to have the human capital assets in a single place. There you have the space to control the potential for damages to the organization. The difficulty is that many organizations have found that the Gen X-and-Y'ers do not like this kind of environment. The result is that they become less productive. Consider for a moment how you would feel if someone stood over you 24/7 watching everything you did or said? You probably wouldn't like it. You didn't like it when you were a teenager and your parents hovered over every breath you took. Now that you are an adult, why should the feeling magically go away? In today's global workplace the success of our organizations is highly dependent on collaboration and innovation. The success of this effort is not contingent on time or location. It is dependent on the ideas in their heads. With the access to various social media outlets, the collaboration can be done from any location on the globe. Your organization depends on the vibrancy of this effort and it is not helped by having turned off assets. So you make the decision, are your human capital assets a liability or an asset? You determine the future of your organization by your answer to the question.
    • Page5 Those People (Published 2/12/13) While checking my LinkedIn groups this morning I found this post from Seth Godin At a recent seminar, a woman who helps run a community college stood up to ask a question. "Well, the bad news," she said, "is that we have to let everyone in. And the truth is, many of these kids just can't be the leaders you're describing, can't make art. We need people to do manual work, and it's those people." I couldn't believe it. I was speechless, then heartbroken. All I could think of was these young adults, trusting this woman to lead them, teach them, inspire them and push them, and instead being turned into 'those people.' You know, the people who will flip burgers or sweep streets or fill out forms all day. The ones who will be brainwashed into going into debt, buying more than they can afford, or living lives that quietly move from one assigned task or one debt payment to another. If they're lucky. No, I said to her, trying to control my voice, no these are not those people. Not if you don't want them to be. Everyone is capable of being generous, at least once. Everyone is capable of being original, inspiring and connected, at least once. And everyone is capable of leading, yes, even more than once. When those that we've chosen to teach and lead write off people because of what they look like or where they live or who their parents are, it's a tragedy. Worse, we often write people off merely because they've been brainwashed into thinking that they have no ability to do more than they've been assigned. Well, if we brainwashed them into setting limits, I know we can teach them to ignore those limits. Think about your hiring practices, when you seek out new candidates do you fall into this stereotype view of the world?
    • Page5 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Fairest in the World? (Published 2/3/13) On two separate times in the past week, my inbox contained entries which centered on the image that the corporation puts forth to the marketplace. In each one to some degree the organizations involved forgot what their purpose is -- to acquire and maintain customers. To do that we need to have the "right person, in the right job, at the right time and in the right place." Consider these events. The first involved a cheerleader on the Baltimore Ravens. She was banned from being part of the cheerleader team at the Super bowl because she put on a pound and a half in weight. The second I received from fellow blogger, Trish McFarlane, who posted a blog reference on LinkedIn. It involved a post from the Proactive Employer in which it was reported that based on a message from G-D the HR Manager of the organization was fired after two weeks because her same-sex relationship would not look good for the organization. Every day I see rants from employers who say that they can't find the necessary talent to fill their positions and yet they become concerned with the answer as to whether they are the fairest in the world. Trust me I know the arguments or have heard them before. When I worked in the corporate mobility world, the relocation management company competition was typically the beauty queen personage who would compete as much on the image as the solutions to the client's problems. But image does not necessarily help you find the right person for the right job in the right place at the right time. It may even be detrimental to your organization under ADA. So the next time you have a position available consider these matters of fact for sourcing the candidate for that opening: 1. It is what they can do for you, not what they look like that is important - We are in a very competitive, rapidly changing business world. It is far more important to consider what Knowledge Performance Indicators they can bring to the table. It is not the time to select a person on the basis on whether they can compete for Miss America tomorrow. 2. Your needs are here and now in your business - Your sole concern should be finding a person with the right skills for that open slot. You can go out and hire that stereotype glamor individual and still not get the skills necessary to help the organization through these difficult economic times. He or she may lift the spirits of some of your employees but that may not mean that you are now more innovative or competitive.
    • Page5 If you take this assignment...... (Published 1/14/13) Those of you who are old enough to remember the 1960's TV Show Mission: Impossible will remember that every show began with the following phrase: Good morning, Mr. Phelps..... Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to make XXXXXXXXXX. As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim. So here is my question to you this Monday, are you ready to take the assignment before you? Are you ready to truly take responsibility for hiring the right person for the right position at the right time and at the right location? In reading some of the magazines which came across my desk recently I found two very interesting articles. The first was in the January 2013 issue of Mobility Magazine, which is the trade association journal for the Corporate Mobility industry. The article reported the results of the 2012 Global Workforce Symposium's Benchmarking Survey, which indicated that when asked if their organizations were facing shortages in qualified talent for critical jobs or roles, the attendees responded that 5% were to a very large extent, 24% responded to a large extent, and 49% were to some extent. The second article appeared in the January issue of HR Magazine under the Executive Briefing, which reported on the results of research by California State University San Marcos and Kennesaw State University, which found that there was an imbedded bias against those with a long term (i.e.18 months or longer) unemployment on their resume. Even stranger was that the research showed that if the unemployed worked as a volunteer the bias was reduced. We have an unemployment issue in this country, much of it not due to anything that the human capital asset did or asked for. Part of that problem is a continuing belief that the best way to locate the right person for the job is to poach someone from a competitor, the so called passive candidate. So if you take this assignment as a HR business partner, are you ready to examine your attitudes toward the available talent? As kids we all remember going to friend's birthday parties where our parent’s modus operandi was to always include a game of musical chairs. As you also remember the goal was to be the person in the last chair when the music stopped. Concentrating your search for passive talent is the equivalent of a grown up musical chairs. If you are taking this assignment, consider these strategies on your next talent search: 1. Concentrate on skill sets not work history - Toyota learned early on when they opened their first plant in the U.S. that some of their most successful managers were people who had management skills, not necessarily those with previous auto industry experience. 2. Look for skills that are in alignment with the business objectives - Talk to your customers both internal and external and find out what traits they expect to find in your human capital assets and construct your job requisitions around those traits. 3. Be open to those who don't think like you - Consider those who respond to a different drummer, as they may be the light at the end of that dark tunnel to renewed success in your organization. Take advantage of others views of how the organization should operate. There are wasteful activities in every organization and fresh eyes might just spot those activities that you can't see for the forest. 4. Change your perspective on human capital - Instead of reviewing a resume for the purpose of elimination, look at them as a way to include them in the mix. Your assignment is to find the right person, for the right job at the right time in the right location. The person you rule out today might just be the right person for the next position that opens within your organization. So, if you take this assignment, remember the goal of talent management is to enhance the organization. Don't rule out the very asset that will allow you to reach the reason for your existence within the organization.
    • Page5 Really, is not my job difficult enough already? (Published 12/23/12) Here we are on the weekend before Christmas and the Iowa Supreme Court handed us an early "gift" Before I explain what the gift was, let me take you back in time to when Bobby Darin was still performing and he sag the following words: "WelI … I don’t know what you got But it’s got me and baby I’m hooked Like a fish in the sea. You make angles call from above. You could make the Devil fall in love. An-a … who-o-o wouldn’t fall for irresistible you." Over the past several decades we have seen the requirements for our talent acquisition efforts become more difficult. We have to be sure that the job requirements are bona fide occupational qualifications - in other words the requirements for the job actually meet the skills needed to perform the duties of the position. We can't tell someone that we will not hire them based on gun ownership, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, where we came from or health status. Now the Iowa Supreme Court adds a new twist. In the case before them, a Dentist had hired a dental technician a decade ago. He admitted to his wife that he could not keep his eyes off of her. The wife's response was that either she goes or I do. The Dentist fired her. The Iowa Supreme Court decided that it is perfectly legal to fire someone who is irresistible. Now let me get this straight, every one of us whether male or female has walked into a work environment and found that employee who is stunningly attractive. In the majority of cases we may not take any actions on those beliefs but it now becomes, at least in Iowa, grounds for taking away some ones livelihood. Not because she or he has done anything wrong but because their appearance can jeopardize a marriage. So does that mean going forward we need to add to the job description that an individual cannot be too attractive for fear of distracting the workplace? We are not talking about a worker undergoing sexual harassment; we are talking about a worker who just plain looks too good. I apologize to HR.net for stealing his format. Steve I promise it is a one-time only event. Engagement or Engagement (Published 7/6/12) There is a story in the news here in Florida today about a lifeguard who left his assigned station to save the life of a man in distress. It reportedly was off his assigned watch area. In return his employer fired him for leaving his assigned section of the beach. He was followed by several other lifeguards who either were likewise fired or quit in protest. The lifeguard company finally offered to reinstate all of them, but they refused because of the nature of the event. From a corporate perspective we continually hear about organizations complaining that they can't get their employees engaged within the organization. Could this be why? Does your message encourage employees to get involved or encourage them to stay within their tiny little part of the universe called your organization? Is engagement of importance to your organization?
    • Page5 OMG, did we really create that monster? (Published 3/30/12) Sit down with any group of senior managers and ask them what is their primary complaint with the youngest workers in their organization. I am willing to bet (and I am not a betting person, I am lucky if I even play the state Lottery) that the primary complaint will be something of the nature that they do not understand that there are dues to be paid. But take a moment and think back in time and realize you created this monster. I can go back to the late 60s and find the forerunner of the monster. Think about this-- it is 1965 and it was my senior year in High School. I never mention it on a resume but I lettered in track. I never ran a single race. I was the team manager. It was the policy of the school that everyone who was part of the team received the letter. Jump forward to when my kids were getting started in sports on the community soccer team. The policy was that everyone who played got a trophy at the end of the season. So here is the nature of the monster. Based on the beliefs of some educators and late baby boomer and Generation X parents it was wrong to not place everybody on an even keel. All for one, and one for all attitudes became prevalent in our lifestyles. What organizations are now seeing is the offspring of this group enter the workplace. Their first demand is that we are entitled to get that promotion or raise just like every other employee. Do not tell me about paying the corporate dues. I have come to work, done what was asked of me, and now I want that trophy. I want that raise. I want that promotion. Not years from now but in real time in the current time span. We created the monster and now we have to deal with them. The solution to the dilemma is that we need to accept the reason why the new generation of workers have reasonable demands based on what they have been taught by their parents. We can't change that. However we can work on ways to utilize that energy for greater corporate stability and good. Find ways within your corporate culture to modify the corporate career paths to encompass their feelings of needing to move on up now rather than after the dues are paid. Remember these employees never saw a piece of new technology that they did not like. They quickly pick up how to best utilize the resources. They are the ones that are going to be the leaders/managers/teachers of the organization sooner rather than later. Utilize those skills to enhance your internal processes for the betterment of the entire organization. We thought we were being helpful. We thought that we were being supportive. We were striving to make our children better community members by showing them the benefits of total team work. Now we have to live with the outcomes and understand on our watch the world has changed. It is up to us and them to decide whether it is for the better world we were seeking.
    • Page5 Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who am I? (Published 1/30/12) I received in my daily barrage of emails one that perked my interest. I apologize upfront because it got deleted by accident and I could not find it again. The email was from a HR related blog and it began with a scenario in which the employees of a said organization received an email at their desk computers. In essence the message stated that management was informing the employee body that they no longer had to worry about their fellow employee who was holding up the organization because they were no longer with the company. It further announced that there would be a memorial for this person at 3pm in the company cafeteria. The scenario said that when the employees showed up for the memorial there was an open casket waiting for them. As the employees went up to the casket to see who had passed away, they found themselves looking in a mirror. So here is my question to you. If you received the identical message and you saw yourself in the mirror what is your reaction as to whether you are holding up the organization's objectives. Are you so stuck in your silo that you are not able to see how you fit into the bigger picture? Are you so set in the philosophy that we do not need to change, things are fine just the way they are? Our global marketplace is changing each and every day and it is incumbent on each of us to play a vital role in that change. Times require new approaches and new methods of problem solving. As HR professionals we need to be at the forefront of the change process not part of the problem. So the next time you ask the mirror who am I, be prepared to provide the answer that will expand both the organization and your futures by changing with the times. Find the path to work effectively and efficiently with cross functions within your organization. Be prepared to recognize the value of others view of the mirror as far as HR is concerned. Work around the problems and make the workplace a better place to be.
    • Page5 How do you view the world? (Published 1/1/12) To begin with on this first day of a brand new year, may I wish you and yours a great New Year? I was reading the local newspaper this morning and a column by Bill Maxwell caught my attention. The column was entitled "White doubt reserved for black professional and it dealt with an effort of the local school district to enhance the number of black teachers that are hired. One of the members of the school board who is white is quoted as saying after the effort was announced who said the effort should be to hire quality over numbers. The reason why this caught my eye was it gave me a moment to consider this from a broader perspective. No one will deny that we have a large unemployment issue in this country. But how large would the problem be if we removed our preconceived notions from the staffing process. Over the past several years I have seen in the social media realm various posts which suggest that we are rejecting applicants because of these notions. Consider these examples: • One recruiter posted that if she knew a candidate had grey hair she would automatically reject them from the candidate pool. • Individuals who call themselves professional recruiters who really believe that those with disabilities do not belong in the workplace and should be relegated to a home or family residence. • Disregard your political views for a moment and be true to yourselves and ask how many of you thought the President was not able to do the job because he was African-American? Be honest. • How many of you believe that just because a fellow professional does not come from the same background as you they automatically are inferior in their abilities to perform the responsibilities of the position? Maxwell in concluding his article asked what it will take for so many whites to stop automatically questioning the qualifications of black professionals who are not entertainers or jocks. I would carry this further and ask what it will take for corporate America to recognize the worth of EVERY employee regardless of their origin. In his book on the Toyota Culture, Liker states that the hiring managers at Toyota look at the skills the person has, even if they are not from the same industry. They discuss people who were managers in the grocery store industry who moved to the production floor as a lead person because of her skills. We all need to take the same attitude going into this New Year. Many corporations are reporting that they are having a hard time finding the right talent for their operations. Could this view be hindering the hiring effort? Think about it for a moment seriously. Let’s talk about how to change the hiring perspective to remove these illogical notions. We are not suggesting that you should hire anyone off the street that is equally illogical. We are suggesting that looking at the candidate pool with the eye that we will eliminate someone because they are not mirror images of the hiring manager is equally wrong.
    • Page5 Back to the Future (Published 12/8/11) I opened the paper today and read where several organizations announced that they were cutting staff in order to control costs. In the same time span I saw several posting in the social media space which stated that C-suite office holders are saying that their greatest challenge in 2012 is going to be centered around talent issues especially talent retention. I must be missing something here. We cannot state that we are concerned with retaining the talent we have and at the same time discharge them in order to maintain costs. Jeff Cox in his book Velocity tells us that unless the organization is on the verge of bankruptcy or closing its doors then there is no excuse for cutting headcount. Part of the dichotomy here is how the organization views its human capital. The majority of American corporations treat their employees a commodity. When you are considered in this track, then the natural assumption is that employees can be cut or hired based on the economics of the time However if you consider your employees to be valuable assets like Toyota does, then the solution to freeing up funds for headcount is not to cut heads but rather to deep dive your operations with the goal to remove as much non-value added activities as is possible. This in turn we will free up revenue that can be used to maintain headcount. Jim Collins tells us in his book, Good to Great, that the key is to get the right people on the bus. I don't argue that point at all. What I do argue is that all too often we get rid of the wrong people in trying to reach where we think we want to be. As a result we either eliminate people or screen candidates out because we are still working off of an ancient formula for assessing talent. Think you have a talent problem going into 2012? Learn to think out of the box. I recently heard of a local car dealer who could not identify quality technicians for his dealership. Reach out to the training institutes in the area that are training mechanics and see what talent you can grow. I also heard of law firm that posted a position for a paralegal and out of 100 applicants could find only three that fit their mold. How about talking to the local Universities that have Communication programs? Get somebody who knows how to write and teach them the legal parts after they come onboard. Talent is what you make of them. If you show them that you care and respect their input you will have a vibrant organization. If you show them that they are just an inconvenience then you get what you paid for. We have been there before when talent was a luxury. It is plainly not prudent to in this knowledge/service age to approach your talent needs by cutting heads when there are better ways to control costs. Look at what you do not have to do to meet client demands. The answers are right in front of you. They are hidden from your perspective because in many cases you have been too hesitant to look.
    • Page5 What is Your Business Environment? (Published 9/28/11) At the recent HR Florida Conference, the Keynote speaker Dan Pink suggested to the audience that they should read The Progress Principle by Teresa Amberlie. As I write this post I have read the first 160 pages of her book and it has made me think about some of the situations I have been in during my work career. Back in the late 1970s we worked in the recruiting industry in which a manager told the recruiters in the firm that if they had any business ethics, they were working for the wrong firm. For many of the recruiters it did not seem to think anything was wrong with the view. In the 1980s we worked for a real estate broker who had the operating philosophy that the firm's managers were supposed to serve at the needs of the agents rather than the firm's clients. In the early 2000s we worked in the retail field as an area corporate sales manager with no reports. If we had a client request, we used to have to funnel it through a local store. On several different occasions the store felt that the corporate orders took a back seat to the other business. The regional sales manager rode rough shod over the area sales managers who were managers in name only. They had no one reporting to them per se. To add to this the regional managers expected a whole team conference call for an hour every Monday and an hour one on one call every Friday. We also were required to submit a weekly call log of everything we had done during the week. I am not trying to give you a mini resume, but rather to point out that what we as managers do has a direct return on the productivity of our organization. Give them the impression that it is my way or no way and you imbed the belief that there is no reason for the employee to go out of their way to improve the business. Give them the impression that their ideas are of no value and we lose engage employees. Give them the belief that the voice of the customer is secondary in nature and we develop employees who do not believe in excellent customer service. As human resource professionals and managers we are the organizational canary. We are the ones, who in our daily dealings with the rank and file can observe managers who do not recognize the value of the organization's rank and file. We are the ones who can help the organization develop engaged employees who are working in a business environment that excels and exceeds everyone's expectations. Your organization's business environment is predicted on how the inner work life is for your employees. Do we respect their contribution or do we feel they are there to take up space and go through the basics of running the organization. You decide what environment is present for your human capital assets.
    • Page5 Communication and Engagement: What message are you sending? (Published 9/21/11) I have been recently asked to repeat our presentation to a local university's MBA leadership class on the role of human capital in the global workplace. Except this time the instructor has asked me to touch on the role of conflict and conflict resolution during the presentation When I began to think about this, I was returned to the recent HR Florida Conference and the presentation of Dan Pink who brought up some interesting points in this area. I believe that we would almost all agree that the nature of our job requirements have changed over the past decade or so. The vast majority of our work involves cognitive skills rather than purely manual labor. The change has brought about a fundamental change in the way we deliver our messages Management can no longer afford to take the role of the overbearing parent. Governess by edict no longer has a viable place in the workplace. Instead this means we need to move to a more collaborative message to the organizations we are involved in. So what has changed in the method? We are working in a new world which demands new resources It no longer is a viable plan of action to turn to our human capital assets and say that the organization is making some changes and this is the way we will do it. We can no longer ask them to arrive at a new way to deliver a process and tell them thanks but management has made the decision to go off in another direction. As managers we need to change our focus to one of turning to these same assets and representing the requests - not from how we are going to do something but rather to one of explaining to them not only how but why we are doing it. We are in an age of transparency. We are in world where we value what employees think and dream. Give them the courtesy of giving them the information they need to understand a) what the problem is? b) What caused the problem? And c) to correct the problem we have had to make some changes and what you expect the outcomes will be because you implemented the changes. As managers you have a direct influence on the level of engagement of your employees within your organization. Your communication message will determine whether you achieve the level of engagement that you seek for your organization. Explain the reason behind the How and you will have a better organization. Productivity Decline: Wake-Up Call for Organizations (Published 8/10/11) The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the second quarter productivity rates for the non-farm employment showing a decline in productivity of about 0.3 percent. This should be a wakeup call for business enterprises worldwide. Corporations in these difficult economic times have resorted to trying to save costs by laying off great numbers of employees. They claimed that the result was that they were reporting higher level of productivity in years. This was achieved on the backs of their human capital assets. Heavier workloads. Longer hours. What has happened is that the stress levels have come back to haunt. It is time for business organizations to realize that they have gutted their human capital assets by drastically cutting their staffs in the name of austerity. When they can then return by reporting high profit levels while gutting innovation and collaboration, the only ones they are hurting in the long run is the reputation of the organization
    • Page5 I am your life blood revisited: Two sides of the coin (Published 8/5/11) The other day I posted a blog post entitled "Hey, I am Your Life Blood." One of the readers sent me a comment back with this reply: I recently read an interesting piece on a management decision at Starbucks. The CEO started a program to raise store revenues by $100,000 a year. He pushed for a solution that recognized the value of employees which turned on paying their baristas and managers more than the going rate in the food service industry. This policy recognized the value of those well-trained people who served as the direct conduit to the customer. What a smart idea it turned out to be as in store revenues increased by an average of $150,000 a year. So it got me wondering what the other side of the spectrum might look like. A member of the DBAI Advisory Board turned me on to the other side of the coin. It seems that a franchisee of Pizza Hut is embroiled in a national class action suit because they said under state law the pizza delivery men and women should be paid as tip workers, and the fact that they drove their cars for work did not change the requirements. So they were not paid the required $.51 per mile for their driving time, thus bringing their take-home pay under the minimum wage level of $2.13 per hour. What makes this issue worse is that in 2004, the issue arose with the same circumstances and resulted in that franchisee being fined $5,100,000. I realize that we are in tough economic times, but if one food retail establishment makes some changes and receives a huge uptick in revenue and another one faces a dire fine, why would you make the decision not to treat your employees with respect and recognition of their value? Let's keep the dialogue going. Hey, I am your life blood (Published 8/3/11) CNN Money this morning ran a post regarding the corporations who are job killers because of the number of people who are being forced into the job market along with the rest of the world. When you review the loss, it is a sad view of the marketplace. One, HSBC, actually reported increased profits. How did they do that? They are doing it by laying off 25,000 worldwide. I hear the line that corporations must be able to do the things they must to satisfy their stockholders, but they seem to be leaving out one factor out of the mix. Mr. Corporation, those employees are the life blood of your organization. They are no longer an expense item; they are corporate assets. They are the ones who have all the knowledge of how to run your organization better, faster and cheaper. Cheaper does not mean laying people off; it means streamlining your processes so that you can reduce the time to complete, thus raising the revenue level of the organization. The workplace has changed and we succeed based on the innovations we can create. To do this you don't need machines. You do not necessarily need immense factories. We need the brain capacity of the human capital assets to see the world not as it is, but see the world as it might be. Our employees are the life blood of our organizations. Stop before you decide that the path to profitability only lies in cutting employees. Take a moment and picture in your mind what would happen if your customers called the organization and no one answered the phone. Take a moment and consider what would happen to your business if a client had a problem and no one knew how to solve it. As the late Edward Kennedy said at his brother's funeral, "Some men see things as they are and say why; I dream things that never were and say why not." As one of your human capital assets, the employee's job is not to see things as they have been but to see where the future can take us. This view is based on what is in their heads from the acquisition of data, ideas and projections into the future. They are the ones that will propel our organizations to greatness as we come out of these economic times that we are facing today.
    • Page5 Hollywood versus Reality (Published 6/30/11) Turn on most of the talk shows these days and almost everyone in recent days has had Tom Hanks on promoting his new film Larry Crowne. For those of you not aware of the plot, Tom Hanks plays the part of an employee who often has been rated by management and fellow employees as the best employee of the month for a big-box retailer. He has worked for the company since he got out of the Navy and is now in his 50's. He gets a request to come to the manager's office and is told he is being let go because he does not have a college degree. With the knowledge that EEOC and the Department of Labor are cracking down on injustices in the workplace, have you stopped to look at whether or not the requirements you place on positions are actually bona-fide occupational qualifications. I would suspect that the retailer would have a hard time justifying that Larry Crowne could not do the job because he does not hold a college degree. We realize that in these tough economic times corporations are doing what they can to beef the quality of the workforce for the coming changes, but the Larry Crowne scenario opens a couple of concerns. First, in the movie Tom Hanks plays an individual who is obviously a hard worker and in his 50's. So the question that come sot mind is did they violate the ADEA regulations and potentially discrimination laws by releasing Larry Crowne. More important, the exit of Larry Crowne represents a knowledge drain from the store since his knowledge of how best to do his job goes out the door when you send him on his merry way. So I leave you with two suggestions. First from the trailers it looks like a fun movie and it hits the theatres tomorrow. Take time over the weekend to go enjoy it. (By the way I get no compensation from the production company and Tom Hanks and I are both related to the 16th President of the US). Second really review the requirements of your positions and think about whether requiring a college education for a position such as Larry Crowne is a necessary requirement to perform the duties of the position or does it just make your organization look good in the eyes of the public? It’s My Way or No way, end of question (Published 6/6/11) I live in Central Florida and one of the local municipalities has passed a new law which goes into effect July 1, which states that if you are homeless you either have to go into a shelter or go to jail. Those are your only choices in life. Please do not get me wrong, I am not totally sympathetic to people sleeping and living on the streets. Having said that, I want to use this as an example of thinking out the ramifications of our decisions in human capital management. Every organization has its own peculiar culture which dictates how the organization treats its human capital assets. The question here is whether the organization is as controlling as the local , or are they open enough to recognize the value of diversity of thought and lifestyles? The rapidly changing world we live in heavily depends on our organizations to be innovative in their services and products and to change with the business environment. Innovation means that we take into consideration a wide variety of thoughts, work processes, work styles. If we operate from a sense of iron clad rules and regulations we are in the long run hindering the growth of our organizations. So my question to you is whether the next time an employee comes to work for your organization is the message you are delivering " this how we do it here and it is the only way we do it here" or are you ready to recognize that the employee who comes off a little strange to you and your management the road to the next great mousetrap in your organization. Just because they have a different view of the world around them does not mean that they are in some way bad and need to be stored away somewhere out of view from the public or our customers. The next time you consider chastising someone because of the way they dress or behave be careful that you are doing so for proper reasons, not because they do not fit your picture of reality.
    • Page5 How much am I really worth to the organization? (Published 4/29/11) Every day I open the newspaper in the morning or turn on the evening news and as of late the same stories are on. The GOP has come out with these lists of programs that need to be cut in order to solve the deficit problem faced by this country. I am not negating that there is a spending problem in this country. What I am disputing is the tendency from either side of the aisle when talking about making cuts in spending they reduce everything to the level of a commodity. This can in the long run lead to dramatic changes in our society. Take the budget debate and convert it to our organizations and their human capital assets. When we find that our organizations are declining for whatever reason the first tendency is to suggest that we cut expenses by cutting overhead. So the first thing that tends to be cut is the trainers and human resource professionals. Usually there are dire results that come as a result. Take the corporate mobility industry as a good example. In 1955 when the industry began, it was done so in response to a real need on the part of individuals who were being moved by their organizations. When we got into the 1990's and early 21st Century, the delivery of relocation services began to be treated by the procurement side of the company as a commodity. The result was that service levels dropped. The needs of the human capital assets were ignored. The level of engagement on the part of employees declined. Instead of being a real live person, the employee became just another number. Now as we work our way through the budget deficits at the federal, state and organizational level we are headed towards treating our human capital assets as commodities instead of being viable assets of the organization. I have a friend who was the CHO of an organization who was directly told that if was better financially to let him go then to continue to operate as they have been, James Womack in his book Lean Thinking states that unless the organization is on the verge of going out of business there is no reason to lay anyone off. There are sufficient non-value added steps to our processes that you can find the funds to avoid treating your human capital as commodities, As a member of the C-suite of your organization you have the responsibility to manage the workforce of your organization and this includes respecting and appreciating the worth your human capital assets bring to your organization. It is their creative power which enhances your organization in the marketplace. It is their creative power which provides you with the innovation to be the best in your industry. It is their creative power which makes your organization attractive to the best talent in the world. As corporate executives you determine the legacy that your organization leaves in the global economy. Are you leaving the legacy which says your human capital is just another number on your balance sheet? Are you telling the available talent that you really want them in your organization but we think that your contribution is limited because you are a commodity? The choice is yours to determine just how much your human capital assets are worth to your organization. The choice is yours to determine whether they are a vital part of your organization or just something that can be swept under the rug when times get tough.
    • Page5 What if we gave a party for the most talented and no one showed up? (Published 12/26/10) As human resource professionals, we are charged with finding the most talented candidates to fill the positions within our organizations. But what would you do if the most talented are not available to you? Dr. Richard Florida in his book, "Flight of the Creative Class" suggests that the talent assets are choosing to go elsewhere then this country. We are in the middle of reading the companion volume to the movie "Waiting for Superman" and in today's newspaper is an article from the Atlantic magazine entitled "Your Child Left Behind." Each of these resources suggests that the educational system within the US is turning out substandard talent for our business environment. Let's leave your silo for a moment and say that they are correct, what are you going to do when you throw the party to attract the top quality talent for our human capital needs and you can't find them? Unless you are living life as an ostrich, with your head in the sand, you know that as we come out of this trying economic times we are in, the better employee is going to consider leaving for supposedly greener pastures. If Your Child Left behind is correct, the only state that comes close to being in the top 18 state or countries for 15 year olds performing at the advanced level in math proficiency was Massachusetts. This means as we search for replacement human capital we can't find them. So as we begin the final week of 2010 and begin 2011, we as human resource professionals need to take the initiative to help our local schools gain the lead back for this country. There are many suggestions around on how to resolve this issue. But we would suggest that while dramatic changes are needed we need to do with reason in mind. The transition team for the new governor of the State of Florida has suggested letting parents remove their children from classrooms where the parent feels the teacher is being ineffective. Is this ineffective by actual data or based on the beliefs of the parent? We need to ensure that the talent of the future knows how to think critically about the issues confronting our organizations. Here are some thoughts for consideration. • As the vehicle for introducing talent to our organizations, we need to let the educational institutions know what the voice of the customer is, by informing them of the criteria for employment that our organizations have established. • As Human Resource professionals, we should actively work with local educators to ensure that the talent that they are producing knows how to use the critical thinking skills that are required of our cross-functional teams in today's organizations. • As Human resource professionals we are accustom to completing SWOT analysis of our policies and procedures. We should do the same thing with the local educational programs as they relate to our talent needs. Following the SWOT it is imperative that we are not bystanders but forward thinking professionals by showing how the SWOT can improve our schools. • We need to benchmark what our colleagues are doing in other sections of the country and use the data to guide our local schools to implement what is working with other corporations. • If we have some concrete ideas about how to invent some break through strategies for improving the status of our students in the world of the future, we need to be prepared to share it with the world. In final thoughts, we need to be bold about becoming involved in the future of our educational initiatives or we will be destined to throwing the party with no one in attendance.
    • Page5 Have we missed the direction? (Published 12/3/10) One of the business magazines I read religiously from cover to cover each month is the latest edition of Fast Company Magazine. Several years ago in doing so I read an article by Dr. Richard Florida and got hooked on his concepts. His latest book, the Great Reset is no exception. Then I picked up the St Petersburg Times this morning and the front page contains a larger article across the middle of the page entitled " New Reality in The US: Forever jobless." This led me to contemplate whether we have missed the direction in which we are headed. The nature of the workforce has changed but many of our politicians are still walking around with rose colored glasses. Many of our human resource professionals are in the same boat. So how do we need to change direction to resolve the unemployment quagmire we are in? First, we need to come to the realization that we are no longer in a workplace that is governed by what we make. It is ruled, whether you accept it or not, by what we dream. This means that our way of viewing available talent. There was a reason why the founders of HP and Apple began in their garages. They did so because traditional business did not recognize the value of their ideas. Second, the current trend to negate the inclusion of a candidate who is unemployed means that you may be eliminating the very person that will catapult your organization to the next level. Third, Charles Handy in his book "The Age of Paradox" suggested that we would end unemployment by everyone being self-employed. If that is true we need to be concerned where the knowledge bank of our organizations is going to reside. Your organization depends on developing that knowledge base and having it available as needed. While jobs are important and we would not dispute that we need to get as many people back to work as possible, we would also contend that the effort to concentrate on passive candidates is not helping the unemployment issue or your organization.
    • Page5 The Nature of our world view (Published 11/10/10) Last time I looked, we were all human (all though lately I have seen some individuals walking down the street who put that observation into question) and we all have the tendency to jump the gun and come to a decision on what we think about individuals. We make these decisions based on the way they dress, talk, act, and their general body language. The problem is that we may be wrong. This past weekend, my wife and I were driving around doing the usual weekend errands when a car pulled up in front of us. On the rear bumper was a bumper sticker with a statement which made me begin to question some of the things we do. The bumper sticker in black and white cautioned us to "Don't Believe What You Think." In considering this statement, it made wonder how many times have we ruled out a candidate because we assumed that they could not do the job or have the credentials needed? How many times have you had a problem with an employee and determined that the reason was that they plain just did not understand what we expected? If we look back in history, there are numerous examples of individuals who were deprived of the pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be, because someone made a decision based on erroneous information. In this day of economic strife and numerous candidates for each position, we need to re-examine our thought process. We need to understand that even though research has said that we make up our minds about a person within the first 7 seconds, we need to stop and check whether we are making a decision about an employee based on real interaction or based on our biases. We are a product of our environment, and that is important, but it is also important that we realize that others have their own set of environmental factors in play. The difficulty is making the two mesh in ways that benefit everyone. So the next time you think you have the right impression of a candidate, take a lesson from the bumper sticker and don't believe what you think. Neither you nor I are graced with the expertise to automatically identify that individual who will be the next great contributor to our success or the organization's innovation. Who am I? The role of human capital in a global workplace (Published 9/26/10) As I do every morning I opened my email inbox to read the latest post from Trish MacFarlane (http:/www.hrringleader.com) in which Trish talks about how the contestants on Dancing with the Stars represent the different types of character roles can be found in our organizations. Her thoughts got me re-looking at the content of a presentation I am making to a local MBA leadership class on this topic. As the nature of the global workforce has changed over time, the role of the human capital resources has also changed. Far too many organizations (and CEO's I might add) still believe that their organizations employees are nothing more than a number on the balance sheet. We don't rely anymore strictly on what we produce as we did in the industrial age. Instead your employees are the critical knowledge asset of your organization. Without their sharing what is in their head, you would lose a great majority of the innovative and competitive status cherished by the marketplace. So I would suggest a couple of steps to strategically move your organization forward in this new paradigm: 1. Go read Trish's posting from this morning. Read it and consider what she suggests 2. Rethink how you view your employees. They are the lifeline of your organization 3. Move the employees from a liability to an asset on your balance sheet. I realize it is hard to put a true value on their benefit to you. But think of what the cost would be if they all left. Enjoy your weekend what is left of it, and go into work on Monday embracing the new status of human capital in the global workplace. If you have some basis for looking at the human capital asset of your organization in another perspective, drop me your comments.
    • Page5 We do not have a talent problem (Published 8/24/10) The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that a new survey completed by Regus, says that 40 percent of workers are tired of not being promoted, bosses that don't share company goals and are overworked. Their solution is that they are thinking of quitting their current position. This trend indicates several aspects of the job market going forward. First, the job market is improving for them to even be thinking about looking for a new position and second, we as organizational management are not doing enough to keep the human capital resources engaged in our organizations. What would you do if 40 percent of your organization walked out the door? Could you continue to stay in business? Strategy: Take the blinders off and find ways to get the employees engaged. The age of the dominant supervisor is gone and it is time to be transparent with your employees where the company is going and how you expect to get there. Change the focus of your organization to one of collaborative teams across all departments. The time of the silo mentality has come to an overdue conclusion. A disservice to the economy (Published 6/8/10) I received an email this morning from a trusted source which indicated that a growing trend among some employers is to state in the ad for an open position “the unemployed will not be considered." Corporate America is faced with the real possibility of a labor shortage in some areas whether you believe it or not. From the Huffington post was this note: In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a "Quality Engineer." Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason." In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to Huff Post that The People Place ad accurately reflects the company's recruitment policies. "It's our preference that they currently be employed," he said. "We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed -- with the economy being what it is, we've had a lot of people contact us that don't have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we're interested in." The goal of any talent management effort is to find the right person for the right position at the right time, and by stating that the unemployed will not be considered you may very well eliminate the very source to solve our problem. Many organizations have made the decision for "economic reasons" to let go some of the best talent in the country. When we need to stay competitive with the rest of the world, this is not the time for any employer to set out to decide that because someone got caught in the downturn they are no longer valuable talent to the organization.
    • Page5 The Talent War (Published 1/15/10) Several years ago Dr. John Sullivan, the guru of recruiting, posed the question as to who won the war for talent. With the current unemployment numbers, the answer may not be as obvious as one thinks. In times of economic trials, many companies think that the path to monetary strength is to cut the employee overhead. We would suggest that this may only be a temporary fix. We have moved from a marketplace based on what we produce to what we know. As a result, the knowledge of our employee base can determine whether an organization survives into the future. I had recently attended a meeting in which the presenter discussed a corporation which thought the road to prosperity was to offer early retirement to any employee with more than 20 years seniority. Every one of the employees in question accepted the buyout. The company went out of business in 6 months. There is another way. In his book "Reaching the Goal", John Ricketts suggests that instead of conducting layoffs, create project skill benches. Employees are put on projects to completion. Then they come back to the skill bench and if business is slow, then send them for additional training. Upon completion of the training they come back to the skill bench for the next project. All too often we forget that the employees are what keeps our customers satisfied and therefore adding to the bottom line. If you find that your revenue is slipping the answer is to check with the voice of the customer, not cutting staff. Make sure that you are meeting the needs of the customer which will relate to the level of employee involvement required. Moment of contemplation (Published 7/11/09) If you are an avid follower of LinkedIn and its questions, there have been ongoing discussion threads of the role of recruiters in the current economy. We find business enterprises stress the need to stay current on changes within our respective industries. The vast majority of recruiters today have not gotten advanced training; they may have not gotten any initial training either. I have had the opportunity over the past year to talk to a number of recruiters who pass themselves off more as staffing agencies, then recruiters. In 1972, a senior partner from I believe it was Hedrick and Struggles wrote a book entitled Confessions of a Corporate Headhunter in which he stated the role of a recruiter was to be the go between a corporation who did not really understand what they needed and the candidate who was out for the fast buck. In this scenario it was the goal of the recruiter to assist the corporate client to recognize the assets that a candidate brought to an enterprise, not based on what was necessarily in the job description but on the candidate's experiences. What I have seen both in conversations one on one and on posting in the groups I participate in is that recruiters today find reasons not to refer candidates on to the corporations. This means they are not recruiters but staffing agencies. I have heard recruiters tell candidates that because you have grey hair I won't pass you on (asking for trouble or what?), because you do not have corporate experience you don't qualify even if you have been involved in multiple aspects of HR. We supposedly have an unemployment crisis and yet if they in this economy looked beyond the passive music chairs candidates we might very well solve the unemployment crisis quickly. There are plenty of highly qualified candidates out there who are being looked over for new positions because they were the result of the downturn.
    • Page5 Where have all the Elders Gone? (Published 5/22/09) Several years ago I wrote an article for Mobility Magazine with the same title. Its intent was to discuss the effect on the relocation industry of those with the knowledge leaving the business. I have been returned to that concept recently having looked at some of the online "rants" regarding the state of the job market. In 1972, Alan Cox wrote a book entitled "the Confessions of a Corporate Headhunter" in which he defined a headhunter as a go between with a corporation who had no idea of what they needed and the candidate who was out for the fast buck. The job market at the time was almost as bad as it is now. It appears to me that the majority of the recruiters that I have watched online have evolved into more of a staffing agencies then headhunters having forgotten what their role was supposed to be. If they were truly functioning as a headhunter they should be open to recommending a candidate for a position if they believed they were a strong candidate even if they did not fit the round peg to a tee. Corporations today are working with non-owned corporate knowledge assets and whether they are cognizant or not there are human capital resources available because of the nature of the market that they should serious look at to bolster their operations.
    • Page5 Employee Development This section deals with the development, implementation, and evaluation of activities and programs that address employee training and development, performance appraisals, and talent and performance management. Back to the Future, or why we forgot the meaning of education (Published 7/20/12) Thanks to the likes of Jeb Bush and Bill Gates, the United States has pushed our educational system (and governmental entities have pushed the country) to evaluate both our students and teachers on the basis of the results of standardized tests. They claim that the testing results are a clear picture of the success of our educational system. I spent six years of my life in the classroom, and having graduated under a system which did not put as much emphasis on testing, I can tell you - while the intent is well intended it misses a major outcome that we need in today's global workplace. Consider two views of teaching. The first is the current system, where the process of students and therefore the impact of the teaching effort are based on the content of the state standards and accompanying tests. The indirect result is that because there is so much emphasis on meeting the standards, teachers are forced to establish their lesson plans around that content. I am not suggesting that there is a problem with setting standards for what should be taught in the classroom. I have a problem when the concentration is the test rather than the content. Take the second view of teaching. This is the view that was the norm up until the push for the standardized tests. My grandfather worked his way up through the business world to the level of CEO without basing that education on the test results. When I was attending school we had the opportunity to take the NYS Regents exam to judge our progress. Here is my problem with the new world: I hear and read almost every day that companies are having a hard time finding employees who can function at a satisfactory level within the workplace. Why? Because the direct result of the new system is the lack of critical thinking. The success of our organizations is not dependent on whether you passed some standardized test, but rather your ability to think through problems. The ability to think through why the organization is undergoing issues is critical for the success of the economy and the organization. It is very disturbing when an educator tells me that if he taught math the way he did when he started teaching 25 years ago, he would be forced to fail all his students. This is what happens when we do not take the time to challenge the students to find solutions on their own using easily taught skills. This is what happens when the aim of the system is to meet the content of the test rather than life skills. In order to ensure that we have a workforce that can meet the challenges of the future, we need to return to the time when the programs were designed to challenge the students to think through problems - not by rote response to the issues. Our organizations, our economy, our survival and our innovation demand it. The future demands it if we are to be the powerhouse we claim to be.
    • Page5 Corporate America and the GPS Mentality (Published 7/20/12) As I write this I am on a family vacation to visit friends in Colorado Springs. As I do on most trips I called AAA for a Triptik and loaded the address in the GPS. When last Sunday came around we pulled out of the driveway and told the Magellan to take us there by the shortest route. Well come to find out that both the Triptik and the Magellan took us on the long way to get to our destination and in the process added about 200 miles to the trip by taking the long way to get there. As I look back at the drive (yes we did drive it from Florida to Colorado) I looked at some of our organizational processes and I wondered how many times have we tried to resolve an HR issue using a GPS mentality? In this electronic world we live in we try and find a solution to our needs by finding a tool or device that can make our lives easier. So we go out and purchase a GPS to make our lives easier. When we look at our organizational processes we tend to strive for the same goal. We want to make our business lives easier with all the stress levels that we currently undergo. But like the GPS our route to an easier life is not as easy as we may think. Like my trip routes it is easy to take a route which on the face of it makes our life easier but in reality makes our lives within the organization more complex. We take the easy way out without regards for the consequences of our actions. When you look at how you organization operates do you do so with a GPS view or do you look for ways to be innovative in the way you implement your processes? We are on a journey, but seem to have lost our way (Published 7/8/12) Within the past week I have had several conversations with HR professional peers with a rather disturbing thread to the conversation. I had one individual tell me that if we treated HR as an individual, they would fail an Emotional Intelligence analysis (and you think you can use it to judge candidates). I have had others tell me that many of our colleagues want to return the era when we were called "personnel." Still others suggest that if we continue in the track we are in, the profession will cease to exist. At the same time, other peers argue for a seat at the "partner table." I challenge you to define what we have done to earn that seat. Many managers see us not as a partner but an obstacle to the organization. We are not aligned with the business strategy - rather, we object to changes in the way the organization operates because that is not the way we do things. We remain stuck in a world that has changed; we are just on a journey that isn't the journey we thought we were on. If you open your focus and your mind it may not be too late to change your focus. We may not have reached the point of no return and we can still demonstrate to our organizations that we are a vital part of the organization and its future. So I challenge each and every one of you to become a vital cog in your organization by learning the language of your business. Change your path so that you are no longer a drain on the organization.
    • Page5 Am I Missing something here? (Published 5/15/12) I was watching the morning news this morning and across the bottom of the screen was a running display of the latest news. One such headline stated that the TSA had patted down an 89-year-old man in the airport the other day. When you see the rest of the story at the end of this post you will understand the rest of the post more clearly. When I was in high school nearly 50 years ago, we were required to take a wide assortment of classes and have involvement within our local community. We totally understood who the players were and what their roles were. On the same broadcast, the state of Florida was reporting a dramatic cut in the passage rate on the written part of the state assessment exam. I then hear employers telling us that they can't find qualified employees in the US. I suspect that in the name of fiscal responsibility we have systematically over the years cut the very programs which make us viable parts of the community. Students today are no longer taught civics (a fact that drove the actor Richard Dreyfus mad), and we have watered down the history that is taught in order to meet the demands of right wing activists who dislike the teaching of real history or science and like made-up theories of where we came from. Unless we turn around the curriculum of this country to widen the knowledge of the students that are following us, they will not be able to function in a vital role within this country. Now the rest of the opening scenario: the 89 year old man who was subjected to the pat down by TSA - Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State of the US. Was the TSA patting down everyone who went through the airport, or was the education of the TSA agent so lacking in background that he or she did not recognize who this was and therefore probably not a security risk? Considering, I would believe that he still holds high security clearance from the government. What are your thoughts? Are we giving our students the education they need to function in the global workplace?
    • Page5 Listen to the voice, hear the disconnect (Published 2/23/12) Almost every day I open my email and see one report or another which reports that employers are complaining that in certain fields they are having problems sourcing, locating and hiring the right talent. Then I turn around and see articles about where, like in Florida at the present time, they are talking about cutting funding for the colleges and universities. Their first reaction is that they are going to have to in turn cut the research dollars. I totally understand the impact that university based R&D has on society as a whole. However I would contend that these projects do nothing for resolving the talent shortage problems. They are great for the university image but the average student is not helped by them in a real way- finding a job and getting a paycheck. We need to stop and listen to the voice of the customer--the business world--as to what they need to succeed in today's global workplace. We need to change the university system to be based on not what you can innovate or write but rather we need to move the concentration of the institutions to professors who are there because they want to teach. They are there because they want to be resources for the next generation of workers. This concept was tried once before and the institution was crucified by the establishment universities and the politically based regional accreditation organizations. We are in a world of change but these organizations are stuck in a back to the future mode which says very little about their meeting the needs of the community. A new method or better way is suggested and like everyone else they hate change or the idea of it. This "new" concept was referred to as the Parsons Plan and it attracted some of the best educators in the country who saw the benefits of teaching not researching or writing. The Parsons Plan recognized the unique contributions these individuals brought to the table and based their compensation on what they taught and how their students demonstrated the mastery needed to enter the workforce. It did not base the tenure of the professor on how much they wrote or how much time they spent in the lab. I am all for standards of quality to ensure that we are turning out new talent who will become tomorrow’s leaders. Just make the standards stand for something that benefits all rather than a select few.
    • Page5 I got the message: An educational manifesto (Published 10/17/11) Over the past couple of weeks we have posted and received a wide variety of responses to our post about "When Are You Going to Get the Message." Some have contended that the educational system was never designed to prepare students to function in the workplace. In response this post will propose a manifesto for improvement of the educational system in this country. We are not going to propose some quick fix but rather some common sense suggestions. I have heard the reports that managers cannot find talent with the right skills to increase their hiring, so here is what we need to do starting tomorrow, not at some indeterminate time in the future. Manifesto #1: The educational system needs to halt the emphasis on the only way for schools to remain competitive is to raise the level of research. The Parsons Plan showed the fact that if teachers/professors are there to teach they will have an equal effect on the student population. Need more proof - Google the Parsons Plan and find out how really effective a different educational model can be. Manifesto #2: Remove the politics from the situation. The reliance on the Old Boy Club by the various accreditation boards is not directed toward improvement of the skills of the future workforce but rather to maintain the status quo. Make the standing of educational institutions based on how well they are preparing the workforce. Manifesto #3: Change the curriculum to lower the reliance on test results but rather focus on guiding students on how to effectively use their cognitive skills. We will never remain the land of innovation when we allow our future workers to believe that everything should be just handed to them. Manifesto #4: If we want to have a workforce with an increased level of skills, we need to expose them to a greater view of the skills they need and increase their exposure through apprenticeship-type activities. We believe this should be for all areas, not just building trades or the like. Manifesto # 5: A number of corporations have learned that amazing things happen when we let the minds run free. Allow our students to do the same thing with the classroom. There is not a single educator who can predict who is going to be the next Steve Jobs. Give them the chance to show what they can do within the framework of the subject fields. When I taught science and gave them the opportunity to work on science projects with minimum guidelines, we received some lofty responses and some of those went on to win regional first. We are not talking about the volcano types; we are talking about sincere high-level science inquiries. It is as a collaborative we can improve the educational efforts which will prepare our students for the future. But only when we strive to meet skill needs, not test needs.
    • Page5 Results are in and the picture is not pretty (Published 1/26/11) The Nation's Report Card results have been released and it tells us that our students are not making the grade in Science and Math. The Pacific Rim countries are graduating students fluent in English and with better scores then we are. Every time I turn around someone is saying how we are the source of innovation in the world and that might have been the case in the past. But to be able to be innovative in what we do, our citizenry must be able to think through problems. They must be able to think through the ramifications of their decisions. They must be able to dissect a problem to identify the root causes behind why it is a problem. Instead we are turning out students who do not have the elementary skills to critically think through possible solution scenarios. We are turning out students who get into the workplace and can't function because they do not understand what the problem is in the first place. I periodically offer my time as a substitute teacher in the middle and high schools and have seen first-hand students are given an assignment as simple as finding locations on a map, tell me that it is either too hard or they do not know how to do the assignment. What we are confronted with is an educational system which teaches to the test not teaching to develop critical analytical processes. I used to teach full time as a middle school science teacher and part of my lessons plans involved lengthy lab assignments to get my students to think through the results they were gaining. We don't do that today we no longer challenge the students to think through scenarios. So what does this mean to our human capital utilization? We have employees who flounder in our organizations, not because they are bad employees. They flounder because they do not know the right track to be taking. They flounder because as discussed in the book "The M-Factor" by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman, they have not had the same training we did when we were in school. For example, the book discusses an employee who was not able to complete a project because the manager's notes were in handwriting and she could not read cursive handwriting. Innovation and collaboration are critical for us to regain our place in the world marketplace. We cannot do that if we do not provide coming generations with the required skills to achieve that goal. We need to forget teaching to the test. We need to challenge our students to become viable parts of the global workplace. We need to provide them with the necessary skills to critical look at the problems in the workplace and seek new and innovative ways to solve those problems. We need to prepare our next generation to be able to compete with the Pacific Rim countries on an even keel. We are not doing that now. The result are organizations that are forced to expend valuable resources to train the new employees when they join an organization, to gain the ability to exercise the skills the organization requires but were not given to them in their educational environment. We need to work as a team on both sides of the equation to solve this critical dilemma.
    • Page5 Race to Nowhere (Published 12/16/10) As I do typically every morning I watch a portion of the Today show before getting on the computer. This morning they had a segment with the documentary producer who creates a film that is making a stir across this country. The premise behind the film entitled "Race to Nowhere" is that we are loading our youth with so much pressure to get into this college or that college that they can never achieve the goal. They discussed a 13 year old girl who failed to get an A on a math test and was so stressed out over it that she committed suicide. I took a moment to carry this out a little further and asked myself if we are doing this to our kids, then they must have gotten this "drive" from somewhere and the natural thought is that it is coming from peers, teachers and parents. If in fact it in part comes from their parents and teachers, then does this race carry over to the workplace? We all are cognizant of the fact that we function in an ever increasingly competitive global workplace. I realize it is a fact of life. But in an effort to be better than everyone else, do we equally place this urge to race to nowhere on our employees? Do we as managers walk the walk, and talk the talk that every employee must reach this lofty goal which maybe unattainable? While our organizations need to remain competitive, it is equally true that we as business owners and human resource professionals must recognize that not every employee is capable or wants to be in the "Harvard" of the business world. Some can make equally important contributions to the health of the organization without being in the ivory tower of the organization. The employee could be the one on the floor who sees that we are doing something that is not totally beneficial to the organization and alerts management to a better way of doing things. The employee could be the one who in exposure to our customers enhances the relationship by going the extra mile to solve a problem. The employee could be the one who by being active in the local community extends the brand name of the organization by showing that the organization cares about the community in which they thrive. Competitiveness for the sake of competitiveness may look good on paper but it is not necessarily good for the health of the organization or its greatest asset - your employees.
    • Page5 In the rush for perfection, have we forgotten what we are supposed be doing? (Published 12/13/10) Return for a minute with me to the late 60s. I know if you remember the period you were supposedly not part of the time period. But it was a time when the way we taught our next generation was different then today. I came out of college in this era and taught for six years. I still correspond with one of my first students 41 years later. In a recent chat session she made the comment that I was one of the first teachers who made her think about the reasons behind what we do and why. Russ Moen of Express Personnel makes the argument that when the nature of the business world changed from one based on what we made to what we imagine, the nature of the employee changed from one of being an expense item to being a non-owned corporate asset the central part to success in business was dependent on collaboration and innovation. I look at the push behind such things as NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and realize that today's educators while for the most part do a good job; they fail to teach the skills to enable our next generation of workers to be critical thinkers in the workplace. You can't instill innovation in an individual when you are "teaching" them to prepare for the state accountability exam. Instead we are teaching them to stay within very small parallel views. Where would we end up with a HP or an Apple or even Ford Motor if we told them that they can't operate from the garage as they developed their concept because it did not meet the testing criteria? I was a bear of a teacher and I readily admit it. I took every opportunity to challenge my students to reach for that next higher level in what they did. We need to do the same with today's workers who come into the workplace by being unable to think beyond what is in front of them. We have not prepared our workplace to view the world from both a macro perspective and at the same time a micro perspective. When was the last time you had an employee come to you and suggest that there may be a better way to complete a process? In many cases the reason is that they were never taught to think for themselves. Dr. Richard Florida talks in his books about the role of the Creative Class in the workplace. He suggests that this country's standing in the world is going to be diminished because those who dream instead of producing end results believe they can find a greener pasture elsewhere. It is time we understand the new paradigm and change our educational system to meet the needs of your workplace not whether they performed well on some standardized test dictated by an accountability fanatic sitting in some office away from the workplace/classroom. Innovation is the way to our recovery. Innovation is the way to the future of the workplace. Innovation is the way to produce contributing members of society. If we don't recognize how to challenge the assumptions made by organizations how do we expect to be innovators in the years to come. I would expect that the next generation will not be as productive as past ones due to the inability to look at problems with a critical mind.
    • Page5 Is the glass half empty or half full? (Published 11/10) Every generation has been confronted with the question, "Which came first the chicken or the egg?" If we listen to the political pundits going into tomorrow's elections we can see the same picture developing. The tea party candidates are telling us how really bad things are. How all the strategies created to combat one of the worse recessions in this country was all bad. But is that really true? Consider the headlines out of the paper recently. • The TARP funds were the sign that our priorities were out of place. And yet a local CPA appeared on the local FOX news station and pointed out that many of the banks that have already paid back their loans have done so with a premium coming back. AIG announced today that it already has 37 billion dollars ready to come back to the US Treasury. • Manufacturing output exceeded the projections of most economists for the last reporting month. • Many of the corporations that have laid off employees are beginning to recall them back including GM and Delta Airlines. • Corporations are in the process of returning some customer service positions back to the US because economically it made more sense. This includes Radio Shack, AT&T and others. I was in attendance at a conference recently where the speaker indicated that he was working with an India based Information Systems firm which was opening a call center in Wisconsin because it was cheaper to run it here. How does this apply to human capital? I hear the same kind of rhetoric coming from the business community. Have you ever practiced the philosophy that there is no sense in training our employees because they would just leave? Have you ever told your hiring resources not to provide you with the names of candidates because they are in transition due to circumstances that are beyond their control? Have your ever expressed the belief that if a candidate was let go and did not find employment quickly they are worthless? We as human capital managers have the ability to look at the glass as being half full or half empty. Look at the available talent for who they are not what you envision them to be. You may be surprised based on the changed attitude. Many of the in-transition executives have taken this time to increase their levels of education, but you are excluding this because you believe the glass is half empty. So as you enter the voting booth tomorrow (we hope you all will one way or another) and as you go forward in your managerial efforts consider whether the glass is really as empty as you think it is. Pundits have been wrong in the past. Be sure you are not a victim to the wrong attitude.
    • Page5 What are we leaving to our business organizations? (Published 10/16/10) Growing up I had the opportunity to graduate from one of the top high schools in the country at the time (Mamaroneck HS class of 65) and I have to say that the education gained there went a long way in providing a pathway for the rest of my career. I went on to earn a degree in Education and before entering the business world taught for six years. This is not a bio on Daniel Bloom but rather laying the ground work for a real concern that hit home in the past week. To keep my teaching skills up to date and to give back to the community I periodically serve as a substitute teacher in the local school districts. Recently I covered for a 6th grade social studies class and was taken aback by the interaction in the classroom. There were students who did not even try to do the worksheet assignment the teacher had left, there were other students who complained that they could not understand what the teacher wanted done and still others who complained that it was too difficult. I talked with one of the school administrators about my concerns and was told that this is the name of the game these days. He further stated that if he taught today's students the way he taught students 20 years ago, he would have to fail every student in the class. So here is my concern on this nice fall day in the sunny tropics (temperatures are actually not supposed to get over 80 today and low's in the 50's tonight). I read on a fairly regular basis that the rank of this country in regards to competitiveness is slipping compared to other countries. Have we brought this on ourselves? Did the parents of this generation who insisted that they get a gold star for showing up or the trophy for playing on a Saturday morning sports team because every else did do a disservice to our business organizations? Granted that day in the class room I saw sign of teamwork and collaboration. ON the other hand what I envisioned was a group of employees in a workplace who when confronted with a project with a specific deadline, would not know where to begin. There is also another aspect to this scenario. We in the business world know or should know that the key to our being successful in the global marketplace is both innovation and collaboration. Part of that comes from individuals being able to share ideas and concepts. With the ever increasing push for "purity" in ideals and philosophies in our political arenas, are we going to come to the day where those keys to innovation disappear from our jobs? Does that push for sameness mean that the respect for our collaboration is demeaned? Does it mean that we have forgotten the lessons from history in which those who have tried this purity route before have eventually failed in their goals? I will agree with some commentators that the push for success on standardized tests has diminished the education level of our students. The believe that everyone has to be at the same level to succeed means that we have lost the ability to present real hands on challenges to the next generation because our teachers are too busy teaching to the test rather than the material. I can tell you that if I was coming out of college today with a degree in education I would have second thoughts about going into the classroom. So what is our recourse? We need to move to a program that actually prepares our students for the real world not some contrived test that supposedly teaches skills, even if they turn out new employees who can't read, can't write and more important can't think. My mother used to tell the story of one of her teachers who challenged her students by asking them "How do you know you think?" Is the answer we are giving them that you don't need to know how to think? Our businesses are confronted with major problems toady. Many of them stem from the altered society views on the world we live in. Some of this we brought on ourselves. Others have come about because we have changed the nature of the education we deliver to them as they prepare to enter the workforce. We need to do something now not later to return to those days when we went to school for a reason not because the law says we have to until we turn 16. I just came across a website yesterday that is trying to make those changes. Take a look at http://www.donewaiting.org It is not too late; we can make a difference for the business organizations we work for to ensure their survival. But we also can't sit back on our sofas and say it is not our problem. Everyone has to get involved.
    • Page5 Can credit checks and criminal background checks have a secondary purpose? (Published 9/3/10) I just returned from attending a regional conference for SHRM in which the primary point that we as employers need to be concerned with is no longer time to fill a position but rather the quality of that hire to begin with. In one of the sessions, the presenter (by the way an attorney) made the suggestion that to improve the quality of hire, we should be conducting checks of credit, criminal and social media backgrounds. He went on to say this was not for reasons of discriminating against anyone person but rather to determine if the applicant was a cultural fit with the organization. As an HR professional and a consultant I have some issues with this approach, backed up in part by Illinois which just introduced new rules which says unless you are in a very finite number of positions, credit checks cannot be used in the hiring decision that this practice could result in reduced diversity within our organizations. To allow a blanket removal of all individual results, in the reduction of possibly needed skills for the coming generation is this the direction we want to go in? What Direction are We Headed In (Published 9/29/09) A friend recently loaned us a copy of the four seasons of the show 4400. In one of the episodes a teacher is charged with child abuse because she inspired her students to utilize their talents. Right after watching the episode we downloaded two reports --Preparing the Workers Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow and The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce. We also watch as a segment of the population argues against the President talking to school children about making a difference in their world. The two reports mentioned above says that many employers are reporting a segment of the workforce is neither trained for tomorrow's jobs nor or they prepared for the jobs of today. When we look at the available training opportunities we need to really look at just what we are teaching our business leaders of tomorrow. Dr. Richard Florida, in his book Flight of the Creative Class, suggests that many of the world's talent are forsaking the U.S. job market because they can find better opportunities elsewhere. If they are not willing to come here, some may suggest that we have the talent locally to fill those positions. However, if they are not prepared for the demands of those jobs, what are we telling our customers? What are we telling the global marketplace? How do we expect to compete against the changing world? For those of you who believe we are doing fine just as we are (and I know there are some out there who think that way) I would suggest that you look at the You Tube presentation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpEnFwiqdx8
    • Page5 When Was the Last Time You Really Supported Your Recruiting Efforts? (Published 6/5/09) On May 17, 2009, in the St Petersburg Times, columnist Bill Maxwell wrote a column about a new program at St John's University in New York that was giving tenure tract for professors who teach writing rather than just conducting research.(http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/article1001353.ece). In reading the article, it raised some very interesting questions. In 2007, the National Center on Education and the Economy released their report entitled Tough Choices or Tough Times reporting on the skills of the American Workforce. In the report, the Center reported that in 2007 American students placed at the middle or bottom of their fellow students globally in Math, Science and general literacy. We continually hear from you in the trenches that the new workforce is ill prepared to survive in the 21st century workplace. Having said that, we turn and allow our institutions of higher learning to spend the majority of their resources on advancing research, which may or may not enable our next generation in increasing their required skills. I have to think back to my own college training because it was because of a willingness to buck the trends of the time I got a different perspective on the role of colleges and universities in our knowledge marketplace. In the 1960's and early 70's, there was an alternative program for college education called the "Parsons Plan." Represented by I believe seven colleges at the height of the program (Parsons College in Fairfield, IA was the model), which looked for professors who wanted to teach, not write or research. All of our lectures were taught by Ph.D.’s, the discussion groups were all conducted by Master's Degree holders. We learned because that was why we were there. So on this weekend as we commemorate the invasion on D-Day, I pose this question to you. If you believe that the workforce is not being challenged to prepare as contributors to our way of life, then are you ready to challenge the university system who by intent or coercion force universities to concentrate on the research efforts of their professors at the cost of preparing our workforce? Or are you willing to remain in the status quo? I believe that the St John's model of giving consideration to those who those who teach our students to write are what we need to enhance the quality of workforce. Let me know your thoughts.
    • Page5 Compensation and Benefits These posts deal with the development, selection, implementation, administration and evaluation of compensation and benefit programs, for all of the employee groups. Cut them hours. It is survival time (Published 7/11/13) Ever since the beginning of the financial downturn we have seen organizations of all sizes determined to solve the economic effects of the downturn by cutting headcount. In the process improvement efforts many organizations believe that the way to improve the organization is to cut headcount. The we add to this the misguided vie that the way to ensure the sustainability of the organization as the Affordable Care Act requirements kick in is to cut hours so they can avoid the mandate to provide medical coverage for their employees. So let me ask you to really think about the following questions and consider the implications of your responses. • Is your organization ready to close the doors? • Are you prepared to dilute your organizational knowledge base? • Can you truly meet the needs of your customers with fewer employees? • Are you still as innovative as you were before the reduction in force? Despite the gloom and doom projections there are some organizations that truly understand the role of the human capital assets within your organization. Cumberland Farms has just announced that they will ensure that all their employees are working 30 hours a week and are getting health insurance. Costco, who provides health benefits AND a higher than average wage (in an article yesterday which talked about a living wage bill going through the District government stated the average Costco wage is $21.65 per hour) have seen sales income grow despite the added expense. In an article from Forbes on April 17, 2013 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/04/17/walmart- pays-workers-poorly-and-sinks-while-costco-pays-workers-well-and-sails-proof-that-you-get-what-you-pay-for/) Costco is reporting an eight percent growth in year on year sales. Look at the other side of the coin at Wal-Mart. The same article states in the same time period Wal-Mart saw sales climb 1.2%. Wonder why? Let’s talk strategy here for a moment since that is what we do. You are in a senior management role and your primary goal is to ensure that your organization is still in business way after you have departed. So how are you going to achieve that? You are going to achieve that by ensuring that the organization is being proactive in being innovative with new services and products. You are going to do that by having human capital assets that are happy and engaged. You are doing that by having human capital assets that can’t wait to enter your portals each and every day. You achieve this by becoming the employer of choice in your community and industry. In light of these data points, return to the questions above and see if your answers correspond to our thoughts. We first asked you whether your organization is ready to close its doors. So let me ask it in a slightly different aspect. Have your organization in the past 60 days begun the process to tell your customers that you are going to file Chapter 7 under the Bankruptcy laws, if not you are not ready to close the doors. Second we asked you if you were ready to dilute the knowledge base. We are not in your father’s world. We compensate our human capital assets based on what is in their heads, not what they produce. So, if you reduce hours or headcount those knowledge points leave your organization making it less agile to innovate. Before you cut them hours be absolutely sure you know the complete impact on your organization. Make sure that you can remain innovative and ahead of the competition.
    • Page5 I am only worth $.15 to you, really!!! (Published 11/27/12) In the past couple of weeks we have seen and heard from a number of business owners who have tried to put a price tag on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, cloaked in the argument as to why they have to add costs to their ultimate end users - the customer. Whether it is the owner of Papa John's Pizza or the franchise owner of Denny's they seem to be forgetting one very important piece of the picture. In each case, where would these organizations be if their human capital made the concerted decision that since they have been categorized in such a low number, they're going where they are more appreciated? The demographics of our businesses have changed. The old adage that the "proof is in the profit" has morphed into "how can we show that our human capital assets are a vital part of our organization?" Telling the world that we have to raise our prices $.15 because we have to provide the benefits to our employees to make them more productive for the organization leaves the wrong impression in that regard. According to a presentation at the 2010 SHRM conference in San Diego, a study sponsored by Kronos and conducted by Mercer found that unplanned absences cost the organizations in this country 8.7 percent of the total payroll costs. The Kronos study revealed the following data points: • The combined total costs for incidental and extended disability absences — the kinds of absences employers try to minimize — add up to 8.7 percent of payroll. This figure is more than half the cost of healthcare, measured at 13.6 percent of payroll in Mercer’s 2009 National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. • The total costs of all major absence categories— including direct and indirect costs —average 35 percent of base payroll. These costs range from 29 percent for exempt employees, 36 percent for nonexempt salaried, 39 percent for nonunion hourly, and 38 percent for union hourly. • Incidental unplanned absences also result in the highest net loss of productivity per day (i.e., work that is missed or postponed by not being covered by others): 19 percent versus 13 percent for planned absences and 16 percent for extended absences. • The number of incidental unplanned absence days per employee per year averaged 5.4 days across all employee classes, and ranged from 3.9 for exempts, to 4.9 for nonexempt salaried, to 5.8 for nonunion hourly, and 7.3 for union hourly. Based on these data points, explain to me the logic of the Papa John's et al comments. If I am correct in my assumptions that the CEO of Papa John's and the Denny's franchisee are not capable of being in every facility that their organization runs 24/7, then making the investment in a healthier workforce in the long run means that the organization actually saves sources of funding for the profit down the road. There are numerous examples in the business world of human capital leaving en masse. The organization rapidly dissolves and goes out of existence. The human capital assets of today's business environment expect to be appreciated. Take for example Gen Y - if they do not feel a part of the organization, they are gone in an average of 18 months. So do you risk alienating the next generation of your workers by telling them that their value to your organization is $.15 per customer? I would think not.
    • Page5 Changing Face of Relocation (Published 2/17/09) A little discussed part of the stimulus package is the fact that if you have an position the law requires you to look to the unemployed workforce rather than immediately going to H-1B visa holders. We are all part of the HR Field, in some way or another I received an email this morning from one of the groups that I am a member of, and one of their members (Anand Khare (anand.khare@gmail.com)) posted the following item which I thought might be of interest to all of you: by Matthew D. Breitfelder and Daisy Wademan Dowling Two recent Harvard MBAs who chose human resources as a career explain why it's the next big thing. Read the Executive Summary. We have embarked on a career path that others don't quite understand. When we chat about our jobs with Harvard Business School classmates, six years after graduation, they often smile bemusedly and nearly always ask the same question: "You're doing what?" Both of us are in the field of human capital management, helping major companies select, retain, and groom their cadre of rising stars. Translation: We work in HR. A career in human resources isn't the typical destination of a Harvard MBA. We're supposed to be employed as strategy consultants or investment bankers or, in the true spirit of the degree, general managers. We once had jobs like those, but we don't now, and we know what our classmates are thinking: "It's a work/life balance thing. “They don't have the stomach for 'real' business." "If you can't do, teach." And, of course, our favorite: "If they're so interested in helping people, why don't they just go into social work?" Well, the answer is simple—and we relish providing it. HR today sits smack-dab in the middle of the most compelling competitive battleground in business, where companies deploy and fight over that most valuable of resources—workforce talent. Don't laugh. We share your healthy skepticism. We, too, have become a bit cynical hearing companies grandly proclaim, "People are our greatest asset!" only to watch most of them show little true commitment to developing and leveraging those people's abilities. We are also aware of the less-than-flattering stereotypes of HR professionals—you know, "administrators"—and of the reality that many traditional HR activities, such as benefits management, are increasingly being outsourced. But the staggering cost of finding and hiring top talent today—not to mention the millions of dollars' worth of productivity that can be left unrealized when a company's employees aren't engaged with their jobs—highlights the need to devote more time and resources to developing and managing this greatest asset. The stakes are becoming ever higher as the human-capital-intensive services sector continues to grow; as workers' mobility increases and moving laterally becomes more attractive to some people than moving up; as baby boomers vacate their corner offices, decreasing the supply of experienced managers; and as the Millennial generation brings new expectations to the workplace. In short, the long-held notion that HR would become a truly strategic function is finally being realized. We have therefore been puzzled that although almost every successful CEO who visited our business school classes declared the importance of attracting and developing talent—and many said that the 10% to 20% of their time spent on this was the most rewarding part of their jobs—we heard little about how to actually do it in practice. Things are changing, though. As talent management becomes a make-or-break corporate competency, the HR function is responding with a shift from managing the monetary levers of human resources—compensation, benefits, and other expenses—to increasing the asset value of human capital, as measured by intangibles such as employee engagement. A new kind of HR professional is emerging to manage this transformed function, someone who deeply understands not only talent-management processes but also an organization's strategy and business model—someone who is responsible for, say, hiring and training marketing managers but who also knows how to put together an effective marketing plan. Relocation is HR. Relocation is the key to being competitive.
    • Page5 Employee & Labor Relations These posts deal with the development, implementation, administration and evaluation of the workplace in order to maintain relationships and working conditions that balance employer/employee needs and rights. I am a Victim!!! (Published 10/4/12) There has been much in the news around the presidential election about certain people taking assistance because they think of themselves as victims. Let me say from the outset this is not a political rant. It is, however, a consideration about the concept of being a victim in our global workplace. I recently finished reading Dave Ulrich's latest book, HR from the Outside In (which I highly recommend be read by all HR professionals). It looks at the global HR profession from the perspective of the latest Human Resource Competency Survey. In the book Dave Ulrich and his team make reference to a quote from William James. In one sentence William James established the essence of this blog post. He said We are not victims of the world we see; we are victims of the way we see the world Stop and consider that for a moment. On a consistent basis we hear claims that the government is against us and the labor unions are trying to destroy our businesses and society. We hear that the reason we can't expand our businesses is because of too much red tape and regulation. But is that really the reality of the situation? Are we victims of the world we see, or are we victims of our own piece of reality? Let's take just one aspect of the reality here and consider the two perspectives. If we picture the scenario that one of the problems organizations are having is the difficulty in hiring workers to fill needs with the organization and compare the views: We are victims of the world we see If this is your view of the world, you can argue that the difficulty facing the organization is due to the fact that the world economic environment is in dire straits. The policies of global governments are hindering the advancement of our organizations. The solution to the problem is we need to cut costs and the easiest way to achieve that is to cut headcount. Therefore we have to overload the current staff because the work still has to get done. Besides, have you seen lately what happens when we post a position? Have you seen all the untrained people who apply? How can I possibly have time with the other responsibilities I have to get through them all? We are victims of the way we see the world Have you seen the range of complaints from the EEOC lately? They are literally plastered with examples of organizations that take this view of the world into the workplace. The range of complaints is clear demonstrations of the fact that these organizations think that they are victims of the world they see. Consider these examples: An organization refused to hire a pregnant woman as a group leader - We can't hire them as they don't represent the image we want. Besides, they won't stay with the organization after the arrival of the child anyway. An organization placed an employee of different color in a lower position than a white employee - Those people are always the rebels and don't like following rules, so we need their services, but not as bad as the other employees. Besides, they don't want to work anyway. Just look around town and they are always hanging out on the street corners with nothing to do. Years ago Napoleon Hill wrote that what the mind can conceive and believe it will achieve. So if you take the position that you are the victim of the world you see, sorry to say you will be that victim. If you expect that a certain employee is nothing but trouble, they will be. If you categorize a group of employees under certain characteristics, they will be that characteristic. It is your choice whether you view the world we see as part of a grander scheme or as a victim. Dictionary.com tells us that a victim is a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency. So when you look at the world, do you create your own reality by suggesting out of ignorance that you are the victim in the business world?
    • Page5 I would strongly suggest that, in order to bring this global marketplace back to a point of strength, we need to learn to work together, not as the victim of some imaginary stereotype of a group of people or conditions that you face. It is your choice whether you continue to segregate your organization from the new normal or join the global village. We have fought the war; but just learned we lost (Published 9/13/12) I had planned a new blog post with this title on a different topic, but several recent events have turned me in a different direction. The early settlers of this country, including some of my relatives, came to this unknown territory called North America to escape religious persecution and limits to free speech. In the 1950's and 1960's, we lived through the Civil Rights movement to make the point that we all have the right to the pursuit of happiness without being ostracized because we don't think or act like the "norm" of our culture, whatever that is. In the past 48 hours, I have witnessed the problems that arise when we make stereotypes the basis of our human interactions. I was in a local store to return an item when the customer before me tried to return a purchase and the UPC on the item did not match the receipt. After he left the store, the employee turned to one of her co-workers and said "THEY try to do that all the time" in front of other customers. The Arab Spring in the Middle East was centered on the right to have more freedoms, including the right to think and behave outside the societal norms. I look at social media and find frequent postings that border on outright hatred toward those who don't meet this picture of the norm. Here is the problem: when we begin to stereotype individuals through this filter, we demean the society and, more importantly, our workplace. As an organization, we only succeed when we discover new and exciting innovation regarding the products. This innovation only comes from the act of collaboration, and it only works when we recognize the value of varying views. When you enter the collaborative process by discounting someone's views because they do not think, look or act like you, you have diminished the contribution to the innovation process of your organization and lowered the sustainability of the organization. The poet Adrienne Rich may have delineated the environment better than I can. I have paraphrased it slightly, since it was meant for educators, but she said "When someone with the authority, say, a manager, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing. Yet you know you exist and others like you - that is the game of mirrors...." One of my social media friends, Dawn Khan, posted on Facebook the following suggestion: "Wow, I wonder if you will miss those you alienated after November with ranty, wacky, conspiracy theory, hate mongering posts? It is not about my side or the highway, it’s about respecting that there are many people on the road driving besides us, and we all can be there..." We are no longer confined to the little space you call home. We are involved in a global marketplace that is highly dependent on a wide range of views and beliefs. When a segment of that marketplace dismisses another part of that same space based on stereotypes, it is as if we looked into the mirror and only saw us. Many years ago, during the advent of the environmental movement, POGO said, "We have met the enemy and they are us." We can be our own worst enemies by demeaning the rest of the world. Want to be the cream of the crop in the marketplace? Then make it a goal today to get rid of the stereotypes and recognize the worth of everyone in the workplace whether they are of a different race, religion, ability, age, or sex. The differences are more important than a sterile view of the world.
    • Page5 I Can’t Grow My Business (Published 9/3/12) Depending on your frame of reference, this past week has been either the thrill of your life or an inconvenience, between a political convention and a tropical storm. During this week, we were exposed to a number of political ads which featured local and national small business owners who complained that they could not grow their business because of the level of regulations on how they operated. Well, Mr. CEO, let me suggest that you need to go back and take another look at your organizational culture. The reason we ask you to do this is because you are faced with two choices. The first choice is what I call the culture of convenience. Your primary goal is to make a profit no matter whom or what gets harmed along the way. You need a bigger plant so you build it - never mind what it does to the environment around the plant, never mind what it does to your employees and their lives. Every decision is made based on the profit level of the company and what it delivers back to the shareholders. Everything is based on its economic value to the bottom line. You are not alone; you have a lot of company. The second choice is one endorsed by the Toyota Corporation. It is called servant leadership. While you still need to make a profit, the welfare of your community and people is of equal value to the organization. Every decision is based on its contribution to the sustainability of the organization. So you tell me you can't grow your organization due to the level of regulations, so let me ask you to go back in time and consider the following: 1. If you had treated all the applicant pool fairly we would not have a need to the EEOC and the Affirmative Action requirements. 2. If you had ensured that you protected the environment around the plant or offices we would not have a need for the EPA. 3. If you had followed the Quaker Capitalism model and ensured that all your dealings with the financial community were above board and a win-win for all parties, we would not need to have a Sarbanes-Oxley or Dodd-Frank. 4. If you woke up and understood that individuals with different abilities are some of your most valuable employees and gave them equal access to employment opportunities, we would have no need for the Americans with Disabilities Act. I could go on for some time with other examples, but let it suffice to say that when we complain about the level of regulations on operations, look at the other foot and determine whether you are actually getting exactly what you asked for. In many cases regulations are the response to organizations who tried to take the easy way out rather than what was critical for sustainability of our organizations.
    • Page5 Politics, Half-Truths and the Workplace (Published 8/31/12) Every night and every day between now and November, we will be bombarded with political ads from one source or another regarding the upcoming presidential race. Despite non-aligned groups such as Politico and Fact-Finder stating that the premise is wrong, the campaigns continue to run ads with false data. One campaign pollster even openly stated that in releasing campaign ads we don't care if our facts are wrong. There is a campaign poster running currently which shows grumpy coal miners with the caption "We were told to show up for a candidate appearance without pay or risk being fired." That is not the message that appeared in the main stream media. This makes me turn to our business world and ask - what do we do with the facts? When someone makes a complaint against your organization, is the tendency to truly investigate the issues or do we look to what makes the organization look good? Do we tell an employee that their job is safe and then lay him or her off three days later? We, as organizations, constantly claim that our organizational culture requires us to be the employer of choice and that we have 100% employee engagement. Then we turn around and we are less than honest with all parties. We tell the world how great we are and then we understate the job requirements. I have a friend who took a job with the understanding that it was minimal travel, and he is now traveling 90% of the time. We tell our employees that we want full engagement, but we fail to show the employee that they are a valued part of the organization. The problem is that these half-truths will inevitably come back to haunt your organization. If you stretch the truth, someone is surely going to take you task over it. I am not a lawyer, but from my recruiting days I have heard of candidates who successfully took legal action over half truths. As a human resource strategist, here is my advice to your organization: Determine what your message is and make sure that message is based on creditable, verifiable facts - facts which are not tainted to meet an arbitrary goal. A message that treats everyone involved - employees, customers, stakeholders, management- with the respect that they deserve. You want to be included in the list of the "good-to-great" organizations? Then you need to place yourselves above the morass of tainted messages. Half-truths have no place in a quality business environment - not in the past, not in the future and certainly not in the future. It is not a choice of do or don't. The survival of your organization depends on it.
    • Page5 Where did we Go Wrong? (Published 5/30/12) If we review recent news items we see all kinds of reported stories that make me wonder how we got here. Consider these examples: • Volunteer coach and teacher are dismissed from her job. Her crime--she had an athlete who was upset that he was not going to the prom. He was also on the verge of failing English class which meant he would be suspended from the team until he got his average up. The teacher/coach made a deal with him-- she would be his "date" for the prom on the condition that he worked to get his English grade up. They danced one slow dance and spent the rest of the night playing video games. • Co-worker is upset about something another worker tries to lend support by putting their hands on the suffering employee's arm or shoulder and ends up being charged with sexual harassment. • I can vividly remember teachers that I had that gave the students hugs when things were going wrong or they had some great success. When I was teaching, it was not uncommon for my students who lived in the same neighborhood to stop by my home and ask questions on weekends or right after dinner. They were there because they knew I cared about them as persons. I also challenged them in class with real critical thinking exercises, not test based chores. Let's turn to the corporate side. Managers continually complain they cannot find engaged employees. But flip the coin. Management institutes varying procedures and rules which tend to discourage the very act of caring. I fully realize that some can take it to extremes. I would be upset too if a child got into a sexual relationship with a student. I would be upset if a fellow employee began to stalk another employee. But we are not talking about extremes. We are talking about all being part of that global village that we hear of. It requires a population that feels comfortable openly showing that we care for each other’s health - mentally and physically. If an individual is uncomfortable let them feel willing to say so. But do not shut off the tendency of humans to demonstrate their feelings for others. We will only come together as humans when we shun the politically correct and feel comfortable enough with our village that we can show compassion for the trials and tribulations for our fellow passengers on this ship we call Earth. We can deal with the rotten apples in the barrel while not turning ourselves off from the world at the same time.
    • Page5 That is just the way we do things here (Published 4/24/12) I was watching the local news here in Tampa Bay the other night and a story came on that made me stop to think about how we do things within the HR arena every day. There is a local man who was scheduled to fly to NJ to be with his daughter who was undergoing a medical procedure. The problem is that he has been fighting cancer for a number of years but he went to an airline and purchased a non- refundable ticket for the trip. Then during a conversation with his doctor, he was told he could not only not fly but he had only about two months to live. He went to the airline and explained the situation and offered full medical documentation. The airline's response was that if he died they would give a partial refund, barring that the policy is that the ticket you bought is non-refundable. That's the policy and they will not make any changes. I am a strong advocate of our policies and procedures having a standard of work, a set number of steps required to complete the process. But I also realize that in between we have migrated to a world which thrives on flexibility. This leaves us with two options within our organizations. One is to be like the airline and state that this is our policy and we are sticking to it. Or we can introduce the policies and procedures as guidelines and allow your organizations and its managers to use some judgment as to whether the organizational stability is really harmed by inserting some common sense to how we deliver those policies and procedures. Being locked into "this is the way we do it within this organization" does not service the organization or your human capital assets. Within every policy and procedure, there should be room for some creativity in how we utilize them to resolve issues in the workplace. What is wrong with this picture? (Published 3/5/12) CNN Money is reporting that US Manufacturing organizations are having so much trouble finding the essential talent that they are going abroad to find the right person for the right job at the right time. At the same time local newspapers ran a syndicated column reporting that US employers see nothing wrong with refusing to interview the long term employed. We reportedly have an unemployment issue in this country, organizations can't find qualified talent for their openings and yet we forget some of the tenants of why businesses were started in the first place. I am in the middle of reading the book "The Chocolate Wars" which discusses the creation and mission statement of the Cadbury Chocolate Company. They operated under the premise of the Quaker Business Model which saw the mission of business entities to care for their employees. We do not do that anymore. The Quaker Business Model was grounded in the following principles: • The real goal for an employer is to seek for others the best life of which they are capable • Worked together towards a common goal, which were in the community's best interests. • Pioneers in employee welfare and labor relations • Employees encouraged to get further education at company expense • Established medical and dental departments and pension funds The result was that they had engaged productive employees. We were not seeing this employee undercurrent of distrust and stress that we see in many of today's organizations. I hear many of my colleagues express that we need to change Washington to a more business orientation. But what about business once again recognizing that your employees are the life blood of your organization. They are the ones that pursue your brand to your customers. Take some time and think about what an organization of dedicated engaged employees could mean to your operations?
    • Page5 I Look but do I see (Published 2/9/12) For about the last 3 weeks there has been a continuing post about an occurrence in the nation's capital from 2007 as part of an experiment of the Washington Post. You can see the link at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myq8up . So here is my question how many of us go through the same kind of situation at work. How many of us as managers in or out of the HR staffing area tends to ignore what is going on around us? Every day we witness people within our organizations that are doing outstanding things with the tools we provide them. They are producing for our organizations above and beyond what we expect. Our usual response is a cavalier attitude which basically says that's great but you really do not need to spend the extra time. Do not spend the extra time to make a customer feel like the organization cares. Do not spend the extra time to assist your fellow employee because it might send the wrong message--Whatever the wrong message is. If we expect our human capital to be engaged in our organization we need to take the time to recognize the worth of our employee base and respect those who go out of their way to do more than just getting by. For those of you, who have not seen the story behind the above thoughts, see below: "In Washington DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again. At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly. At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32. After one hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all. No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him plays the same music. This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. This experiment raised several questions: In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? If so, do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context? One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made… How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?"
    • Page5 Expectations vs. Real World (Published 121/11) I just returned from a hurried flight to New York due to a family medical emergency. I flew out of Tampa on Delta on a typical plane leaving the airport non-stop. Coming back we flew on US Airways and expected the same type of aircraft. When I arrived at the airport yesterday morning I found that the first leg of the trip to Florida was on a plane run by Air Wisconsin. It was a plane with four seats across and 14 rows and the typical carry-on luggage did not fit in the overhead racks. The last leg was on a "normal" plane. So here is my question to you: do you as an organization set up the environment for expectations on the part of your current and new hires as to what they think they are going to receive from your organization? In reality does the expectation meet what really happens? We continually hear corporate management talking about the lack of commitment from the talent they hire. Have they stopped to consider that the message sent to the employees is "I know what you expect but this is what really is going to happen"? Dictionary.com tells us that the word expectation can be defined as the act or the state of expecting, or the act or state of looking forward or anticipating or a mental attitude. So here is what happens: we interview that great candidate and essentially sell them a bill of goods and then they join the organization. One of the first things likely to happen is that some current employee gets into a casual conversation with your new hire and they talk about the workplace environment and the current employee tells the new hire that the promises made to them in the hiring process are just that promises with no teeth. So how does that new hire feel? I would bet pretty much like my thoughts when I boarded that "puddle jumper" at 8:30 am yesterday. We look at the average length of employment of the Generation Y and it runs somewhere around 18 months. The primary reason is that what they were told by the organization is not what they find when they start. It is imperative that the organizations begin to identify the discourse between the two messages. We need organizations that are comprised of dedicated human capital to achieve the things our organizations need and just as important what the talent needs. The lack of achievement is what brings about the many internal human capital problems we see. I am currently reading Liker's Toyota Culture in which he stresses the involvement of the entire organization to encompass every employee and put them on an even playing field with every other employee including management. They talk about the Kentucky plant where there is no corner office or executive dining room. The workplace is organized around cross-functional teams which are designed to problem solve. The solutions are shared with the entire organization. There is no such thing as departmental competition. As a consultant if I was hired to advise your management team on how to improve the workplace environment, my message would be simple and precise. It is one thing to try and tell a potential candidate how great your organization is. It is a totally different thing to tell the employee that this is the organizational world in such terms as to raise their expectations to a level where they are designed to fail. Unless you, as an organization, are determined to avoid creating incorrect expectations on the role of the human capital assets within the organization. Make the decision which road you are going to take before you begin the interview process. Remember that the employee's view of the world is to them reality. Are you going to meet their view or continue to provide false promises? Your call. Your decision. Define the state of your workplace.
    • Page5 What is my generation’s impact on business? (Published 11/2/11) This past week I had been invited back to an MBA Leadership class to discuss the topic "Who Am I: The Role of Human Capital within the Global Workplace." I spent about 40 minutes discussing the new roles of human capital within our organizations and then asked if there were any comments. One student in her 20s asked me how realistic was it to think that employees would in essence no longer be considered just a number (i.e. an expense item). She had a valid point and our response was that you need to continue to present evidence to the workplace that you bring skills beyond the number on a balance sheet. The second question that struck was a more direct one, I guess. I had a student, probably in his mid-20s, who asked me what I thought the contribution to the business world would be of his generation. I had to stop and think about it for a moment, but the response came fairly quickly. I believe that when you take their contribution down to its bare essence, their contribution is going to be one of truly defining what collaboration means. We all play the collaboration game. Whether you are a traditionalist, a Boomer or a Gen X'er, we all say we want to consider other ideas and views in our organizations. But if you look at the "proof in the pudding" so to speak, we are fine with new ideas and views as long as they do not rock the boat. When I was looking for a full-time HR position, I heard more often than not that the reason I was not considered was that the likelihood that I would fall into the meld, and go with the flow was slight because I worked as a consultant. As a whole we don't like surprises. My response to the student was that I believe that Gen Y will teach corporations what the true meaning of collaboration is. They know. They have been involved in collaboration their whole lives. Need an answer to a problem, they will ask the world. Need some supporting data for a project; they know where to find it. Hey, I admit that is not the way the other generations were brought up, but it is the new reality. The only way for our organizations to survive in the new business word is through innovation. Innovation only comes about by collaborating with everyone (management, fellow employees, vendors and internal and external stakeholders) to find new solutions to existing problems. This comes from an influx of new ideas as how to do things, how to resolve conflicts within the business world. So what is their impact? Gen Y will lead the business community into a new world. A world based on rocking the boat, where it needs to be. Saving the boat, when it is fine. But with some changes within the organization, they will show us the path to greater operational results going forward. They are truly corporate assets; we just need to adjust ourselves to the new reality. The old processes such as annual performance reviews are from the era of Authority and Control, not this new environment. Every employee should be able to have a clear picture of how they are contributing to the organization on a 24/7 basis, not once a year. They will change us. We just have to determine whether we are going along for the ride or are going to try and say, "Hey your ideas are nice, but that is not the way we do things here or you have not earned your dues as yet?" Your choice, your future.
    • Page5 Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and Your Organization (Published 10/26/11) There are two topics that I never discuss in public- religion and politics. However there are some lessons to be learned for our organizations. Each of the two uprising movements is centered around actual or perceived inequities within the appropriate systems at that point in time and at that place. Look at the most recent surveys about the workplace and you see numbers bantered around from 60-75 percent of our human capital talent assets are ready to jump ship. So the question needs to be posed what are the underlying conditions that brought around these events. Further we need to understand that we cannot just brush them off thinking they will go away. Arab Spring - The citizens of the Arab Countries rose up because they were tired of being oppressed by leaders who said in no uncertain words that it was a time for the employees to do it this way or take the road. They were tired of not being able to sustain a standard of life for their families. Occupy Wall Street - Like the Arab Spring they were and are tired of the way we operate in this country and around the globe. They see the leadership totally ineffective based on the involvement of other influences. Their slogan insists that for the most part they are neither seen nor heard in the workplace. Your Organization - If you are still operating under the business model of "I am the manager and this is what you will do because I said so," then you are laying the groundwork for your very own Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street to occur within your organization. The business model that is succeeding today is one where the worth of every employee is recognized and cherished. I am not taking about worth based on the dollar signs on an expense report. We are taking about being respected for their contribution to the success of the organization. Look at your organization and tell me why survey after survey, tell us that 60-75% of our talent assets are ready to jump ship. I know you despise the hiring process but there is a better way by changing the way we treat the citizenry.
    • Page5 Don’t you understand? We are at war! (Published 10/9/11) Before you jump to conclusions, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This deals with the perception on the part of certain parties that corporate America is at war. In posts and conversations, we hear that the business world is seeing a shift to a pro-employee basis which is going to lead to the destruction of our corporate way of life. The protesters across the country are saying that corporations have forgotten the value of its employees. Some corporations like Southwest Airlines and Netflix have understood that there is a better way. It is time, as a matter of business strategy, that we take the example of the Southwest’s of the world, and gains a true partnership within the organization between management and the employees. In this day and age, innovation does not happen from authority and control. It will only happen when we truly understand that our organizations work as a cross functional team. Employees do not necessarily want to destroy the business institutions; they want to be accepted as individuals who can make a vital contribution to the health and welfare of the organization. They expect in return for this contribution to be treated fairly. Look at the RSS feed for the EEOC and see what the complaints are all about. Since August 26, there have been 159 settlements or suits by the EEOC, and the vast majority deal with organizations allowing harassment, retaliation, and discharge because someone filed a complaint. Have you truly taken the time to realize that if you were as vigorous in your efforts to control this behavior as compared to some other efforts you put in to the organization, this headache would go away? Instead of fueling the discourse of class welfare, remember we are all citizens of the same country and organization. War is what we are involved in today. Collaboration on an honest basis is what we need to be working on if we want to improve the reputation of our organization in the global workplace of the 21st century. Develop the true partnership which will enhance the organization from all aspects. Authority and control is passé as a management style. Your organizations need to move on and generate a coaching environment which respects the talent as the assets that they are to your company. How you do that, is dependent on your individual corporate cultures. If your culture is still one of domination and not nourishment, then change
    • Page5 Communication and Engagement: What message are you sending? (Published 9/21/11) I have been recently asked to repeat our presentation to a local university's MBA leadership class on the role of human capital in the global workplace. Except this time the instructor has asked me to touch on the role of conflict and conflict resolution during the presentation When I began to think about this, I was returned to the recent HR Florida Conference and the presentation of Dan Pink who brought up some interesting points in this area. I believe that we would almost all agree that the nature of our job requirements have changed over the past decade or so. The vast majority of our work involves cognitive skills rather than purely manual labor. The change has brought about a fundamental change in the way we deliver our messages Management can no longer afford to take the role of the overbearing parent. Governess by edict no longer has a viable place in the workplace. Instead this means we need to move to a more collaborative message to the organizations we are involved in. So what has changed in the method? We are working in a new world which demands new resources It no longer is a viable plan of action to turn to our human capital assets and say that the organization is making some changes and this is the way we will do it. We can no longer ask them to arrive at a new way to deliver a process and tell them thanks but management has made the decision to go off in another direction. As managers we need to change our focus to one of turning to these same assets and representing the requests - not from how we are going to do something but rather to one of explaining to them not only how but why we are doing it. We are in an age of transparency. We are in world where we value what employees think and dream. Give them the courtesy of giving them the information they need to understand a) what the problem is? b) What caused the problem? And c) to correct the problem we have had to make some changes and what you expect the outcomes will be because you implemented the changes. As managers you have a direct influence on the level of engagement of your employees within your organization. Your communication message will determine whether you achieve the level of engagement that you seek for your organization. Explain the reason behind the How and you will have a better organization. Have you considered…….? (Published 9/12/11) Several months ago, I started the practice of calling each individual who either requested a connection or viewed our profile on LinkedIn. In one such call last week I was talking with a fellow HR Consultant and she asked me whether I considered adding executive search to my service package. My IMMEDIATE response was that I am not a recruiter. I have been there, done that and have the T-shirt. I have to tell you I responded without any thought whatsoever. After I got off the phone call I started to think about how I responded to the question. I heard the voice of a potential customer and I immediately had a response. Now let's turn that around for a moment. You are a member of management and a stakeholder within your organization (internal or external) comes to you with a suggestion or a comment, do you equally have an immediate response or do you take some time to consider the request. The key to success in our organizations in the global workplace is to listen to what our customers are expressing as to what they want. If we immediately dismiss what they are saying we are not helping either the organization or the customer. Listen I fully realize that the tendency is to respond quickly and decisively on items as they come across your desk, but just sometimes fast is not the best response to the customers who are responsible for our organizational success. Side note: The new connection then asked me to tell her why I was so quick to respond. In this case I related a situation that happened during my recruiting days which was less than ethical on the part of the firm I was working for. Can you likewise provide an INSTANT response as to why you responded immediately to their requests?
    • Page5 The Perfect Storm is coming! Are you complacent or proactive? (Published 9/24/11) I went through an ordeal with my 91-year-old father recently as Irene bore down on the New York metropolitan area. He said he had lived through hurricanes before and this should not be any different. He told me they had plenty of food in the house. His attitude made me think of some of the members of management in and outside HR that I have crossed path with lately. The corporate world faces a pending storm that in the back of our heads we know is coming. Every survey completed recently has said that as much as 60% of our human capital is preparing to jump ship, as the economic picture turns around. Politics aside it will turn around, just not sure how soon. On August 31 I attended the final day of the HR Florida State Convention and had the pleasure of listening to a friend and a member of my LinkedIn Network, Dan Pink. Dan in his keynote presentation made the exact same point. He suggests that there are two tracks we can go down. The first is the attitude of my Dad, we know the storm is coming but we have lived through this before. There is absolutely no reason to change our way of managing. On the other side of the coin, are those organizations who have decided that they can lessen the impact by taking proactive steps to change the work environment. Here are just some of the suggestions made by Dan in his presentation: 1. When we ask an employee to change the way we do things we need to explain not only the how, of the change. We need to also explain why we are making the change. What circumstances in the organization made us introduce this new way to do things? 2. Learn to be flexible. Dan made reference to Netflix whose corporate vacation policy is they don't have one. Management has told the employees take as much time as you need as long as the work gets done. 3. Realize that you are presenting a mixed message to your employees when you try to do things the way you have always done. Dan posted to the assembled group how many of us had problems with Millenials. Almost every hand went up. Dan pointed out that one of the characteristics of the Gen Y is that they want to constantly be able to determine how they are performing. We then tell them that they can find out the answer to this question once a year in a 45 min session which neither management or the employee like or enjoy. 4. There are many examples of research has shown that when we ask our employees to perform rudimentary constructive skills money is not the answer. Just raising the monetary level will not increase the motivation to complete the responsibilities of the positions we have trusted to them. So on this Labor Day eve are you representative of my father thinking everything will continue as it has and risk massive knowledge drain from your organization? Or are you ready to be proactive and prepare the organization to lessen the impact of the pending Perfect Storm?
    • Page5 I am your life blood revisited: Two sides of the coin (Published 8/5/11) The other day I posted a blog post entitled "Hey, I am Your Life Blood." One of the readers sent me a comment back with this reply: I recently read an interesting piece on a management decision at Starbucks. The CEO started a program to raise store revenues by $100,000 a year. He pushed for a solution that recognized the value of employees which turned on paying their baristas and managers more than the going rate in the food service industry. This policy recognized the value of those well-trained people who served as the direct conduit to the customer. What a smart idea it turned out to be as in store revenues increased by an average of $150,000 a year. So it got me wondering what the other side of the spectrum might look like. A member of the DBAI Advisory Board turned me on to the other side of the coin. It seems that a franchisee of Pizza Hut is embroiled in a national class action suit because they said under state law the pizza delivery men and women should be paid as tip workers, and the fact that they drove their cars for work did not change the requirements. So they were not paid the required $.51 per mile for their driving time, thus bringing their take-home pay under the minimum wage level of $2.13 per hour. What makes this issue worse is that in 2004, the issue arose with the same circumstances and resulted in that franchisee being fined $5,100,000. I realize that we are in tough economic times, but if one food retail establishment makes some changes and receives a huge uptick in revenue and another one faces a dire fine, why would you make the decision not to treat your employees with respect and recognition of their value? Let's keep the dialogue going. Hey, I am your life blood (Published 8/3/11) CNN Money this morning ran a post regarding the corporations who are job killers because of the number of people who are being forced into the job market along with the rest of the world. When you review the loss, it is a sad view of the marketplace. One, HSBC, actually reported increased profits. How did they do that? They are doing it by lying off 25,000 worldwide. I hear the line that corporations must be able to do the things they must to satisfy their stockholders, but they seem to be leaving out one factor out of the mix. Mr. Corporation, those employees are the life blood of your organization. They are no longer an expense item; they are corporate assets. They are the ones who have all the knowledge of how to run your organization better, faster and cheaper. Cheaper does not mean laying people off; it means streamlining your processes so that you can reduce the time to complete, thus raising the revenue level of the organization. The workplace has changed and we succeed based on the innovations we can create. To do this you don't need machines. You do not necessarily need immense factories. We need the brain capacity of the human capital assets to see the world not as it is, but see the world as it might be. Our employees are the life blood of our organizations. Stop before you decide that the path to profitability only lies in cutting employees. Take a moment and picture in your mind what would happen if your customers called the organization and no one answered the phone. Take a moment and consider what would happen to your business if a client had a problem and no one knew how to solve it. As the late Edward Kennedy said at his brother's funeral, "Some men see things as they are and say why; I dream things that never were and say why not." As one of your human capital assets, the employee's job is not to see things as they have been but to see where the future can take us. This view is based on what is in their heads from the acquisition of data, ideas and projections into the future. They are the ones that will propel our organizations to greatness as we come out of these economic times that we are facing today.
    • Page5 Rules of Engagement (Published 6/13/11) We are all involved in a highly competitive world in the economic workplace. Our success is based on the degree to which our organizations can be the first to innovate a new product, service, or process. This innovation comes out of a high level of collaboration among the human capital assets of our organizations. To further the scenario our organizations are beginning to be faced with the impact of the Generation Y or Millenials who have never seen a conversation that they did not like. The direct outcome is our human capital assets of today and more important going forward depend on the usage of social media to find the answers to their questions and to hold an ongoing conversation. The hidden point coming from the social media world is that it is primarily about the conversation --good or bad. Ever since Facebook and other mediums came into existence, a great debate has been heard across the land on how we control the usage of social media by our employees. Social Media policies have been created that reportedly created very strict rules about what employees were and were not allowed to say in the social media world. Then came a rash of legal decisions governing the degree to which corporations could control the conversation. This was culminated in the case of a Connecticut woman who spoke out about the working conditions at her employer. The company retaliated by dismissing her from her job. In the past week I have seen no less than 5 emails from Labor law firms who have warned corporations to be careful on what they do based on the National Labor Relations Board stating that she was fired illegally. The NLRB based their view on Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act: Section 7, is the heart of the NLRA. It defines protected activity. Stripped to its essential, it reads: Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection. Section 7 applies to a wide range of union and collective activities. In addition to organizing, it protects employees who take part in grievances, on-the-job protests, picketing, and strikes. We need the conversation. We need the collaboration. We need the innovation. We need open and frank discussions about the way we operate. So let’s not turn off the dialogue through policies which control the threads. So let’s not turn off the dialogue in the name of being overly cautious. Let’s not try and guide the dialogue by trying to anticipate what might be said.
    • Page5 Are we walking the walk and talking the talk? (Published 12/12/10) A recent new article about the congressional gridlock gave me a moment to pause to reflect on what goes on in our corporate environments. Every year since September 11 we have held memorial events to honor those who lost their lives in the twin towers. On the face of it we are honoring not only the victims but the many first responders who came to the rescue of those at three sites. Last week the Congressional leaders defeated legislation which would have covered some of the cost of the health care for those who went into the disaster sites. Are we honoring those who have passed away but not those who lived but were exposed to the debris? Let's take a look at the corporate environment and see how many times we see a similar scenario happening. A friend of mine has recently taken a job with a company that is noted for its customer service. Management tells their employees that they believe in an open door policy but employees are labeled as a malcontent if they take a problem to the management. What is the affect when you ask your employees to become engaged with your organization, but then through your actions treat them as second class citizens? How do you respond to the employee, who you continual provide feedback telling them how valuable to the organization they are, but you expect them to put in 70-80 hour weeks because that is the way we do things around here? Do your actions match your message to not only your employees but your customers?
    • Page5 Who Am I Revisited (Published 11/19/10) I recently was approached by a professor at one of the local universities with an invitation to come speak to her leadership classes. She asked me to demonstrate for mostly financial background MBA students about the soft side of human resources, i.e., management. As I began to prepare my presentation for the classes, I chose to follow the human capital resources through each of the ages we have traversed since the 1770s. When we were primarily on the farm, we learned how to work in cross functional collaborative teams. It was part of the fabric of our lives that we looked to help the individual be successful in owning and operating the farm. It was a period when we saw the rise of the "Quaker Business Model" which believed that the role of the organization was to do whatever was necessary to see that the best came out in every individual. Diane Cadbury in her book The Chocolate Wars talked about how her family helped out the employees by encouraging them to continue their education, provided the first health insurance plans and other similar efforts to enhance the life they lived. When we moved to the industrial age, individuals changed their relationship with the organization, reverting to a mere number. The key was that they could now support their families by working within a big city. This philosophy has now extended to the way many organizations look at employees today. The economy tanks and instead of trying to see how to reinvent the processes we utilize, the strategy is to see how many human capital resources we can cut to bring costs in line with a subjective target. Never mind that those human capital resources represent the knowledge base of the organization. Never mind that few organizations, take into consideration that cutting staff does not reduce the workload; in fact it escalates the load on the remaining staff. By the beginning of the 21st century we have changed our paths so that the benefit from the organization is what we dream not what we produce or make. This change in focus also changes the role that human capital resources play within our organizations. One of the problems we see is that every day there is another story about organizations that are trying to enforce non-competition clauses on departing human capital resources. The difficulty is that our human capital is not a number any longer; they are corporate assets that are free to wander as they choose. We in essence lease their services with the understanding that if we do not meet their needs they are gone to somewhere that will respect their value to our organizations. This new paradigm calls for new strategies to utilize the human capital resources. This means we have to gain a better understanding of the importance of the role they play in the future of your workplace. These strategies can be divided into categories of expectations: • The human capital must be engaged in their work environment on the basis that they want. • The workplace must be designed around a system that provides the routes for the employee to enhance their learning of skills that will improve the way they deliver what is in their minds. • Whatever processes we put in place must have as their goal the manifestation that the efforts put forth by the human capital resources are appreciated by the organization, not just taken for granted. • The organization needs to ensure that any conditions that lead to a hostile workplace are eliminated. This means free from harassment on the part of management, fellow employees and outside vendors. • The organization needs to ensure that an employee can come to work and feel that will not be exposed to actions by others that can be classified as violent in nature. It also includes the organizational efforts to ensure that no one brings illicit drugs into the workplace. • The human capital assets expect that they will be respected for who they are and what they contribute to the organization not having their growth stymied because of biases on the part of the organization as to what they can achieve. • Finally it is absolutely that the top management efforts represent total buy in to the new paradigm, not just giving it lip service.
    • Page5 As a human resource professional within your organization, it is your task to see that the organization moves toward this new direction. Human capital resources are vital to the successes of our businesses. You make the decision as to whether your organization maintains the status quo or heads in the direction of the new paradigm. Implications for the workplace (Published 9/22/10) We have witnessed several incidents over the past several weeks of violence taking place in our places to work. This gets followed by a father going ballistic on a school bus because the students riding the bus were bullying his 13 year old disabled daughter. In my spare time (as if I have any) I substitute teach in the local schools and the last time I did so I had a student who came to the decision that she needed to talk to a friend who was out in the school yard, and despite being told to take her seat she got up and walked out the door. When I discussed the situation with an administrator the answer I received was that it is not the same environment as when we went to school. Now the students can practically do whatever they want. The implication was that we no longer have the ability to control the quality of the educational environment that we are using to train the talent we need to fulfill the coming talent shortage in our conversations. Growing up we never heard of employees reporting to work with a loaded weapon. Growing up we never heard of employees taking other actions that are detrimental to the workplace. If we want a safe workplace it is time we take back the environment in which we train the future leaders. We need to create educational environments where the students are there to learn the skills and tools that they will need to survive when they enter the workplace. We need to convince them that there is a better way than bullying fellow students because they are different. We need to convince them that the only way our society and business organizations will survive is if we recognize, appreciate and relish the diversity of thoughts and knowledge in the global workplace. While I am not condoning the censorship of our employees, I am suggesting that we need to create a better work environment where we respect each other’s presence.
    • Page5 A week of contrast (Published 9/11/10) This has been a short work week for many brought on by two different events. The first was Labor Day. While not celebrated in exactly the same way it was originally intended for, it gave us time off from work to enjoy the end of summer and understand the role of the worker within our organizations. The second event for the Jewish population was the beginning of a new year according to their calendar. This contrast gave me a pause for thought and I would like to share those thoughts with you. I am open to your comments back if you disagree with them. Since 1882 Labor Day was created to emphasize "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" within this country. But it was created at another time and place within our economic workplace. Many of the presenters I talked with at the recent HR Florida conference, expect an increase in the amount of unionization within this country similar to other developed countries around the world. While this might be true, we also have to recognize that the requirements of the workplace have changed since 1882. The talent needs of our organizations have changed as the demands on our organizations have changed. On Thursday and Friday, we celebrated the advent of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). With that is an opportunity to begin once again our lives for the next year. Part of that entrance into a new year is the realization that we are NEVER going to go back to the normal before 2007-2008. To those who decry the high unemployment rate, many still operate from the belief that we are going to return to that day of yesterday. Outsourcing was not necessarily the only reason we saw rising numbers of individuals losing their jobs. We have moved on and some have been left by the wayside. Not on purpose but because the need they filled was gone. We are not in an age of industrial growth any longer. We have moved on to a world where the employee contributes not what they can produce on a machine but rather what is in their minds. Critical thinking replaces manipulative skills. The employee has moved to a position of leasing out their services to a particular organization based on the technical or creative skills the individual brings to the table. If you want to get a further understanding of this dilemma, I suggest you get a copy of Charles Handy's "Age of UnReason" and the "Age of Paradox." Charles Handy suggests that there will be no more unemployment but rather we will ALL become self-employed working for organizations in a project basis. Russ Moen of the Employment Pros recruiting firm makes the analogy that as we moved from the industrial to the knowledge age, employees became non-owned corporate assets. Our ability to compete in this global marketplace is based on the level of innovation and collaboration that our organizations can create for their clients. What is required of our organizations is to find strategies that will more fully engage our creative assets. It will help the employee. It will help the organization. It will help the global workplace.
    • Page5 Where are our priorities? (Published 8/4/09) We are faced with a rapidly changing global marketplace in which the successful worker needs to be competent in the methodology of how business operates. This means they need to understand the theoretical and practical aspects of the business operations. I would expect that these business leaders need to understand math, science and geopolitical theory. Further they need to understand the economics behind business. Every day we read in the newspapers stories about the state of the economy - teachers being laid off, government agencies cutting services, colleges restricting the number of students they can admit due to lower revenue costs. I may get crucified , but I found a major disconnect when the news this morning posted an announcement that the football coach for the University of Florida got a new contract paying four million dollars per year. In order for us to stay competitive in the global economy, we need to enhance the learning of our students. Football does not add to that ability to compete in the real world. Instead of paying for sports, we need to realign our priorities to meet the needs of the business community in which our graduates are going to need to compete in. Do you agree with me or am I missing some aspect? Let me know. What happened to Equal Protection? (Published 7/31/09) In reading the press and the web in the past couple of days, I have been struck by some rather conflicting reports regarding the health care crisis which affects each and every one of us. Some of us are blessed with corporate provided health plans which to varying degrees cover our health needs, but there are a large number of citizens who have no coverage at all. I am not trying to preach to the choir, but I am amazed that two scenarios are playing out. The first was the report that William Kristol appeared on the Daily Show and with a straight face said that the military provides its members with the "best medical care in the world." When asked about the rest of the population of the country Mr. Kristol's response was that even if it is horrible coverage, the American Citizens don't deserve any better. In the other scenario, the members of Congress get free medical care for life based on their service. Are they so much better then you and I that they don't think we deserve the same level of care in this country? In these hard economic times, our system allows for a laid off employee to continue their medical coverage from work at outlandish prices. For example, a friend for the 18 months following the layoff was able to continue to be covered by the company's program at a cost of over $900 a month for just employee and spouse. In many states that amount would eat up almost the entire unemployment compensation. We hear corporate management complain about the lack of engagement by today's workers. Is it any reason that we do not treat employees as critical parts of the organization that the work environment is what it is?
    • Page5 Risk Management – These posts deal with the development, implementation, administration and evaluation of programs, procedures, and policies in order to provide a safe, secure working environment and to protect the organization from potential liability. Liability or Asset: The Marissa Mayer Edict (Published 3/12/13) It has been an interesting week, between Marissa Mayer's clamp down on telecommuters at Yahoo and Sheryl Sandberg's pitch that women sabotage their own careers. In both arenas there seems to be a criterion missing: how do you view your human capital in your organization? Are they a liability or are they an asset? Let's look at the two events separately. Marissa Mayer contends that in order to make Yahoo more productive, she needs all human capital assets under one roof. Ms. Mayer, please come clean and admit that the real reason you issued the edict is because you are still operating in the command and control model, which firmly believes that a productive employee is one that is in a see-all, hear-all environment. You know who you are: the non-engaged employee who cannot be trusted to complete the requirements of his employment contract. I understand that a recent staff meeting that you were criticized for hiring only the elite. That you have added steps to the process, which lowers the efficiency of your hiring process, which should be centered around identifying the best person for the job in the right place at the right time for the right job. Just because you restrict your human capital assets to a certain profile does not mean that you will be any more productive as an organization. The argument that the only way to have productive employees is to have them under your thumb has been refuted by numerous workplace studies over the past decade. So here is your question for the day: Are the Yahoo human capital assets a liability or an asset? If you believe that your human capital is a liability to your organization, then Ms. Mayer is totally correct in her assumptions. If you believe that a human capital asset is a liability then you need to take certain steps to control the situation. One of these steps would be to have the human capital assets in a single place. There you have the space to control the potential for damages to the organization. The difficulty is that many organizations have found that the Gen X-and-Y'ers do not like this kind of environment. The result is that they become less productive. Consider for a moment how you would feel if someone stood over you 24/7 watching everything you did or said? You probably wouldn't like it. You didn't like it when you were a teenager and your parents hovered over every breath you took. Now that you are an adult, why should the feeling magically go away? In today's global workplace the success of our organizations is highly dependent on collaboration and innovation. The success of this effort is not contingent on time or location. It is dependent on the ideas in their heads. With the access to various social media outlets, the collaboration can be done from any location on the globe. Your organization depends on the vibrancy of this effort and it is not helped by having turned off assets. So you make the decision, are your human capital assets a liability or an asset? You determine the future of your organization by your answer to the question.
    • Page5 Really, is not my job difficult enough already? (Published 12/23/12) Here we are on the weekend before Christmas and the Iowa Supreme Court handed us an early "gift" Before I explain what the gift was, let me take you back in time to when Bobby Darin was still performing and he sag the following words: "WelI … I don’t know what you got But it’s got me and baby I’m hooked Like a fish in the sea. You make angles call from above. You could make the Devil fall in love. An-a … who-o-o wouldn’t fall for irresistible you." Over the past several decades we have seen the requirements for our talent acquisition efforts become more difficult. We have to be sure that the job requirements are bona fide occupational qualifications - in other words the requirements for the job actually meet the skills needed to perform the duties of the position. We can't tell someone that we will not hire them based on gun ownership, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs, where we came from or health status. Now the Iowa Supreme Court adds a new twist. In the case before them, a Dentist had hired a dental technician a decade ago. He admitted to his wife that he could not keep his eyes off of her. The wife's response was that either she goes or I do. The Dentist fired her. The Iowa Supreme Court decided that it is perfectly legal to fire someone who is irresistible. Now let me get this straight, every one of us whether male or female has walked into a work environment and found that employee who is stunningly attractive. In the majority of cases we may not take any actions on those beliefs but it now becomes, at least in Iowa, grounds for taking away some ones livelihood. Not because she or he has done anything wrong but because their appearance can jeopardize a marriage. So does that mean going forward we need to add to the job description that an individual cannot be too attractive for fear of distracting the workplace? We are not talking about a worker undergoing sexual harassment; we are talking about a worker who just plain looks too good. I apologize to HR.net for stealing his format. Steve I promise it is a one-time only event.
    • Page5 The World is a Better Place Because Of Those Who Refuse to Believe they Cannot Fly (Published 12/15/12) This afternoon we continued our family tradition and attended a performance by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, who introduced a new show entitled the Lost Christmas Eve. The center piece of the performance was a story of a business man who years earlier had the unfortunate luck of losing his wife during child birth and having a supposedly disabled child who he essentially disowned. It was a fitting response to some of the feelings that I have undergone in the last 48 hours. Those feelings ranged from utter rage to utter respect. Forty three years ago I graduated with a BA in Education and spent 6 years in the classroom working with some of the age groups from Sandy Hook Elementary School. I can sympathize with the efforts (sometimes to naught) that these teachers went through. On the other side is the rage from understanding that these children are the ones who believe that they can fly. Society has not molded their thinking to show them that this is probably not going to happen. I have the honor of being able to stay in contact with a number of my former students today. My wife and I are considering relocating to a town much like we grew up in, which was molded much like Newtown. In a past life (LOL) we lived in New Fairfield, CT which is very similar in nature to Newtown and in fact is only minutes from there. So we can understand the violation the citizenry is feeling at the moment. However, there is another perspective we have to consider. Whether we are talking about your local school or our workplace, the implied environment speaks about providing a place that is safe and healthy in return for the use of our intelligence capabilities. But due to the work of one political faction we are striving away from that expectation. We live in a world that, due to certain efforts, has become a world centered on violence or the potential for violence. Consider that here in Florida the 2010 Census tells us that there are 19,057,542 residents and 1,000,000 of them have concealed weapons permits. This same political faction takes whatever steps they need to in order to pass a plethora of regulations across the country that tells our schools and businesses that even though you are responsible for delivering a safe workplace, you can't stop your employees from bringing a weapon to the workplace. It is time we change that environment. I have an extended family member who hunts to put food on the table. When I lived in Iowa I owned both a rifle and a hand gun and went hunting, so I do not object to the concepts in the 2nd amendment. I do, however, have a serious problem with open markets for weapons that have no useful purpose other than to maim and kill humans. I do have a problem with policies in the workplace which increase the potential for us to provide our human capital with a non-safe environment. We lower the productivity of the human capital assets when part of their concentration at work is on whether someone, no matter what the reason, decides the solution to their arguments with society is to start shooting. This is true whether we are talking about a movie theater in Aurora, a college in Virginia or a small elementary school where parents sent their kids because they believed the violence would not make its face known there. We are a human resource strategist and it is our mission to show organizations of all sizes how to run a more productive work environment. Part of that discussion, based on Sandy Hook, has to be changing the philosophy of the workplace. We need to tell the political factions that our mission is enable corporate policies which protect our assets - our business as well as our human capital assets. As managers we need to let the officeholders that represent us that enough is enough. If you can prove that you need a weapon for a reasonable response to your environment, fine. But that does not include weapons which are designed to kill other than hunting. As managers we need to stop bucking under the pressure from factions which understand only verbatim response to writings from decades ago. Consider the several hundred survivors of the Sandy Hook episode and tell me how we explain to them the rationale from allowing the prevalence of weapons to increase without boundaries. How do you explain to the parents that just lost 20 children that the government policies within this area are fine and it is just a freak occurrence by someone who may have had mental problems and it is not representative of society as a whole? To my fellow members of management and Human Resource in particular, stop for a moment and think about whether your professional responsibility allows you to sleep at night when we fall short on providing that safe workplace that our students and fellow workers not only expect but demand.
    • Page5 It’s not what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you think is so that isn’t (Published 8/8/12) Every morning I get in my inbox an email from the Employment Law Information Network. In the edition from August 6 was a post from Michael Maslanka from Constangy's Dallas office in which he asked whether the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause protect gay employees who work for public employers. What caught my eye was Michael's final line of the post, which is the title of this post. How many times have you made a decision on a business process or business policy based on less than complete information? Our local newspaper, for instance, ran a 10-question quiz on the Affordable Care Act. On the answer page they showed the percentage of individuals who got the response correct and in most cases the correct response was identified by less than 25% of the people. Or consider this question -- You have had a candidate apply for a position and you find out that the candidate has a disability, so you automatically remove him or her from consideration even though they may very well be your most loyal and dependable employee. We find ourselves in a very complex world today, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of making assumptions based on half-truths or mistaken information. I fully understand that in the rush to achieve a goal we make rush decisions. But the problem is just what Michael suggested. If you get the RSS feeds from the EEOC there are loads of fines levied recently to organizations that thought they knew something and not only were they wrong it came back to hurt them. Consider: An $11 million consent decree entered here today in federal court has ended the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against a major transportation company. A Mokena, Ill.-based towing company, will pay $380,000 to 13 claimants and provide other relief resolving a disability discrimination lawsuit. A major cement and concrete products company will pay $400,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit for racial harassment. From both a business perspective and a personal perspective, we need to avoid jumping to judgments unless sure of all the facts - facts based on evidence-based data. Taking the views of some of the media or from some misguided directive from your culture can come back to bite. The bite might very well be worse than the bark. How are you going to change your decision process to ensure that you are not one of those who is operating from what you think is correct when it is not?
    • Page5 Truth, Justice and our organizations (Published 5/14/12) I can just hear some of you now, but in watching TV and reading the news I was hit with several points which made me question the direction our organizations are headed in. We strive to speak the philosophy that we want our employees to have full transparency into our organization. We expect our employees to be engaged in the processes. Then we flip the coin and see stories like the following: 1) Local TV station ran a story about customer service. The owner of the business tells the reporter that if a customer complains directly to the company, they get less attention then if they post the same complaint on social media. In the same breath, we as organizations tell us that it is paramount that we cut off the conversation by limiting employee access to social media during work hours. 2) I for the most part shy away from discussing politics but there were several reports of misguided acts by politicians which had direct impact on the society in which we live. But in each case the acts were essentially thrown under the carpet. 3) The reports surfaced this weekend about the actions of the trade office of JP Morgan Chase. The CEO said that the Dodd-Frank legislation was too restrictive yet they did exactly what caused the 2008 downturn in the first place. It was primarily caught because of the financial reforms put in place because of these types of actions As leaders of our organizations, the expectation is there that we will function in an ethical manner with our customers, our vendors and just as important or employees In this 21st century it is no longer possible for us to expect that our employees will do what we expect when we tell them one thing and then do just the opposite. Our organizations rely on our clients to provide the mechanism to keep the organization running. When we tell them "Hey if you broadcast to the world your problems with us, we will give it more weight than if you just call or write about your problems," what picture are you delivering? We need to remind ourselves that shortly our organizations will be run by a different generation and for the most part the lack of transparency and ethical behavior will not be tolerated. So tell me, are you abiding by truth and justice or is your organization operating behind a set of smoky mirrors? Are you telling your human capital and your customer’s one thing while doing the exact opposite under the nomenclature of getting things done faster, better and cheaper?
    • Page5 Open letter to the Chief Executive Officer (Published 3/26/12) I need some help this morning. I need to understand what is in your head in today's economic climate. As I understand it your role as CEO is to protect the interests of the stakeholders and the bottom line of the organization. As a result you tell the market that you cannot assist the unemployed because you need to protect the bottom line. I totally understand that. What I do not understand is how you protect the interests of the stakeholders when by your very actions you and your peers have racked up a total of 64 billion dollars in fines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because you or someone in your organization has felt that under your direction it is totally acceptable to make some very dumb decisions. How do you protect the stakeholder interests and your bottom line by charging against the organization bottom line a $3,000,000 fine for discrimination against your employees in your hiring process? This is on top of another fine of equal value for misclassifying your employees as 1099's instead of real employees. These are not isolated cases. Since August of 2011 I have received notices of 225 fines levied against your organizations for various forms of blatantly illegal actions on your part. Where is your responsibility to protect your brand when as head of the organization you believe that discrimination is the way to protect the organization? Where is the responsibility to society to be a good citizen when you believe that discrimination is the correct path? Further what kind of message are you sending to your kids when they learn that their parent obviously believes that not every person in their organization is entitled to equal treatment under the law? I have never been in your shoes but I am the offspring of a former peer of yours. So let me provide my take on the situation. You have the responsibility first to your organization to be watchful of the bottom line. You also have the responsibility to the greater community to be a good citizen. Take the time to really look at your organization and find out what they are really doing. Take the time to let the managers know that they also have these responsibilities even if it is just to protect the brand. Their purpose is to find the right candidate for the right position in the right place at the right time. Providing the model to the available human capital that your corporate ethics allow you to make some very dumb moves is not protecting the stakeholders or the return on investment. How many new employees who may very well assist you in being innovative in the marketplace could you hire for 64 billion dollars? I am not a math whiz but at an average salary of $50,000 plus benefits you could make a real dent in the unemployment numbers by directing fines for doing things that you know are wrong to hiring those who can benefit your organization. So before your management team members make another really dumb decision, ask them to stop and think about the interests of those they are supposed to be protecting before taking steps to protect the organization for the wrong reason. Show the world that in this tough economic time we are in that you understand your role as a world citizen. Show the world that you are in tune with the marketplace and that there is a need for providing a safe, equitable and professional environment within your organization.
    • Page5 Circle the wagons, the Indians are coming!!! (Published 11/18/11) President Obama at a press conference in Hawaii referring to a question about the scandal at Penn State made the observation that protecting the innocent was more important than shielding institutions or organizations. I took in the premise and then looked at the daily RSS feed I receive from the EEOC and began to question the strategic moves many corporations are making in the marketplace. I totally understand that as an organization you have a brand that you need to protect but when your managers are making stupid mistakes and are circling the wagons instead of taking the right path to resolve issues in the marketplace, you begin to wonder why organizations can complain about the lack of engagement and then provide the proof in their actions. Since August 26, 2011 the EEOC RRS feed is reporting nearly 200 settled complaints or new actions regarding situations where an employee has a legal right to complain about working conditions and the organizational response is how difficult can we make their lives to the point of having them leave the company. Maintain the brand at all costs and the heck with supporting the individual who is being harassed or discriminated against. Consider the case of an acute care facility in California who will pay $530,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging the sexual harassment of its staff. According to the federal agency, several of the female targets of the harassment were either retaliated against or compelled to quit after their complaints were ignored by hospital management. Is the brand that important that you tolerate a workplace where you demean the employee base? That is an attitude from an era way gone from reasonable in today's workplace. Look at your list of the best places to work or the companies founded on the principles of the Toyota Production System and they recognize the worth of employees to the organization. Look at the organizations being hit by the EEOC and you see organizations with the attitudes that we are doing the employee a favor by allowing them to work here and they need to take whatever conditions we want to expose them to. In the 21st Century this is not how we encourage engagement. This is not how we encourage employee loyalty. This how we tell our employees that they are chattel, not valuable parts of our organization. So if you must circle the wagons, do so around the worth of all parties. Protect the organizational brand by telling the world that you value the employee and their contributions to the brand.
    • Page5 We have met the enemy and they are us!! (Published 11/8/11) Many of you who are old enough to remember this quote will remember that it came out at the time of the first Earth Day. It was a call for improvement in the world we lived in at the time. I bring it up for you and a newer generation because I fear that we have met a new enemy and it is not environmental quality. Read the newspaper or watch the evening news and you can't escape the circus centered on Herman Cain and his circumstances surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace while he was with the National Restaurant Association. Many of the local SHRM chapters hold an annual diversity and inclusion meeting, and management calls for more employee engagement. So tell me how do you preach diversity and inclusion when your walk says that we accept employees to be less than people? How do we send the message that there a certain levels of behavior that corporate policy condemns and then we let management, co-workers and suppliers openly violate the stated corporate policy? To get an eye-opener, subscribe to the RSS feed from the EEOC and see the barrage of charges that are behind the complaints. They clearly show a pattern within our organizations for treating employees as less than the individuals they are. Some of the charges spank of a long-ago workplace environment where employees were treated as property rather than human capital assets. Consider these examples: • Well-known medical company decided that a pregnant worker did not belong working for the company as an area leader because it did not fit their image. • Sears just got fined for age, sex, and race discrimination of a 40 year-old African-American employee. • Companies who got rid of the troublemaker who reported sexual harassment but left the employee who took the actions in place despite the problems. To make matters worse, in many cases the person who made the complaint has shortly thereafter been dismissed from their jobs because of making the complaints. We conduct a seminar entitled, "Who Am I -- The Role of Human Capital in the Global Workplace" in which we talk about the new paradigms that come out of the work environment when employees are considered assets and not expenses. One of those paradigms suggests that our human capital assets expect that they will work in an environment that is free from both harassment and violence. They expect that they will be treated as a valuable part of the organization they represent. As a member of management, you have the responsibility to ensure that the workplace is free of circumstances that could be considered harassment in nature, whether they are brought about by management, supervisors, fellow employees or outside vendors and customers. It is your duty to root out these behaviors when you see them. If you need a real picture of the aftermath, consider what could happen to Joe Paterno over the charges that someone who worked for him was guilty of harassment against children who were under his supervision. Paterno reported it but it still could come back to haunt his career. So the next time you hear about a complaint of harassment in your workplace be sure you take the following strategic efforts: 1. Don't automatically dismiss the complaint under the belief that the person who the complaint is about would not do something like that. 2. Completely investigate the complaint, talking to all parties involved and any witnesses. 3. Document your findings without judging the outcomes. 4. If the complaint is substantiated, take concrete steps to find a solution which will make it less likely that this kind of behavior will continue. 5. Provide comprehensive training to both management and the rank-and-file as to what constitutes harassment in the workplace.
    • Page5 Reality vs. Reality (Published 6/8/11) For those of you reading this and who are finite thinkers, you are sitting there going how can reality be in a battle against reality? I would suggest that the workplace today is faced with exactly that scenario. Let me explain. Reality 1 A vast percentage of the populous has become addicted to Reality TV. We enjoy the picture that these shows create; we enjoy the sense of adventure that we can almost picture ourselves becoming involved in. With the passage of legislation in several states we now have created this surreal world where we vision ourselves in one of these reality TV shows. It is now illegal in 23 states to forbid an employee to bring a loaded weapon to work as long as it is legally registered and locked in their personal vehicle. In Florida it is now illegal for a physician to even ask their patients if they own guns. Certain organizations are saying that it is their right under the U.S. Constitution and we do not dispute they have the right to own reasonable fire arms. I am not trying to start a political argument but rather to point out that our view of the world is horribly distorted. With the passage of these laws we have in fact created a de facto protected class of employees. Reality 2 Most government contracts and state laws require our workplaces to be violence free. This is whether it is due to drugs physical violence. We are fully cognizant of the fact that due to the tough economic times many of our employees are under stress. We pick up the newspaper or turn on the evening news and hear of situations where someone has walked into a workplace and opened fire for some reason or another. With this in mind why do we permit the battle of reality vs. reality to exist in our work environments? I have a semi- adopted daughter who every fall goes out hunting wild game which she in turns uses to feed her family. I have in the past done the same thing. But she would no more consider bringing her hunting rifle to work then I would. Reality 1 suggests that we live in such a horrible world that we need to protect ourselves with high caliber weapons such as 16 bullet clips. That we need to protect ourselves in the event that the other person decides to open fire. Reality 2 suggests that we are making the promise and the commitment to the workforce that they can come to work with the expectation of a violence free work space. Then in the same breath we create a protected class where we cannot inquiry if a potential worker carries a weapon. We cannot stop the creation of a potential cause for an unsafe workplace. With weapons 500 yards out the front door where is the impediment to violence in the workplace?
    • Page5 What kind of environment are we fostering? (Published 1/8/11) We are following the events that are unfolding in Tucson. It brings us to poise and consider what kind of environment we are fostering from our dialogue. Based on the era when I grew up we have a citizenry which was able to enter into a dialogue with consideration for the value of differing views on the issues that we are confronted with. We understood that there was a wide breadth of sincere beliefs on these issues. In the current climate we are in we can have fundamentalists who openly target those who differ in our views. We are in a climate where if you do not believe there is a place for views that are not our own you are cast as out of touch. This creates a very dangerous environment as shown in Tucson. Move for a moment from the streets of Tucson to the halls of our workplaces. When we create or update our policy manuals it is mandatory that we include statements regarding workplace violence. Do we want to? Probably not. Do we have to? This course of events dictates that we have no choice. I am uncomfortable having to make the suggestion, but it is critical that as human resource professionals, we need to do everything we can to influence management and the employee population to appreciate that we are a nation of ideas. That while discourse is vital, lack of patience and respect for the other views is should not ever tolerated and needs to be explicitly stated in corporate visions, missions, policies and attitudes The presence of anyone who purposely enters into a dialogue aimed at singling out another's views should not be tolerated. HR must be absolutely steadfast in removing any employee who would disrupt our workplace by inferring either directly or indirectly that either you think like they do or there is no place for you within the organization. There should be no tolerance for anyone, no matter what the position within the organization who displays this behavior. It should be grounds for immediate dismissal and reported to the appropriate law enforcement. I am probably going to get some pushback, but during my lifetime I have seen too much senseless violence within our workplaces. Violence in the workplace whether it is the innocent victims in Tucson or the likes of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Ronald Reagan is plain wrong. While I believe in the basics of our democracy, including the right to bear arms (not that I own any) the fundamentalists that believe that this right is infinite should take the time to reconsider the affect that these views have on our lives. They need to take responsibility for fostering an environment where this violent event is tolerated without control. Their views spread into our workplace and jeopardize the sanctity of that environment. My final thought is that we need to begin a dialogue in our personal relationships and the workplace to begin to understand the diversity of ideas. Begin to recognize that we only become enriched when we realize that the wide expression of views of the issues before us lead us to be better people and organizations. The time when we can directly go out and dismiss those alternate views should end.
    • Page5 When was the last time you visited your IP policy? (Published 8/4/10) Whether I am in a mall, a restaurant, a concert or teaching a seminar I constantly see individual’s texting away on their blackberries. One of the primary reasons many users have gone to the Blackberry platform was that it provided a secure method of communicating with others. Now along comes United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia who are on the verge of banning all use of Blackberries within their territory. The reason is the very reason why many users use them. Their concern is that due the secure networks there is no available audit trail that can be followed in the case of criminal activity. This has put Research Motion Incorporated in a very precarious position. On one hand they want to continue to provide the feature that has attracted all this business. On the other hand they are cognizant of the fact that the lack of a verifiable tracking system opens the avenues of the criminal elements to operate. Strategy: It would be a perceptive move on your part to review your intellectual property policy now rather than later. What you need to be cognizant of is a) what types of intellectual property are you currently transmitting over the Blackberries within your organization? And b) of this IP how much would be detrimental to your organizations interests if the secure platform was opened somewhat. From there you should look at what alternatives are you available to maintain the integrity of your corporate data which heretofore you thought nothing of sending over your network, knowing that you could be safe with the knowledge who was seeing your data. If RMI takes steps to meet the concerns of global governmental agencies, this status quo could change overnight. Are you ready if it does? Do You Really Know Your Hiring Practice? (Published 10/22/09) Over the past year I have had the opportunity to look at a wide range of employment applications and a fairly common characteristic is that employers have not truly looked at the information that they have generated with their Applicant Tracking Systems. Now with the introduction of the Genetic Identification Non Discrimination Act it becomes even more critical that we review the information you are gathering. Your key should be is whether the information you are requesting is truly a valid indicator of whether the candidate can perform the duties of the position for which they are applying for. Let me give you some recent examples I have come across: A) An employer on the application, right at the top asked for whom to contact in case of an emergency and the candidates social security number B) An employer asked, with a must answer stipulation, the date the candidate graduated from college C) A government agency asked for required dates of your education. When questioned about the reasons for asking for the information, stated that the State AG had said it was okay. With the dramatic increase in the number of discrimination suits and increased enforcement by the EEOC of these issues, it is to the detriment of your organization if you don't ensure that your application is asking questions which are bona-fide occupational qualification questions. Failure to do so can mean that financially you might be in worst shape. While we are discussing your applications it is also critical that you check the system used by your outsourced applicant tracking system. They may be asking questions, which you are unaware of. The fact that you did not know the question was being asked is no excuse for asking questions that could lead to discriminatory practices in your talent management program.
    • Page5 Have we not really grown? (Published 6/11/09) In today's competitive marketplace, the basis of our success is the ability of team members to collaborate on the roads to the completion of change improvement. This means that as self-directed teams, we need to learn to respect the input of all the team members. In November, the citizenry gave us the impression that we had finally moved beyond the narrow minded beliefs of some, who if applied to the workplace could limit our growth not enhance it. Then we turn on the news or read the media and find that an individual seems to believe that his picture of the world is the only "correct" view of the world that he has to take violent actions to enforce them. Imagine if we were not talking about such an event as the Holocaust but rather an initiative within our marketplace. Can we continue to not keep our eyes open to the dangers of some of our policies--such as the many states which have in essence created a new protected class by freely allowing our employees to bring firearms to the workplace and that we can't protect our workplace by "discriminating" against those who are gun owners. I don't hold any animosity towards gun owners. I actually owned one at one time, but there is a place for them and our workplace is not one of them. The killing at the US Holocaust Museum clearly demonstrates that we need to take concrete steps to protect all the citizenry from individuals who believe that the only solution to conflicting views is to pull out a firearm and take out those with opposing views. Where are we headed? (Published 8/20/08) As part of my affiliation with LinkedIn I am a member of My VirtualPowerForum. Among the emails I received today from the group was a report of the release of a study on ethical behavior in the workplace. The summary was disturbing to say the least: A report released last week shows trends that reflect today's values. The report was based on a study conducted across twelve Indian cities and the respondents were executives at the entry and middle levels. • Nearly half of the respondents said it was quite appropriate to use the office telephone to make personal calls – even long distance calls. • About 55% said it was OK to fudge expense accounts. • Almost half had no qualms about recording their entry times as being within permissible limits, even when they arrived late. Similarly, they did not hesitate to mark the exit time as required even when they left early. (This finding was restricted to manual systems). • 60% admitted to lying while applying for leave, a figure that reached 75% in some cities. • Another 60% found nothing wrong in carrying office stationery to their homes, while 63% said it was okay to do personal work during office hours. • 62% considered offering someone a bribe “normal and ethical” behavior. If this sample is representative of the rest of the workplace, what does that tell us about the transferee's we work with? Let me know your thoughts.
    • Page5 Continuous Improvement Posts in this section deal with steps in order to improve the operating efficiency of the organization and HR in particular. How you change is the change! (Published 7/1/13) I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Lawrence M. Miller entitled Getting to Lean: Transformational Change Management Beyond Problem-solving to Co-Creating the Future. In full transparency I have known Larry for over 40 years as we were classmates at a small liberal arts college in Iowa called Parsons College. A sub title to the book made the statement that how you change is the change. When we consider that more in depth it begs us to ask how do you go about changing the organization? As a vital member of your organization you have really only three courses of action. First you can choose to do nothing at all. Many organization’s choose to talk the talk about improving the processes within the organization while utilizing an undertone which says change won’t work because that just is not the way we do things here. Management is totally complacent with continuing the way the organization operates even though the customers are telling the organization you are not meeting the needs we have. This track usually leads to loss of the client base as your customers take their business elsewhere. Second, the organization can dictate the change from a high. Management tells the organization via edict that this the way we will change. The expectation is that because the ivory tower says change the organization will change. Surprise the result is a totally disengaged organization. Needs of the organization and the customer are never met. The final choice in implementing change is the total involvement of the entire organization within the change process. The change process is centered on the input of the experts within the organization combined with management. The experts are those on the front line of the organization. The front line experts see the problems before they reach the C-Suite. To be successful the change process requires cross-functional teams which review the entire process and the impact on the customers. It requires the same steps as when you were doing the experiments in HS science class. The change process is the scientific method of the business world. We consistently hear management complaining that the organizational human capital assets are not engaged within the organization. The change process provides a view of the way to change that. We need to be willing to change the way we change the corporate culture. Understand we are dealing with a corporate culture which is a constant state of fluidity. This means we change just from meeting the demands of our customers. This means we change because the marketplace changes. This means that we change because our front line assets see processes evolve which in turn create the potential for new problems that need viable solutions. Which change process is your organization following? Are you walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to organizational change.
    • Page5 14 steps to HR Excellence (Published 3/26/13) Based on a presentation by the staff of Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, here are 14 steps to successfully introduce a process improvement effort into your HR department: 1. Do not expect a quick fix; seek a long term picture on how to optimize your services to the organization. The continuous improvement effort is not going to happen overnight. Understand that in order to identify the best route to optimize your organization is going to take a collaborate effort through the entire organization 2. Recognize that there is always a better way. Here is a fact of life. You have found the obstacle that is slowing down your organization. That is great. But when you correct one part of the process, inevitably it opens up another problem. It is called continuous process improvement for a reason 3. Seek out transformational leaders - To be successful your organizational leaders must change their views. The question is no longer here is what we do; it is now how we help implement the strategic initiatives of the organization as a business partner. 4. Make the system mistake proof - By creating a standard of work we establish a process that dictates how we deliver the optimized services. The standard must show the organization how to deliver our HR services the same way each and every time we do so. 5. Educate and train the organization - the change effort happens based on knowledge. So the easiest path is to initiate a solid program to educate the organization what is in it for me and train them how to implement the new process steps. 6. Change managers into leaders - Toyota has shown us that the most successful leaders in an organization are those who guide their staff through the process. Command and control does not work 7. Drive out fear - Command and control leads to an organization that fear taking chances. Continuous Improvement is based on taking chances with new ways of doing things. Human capital assets have to understand that it is alright to try something even if it proves to be the wrong approach. 8. Break down silos - John Dunne told us that no man is an island. The same goes for our organizations. We are not an entity of one but rather part of a total organization. We need to learn that we are part of an ongoing effort not just an HR effort. 9. Focus on the process not the people - The works in the continuous process improvement space tell us that unless the organization is about to close its doors there is no reason to lay people off to make the changes. The problem is always with the organizational processes. 10. Avoid quotas - When we require management to meet certain productivity levels, the tendency are to move away from making the process better. Forget quotas and allow the process to work as it will tend to do oriented on a total organization basis. 11. Go and see - There is a folklore image of three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil. Managers who sit in the corner office and never visit where the action is are operating like the three monkeys. The only way to effectively see where the problems are within the process is to go and see as the process is being implemented. 12. Gain Knowledge - Are you serious about this whole process improvement effort? Then you need to continually make it a requirement of your professional life to take courses, read books in the field, so that you can keep abreast of new changes in the field. If I had sought out only the required texts for the Black Belt courses my library would consist of 6 books instead of the 55 that are in my continuous process improvement library. 13. Do it now - I totally understand that it is human nature to put off what you could do now. But to be successful in improving the organizational processes we must act in a sense of urgency. We must take the steps towards implementing the standard of work and removing the waste under a sense of urgency. 14. Coach - Just because the human capital assets have completed the prescribed training programs to earn a belt does not mean that the training ends. The manager and the organization must work with the human capital assets to
    • Page5 constantly find ways to improve their work output. The manager needs to be there to guide them towards the most appropriate solutions, not telling them what to do but giving them guidance on what to do to gain their objectives. Is HR a true management system? (Published 4/11/13) In the LinkedIn groups (TLS-TOC Lean & Six Sigma in particular) there has been an ongoing conversation about when you merge the three. In the course of the discussion we posted a comment regarding an output from a seminar we were facilitating which talked about an organization in which the job requisition was reviewed and approved three times by the same person in a hiring effort. One of participants replied that that was an indication of mismanagement not a system problem. He further went on to state that the system represents a bigger picture than the hiring process. It made me wonder whether he was correct. On page 552 of the Theory of Constraints Handbook edited by James Cox III and John Schleier, Jr. they define a system as being made up of inputs, a process of some kind, outputs and the environment in which these components exist. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Switch, talks about problems being faced by organizations not being a people problem but rather a "situation" problem. Let me start with the expression of the understanding that most HR executives and in fact many executives do not know how to look at things in a systematic way, but we hope the discussion below will help in that regard. So let's look at the parts of the definition: 1. A system is comprised of inputs - Talk to your peers and you are bound to hear that the feeling is that everyone is trying to tell us how to do our job. These are inputs. But far from that we have inputs from management as we design job requisitions. We get inputs in the form of candidate credentials. We get inputs from outside sources as we benchmark the best practices within the industry. 2. A system is comprised of a process - Accept the fact that everything we do is part of a process. The hiring process is a process. The employee complaints are part of a process. The creation of new benefit components and their introduction is a process. Business would not run half as good as they do as a whole if it was not for internal and external processes. 3. A system is comprised of outputs - If everything we do within HR management is based on a process, then the end results of the process constitute an output. We begin the hiring process then the employment offer is the output. If we begin the process of open enrollment, the employee enrolling in your benefit program is an output. We develop new policies and procedures, the document is the output. 4. A system is comprised of the above factors within an environment - John Donne stated that no man is an island, and in this case the previous components of a system do not operate in a vacuum. The environment that is centered on the environment that we call the workplace. So truly while there may be some arguments HR management meets all the requirements to be called a system. In recognizing this, we need to clearly consider whether our HR management efforts are centered on how to make the system work to its maximum level of productivity. How are you ensuring that your HR Management system is running in a top gun direction? Let us know how you are achieving this goal?
    • Page5 It is choice not chance that defines our destiny (Published 3/6/13) Awhile back we posted a blog entry in this space based on the marque of a local church. When I drove by it the other day the announcement of this Sunday's sermon was on the marque and is the title of this post. I hear everyday people telling me that they know things need to change within the organization, but it will take time and they will wait it out until the organization gets around to changing the culture or the policy, usually by managerial edict. The problem is that is not how we bring about determining the greatness of our organizations. The destiny of our organizations is decided by the critical CHOICES we make each and every day in the workplace. We know we have to cut back on waste in the organization in order to meet our corporate sustainability responsibility but do we take the critical steps to achieve that goal? We know that we need to fill our talent management needs with the best and the greatest, but do we forcefully go after the talent or do we think that they will just fall into our laps. The current workplace environment requires us to determine the ultimate outcome of where we want our organizations to be and to make definitive choices on how we are going to get there. The old adage that this won't work because that is not the way we do things around here will not help reach these goals. Management telling us that this is the way we have always been the corporate mantra will not help reach those goals. So what choices do we need to make to reach that goal of meeting our organizational destiny? • Utilize the 5 Why tool from the six sigma toolbox - Look at a process within your organization that appears to be holding you up. Ask why you do it five times. Trust me at the end of the cycle you most likely find that there is not a valid reason why you perform that process in the way you do. Take the steps to improve the process to meet your goals. • Change your focus from silo to organization - Understand that in today' marketplace a silo is self-defeating. The silo mentality is a true characteristic of determining your organizational destiny by chance. You expect that if you perform the responsibilities of the function than greatness will come to your department. However we do not get there by chance. It is determined by specific, concrete actions on part of the total organization. • Get involved - We seem to see the term employee engagement bantered around the social media space quite often. But employee involvement is a better term for the requirements to reach the organizational destiny. We can only bring about the necessary changes if the entire organization from the C-Suite to the mail room is making the choices to improve the organization. There have been many surveys which indicate that the rank and file knows, maybe even more than management, what is wrong with the organization. Get everyone involved on making the choices to bring you to your organizational destiny. Stop what you are doing for a moment and think, are you moving towards your organizational destiny based on chance or are you making the hard choices to take you on the road to organizational success?
    • Page5 What is HR Excellence? (Published 2/28/13) We had in one of the first posts here asked you to define what you thought HR Excellence was. From the level of responses I am assuming (I know the problems with assumptions) that you are having a hard time coming to some sort of consensus. So let me tell you what I feel the components of the definition of HR excellence are: Achieving HR EXCELLENCE is the result of: CARING more about your organization than others think wise; What are your feelings toward your organization? Are you stuck in that rut of this is what we do as HR professionals? Does that mean there is no room for improvement within the responsibilities of HR? IN order to reach that level of a center of excellence we need to begin to think outside of the box if you were and begin to seriously look at how HR fits into the strategies, initiatives and visions of the total organization. RISKING more than others think safe to change the corporate culture; Achieving HR Excellence means we need to change our organizational culture. Every example of change carries with it a level of risk. The change might not be right for your organization but you will not know until you try. HR needs to be at the forefront of this effort. You have the ears of both management and the work floor human assets. You are the ones who can carry the message that we know the suggested changes are going to make thing unsettled for a time, but here is why we are doing it and what it means to the organization and to them rank and file. You can show them what is in for them. DREAMING more than others think practical about the potential for your organization The late Senator Ted Kennedy in his eulogy for his brother spoke the famous line “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not.” HR must play that same role in or organizations. Every day we see things that are just not quite right and we ask why we are doing them. The usual answer is that because that is the way we have always had done it. No one remembers why we do it; it is just the way we do things here. HR has the role of seeing new ways of doing things and is willing to take the chance that in the long run we will be a better organization. EXPECTING more than others find possible from your human capital assets. One of the problems with many organizations in the workplace today is that we have tended to stereotype our human capital assets. How often have you heard these comments? • They are just out for the paycheck • They are lazy and just do not want to work • They are spending all day playing video games or using social media Why not change the stereotypes to seek out the full potential of the human capital assets. Why not see the extended potential that engaged employees can bring to a dynamic organization. Reaching a state of HR excellence within you organization is an organization wide effort which comes from CARING more about your organization than others think wise; RISKING more than others think safe to change the corporate culture; DREAMING more than others think practical about the potential for your organization ; EXPECTING more than others find possible from your human capital assets.
    • Page5 Rush to Metricment (Published 8/30/11) Let me begin by apologizing to the English purists in the audience. I fully realize that I just took the liberty of creating a word as if I was playing scrabble and wanted that one big word to win the game. But read on and I think you will get the intent here. I am in the middle of reading Kaplan and Norton's The Balanced Scorecard and throughout the first 100 pages there are numerous references to metrics in the development of the scorecards. I further refer to Mikel and Schroeder who in their book on six-sigma make the point that every organization is confronted with five conditions that affect the business: 1. We don't know what we don't know 2. We can't act on what we don't know 3. We can't know until we search 4. We can't search for what we don't question 5. We don't question that we don't measure I am not questioning the value of metrics and measurements. What I am questioning is the rush to rely so heavily on metrics for everything and anything. When we make that rush to metricment we tend to make our case solely on the metrics involved and not the human factor involved within our organizations. So my suggestion is take the metrics for what they are - a way to measure how we are doing on the path to reach our goals. They are not the end all of factors that indicate our successes. Find a middle ground between the human factors and the mechanical metrics that we use to evaluate our organizations.
    • Page5 It is a sad day in Booksville (Published 7/22/11) If you were not keeping up with the news, today began the end of a journey for an organization called Borders Books. By agreement with the Bankruptcy court, the company began the liquidation of its operations. During a period when consulting assignments were on the dry side, I spent some time working for the company, both in the retail end and in its former Corporate Sales Division. While it is sad to see the organization gone, it also provides us with some clear indications on how not to run our organizations. In its efforts to become the premier bookseller, it lost sight of several directions which would have upped its chances to survive. Let’s look at some of those misjudgments: 1. Failure to correctly focus on the customer: The Company failed to live up to its goal, which was to acquire and maintain customers. Picture a client making a special trip to the store to pick up a much-needed order and the store had no idea where the order was. When questioned later, the store's response was that the store operation came before the customer. Wrong answer. 2. Failure to listen to the voice of the customer: Borders was one of the last book stores to sell e-book readers. By the time they got into the market, the I-Pad, Kindle and Nook were far outpacing the space. When you begin to listen to the customer after everyone else has solved the customer concerns, you are doomed. 3. Change of Value Statement: Instead of talking about customer needs, they began to concentrate on providing the best price. They in essence reduced the customer experience to the lowest common denominator - price. I know you are saying that is retail. But let me take these lessons and carry it over to a business organization as a whole. If the organization is to survive in this global marketplace, then there are some clear strategic directions that need to be undertaken. Strategy #1: Create a Value Statement which focuses on the customer. Forget what the CEO says the Board's direction is. Your value statement must be centered on the needs and expectations of your customers. They are the ones that determine whether the doors stay open. Strategy #2: Listen to the voice of the customer. Get out of your corner office. Visit your clients and customers, whether they are inside the organization or external, and learn what their problems are. Learn what they expect from your human capital assets. Learn what they expect from the organization in the way of services, customer service, and employees. Make the necessary changes to your processes in order to meet the customer requests. Strategy #3: Remember who pays the bills. The only way you keep your operations going is to acquire and maintain your customer base. Remember, it is less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Your customer service levels must be at the top of the field. Your operations are NOT more important than the customer demands. Remember the mission statement of the Wegman Supermarket Chain. • Rule #1: The client is always right. • Rule #2: If you question whether the client is right, refer to rule #1. Make your processes as customer friendly as possible and ensure that anything that holds the process up is removed so that they run as cheaply, fast and better than your competition. Follow this advice and you will have a better chance to not follow the Borders path to oblivion.
    • Page5 Are we missing the message somewhere? (Published 5/31/11) We recently offered to present a breakout session for a state SHRM council and were told thanks but no thanks. When we questioned the reason, we were informed that feedback from the membership said it was just not a topic that generated must interest. The presentation was entitled "In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes that Affect the Vitality of Your Human Resource Organization." So here is our question if we know that every process within our organizations has hiccups and we also recognize these hiccups can have a very dramatic effect on the organization what do we do about it? This could be as small as missed deadlines to as large as huge wastes of resources. So let’s pose another perspective on this scenario? What if we knew that on the premise of it all that there are hiccups in the process but we have never sought to identify them, does that lessen the impact on the organization? Because the non-value added activities flounder just under the radar does that make it any less real as to the impact on the organization? We have peers who cringe every time they hear one of our HR professionals talk about gaining a seat at the partnership table. We can understand their frustration, but I would suggest it is not so much taking a seat at the table as it is a manifestation of HR professionals wanting to be judged based on what we deliver to the organization. So when we hear that the subject matter does not interest the HR audience we are confronted with a couple of thoughts. First, are we as a profession so entrenched in the idea we are there as administrative gate controls for the organization that we do not care to hear about ways to improve the operations or we so afraid of being ineffective that we will fight any opportunity to make the changes necessary to sustain our organizations? Here is the message as plain as we can state it. Every single organization in the world is performing process steps which are directly holding back the organization in the long run. If human capital professionals can't see that or choose not to look at them then the outcome is of their own doing. Every process has its hiccups and it is the hidden one that will come back to bite in ways that can cause great harm to the organization. We recently heard one of our colleagues talking about how the organization she works for had moved an employee's desk from the second floor to the first floor but left all her necessary files on the second floor. In order for the duties of the position they had to go back to the second floor to recover the filed required at any given moment. To get there, they had to walk the entire length of the office go upstairs and bring the file back downstairs to their desk. The result was a loss of 25 minutes in productivity each time the task was performed. If we figure that the task is performed about four times a day, that means over the course of a normal work year the organization has lost 30,000 minutes or 500 man hours, If we figure that the professional is paid $24 per hour, this means that the organization has lost $12,000 annually in time spent working on non-value added work. So are wearing blinders or did we not hear the message? If we are so ingrained in the way we do things then we are wearing the blinders that will never get us beyond where we are and a small part of the total organization. If on the other hand, we just missed the message than we need to go back and listen again about how HR can play a vital role in the sustainability and the success of the organization. The choice is yours. The choice as to your future is yours. The choice as to where the organization is headed is yours. You can either be the ostrich in the sand or you can be the strategist who really considers the role of human capital within the organization.
    • Page5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 5 (Published 4/24/11) Every organization and every business enterprises is comprised of processes that they use to conduct the business of their organization. As we stated in Part 1 of this series, organizations like people strive to be the best that they can be. In their way are obstacles which are a natural tendency of processes which slow those processes down. The root causes of these slowdowns are the types of wastes we presented for discussion in parts 2-4. In this final part to the series we turn our direction not to those wastes but strategies that have been used by other organizations to remove the wastes. The final objective is to create a standard of work which will eliminate those wastes and over time be repeatable within the workforce. Strategy #1: Redesign the work flow Take a careful look at your processes. Ensure that as much as possible that everything that your human capital needs to complete their assigned tasks is within easy reach. If they require constant access to a fax machine make sure there is one within arms-length. If they need access to a particular file make sure it is in a file cabinet next to their desk. After reviewing the waste categories remove any unnecessary steps in the processes. Strategy #2: Voice of the Customer The wants and needs of the customer are paramount to the success of the organization. If the organization includes within their processes steps not required by the customer get rid of them. If you have accumulating files which have no bearing on current projects or processes, where ever possible get rid of them. We would suggest that HR go to the sales and marketing team and request that you go with them on sales calls to the customer. Use this opportunity to gain a better understanding of the qualifications the customer wants to find in the employees they deal with. Reduce the number of reports by not sending information through the pipeline except where it is specifically requested by a customer (internal or external). Strategy #3: Simplify movement through your organization Seriously look at your organization and reduce movement of information and human capital as much as possible. As we already suggested above, redesign work cells to reduce the required movement by your human capital. Strategy #4: Learn Your Organization I hear the comments now, I already know my organization. But I would suggest that you may not truly know what you do and why you do it. Initially process maps your organization. Follow up that with a value stream map of the organization. The process map provides a macro view of your organization and its process steps. The value stream map adds every document and every time period between the steps. It can be an eye opener to problems within your organization. The two mapping exercises allow an organization to find ways to reduce the time gaps between process steps. It allows you to limit requests to exactly what the customer says they need. Strategy #5: Reduce overproduction Begin by implementing the lean tool and asking the 5 why questions. Each time you ask the question you get closer to the root of why you do things the way you do. From this eliminate useless data collection and non-value added required steps in those processes. Strategy #6: Reduce Overprocessing Look at your approval routes. Is it really necessary for the VP of HR to get a job requisition and approve it before the assigned recruiter begins the talent management effort? What if you gave the recruiter the requisition with a copy going to the VP? Move from a system where you continually push candidate information to hiring manager to waiting until they ask for the specific requirements for a specific job need. Strategy #7: Eliminate the Obstacles in Your processes Where ever possible automate your process steps. Ensure that every department within your organization adapts the standard of work that the organization has created. If a department thinks they have an idea to improve a process. Let them show the entire organization why it is better. Do not let a single department stray from the standard work model. Utilize the DMAIC model from the six-sigma methodology to improve the way you do things.
    • Page5 Strategy #8: Create Skill Benches Take a page from the playbook of IBM and create skill benches within your organization. When a specific department needs the skills from the bench, the bench assets are sent to the department on a project basis. When the project is complete they return to the skill bench. If there is no new project beginning, then the downtime is used to gain the necessary continuing education to do their jobs better, faster and cheaper. Strategy #9: Change Your Hiring Metrics Change your standard of work on hiring from one where the various department managers exercise discretion on manpower needs and adjust resources as needed to one where the organization's manpower capacity is optimized via priorities, scheduling and monetary resources. Strategy #10: Utilize maximum materials throughout the organization Review the creative processes within the organization and make sure you are using all available materials. Ensure that unless absolutely necessary e-mails are not printed and kept for eternity. When you create marketing pieces or reports or forms make sure you use all available material resources. Our premise throughout this series is that in order for your organization to optimize your processes, you need to identify the obstacles to that optimization. Once you have found the roadblocks remove them. The results are that when you have removed the non-value added activities and you have created the standard of work we will increase the bottom line. The very direct result is that you will lower your organization's carbon footprint in the sand. You therefore have made your organization more sustainable - socially, environmentally and economically.
    • Page5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 4 (Published 4/22/11) As stated previously, hidden wastes occur in every process undertaken by our organizations, whether we are looking from the production side or the transactional side. In part 4 the final three types of waste or muda that exist in your organization are reviewed. These will lead us into the final part which offers possible solutions that would assist your organization in removing the non-value added steps to your processes. Waste or Muda #7 Defects We as individuals get highly upset when we purchase something and it is not what we expected because something does not work. Our customers get highly upset when our processes do not provide exactly what they expect. When looking at the human resource operations these defects can be present in several ways. The first defect is tied to a great degree with our earlier discussion of the waste found in Motion within the organization. When we expect our employees top make extra trips to retrieve what they need to complete the tasks their position calls on, we are reducing productivity. You ask an employee to retrieve a file for a project but to do so means they have to go to the other side of the building. A client sends a fax to your department but the person who is supposed to receive it can't verify that it arrived without leaving his/her desk and going to the mail room. Every time you waste time by not having the materials needed to complete tasks right at their fingertips you are creating waste for your organization. The second example of waste within your HR department is when you produce either hard copy forms or online forms with items that are illegal in nature. When we spent some time seeking a full time human resources position we observed questions on application in example which were either against the law or had no bearing on a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification. We are talking about questions such as date of birth, date the candidate graduated from high school. Probably the most out of the box question was an application that contained a mandatory yes or no response to the question "Are You a Visible Minority." These types of questions create waste due to the fact that you can't utilize them in your hiring decisions so why ask them. Have you ever sent out offer letters with wrong start dates or compensation information? Have you ever sent out letters or documents which were critical for the completion of a project only to get them questioned because of misspellings? Waste or Muda #8: Unused Employee Potential The United Negro Fun for years ran a commercial in which the tag line was it was a shame to waste a mind. In this age when our employees are corporate assets, to place them in a position where their full potential is not utilized jeopardizes the organization and is waste to the operation. We do this by not planning our staffing needs correctly. If we hire too much or we have processes that have to wait on a previous step, then we have employees sitting idle and spinning their wheels until they have what they need to continue. We also introduce waste to the human resource process when we under staff the operations leading to work overload which leads to less than maximum productivity because the employees can not possible get everything done which leads to shortcuts which leads to the potential for defects in the output. Waste or Muds #9: Material Underutilization Every day we produce materials out of our processes which end up nowhere. When was the last time you received an e- mail and just to make sure that you did not lose it, you printed a copy? When was the last time you were printing a 3x5 postcard and you only put two on a page instead of four? When was the last time you scheduled a tele-conference only to have a person who was supposed to be in attendance show up 15 minutes late? What do you do with the information generated by your department? Each of these lead to process waste because the results of the above examples are non- value added steps in a process. To this point we have provided you with a macro view of the wastes that can appear within your processes. Every organization is guilty of these non-value added steps to one degree or another. The last part of this series will take the HRCI Body of Knowledge and suggest to you solutions that you can use to eliminate the types of waste that we have discussed to this point in this series. We hope that we have at least gotten you to begin to look at your own specific HR processes and considered where you are wasting non-productive time within those processes.
    • Page5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 3 (Published 4/21/11) In the previous part to this series we began to look at the various types of wastes which could be hidden within your organization. In part 3 we continue that review with a look at the next three types of wastes. Waste or Muda #4: Waiting Waiting of any kind means that the process has slowed down, maybe even stopped. When we make the customer wait for something we have created waste. Waiting can take many different shapes within our organizations. The IT Manager tells the HR manager that he/she needs that new analyst in three days and now we are looking at 3 months and you are no closer to filling that position then you were when the IT manager said he needed the person in critical fashion. Your organization's policy is that all job requisitions must go through the HR manager before a recruiter can begin sourcing the position. The HR Manager due to their workload forgets to give the job requisition to the recruiter for 72 hours. That becomes 72 man hours of wasted effort. Voice of the customer is critical in seeking out the needs of the customer. So when a department manager tells HR they need certain metrics to complete a project, then that is what they expect. HR decides that in order to make sure that the manager has everything develops reports that provide the information requested and then some. The result is that the manager has to delay their report because they have to get through the noise before finding exactly what they need, Waiting can also occur when HR sets up interviews at the wrong date and time or the offer includes the wrong salary information, meaning until the errors are corrected the new hire cannot start in the new position. Waste or Muda #5: Over production Have you ever heard of the term "overkill?" This area of the non-value activities is the optimum of overkill, overproduction can be found in everything we in HR do. You ask a recruiting source for their best 5 candidates and they send you 20. The department manager asked for a spreadsheet showing the past month's recruiting results and they are sent the past quarter’s results. Another example is when the department manager requests a report for a specific piece of data so the HR department sends them the report every month. In that same scenario, the department manager asks for a specific report on a specific metric and HR prepares the report and also sends along the various accompanying support data. Waste or Muda #6: Overprocessing As you go shopping tonight or try and call customer service, look around and see how many steps it takes to get you to where you want to be. You call customer service for your favorite store and go through call hell as you are asked to push this number on your phone to continue the process. The other night for instance I called the customer service number for a book store and the CSR was refusing to help because their records said that the credit card number on the account was not the number we have been using to order titles, so she would not let me talk to a supervisor. Overprocessing can occur when you respond to a hiring manager's request and not really understanding the real needs or wants of the customer. The result is that you deliver something to the hiring manager and because it is the wrong information, the system bogs down until you deliver the right metrics. Ever look at your recruiting process in detail. HR sources, screens, recruits and interviews potential candidates and refers the best candidates to the hiring manager. That is the way the system is supposed to work, Then comes the hiring manager who states that they want to see all the resumes and re-screens the candidates and schedules interviews just like the HR department already has done. Non-value added actions are never a good thing for the organization, but as the next three waste types have shown they can especially be detrimental to your HR strategy. In the next part of the series we will look at the final three types of wastes and what they mean for the HR function. The last part of the series will look at possible solutions to remove these wastes from your processes.
    • Page5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 2 (Published 4/21/11) In Part 1 of this series we discussed the fact that every process has non-value added activities as part of the process. They are there because we have not looked for them and in order to be part of the solution we need to begin to look at our organization with the sole purpose in mind to locate, identify and remove the obstacles to us operating our organizations faster, better and cheaper. If we talk to many of those who operate in the quality space they will identify nine specific types of wastes that occur in every organization. Part 2 will examine the first three of these waste definitions, Waste or Muda #1: Transportation Typically when we think of transportation we are concerned with moving people or materials from one place to another. In this case we are more concerned with the movement within your organization. Take a look around your office space or if you are in manufacturing look at your shop floor. Where does an employee have to go to get their required materials to complete a task? Can they turn around and pick up the item or do they need to go across the building to get what they need? Do you move the same piece of equipment multiple times to get it to where it is needed? Do you meet the needs of your customers or do you get a request for some data and what you send the client far exceeds what they asked for? Waste or Muda #2: Inventory We as humans and organizations have a tendency to think that we are pack rats. We consistently order what we think we will need for a specific time period even if we know we are more than likely going to change to a different form or model in a short period of time. You create a new form and instead of ordering what the process tells you will be needed for say 6 months, you order two years’ worth of forms. When you change the form the excess gets added to the trash. You maintain on hand permanent job requisitions for every position within the organization whether a hiring manager tells you it is needed or not. I know we don't need that job requisition now but we MAY at some time in the future. Your hiring manager calls you and tells you he needs a critical position filled within 3 days and due to department processes the recruiter does not get the position request for 48 hours. What happened to the voice of the customer? Waste or Muda #3: Motion Ever take a pedometer to work and see how far you walk in a day? How many steps do you take that repeat previous steps in order to complete a task? You are given an assignment to produce a report for senior management and in order to get it to the right place nine sets of hands touch the document instead of sending it directly to the manager who requested the report in the first place. I have a friend whose employer moved her desk from the second floor to the first. No big deal right. However they left all of her files on the second floor. By the time she walks the entire length of the building, goes up to the second floor and retrieves the file that is needed and returns to her desk, the organization has lost 25 minutes of productivity. If she makes that trip four times a day, the organization has lost the equivalent of 433 man hours per year. If we assume that she is being paid $15.00 per hour, then that lost productivity has cost the organization almost $7000 annually in lost productive activities. Another common occurrence, in this area is the scenario where the management asks for a report and the HR staff throws all the numbers together and for whatever reason the report never leaves your department - the manager says after you complete the report that they don't need it after all or for some reason they report never gets delivered to the client. These categories of waste and the others to follow, add costs to your operations, they jeopardize the future of your organization. What is obvious when you begin to explore these wastes is that they have been there all along you just did not see them. Really look at these types of wastes and see how many of them exist in your organization and the effect on the organization because of them. Part 3 and 4 will look at the remainder of the Muda types and what they do to the organization. Part 4 will return to this area and look at solutions for removing wastes from your HR process and the organization as a whole.
    • Page5 In Plain Sight: Hidden Wastes which affect the viability of your organization Part 1 (Published 4/18/11) As individuals we all strive for perfection to some degree. Our organizations are no different. The goal of many organizations is to be the best at what they do. The problem is that we are so set in our ways that there obstacles presented to us that stop this effort in its tracks. In the title to this post we discussed hidden wastes. These wastes which are in every process that your organization undertakes are there for one reason and one reason only. You have never looked for them. Let me begin with a brief scenario to which I would ask you think very carefully on your answer. I am not concerned whether it is on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, however your financial people have just handed you the financial reports on how your department is performing. Here is my challenge to you: What do you do with the reports? Many people to whom we have posed the question to respond by we check the numbers. What are you checking the numbers for? Do you look at the numbers to see if they are calculated correctly? Or do you look at the numbers to see where they came from? Your response tells us whether you are part of the problem or part of the solution. We would suggest that instead of just checking the numbers to make sure the numbers are correct, approach the process with the utilization of a series of why questions. The purpose is to identify why we do things the way we do. Typically when you ask the question why the response is usually because that is the way we have always done it. So ask why again. This time the answer will change to because John Smith many years ago decided that this was the way we should do something. So why again? The third why usually leads to a response like they heard it at a seminar or the owner of the company suggesting it. The course usually extends out to five whys which will at the end lead you to the real reason why you do something. It is the first step in uncovering wastes within your organization. Our goal in doing this is to run our human resources processes faster (leaner), cheaper (at less cost) and better (with less errors). We achieve this by introducing the six-sigma methodology to your transactional services. Our goal is to continuously improve the transactional services and process quality, getting the services to the customer faster, and reducing costs while improving the price to the customer. The question is who are our customers? In order to achieve this process improvement our customers include both internal (hiring managers, upper management, stakeholders) and external (recruiters, sourcing professionals, social media). Part 2 of this post will look at the nine types of waste or muda and some examples of how they can affect your organization.
    • Page5 Hodgepodge Represented by posts, which do not fit into the above categories. Human Resources Blogs (Why We Do It) (Published 2/27/13) One of the blogs I read each week is that of Ben Eubank's Upstart HR. In his post for the week he posed the question shown in the title above. For your consideration here is the text of his latest blog. After the text of Ben's post we will add some after thoughts of our own on the topic. So maybe you read half a dozen human resources blogs, or maybe this is the only one you follow. Why do people write human resources blogs? What’s the point? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can give you some insight into why I write (and read) blogs about human resources every week. Human resources blogs and my career Why in the heck would someone start an HR blog? Good question. I started writing this blog four years ago as a way to help others just getting into HR. I wanted to share what I was learning, offer advice to common problems, and get some accountability for myself beyond the four walls of my employer. And boy have those come true. The blog has helped me immensely. It was a factor in getting my current job to some degree. It wasn’t a golden ticket or anything, but it also wasn’t completely ignored in the hiring process. I can still remember the president of the company sitting there at his desk and scrolling through my blog while I was being interviewed. It has opened up doors to partner with great companies and people in so many ways. It has broken down barriers that would have prevented me from connecting and networking with peers around the world. It helped to launch one of the first HR unconference events. It’s just been amazing, frankly. But that only covers the past four years. What does the future hold? I have no idea, but I’m incredibly excited. The purpose of human resources blogs I think the people who take the time and effort to write HR blogs are doing a great service to the profession. For too long “personnel” was seen as a barrier to getting things done. HR pros taking the time to share unique and interesting ideas are helping to shape the future of our profession. Here are two key ways that’s happening: Transparency-HR as a profession has long been sequestered from the rest of the organization. In those circumstances, it’s no surprise that business leaders, line management, and staff workers don’t have much faith in HR. They don’t know what HR does! Sure, they know we help to recruit people and help with terminating the bad ones. But the gap between hiring and firing, the employee lifecycle, is where HR can truly shine. The blogs out there that are sharing what HR truly does on a daily basis are the ones that are the most popular. No surprise there. Insights-A corollary to the previous point is the insight that we can provide. We talk about what we are doing, because we’ve been influenced by others doing the same thing. If you stop for a second, you can probably think of an HR person somewhere (maybe a friend or just an acquaintance) who is doing something that you’d like to be doing. They have an innovative program. They have a unique process. They have something that you’d like to learn how to do. Or maybe you just want to make existing processes better–there’s no shame in that. But we share what we share because we want others to benefit from our success. We are also a little selfish in that we want to get the same thing out of it. We want to find new, unique ideas that help us with our own jobs. And that’s okay, too. I’ve yet to meet the person who has it all figured out and needs no help, insight, or encouragement from others. Those two points can’t possibly encapsulate the entire spectrum of HR blogs, but it’s a good place to start.
    • Page5 Human resources blogs and you So now you know a little more of the “why” behind human resources blogs. So how can you use them? This post I wrote a year ago about human resource challenges is a great example of how you can take what you’re reading and put it into effect in your own life and career. I also included a similar challenge in the entry level HR course for those new to the profession. I wanted them to understand that HR blogs are not just for entertainment–they’re also for learning new concepts and forcing our brains to think differently about the problems we’re faced with. I talk with readers via email every single week. They are trying to implement ideas they learned about on this blog, and I’m all too happy to converse with them about how to customize the topics to their unique situations. They are the ones who are truly benefiting from the HR blogs out there. I know that 99+% of you are not interested in starting an HR blog. And that’s just fine. I talked about why HR people don’t blog previously, and I still believe those reasons are true today. So those are a few of my thoughts on human resources blogs. What are yours? How have they helped you? In April of 2006, we entered the blog community with the intent of providing a resource for HR professionals to gain some insight into what we do every day. Over the past six years, numerous people have remarked that, they have gained a little piece of knowledge that they have not found anywhere else. Our true intention is to provide you with a different viewpoint on issues that face you every day. Many of these viewpoints are addressing issues that due to the demands of the marketplace, you have overlooked either willingly or just did not realize that they were there. In a field where many have made the decision to stop writing blogs, we are committed to continuing to be a voice in the wilderness regarding a better way to look at the role you play in the management of our human capital assets.
    • Page5 How do I Add Value to the Relationship? (Published 12/6/12) I recently was involved in a conference call with a prospective client who was asking me whether I would be available to come speak to their office meeting about how the staff could work closer with corporate HR professionals. I got off the call and began to look back to the time in my career when I was in the external recruiter's seat and what was important to me to establish that relationship. So for what it is worth, here are my thoughts. 1. The Toyota Production System talks to us about GEMBA. It is a Japanese term for go and see. I fully realize that we are in tough economic times but it is worth the investment to take the time to go and see the client's operations. Meet face to face with both HR and the hiring managers. This is not a sales call this is a listening call. Find out exactly what their want and needs are. When I worked as a full time recruiter I had approached a Fortune 1000 corporation who loathed working with recruiters totally. I asked for a 30 minute meeting and went to his offices and met with HR and we talked about the Voice of the Customer as to what his wants and desires were. By listening to that conversation I became the only recruiter he would work with. 2. The recruiting profession does not have the greatest reputation out in the marketplace and one of the reasons is a lack of ethics. Respect that the client is paying your bills and treat them accordingly. Once again when I was working in the field, I was the VP of a firm and with the blessings of the President of the firm I sat down with the outplacement director of one of the largest Certified Public Accounting firms in the world and arranged that we would receive the name of all the staff that were not going to be offered partner as long as we did not poach the current staff from their clients. Went back to the office and explained this to an office meeting. Within a half-hour one of the banks did exactly what we said we would not do. The President of the firms comment when informed of the actions was that if you had any business ethics you did not belong working for the firm. We lost a source of good talent, a good client and a loss of reputation in the marketplace. 3. HR has a responsibility to their organization to find the right person for the right job at the right time and in the right place. As a recruiter you have the ability to assist in this goal by not weeding out talent for arbitrary reasons. Several years ago a recruiter posted on the Internet that she would not refer someone to a client who had grey hair. AH I HAVE BEEN GREY SINCE AGE 19. Nothing like implied age discrimination. While I know you want that check you also have the responsibility to let your client know when they are planning on taking action which might be deemed illegal. 4. HR has the responsibility to make it clear to recruiters what the skills are that are required for the positions but also need to make sure the recruiter understands the culture of the organization. A recent survey said that hiring managers are more likely to hire for culture fit rather than skill fit. One survey went so far as to say that they would more likely hire someone they could be friends with over whether they could do the job. 5. In #3 above we talked about the role HR has to play within the organization, but you have an equally important role and that is you need to remind your client that unless someone truly misses the bona- fide occupational qualifications rule, the goal is no to rule them out but rather to rule them in. I fully realize that you want that check but that does not mean that you should tolerate actions which may be illegal. You have a vast readily available talent pool at your disposal; don't rule out those who are in a position due to no fault of their own. 6. HR needs to be sure that the position that they are recruiting for actually exists. It is unfair to the candidates, the hiring managers, the organization the recruiter and your organizational reputation be referring individuals to organizations for no reason. Likewise recruiters should not as a rule pitch candidates to HR or a hiring manager on the hope that there is a job available. 7. I do not know how you work individually, but is never stockpiled resumes. Each and every search assignment was conducted as a clean slate. I referred to those who were in my Rolodex but I never used
    • Page5 them as the sole source of candidates. I also did not rule people out because of the status of their employment. 8. I have a business partner, Tony Alessandra, who suggests the way to success is through consultative selling. In order to add the value to the relationship the goal is for you and HR to work as equal partners in the process. Both of you will come out of it with a win-win situation.
    • Page5 Human Resources Defined: The Architect of Work (Published 6/4/12) I continually talk to clients and fellow HR professionals about how we need to change our perspective on this industry we have chosen. We can't expect to walk a different path when we try to push this is what we do on our organizations This week we received one of the best blogs we have seen recently from the HR Bartender. Today's post is that blog post in its entirety Human Resources Defined: The Architect of Work Posted: 03 Jun 2012 03:20 AM PDT Human resources is a tough profession to define. Whenever people ask me what I do and I say “human resources”, their first response is … oh, you hire people. Which is true, human resources often has responsibility in the recruitment arena. But it’s certainly not the sum and substance of the role. By far. But then, when I try to explain what HR does, it becomes this long list of things – benefits, compensation, safety, employee relations, etc. etc. People’s eyes begin to glaze over… So when I have to describe what HR does, I like to say – HR is the architect of work. Think about it. What does an architect do? They’re responsible for creating functional, safe, aesthetically pleasing, economical structures. And they get their job done by not only designing but communicating their design to clients, builders, and others. Human resources professionals are responsible for creating work that: - People will want to apply for - Pays a wage and benefits package companies can afford - Offers fulfillment to employees - Meets a need within the organization And just like some buildings change over time, well, work changes too. HR is responsible for taking a holistic approach to work and making sure any changes align with the goals of the organization. It reminds me of the funny story about someone I worked with years ago: He and his wife would go out to dinner every night. And one night they sketched out their dream home on a bar napkin. They took the bar napkin to an architect and said, “This is our dream home, draw us a blue print.” The architect looked at the napkin and asked, “Can I make one suggestion? Put a kitchen in it.” So years later, they built their dream home and, taking the architect’s suggestion, included a kitchen. They also put a sign at the kitchen entry that said “This kitchen is for resale purposes only.” Ha! So, there you go. The role of human resources is to be the architect of work. To create worthwhile jobs that people want to fulfill the company’s goals and objectives. Reprinted from HR Bartender, a friendly place to discuss workplace issues, with permission from Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP.
    • Page5 The global marketplace changed, but did your organization? (Published 4/20/12) I recently posted a blog entry entitled "open letter to the CEO" and one of the readers took me to task for posting something with a misspelling because I used the term Stakeholder instead of Shareholder. While we might be talking semantics here, I think for every organization there is tremendous potential to change the focus from shareholder to stakeholder. It encompasses a greater audience for the success of the organization. But assuming we are talking just semantics only let's look at the definitions of the two terms. According to Dictionary.com, a shareholder refers to one who holds or owns shares of a company. In essence this means that the individual or organization holds a financial interest in the organization and looks at all decisions from a return on investment perspective. Every decision that is made is from the view of the effect on the bottom line. According to Dictionary.com again, the stakeholder is a person or group that has an investment, share, or interest in the organization. So here is where I part ways with the comment writer. The global marketplace has changed. Our success as organizations is now dependent on a rapidly growing resource base for our success. The correct term in the new arena is that of stakeholder. The investment does not have to be in the form of shares of stock. Consider these stakeholders and see how they differ from shareholders: • Employees • Vendors • Customers • Community • Your industry • Your competitors • Potential talent resources • Suppliers Stakeholders look at our organizations to determine what is necessary for the organization to make them more competitive in the marketplace. We do this through our policies, our products, our customer service levels, the way we treat employees and how we treat the community in which we function every day. The stakeholder has a vested interest in the success of our organization. Unlike a shareholder, if we are not meeting their needs they can easily pick up and abandon our efforts for someone who will meet those needs. This global marketplace we are now in demands transparency with all parties to the operations from the floor person to the executive suite to the customer and vendor. It demands a new focus on what makes all better not just one segment of the equation. So next time you are reviewing the operation of your enterprise, consider broadening your focus to encompass the entire market rather than just those who have put their money where their mouth is in the form of a monetary investment within your organization. Consider that those individuals who help you make, sell and service your product are just as important as the shareholders.
    • Page5 Are you still looking at the World from a myopic point of view? (Published 4/2/12) I was in a discussion recently with an individual who I believe is destined to become a real leader within whatever organization they finally connect with. But they expressed the view that HR only meant hiring and staffing. This point hit home the point Dave Ulrich made in his book, HR Transformation. As HR professionals we can continue to take this myopic view of the world and profess that this is what we do. In our two day workshop where we teach fellow HR professionals how to implement the six sigma methodology for improving the HR space, we suggest that as HR professionals, following this view is tantamount to accepting mediocrity and the eventual dissolution of what we do as a career. It is time that we as the knowledge base of the assets that our human capital brings to the organization; we need to be involved in every step of the development of the organizational strategic planning. We are the ones that have a clear picture of the resources the organization needs to grow into this crazy global workplace we are so valiantly trying to fit into. We have definitely not gotten the message across when both managers and the general public have the deep seated view that HR is to be avoided at all costs. The unfortunate part is that we have brought it on ourselves. For some reason we can't seem to get on the right playing page. We tend to be the fireman of the organization rather than the champions for reaching the most efficient and effective organizations possible. We make the outside world wonder where we are coming from. We push the organization to be more in tune with the technological world, and then we have candidates apply on line, call them in for an interview and ask them to fill out a hard copy of what they filled out on line. We have a choice and it clearly is an important one for the organization. Is HR part of the total organization and delivering real value to the operation? Or Is HR this silo unto its own, which is the bane to everyone's existence out of touch with the world around them? In today's global workplace we are more than hiring and staffing. We are the conduit for a wide assortment of data and metrics regarding the nature of our workforce both internal and external. We have the unique position of having our fingers on the pulse of the talent marketplace and their needs. Each of these factors will in the long run determine how successful our organizations are. Which view do you have- a myopic one or a global one?
    • Page5 What is your legacy? (Published 12/27/11) On December 12 my father passed away at the age of 92 after a career that took him to the level of Vice Chairman of the Board of a Fortune 500 corporation. In thinking back over the time we had together I was presented with a picture with two sides to it. If you listen to his friends and neighbors they talked about how involved he was in the community and the business world. I can't dispute that in any fashion. Over my life he had been involved in local politics including serving on the town commission. He was greatly involved, along with my mother, in the UN Association. In his business environment he traveled over to Europe on many occasions. If I flip the coin, if you were, to the father side I get an entirely different picture. I remember very few events in school that he attended because work always came first. He overly pushed us to achieve based on his educational record. So why write this piece? I am not looking for sympathy. Rather I am suggesting that there may be a large number of parents out there who fall into the same track. Whether it is by choice or the culture of the organization they worked for, families were left for second place. The result is; are we leaving a legacy as a great business person or a great parent? Or even more important have we found a way to meld the two. Is the legacy we leave behind that we have helped the world be a better place through demonstrations of compassion for all aspects of their lives? The impetus to achieve this goal is as much the responsibility of the organization and HR as it is on the individual. We seek to get our talent engaged within our organizations, but we can't accomplish that without a balance between work and outside life. We do not prepare our children for a future in the workplace when the model they have is that the primary expectation is work. Work at the expense of the rest of our lives. So take a moment, as I have over the past several weeks and consider what legacy you are leaving behind. Think of ways how you can be of benefit to the organization and to your families at the same time. Think of ways to present the kind of model that considers the needs of the organization in balance with the needs of your offspring. The world will be a better place if you do.
    • Page5 Did you set out to be a legacy? (Published 6/12/11) Was your goal in entering the business world to leave a lasting impression on the world you entered and the world's to follow you? I would suspect that most of us dream of that state but do not realistically expect to reach it. Yesterday while looking at my daily assortment of e-mails I found the following e-mail in my inbox: Sixty-four years ago a giant was born. Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt spent his entire adult life fighting to show that it is possible to make this world a better place. We must have the honesty to see reality as it is, we must have the courage to challenge assumptions, and above all, we must use the gift of thinking. Having applied these principles to various management fields, he created the Theory of Constraints. His concepts and teachings have expanded beyond management and are being used in healthcare, education, counseling, government, agriculture and personal growth - to name a few fields using TOC. His legacy is invaluable. On June 11th, 2011 at noon, Eli Goldratt passed away at his home in Israel in company of his family and close friends. The strength and passion of Eli allowed him to spend his last days sharing and delivering his latest insights and breakthroughs to a group of people who have committed to transfer this knowledge to the TOC Community during the upcoming Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization Conference in New York. It was Eli's last wish to take TOC to the next level - truly standing on the shoulders of the Giant he is. "I smile and start to count on my fingers: One, people are good. Two, every conflict can be removed. Three, every situation, no matter how complex it initially looks, is exceedingly simple. Four, every situation can be substantially improved; even the sky is not the limit. Five, every person can reach a full life. Six, there is always a win-win solution. Shall I continue to count?" Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt 1947- 2011 I expect that Dr. Goldratt did not envision that by writing a thin business novel which is used by a large majority of the MBA programs in the country that we would reach that legacy level. Having read all five titles within the Goal series he convinced us that there was a new way to envision the problems that arise out of the way we conduct business in today's global workplace. We facilitate a two day seminar for HR professionals and Goldratt's Theory of Constraints is the kick off to the study of the material presented. So while we may all strive to be a legacy take stock of someone who had an idea, conceptualized the idea for the masses and in return left a legacy for the ages following him.
    • Page5 We need to take time to stop and smell the roses (Published 2/20/11) Warren Buffet when asked about the way things work is quoted as telling the following parable. "Let's say that it was 24 hours before you were born, and a genie appeared and said, 'What I'm going to do is let you set the rules of the society into which you will be born. You can set the economic rules and the social rules, and whatever rules you set will apply during your lifetime and your children's lifetimes.' And you'll say, 'Well, that's nice, but what's the catch?' And the genie says, 'Here's the catch. You don't know if you're going to be born rich or poor, white or black, male or female, able- bodied or infirm, intelligent or retarded.' I look at this scenario and wonder whether the politicians really get the idea. Do our members of management really get the idea? Management and members of certain political leanings have forgotten this idea. We as organizations are dependent on the contributions of our human capital. They become engaged with our organizations when they feel that we are providing the atmosphere where they can function and thrive. You as an organization need human capital that wants to come to work every day. This means you need them to have the skills, the talents, and the knowledge that is demanded by the global marketplace. This means in order for us to be competitive we need an educated populous. We need a populous that can look at a problem and critically think it through to solution. What we do not need to be doing in these times is to cut spending to education, health care, the arts and other programs that enhance the well-being of our human capital. Management and politicians ought to be required to walk in the shoes of their human talent and see what they really face in the current economic times. See what it is like to be confronted with circumstances which make them less than optimum talent. Management has to consider that their previous habits have brought on some dire scenarios for our survival and they should not demand of our officials that we know we have been wrong but don't hold us responsible so make sure that environmental regulations clean up our mistakes. We are in tough financial times but the rush to cut expenses both in society and in our organizations have to be tempered with what is right for the welfare of our human capital. We need to look at what our superstructure needs to meet their needs. Money is tight so you cut mass transit under the guise that no one will use it. You cut outlets to teach critical thinking like NPR. You cut out access to quality health care for the poor because you dislike the philosophy of the delivery vehicle. In the long run what you end up with is human talents which is unengaged, are non-contributors to society, our organizations and the world. Are we really getting the message across? (Published 11/10/09) I recently entered into a discussion with Michael Vandervort (http://www.thehumanracehorses.com) regarding the fact that we need to get across to management that HR people are the smartest people in the room. My question in return was why management doesn’t believe us. To which Michael stated that we are not telling the message loud enough. We are the ones who know how to utilize the human capital to the best advantage of the organization. The problem is that in most corporations the human capital experts --US-- are considered nothing more than an expense item. Therefore when times get tough, we all know that we are among the first ones to be cut. The goal that we need to look at is how to demonstrate in constructive ways that we have more to offer to the organization then a bottom line number. We are the ones who can identify lapses in the way people assets are assigned, utilized and developed. We are the ones who can show how to engage the workforce in the change process to make the organization stronger. So my question is how are you getting the message across to management? If you are not getting the message across, why not? What could you do differently to change the perception of what you do?
    • Page5 Human Resource Challenges-2008 (Published 9/18/08) I recently joined the HRPN group on Yahoo and I posed the question to the group as to what are the challenges they are facing every day. Their answers are interesting as to how it would affect our businesses. For your information here were the results of the survey. The challenges can be divided into four separate groups. The first challenge deals with diversity issues, including working with the various generations in the workplace, religion in the workplace and questions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and how to entice the disabled to consider joining our workforce. The second challenge covers the Human Resource operations function. Here the human resource department is concerned with workplace safety, performance improvement, Return on Investment on the human capital investment, aligning human resources with the business strategy and the protection of corporate and personal data. The third challenge involves the legal compliance questions. It covers such areas as I-9 reporting, wage and salary issues, age discrimination issues, ADA again, Family Medical Leave Act, and EEO questions. The fourth and most predominant challenge is how we get our employees engaged in the company. This area is concerned with Work/Life Balance issues, Family Medical Leave, Training and Education in the workplace, health care, recruitment and retention and the concern about the knowledge drain as seasoned workers exit the company.
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