Human resource management from a real world perspective
Human Resource Management
from a Real World Perspective
DBAI Collection of Social Media Interactions
DANIEL BLOOM & ASSOCIATES, INC.
Guiding Individuals and Organizations on a Journey towards greater productivity
Authored by: Daniel T. Bloom SPHR, SSBB, SCRP
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
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
• 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
Follow us on
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?
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
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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,
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?
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
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
The choice is yours, make it wisely.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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!!!
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
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
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
HR Strategic Focus Part 3: Voice of the Customer
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
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.
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
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.