Comment

The ROI of Hiring Right!

As everybody knows I have damn near an obsession with hiring hard and managing easy and other vehicles that contribute to a highly engaged work environment. Just as a refresher some of the things I include in that process are:
•    The five entitlements; clear expectations, meaningful and balanced feedback, equitable compensation, a work place that is physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe, and clarity about each employee’s purpose and goals as they relate to the business.
•    Then I add the pillars of engagement; respect, responsibility, information, fairness, and mutual loyalty.
•    I also find that managers and leaders with key skill sets like; the ability to communicate expectations clearly, strength at giving and receiving feedback constructively, diagnosing performance issues and addressing them appropriately, coaching to improve performance, and leading by example are critical dimensions.
•    Managers and leaders who understand and lead from a place of identity based trust and congruency are also key.
•    Hiring whole people, not just their knowledge, skills and abilities, but also their attributes and potential to become highly aligned with the organization.
Of late we have seen multiple studies and surveys that demonstrate that organizations that enjoy high engagement benefit from almost every critical key performance indicator we care to track and I remain resolute that building engagement into the organization is much more effective than trying to bolt it on at a later point.
To be honest I am not sure many of our hiring processes have gotten a lot better over the last few decades. We have applied technology and dumbed down the skills required to manage the recruitment and selection process, but I don’t think that algorithms have done a substantially better job of predicting success than the old methodologies.
Too many organizations still rely on first impressions and their gut reaction. In too many cases we hire for expediency rather than long term fit.
In the last couple of days I came across two separate blog posts that pointed out some information that every executive should be aware of-
•    The percentage of employees who describe themselves as highly disengaged has risen to 17% while those who are engaged has remained static
•    A recent study of 60,000 employees in 11 companies by Harvard University concluded that the cost of a bad hire that is a “jerk” is $12,489 per year, versus the benefit of a superstar at an annual benefit of $5303. The jerk costs you 2.35 times the benefit of the high achiever!
I believe that there are two ways we get jerks in the workplace. The first is we hire them. We don’t do a thorough job of vetting them and they get in the door with a predisposition to be a jerk.
The other method is more insidious, they become jerks over time typically because we don’t provide them with the elements I mentioned previously like clear expectations, constructive feedback and corrective action and we don’t take action when their performance/behavior becomes “terminal”.
Although this is important at every level, it is especially critical when we let them enter the management ranks. 
Heskett talked about this back in 1997 in his work The Service Profit Chain, back in 1997 (yep almost 20 years ago) and Rhoads and Whitlark revalidated the point in their Engagement study in 2008. To quote Pete Seeger …when will we ever learn…
My point is that this issue is eminently preventable. If we hire the right people at all levels and then we manage them appropriately the ROI is in the billions, but we need to change how we hire and how we train and reinforce appropriate management.
As has been stated previously, “your culture is defined by the worst behavior you will tolerate…and the example of the leader”
We need to do better at hiring. That means being more cautious, more deliberate, and developing and following better processes.
For candidates that means that often when you are not selected for the position it is not a function of your being unqualified or even a poor “fit”, but rather a consensus that another candidate was better.
Over the last three decades plus I have participated in the hiring and selection of literally hundreds of employees including managing the selection process for many at the executive level.
When I am managing that process if you are not an excellent candidate you don’t get presented and interviewed period. So if you are not selected it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you, we just selected someone we felt was a better match.
I can tell you that communicating with an excellent candidate who isn’t selected is one of the toughest activities I have ever done.
On the bright side those candidates often became excellent hires for other clients or even for the same client in a different role.
It isn’t going to get any easier to recruit and retain top talent. The most successful organizations will continue to manage and excel at the continuum of not only hiring the right talent, but then managing them appropriately.
Is that a competitive advantage you want to give up….?

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Employers Be Advised!

I have been seeing a few posts of late that reinforce some things that I have known and talked about for some time:
•    We don’t just acquire talent or human capital; we hire and hopefully retain whole people.
•    Contrary to everything you read Millennials are not slackers, uninterested in making a contribution, and generally the most awful generation ever…
•    All Millennials are not motivated by the same things (imagine that)
•    EVERY employer has an employment brand; some have an intentional one…
As a former human resources professional, c level executive, and management consultant I have watched the evolution of how we approach the attraction, retention, and occasionally engagement of staff for over three decades now.
I chose interesting timing (2008) to publish my first book, Managing Whole People, on my personal approach to managing talent. I say interesting because during the recession the concept of treating people respectfully, building engagement into your culture, and appreciating the return on investment of engaged versus unengaged or marginally engaged employees didn’t get a lot of traction.
I think we lost ground we had been gaining in that area for the ten years proceeding. With the unemployment numbers increasing I watched employer after employer fall back into their old habits.
The nice thing about the intervening years is that employee engagement is hardly conceptual. The studies are out, have been vetted, and clearly demonstrate the value of an engaged workforce.
There are still detractors who believe that engagement is voodoo or another fad, but the people who believe that also believe that Human Resources highest and best value is compliance and administration. Many of those detractors live and work in human resources departments. Changing your paradigm is hard…
We aren’t a whole lot better at managing talent than we were thirty five years ago when I entered the corporate world.
The problem is as employers we are facing an emerging workforce that sees themselves as equal stakeholders in the employment relationship.
They have expectations-
•    They expect meaningful work
•    They expect their employer to partner with them in developing their portfolio of skills
•    They interpret loyalty the same way employers do, talk is cheap action is clear
I have to say I continue to be amused when I hear employers who used the recession as leverage to defer pay increases and hiring, reduce workforces, and off shore and outsource whine about how employees just aren’t loyal. Some of them even manage it with a straight face…
Todays’ employees, especially Millennials seem to have embraced some pretty interesting ideas promoted by several of my favorite pundits-
From Malcolm Gladwell they have embraced legitimacy-
Those whom are governed have a voice in the process; their input is sought and heard.
•    There is a dimension of predictability and consistency in the application of the law or standards.
•    The application of the law or standard has to be administered fairly and objectively, you can’t   have disparate treatment without a clear and compelling reason.
From Stephen MR Covey they operate from an advanced interpretation and expectations around trust-
In his hierarchy the first level of trust is deterrence, trust that comes from authority or position. This was a broadly accepted concept for hundreds of years provided first to rulers or religious leaders and embedded in Calvinism that God only allowed “good” people to create wealth and prosper so they were endowed with that trust.
The next level of trust Covey calls competency based. In many cases there is an assumption that anyone who achieves a management role has that competence, but we all know better. In most cases their competency is limited to technical proficiency; their emotional intelligence capacity and social intelligence are rarely considered.
The highest level of trust in Covey’s hierarchy is identity based trust which incorporates both your competency and you character as demonstrated by your applied values and behavior to create credibility.
I personally believe (and Millennials seem to agree) that to a large extent leadership as opposed to management is founded in legitimacy. Leadership is entirely relational versus hierarchical, it was be earned rather than bestowed with a title or position.
This is a new paradigm for us old timers…
The other issue we must face is that the new workforce doesn’t rely on us to validate our employment brand, our work environment and how we treat our employee stakeholders.
Social media has provided them with a platform to research and validate or invalidate everything we say about ourselves.
Here’s a tip, if you think your website and recruiting brochures are your employment brand you are in deep shit.
 If you think you don’t need to proactively manage your employment brand you are deluding yourself.
The competition for talent, especially experienced talent is increasing not decreasing. The Department of Labor estimates that employee turnover costs the U.S. economy over $200 billion annually.
Having a great employment brand is not going to guarantee that people stay forever, but it will help you attract the right people and have former employees promote you as a great place to work.
So two things to remember-
•    Millennials represent the largest  emerging sector of the workforce
•    They see things differently…

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

So Which Are You?

The recent post on LI discussing the two primary varieties of manager/leaders, multipliers and diminishers really cut to the chase of much is wrong with our current leadership models.

There were probably at least three or four other articles ranging from perplexed to angry about why we are not seeing more organizations proactively embracing employee engagement given that the data is in and leaves no doubt as to the performance of aligned versus unaligned contributors.

Just today Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford took his part time colleague Joel Peterson to the woodshed for describing a leadership culture that Pfeffer says there is clear evidence doesn’t exist in the business environment today.

Since I subscribe to the theory of Most Positive Interpretation in gauging the actions of others I see Peterson as describing what could or should be, not a Pollyanna description of what is in fact happening.

We have made very little meaningful progress in climbing the engagement curve over the last ten years. Part of it was I believe the recession which allowed a lot of organizations to slip back into bad habits as unemployment increased and they could be more selective.

Part of it is we still are fully deploying the implementation of new leadership models on our training and graduate schools. We still have a pronounced bias towards managing human capital rather than people.

I get it. Managing people is hard. You have to do the work. Just yesterday in an advanced leadership program I am teaching one of the participants announced “I am starting to get that this coaching thing is really important, but Christ it is hard work!”

Coaching is about being a multiplier, the idea that employees singularly and in groups have tremendous additional potential and that you can tap into by asking questions rather than giving directions and providing autonomy rather than being overly structured.

My colleague Ryan Estis published a great post that reinforces this idea with four simple steps to create a high performing culture and personal accountability:

·         Set Clear Expectations

·         Check In Frequently and Give Feedback

·         Lead by Example (this is what Pfeffer was talking about)

·         Be Consistent which means fair

There a zillion different leadership models out there for the newbie to become perplexed by so I really like the idea of breaking it down to two- do you multiply or diminish?

What do you think….?

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

How Far Have We Slipped....?

I just spent a little bit better than a week on a road trip/vacation to the Southwest. I used a lot of my time there to think about the last few years and what has transpired since I published my first book in 2008.
My book was kind of a journal about my experiences as a human resources practitioner, executive, and consultant and why I thought there were way better models for the employer/employee relationship that we now refer to almost ubiquitously as employee engagement.
When I look back now somewhat wryly I think my timing could have been a little better.
When I started my career in the late seventies in a field then called Personnel one of the things that was very prevalent was the desire for employers who did not have union representation to remain unorganized.
We weren’t so gauche as to call it union avoidance; we referred to it as Positive Employee Relations.
It was taken pretty seriously, in fact at my employer there was an expectation that in the event your location was subjected to a representation election you were expected to submit your resignation, the outcome of the election determined whether or not that resignation would be accepted or not.
As things progressed we expanded the framework of our thinking to include creating an environment where our employees didn’t perceive a need to seek intervention from any third party. Our list of third parties was pretty extensive; it included plaintiff’s attorneys, government agencies, and special interest groups. Way beyond just unions.
The idea wasn’t punitive; it was to create alignment between ourselves and our employees.
That concept has stayed with me over three decades. When faced with the age old argument of who does HR represent my position has always been that we are there to create a bridge, a win-win environment.
The eighties and nineties saw the proliferation of things like the total quality movement, the beginnings or lean and other models that had some form of collaboration in the mix.
Unfortunately we also saw outsourcing, right sizing, and a fundamental change in the relationship between employers and their employees. This was the age where the concept of human capital took hold. Employees were assets to be deployed.
Competition and other factors caused some forward progress as employers had to compete for talent in the first decade of the new millennium, but the recession changed a lot of that. We slipped back to a lot of bad habits.
I think it is important that the human capital era coincides to an extent to when Gen X and the Millennials were growing up. They saw a model of a relationship between employers and employed that wasn’t terribly positive and they filed it away.
They understand the true concept of employment at will; that the intent is that relationship is balanced. They also snicker at the idea of lifetime employment and the traditional view of loyalty that employers still want to complain about.
Collective bargaining, the right of employees to join together to negotiate areas like wages, hours, and working conditions, has taken a pretty good beating over the past few decades.
I vastly prefer an environment where I am free to discuss these issues directly with my employees rather than through an intermediary, but I also aspire to the model where they perceive that third party intervention as unnecessary.
My colleague, Brad Federman published a post this morning about recent actions on the part of the National Labor Relations Board that give employers less time to react in the event they become aware that their employees are potentially seeking to join a union and bargain collectively. He points out as I do that your best defense should be an engaged workforce rather than a clever pre-election campaign.
We have some things in our favor. Millennials tend to be pretty independent. I am not sure they are going to be any more inclined to surrender their autonomy to a third party to negotiate on their behalf than they are to trust their employer blindly.
That being said there are sectors where unionization is making some inroads.
Unless you have been living in a cage the merits of an engaged and aligned workforce are pretty clear and pretty well documented. Creating an engagement culture is a process not an event and to my mind it is simple, but not easy.
Employees who are aligned with your values, your culture, and who feel valued are unlikely to feel the need to go to someone else to get that for them.
The majority of human resource practitioners would tell you that compliance with the myriad of regulations and laws that govern the employment relationship is their main priority- as you might suspect I disagree.
If you are doing the right things proactively you are playing win-win, not win–lose…..

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Who Is Rowing Your Canoe?

I just had a chance to read a post on LinkedIn mentioning that Executive Search firms have lengthened the time they are willing to commit to in identifying candidates and that gasp, the search process in general is taking longer.

My reaction is Thank you God, maybe we will get better at it!

Continue Reading...

Comment

Back >

Comment

The Third C

As many of you know a few years back as part of my efforts to promote employee engagement  a few years back I created a management model that I called moving from little c to Big C or from compliance to Commitment.
I have always maintained that commitment or engagement is much more about alignment than more esoteric things like happiness or morale.
There has also been a debate for generations about the importance of compensation as a motivating factor in the employment relationship. Many HR practitioners, myself included believe that compensation is really a break even proposition. If you do it well you break even and people don’t leave your company for that reason, if you do it poorly you give them either a reason to look or a socially acceptable reason to pursue other employment.
This causes me to identify the third C in the engagement journey- communicating about compensation.
It has been my position for quite some time that having a compensation model that is understood and seen as fair and equitable in its treatment of employees is much more important than technically elegant compensation models. Employees also seem to be increasingly inclined to desire input about their performance and pay related decisions from a broader base of input than the traditional direct supervisor model.
To support that perspective I go back first pre- Recession to a study done by international compensation consulting firm Sibson and Company surveying several thousand employees in multiple sectors that reached some interesting conclusions-
•    While a significant majority of employees surveyed 65% indicated they were satisfied with their pay level (their salary range compared to other positions) and 71% indicated they were satisfied with their current pay, 57% of the employees surveyed indicated that they were dissatisfied with the way their employer awarded pay. For the purpose of this study process means the determination of individual pay increases, promotion decisions, and progress through the pay structure.
•    16% of the employees also indicated that they were highly likely to leave their current employer, with compensation being part of the reason they were looking.
•    The study showed little to know difference between the perceptions of generations.
So let’s fast forward to 2015 and a study conducted by PayScale of 71,000 employees looking for a link between compensation and employee engagement which yielded some interesting perspectives-
•    The study concluded that one of the top predictors of employee’s potential to be engaged was the organization’s ability to communicate clearly about compensation. It was in fact identified as more important than career advancement, and employer appreciation.
•    Many employees perception of pay doesn’t reflect reality, in fact two thirds of those surveyed who were being paid market rate perceived themselves to be underpaid.
•    The perception of under paid translates into potential action, 60% of employees who believed themselves to be underpaid also indicated an intent to seek other employment.
•    The communication loop is critical. The study indicated that when employers who pay lower than market communicate clearly about the reasons that 82% of the affected employees still felt satisfied with their work and employer.
•    The issue becomes more pronounced with more highly compensated employees and women are more likely to perceive themselves as being underpaid relative to men even when they are compensated at or above market.
For me these findings validate two beliefs I have held for a long time-
•    The idea of “equity” in terms of perceived fairness and the rationality with which pay is delivered is equal to or higher in importance to the rate itself once you advance above “living wage” thresholds.
•    Having a compensation model that is understood and seen as fair and equitable in its treatment of employees is much more important than technically elegant compensation models.
Let’s be candid most compensation delivery systems are designed by human resources professionals (or worse yet consultants) for other human resources professionals. It is an arcane language that we whisper about in our own secret language. Information is usually only shared with line managers on a “need to know” basis. And bluntly managers often hide behind this in having conversations with employees, especially when there is a difference between employee expectations and pay delivery.
I want to be clear about what I am not recommending here.
I am not recommending that paying below market, but having a great “story” is a good long term approach.
I am saying that being prepared to discuss how you make decisions around pay is a critical process. Included in that discussion needs to be how you define your markets and target your delivery against those markets and just as importantly how we make decisions about individual pay. Everyone doesn’t perform at the same level, but we need to communicate what represents above, at, and below our expectations and how that correlates to compensation.
This is where alignment comes in. If we are truthful we pay people because we have to, not because of our benevolent streak. If we aren’t creating that line of sight we are leaving significant leverage on the table.
Communicating about compensation is a management activity not a human resources activity! Human resources should provide the technical expertise to track markets and recommend strategy, but delivery belongs with the manager.
The amount of information, some of it less than accurate that employees have access to shapes their perceptions, especially in the absence of a clear message from the employer.
So at the end of the day here are the things I want you to take away-
•    Engagement and commitment are superior to compliance
•    Engagement only happens with clear line of sight and that is the key purpose of management and leadership
•    Pay is important. Communicating about pay is critical……

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

Where Have All The Flowers Gone....

I am probably dating myself a bit by borrowing that line from the classic Peter Seeger tune, but I find myself asking that question over and over again, and what I read almost daily from top executives about their search for talent the metaphor seems appropriate.


The they I am referring to are the leaders and managers who still don’t seem to get it. As most anyone who has read any of my stuff knows I have committed my career to building and reinforcing new models of how organizations and people work together.


You can call it an employment relationship, a social contract, or whatever you choose; but what I am referring to is the relationship between employers and employed.
Employee engagement, the level of alignment between individual employee efforts and goals and organizational goals and objectives remains without question one of the most powerful and significant opportunities to improve organizational performance across every key performance indicator.
I am not speaking speculatively; the correlation between those things has been well established by the Society for Human Resources Management, the Gallup organization, and numerous other academic research organizations and professional consulting firms. We still do it as a society fairly poorly, with the number of employees describing themselves as highly engaged ranging around thirty percent in the U.S.
Organizations in large part took a hiatus from focusing on improving employee engagement during the recentrecession because with relatively high unemployment they didn’t feel they needed to attend to it to attract or keep the talent they sought. Now that the economy is starting to pick up you hear employers whining again about the difficulty of finding and keeping the talent they seek.


Here is a tip – highly engaged organizations don’t have that issue. That is one of the myriad of reasons they outperform their competition.
I had a chance to re-read Joel Peterson’s blog posts with two installments on building a high trust culture and it still really resonated with me. Step two for Joel is investing in respect.
Joel is the Board Chair of JetBlue Airlines, a graduate of Harvard B school and a guest instructor at the Stanford B School so he has some street cred…
As he describes it - Respect is, in some sense, the currency of trust – the way it’s exchanged and circulated among people.


That idea particularly resonates with me.
A number of years ago I created my own model of creating and sustaining employee engagement; I call it moving from compliance to Commitment, or little c to Big C.


My model has five elements: Respect, Responsibility, Information, Rewards, and Loyalty
 
Somewhat self servingly you can see why Joel’s pillars speak to me. Respect is the most foundational of the elements to me. Without respect all of the others fail.


Every person that we interact with has an absolute entitlement for our respect for their personhood. It doesn’t mean we have to accept at face value their talents, abilities, or authority; but we owe them respect for their personhood.
I often tell both employees and new managers that you need to respect each person and in hierarchical organizations you need to at least initially respect the position or office.
In this way this is similar to the first level of trust, deterrence, the trust that comes with formal authority.

The second level of trust or respect is knowledge based, this is the trust we receive (or more importantly earn) based on things like education, qualifications, perceived competency.
The third and in my opinion highest level of trust is identity based. This trust comes from intimacy, credibility, and mutual investment. This trust and respect is highly personal and can only be earned and given. It doesn’t come from credentials or position.
We don’t talk much about trust and respect in this kind of language. I have met many managers and leaders who inappropriately assume an entitlement to the highest level of trust based on the first two.


I differentiate leaders because again in my opinion an organization can appoint you a manager, but leadership comes from others who voluntarily accept your guidance and agree to follow your direction.
I also believe passionately in the concept of personal competence as it relates to respect. Personal competence means that we each own the responsibility to engage, to provide our best efforts, and to contribute fully to the best of our ability.
In return our employers and colleagues have a responsibility to set clear expectations, give constructive feedback, and a clear line of sight between our own objectives and goals and that of the organization.


With respect comes personal accountability and responsibility. If you are given the right tools, the right direction, and the right feedback it is incumbent upon you to do the work.
If someone can’t or won’t do the work and meet expectations I find it disrespectful to continue to leave them in a role they are not performing.
The reason I ask whether we will ever learn is that the majority of human resource professionals and their internal clients would tell you that the most important role they perform is compliance.


That sounds a lot like deterrence to me. It is about the rules. It is about systems and procedures and policies, not about relationships and character and credibility and trust.
As a former human resources executive I remain a proponent of the concept of employment at will, which at its most simplistic form is the legal standard that says that either party to the employment relationship can choose to end it without jumping through a number of hoops.
I temper that with a sense of fairness, that says it is important to me that we balance that transactional concept with the relational guidelines of respect, fairness, clear expectations, constructive feedback, and corrective action.


If you read almost anything about leadership or organizational relationships you are very likely to encounter discussion about loyalty. Employers especially like to talk about their expectation of loyalty from their employees. To me loyalty is relational and mutual, not transactional.
Rigidly embracing the concept of employment at will is not a relational employment model, it is purely transactional. Not a basis for engagement.


I am a much bigger fan of an employment relationship based on Congruency which looks for alignment between employees and organizations on these levels:
•    View of the activity
•    View of my ability to do the activity
•    The relationship between values and the activity
•    Commitment to do the “work”
•    Belief in the product or service
When you build things into your model you have a relationship, not a series of transactions.
I write this at this particular time because two very fine young people I know and care about both ended their relationship with their employers.


Those beginnings and endings happen, but both were handled so poorly that it was a reminder of how far we have to go.


So I leave you with this:
•    Listen to Joel- respect really is the currency of trust.
•    Goal for identity based trust. Yes it is more work, but 30+ years of experience assures me you will never have true engagement without it.
•    Commitment is always better than compliance, period.
•    Add congruency to your must haves when you hire, it is much easier to build it in than bolt it on.
•    Never ever forget that respect for a person’s identity is an absolute entitlement. You may have to terminate the performance; you don’t have to take their dignity.

Hope you enjoy the clip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LZ2R2zW2Yc

 

 

Comment

Back >

Comment

When Technology Becomes A Barrier!

We love our technology. I will freely admit that my dependence on things like my smartphone, email, etc. only increase on a daily basis. They make capturing and disseminating information so much faster and more efficient. They inform, entertain and frankly sometimes just annoy me.

When does technology go wrong, when it gets in the way of having a meaningful interaction with people!

I am an HR dinosaur. Who am I bullshitting I am beyond that, when I started in the profession they called it Personnel. For those of you that don’t remember that meant we treated people even more impersonally than now when we call them human capital.

Then we evolved to employee relations, which was HR speak for union avoidance. In the eighties we began hearing about human resources, but I am not sure the attitude significantly changed; Frederick W Taylor’s theories about scientific management were alive and well.

 In fact the accountants got in the act in the eighties when it was discovered that activities like outsourcing and right sizing were discovered to be good for the corporate bottom line once you got past walking back all the promises about employment security and the concept of human capital was born.

In the nineties a few companies caught on that really good talent isn’t human capital and that identifying, attracting, and retaining top performers was really good for business. We just struggled and continue to struggle with how to identify these people and get them in the door and so applicant tracking systems came into being.

Applicant tracking systems are not without value, especially as there has evolved more and more regulation about how we hire, reward, and promote. There have been some downsides however:

·         The art and science of recruiting has been dumbed down. I happen to believe that highly effective recruiters whether they are on your staff or hired specialists have enormous value in helping you identify the attributes and skills of top performers in both current employees and applicants. The new systems in many cases believe, I have an app for that! We just load a formula into the computer and it does that pesky work of screening. Therefore the role of recruiting can be delegated to more junior people who manage the process.

 

·         Recruitment and selection has become much more impersonal. I have a client who is seriously considering walking away from an organization she feels could be a great fit and who has demonstrated an interest in her because a glitch in their system continues to demand she complete a supplemental questionnaire she has already completed…twice. You can’t pick up a publication without reading about an applicant’s experience with a hiring organization where they applied, were interviewed or both and never heard from the organization again. Current applicants are often potential future hires, customers, or know a great hire, but we turn them off.

 

Social media has added some interesting complexities to the employment relationship as well. Not the least of which is who is accountable for and controls your employment brand? I won’t go on one of my usual lengthy explanations about what your employment brand is and how you manage it, but I will make some key points:

·         Every organization has an employment brand. It is how employee/customers perceive you as a place to work and form a relationship with you.

 

·         Really smart employers are deliberate about their employment brand and manage it proactively. It is why some employers have lines out the door at job fairs or get swamped by applicants and your recruiters are treated like they have an infectious disease and your ads don’t yield qualified applicants. They have a great employment brand and yours sucks!

 

·         You can Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blog your ass off and if you have a lousy employment brand it doesn’t matter, applicants will find out and avoid you. If you have never heard of Glassdoor or similar sites replace your HR department, now.

 

·         Your employment brand doesn’t live in HR or Marketing it is owned and distributed by your employees and customers. Can you manage it yes, but you have to do the work. Great share from David Zinger today on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/employee-engagement-david-zinger?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share.  His point is you have to do the work not pretend to do the work.

 

Technology has also aided and supported the hopelessly outdated idea that our leadership are ok, they aren’t they still suck.

I read posts everyday about how to manage Millennials, how women are genetically better leaders than men and lately how men have conquered the market on incompetent leaders who have been promoted. I personally think they are mostly bullshit.

Our current leadership models are largely based on entitlement emerging from either deterrence (I have power and authority) or competency (knowledge based, I am certified, bona -fied, or whatever). Every profession is running about garnering certifications of what type or another.

Real leadership requires we evolve to identity based trust (shared experiences and shared ideas) and there is no certification or technology which creates that. You have to do the work

In HR what has become increasingly alarming is that the profession seems increasingly invested in compliance rather than engagement and scrambling to increase their credibility through certification programs that validate competency rather than identity.

I want to go all the way back to my original point and that is technology is not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is in our culture technology has usually been used or perceived to be used against people rather than with them. I don’t think I have ever been involved with a major technology initiative where the CFO didn’t lean over and ask “what efficiencies will we garner” which is code for how many positions can we reduce.

Technology offers us great opportunities to gather, analyze, and disseminate information to support our broader intentions and goals.  Let’s just take a page from Rosabeth Moss Kantor’s observation about change,   “Change is an opportunity when done with me, and a threat when done to me”, and look at how technology can facilitate trust….

Comment

Back >

Comment

Why I Manage Whole People!

A recent conversation with one of my associates reminded me again why I encourage leaders to hire and manage whole people and how far we have to go.

She had just finished a fairly massive training roll out for a client that wasn’t experience the engagement and productivity they were hoping for after rolling out self -directed teams a while back. As she shared the comments from her various cohorts some personal truths came back to me.

continue reading

Comment

Back >

Comment

Navigating True North

A client recently sent me an article describing a new book published by Craig Wilson, formerly of Patagonia that piqued my interest. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes-

"Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships."

        Charles Simic

Continue Reading...

Comment

Back >

Comment

Is Employee Engagement Dead?

I just read another blog post tolling the death of employee engagement. Although I don’t agree that the concept is dead or we should move on I do agree that like with many other strategies in many cases we are seeing systemic failure between conceptualizing the strategy and its execution.
So I have a couple of premises that have worked for me in creating and sustaining engagement:
* Engagement is about alignment between individual goals, values, and interests and those of the organization. That requires that you build it into your recruitment, selection, and performance management processes. A semi-annual survey isn’t going to build it or sustain it....

Continue reading

Comment

Back >

Comment

Employee Engagement- An Epic HR Fail?

Imagine a company where employees come to work engaged, determined and committed to support the goals of the organization (physically, psychologically, and emotionally).  95% of the time this is the case when an employee starts working for you; before things get in the way of their enthusiastic engagement. What gets in the way?
•    Unclear expectations
•    A variance in what the employee is doing and what we want them to do
•    Lack of appropriate preparation and/or training
•    Poor management
•    A lack of alignment between the employee’s personal values and goals, and the organization’s values and goals (real or perceived)
The list can go on and on.  As employees disengage, their enthusiasm is muted under the weight of uncertainty, procedures and compliance.  The important point is to understand that the desire to engage exists, but we as leaders and managers maintain a culture that disengages employees.  The good news is that we are just as capable of creating a culture to reengage them, through respect, responsibility, information, rewards & loyalty.  I refer to this transition from disengagement to engagement as moving from compliance to Commitment®.

Continue reading

Comment

Back >

Comment

Building an Engagement Based Organization

As a former C level operational and human resources executive and current management consultant I have long believed that the current relationship model between employer and employed is outmoded and needs to be changed. I am by no means alone, nor is this idea a new one.

"Companies have a hard time distinguishing between the cost of paying people and the value of investing in them"
-Thomas A Stewart
1948


Continue Reading....

Comment

Back >

Comment

The Changing Role of Human Resources

A little over three decades ago as a young undergraduate I made a decision to pursue a career in what at that time was called Personnel Management. Unlike many of my peers it was a cognitive decision. I believed that there was something fundamentally flawed in how we viewed the relationship between employers and employed.

Candidly my academic advisors weren’t terribly supportive. They encouraged me to have a backup plan in case I wasn’t able to find meaningful employment. I took their advice and dual specialized in an emerging field called Materials Management. Interesting enough many of the concepts I was exposed to from that discipline have served me well over my career as a human resources and operating executive and management consultant.

Continued Reading...

Comment

Back >

Comment

Getting The Performance You Want

At the end of the day I believe this is the objective that every manager in every organization is most interested in meeting and exceeding. It is also one that even a couple hundred years in the process of employer and employed we do badly.

You can’t pick up a business journal without encountering something on this topic. The latest thinking is that traditional performance assessment is useless and should be thrown out.

I don’t disagree, but it leaves us with a gap...

Continue Reading...

Comment

Back >

Comment

Are You Willing To Stand Under the Arch?

The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.”
– Michael Armstrong


As all of you know I write a great deal about management and leadership, especially from the perspective of leadership as a gift rather than entitlement.

I saw an excellent blog post this morning that mentioned the fact that although US companies have spent literally billions on engagement programs we have made very little progress on creating environments where employees are truly engaged. The most recent Gallup studies indicate nearly 74% of American workers are either minimally engaged or actively disengaged.

I am not going to rant again about the literally billions of productivity and human losses that number represents, but suffice it to say it is there.

I think in many cases we have an accountability vacuum in our society in corporate and especially in government.

Continued Reading...

Comment

Back >

Comment

What Is Your Value Proposition

I have occasion to come into contact with a number of not for profit organizations on a regular basis ranging from very large organizations like education and health care providers to local service providers with a much narrower focus.

I use the term not for profit as opposed to non-profit very deliberately. The point that I try to make with these organizations is that profit at its most basic is the amount of revenue that exceeds expenses and there is nothing fundamentally immoral or amoral about how that excess is distributed.

I find that the idea that an organization should goal for and achieve solvency on a regular basis doesn’t always make me very popular. The idea that the organization should be held accountable to have a clear and compelling reason that it exists and perform its services in an efficient manner is seen by many as an elitist or purely capitalistic viewpoint. I disagree.

Continue Reading...

Comment

Back >