Monday, March 6, 2017

3 Tunnels of HR Connection

As The 2017 SHRM Annual Conference grows closer, the SHRM Social Media team is continuing to analyze the SHRM Competency Model's profound effect of Leadership Development.

Today we review the second competency: Relationship Management

Last month the standard was set: Wouldn't it be better if HR could pull up to work in an Ice Cream Truck as opposed to a cop car? Today, we will help you determine what to learn @ #SHRM17 that will allow you to switch vehicles when you get back to your workplace.

Let's connect with 3 Relationship Management concepts:
1. How you connect with your colleagues
2. How you connect with your employees
3. How you connect with your vendors

We are ALL IN this together!

Next Practices
HR Professionals ask me to connect them with their colleagues every day. They want to know what other programs are out there, how they are structured, what new ideas exist and which delivery methods are emerging. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to rely on me to connect you with your peers?

Where does your network exist?

Within the four walls of your workplace? Within the city you live?

There are literally thousands of social networks driven by forward-thinking HR Professionals to whom you can have access without leaving your office.

Do you participate in NextChat ?
Do you subscribe to the HRNet ?
Do you listen to HRHappyHour ?
Are you active on Twitter following the SHRM Social Media team?

You can suffer in quiet desperation or you can build your knowledge and run with it through the hallways of your organization!

Time To Hit The Hallway!
As HR Professionals, we search for ways to connect with our employees... Should we throw a party? Should we keep candy in our offices? Should we offer outstanding perks? How do we know if our perks are outstanding?

As simple as it is to attain next practices online, it is equally easy to open your door and meet your employees where they sit.

Building trust is the result of a lifestyle choice. When you choose to close the distance between you and your employees True Engagement begins to take shape. If employees know that you are not sitting in their meeting to survey inappropriate language, you might get invited to more meetings. You need not survey your employees quarterly if you can talk to them right now. You need not communicate an open door policy if your door is always open.

HR sets an organization's cultural tone:
Let your employees know that their ideas will be heard/adopted and you'll find that complaints turn into suggestions.

When the Sales Team runs toward you (not away from you) at Happy Hour.... You are officially a Business Partner!

Vendors Are People Too....    
It's hard enough to stay up on the tricks of the HR Trade while embracing your employees. The good news is, you can always beat up on your vendors to make you feel better..... Right? Not Right!

What do you look for in an outsourced HR Partnership?

Efficiency, Improved Resources, Reliability?

You will be in an office building at 10pm. You will be on conference calls in the middle of the night. You will yell at people from the front seat of your car. You will laugh uncontrollably over a well-deserved Martini at happy hour.

... and over time, these annoying little sales people can become among your closest of friends!

We tend to beat ourselves up. The pressure of maintaining order pushes us away from building and cultivating stronger relationships. The easy thing to do is keep your door closed, stay off social media, sit by yourself at lunch and turn a blind eye when you see the sales team at Happy Hour during lunch.

The far more difficult journey for a HR Professional is to take the bold step into building trust.

... To interact!

... To present yourself as a safe harbor for the troubled!

... To know about everyone in every phase of the organization and what it takes to Engage them!

We cannot be a Resource to Human Beings if we choose to hide from the very things that make Being Human difficult.

The great news is that there is a support network that exists within the people who we are called upon to help. There are people who are dealing with everything that challenges us just a few keystrokes away. If you seek to trust and empower your outsourcers, they become Partners.... or maybe even friends?

Go Make Some Friends!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Opening Doors

The evolution of employee preference has spotlighted Emotional Intelligence where the Total Rewards Model once held court. This wave of change will seek to replace transaction with transformation. While the concept is exciting, scaling and corralling EI will be much more difficult.

We will wait for systems and their according benefits to catch up, until then, let's simplify what it means to be a person with a job (and all of the intricacies that fit in-between):

What do you love?

Where do you find it?

It's the Sunday afternoon on a bar stool when a song that reminds you of a time comes on the Jukebox. It's the walks with your dog. It's the total peace you feel when watching your kids sleep (and your desire to wake them up in that moment). It's the anguish of losing and the thrill of victory. It's laughing from the bottom of your stomach and how that warms your heart.... and seeing that girl that will change your life.... and the feeling you get when you lose a job or a relationship passes and you realize you'll be better for it.

In every day we find a passage to a thought that leads us to to something new. With every one of these experiences, we cling to something that makes better sense... and life gets better because we care enough to change.

People die...

... and people are born....

And leaves fall and then the sun starts shining again.

In-between it all, you meet new people, take on new responsibility and discard what you are helpless to control.

and you hear a song you love... and your team wins.... and life, in these fleeting moments, is freaking great!

So, we take in the complexity of what it means to be human and we attempt to qualify, quantify and create a transaction. We will never be able to capture all the complexity of being human and put it into a box. What we can do is allow people to open the next door in their path to development.


There is an old Management ethos that involves posing open ended-question for the sake of putting the employee on the spot. Apparently embarrassment is a motivator? You could also just tell people what to do and trust them to do it.

Motivation for the sake of appeasing a task master will entice people to do just enough to stay out of trouble.

People want to be left to their own devices: to make their own schedules, develop their path to success, to celebrate results and recon with their failures. Success feels great when it is shared. We know when we've messed up and we don't need to be reminded.

Doing God's Work  

"I don't care what people expect of me. Doesn't concern me. I'm doing God's work. That's all I know." - Bob Dylan

At a certain point you stop waiting for direction or asking for approval. Your experience will guide the way... you'll come to understand what not to do in spite of your failures. Collaboration is critical, Dependence is a death sentence.

You back a man into the corner long enough and sooner-or-later, he's going to come out swinging. 

When you know what you are fighting for all you have to do is develop an uncompromising work ethic. Purpose... Skill.... and Hard Work meet at a mighty cross roads known as success.

Compromise will only get you so far. Short cuts will always catch up with you. If you are not rooted in principles that you would die for, you have not yet lived. If you think you can fake it until you make it, you will never make it. There are a million unemployed Rhodes Scholars sitting on bar stools across the land sucking on silver spoons.

No one owes you anything and people will seldom give away that which can be purchased. 

You have to earn it.... over and over again!

You can wait for the door to open or you can Kick It In!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, January 19, 2017

The HR Ice Cream Truck

The Society for Human Resource Management created their competency model with the intention of solving today's most pressing people issues. This year, our blog squad is tasked with exploring the SHRM Competency Wheel. You'll get a variety of viewpoints that translate how these competencies serve workforce development.

As you survey the 9 behavioral traits of the competency model, you may question their relevance to Employee Engagement. You may also wonder how rigid competency should be in modeling workforce strategy... ? Many will fall back on modeling with little intent to waver beyond structure, others will paint outside the lines. All of the aforementioned will serve as healthy debate leading into and departing #SHRM17.

Let's start with the role Communication plays in building workforce strategy.

Ask the every day employee to share their reaction when they see an email from HR & you may receive the following feedback:
  1. Is it open enrollment again... ?
  2. Is it time for the annual employee survey again.... ?
  3. Did I forget to sign my performance evaluation.... ?
  4. Am I busted?
None of the above would sit perfectly in our desire to be viewed as the organization's Most Important Business Unit , but such is our occupational hazard.

The key to Leadership in Human Resources is converting perception from "people police" to "strategic workforce advocates". Communication is king/queen!

HR needs to make a decision:

When you roll into the room (or someones inbox for that reason) do you arrive in an Ice Cream Truck or a Cop Car?

The distinction can be the difference in pro-active leadership vs. reactive service at the complaint window.

Here are your keys to the HR Ice Cream Truck:
1. Employee Engagement
2. Leadership in the Generational Shift
3. The Bridge Between Managers & Employees

Internal Marketers of Good Will
Why do employees historically avoid HR?

One simple reason: Trust!

Instead of HR communicating an 800 number in advance of open enrollment, a secret message when a complaint is filed or legal advice to belligerent leaders; we need to position ourselves as Internal Marketers of Good Will.

What are we doing in the areas of Employee Engagement?

1. Do you have a platform that allows employees to recognize one another?

CEO's are consistently looking for ways to connect with their employees.

All they need to do is walk the floor at 6 pm on a Friday!

While the sales professionals are at happy hour, Katherine (a single mother of two) is closing out invoices to ensure they get paid. She often goes unnoticed and will not speak up because she cannot afford to lose her job.

2. Public recognition destroys silos!

Employees do not leave companies, they leave managers. Managers will always protect their talent. This helps them retain their best performers while keeping under-performers off the chopping block.

When the recognition of Katherine's after hours contribution goes public. Hidden Talent emerges:
- Introverts are exposed as potential leaders.
- Disconnected business units discover an internal talent pool.
- Those miscast might stay in-house and thrive in other roles.  

Leadership Development through Legacy Planning
Tell a 65 year old middle-manager that you would like for him to be part of a succession planning committee and you'll likely receive a letter from his lawyer.

Baby Boomers holding on to their position on the mantle will be very hesitant to relinquish their knowledge. Every person, however, will come to the realization that the finish line is near.

Ultimately, we all want to pass along what we've been protecting.

Here's where HR comes in......

Mentoring / Reserve-Mentoring / Role Shifting... whatever you want to call it.

Get your senior employees involved with new hires:
- Let them teach a course in your leadership development academy.
- Assign them to junior staff members for a monthly one hour chat.
- Allow them to bring their personal interest into the work place
(if they like to fish, give them the opportunity to take a new hire fishing).

We tend to represent Succession Planning as a changing of the guard... an effort to grab the Old Lady's insight before she departs.

To Put it Bluntly: young people want to learn and old people want to teach!

If you stop referring to employees by the generational category and the limitations of that category, they may just help one another.

The Bottom Line

HR needs to do a critical assessment:

When you receive a complaint from an employee about a manager, how do you approach the situation:

- Do you first go to the manager to warn them that the employee has a complaint (and needs to be controlled).


- Do you engage the employee to help them understand that their voice is being heard and you understand that they are making every effort to make the company better.

Tell The Truth

This area is intrinsically gray and it is the reason why Everyone Hates HR.

We are mid-stream in a time of global workforce change. Why not ride the wave, get out in front of it and show your employees that HR can surf too!

If nothing else..... Pull that Ice Cream Truck into the lot on a Friday Afternoon!

Everyone Loves Ice Cream!

- Dave Kovacovich

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Year Manifesto

2016 was not a proud year for social media. Election opinion drudge, celebrity death priority and a general lack of new ideas clouded the medium. Some of it was sad and some of it frustrating, mostly the opinions that people are free to share separated us. It seems we are more intent to prove we are right than to accept an alternate way of thinking. So, we take in words intent on dispelling them. We'll learn nothing new and will fail to evolve.

What's The Point?

2016 taught us this:
1. It is more difficult to contribute than to hide out.
2. Negativity invokes participation.
3. New ideas are exceedingly hard to come by.

Our hope to emerge from the onslaught of propaganda lies not in the attainment of knowledge for the sake of winning an argument.

We need to find central grounding in our personal mission!

It starts with reflecting on the things you have done well in your life: today, yesterday, this week, this month... last year. We must then progress to building each day's strategy based in the understanding of our peak ability while ignoring doubt.

Total awareness is grounded in acceptance that the inertia of the day is a tide you have to paddle into. Your goals will be lofty and seemingly impossible. With every positive movement against the tide we grow closer to pushing back the barriers (which may also extend the distance to the finish line).

The greatest assault to one's confidence lies in the perception that there are only one set of rules and a certain assigned group of administrators who dictate progress.

You do not need to be an anarchist to challenge authority. You need not even be a non-conformist or a rule breaker. You will, however, need to challenge each directive with two questions in mind:
a. Why does this matter to me?
b. Who's ultimate progress am I serving by devoting my effort to this directive?

We live under the misconception that there are only artist and professionals. Two distinct groups of humans, one of which allows freedom to catapult their effort another which waits for instruction to act.

The truth is that you can have a rule breaker mentality while maintaining a spot within the system. All you have to do is understand why you act, who you are serving and the according priority you assign the day's directives.

Unzip Your Soul
Each day has one certainty: PEOPLE

Indeed, there will be opinions and feelings and ulterior motives and passive aggression and ignorance and forcefulness and inaction. You'll be asked to interpret emotions without hearing words and to be aware that one's confidence may be shrouded in doubt and to see through a person's motivation.

Once you fully discover yourself, you must brave the widespread frontier filled with opinionated Cows.

When you find the ability to approach every human interaction with compassion your evolution is nearly complete.

Don't Forget to Remember
You'll need to accept new challenges, try new things, use counter-intuitive thinking, and add to your lexicon of knowledge by feeding your brain new ideas.

~ Remember your greatness
~ Challenge rule structure
~ Find your place in the system while maintaining your individuality
~ Practice empathy
~ Repeat process

It's 2017. Let's Get After It!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Top 5 - 2016

Friends -
I have been posting my top 5 albums for nearly a decade on this blog and to you via email in years prior. In 2016, it was all I could do not to post my Top 20 favorite albums. Indeed, the year past may have been the best year in the History of Music!

Kate Tempest, Frank Ocean and Banks & Steelz released hip hop albums that in equal parts dwarfed the industry heavy hitters and simply expounded the craft.

Snowglobe, AJJ, LVL UpCar Seat Headrest brought the Elephant 6 Collective into the new century.

Our old friends Nada Surf Okkervil River returned with the best work of their storied musical histories.

Joyce Manor, Modern Baseball, Weezer and The Front Bottoms proved that emo / or pop-punk / or whatever you call it is... awesome!

Radiohead put out the best record of their career... and if they are the best band ever.... this could be the Greatest Record Of All Time!

We lost so many extraordinary legends of the craft in 2016 but I will not place them into an obligatory list simply to oblige tribute... because that would make them puke in their graves.

Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2016:

5. Cardinal by Pinegrove

"... My steps keep splitting my grief through these solipsistic moods... I should call my parents when I think of them... should tell my friends when I love them ... "

My friend Bob Boilen introduced me to Pinegrove while boarding a plane back home for a friend's funeral. This album captured the moment to perfection and stuck with me all year. As a man who seldom sees his high school friends, the sentiment of this entire album is a wonderful reminder if not a sorrowful aside. Most impressive is the maturity of these young men in their lyrical craft and sonic layering. New Jersey could very well be the future of Indie Rock!

4. Kindly Now by Keaton Henson

"Those who hate Los Angeles have never been in love"

This record melts from song to song, the emotion of each pouring into the next. Songs that evoke heartbreak while shining a glimmer of hope. Piano balladry foreshadowing the subtle evocation of Henson's story telling. This record finds a calm place amid all the chaos: a person in a crowded airport feeling completely alone, someone hiding in their headphones on a busy city street, a drive out to the country to get away from it all.

A revelation. A cleansing of the soul.  

3. Ruminations by Conor Oberst

"When it came time to stand with him you scattered with the rats"

The vanguards of Indie Rock seem to be the victim of their own excellence. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, Built to Spill and The Decemberists are taken for granted. No one suffers the expectation of perfection more than the moon-faced boy from Omaha. Conor Oberst has been part of the scene in different machinations since his prepubescent years but has always found ways to evolve.

Ruminations is a collection of Piano laments that remind us of Conor Oberst's command of lyrical prose. A much needed reminder of the power of simplicity.  

2. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

"I worried 'bout rain and I worried 'bout lightning but I watched them off to the light of the morning"

It was "Woods" off of the Blood Bank EP that would take us from the cabin crooning of Skinny Love to Kayne West sampling. Today, Justin Vernon has found a way to translate the world's most-annoying studio crutch into a catapult of emotion. This algorithm to the human soul brings sparse landscape highlighted by bold shimmering lightening off in the distance. The journey from the trail gate to meadow leaves the listener wanting more, searching, pleasantly lacking appeasement.

Raw emotion packaged in auto-tune to protect the heart of the innocent bystander in headphones.    

1. Winter Wheat by John K. Samson

"Most of us probably not getting better, but not getting better... together"

Weakerthan frontman, John K. Samson has a way with words. He knows how to weave the complexity of technology through the simple landscapes of his dark, lonely Canadian home... all with a tip of the cap and a heart full of pride. His albums never seem to have a directly intended thread and his avoidance of chorus creation conveys open-road windshield provocation. Winter Wheat is a collection of short stories that touch every part of our day, week, month.... and everyone we meet in-between.

As an aside:
It was difficult not to lose faith in Humanity in 2016, amid the election and the social abuses ignited on both sides of the broken fence. Social & Popular Media were flooded with false information created to provoke hatred in an effort to divide us. It was impossible to ignore and harder not to get upset. Can it then be said that there has never been a more critical time for the influence of the arts(?)

The good news is that after all the machines are turned off and the talking heads eat themselves, we have the opportunity to vacate the grid for a short while. The according soundtrack listed above.

Thank You For Listening!

~ Dave

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

3 Pearls

Business is growing ever-complex: more vendors doing more things, shrinking company budgets, a workforce starving for opportunity and a quest to find what really matters to those you seek to recruit. There are consultants and technologies and process flows and hierarchies and interactive templates and places to be and people who want to be there.

It's All Pretty Exhausting!

So there you are in an airport bar, hanging your head in your beer, trying to understand how after two decades of professional experience you still haven't mastered your trade.

When the devices are turned off, the consultants go home and people stop telling you what you HAVE TO DO; only one thing matters:

Human Compassion!

If you reflect on the key points in your career you'll be reminded less of some mind-blowing gadget and more by advice you have received.

Having been in technology sales for nearly 20 years I am ever-surprised by humanity's inexhaustible ability to rear it's head when we need it most.

Follow me as we reflect upon the Human Stuff:

Don't Go Getting Insecure
My Boss had flown in for a major presentation. I got my suit dry cleaned, my car washed, my hair cut and shaved my pretty little face. I picked him up at the airport eager to impress. I was excited to show off how awesome I was in front of our customers.

We arrived to the appointment to discover our contact was not there....

As we walked back to the parking garage, I searched for an explanation for a circumstance that was out of my control.

When we got back in the car I offered 30 sentences deflecting blame in an effort to save face.

My boss put his hand on my shoulder and said:

"Don't Go Getting Insecure On Me"

We tend to scramble when times get tough, when our back is against the wall, when our production isn't perfect.... That's the worst thing we can do!

The minute you start doubting yourself, you empower the irrelevance of the unknown. It's a fools game!

You Are Not Going to Change Them, You Are Going to Become One of Them
The progression as far as I knew was simple: perform exceptionally well as a representative, get promoted to manger.. then director... then VP. I was more talented and more determined than anyone around me and I wasn't going to relent until I landed in the C Suite.

... I was ill-informed ...

The most-talented people didn't always get promoted & determination was often perceived as selfishness.

Happiness is not dictated by your organizational title. Some of the most-miserable people I know have high profiles and big pay checks.

When I stopped worrying about the status others assigned me, I started carving it out for myself.

You Seem Like You'd Be A Good Dad
Every morning I would get in early to chat with our Operations Manager. He had no influence on my career development, was not a vanguard for organizational advancement and would be fired a few years into my employment at company X. But he could really weave a story! We talked about PEOPLE in all the places he had been. We talked about music and movies and sports. He spoke with a voice that mirrored a journalist. He could make any topic seem worthy of pursuit and we never talked about work.

It was not the big bonus paychecks I received at the company, the onstage accolades for sales performance or the trophies that would soon gather dust in my mothers house that ended up being important. When the reality of my sweetie being pregnant arrived in our morning conversations, the man who meant nothing to my career development, told me the most important thing I needed to hear:

"I don't know where this company is going or any of the things you'll achieve in the next 50 years, but you seem like you'll be a good dad"

He was right... in so many ways!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Fishing Rod Dilemma

I never liked the phrase Employee Recognition; it just seemed to affiliate pats on the back with showing up... a benefit more than a measure for compensation, a "nice to have" more than a critical measurement of success. It should also be noted that the concept of Employee Recognition was created by fulfillment houses and "off the shelf" technology activators.

Recognition evolved into Engagement when organizations sought to understand the return on their investment in a bunch of trophies. 

The question emerged: how can we replace trinkets with platforms for skill development?

We've also learned that incenting just revenue or individual product movement can inspire manipulation while ignoring opportunity for Behavior Change.

But, there is still hope for Employee Recognition.....

Look not at what you see in the open field. Turn to the forest to identify a pathway through the trees.

More than giving a logo-ed lamp for showing up, we need to focus on three key areas:
1. Individual Development
2. Visibility of Achievement
3. Flipping the Process

The Lone Wolf
After great research Adamson & Dixon identified 5 personality types in sales professionals that amplified (or deterred) success. They found the best contributors exhibited behaviors synonymous with informing the process and collaboration. They called out reps with a "Lone Wolf" mentality as determined but not fully formed.

What if self-determination is all you need?

Any honest Manager would tell you that they seek to recruit people who require as little attention as possible. Self-sufficient and confident are key traits of The Lone Wolf. People develop the Lone Wolf mentality when they have experience, self-confidence, an extended personal network and intense solution-based knowledge.

In truth, we've overlooked the fact that the Lone Wolf could indeed be our greatest asset!

Your best reps may not want to take a trip to Hawaii, they'd rather be DOING their job than talking about doing their job.

If we can give them the tools, trust them to execute and provide self-administered tools of Recognition... everyone will be happier, more productive and less distracted by the obligatory.

Where Employee Recognition has evolved into Employee Engagement, Performance Management is the next wave in recognizing successful behavior traits.

The SCARF methodology was created to give Employees that ability to stack rank their individual preferences for advancement. These personality types range from those seeking public validation to those who simply want to be left to their own accord (there's the Lone Wolf again).

The S in SCARF stands for Status. Here, we're detecting a characteristic that directly rivals The Lone Wolf (a distinctly different, but eqaully effective, avenue for Recognition).

More than money, organizational purpose or flexibility; there are those who want to move up the ladder. Their thirst for recognition thrives in the publication of their achievement and the opportunity said publicity may create.

Commercial Insight
There was a time when sales people wore suits and attended seminars on "how to sell". Turns out, the best way to convince someone to do something is by showing them how it works and why it is important to them.

How do you know what's important to them?

Replace sales training with research!

You could reward your revenue producers with incentives on products or by revenue increase but recent case studies have revealed a danger in game less-than-fool-proof rule structures.

Its time to revisit Autonomy (see SCARF methodology).

When people are entrusted to develop expertise, they create a knowledge base that cannot boxed or sold:

  • This turns salespeople into consultants
  • Takes the commodity out of the equation
  • Creates irreplaceable value

... The concept of Commercial Insight is another from the pages of Adamson & Dixon that empowers employees to develop a path to their own Engagement.

Independence can indeed be more important than collective effort!

The challenges we set forth for ourselves can be more demanding (and therefore rewarding) than any cookie cutter corporate objective.

With Big Wins rooted in personal development, Employee Engagement becomes Employee Euphoria!

The Power of Reciprocity
If you are still struggling to understand if the intent of your effort will yield results....

Throw a Boomerang into the Wind!

Organizations have for so long been in the mindset of commanding that they may have failed to notice they get back what they give to their employees....

Good for Good & Bad for Bad!

Instead of forcing employees to buy into the mission why not let them create for themselves?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It Can Happen

It's been a strange year.......

  • The Presidential election has created bewilderment, dismay and frustration across our United States.  
  • Seems all of our heroes are dying.
  • People who influence ours lives probably shouldn't.
  • Everyone is now a cyber journalist.
So what can we do? 

Ignoring the world around us may calm our spirits temporarily but lack of information can stunt progression.  

We could consume said information with vigor and fight everyone who is less-informed.

Or.... Maybe..... 

Do you genuinely enjoy your job?
Do you surround yourself with people who make you a better human being?
What if you replaced your anger with uncompromising positivity?

It's Not "Just Work"
I remember being caught up in a mundane dispute at work to which my boss finally replied, "it's just a stupid sales job, who cares?"

I care! A Lot! ... and you should too. 

If your career lasts 40 years (which is entirely possible) you will spend 100,000 hours at work. Why spend it doing something you don't like? Or at a company with which you are not morally synchronized? Or working for a boss who does not respect you?

These are the BIG questions that we seldom ponder.... and then we die!

Yes Men (No Ma'am)!
I know people who acquaint themselves with a passive audience to validate the bravado that protects them from success. Those around them will only cheer their belligerence, they will only help fuel self-hatred and mask it as enlightenment. 

I love my wife because she reminds me that I am acting like an idiot when my better judgment takes a nap. A great boss will listen to your concerns but remind you of the task at hand. Even God will show you the err of your ways when you are ignoring life's challenges.

Never Give Up!
In life there are creative people and smart people and people who know how to command a situation. You should strive to master all these things... and commit to work your ass off! Hard work is the only human process that directly correlates to success. 

The people who have learned to work smart learned from the experience of working hard. No one ever went into anything half-ass-ed and created anything worth emulating.

Life is short and fragile and you get to a certain point where you determine what is worth fighting for. Spending your time on anything other than that which you would die for is really just meandering in the waiting room.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Employee Recognition: Picking Up The Pieces

As I enter my 10th year in the Human Capital Management space, I figured it would be beneficial to my readers to reflect on how our industry has (and has not) evolved over the last decade's time.

* The following scenarios are built on real life business engagements. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Case Study #1: A Story of Manipulation
Employee A (Let's call him Carl) had worked for Company X (let's call it Pied Piper) for a calendar year. After 3 failed endeavors at Bay Area start ups, Carl was looking for something more stable. He had a single motivating factor: MONEY!

Work at a Large Corporate Technology firm was different than the start up world: Bureaucracy was thick, rule structure was more intense and cashing out was trumped by climbing the ladder. So how could he climb the ladder?

Achieving sales results did not come as easily in an Enterprise role at a large company and Carl struggled in this first year. The results weren't there so he needed another tool to help get him promoted. Then it hit him like a lightening bolt..... his company had announced the end of the annual performance review process to be replaced with a high touch performance management system (even large corporations cannot refute common sense). The performance management process was positioned as a pro-active measure to build the internal talent pool.

Carl's bargaining chip? Employee Recognition would be leveraged as part of the Performance Management system. Carl's job was simple, he sent an email to roughly 100 colleagues asking them to participate in an experiment (he even went-so-far as to title his email "An Experiment In Human Compassion"). Carl asked each of his colleagues to send him a recognition through their peer to peer system. He offered to return the gesture. Carl was a fun guy at happy hour so getting his peers to buy-in was no problem. Within a week, Carl shot to the top of Recognition Leaderboard. This flagged him as an 'up and comer' in the system and garnered him an opportunity to apply for a Management position.

Carl was promoted to Management, 8 employees left under his reign and he was fired less than a year later.

The company lost great performers and the recognition program was tarnished.

What's worse? The company was sued by an employee who was passed over for promotion sighting leadership development as a popularity contest. (Carl's "Human Compassion" email was submitted into evidence).

Lesson Learned: Using Recognition as a Performance Lever is Dangerous Business!

Case Study #2: A Shattered Cookie Cutter
The message was simple, "we need to cut costs so any programs that are not mission-critical are to be discontinued". The CEO was very clear in her directives so the formal recognition program was removed. This program had operated with over 90% adoption for nearly 10 years (CRM adoption hovered at about 38%).

With the program removed a caveat was dangled. Keeping our employees engaged is job one so we are reconstructing programs that will streamline appreciation:

1. Employees would go to dinner with their supervisor if they qualified as a top quarterly achiever.
2. Employees who hit a tenure milestone would receive a letter from the CEO and a gift card.

When Employee A (let's call her Nancy) hit her 20 year anniversary with the company, she received a form letter from the CEO and a $250 gift card. She tested the signature on the letter but it did not smudge. Then she pulled out her i-phone to use the calculator.

$1.73 a month. That's what her contribution to the organization was worth.

She flipped over the form letter, wrote two words on the back, grabbed a picture of her kids from her desk and headed out the door.....

I QUIT          

Lesson Learned: No Recognition is Better Than Thoughtless Recognition!

Case Study #3: Leadership Jumps on the Manipulation Train 
The VP of HR sent out the annual employee survey at the tail end of the 7 paragraph diatribe. The message offered a proverbial laundry list of all of the "perks and benefits" of working at Company X. Benefits packages, non-guaranteed pay increases, company functions and education aid were all mentioned as the things that made Company X a "Great Place to Work". Mr. HR Guy included a mention of half day Fridays during the summer months if the company hit their revenue goal.

Filling out the survey was mandatory. Managers received bonuses for "5" rating across the board and were regulated for examination if any of their team dipped below last year's survey results.

The survey structure was based on the following:
1. Make the Great Place to Work list and Senior Managers receive a bonus.
2. Managers who average a "5" receive a bonus.
3. Managers who's average scores wavered were consulted by HR as to what to do to ensure employees "no longer seemed discontent".

The leader of the Human Engagement process allowed his greed to override a prime opportunity to receive feedback from the trenches. He did not receive his bonus.

Managers were subjected to adversarial relationships with employees: meeting with each of them to guess who used what comment to berate them while urging employees to keep their comments in-house.

The results of the survey were skewed. Employees who wished to stay in their managers good graces "marked 5 to survive". Those who saw through the hypocrisy of the exercise gave lower scores than they otherwise would have to mock Leadership's misunderstanding of workforce engagement!  

Lesson Learned: Surveys Are An Opportunity to Identify Areas of Improvement not a Meter for Compensation!

The Recognition industry was built by fulfillment houses who's strengths lie in purchasing & distribution. Times have caught up with them. It's 2016 and systems of feedback and leadership development are far more important to today's employee than a logo-ed lamp.

1. Companies are still investing heavy dollars in catalog-driven Service Anniversary programs (because employees still like them).
2. Performance Management has not replaced Employee Recognition.
3. Social Recognition has proven effective for a limited time if there is not a reward within the process of participating.
4. Results compensation programs are up to 100x more-invested than Recognition programs in the majority of companies.

1. Diversify budgets to create more high touch, immediate recognition opportunity
- I've beat this horse to death since 2006 and I'm not giving up.
2. Make recognition initiatives performance based.
- It's incredibly simple to program technology to reward mission critical behaviors instead of off-the-shelf catch phrases.
3. Use Social Recognition to attract employees to a platform that offers a variety of performance-based programs.
- Consolidation enhances engagement and saves significant dollars.
4. Replace revenue improvement incentives with behavior-based development programs.
- Compensating the bottom line is easy to measure and easier to manipulate. Creating programs that promote responsible behavior geared toward relationship development will strengthen long-term organizational stability and improve revenue.

I believe the Human Capital Management industry (or whatever you want to call it) has the greatest opportunity for growth of any:

- Human Resource professionals need to continue a Change Management focus.
- Vendors should shift from reward fulfillment to active behavior change consulting.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, August 26, 2016

The Future of Work

For those of you who are unaware, the Society for Human Resource Management ( #SHRM ) holds a weekly chat on Twitter. Every Wednesday over lunch we hop into interactive idea sharing of what we can do to usher change into the Corporate World. It's called #NextChat and you are free to participate in (or just troll) the conversation. I do not know of a better place for HR Professionals, Advisers & Business Partners to gather such a candid glimpse into the profession.

For over a decade, we've been tackling the Generational Life Cycle that is exercising it's inertia in the Corporate World. We've pounded our heads into the theoretical wall strewn with post it notes marking the topics of succession planning, knowledge capture and leadership development.

When I first entered the workforce, I was elated to be chosen for a Mentorship Program our company was conducting. Top Performers were to engage with V Level business leaders to have their questions answered and to be given direction. I was paired with a VP to whom I did not report for the sake of ensuring transparency and reservation of judgment. The premise was simple, the opportunity was paramount.

It Was The Greatest Opportunity of my Young Career!

... then the program started!

I got on the conference call bridge to chat with my assigned mentor, after 30 minutes of dead air, I sent him an email asking if he needed to reschedule. He never replied. A member of our HR team responded to my inquiry a few days later assuring me this person would honor their commitment next mouth. My excitement was replaced with disappointment. A month later he was kind enough to email me from his blackberry, "I'm unavailable for our call today, I've heard great things". As my peers touted the incredible insight they had gained from the program, my disengagement continued to grow. When I voiced my disappointment to my unit Vice President, she explained to me that I had to respect the fact that those in her position seldom had time for programs that didn't benefit their bottom line (those were the words used). I was encouraged to hang in there....!

What could have been the company's greatest opportunity to vitalize their internal talent pool became an example (of many) HR positioned programs that were poo poo-ed by Senior Managers.... ultimately causing a mass exodus from the company.

I've heard HR Leaders profess that they offer training, but not too much, for fear that the participants would take their skills elsewhere.

In the same way I had been failed by my mentor, many extraordinarily busy people who had dedicated their time to our Mentoring program were burned. Mentees used the opportunity to bitch about the company vision, ask questions to prove they knew the answer and to challenge every word of advice the Mentor extended.

Several years later on the aforementioned #NextChat I was able to articulate the virtue (and potential draw backs) of Mentoring Programs.

When asked how Mentoring programs have changed we need only understand how the workforce has evolved. Mentors can now benefit from interactions with up-and-coming stars as much as said aspiring leaders can from those they look up to. The opportunity for Leadership to express humility may possibly be the key to Employee Engagement across the Global Spectrum.

Where I was let down by an assigned Mentor in the past, now people can seek out advice without having to wait for it.

How Cool... to find social alignment with people you admire without waiting for an introduction.

Business Leaders who seek to control based on tenure are soon to face a certain future: Early Retirement!

If you fail to realize that leadership is an act of servitude, you never were a leader!

To deter the leadership development of the next generation is no different than keeping your child from playing baseball for fear that they might be better than you were.

Don't Forget to Remember!