Friday, April 12, 2019

The Final Four

It's that time of year when High Schoolers move along to College and College Kids turn into pros and those who have earned their stripes move on to their second job while newly unemployed 55 year olds try to figure out how to re-create themselves.

Many of us who consult on workforce strategy have been appalled by the Generational Stereotyping that has unfairly categorized Millennials for the last ten years. As Generation Z enter the spotlight hopefully their moms and dads won't try to put them into buckets so as to preserve their own influence.

What A Mess!

My heart hurts when I talk to young people who are motivated but aren't sure where to put their energy. It is equally heart-breaking talking to AARP members who are faced with writing a resume for the first time in their lives.

The process is simple..... whether you are a High School grad looking for work or a former CEO who has come down to earth, you need only know (or remember) 4 things:

Be Willing To Start at The Bottom
I am astonished by people making career moves who are unwilling to get their foot in the door before they are granted the throne. If an organization doesn't have a management position open but are willing to give you a job, there are two options:

1. Stay unemployed
2. Dive In, Figure It Out, Do The Work & Prove Your Qualification

Be The First to Arrive and the Last to Leave
In the HR world we bicker over the relevance of work from home opportunity. Simply stated, people who are great at what they do, do not need a coach.

Trusting a recent college grad to excel under formless leadership is probably unrealistic. Asking a 20 year workforce veteran to report to an office every day is equally mislead. 

Master Your Knowledge
Nothing is more impressive than people who know what their product does, how it solves problems and why that matters... especially those who don't have to.

When I started my career in sales, I thought having the gift of gab was the most important thing..... I now know it is the least important thing.

Celebrate Vulunerability
I know many 70 year olds who know everything.... or so they think. I've also helped 100's of 20 somethings to form their life roadmap.

You can give advice from a position of power but how much of that advice is rooted in making sure your competition doesn't catch up to you?

There is nothing more rewarding in this world than helping grasshoppers become ninjas.

If you think tenure drives status, you've never achieved status. There is certainty in nothing. Every day is a new challenge. Every day is your first day on the job.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, April 5, 2019

Yet Realized Workforce Trends

I've been a member of the SHRM Blog Squad for the last 7 SHRM Annual Conferences. Many of the original members of our #HRTribe have moved on to different roles while others continue to brave the bloggers lounge. My intent at any SHRM Annual Conference is fairly straight-forward... find new ideas and figure out how they can be implemented into workforce culture.

Even the most-innovative of Human Resource Professionals have an occupational responsibility to carefully look through the workforce programming lens. Simply put, sponsoring an initiative comes with the appropriate amount of research, testing and proof. As one who watches the workforce develop from a cliff on the hill, there are things I was certain would gather traction that remain unproven.

I was blown away when reading how Jason Stirman had created a program for performance management at Medium. His parameters were two-fold: get rid of managers and scale to employee preference. It was a fresh approach from a young man in the trenches who knew how to turn an idea into a company.

It failed.

Since Stirman's experiment at Medium, Zappos (the once-benchmark for cultural excellence) has gone all-in on Holacracy.... and received their fair share of criticism.

Is it simply too hard for organizations to grasp life without hierarchy to guide progress?


Is adaption to change turning cool ideas into very real chores that don't pay off? 

While Zappos continues to navigate project clusters, Stirman's second contribution to Medium seems to have gathered greater momentum.

The SCARF methodology empowers employees to stack rank their own path to progress. In this system, employees identify five different soft skill functions that are most/least important to them. We all know that management takes two distinct paths:

1. Group Talk
2. Individual Consulting

A manager is then tasked with promoting an overall team mission while supporting individual progress. It's a complex way to marry big ideas with psychology. SCARF may not have cemented it's 5 pillars in performance management but it is a way for any manager with a pen and a napkin to level-set individual goals.

Centralized User Experience 
The third act in our "yet-to-be" showcase, seems closest to reality.

Human Resources serve a technology function. Like it or not, if you are unable to systematically implement theory into practice, you might not be fulfilling your job rec.

The HR Tech space asks humans and robots to arm wrestle.... an unenviable dilemma.

Such is our dissolution, to stop being the policy police and become an engagement function that requires an acute understanding of consultation to breed a roadmap for progress.

It is 2019 and if Human Resources is to be relegated to policy as permission, we'll have no organizational impact other than to observe what didn't work.

As your #SHRM19 adventure begins, be mindful of one ever-present question:

Where Do We Go From Here?


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Happy Birthday Marley

Hey Mar -
I'll start by apologizing for this post now that this thing called social media is readily available to you (and your friends).

I've been writing these letters to you every year in case one day you might need to remember how much your Dad loves you. I know you think I'm annoying right now but some day you might miss me.... and you can revisit this post without having to call me.

I got really lucky in life. Your Grandma and Grandpa taught me to be a Gentleman, to work hard and to stick up for myself. You may not realize it now but having a supportive family provides the groundwork for everything you seek to achieve in life. Your Mom and I want you to develop a sense of self that will carry you through life when you are no longer within the length of our arms. Some times you have to do the hard things to make your life easier. You'll understand some day soon.

My favorite thing in life is watching The Office with you. That show is so great because it reveals the subtle reality of life's structure. There is only one feeling better than laughing until you can't breathe.... it is the way your heart feels like a warm-lit-fire when you are in love. All the characters in that show are silly and their daily conundrums are insignificant but the conclusion of every act in based in LOVE: the love you have for your friends, your family, and the people with whom you come to share your life.

So now you are 11. The great news is that the hard part is over. There are those who will struggle through teen age years and early adulthood, but you will not! You already know who you are. Sure, you'll run into the parts of life that are unfair. People who don't deserve things take shortcuts, adults act like children and (unfortunately) good people die.

The great news is: every single day is a new adventure! There isn't a single day that will come and go in your life when you cannot achieve something that will change the world. You should strive to change the world every day! Don't ever devote your time to anyone who does not believe the aforementioned statement.

You will achieve extraordinary things in life but some of the best days are those when nothing much happens at all.... and you hear some great music and the sun hits your forehead.

If you are reading this years from now just know that there has never been a second in your life when you have not been cherished by your Dad.

You are surrounded by privilege and there is a responsibility that comes along with that. You'll get a little nervous before certain pivotal events in your life, that's just part of being alive. You'll also get through your challenges and emerge from each of them a little smarter and a little stronger. Challenge yourself every day!

You've got a great group of friends. Your teachers are fantastic. The coaches you have had have all been fantastic (especially me).

Today is a day to celebrate YOU! You should celebrate YOU every day, but remember to celebrate others more than you celebrate yourself. WE is more important than ME!

I'll get older and fatter and more annoying and I'll always love you! 

I could not be more proud of you! Keep Being You!



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Recognizing Red Flags

As the practice of  Employee Recognition takes a more-strategic organizational purpose, initiative expansion and platform consolidation are guiding course adjustment. Pats on the back are only one part of a larger Employee Value Proposition (EVP), so Human Resource Leaders are expanding workforce strategy. Improved accessibility will increase program adoption but relevance to engagement is more important than the multitude of initiatives.

When expanding the Engagement landscape it is important to understand the difference between opportunity and force feeding. If you are using the elements of your EVP to sell your company to candidates or improve survey results, you have it backward. Great culture feeds the Employee Experience and you cannot pretend you have an effective end-to-end workforce strategy.

Survey Says....
Surveys continue to be a quick fix for transactional feedback. If you ask questions that are coming from a place of genuine intent and action is taken; progress is imminent!

Unfortunately, the historical survey has hit a point of failure for the following reasons:
  1. Person taking the survey feels intimidated to answer genuinely
  2. Survey is intended only to reward the organization as opposed to finding gaps in workforce engagement
  3. No action is taken
  4. Results are dressed up to mask cultural deficiencies
Organizations who incent or discipline mangers based on survey feedback are holistically missing opportunity for improvement.  

Recognition as part of Performance Management
There is a reason the Total Rewards suite is split between compensation and benefits.

Outstanding performers are often self-centered so their sales results may sky rocket while their recognition score is at the bottom of the engagement scale.

Never in the history of life would a sales rep be fired for not having a recognition score even with their astronomical revenue production. 

Bend the teeter totter the other way and you can start revising your resume.

Here's a better idea.....

There are 6 elements of your Employee Value Proposition and (at least) an equal amount of systems. Develop a technical integration model that provides one-stop access to all employee programs while keeping initiatives separate.

Just as easy to streamline without co-mingling policies.

Forced Diversity
A person I know was hired by an organization and quickly jumped on their internal social recognition feed. There, she discovered her boss had achieved a DIVERSITY badge for hiring her...... Talk about trust destruction. Whats worse is her manager had no idea said initiative was in place.... she hired her because she was the right person for the job.

While we all strive to make sure Employee Recognition inspires Employee Engagement through Employee Experience based in a well-thought-out Employee Value Proposition; Let's be sure not to overthink it! 

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Career Utopia on Your Terms

I'm in a wonderful spot in my career where people (old and young) are looking to me for career advice. My consulting does not waiver from one generation to another, I just happen to be the man in the middle. I have learned a lot of lessons from my time in the trenches (some at my own expense others through finding out better). I don't pretend to know more than anyone and I tend to listen as well as I talk, but I guess this is where our lesson begins.

Whether you are considering a job move or are feeling stuck in your current gig, you should ask yourself a few things:
  1. What is my assurance that the grass is greener?
  2. Am I free to be me?
  3. If I left, would they miss me?
  4. Is my pursuit of something new driven by material aspirations?
Having a career you love is often more about the "have not's" than the "haves".

In short order, you should never give up a job you do well with people you love because you think you can earn more money! 

... nor should you put up with a miserable professional experience because you are making a ton of money. It is important to realize that having the flexibility to live your life on the job is astronomically more important than having a "work self" that rivals your "personal self".

Don't Self-Promote
At the time in my life when I had the most professional energy, I chose to spend it on making sure everyone knew how great I was. Instead of allowing my work to speak for itself, I used every "networking" conversation as a moment beneath the spotlight to impress my audience.

When you showcase your excellence in conversation with others you are categorizing yourself as the person to ignore at happy hour.

The bandwidth of the bullshit radar expands every day. Stay off the radar!   

Be Willing to Play Second Fiddle
Work is about teamwork. The most-competent person does not always step forward but the least self-secure usually does. People who dominate the initial team training often fail to make their one year anniversary. Part of being a great team member is giving others the fuel to perform without wanting to take credit for the team's work.

Success happens when you are willing to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

Don't Take The Money
Corey Ciocchetti has an interesting story. Now an ethics professor at the University of Denver, Corey spent his early career as a lawyer. He describes a life of long office hours, no personal life and a bunch of money. His ultimate resolution:

"I've never met anyone who put money first who is truly happy"

Money is a transaction and an expectation. There is never enough of it, and once prioritize it, you will only be happy with more than you have.

Seth Godin's research revealed that most people put in 80 to 90% of the work before giving up. This is especially prominent in organizations where projects involve multiple people and long cycles of completion. When there are varying opinions and milestones that are difficult to measure, frustration often overwhelms.

You don't have to be a Buddhist Monk to have purpose in your work. Purpose often reveals itself after a 12 month project when a team creates something unique and useful.

When I was 25 years old, I was the first to the office and the last to leave, because I didn't have a life to tend to. Young parents, those with "after school" interests, and people seeking higher education may not be willing to stick around after 5pm.

You can lean into a wall or you can run into it. Often times, stepping away from your work gives you a better perspective.

Some people are lucky enough to find a job that they love: whether it's the product they develop, the opportunity the company affords or the people with whom they spend their day.

Happiness at work is not driven by an algorithm.

There are great people and there are assholes in every company. Creating meaning often requires hard work. Sometimes you have to give credit to another for the sake of the team. People will let you down, people will annoy you, and the great certainty of work is that we cannot succeed without one another.  

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, March 1, 2019

Human Resources in the Social Enterprise

The world  of Human Resources is not often affiliated with snap decisions. HR Professionals are well-thought-out and change tends to happen by committee. Any given workforce would look upon such strategic alchemy with appreciation, however, the HR Blogging Community (its a thing) has been less patient.

New topics seem to be popping up with greater frequency; some experimental others intended only to ruffle feathers.

One could argue that opinion in the Social Enterprise can seem to resemble a three legged donkey running in circles. At least some are bold enough to socialize new ideas

Challenging The Process
The image of Johnny Taylor (SHRM CEO) shaking Donald Trump's hand sent shock waves through the HR Blogosphere.... prompting the #fixitSHRM hashtag. While I love a good protest, I am not willing to downplay the effort of Leaders who step out of process to generate new ways of thinking.

Are you upset because the way things have always been is being challenged? Or are you mad that you didn't try to change things for the sake of losing favor on Twitter?

Generational Stereotyping

Amen! Millennials have spent more than a decade being discriminated upon for their date of birth. Let's not minimize another generation of workers because we are afraid they are smarter than us!

Best Place to Work?
Mark Stelzner's article on the age-old litmus test of Organizational Culture is compelling.  Setting standards that can be benchmarked is essential to measuring growth. Is the process of applying for a trophy to put at reception solving workforce issues? With the workforce evolving at whiplash pace, can we still rely on developmental pillars written in the 1990's?

These questions prompt an investigation.....

Let's look at how "thought leadership" is positioned in the Human Capital Management space:
  • Apply to speak at a conference (your speaking application will be more likely accepted if you are a Platinum sponsor of said conference).
  • Apply for an industry award (and while your at it, donate to fund our research).
  • Apply for a media pass to cover an event (and you'll receive a discount on your vendor fee to exhibit at said conference).

The aforementioned examples are nothing more than buying influence and only serve to promote the ideas of the less-insightful.

The Misinformation of Influencers
This week I wrote a piece extolling the virtues of my company's research. It was met with vitriol from a few different "influeners" in the space who read only the author's name and title without taking time to understand the extended applicable nature of the research.

For some reason, there is a competition for influence in the Social Enterprise. I've been part of the SHRM Social Media Team for 10 years. I've always used the platform to learn as much as possible while promoting ideas for the sake of organizational development. If you are in the trenches every day, I value your opinion and advice. Regurgitating the ideas of others may get people to advertise on your blog, but the lack of authenticity solves no workplace challenges.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2019 Employee Engagement Trends

Last week BI Worldwide published the Employee Engagement trends that will impact programs this calendar year. The results rectify program initiatives that continue to entice participation. There are also a few new trends that are taking intrigue to an elevated strategic level.

The Impact of Employee Recognition on Mental Health
As an educator of College aged people and a spouse to one who works in the Mental Health profession, I am ever-encouraged by the sea change in the support over the last decade. Stigmas are being lifted and transparency has opened up with generous resolve. The corporate world is listening....
  • Wellness programming has extended from step counts to mental and spiritual support. 
  • Flexible work and less-confined workplace structure is an expectation.
  • Coaching has evolved beyond tactical work application to individual development.

Every organization is a collective made up of ambitious individuals. Employees now expect to have the opportunity to self-select their career path. Companies can no longer fear that the knowledge they provide will be taken elsewhere. If your organizational culture rocks and you have programs to support development, your people will grow together to create something completely unique.      
Integration Makes for a Better User Experience
Employee Recognition programs exist in 3 functions: user experience, management tools and leadership insight. Without adoption, engagement is impossible.

It seems elementary but if programs are not easy to access and simple to use, your platform will gather dust.

Employee Recognition evolves into Employee Engagement when recognition is integrated with Learning Management, Performance Management, Customer Relationship Management and Collaboration. You have the opportunity to create a consolidated entry point to all the aforementioned programs.

With the proper programming, Human Resources is the organizational tunnel to development.   

Think Beyond your Sandbox
Where technical integration makes for a better user experience, vendor consolidation saves money, speeds up the legal process and strengthens HR's strong hold on internal branding.

An organization's Employee Value Proposition (EVP) encompasses six strategic functions:
  1. Compensation & Benefits
  2. Work Content
  3. Organization
  4. Rewards and Recognition
  5. Growth
  6. People 
Limiting Employee Recognition to peer-to-peer and manager discretionary functions covers less than 1/6th of your all-encompassing EVP.

Great organization's expect their vendors to partner with them from behind the curtain. Programs should be completely unique to organizational culture and far reaching to address all areas of the aforementioned EVP.

Outstanding organizations are not dubbed so due to a survey.

We are called upon to use technology as the backbone of Employee Engagement and to humanize program development in a language that only our employees understand. It's hard work but the effort of consolidation, integration and amplification across the organization will streamline focus and save your company millions.

I don't believe I've ever been more excited about the potential realized in the work we do together. Call it Employee Recognition, Employee Engagement, Employee Experience or Ninja Training.... Human Resources are now the unavoidable strategic organizational element that the title deserves.  

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, February 11, 2019

Systematic EVP

We've reviewed the trajectory of Workforce planning for ages: Employee Recognition gave way to Employee Engagement which is now being called Employee Experience. These phrases more-closely resemble buzz words but there is a distinction to be made in the verbiage.

Engagement references an arrangement to do something in a fixed time while Experience tilts toward observation; one interactive the other somewhat passive. These are not competing ideologies.

People still like to be rewarded. People want to learn. People want to develop. People want to be part of a culture that elevates their work beyond their personal goals. Transactions happen, systems track said activity, and it all becomes part of a greater cohesive strategy. 

Each organization's Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a six part strategy to synchronize base line objectives (work content and compensation) with the elevated goals of employee growth and development.

Wrapping the collective arms of the Human Resource function around an all-encompassing EVP is an unenviable challenge: there are years of process to streamline (or undo), legacy systems and people who seek to disrupt where others see no need to rock the proverbial boat.

Such is our conundrum.....

But we can start with a systematic approach to progress.

Scaling to Audience
System limitations almost always guarantee program failure. Users want a platform that is designed with some flavor while promoting objectives centric to their core job function. If reward options are limited, users will plateau and stop using the system. If the design looks like it was created in 1977, program interaction will wane. If initiatives are limited to a few "pat on the back" functions, excitement for appreciation will be replaced by resentment of "another leadership initiative designed without compassion for those in the trenches".

Multiple Avenues of Attraction
You can build the best system in the world but if communication, training and intrigue are not part of your program strategy; your eco-system will remain dormant.

Does your program have a title replicated in 12 other companies in your industry?
Is finding the site difficult?
Does it take 2 days and 5 approvals to recognize a colleague?

You'll need a branding strategy specific to your organizational culture, paths to intrigue that keep users coming back for more, and challenges that engage the competitive and collaborative motivational set in equal time.

Do the hard work: dig into every corner of the culture and develop a strategy that synchronizes Human Development with Organizational Purpose. 

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, February 4, 2019


I am always humbled by reminders that nothing in life is of insurmountable importance. It comes in song, laughter overheard and the rare occasion to drive on the open road.

We are reminded of life's simple pleasures when we hear the voice of a familiar singer. We can take comfort in a warm meal on a cold night or when the sun slivers through the clouds after hiding for a while. The grandiose responsibilities of life can crowd our minds but we have to maintain our grip on our heartstrings. It is proven time and time again that troubles we fear seldom manifest themselves. How dare we waste time in worry.

Then we head into the open road, a song comes over the radio and the sun peaks over the fields; out ahead of the pack, seeking a little bit of salvation from the worry that clouds our mind.

We cannot hide from it, so we might as well drive into it!

There is not a problem that cannot be solved and there are always new ideas to hatch.

Inspiration is the process of emerging from routine. Authenticity appears when we discover something new. In a day-and-age when everyone is an author, anyone can prove their opinion on anything and there is no governance to steer you otherwise.

Some times you have to delete your profile.... and some times you just need to take a drive.

When information overload serves only as to strangle motivation, simplicity serves as a humble reminder that we are free. The opportunity to explore the boundless landscape is ever-present.   

Dissemination as a Matter of Motivation
Quitting doesn't solve the problem, it takes opposition away from those who seek to control through forced alignment. Activism is a lonely trade because it requires unwavering commitment without immediate reward. Most of us would rather do our thing in peace rather than create chaos for the sake of helping others.

Will it take a tragedy for you to care enough to make change?

If you wish not to change the world, you can at least start with yourself.....

Any idea can be opposed as long as it is intersected by another. If you are only opposing the norm for the sake of opposition you may be too afraid to expose your lack of mastery in all things.

There are 80,000 people in the stands and 24 on the field.

The Breach

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, one more" - King Henry

Through my 20 year professional career, I've given and have received mountains of advice. Some things I thought I believed have proven false. There are words that I thought were gospel that have grown dusty on the wall. The one truth that seems never to be refuted is that hard work pays off. More than certificates, accolades or degrees; hard work is the great differentiator. There are a million decorated college grads who are unemployed.  Those who are capable of grinding every day always find a way.

People fail for one of two reasons:
1. They get over-confident
2. They are unable to get through The Dip

The optimal time to search options is when things are going well. If you wait for things to go sideways before you take action, you'll likely make decisions out of desperation only to yield misery.

Seth Godin contests that those who know when to quit better divert their time to more-productive projects. He also points out that most who try, give up after the heavy lifting is done, right before their reward is achieved.

People who cannot handle adversity cannot sustain a victorious march:
- Are you are smart but unwilling to try?
- Are you are creative but too stubborn to conform to process?

You can't be a comedian is you aren't funny.

You can't be a 3 star chef if you cannot cook.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Waking Up in 2019

It's that time of year when New Year's Resolution, Career Goals, Plans to get Healthy and Forecasting of Big Ideas come together! We inventory the year past and read a bunch of lists. We put the past away and look forward.

Are there goals still to be conquered? Are there songs left to sing?

In times when inspiration is at a premium, how can we find a spark? Is routine the enemy? Is the fountain of invention dried out?

Acquisition of Knowledge
Over the last two years, Social Media has suffered two self-imposed setbacks:
  1. Ego-Driven Debate
  2. An Idea Cap
Both of these things share a commonality: Emotion has replaced Common Sense.

If every day you awake and grab your phone to check your social media accounts... the odds of approaching the day with a positive outlook are limited. At some point, opinion became more relevant than facts because research takes more time than the immediate call to respond will allow. "Facts" to defend any opinion are now readily accessible.

We've seen the world's most-prominent brands crash due to the fact that organizational leadership would not regulate their egos in the interest of change.

If what you read provokes your emotion to the point of publicizing outrage, you are referencing the wrong resources to guide your day.

I've been in the same industry for 12 years. As of today, there are industry blogs being published with the exact same content of those released in 2007.

Here is the formula for lack of invention in corporate blogging:
  • Reference a current event (this can be found within the first 3 posts on your Facebook page)
  • Resolve 3 lessons from the aforementioned pop culture trend
  • Provide a link to your product or service
The prerequisite to author such a piece is nothing and everyone has access to publish.

An Alternate Path
Take a walk. Leave your phone in the car. Read a book. See a movie. Call someone. Meet someone (in-person). Get a dog. Get a cat. Eat a meal without picking up your phone. Journal. Google Shakespeare. Look up some motivational quotes. Search "Inspiration" on You Tube. Delete your Facebook account. Delete your Twitter account. Ignore hatred. Ignore anger on the roadway. Stop cheering for others to lose. Own your happiness. Stop cheering for others to be unhappy. Choose success as opposed to living to avoid failure. Set goals, double them and work your ass off until you achieve them. Stop blaming others. Mind your own business. Get out of other peoples business. Reward yourself. Stop waiting for others to deem you fit to be rewarded. Let your heart, mind and spirit drive your motivation. Stop fueling your insecurities.

If you find yourself pursuing something that has already been done, change your path. You will never be genuinely fulfilled by replicating the ideas of others.

Don't Forget to Remember!