Tuesday, June 18, 2019

3 Vessels to Cultural Engagement

It was a lively Pre-SHRM19 NextChat last week as we addressed the topic of Organizational Culture. We've been tackling culture within organizations since the turn of the century when the pendulum began to swing from Micro-Management to Employee Empowerment. Companies like Zappos and Google put their brand on the map by offering corporate campuses that resembled summer camps. Suddenly HR was being heard as creators of Employee Experience as opposed to the employee police. As Benefits budgets swelled, compensation and medical support became qualifiers. As we entered 2010, recruitment was driven by office tours by way of scooter.

At some point, Culture started to become an enigma....

How do we measure the ROI of beer pong?

Does everybody want to meet in bean bags chairs?

Let's explore what we've learned and how to improve culture.

Leadership Endorsement
Our CEO's have jobs that encompass legal debate over ticket items beyond the average pay grade. Most Executive discipline exists behind the scenes. Your CEO has larger concerns than keeping every employee happy.... it's simply an occupational hazard.

.... So Then .....

We expect only one thing from our Chief Executives:

The ability to articulate Vision with undeniable confidence to a crowd of millions!

Culture starts with aforementioned articulation of vision, then it's the responsibility of unit Managers to take the Mission into the trenches and tactically apply it.

There are four distinct corners of culture, all of which require technical application:

Events on campus can be a blast, but these experiences need to connect to organizational directives. It does not need to be forced, there simply needs to be a connection from the message to the strategy of implementing it.

Employee training should be direct and limited to 5 to 10 minutes a day. This way, employees get snacks to chew upon in succession that elevate them at their own pace.

Badges, Missions, Leaderboards and virtual competitions work because individuals have an Intrinsic need to compete. Internal competition driven by ego kills culture! Designed on a level playing field, game dynamics can propel every employee to over-exceed their potential. Those who say they care not for competition think differently when they win.

Don't want to put your employees in the octagon against each other? No problem, you can use gamification to reward contribution in community format. This can be in the form of a blog post, use case sharing or contributions to role assigned skill sets.

I've been in the rewards and recognition space for 12 years.... one certain rings true:

Cash is an expectation, rewards that incentivize behavioral development create advancement.


Killing Entitlement
Want to test organizational culture? Ask to sit in on a team meeting before you take a job. If the loudest voice comes from the guy in the back of the room who has consistently been in the bottom 50% of performance throughout his 10 year tenure... run for the exits.

No CEO in the world can control the reverberation of negativity in the trenches. It is up to everyone on the team to negate the influence of employees who assume themselves culture regulators.

Managers need to stop allowing interface with negative employees to their new hires. It is further important to limit the interaction in team meetings that drive vision to blindness. If managers allow their worst employees to be the voice of the organization, raising stars will quit and you'll be left with mediocrity.

When those who cannot control their impulse to criticize are given the conch you create a Culture of Can't.... the only result is failure!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, May 30, 2019

The State of Human Capital Management

A recent study by HR.Com showed increased focus on the replacement of HRIS, Payroll and/or Performance Management systems. The intent to overhaul points to three specific trends:
  1. System Consolidation is afoot
  2. Rule Structures are changing 
  3. Systems that remain unchanged will be complimented by others
Installing Human Capital Management technology can be a journey: the qualification process is lengthy and once the system is adopted we care not to steer employees in other directions.

Which is why we tend to put up with aging technology.

As legacy systems remain the backbone of hierarchy holding, you'll see a move toward system consolidation to improve program access and create ease in the user experience.

The emphasis on system consolidation through integration and middleware programming can improve the user experience across all platforms without overhauling entire systems.

Strategy & Scale
Too often, technology is deployed with half baked initiatives through an off-the-shelf solution. Piloting programs can yield actionable data but turning baby steps into a marathon can tarnish long-term engagement.

Technology needs to allow for self-administration, the ability to add/delete function with relative ease and a path to development to ensure users are incented for continual participation.

Steady as She Goes
The aforementioned study showed Employee Recognition programs remaining unchanged throughout most organizations.

Is this because programs are allowing for scale?

As employee recognition becomes an integral spoke in the larger Employee Engagement cycle, we are seeing these programs evolve through functional integration and gamification. You'll also find goal setting and real time feedback to start moving their way onto ER platforms.
Technical integrations can enhance the look and feel of an employee site while increasing adoption through communication and challenge architecture. Before you attempt to re-write history, you might want to explore how you can give your existing deployments a face lift.

Your learning at #SHRM19 is complimented by a wide-reaching solution set displayed in the Exhibitor Hall. Inventory your HCM systems before arriving in Las Vegas. You may find there are ways to improve upon your current solution set without spending $1 million or re-tooling your entire HRIS technology stack.

Learn, Apply and Improve!


Friday, May 17, 2019

In Commencement

To The Class of 2019 -
You sit now in a place where possibilities are limitless, your ambition is boundless and there is not a single barricade before you.... why should there be?

When tomorrow's sunshine hits your hung over head, the reality of the life before you will really sink in... There will be more foggy mornings, and as sure as they come and go, the roller coaster of life's achievements and failures will dip and turn.

You'll find a job and lose one. You'll secure a major partnership, close a huge deal, rectify an accounting mishap, develop a patent, found a company, save a life, or develop a new technology that improves human engagement..... and through it all there will be songs that make you smile and movies that make you cry and books that bring you back to this very moment... when the world opened it's arms to you.

There was a man who stood before a class like yours on a day like this and told them that they were not special....


As you sit in your cap and gown today, you had better believe that you are special!!!! There are people born addicted to drugs. There are those who were born into lifestyles where college was simply not an option. The opportunity you have is not just about you, it is about those who have not (and will never) have the privilege that you have.


You'll sit in your car 10 minutes early for work wishing you were back here with these wonderful people who gave birth to your ambition. Then, you'll shut off the engine and walk into what will be another of the 7,500 days of work that absorb the greater part of your life.

7,500 days. That's 30 years of work with 2 weeks vacation.

With that statistic in mind, you might want to take a moment, right now, to ask yourself one very important question:

Are You Prepared to Love What You Are Going to Do for the Rest of Your Life?

The most miserable people I know dedicated 100 hours a week to their first job and lost their family in the process. They then started another job (and another family) and lost them too.

If the standards for your happiness relate to financial gain at any cost, you will never succeed!

One of 3 things I can tell you today is that:

Those who put money first, fail!

You might fall in love with the girl in accounting or the boy from the warehouse. Don't ever allow a person's position on the occupational hierarchy to dissuade you from loving them. Judgment of one's trade has no contribution to the collective (and highly unprofessional) human agreement called love.

What got you here today?

Do you remember the little league championship you won or the first boy you kissed. Each are equally important.

Which brings me to my second recommendation:

The respect you extend your waiter is far more important than folding your hands in-front of your CEO.

You may feel as though you are at the top of your social hierarchy at the moment.... please believe.... you will fail miserably, lose friends, find yourself less-attractive in the mirror and struggle to put your perfect resume in the right hands.

The same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down!

Long before your beautiful heads emerged from your mother's bodies, there was a man called John Lennon. He had a smack problem and was a bad drunk, so don't let your Dad tell you he was the second coming of God. But  before we talk about him, let's reflect on that fact that each of you emerged from the body of the woman.

Gentlemen - take one second to thank the woman nearest you.....

They are the reason we are here, the reason we will strive to achieve greatness, and the people who will bail us out if all the dreams that fill our heads today fail to reveal themselves.

Be willing to take any job offered you and to elevate yourself through the hierarchy.

Be OK with the next decade of your life mirroring a flight tasting..... try a few different things and see what sticks, where you find intrigue, and how you find your individual gift contributing to the greater good. NOW is the time to experiment. You'll likely not have that luxury when you are my age.

The degree that is soon to hit your hands is massively important.... you carry the hopes of those who were not fortunate enough to earn one.... experience is important.... try, fail and try again... creativity is important... try to see that other side of everything.

You will succeed!

You will fail!

... and in the moment when you least expect it, when life's frustrations seem to have derailed you, your eyes will lock with those of a person across the room and all the worries you've ever had will turn into the motivation of serving a higher purpose.

Beyond professional advice or the validation of the journey that brought you here, I leave you with the words of the aforementioned forgotten hero, John Lennon:


Congratulations on your remarkable achievement! Remember that you ARE special! Go now and find what you love!

- Dave             

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Workforce Synchronicity

As we head into #SHRM19 , attendees are called to many tasks: keynotes, general sessions, the exhibitor hall, networking opportunities and a little bit of well-deserved YOU time.Your SHRM Annual Conference Experience can benefit from making the connection between that which is said in sessions and how it relates to that which is showcased in the Exhibitor Hall.

Technology may serve as the backbone of your workforce programs. YOUR ADVOCACY is the difference between financial drain and occupational necessity.

So, as you hear HR Professionals call for workforce change, do something about it!

1. Examine the gaps in your organization's Human Strategy
2. Crowdsource ideas from your peers
3. Find the appropriate solution

Here are a few technical applications that require Human Connection.....

Are we still talking about gamification as a Human Resource trend? 

No, we've come to realize that The G Word is a necessity to workforce motivation.

We start by examining intrinsic motivators, structure game dynamics and then infuse game mechanics.

If you think your organization is avoiding Gamification, think again. Any behavioral modeling that asks an employee to complete a path to a goal, then provides validation of goal attainment, is Gamification in practice.

Kick the G Word trend to the curb if you must,  but realize the strategic necessity of Behavioral Modeling.

Are we still buying that 75% of the workforce is disengaged?

Do we still believe candor can be present when employees receive an "ask for input" from the "people police"?

We've been asking for an alternative to the annual employee survey since 2007.

Find a way to engage workforce input from a place of trust, transparency and human interaction.

HR Technology 
You've deployed 12 different technical solutions to assist your workforce: an LMS and a CRM and a Recognition System and a Collaboration Tool and an internal social network and a pulse survey and a performance management system........ and each of them have 20% adoption while being difficult to locate with expiring passwords that turn employees away after 30 seconds of trying.

Your employees need a centralized access point to every technical suite offered:

One page.... one point of contact.... one pass word.

Once you've streamlined adoption, revolutionize engagement by setting up a comprehensive points program that inter-relates activity on all employee platforms.

Sound too good to be true? It's much easier than you think.

Think about it: would you enroll in every consumer loyalty program offered you if you knew your points from your hotel loyalty program combined with your airline rewards... and your on-line product purchases... and your retail credit card spend?

Wouldn't it be glorious if your every action served a centralized rewards model?

You can create this for your employees..... what are you waiting for?  

See You at #SHRM19 !


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

You'll Have to Risk Frustration

It was a sleepless night after the little league team I coach along with the local basketball and hockey teams all suffered losses. One who does not understand sports would think my mental anguish in such a predicament to be senseless.... it may just be, but let me try to explain.

I have always been a person who takes on commitments with the focus of 1,000 lions. I prepare by considering every possible outcome, am always early to appointments, accept extra responsibility, vocalize when things are off track and do my best to give others credit when things go well. I simply do not possess the human characteristic that allows others not to care. At times this is a curse.... the failures are not cured by the relief of victory.

The unfortunate part of trying is that frustration is eminent!!!!

That's why most people stop trying.... It's not worth the miles of anguish required to reach those few beautiful views on the way up the mountain.

I'd guess risking frustration is the very essence of what keeps us evolving. I guess when I get to the point of sitting on the sidelines while others influence, the future would seem debilitating. So as long as I am able, I'm going to be part of the game!

There will be more sleepless nights in the pursuit of finding a way to help others discover and exercise their true potential.

It's hard being critical of others, but we are not always speaking to those who have under-performed from a place of criticism. Some times, seeing people fall short of their potential is simply heart breaking. There are those who are infinitely capable who never find success because no one ever came along to help them find it.

It takes a lot to fill one's heart. It only drips slightly.

What is the true intent of your daily energy?

To succeed?

To conquer impossible?

Or is your drive simply to be left alone?

How long ago did you give up on your dreams?

Dear Friends - we'll have to put our personal comfort aside if we wish to help others and it may take them a while to learn what we have to teach.

Are you willing to keep what you have to teach in your pocket?

Is your fear driven by the all-too-real presumption that those to whom you give your love will abuse it?

Do you think that your time would be better spent with your hands in your pockets, on the sideline, watching others try?

All we can do is dive in and help those we seek to influence get better.

I'm sure you'll miss the game when you decide to stop having an influence on the outcome.

There will come a time when you will be incapable of trying... until then......

Don't Forget to Remember........... !


Friday, May 3, 2019

The Self-Awareness Teeter Totter

Each day you wake up with one thing on your mind:

What Do I Need To Do Better?

The concept of that which keeps us up at night is an ongoing call to find solutions for the things we seem incapable of fixing. When we find a way to enter into slumber, the light of day is met with optimism. Lacing up the cleats is much more empowering than staring at the ceiling.

Micro-Management is the world's least effective workforce tactic because it is a reactive approach based in analyzing inefficiencies as they happen.

Think about it.....

When an 8 year old kid drops a fly ball and you yell at them in front of a crowd full of people, what do you think they're reaction might be.... Embarrassment?

Even an 8 year old knows when they fucked up.... your ability to point it out makes you a bully, not a leader. While we would assume a workforce of adults more adept at handling criticism, the motivational premise remains in tact.

Your employees know when they have under-performed. Emphasizing their failures reduces them to 8 year olds.

After we awake and take action the other side of the Teeter Totter gains weight.

Ask your network for help and 2 or 3 people will come calling. Ask your network what you are doing wrong and the internet will crash with activity.

At some point people stopped helping one another and stared competing. What was an effort to elevate all participant skills was replaced by minimizing one's competitors.

People love to gossip because it is a deflection method:

Stop analyzing your faults and deflect on others. 

This is the part of the movie when the underdog becomes a hero by sticking up for herself!!!!

When you give power to those who seek to replace your effort with their words, you deny yourself the opportunity to try.

Bullies are a funny bunch. They put their hands forward to ensure you do not get too close to them. They speak and speak without listening... and when you call their bluff, they crumble.

With the awakening of each day the question of what we can do better has to be accompanied by the process of counting our blessings.

Last I checked, we are all still here, ready to fight the good fight!

Back a Man in the corner long enough and he's gonna come out swinging......

Push back and balance the Teeter Totter!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 26, 2019

On Being 46

Today concludes my 45th year on earth, so it seems a natural time for reflection.

My life has a few distinct categories: Domestic Bliss, Professional Advancement, Art and Coaching. I'm an extremely privileged human being. Likely passed middle age, let's explore that which desires focus in years to come.....

The Intention of Sport
I have the joy of coaching boys and girls under the age of 12. The kids are great, their parents often mislead. Sports are to be participated in as a means for conveying life lessons to improve motivation. Unfortunately, many parents have an inability to control their emotions when their offspring are at play. Often, Moms and Dads compete with one another, their children vessels for status claiming. I am as guilty as any of being over-competitive at the expense of development. Over time, the edges get softer. In the long run, wins and losses are insignificant. The joy of sport is created when the least-likely to succeed make a big play at a time when the team most needs it.

The Social Media Myth
At the onset of this Catholic Lenten Season, I stopped participating in Facebook. It was a very beneficial way to ease my mind and save on self-imposed grief. The one thing we don't get back is time. As we age, time becomes ultimately more valuable. Yet, we tend to waste our time in the Great American practice of arguing with cyberspace. Arguments in the social space have ended friendships. Opinions are now validated by less-than-credible resources. We've replaced our need to be part of a fellowship with the need for individual validation through proving our point. Collectivism has been destroyed by the individual need to improve clout in a made up world of influence.

The highlight of the past year was witnessing the film Free Solo. Alex Honnold's solo climb of El Capitan without a rope is the greatest athletic achievement ever performed. The fringe observer would think a man who climbed a 3,200ft rock slab to be a mad man, watching the film reveals another story. It turns out that Alex methodically mapped his climbing strategy for 8 years, exploring every inch of the climb down to thumb and toe placement. His extraordinary commitment turned a death wish into a perfectly predictable process.

What a revelation.

I've been a sales professional for 20 years. Early in my career I thought my "gift of gab" would get me by (and it did). But advancing to the top of any trade requires mastery. Mastery is an affect of perfect preparation, laser-focused commitment and hard work.

Think about how simple life would be if you devoted perfect preparation to everything you did. It's called success and it is ever-evasive because perfect preparation requires more effort than most are willing to put forward.
I have been a member of the Phi Delta Theta Education Committee for 10 years. We build comprehensive programming and conduct training for college men that ranges from leadership development to the importance of by-stander intervention.

My colleagues and I have formulated a multi-phased educational track that takes our membership from their first day of pledgeship through their entrance into the chapter grand.

The culmination of the undergraduate experience is: Self-Awareness.

In anything we do we contribute to learning our trade by sharing what we know with our peers then utilize the experience for the long term impact it has on our human process.

The Most-Important Test
In my 46 years on earth I have come to understand a divine truth:

How a person treats "the help" is the most important revelation of their character.

I recall a time when the company President visited an office I was working in. Several members of our staff folded their hands in their lap and conveyed their pleasantries. What a bunch of phonies.

On a daily basis I see people treat restaurant servers, baristas and laborers as if they are non-existent. This involuntary flaw that individuals possess will remain unchanged and forever categorize them as less-than. Those who seek to categorize will forever be categorized.

Thank You!
I've been writing my silly life stories on these pages for 10 years. I want to thank all 177,484 people who have taken time out of their day to read my thoughts. I hope I might have helped you in some way.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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!