Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How I Got to SHRM17

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference is a month away. This is the largest gathering of HR Professionals on earth and a seminal opportunity to network, find new ideas and gather certification credits.

I attended my first SHRM Annual Conference in 2008 in Chicago. Having come from the world of Information Management, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people in the Human Resources profession who were dependent upon this annual industry event to fuel their career development. This conference has been the cornerstone of the profession for 4 reasons:
  1. To achieve re-certification credits
  2. To hear from industry thought leaders
  3. To understand the latest outsourced solutions in the space
  4. To rub elbows with people who understood the daunting responsibility of being an HR Professional
My first five years attending the SHRM annual conference were spent in the exhibitor hall. It's a tough job.... you stand on your feet for 10 hours a day, introduce yourself to 1,000 people and do your best to make conversation with strangers seem interesting... all while wearing an uncomfortable logo-ed shirt.

If I am being honest, I recall the experience of working a vendor booth to be extremely challenging. Those you seek to engage in conversation are politely disengaged. Most people wander the Exhibitor Hall to grab a few stuffed animals for their kids (I don't blame them). But, in every session I made a genuine connection with someone. They had a problem that needed fixing and I believed we could fix it. The exhibitor hall starts as a numbers game but it can produce life long partnerships.

The following year in San Diego, My boss allowed me to use his badge to attend a speaker session. I got there early and sat next to a woman who immediately engaged me in conversation as if I were her peer... this never happened in the exhibitor hall.

A light shined upon me.....

If I was going to be a salesman in the Human Capital Management space I was going to stop selling and start understanding every nuance of the HR Profession.... I went all in!

I discovered that the socially protected Human Resource world had a whole team of advisers who were sharing their lives on social media.

I read a post written by Lance Haun on a blog hosted by Laurie Ruettimann,  I was astonished by the degree of candor and transparency. In the same way I wrote fan letters to rock stars, I wrote Laurie an email asking if I could contribute to her blog. When I told her the subject matter I had in mind, she said she would post it the next day.

10 years later, I've spent half a decade on the SHRM Social Media team. Curtis Midkiff had a vision to bring together a diverse group of thought leaders who were lead by Charlie Judy, China Gorman and Jessica Merrell. Their mission was to provide an alternative voice to those attending the conference and a lens to those who could not.

It Worked!

The SHRM Blog Squad now thrives under the leadership of Mary Kaylor. Our opinions vary, some of us are experts, others are hacks and there are those of us who are simply proud to be part of the HR Circus!

I recall a morning in San Diego after working a booth for several hours. My wife sent me a picture of my daughter in her Snow White costume enjoying her first visit to Disneyland (which I was unable to witness in-person). I remember at the the time thinking I should show that picture to the 100's of HR Professionals who rolled their eyes at me when I approached them in front of our booth in my ugly shirt.

When you board the plane to visit The Big Easy this summer, keep this in mind.....

1. Your comfort zone is your enemy
2. Everyone has something to teach
3. Vendors are people too

"Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right"
- Jerry Garcia

See You in New Orleans!

Dave Kovacovich      

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Becoming a Brain Scientist

I had heard it told that hard work requires no talent. I'm not sure I completely agree with that. Sure, anyone can get up and put their body into motion without having a Doctorate in Brain Science (is that a thing?). However, the difference between success and failure is execution. Many people do not take control of their lives because they do not execute on their intuition to ignite change.

Without action, things will remain in steady state, for better or for worse.

I'm in the people business. The heavy lifting for me involves dealing with people. I used to get so annoyed with all the hang ups of human interaction but at some point I made a conscious choice to engage.

How did I make the transition from Eternal Pessimist to Brain Scientist?

1. I Learned The Art of Deconstruction
2. I Developed an Understanding of Behavioral Economics
3. I Learned to Connect Numerical Reason to Map Results

Chapter Two
The second chapter of my book Don't Forget to Remember is entitled Deconstruction.

Traditional methods of psychological research may require that we look at painful experiences and seek to understand the provocation of pain. That's also a total bummer.

Why not reflect upon what we've done well, revisit the dopamine we've acquired from that experience and use the positive vibration to drive our motivation?
The Why Behind The What 
An essential part of the creative design process is understanding WHY people are motivated. Behavioral Economics will explain the rivalry between the right and left brain with an appreciation for balance. We tend to bucket personalities as Type A (linear) or Type B (creative); one being logical the other weird. The thinking that you are either programmed or disorganized.

The brain is a diverse and under-utilized tool. Here's why:

We are culturally programmed to stay in our assigned bucket. Which is why movies where the straight-laced guy takes off his tie to put on a Rolling Stones T-Shirt are so popular. We also love to see the story of the guy who sobers up and finds somebody to love.

The Math     
People take action based in evidence. In this age of Big Data, people are far less likely to take risks. Proof is no longer an end game but a precursor.

The Brain Scientist Formula is Simple:
1. Create a An Inspired Mission
2. Base Your Practice in Behavioral Science
3. Use Predictive Results Modeling

Here's How it Works:

Mission: Create an Employee Value Proposition that makes hiring and retaining elite talent an inarguable foregone conclusion.

Behavioral Theory: People Don't Buy What You Do They Buy Why You Do It!

1. It costs roughly $75k for a company to hire, train and retain a minimum wage employee.
2. Employees turn down job offers and or leave companies for 12 reasons.
3. Create a Cultural Model that bolsters:
  • Transparency
  • Trust
  • Social Promotion (without filters)
  • A clear path to promotion based in equal parts on quantifiable soft skill development and direct-to-position performance metrics.
End Game: 
1. Eliminate Recruiting All Together
2. Save The Company $7,500,000 annually
3. Develop an Outstanding Culture

See.... Becoming a Brain Scientist is So Easy!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Success in Simple Steps

I detest Generational Stereotyping so I do not find myself entitled to give advice to incoming or outgoing professionals. We live in a complex time when anyone can publish a strategic plan thus clouding the relevance of any publication.

I've been selling Human Capital Management software and supporting services for a decade. The space once crowded is now less-crowded due to the number of companies who have failed to understand the difference between Employee Engagement and Employee Recognition.

I have worked with the largest companies in the world in my 20 years of sales. With every year in the sales profession come new strategies and new ideas.

There is social selling and lead generation and CRM and strong mail.

It can be incredibly intimidating for a sales professional to understand the tools that have been created to expedite the sales process.

So, whether you are 80 and trying to stay relevant or 20 and trying to break in, allow me to introduce a few points of consideration:
  1. Be Informed
  2. Be Insightful
  3. Be Polite
The Moment My Life Changed
I went to every sales training class offered to me. I networked with the top sales reps in our company. I read every sales blog and e-newsletter and went to seminars on how to sell.

I stood in booths at trade shows for a decade: scanning badges, demoing technology, referring those with impressive titles to subject matter experts. We who were called upon to "man the booth" did so with pride.

The average sales professional receives negative feedback over 100 times a day. If you make 12 call connects an hour and work 10 hours a day, that means more than 80% of people with whom you actually interact will hang up on you. A minimal percentage of those people will also threaten your children's lives.

Still Want To Try It?

Still think the Salespeople get all the credit?

The Element of Surprise
I was at a trade show when my boss handed me a badge and told me to attend a conference presentation. I got there 30 minutes early to get a good seat. I sat down and the girl next to me immediately started conversing with me about a competitor of ours, their platforms and how bad she assumed the presentation would suck. I met 10 other people who gave me feedback with similar candor before the presentation even began.

In the 100 hours I had worked at booths on trade show floors, I had very few genuine conversations. By "sitting with our audience" I learned more in 30 minutes than I had in the five years prior of attending sales seminars.

"You Are Not Like Most Sales People"

Turns out, our buyers perspective doesn't always align with the sales training ethos. I didn't have to overcome objections, I was merely telling a story about a business I knew inside and out. Suddenly, they started taking notes... and asking questions... and requesting follow up meetings.

The single most important element of selling is providing Commercial Insight. This means you have to do your research: by meeting people with the intent of intimately understanding business strategy (and how your solution can improve upon it).

Manners Matter
In the time you spent memorizing your pitch, did you forget how to be reasonable?

More than knowing how your widget works, how to advance to the proposal stage or what you can do to "control the sales cycle"... here are 6 simple concepts:
  1. Call people by their name
  2. Listen
  3. When asked a Yes/No questions answer "Yes" or "No"
  4. If you do not know something, admit it
  5. Be compulsively responsive
  6. Be a person that other people would not mind being around
You can throw all the fancy technology out the window, stop charting statistics for advancement and forget writing intriguing copy for e-mail blasts. All you really need to do is pick up a phone, ask someone what they need and develop enough intelligence to articulate how your solution fits their need.

We tend to want to show off our expertise by knowing more than anyone. Sometimes all you have to say if "I know what you mean".

Many will tell you your sales career will not endure the shift in the workplace if you are not up on technology and social selling. Said tools will never replace human interaction.

You can have all the industry knowledge in the world, but if you cannot explain why your solution works, your research is wasted.

Don't "go sell something", Go Make a Difference!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Thankful Forgotten

I've been vocal regarding Generational Stereotyping in the workplace. The tug-of-talent between Baby Boomers and Millennials as succession planning ushers in the leaders of tomorrow has been recognizable.

... Then there's me and all my friends known as Generation X.

With the exception of Reality Bites and the Real World (neither of which offended me), I don't recall any onslaught of Generational Stereotyping when I entered the workforce.

It took me 6 years to graduate college. I went to class, worked at a bar and was a lead singer in a rock band all while being our Fraternity President. I gained a ton of life experience while meeting a ton of amazing people (young and old). Three things served my success:

1. I was willing to try new things.
2. I worked my ass off.
3. I was creative.

I got an internship in sales while still in college. It was an inside sales gig and my territory was East Coast. I was required to be in the office at 5am. 5am was the finish line, not the starting point, during that point of my life. The first day on the job, I got in my piece of shit car and headed up to grown up people land (Scottsdale). This, while a well-intention young lady threw up on my front lawn (exercising the demons of the night before). In the same way the Wrestling team was my home in High School and the Fraternity was my home in college; work created an alternate support group. I met people from all over with different lifestyles and they all put a rock on the path that created my life.

After I graduated, I got a job in sales at the Coca-Cola Company. There was no CRM or Social Media or Lead Development or even a Training class..... I was given a phone book and told to get to work. I made 200 calls a day asking people if they'd be willing to accept a vending machine in their business. Everyone in the Dot Com perk heavy Silicon Valley told me to get bent. I loved it... all of it.... the people I met, the persistence I acquired and the reward I felt when "No" finally turned into "Yes". While my process has become more defined over the years, people still tell me to get bent... every day! It's a tough racket.

I wasn't born to be a salesman but I was never afraid to try new things or to have my failures broadcast.

It sucks when you lose, It rules when you win.... and so goes the story of how I found my way in the corporate world. It had nothing to do with when I was born, before I was embarrassed of my own bravado, I had smashed my head into a wall for 10,000 hours.

I dislike young people who are too self-aware to try.

I dislike old people who think they are self-aware because they punched a clock for 30 years.

It's pretty simple: 
~ Entitled parents produce entitled kids.
~ Those who haven't achieved anything have a boat load of excuses that they call advice.
~ He/She who dies with the most toys does not win.


I got lucky.

I had extremely supportive parents. I had a group of friends who recognized my intensity as motivation (not anger), I met a few people along the way who appreciated my ambition, and (ultimately) I met a girl who was unimpressed by the character I pretended to be.... and instead helped me develop my true character!

My friends and I rode skateboards and wrote songs and drove cars through the alleys we had no business inhabiting. We'd of laid down in traffic for one another until we realized that being in the middle of the street was a bad idea.

When one is born is not nearly as significant as the path they are directed toward. I'm tired of professionals seeking to understand workforce motivation by bucketing people by birth certificate.

To understand a collective we must seek to understand the individuals who compose the whole. Habitat is more important than origin.

There lives a few certainties in work (and life):
1. People want to be challenged
2. People want to learn
3. People want to blaze their own trail

We deter individual empowerment for fear that a lack of structure can only lead to chaos. That individuals cannot be trusted.... That only process can yield results.... That one must be managed in-order to perform.

What if people could take the skills they had acquired through their life experience and apply them to their profession? What if personal passion could drive professional progress?

It Can!

We all just want to know that we are in a place where we can share ideas and have them adopted and for that to lead us to a progression that aids an organization to actually make a difference in the world.

Brian Sella believes it as did Jason Lytle before him and Wayne Coyne before him and Jerry Garcia before he did.

... and the world turns and people come eager to learn, grow and prosper.   

... and you have the ability to teach and to learn... the process of which will bolster your immortality!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, March 31, 2017

The M Word

It was another lively #NextChat this week, full of HR Professionals giving advice to Young Professionals. As I get ready to attend my 10th straight Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference, I recall overhearing the term Millennial at the first one I attended. What followed were seminars, webinars, keynotes, product launches and panel discussions conducted by old people alerting the workplace as to how to engage young people.

... and here we are 10 years later, Generational Stereotyping with renewed fervor. Could it be as the door closes on the Baby Boomer that fear of career extinction has heightened the need for control? When do the Millennials get a group to bully?

While the elder statesmen advise how to manage those of other generations, anyone who dare counter offer advice to the more-experienced are attacked for being disrespectful.

Indeed, The use of the M Word is part of a movement by those out of touch attempting to keep their bruised bully hand on the hammer of control.

It all started with a witty commencement speech by a well-intended intellectual who sought to warn young graduates of the harsh reality of life.

Imagine you work your ass off in class while balancing an after school job as you deal with your parent's second divorce. The reward: This guy shits on your big day by assuming entitlement had bought you a ticket to your graduation.

Frank Martin had a more subtle inflection while preparing his team for the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.

We are all human and uniquely skilled in our ability to insult one another with all the best intentions in mind. But, the hypocrisy of the tenured to insult the newly enshrined has never been more prevalent.

Don't agree?

Show me the chat where Millennials have been called upon to give advice as to how to manage Baby Boomers?

The reality is this:

You were put on this earth to experience life for its every glory and disappointment through your own experience... and to share it!

The more people you are able to influence before you die, the closer you get to immortality.

I have the divine privilege to sit in the coffee shop with retired folks every morning. The conversation is enlightened and appreciated from both sides. I work with college men and women on a weekly basis. I coach 8 year old girls and 12 year old boys. I interact with people from 20 to 80 years of age in my professional life... every... single.... day.

Everyone has something to offer. No one would care to categorize their place on the generational totem pole until you erect said pole in the middle of the room.

I have a few thoughts for people of all ages.

You Are Special
Every day, you walk into a world full of people who have embraced the principle that it is easier to be negative than to try to make the world a better place. The one ethos any person can embrace is that of naysayer. The easiest thing in the world is to give up and sit firmly in a self-appointed thrown of judgment over others.

The harsh reality of the world hits us all at different times. I have found, however, that the longer you hold off telling people to quit the more they grow toward the development of a positive lifestyle.

You should begin and end each day, not by checking your phone, but by thinking of one great thing you have achieved. One thing: Be it a spelling bee win, a little league championship or the time you learned to tie your shoes.... think of something you've done well.

The Only Person Who Knows Best
No One gets the privilege of conducting your life:
  • Not your parents 
  • Not your pastor 
  • Not your coach 
  • Not your boss 
... you will leave the nest at some point under your own power and cognition. Only you will always be with you: Every day, every minute, where ever you go!

It boils down to 2 simple things:
1. Accept advice from anyone who is willing to give it
2. Get good at Loving Yourself!

The test you failed will seem insignificant if your mom dies that same day. The game you lost won't matter if you parents tell you they are getting divorced that evening. The girl who broke up with you may look less-desirable when you look her up on Facebook 10 years later.

It's your life! Don't Listen to Me or Anybody!

.... If you've Got a Dream - Protect It!
.... If you want something bad enough - Go Get It!

It's a hell of a lot easier to try than to sit around listening to those who want to tell you why you can't!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Building an Ethical Culture

Bring in the lawyers, it's time to talk ethics. The third stop in our exploration of the SHRM Competency model lands us on Ethical Practice. This area of focus is a Human Resource strong point... which is why everyone hates HR. HR Professionals tend to thrive in 3 areas:
1. Examine
2. Consider
3. Advise

While critically important to keeping the companies doors open, said personality set seldom wins an HR Professional an invite to the company party!

A primary question can be asked of adults in the workplace:

Where do employees establish their Personal Ethical Model before filling out an application?

Was it is grade school? Church? On the sports field? In the music chamber? Possibly in Juvenile Hall?

The curriculum for certification in this area of competency is clearly defined, easy to understand and perfectly certifiable.

So... Today... Let's let go of the gavel and step down for the booth of judgment.

Wouldn't it be nice if HR could address troubled employees before they acted out?

Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to break organizational rules to protect a Sales Manager who continues to misunderstand his ethical compass?

Wouldn't it be nice if you could avoid lawsuits from under-performers with a grudge?

I know, how dare I expose the ugly side of the HR function? Why wouldn't we want to continue to be viewed as the People Police so our alcoholic CEO can continue to pretend the rules don't apply to her.... ?

You know what's better than drawn out disciplinary reviews? Transparency!

You know what's better than sensitivity training? Common  Sense!

You know what's better than affording severance pay to former employees? Congratulating them on another successful year!

Sound impossible?

Maybe you've been spending too much time with your hand on the Employee Handbook... (?)

Stop Protecting Entitlement
The term Succession Planning is about as well received as the phrase Millennial in today's work culture. But, we face the stark reality that the generational merry-go-round is now turning more quickly than ever. Tomorrow's leaders are departing companies due to lack of opportunity, or worse yet, because they view leadership as incompetent. No one wants to tell a 30 year work veteran that their skill set has expired. Again, the dirty work is deflected to HR.... Sunset yesterday's leaders, capture their knowledge and give them a parachute lined with dignity.

When employees face irrelevance they get desperate, with desperation comes defense behavior. It doesn't have to be that way!

Succession Planning starts from day of hire. Manage expectations, fill your internal talent pool, promote the leaders of tomorrow and send octogenarians off to their consulting gig with their pockets stuffed! 

Be Visible and Approachable
People want to vent. If you don't believe me, walk into any open bar in the vicinity of an office park at 5:10 pm. People are also of the impression that venting to HR will put them on the "Liability" list.

By building and communicating a plan that empowers employees to come to HR (without assumed repercussion); trust and transparency become part of the culture. How nice to imagine that we could discuss of mental, physical and/or spiritual state of mind and get back to productive work.

HR can be a safe haven for employee feedback. Debunking the stigma of HR as the People Police is a team effort across the Human Resource team:
a. Be seen
b. Be approachable
c. Have insight (on job function as well as soft skills)
... Let people know you are approachable and that your conversations will remain in confidence.

We'll then have to commit to actually believing the above ourselves.

Be Honest:

How often is HR asked to clean up the management mess?

Do your employees mistrust you because the last time they complained about their manager, you ran to that manager?

Has the confidential information in your personal Rolodex created a personal profile that combats trust?

Blame It On Technology
Having spent a decade in the HCM Space, I can say that the greatest opportunity to empower strategic HR leadership is through the implementation and application of HR Technology.

HR has been type cast as administrative... Why not use your organizational skills to design, implement and manage a state of the art "people platform"?

Be it E-Learning, Employee Recognition, Survey Function, Performance Management or all of the above. There are so many different ways to consolidate, automate and strategically manage your Employee Engagement vision.



Conversations are easier when you have data to protect your approach.

Employees want to be promoted? Put them on a tracked leadership learning program.

Owners want to cut benefits? Show the ROI of your Employee Engagement programs to cut/amplify accordingly.

Employees are actively disengaged? Take the results (in real time) into the boardroom.

Managers think their employees suck? Track their action planning progress with the struggling employee.... maybe the manager needs some action planning of their own.

Human Resources are the Lifeblood of the organization! This is irrefutable!

Every employee works against a stigma:

Sales people win clients trust when they prove to them they value relationships over commission checks.  

IT Professionals prove their leadership equity when they take off the headphones and interact with the PEOPLE that design technology.

Human Resources professionals can certify themselves to death but if we cannot prove our trustworthiness, ethical practises will continue to be ignored while the fences stay up.

1. Don't be a punching bag for Leaders who don't practice what they preach.
2. Leave the door open and walk out of it to meet Employees where they sit.
3. Use technical proof to make any argument a strategic discussion.

Be Human!

Dave Kovacovich 

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!