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 

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