Wednesday, June 27, 2018

HR Technology in the Post SHRM18 Era

 The Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference has concluded. HR Professionals are in equal parts exhausted and inspired as they digest knowledge and seek to share it in their native space.

Having attended 8 SHRM Annual Conferences in the last decade, I'm always impressed with the evolution of networking and knowledge sharing that continues to build out the HR tool belt.

First time attendees always share with me their amazement with the Exhibitor Hall; a physical representation of the crowded Human Capital Management space. With so many resources at hand, one might have to consider if a return from Chicago has left HR Professionals more overwhelmed than inspired... ?

Having spent 10 years at street level as a Human Capital Management advisor, I can tell you that employees, their managers and HR Leaders alike are yearning for a few simple consistencies:

You've got Payroll Software and CRM's and Performance Management Software and Employee Recognition Software and Recruiting Software and On-boarding Platforms and clouds and SaaS and landing pages and API's and SSO's and SAMLs..... where does it all end?

The goal going into 2019 is finding a central landing page where all employees can access all of the aforementioned "platforms" without having to close screens or enter a thousand passwords.

Putting everything in an accessible spot isn't enough. There needs to be a comprehensive way to integrate all HCM technology in a contiguous manner.

Many vendors say they have automated technology that are pulled together by a number of different system disruptions.

BEWARE fake integration!  

Every technical vendor in the HR Space has a standard (read: off-the-shelf) technical suite and a customized (read: expensive) technical suite.

Once systems are centrally located and talk to each other, they need to be flexible.

Are the systems you are using adaptable to their audience?
Can individuals from different departments (or parts of the world) interact with one another?
Can employee results be socialized?

Step 1: Create a consolidated access page
Step 2: Develop a system for recognizing results in every area of Employee Development
Step 3: Funnel these systems into your Employee Value Proposition

If these technical fundamentals seems simple.... great!

Inventory, Consolidate, Measure & Reward!

Your employees want to climb the ladder, all they need are the keys to unlock the rungs.

- David Kovacovich  

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Building The Foundation

What Keeps You Up at Night?

This question was once posed to corporate executives in an effort to understand their critical business concerns.

It's also a very human question.

Do you wake up at 3am to stare at the ceiling, your head pounding with concern over the day behind or ahead?

We all do....

What if I told you that the aforementioned concern is the primary fuel needed to make every day a little better?

When was the last time you sat up in bed pondering the amazing elements of your life and all you've done to earn them? Everyone else is waiting in the wings to throw punches at you, why buy their boxing gloves?

Stop beating up on yourself for what you haven't done and start celebrating what you have.

Life is tough.... we're called upon to work and raise good kids and take care of our parents (in the same way they did for us) and to manage our finances and to be responsible and to care for others while keeping the boat in the water.... it's a lot.

If you allow your critics a second of your time, You Are Doomed!

Next time you wake up at 3am, filled with worry, remember that little league championship you won or the time you went fishing with your dad or that concert that changed your life or... at least.... that time a friend made you laugh. You can start there.

It sucks waking up in a hotel room in silence with your mind creating a bunch of noise, it's easier to sleep with a loved one near by.


So, Then.....

Find somebody to love or at least surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Stop hanging around with people who leave you worried after every conversation. Of course, we should learn from our past mistakes but learning should be the objective.

People will line up around the block to criticize you, far fewer will come to your aid when you need help. Complaining never solved anything. Putting your life on-hold to help someone requires effort without the certainty of reward.

People who feel good do great things.

What do you need to feel good?

We affiliate strategy with the critical practice of self-evaluation. I'd like to think it's better to plan by remembering that which you do well.

Have You Forgotten What You Do Well?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, April 30, 2018

This is 40.... 5

Friends -
The Mrs and I celebrated my 45th year on earth at Atelier Crenn a few days back... and it was glorious!

I guess I'm half way through this wonderful Merry-Go-Round called life so I'd be foolish not to share a few things I've learned to this point.


I  recall a poetry teacher telling me I couldn't write about Love or Death. She was teaching me to be more creative but I was bewildered... those are my two favorite topics. I quarreled with another teacher who told our class that love is a process not an emotion... she was right!

I guess people fall out of love or miss it because it takes patience and compromise. No one wants to believe that the best thing in life should be an affect of perseverance; but it is.

When you find it and you get it right you wonder how you ever lived without it.

It's inevitable. Get busy living.

I've only had 4 jobs in my 20 years of Corporate life. Every company I've worked for has given me ample opportunity to succeed. That's all I ever needed. I enjoy working. I enjoy getting up early. I like competing and I like collaborating even more. I'd like to think I've helped create some things that have made people's lives better. I hope the people with whom I've worked are happy for the experience.

You might some day get fired... you'll find a new job. If you hate work you should find a new profession. Life is way too short to wake up on any given day with the certainty in your mind that said day will suck.

All you have to do is be present. Listen. Show young people the same respect that you do your peers.

The least talented kid on the team will always get a big hit. The enlightened perspective of young people will always surprise you. You'll have to watch your children fail from time to time. You may have to stay out of the way when things aren't perfect in their lives.

For now.... I think my kids enjoy being around me. That's enough for me.

There is a song for every occasion. You might shed a tear in your car when a tune pulls on your heart strings. You might run a little faster when a great song comes over your headset. If you learn to sing and play guitar, you are far more likely to woo the girl of your dreams.

I live life with an Under Dog Mentality..... no where does this mentality find revelry better than on the field.

Sports are a divine metaphor for life.

You should find someone to love.... you'll be better for it.

You should not worry about death.

You should find a job you love.... you spend the majority of your life working, do something that doesn't suck.

Parenting isn't for everyone but if I can do it, you can too. Trust Me!

You should listen to a ton of music.

Occasionally the under dog wins..... nothing is cooler!

Be nice to your parents. Don't treat your kids as your subordinates. Give your brother a high five. Tell your sister you love her. Get a dog. Hug a friend. Stop arguing with people over social media. Pray don't Prey. Eat great food. Drink good beer. Exercise. If your spouse tells you that you're being an asshole, he/she is probably right.... no one else is going to tell you and they are only disappointed that you are acting out of character.

Travel. Practice fidelity. Get a pair of head phones.... they come in handy when annoying people sit next to you in an empty bar room.

Put a dollar in the jukebox. Tip well. Try not to be mean. Buy some cool shoes. Don't lie. When you mess up, own it. Actions speak louder than words. Do your fighting in the ring.


Don't be violent. Don't talk politics around strangers. Don't try to convince people that God exists.... they'll figure it out. Don't be a Philistine.

Watch Netflix.... there's great stuff on there.

Watch as many movies as you can. Attend plays not musicals. Try to eat healthy. Exercise. Allow people to be OK with who they are. Take a walk. Stick up for yourself. Listen to The Grateful Dead. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt but don't allow people to take advantage of you. Try weed. Don't try Acid. Trust Me!

Spend a summer cleaning pools.

Know that the one irreplaceable talent you possess is the ability to work hard. Work Hard!

Read books. Listen to podcasts.

Join a gym. Don't join a country club.

Learn to skateboard. Learn to surf. Be safe doing both of those things.

Hug somebody. Kiss somebody.

Be Kind.

Don't Forget to Remember


Monday, April 23, 2018

Exhibitor Excellence Defined

The 2018 SHRM Annual Conference will be the 10th straight that I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Perhaps more intriguing is the fact that I’ve participated in this conference as an Exhibitor and an Attendee alike. 

I know the pure joy of working on my feet at an Exhibitor booth for 12 hours a day along with the thrill that comes from attending sessions and running from one corner of the conference hall to another as an attendee. The biggest take away…….

We are all attending the SHRM Annual Conference for the same reasons:

… to Learn, Grow and Thrive!

I’ve been in Business Development in the Human Capital Management industry for more than a decade. The biggest revelation as a Sales Professional came to me at a SHRM Conference a few years into my career. Our CEO handed me his all access badge and told me I could step away from our booth to attend some programming. 

I sat down in a presentation room eager to learn and something amazing happened…. The person next to me actually started talking to me. I didn’t have to scan her badge, I didn’t get a dirty look when I introduced myself and there was no need to afford her a stuffed animal in exchange for conversation. 

I stopped going to sales training classes. I started attending every HR-related seminar I could. I had tapped into the mindset of the HR Professional and I began to identify with their day-to-day challenges. 

They had challenges, I had solutions. 

I stopped barking in meetings to prove what our product could do and started asking questions.

I put the arrogance assumed of the salesman aside and became a peer to my buyer.

My efforts to understand landed me a position on the SHRM Social Media Team 6 years ago.

All of this is a reflection on how Exhibitors can maximize their opportunity to win the confidence of HR Professionals in the Exhibitor Hall.


Here are a couple simple tips:

Don’t exchange swag without conversation     
People will always want a promotional item to bring home to their kids. Best to build their brand advocacy at an early age. If you offer an item in exchange for a little bit of program information and an ask for post-event communication, you’ll know rather to fish or cut bait. Don’t waste your time chasing down people who don’t want to talk to you or have no insight to offer.

Everyone is a potential advocate
These days’ people will view my badge and see: Blogger.

Many “vendors” see my title as insignificant to the implementation of their product and send me off to another booth without an interaction. Every person walking the floor of the Exhibitor Hall has value to lend. You never know, their spouse could be the VP of HR at your most-desired prospect.

Pretend each HR Professional is an old friend
Just because you are an Enterprise Sales Rep doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful conversation with HR Pros from smaller businesses. Don’t pretend to be too important to engage someone who has come to your office to hear about your solution.

      Every Exhibitor should….. 

  •  Participate in and/or reading the recap of a #NextChat

~ Their content often feeds your solution and you buyers trust their thought leadership

Note to HR Professionals:
Remember, vendors are people too…. They are missing their kid’s dance recitals to stand on their feet all day. Extend them the decency of a meaningful conversation.

See you all at #SHRM18 !

-          David Kovacovich
-          @davidkovacovich  

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wait Stations

"I am taking tiny steps forward"

The Great John Darnielle revealed the power of transition in recent conversation. I've often noted that life's most memorable occasions lie in the moments in-between; sparse flashes of reward cradled in the ugly arms of a Giant called life.

"when you punish a person for dreaming their dream don't expect them to thank or forgive you"

All Hail West Texas is a record by The Mountain Goats that narrates from the limbo of lonely highways; people, like tumble weeds, waiting for the wind to blow them somewhere.

The summer between high school and college.... the transition from student to professional.... the moment when an individual becomes the leader of the tribe.

The Romance in the Leaving

"I wish the West Texas Highway was a mobius strip, I could ride it out forever when I feel my heart break"   

I've lived in several places. I was always good at leaving a location behind. I felt as though I'd done the best I could while confined there and I knew when to move on.

I loved high school: I had a great group of friends, we created art out of our boredom, we seemed to realize the fleeting brilliance of our time together. The last concert I attended in Michigan before going off to college in Arizona was tasty icing on the cake of a wonderfully meaningful part of my life. My friends and I enjoyed some libations, said what needed to be said and sat in silence on the ride home; slightly stoned with the wind blowing through our hair.

It's never easy saying goodbye... to a friend.... a job..... a place. But, with every departure there is an opportunity.... a clean slate.... a new sunrise.

If you learn to embrace that comfort can be left behind, you will always find a way to succeed.

The Hope of Making Something Meaningful

 "(we are) not too far gone to care"

If you don't do a good job beating up on yourself, you are probably too-comfortable. Self-criticism is the result of divine love for oneself; the knowledge of your power and shame in your short-comings. No person is ever measured by what they did not do. So, you might as well focus on the good stuff.

Get used to reflecting upon what you have done well. Stop worrying about what didn't happen.

In the end, we all want to be happy. Happiness is the result of observing the mountain in front of you and starting the climb to the summit.

No one wants to do the easy thing.

Put some stuff in your backpack, grab some rope and climb the mountain.

... it's waiting there for you.


The Realization that the Merry-Go-Round Has No Conclusion 

"and I waited for you but I never told you where I was"

There will be assholes (and good people too) at every company in which you are employed.

Every time you think you have your trade mastered, a new wrinkle comes into the plan.

Life would be really boring if everything was perfectly the same every day... if your every day is perfectly determined before you live it..... You Need to Start Living!

If you knew you were going to die, what would you do differently?

You are..... So, you should!

 "After one long season alone in here.... I am going to find the exit"

Don't Forget to Remember,


* Lyrical interludes provided by John Darnielle 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Happy Birthday Marley

Happy Birthday Marmalade -
I'm acutely aware that you are officially old enough to read this blog so I'll try not to embarrass you. I've been writing these letters to you before you could even read. I guess it's just my way of telling you how proud I am to know you while sharing a little bit of advice about how to navigate this wonderful merry-go-round called life.

10 years ago you were born on your Grandpa's 70th birthday. Because you are great at math you can ascertain that Grandpa is now super-old. He's also an amazing human being (there is no coincidence that you were born on the same day).

I am a macho dude so it is somewhat embarrassing that a 10 year old girl has achieved more in her young life than I ever will. Actually, I'm not macho at all and I couldn't be more proud of your achievements. You have earned every medal you have ever won and me being your coach may have made things seem more difficult from time to time. Sorry... I'm not sorry, I've never enjoyed anything in the world more than coaching you and your friends. You have a great group of friends!

In life there are people who receive things they do not deserve because they take short cuts. Fear not, the pretenders are always exposed and karma is a Motherfucker (don't tell your Mom I used that phrase).

There is nothing in life more fulfilling than earning success. The first time you cross over into the world of cheaters, you can never come back. Stay the course, keep working hard and I promise you that all your dreams will come true!

I met your mom in a bar, I haven't left her side since. Like you, she has the determination of a lion! I am so proud of her every day... she works hard to keep all the details organized all while being kind to everyone she meets (PS - when she yells at me, I deserve it).

Your brother came into this earth with a full head of hair. I was nervous before he was born but when I saw his beautiful face I knew exactly why the good lord put me on this earth. I know you don't recognize it now but your brother will always be your biggest fan, your protector and the person who is the closest link to your family.

As the years go by you will earn amazing achievements: championships, outstanding grades, promotions..... But, the best things in life come to us in the moments in-between. I'm so happy to have been able to spend the moments in-between with you.

I want to share a memory with you:

... There was a game we were losing, and you were frustrated, then kicked the ball the entire length of the field into the goal (right before the final whistle). Everyone around cheered!!! They were not aware who won the game, all they saw was your amazing athletic accomplishment!

You were so proud of yourself in that moment.

You should ALWAYS be proud of yourself!

You have a good heart. You genuinely care about people. You never give up. You are loyal to the people who love you. You are respectful. You know to listen before you talk. You make everyone who knows you proud to be your friend.

With all you know, I know my time of advising is coming to an end. Just remember one thing:

Respect Everyone But Don't Take Shit From Anyone!

I Love You So Much, Marley!

Welcome To The Double Digits!



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Hitch in the Hierarchy: Bridging Manager/Employee Relationships

Back in 2014, I conducted a training for the Northern California Human Resource Association entitled: Our Three Audiences

The goal was to workshop the avenues in which Human Resources is the one true conduit to all organizational functions: Employees, Managers & Executives.

We continue to use buzz words to evolve the HR profession, but our most important function still focuses on bridging workforce gaps.

The New Rules of Engagement were conceptualized 6 years ago yet they remain relevant. To paraphrase the first New Rule of Engagement:

People Don't Leave Companies, They Leave Managers

Just last week in a session I conducted at HR West, this topic resurfaced to guide an impassioned debate.

There are 3 pillars in the Manager/Employee relationship that still demand our attention:
1. Managers have to embrace team strategy & individual development separately
2. Silos have to be destroyed
3. HR has to be a safe space

A Cup of Coffee and a Napkin 
One to one strategy is as important as overall team strategy (which creates twice the amount of work for managers). We tend to blame managers for poor employee relationships while demanding 10x from them as we do their direct reports.

The problem is that one-to-one time between managers and employees is usually spent crunching numbers and discussing expectations; said meetings seldom end with a smile and a pat on the back.

We revisit the SCARF methodology. Employees are individually motivated in one of 5 ways:
Status - I want to climb the ladder
Certainty - If I'm succeeding, recognize me! If I'm failing, help!
Autonomy - Leave me alone
Relatedness - I want to party with my Co-Workers
Fairness - I need to be reassured that the playing field is level

SCARF has been dismissed as a buzz word. This is because organizations over-emphasize it's important to performance management.

All it takes is a 10 minutes meeting for a manager to have his/her employee stack rank the five motivational objectives above from most to least important. This will give a manager a guiding light as to how to motivate individual performance.

An Exit Interview as an Introduction
People don't leave managers... they leave micro-managers.... who prohibit people from reaching beyond their silo to seek holistic motivation.

A managers primary objective should be to get every one of their employees promoted!

3 things happen when managers embrace Servant Leadership:
1. Employees find people in the organization who possess leadership skills that their manager doesn't
2. The manager is not stressed to fill time adapting outside of their skill set
3. Everybody wins

Managers who seek to keep their employees under their thumb hinder everyones opportunity for success!


Do Something About It!
HR Professionals need to be dangerously honest when reflecting upon the past:

If an employee complains about a manager:
- Do you use this as a format for dialogue?
- .... A means to red flag an employee?
- .... An alert to protect said manager?

Two of the three above options defeat the purpose of being a Human Resource and have been the grounds workplace abuse for years.

At the very least, an employee should never feel that going to HR means the end of their tenure at your company.

Reality check: this stigma still exists!     

In simple terms: HR's commitment to organizational advancement (or at least survival) starts with:
  • Providing Managers a format for relationship building
  • Advocating open dialogue

All You Need Is Love:
~ Be Proactive 
~ Gain Trust
~ Bridge The Gap

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Water In Hand

At the onset of 2018, I made a few adjustments: more exercise, more sleep, less beer, no Facebook.

So Far So Good!

The unfortunate part of growing old is no matter how many sit ups you do, you're gonna get fat. The wonderful thing about getting old is you learn to accept the things you cannot change.

Old struggles die hard, but you learn that the things you were concerned about fade away (and it's not that hard to let go).

There was a point in my life when my debates within social media devoured my time; understandable for a teenager but not a grown man. It is surprising how much better my life has become when I stopped arguing with people by burning the veil of social media.

Here are a few things that I've learned:

Music cures everything. EVERYTHING should be celebrated. Pals are important, irreplaceable and ever-available. Gossip is for girls. Girls are of the almighty power. Hanging your grief on a single instance is far less important than remembering your life's great achievements. People who act tough are crying for help. Those who tackle their problems usually succeed. Those who ignore elephants usually get sat upon.

In a moment's time, you can no longer hold your daughter's foot in your hand, better have a connection beyond the authoritative. When you least expect it, lessons come to you from people you'd assume unable to inform.

Life's greatest moments are undocumented.

We assume that by being at a desk or in-front of a computer that we are being productive. We tend to think that life can only be celebrated in a black tie. There may be a perception that success in the moment relies upon the outcome of any event.

Time Spent is Time Wasted!
At college orientation, a student asked if she should take the hard classes and get C's or take the easy classes and get A's....

Without missing a beat, the moderator responded:

Take the hard classes and get A's!

People will differentiate those who work hard from those who work smart and advise you figure out how to fit into the latter group.

I would advise that when you figure out how to work smart, you continue to work hard and get 10 times more done!

Looking Into Puddles
You won't regret the games you've lost. You will regret the way you responded to people in their moment of failure. People pledge resistance when they think the world is unfair.... the world is always unfair when looked upon from the eyes of he/she who has lost.

Trophies gather dusk, money can only buy so much, stress is a temporary reaction, and signatures that adorn letters in post-script are mere qualifiers.

Creativity is more important than certification.

Possessions only weigh you down.

If a day passes in which you have not made an effort to improve the life of another.... the day has lost it's Glory!

Be Glorious!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Saint of Circumstance

For all intents and purposes, most may believe that 2017 was an exceptionally trying year. The political climate has bred contempt, frustration has created disagreement and turmoil seems ever-afoot.

I have found as life grows longer, so the edges get a little rounder, things don't appear so distinctly black and white. Our discontent can indeed give birth to hope. Our loneliness can create a network. The job we lost can create another. The person we strayed from can introduce us to another. The arguments will die, the frustration will subside and things we imagined important will cease to be.

We cannot always control the workings of the world but we are the masters of our perception and our attitude.

The Time We Stopped Arguing 
It's 2018 and Facebook is still a thing. I doubt it will live to see 2020. At some point, continually arguing one's point creates fatigue. Social Media is an evolutionary tool that has been wrought in negativity due to false empowerment. Our frustration will, however, birth optimism.

Maybe someone will create a social platform where only positive content is allowed. Maybe people will create it themselves.

There are a thousand trails to the field, we tend to walk one only to get to another without realizing the great expanse before us.


The Business of Art
People who make movies have to beg for funding. People who make music spend grueling hours in the studio, people who paint have pain-staking sessions of brow-furrowing. Even the beautiful things require work; not just discipline and labor but negotiation and excuse fielding.

There is no such thing as a perfect job. There will be wonderful people at horrible companies and horrible people at wonderful companies. Life's consistent element.....


You can choose to embrace them but if you think you can do it alone you are mistaken.

The Art of Business
The intellectuals will poo poo anyone who enters the workplace in a button up shirt. The corporate population will write off the mindful as hippies. Neither are astute. I know accountants who are creative and yoga instructors who are assholes. There are CEOs who are thoughtful and hippies who are selfish.

I grew up with fortune and a family who loved me. Few are so lucky. That doesn't mean I don't bury my head in my hands every day.


You don't have the love them but every element of your success relies upon them. Sure, it would be easier to cover up with headphones or pretend to be on a conference call your entire life. But, at some point, you'll have to engage.

More than subject matter expertise or slick talk, people are starved for common sense.

The good news is that it gets easier.

Your control of your life goals and your ability to ignore the insignificant are enhanced by the day. Unreasonable people become background noise and you learn to tend to those who deserve your time.

Don't waste another second debating those who seek to destroy because they have forgotten how to create.

Know that even your hobbies require focus and discipline.

There are artist everywhere who wish not the distinction of wearing paint spattered pants.

Don't Forget to Remember!