Monday, August 16, 2021

Workforce Engagement 200.0



We've all been sitting in our home offices for a year and a half pondering the return to our corporate enclaves. For some, the office has opened back up, this means commutes are back and formality might over-ride flexibility. Others may have embraced the work-from-home ideology as permanent, this means longer working hours as lack of commute and in-office distractions free up more time for extra project work. Then there are those who tried to go back and were thwarted by the delta variant. Another group has reconsidered long-term work-from-home structure and have re-opened the office to those "willing to volunteer". 

Uncertainty makes it hard to put mandates in place. Leaders have been forced to make organizational decisions without conclusive data; harming their popularity. Employees have a wide variety of opinions about the future of work and sitting at the lap top for 12 hours daily gives them time to interlude to 10,000 articles on the subject

I talked to a Human Resources Executive at a major Life Sciences organization the other day, her insight was astounding. "At some point we have to trust that our employees are adults and that they are going to make adult decisions for the betterment of the cause". She continued, "all the policy in the world is not going to build trust across our employee base. We have to believe that individuals understand the importance of their role and honor their team members to fulfill the expectations of their job". Seems simple enough. Could it be that if we allowed our business units to "police" themselves there may be a revelry of self-empowerment?    

WFH v In-Office

I've seen some stunning opinions around work-from-home versus in-office efficiency models. It's obvious that there are certain roles that absolutely require in-person interaction. Other roles may serve the organization from afar with greater productivity. There is the argument that saving 3 hours a day from commute time can be dedicated to extra work. Some believe time in the office with thousands of others only distracts the individual from core job focus. 

The primary debate comes down to financial well-being. We see organizations offering complete work-from-home (and often relocation) opportunities with the caveat of reduced salaries. This begs the question.....

Does it cost (or save) the organization money when one chooses to work from home?

Here's a potential breakdown:

1. Cost of Office Space: Let's say an organization owns 25 buildings that are 35,000 sq feet at $5 per square foot per month. If you closed half of these buildings the savings annually would be over $1,000,000.

2. What about the cost of office supplies, in-office dining, system security and facility utilities?

3. Commuting Costs?

.... without having to eliminate offices altogether, reductions could save the organization money while improving employee engagement.

With the above parameters in-mind, why would employees have their salaries decreased for working from home?

What Do Employees Really Want?

I don't believe any employee wants to work in complete solitude. You'll note the flocking to restaurants as COVID restrictions were initially lifted. People, for the most part, are tired of sitting around at home. However, this doesn't mean that a total return to workforce as it was is necessary. 

Without physical work spaces, the frills of ping pong and yoga rooms lost luster, was it ever there?

Cash bonuses for hopping companies seem to have a limited shelf life. 

To mirror the aforementioned HR Executive's insight, what people want to is be trusted to do great work!

Train, Trust and Thank!     

I've spoken to several HR Professionals who admitted that their organization offered just enough training to keep employees progressing but not enough inspire them to leave. That concept always seemed bonkers. In this day-and-age people are thirsty for knowledge (not only that which improves their core performance but anything that will inspire new thinking). TED Talks and Master Classes are being offered up to inspire individuals to think different. We've seen e-learning offered up in "learning snacks" as daily quick hits 5 minutes at a time. There has also been an evolution of "soft skill" development to inspire the leaders of tomorrow to create a fully stocked toolbox.

Transparency took an involuntary front seat during the COVID19 pandemic. Leaders had to step out in front of their employee base and address questions that ranged from Human Rights to Science to Politics (not to mention the core elements of what helps the company thrive). The Manager/Employee relationship has evolved beyond work as mental health has been destigmatized. Our time working from home has taken the veil off workforce formality and it won't likely be replaced.

There is one thing every person wants to hear: I'm Proud of You! It's a terminology that has to be earned to be genuine. 10 years of work and a thousand achievements culminate with a simple conversation with one's boss that reveals those 4 words. It's also a two way street... Managers need engage their employee's trust to earn the right to use those words.

Maybe it's time to stop over-thinking workforce engagement and simply trust our employees to be responsible adults.

Here's to moving forward safely!

~ Dave 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Employee Desire


For 15 months I've been documenting the ever-evolving workforce experience via this blog (and others). We've been through a hundred different layers contrasting hope and uncertainty. There are those who have found positivity in solitude while others have been chomping at the bit to get back to seeing other humans IRL. The time of emergence (at least for now) is upon us. 

The pandemic has raised an interesting cross section of organizations embracing social issues while individuals overlapped the personal with the professional. Has the work-from-home conundrum taught us to synchronize individuality with collectivism or will we revert to cubicle farm cheese chasing? 

We've toyed with a million turns of phrase to address employee engagement. Call it what you will, put technology in place, gather people in celebration (virtually or in-person), survey employees, action plan for success, focus group, mentor, train, innovate, succession plan, design path to promotion, hire more, fire less and the world will be a better place.... for you.... and me!

Employees are individuals and as an individual you are called to action by one emotion:

DESIRE

The aforementioned constructs are necessary, but if you can inspire desire, then we're heading somewhere refreshingly unique.

Tapping Into Individuality

We live in a time when individuals have social brands that are more prominent than those of the organizations for whom they work. CEO's are marching in the streets with their employees. Individuals are literally wearing their cause-driven ideologies into the office. There was a time when work was a place for organizational objectives and one's thoughts on social issues were foe paw in the conference room. Times have changed. 

During the pandemic we've met our co-workers (and customers) kids, pets and partners. Social feeds have been up all day between zoom calls. The formality that deemed people unprofessional if their dog barked on a conference call has been replaced with a hat tip to one's mental health.

What if we embraced people for who they are? If we allowed individuals to like what they like or don't like and left judgement aside. Maybe if we started the team meeting with some personal interaction we'd realize that the key to collective success is having a team of varied disciplines. If we stopped judging one another for who we are and concentrated on our contributions to the professional cause we might realize that everyone has value.

Recreating The Workplace

There is no certainty about the future of work. The learnings in the work-from-home experience have shown that people can be trusted and can actually get a lot done when working in their pajamas. Many of us are sick of sitting around nonetheless. We may have to shave, pick up our button up gear from the dry cleaner and get back in the automobile. It's been nice to commute 15 steps to the lap top but I'd like to think everyone misses seeing their co-workers in the break room. Isn't it about time to get back to complaining about work at the local pub after 5pm aside co-workers?

We can take the best of both worlds and recreate our Employee Value Proposition.

The Harm of Negativity 

In this time of uncertainty we have to acknowledge a truth that has always been there:

Complaints Fill The Megaphone of the Unsuccessful

The last year has been brutal.... for businesses, for families, for individual mental health. We do, however, need to put our big girl pants on and get back to work. Quotas will go up, workplace safety will provoke uncertainty, managers will need to retrain their leadership tactics and employees will have to find courage. The challenge of getting back to work will be nothing compared to what we've been through over the last 15 months. 

We've installed technology to replace physical space, commuted less and given more love to the diverse employee population across the world. Now is the time to give back to the companies who helped us through the pandemic. 

The Future is Here!

- Dave

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Great Engagement Tug of War


It's been a while since there has been a topic that has lacked decision in a way the post-pandemic workplace continues to. Will we return to the office? How often? Will there be parameters for hybrid models? Each region, industry and individual organization seems to have their caveats that are ping-ponging policy.

As we discussed last month, the interpretation between policy and organizational strategy creates a huge opportunity for partnership between HR and Business Unit Leaders. Additionally, we'll see a continual reliance on technology as the backbone to guide culture and engagement. We all want to see our co-workers again. The once taboo cooler talk now seems like a welcome opportunity for those of us who have grown accustom to talking to our dog between zoom calls. We cannot wait to get back to company events and incentive trips to warmer cultures. 

With all of the uncertainty in the air, an informal poll of social sites seem to reveal two opinions: 

- Employees would like to continue to work from home (in some form)

- Managers cannot wait to get back into the office

Indeed, Human Resources will be tasked with making sure return-to-work polices are understandable, that awareness of well being is at the forefront of the transition and that a technical roadmap is maintained. There is also an extraordinary void coming that will be beyond the control of policy or training.

FOMO is about to make a massive comeback.

Even with the most flexible strategies for hybrid work, here's the reality of the situation:

People who aren't in the room will miss out!  

Get ready for a whole lot of touchy subject conversations. There will be those who do not feel comfortable sitting indoors with others near by. Some will choose not to get vaccinated. Managers may seek to side step organizational policy. Lack of performance may be blamed on inability to interact in person (or the inverse). 

Invite Yourself to the Party

We all know people don't leave companies, they leave managers. Most bad managers ignore Human Resources and silo their employees under their thumb. So much in the management profession is driven by the ethos that a leader cannot be vulnerable. Here lies an extraordinary opportunity to bridge the gap. 

The Post-COVID workplace will call attention to Mental Health support. Some employees will feel uncomfortable returning to condensed spaces, others will miss the communal experience of the home office. Managers who think they can ignore partnership with Human Resources will find themselves stuck in the silo alone while their employees seek help directly from HR. 

Your Technical Roadmap

The work-from-home experience has created hyper-focus on technology: conferencing tools, collaboration spaces, social feeds, learning paths, goal setting portals and ways to appreciate employees are now standardized. 

Are you going to turn it all off when people return to the office?

I hope not! There seems to be a misconception that technology replaces human interaction, this is a false premise. In fact, the backbone of all business interaction has existed in technology for 30 years. We will get back to in-person meetings, trainings and company events. The roadmap for it all is based in technology. 

Utilizing the technology created in the COVID fire alarm is absolutely critical to maintaining a roadmap to success!   

Get a Couch in Your Office

I'm not suggesting inappropriate executive privilege but you may need to play Psychiatrist for a day. Employees are going to need a safe space and HR is the first line of inquiry. Be prepared for employees to cross the HR line as never before. If you are available to meet employees in their time of vulnerability, trust will build a bridge to new partnerships.

Even Managers who may have been reluctant to engage HR mediation in business affairs will be looking for counseling. 

As the office doors swing open for the first time, Human Resources open door policy will be the center point of organizational culture.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave   

Saturday, April 3, 2021

A Post-Pandemic Opportunity for Partnership


As we emerge from work-from-home solitude and head back into the office, the role of Human Resources has never been more critical. In a time when policy foreshadows strategy all eyes are on HR. The workforce is crammed into the starting gate waiting for a bell to sound. Here are the big questions to ponder:

  • When will we return to the office and in what form?
  • How will we get back to lager organizational meetings and events?
  • Will the tools we've adapted to work from home remain the backbone of our operating principles?

There exists a reality beyond policy: Having been in neutral (or at least adaptation mode) for a year, unit managers will be chomping at the bit to get back to "normal". Quotas may be doubled, control sought to be exerted and mental health could be neglected again when the "time out" is over. Or will it? Here is where the control of policy from the Human Resources team presents an opportunity to bridge the gap between those controlling departmental strategy and safety. The learnings from the pandemic can drive us into a better workplace. 

Keep the least collaborative business unit manager in mind when reading the forthcoming scenarios and let's see if we can't develop a mind frame for partnership....  

How To Avoid Return to Poor Practices

The work-from-home exercise of the last year has forced managers to embrace a trust mindset. Certain employees have thrived wearing slippers under their lap top where others may have prioritized Netflix over work. The aforementioned conundrum stifled work-from-home policies pre-pandemic. 

Our opportunity is to help managers adapt a trust-first mentality while strengthening employee accountability. Employees across the globe have heralded the work-from-home experience as a time of self empowerment where micro-management had failed to produce. 

How can we avoid certain managers reverting to control-based management?       

Tools Drive Partnership

Managers who lead by control do not like sharing their leadership responsibility. Management by control is also the number one reason for employee departure. Appropriate Performance Management strategy has been an ongoing discovery process and post-pandemic work will amplify it. 

Here, technology can be the roadmap for success without being our sole point of professional existence.

Performance Management - Managers can help employees set goals, track progress and course correct. There is also the opportunity encourage employee success through celebrating achievement. Too often we seek to manage performance through discipline. Employees have developed an enhanced awareness of mental health so smashing them over the head with rules and regulations upon return to the office will not work. We can use technology as the basis for goal setting and open a dialogue for improvement as opposed to documenting  weakness.    

Training -  everyone hates training. Will the return to work have an HR Professional in the front of a room by an airport conducting a two day seminar next to 580 powerpoint slides? During the COVID shut down employees trained virtually (often at their own pace) which allowed the requisite information to be digested. We can now adopt a hybrid model: pre-work for training preparation, in-person interactive workshopping and post-training to measure actionable knowledge acquisition. 

Employee Recognition - to reward in public and discipline in private has been a best practice of each company's best managers for decades. Unfortunately, the old style of rewarding simply does not resonate anymore. We need to develop strategic recognition programs that are data driven. Identify gaps in performance and emphasize result improvement. Reward frequently through the process not just for results. Create action planning within the chain of award progression to keep employees in the achievement mindset.    

Emotional Intelligence is not Admission of Weakness

Even the toughest of our employees showed vulnerability in our 60 weeks of working from home. Most breakdowns met with an apology and a pledge to never let it happen again. This is backward. Allowing ourselves to pull back to veil of leadership creates employee trust and strengthens manager to peer relationships. Managers need to observe employee short-comings without using moments of weakness as an opportunity to exert power. Employees should feel welcome to engage in dialogue without having to invite HR in to mediate disagreements. 

Our time in shut down has revealed that we are all capable of making adjustments. It would be a shame not to continue development as a basis for improvement.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave       

Friday, February 12, 2021

Post-COVID Career Advancement

Vaccines are being administered and with Spring a month away there is (finally) reason to be optimistic that a return to normal is in sight. 

What Will The Future Look Like?

Will we return to commutes, office clusters, airplanes and hotels? Will the benefits of the work-from-home experiment be adopted long term? 

We can all agree that certainty seems to be the least certain thing in this day-and-age but with lack of certainty comes opportunity. Those fortunate enough to have emerged from the 2020/2021 pandemic healthy and employed will count themselves fortunate. Then what?

When we are all deemed fit to return to the office, what will your direction look like? After the financial crisis of 2007/2008, the corporate world saw mass exodus of employees who were sub-marginalized during the struggle of financial downturn. Some companies had lost track of Employee Engagement while the understandable risk of staying in business became a stark distraction. When the opportunity to thrive professionally resurfaced, the companies who had kept their employees front of mind saw the benefit of a sustained workforce. Our recent pandemic may have been a holding pattern for many. So, where do we go from here?

Revisit Career Path

"Be So Good They Cannot Ignore You" - Steve Martin

We live in a time where social channels are full of those espousing employee advocacy often at the behest of the larger organization. I guess I'm uncool but I've always been grateful to any employer that gave me an opportunity to represent them. Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic healthy and employed is the first goal. As the future moves us into the pro-active, what does your path look like? Will you sharpen up the resume to see what the markets bares or look for internal opportunities? At some point, we'll move from defense to offense and opportunity will drive again. Why not start planning now.... ?

The worst mistake I'd made in my career was not having a back-up plan. I was loyal to a company to whom I wore out my welcome. I didn't get fired but my ascension plateaued. I was fortunate to have time to plan for the future (many are not). That being said, progression starts with performing in one's current position to the fullest expectation. Your work will speak for you from there.

Start mapping your future today. It may be six months before mobility (externally or internally) becomes a course to navigate but when opportunity knocks you should be ready. Don't wait for others to determine your future.   

Share Your Success

"Happiness is Only Real When Shared" - Chris McCandless 

Organizations are run-amuck with internal competition. Spirited performance measurement drives us all. Even those who identify as collaborative have friends who they wish to best on the leaderboard. Self-Actualization comes when you learn to share your success. You may be a Rockstar performer in your current position but if you are unable to blend soft skills and process orientation with results, finding a path to promotion may be difficult. Every manager loves a team member who is single-minded in their focus. Success in the shadow of other's failures benefits no one.

I've never met anyone who prioritized individuality over collectivism who found true success. He/she who dies with the most toys (does not) win!   

Stay Under The Radar

"Work Hard in Silence, Let Your Success Be The Noise" - Frank Ocean

By far the biggest mistake I see new employees in any company make is falling victim to self-promotion. What's further discouraging is that said self-promotion involves a diatribe of validation before results have been produced. Anyone who tells you to make an impact in your first 90 days on the job is misguiding. 

Work really hard. Be willing to fail. Learn from short-comings. Allow experience to create expertise. Let your work speak for itself.

Picture yourself walking back into an office: hair shaped nicely, clothes pressed and a smile on your face. 

Where will you be?

Why aren't you there now?


Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave   

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top 5 - 2020

Yea, we know, 2020.... worst year ever.... blah, blah, blah. No concerts outside of the drive-in but tons of great music was recorded/released. 

Clem Snide returned with a beautiful summer companion (with Scott Avett in tow) that'll make you laugh while you cry. American Aquarium released a monumental ode to 2020 America with bitter reflection that will leave the listener a little less-innocent. Mikel Jollett wrote a memoir with a musical companion that documents poverty, abuse and (ultimately) personal freedom. Pinegrove created a gem of a sophomore release. Christian Lee Hutson's debut (produced by Phoebe Bridgers) made for some wonderful easy listening over uneasy topics. AJJ were early to the game with their most-polished record accurately warning us that it's gonna be a bunch of bullshit too out in Sweet 2020!

Run the Jewels created the soundtrack to social unrest. Che' Noir revealed herself as the greatest rhyme smith of all time with the help of Apollo Brown.

Andy Shauf made an entire album about a night at a bar. Beach Bunny's "Honeymoon" offered a whole buncha sweetness. Bill Fay returned after a long hiatus with the beautifully constructed "Countless Branches". Bright Eyes reminded us that Lil' Conor is still one of our greatest storytellers. Ian MacKaye debuted Coriky. The ever-prolific Damien Jurado released yet-another collection of sad songs for old friends. Dan Deacon made a wonderful morning companion for your walks through the garden. The John Roderick powered Western State Hurricanes re-recorded some old favorites. Grandaddy recreated The Software Slump on upright piano. Wolf Parade offered another power movement (I saw them live in 2020 - remember live music?). Sylvan Esso nearly cracked the top 5 with the extraordinary "Free Love" (and an accompanying podcast). Waxahatchee made a love letter to rural America for people who will never visit. Sufjan Steven's long awaited new record is really long.  

The sisters HAIM dominated quarantine from home. Frances Quinlan and Hannah Georgas brought us songs for the long lament that was 2020. Adrianne Lenker released 2 albums in follow up to last year's 2 albums and they're all good.

We lost Justin Townes Earle and so many other song writing giants in this year of misery. From misery comes art.

"Yesterday I felt so much more than I feel now... standing in the window with my heart bleeding out.. they say the world keeps turning but still I have my doubts...

Will I be remembered for the love I made or everything I stole... the sun is going down and I'll be damned if it don't look like snow.... but the heavens on me hold no guarantee" 

- Justin Townes Earle  (1982 - 2020)

Here are the Top 5 albums of 2020.....



El Capitan by Will Johnson

"There's no healing like moonlight, I am accustomed to this battle every night"

Centro-Matic's "Love You Just The Same" welcomes the listener in with a thumping drum beat and what seems to be a one-string walk down; perfect for my guitar playing ability. The narrator's voice was reserved, the lyrics well-thought out. Said narrator, Will Johnson, went on to play with many of song writing's favorite children all the while maintaining his humility in the dark corner of the stage. Hearing Will on The Working Songwriter alerted me to El Capitan. This record is even more subtle than his past work. It takes a while to creep into one's soul and is a careful listen. Will crafts tales of loneliness with the comfort of a campfire. Laments from small town motel windows and stories of fallen heroes all draped under the moon in an empty sky.   



Folklore & Evermore by Taylor Swift

"Never be so polite you forget your power... Never wield such power you forget to be polite"

It's 2020, the world is on fire, and the last person who needs more recognition is Tay Tay Swift. The only thing that matters when evaluating music is good music. Tay Tay commissioned the production grace of The National's Aaron Dessner to build not one, but two, wonderful song books. With guest appearances from the Indie Rock elite, the subdued production highlights perfect pitch and thoughtful verse. Even the teenage balladry seems relevant while the songs build from sparse to anthemic. The pentameter of vocal flow creating hooks all it's own. No one teased Lebron James for dedicating his life to honing his craft. Here, Tay Tay puts away the over-production and auto-tune to bare what is a master of her craft creating perfection. If you are willing to put aside your bias, these records will bring the horizon a little closer (don't worry I won't tell any one). In short, if you don't like Folklore & Evermore, you don't like music.



In Sickness & In Flames by The Front Bottoms

"Good stuff is happening all around me, people are high fiving, people are freaking out"

The Front Bottoms are possibly my favorite band of all time so they are a mainstay in the top 5. If you enjoy a beverage and remember how to dance, this band is for you. TFB have the ability to make one laugh out loud and shed a tear all over the course of a two and half minute pop anthem. The youthful energy and fist-pumping debauchery veiled in a nod to learning from living make this, yet another, Front Bottoms masterpiece. We could all use some time on the floor of the concert hall right about now..... 



Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

"I hate your mom, I hate it when she opens her mouth, it's amazing to me how much you can say when you don't know what you're talking about"

I love seeing an artist seize their moment. Safe to say, the expectations on Phoebe Bridger's sophomore release were monumental. She delivered with paramount fervor. Punisher is a thrill ride from song to song with perfect instrumentation complimenting Phoebe's angelic voice. The aforementioned grace hiding the soul-crushing lyrics that often make up the stories of love lost, resentment and betrayal. Singularly, you can pull twenty different verses from each song on Punisher to post on a tunnel wall. This is a simply outstanding effort from one of the best songwriters of our time.  



Notes On a Conditional Form by The 1975

"I've seen your friends at the birthday party, they were kinda fucked up before it even started, they were gonna go to the Pinegrove show, they didn't know about all the weird stuff so they just left it"

Notes On a Conditional Form isn't a record it's an odyssey. A companion to 2018's "A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships", the 1975 take us through 22 songs with a synchronized narrative. In a time when many bands only release singles, this work serves to visit every corner of the human psyche. Matt Healy bares his soul with inter-personal thoughts on abuse, recovery, love, failure and the missteps of his past. Each song drawn together through keyboard interludes serving as a lesson in humility the length of a Paul Thomas Anderson film. Any of these songs standing alone will serve as a dancehall banger; upbeat and celebratory. When strung together, this album serves as a love letter to youthful exuberance as well as a warning sign to the excesses our younger spirit presents us.

Thank You for Listening! See You in 2021!

~ Dave  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

What We've Learned in 2020


It's that time of year when reflection and planning meet to flip the calendar. This year, it seems more important than ever to put the past away. At this time last year I predicted that 2020 could be the best year ever. I had also written a blog preparing for work-from-home workforce transitions predicting a 12 week office shut down. 

Boy, Was I Wrong!

There has been so much wrong with 2020, how can we make it right again?

Informality 

Many of us spent the better part of the year in our pajamas. Zoom calls were interrupted by pets and little humans. The roads were always open, airplanes were grounded and restaurants/hotels attempted to operate at a fraction of capacity. No long commutes, business travel, after work events or long days in the office... how ever would the workforce function? Turns out, pretty well!

As we enter 2021 there is much to be learned from the transition to informal work. Wardrobe aside, isolation actually lent itself to more-intimate workplace relationships. Without a manager looking over one's shoulder, trust became a necessity. Customer relationships were deepened through long days in the zoom room. Where employee mental health met hurdles, organizational leaders were called upon to infuse empathy into workforce strategy. 

Whether we return to in-person work in one month or one year, exercising trust and empathy will be a way forward in the continued quest for maximized employee engagement

Learning as Currency   

Some might think 2021 may be the best year ever in contrast to the woes of 2020. Let's hope so. There is, however, a lot to rebuild. Many HR Technologies we transitioned to during the pandemic will remain the cornerstone for workforce productivity. Other technologies will be phased out for failing to meet the immediacy of the virtual work transition. Bonuses may not be available and companies may have to tighten budgets to maintain. The thing we have direct access to are learning opportunities. Many have spent the downtime of 2020 loading up their learning management systems with content. Other organizations have made the necessary pivot to taking instructor-lead training virtual. In an attempt to dissuade technical over-kill, MasterClass opportunities have created a reprieve to online cooking classes instead of team meetings. 

People may have been alerted of their lack of credentials in this time of global workforce transition. Organizations may have found their technology stack under-resourced. We have an immediate opportunity to meet our employees' goals for development with the now-necessary skill enhancement to serve as a win/win for career advancement.

Humility

For some organizations, 2020 was a very productive year. Those supplying the appropriate HR technology were available to help their customers save the day. The celebration of employee achievement also transitioned. There were many creative ways in which organizations found to celebrate the results of their top talent. But, without rewards banquets and the in-person fanfare of co-workers, the pageantry of success felt a lot different.

Employees were called upon to truly evaluate the purpose of their profession in 2020. No one feels comfortable celebrating while others suffer, so rewarding oneself in private became a process of self-reflection. 

We've made it through the year that was (or was not). Can we escalate ourselves into the future wiser, more-focused and more-willing to accept what the world presents us? 

I'd like to think that 2021 could be the best year ever. I hope I'm right this time around!

Happy New Year! Let's Change the World!

- Dave      

Friday, October 9, 2020

How COVID19 Jump Started Digital Transformation

The onset (and after-effects) of COVID19 sent shock waves through the workforce. Individuals (and the companies for whom they work) were literally forced to adopt technical transformation overnight. Most organizations with remote job functions (sales, consulting, training) had an existing inventory of technology (web conferencing, CRM, LMS & performance-based technology) installed. The question became how to utilize said technology more-effectively and how to reskill the formally reluctant in the workforce to embrace the new normal.

So as of March 2020, organizations have had to to embrace two new realities:

  • What technology do I have/need and how can it be utilized?
  • How can I help the workforce get up-to-speed with whiplash intensity?

Organizational Development Professionals have partnered with HRIS teams to execute a digital plan that (somewhat) replicates what was. Thus, creating a renewed focus on training, engagement and adaptation. Technical Roadmaps to 2022 suddenly sped up to Q1 2020. Organizations had to pivot to maintain operational grace (as did their employees).

Change can be difficult to embrace until you have to.....

Reskilling The Workforce

In the past, Training Professionals have left remote locations wondering if they had effected change. As of St Patrick's Day, those tables have drastically turned. Now, employees are seeing voluntary programs becoming mandatory. 

We've seen field staff professionals who thrived on charm now called upon to share subject matter expertise. Customers who were flattered by donut deliveries are now asking for value-added consulting and according product-development. Management teams can no longer allow tenured employees to maintain neutral comfort. 

Tough times call for budget management and tenure alone is not a skill set.

The New Roadmap

Our technical teams are now inventorying the technology stack to create a simple and engaging employee experience

(easier said than done)

Employees need an easy-to-access one-stop-shop to locate necessary technology and learn how to use it. Help desks are crashing with requests for information, learning management systems can no longer sit dormant and budgets for pizza parties are now being allocated to reward performance.

So how can you bring employees up-to-speed without having to reinvent your human capital management technology stack?

1. Create a Simplified Employee Profile

If you have an intranet landing page, you can create an employee profile. Then, create pathways to your essential employee technologies through single-source entry points. 

Here, employees have streamlined access to all essential systems. Creating this middleware is easier than you might think.

2. Integrate Systems 

Each day we all pull up 3 to 5 sites that consume our daily organizational habits. CRM, LMS, Recognition System, Performance Management..... 

By developing a strategy that combines the use of these systems, employees will create a self-imposed efficiency flow. 

But how do we keep employees systematically engaged?

3. Develop a Points System

Intrinsic motivation through badging and social feeds will keep employees on a path to success, but how do we measure results?

By integrating technologies per the above, you can create a connected points system to gage participation and reward success. Now, employees will have a lens into how their behavioral modeling (learning and recognition) ties into quantitative progress (performance management and metric results).

No one can connect a silver lining to the intense disappointment of 2020. However, those who have adapted have learned to endure. What's more, the adaptations made out of necessity during COVID will sustain success. 

Organizations can save money by downsizing physical offices. Employee mental health will be strengthened by limiting commute time. Organizational efficiencies adapted during work from home mandates will serve as long term techniques to measure individual success.

The sun will shine on us all again soon. While we're stuck inside, we might as well develop tools to make the future more manageable.

Thank You for Reading, 

Dave

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Art of Getting Out of Your Own Way

I've never been shy to document my foibles. I guess helping others learn from my mistakes might help me feel like I've recovered something lost. 


Most of us begin our careers with a sense of competition. At some point, we learn compromise is one of the more important elements of success. We exchange winning at all cost for the opportunity to help everyone win. We learn that collaboration beats competition every time. 

I've found that those who are most competitive are often driven by insecurity. Leaders who exercise empathy post greater results than those who seek to succeed without lending merit to the process. 

Imperfection (and the willingness to punch above your weight) is more important than perfection through choosing results as the only predictor of greatness.


There comes a point when the game slows down and success becomes more than just a blur of effort.


Stop Self Promoting

There was a book written about how to make a first impression at a new job. I disagree with the premise. Too often, professionals get caught up looking for validation. Whether its a new hire seeking to show off their merit or a cagey veteran hoping to validate their existence, people are always trying to find a way into the headlines. 

The best way to gain popularity in an organization is to allow your work to precede your voice. 

Ask yourself: Is what I am sharing beneficial to others or simply a way of promoting my effort?

Being popular is fun. Being respected is far more impactful.


Don't Read Your Own Press

Another way people tarnish their own success is through complacency. There is a tip to every career trajectory. Everyone has their high point of production which starts with a thankless climb to the top. With hard work comes results and an ultimate recognition of greatness. 

It is lonely at the top.

When one makes the choice to get comfortable, the slide from the peak begins. Then starts the normative protection of hierarchy by tenure aka "this is how things are done around here".

Unfortunately, the sooner you believe that you have learned all you possibly can, the closer you get to extinction.

With every victory comes a little bit more responsibility. With every promotion comes a need for greater effort. The game is never finished and comfort is the enemy.    


Never Give Up  

Every profession has peaks and valleys. Sometimes you get lucky, other times you try and try without results. There are things that are out of your control. What you can control is the navigation of the path.

I went to college orientation when I was still a wee high schooler. A person asked if it was advised to take the tough classes and get C's or to take the easy classes and get A's. To which the counselor replied, "Take the tough classes and get A's". That's all you need to know about success.

If you set expectations higher for yourself than others, you never have to report to anybody!

Set goals for yourself... then double them!

Consider every detail of every task and master the process.

Take every shortcoming personally and fix it.

Win more than you lose and continually push yourself to do better.

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat!


Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave 

Monday, July 27, 2020

D E & I are not just letters


I am proud to be part of SHRM's Together Forward at Work (TF@W) campaign. TF@W is a call for the HR Profession and broader business community to drive racism and social injustice out of America's workplaces through specific actions and measurable outcomes of human equity.

I have been in the Human business for nearly 13 years. I get to work with organizations to reward and recognize employees for a variety of achievements and contributions. There are so many different ways we can look at organizational impact and form initiatives to produce measurable results. Bringing attention to racism and social injustice will involve a much different approach. We cannot package human oppression as a module. We cannot change inequality through pizza parties. Our work moving forward will involve a far more complex approach to organizational change.

Organizations across the world are trying to discover their voice in this time of social injustice.... it might be better just to listen.

There is so much to be repaired. Let's get to work.

D, E & I are not just letters
A friend of mine prepared tirelessly and went through a 90 day interview process to be rewarded a prominent job at an established technology firm. She left her former employer and prepared for the first day of the rest of her life. On her first day she was introduced to an on-boarding program on the company's internal social software. There, she saw that her new manager had received a "Diversity Champion" badge for hiring her. She thought she earned the opportunity through her hard work and expertise. Needless to say her first day at the firm was her last.

Too often, organizations look to systematically deploy ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion only to further validate systemic prejudice.

I was intrigued to hear VMware is mirroring the NFL's Rooney Rule on a recent HR Famous podcast. The organization has committed to have minority candidates involved in all hiring opportunities. A foot forward in a long journey ahead.

It is time for organizations to commit, take action and prove results.

HR Tech and Inclusion     
Many people of diverse backgrounds are oppressed by their Managers. If one-to-one closed door meetings and confidential performance reviews are the only way individuals can advance in an organization, they will be continually held back by those who have assumed power.

Employee Recognition can be an organic act of inclusion. You might see a face different from yours on a profile accompanied by an accolade of achievement to present their greatness to the entire organization. Public Leaderboards may introduce less-vocal employees through their consistent achievements. Social community contributions can be tracked and measured outside of silos.

Individuals are not expecting favors for being different, they are simply seeking equal opportunity.

2020 will likely be regarded as a historical nightmare to the world economy. If nothing else, hopefully we can emerge from the slumber of this year with a collective approach to allow employee voices to form organizational change.

We are rebuilding together to be better forever.

Let's Get To Work!!!

- Dave