Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Employee Investment

I still love the idea of Employee Engagement. Sure, the concept has been brutally misused by many, but True Engagement is a blissful thing! To engage one's employees is certainly a better premise than to merely recognize them. But, let's take it a step further....

What Investment are You Making in Your Employees?  

More than pay or perks, what does it mean to genuinely INVEST in your employees?

Succession Planning Starts at Day 1
I hate generational stereotyping but we cannot ignore the professional sea change afoot. Over the next five years, Senior Leaders in many organizations will be riding off into the sunset. Are you ready? Rather than amplifying your recruiting strategy, you should be investing in your in-house talent. New ideas are always great but your organization's true thought leaders are walking your halls right now. Nothing is more defeating to an employee who has dedicated 10 years of their life to a cause, only to be passed over for a promotion by an external candidate. Jack Welch urged employees to hang in there when they are passed over for a promotion....Jack Welch is wrong!

How much does it cost you to hire from outside the organization?
How much turn-over results from such a tactic?
Why are there no competent successors in your building?

The Simplistic (and often ignored) Art of Goal Setting
Reiteration #1: Performance reviews are a necessary legal document, not a motivator.
Reiteration #2: Watch Tom Chatfield's TEDtalk on Game Mechanics & Performance Management.

Here's how it works:
1. Give your employees a set of goals and HELP them achieve them.
2. Recognize each goal completed.
3. Provide greater challenges.
4. Promote employees who effectively climb the aforementioned ladder of achievement.


I recently attended a conference as a member of the Social Media team. Social Media is a platform for human interaction, not a detractor. When people who have never met have shared ideas for 3 years....the initial interaction is well-framed.

At said conference, I saw people having deeply meaningful conversations. Some people are genuinely willing to invest in others. They will step away from their job or networking to talk to another human being.

Challenge: Find a new friend in your organization.

1. Send an email to one person a day wishing them a happy and productive day.
2. Invite someone to lunch.
3. Call someone to have a conversation.
4. Offer to help without being asked.

Invest in each other!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, June 21, 2013

SHRM13: The State of the Business

This morning HR Professionals across the world catapulted themselves through the office doors full of inspiring new ideas. The SHRM annual conference has concluded, now it is up to us to carry the well-lit torch of knowledge into our organizations. We came to Chicago to learn and share. Through human consensus, however, I can tell you that HR's greatest challenge is ending the stigma!

HR has been categorized as risk adverse, administrative and budget cautious; traits that do not embody business strategy in 2013. I'm here to tell HR they are not alone, every business unit has a skills gap that needs to be addressed. Sales people talk too much, IT professionals don't talk enough, Marketing professionals are too reliant of crowd sourcing, and executives across all departments need to be more receptive to public opinion. It's not an HR thing, it's a Business thing.

The best advice given to HR this week: consider yourself a business professional not a Human Resources employee! With that in mind, let's take a look at the big take aways from the 2013 SHRM annual conference.

Too Much Technology
As a member of the SHRM social media team, I am the first to advocate for technology. What the social media team knows is that social media is a conversation starter not a human stop-gap. Too many people avoided human interaction in the halls of McCormick Place by sitting in the corner with their head in their phone.

Additionally, every vendor seemed to have a technical solution to address HR issues. Got employee morale issues, check out a demo. Need a succession plan, use this survey.

Technology does not solve problems, People solve problems. HR vendors fail by positioning technology as a silver bullet.

Making Leaders Out of Managers
Developmental Feedback is the key to progress. What are we doing to strategically arm our workforce with the ability increase profits, maximize resources and keep our share holders happy? Every manager in every department needs to better connect to their employees. More than empathy, we need strategy. More than process for the sake of process, we need streamlined results.

HR has been tasked with keeping Generation Y happy in the workplace by creating a cool culture. We seem to have forgotten that the majority of line managers are of Generation X. More than gadgets, bean bag chairs and happy hours; we want to solve business problems. We want to make the company profitable. We want to connect employees to a cause they can believe in.

The "skills gap" is not an HR issue! Hit the delete button on Generational stereotyping and start figuring out how to build a revenue stream.

Small Data
We are now analyzing every element of our employees day to determine how to engage them. We want to know the music they listen to, which team they like, and what they are saying about us on Twitter. We have neglected the fact that while said employee may rock out to Surfer Blood on their way to work, when they get to work they want!

Employees don't want us to ask them what they want. They want a confident leadership team with a mission to give them something to believe in.

Where'd You Get Your Information From, Huh?
On several occasions in educational sessions, I heard presenters comment that there is "tons of data to support this claim". Show it to us! Better yet, prove to me that you have process knowledge to back up your recommendation.

Anyone can look at a study released by a consulting group or association and leap to conclusions:
88% percent of employees have commented that they would be somewhat interested in hearing about a mobile solution to workforce engagement. 

...And so we can logically conclude that the employer should buy everyone an i-pad mini and install our software....?

Vendors become Business Partners when they can tell us what their company has done for their customers and why it matters to my company. Anyone can read a white paper (or steal an idea from a competitor) and pretend they have intimate applicable knowledge.

This is where HR's reliance on over-generalized crowd sourcing gets us in trouble. Stop asking for industry best practices, stop asking what your competitors are doing, stop asking for references....and CREATE SOMETHING.....that is unique to your organization and the human beings that advocate your mission!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Lessons From Blake Mycoskie

Wanna see a bunch of HR people cry? Put them in the an expo hall the size of an airplane hanger and put Mr. Blake Mycoskie on stage. We HR folk are often called upon to put our emotions such luck on Monday morning in Chicago!

Day 3 of the SHRM annual conference began with a general session like any other: video's, a few speeches by the organization's leaders and music that Steve Browne likes blaring through the cavernous general session hall.

Then Blake took the stage. He told us about how he has always been an entrepreneur and that his first venture was an online driver's education platform. He talked about an idea that turned into a movement and the people who believed in him enough to support him along the way. He shared his vision for starting something that matters. Here are a few elements of his strategic philanthropic vision:

People Believe In People Who Believe
We all love an underdog. Blake conceptualized an idea that for every pair of shoes he sold, he world give another to a child in need. The idea was based in the depth of his human emotion (which is why it worked). He admitted that he felt like giving up many times until he saw his Mom from across the room washing a child's foot. It is the things we don't have to do that help people remember the power of the human spirit.

Today, Tom's has given away over 10,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.

Business and Philanthropy Can Solve World Problems
Blake didn't apologize for having a strategy behind his cause. Too often the emotion behind a not-for-profit business overwhelms the need for well-planned go-to-market strategy. If the cause is something you believe in, you should be smart about how you support it. Those critical of corporate giving would have been ashamed of their predisposition on this fine morning in Chicago.

Consumer Advocacy Begins With The Salesman    
Blake told a story of seeing a pair of Tom's on a woman in public for the first time. He asked her casually about her shoes and she went on to espouse the virtue of the movement that her footwear represented.

Your customers will believe in you if you believe that the work you are doing is making lives better!

Start Something That Matters!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Good Morning from the Virgin Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

Yes, friends...this Father's Day started and ended with a 5 am kiss on the head of my boy and girl as they lay sleeping just before the Sun's eyes opened. But, I don't care. Every day is Father's Day for me! I've got the two most incredible kids in the world due to the fact that my wife is a very good Mom. I've never been one to take credit for another person's hard work. I wish I was exaggerating but I'm not.

My friend Jennifer wrote a daughter's perspective on Father's Day that warmed my heart. It is awesome that my wife and kids appreciate me! I'm phenomenally grateful that their expectations are so modest.

To dispel a myth, being a good dad is not difficult. I talk to my kids like adults and let them get up on their own when they fall down.

As I board a flight to spend Father's Day with my friends at the Society of Human Resource Management Annual Conference, it would be infantile for me to feel slighted.

It was the great Steve Jobs who noted that the key to success was surrounding oneself with a great supporting cast. So instead of having a "me" day, I'll earn the title.

I coached my son's teams for many years. I had expectations that he would be the athlete that I was, I'm sure he will be. My daughter strapped on his hand-me-down shin guards on her first day of soccer and proceeded to pour in more goals in one game than he has in his career. She is by far the smallest lady on the field but her heart is gigantic. Life has a way of surprising us, so do our children.  

We were at a party at the end of my daughter's soccer season. The girls dropped quarters into the "claw machine" while the parents drank stale beer. The little ladies all cheered in unison as the last stuffed animal was pulled from the machine. Every girl had a prize....all but one! As the girls celebrated with a group hug, one girl stood in the corner without a stuffed animal. The parents vicarious joy was slighted by this sight. And in that moment, my son walked over to the girl and handed her the stuffed animal he hand won early in the evening.

My job here is done.....

Happy Father's Day!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Free Honey

Hello Friends -
The SHRM Annual Conference is upon us (and I will once again remind you) I will be part of the super awesome Social Media Team. Our goal is simple: To Educate.

We will....
Educate attendees on how to get the most out of their experience.
Educate those that couldn't attend through the #SHRM13 virtual experience.
Educate vendors on how to better promote their brand.
Educate speakers on how to better engage their audience.

Foremost, we are here to Educate HR Professionals on the benefits of using Social Media. It's true, Social Media & HR are no longer rivals. Here are a few reasons why:

Thought Leadership Requires Varying Opinions
HR can be a lonely place. You are not alone. We Know Next, Drive Thru HR, and various HR Blogs (to name just a few); have created a virtual network of like-minded professionals. Wouldn't it be nice if the Sales Team invited you over to the bar during happy hour instead of running in the other direction while you sequester yourself to a booth by the bathroom...?

You Don't Have To Swing The Bat To Catch a Ball
I get it, people like me freak you out! I'm opinionated and aggressive and I don't mind sharing my views with the world. I also really, really care....a lot! I am not your enemy, I am your greatest source of cultural insight. I know what employees dislike and what they love....and you can too by investigating social media. You don't have to write a blog or post a single tweet...all you have to do to listen and apply what you hear. It's like a real-time Glassdoor that will give you organizational super powers!

We Need To Leave Our Hallows
Ignore social media and you will be unemployed. It will be weird conducting your own exit interview. Even if you start with the intention of monitoring employee activity, I promise you, you will discover insights that benefit your organizational relevance.

Talk to the executives about brand perception and how to turn business issues into performance initiatives.

Talk to your employees about their personal the bar.....away from the booth by the bathroom....actually among other humans.

I will be in The Hive (located in the South Building of McCormick Place in HALL A right next to the SHRMStore) Come get some honey on your stinger....we don't bite (or sting for that matter).

The greatest gift you take away from SHRM13 could be the treasure chest of knowledge you have opened up by venturing into the Social Enterprise.

See You in Chicago!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Navigating Swagville

The 2013 SHRM annual conference is upon us and I am excited to be a member of the SHRM Social Media Team. If you are attending come see me at The Hive ( located in the South Building of McCormick Place in HALL A right next to the SHRMStore). I will be conducting interviews, giving social media tutorials and signing autographs during the following times:
Monday, June 17th from 2pm - 4pm
Tuesday, June 18th from 2pm - 4pm
Wednesday, June 19th from 10am - 12pm

Come see me!

I have spent the prior 6 SHRM annual conferences as part of an exhibitor booth team. Over the years our team devised a strategy to enhance the experience for exhibitors and attendees. Here is my recommendation for navigating the Exposition Hall.

For Attendees:
1. Do your pre-work. The best way to avoid being spammed by a thousand annoying sales people is to pick your battles. Know which vendors are a value-add to your organization's HR Strategy and seek them out. It is far more beneficial to spend 20 minutes discussing your issues with a desired partner than to dart from booth to booth asking each vendor's purpose for being there.

2. Do not suffer swag remorse. Many HR pros will return from Chicago with 2 extra carry-on bags full of logo-ed stuffed animals for their nephews and nieces. Forgive my candor but that is a terrible idea! We are in a day-and-age when HR is driving several critical elements of organizational strategy. The SHRM annual conference showcases the best vendors in the industry. Don't miss an opportunity to become an informed buyer because you are busy collecting swag in exchange for a year's worth of spam emails!

3. Humanize your RFP process. The process of finding a strategic partner to fulfill an unmet organizational need can last for months (and sometimes years). At the SHRM annual conference you have the opportunity to have qualifying conversations with every vendor in every service line. Maximize the experience and come back to your organization with your mind full of strategic reference points (instead of a bag full of swag)!

4. Ask tough questions. Be real about what you want; the essential delivery elements a vendor's product must engage.

Here is a list of those Exhibiting at the 2013 annual conference.

1. Know the product or service that fulfills an unmet organizational need.
2. Locate all the vendors in that space.
3. Visit their booths throughout the conference 
(plan to have just one or two meaningful conversations per Exhibitor Hall visit)
4. Ask the tough questions. 
5. If a booth staff member skirts around your question - cross them off your list.
6. Leave Chicago with a new partnership in place!

For Exhibitors:

1. Have a Strategy. You know your target audience, seek them out. Time is of the essence in the exhibitor hall and there will be a hundred people at your booth at any given time. Qualify your conversations. Don't waste an entire session speaking to a lonely attendee that has no interest in buying your product or service. Reserve time for your target audience and have meaningful conversations.

2. Here's how it works
a. Have a group in front of your booth.
b. Look at the attendees badge and ask a few questions.
c. If they do not fit your target audience, send them on their way.
(they will not be offended)
d. If they are of a targeted clientele - take them into your booth and introduce them to a subject matter expert.

3. Don't bullshit attendees. If you don't know the answer to a question introduce the attendee to someone who does.

4. Don't be annoying! 
a. If I am walking through the middle of the hall don't dart across the hall to scan my badge. 
b. Don't yell at me. 
c. Don't ask stupid questions.
d. Initiate a conversation based on your ability to solve the attendees business issue.
e. If people are uninterested, leave them alone.
f. Don't get offended when people ignore you.
g. Qualify, qualify, qualify

5. Quality is better than Quantity! You should plan to close people on-site. Don't just collect names of non-decision makers for the sake of lead stats.

6. Buy yourself a beer! I know working a booth is extremely difficult. At the end of the day you deserve to celebrate the fruits of your labor!

Companies spend a lot of money to exhibit at SHRM. Raising brand awareness is awesome, but having conversations that produce qualified leads is even better! Attendees have limited time in the Exhibitor Hall, don't waste your time chasing stuffed ducks!

See you all in Chicago!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Succession Fatigue

There is a concept in the HR world known as Succession Planning. There are many arms to the succession octopus, however, most organizations accompany this concept with a common tag line:
"If the CEO leaves, who will replace her..?"

In today's workforce the word succession might be taken with the wrong connotation. If the objective of the organization is only to replace the top officer what does that mean the the rest of your employee population? Along with the HR popularized catch phrases: Millennials, Employee Engagement, and a seat at the table....maybe its time to sunset the concept of succession planning?

It's About What We Leave Behind!
Any great leader has a goal to leave the company in good hands. It has been proven that inability to delegate makes for a dip in company progression. There comes a point with each leader when we have made our riches and compiled personal accolades. From there, we are trying to create something that will make the world a better place. We want to touch lives by helping people build their confidence. We want to put our stamp on something that others can carry and interpret. In essence, leadership is a selfless act that gives others the fuel to serve better than we have.

When it comes our time to pass the torch we will want it to shine brighter!

Start Building Tomorrow, Today!
Deflate the old concept of golden parachutes for dead weight executives. Legacy building should start from one's date of hire. Our hiring process should involve our vision for the future and a candidate's ability to carry the torch. Otherwise, what are we fighting for?

All promotions should be internal. We should not be concerned with teaching our employees too much. If our culture rocks...people will thrive!

It is incumbent upon us to consider the impact every individual can have on our organizational development. We have to consider the importance of filling our employee's toolboxes with everything we can afford to give them. Everyone should aspire to be our company's CEO.

The future is every day! There is no finish line!

Don't Forget to Remember!