Friday, March 31, 2017

The M Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't agree?

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

The reality is this:

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

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

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

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

I have a few thoughts for people of all ages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Building an Ethical Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound impossible?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Honest:

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Every employee works against a stigma:

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

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

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

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

Be Human!

Dave Kovacovich 

Monday, March 6, 2017

3 Tunnels of HR Connection

As The 2017 SHRM Annual Conference grows closer, the SHRM Social Media team is continuing to analyze the SHRM Competency Model's profound effect of Leadership Development.

Today we review the second competency: Relationship Management

Last month the standard was set: Wouldn't it be better if HR could pull up to work in an Ice Cream Truck as opposed to a cop car? Today, we will help you determine what to learn @ #SHRM17 that will allow you to switch vehicles when you get back to your workplace.

Let's connect with 3 Relationship Management concepts:
1. How you connect with your colleagues
2. How you connect with your employees
3. How you connect with your vendors

We are ALL IN this together!

Next Practices
HR Professionals ask me to connect them with their colleagues every day. They want to know what other programs are out there, how they are structured, what new ideas exist and which delivery methods are emerging. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to rely on me to connect you with your peers?

Where does your network exist?

Within the four walls of your workplace? Within the city you live?

There are literally thousands of social networks driven by forward-thinking HR Professionals to whom you can have access without leaving your office.

Do you participate in NextChat ?
Do you subscribe to the HRNet ?
Do you listen to HRHappyHour ?
Are you active on Twitter following the SHRM Social Media team?

You can suffer in quiet desperation or you can build your knowledge and run with it through the hallways of your organization!

Time To Hit The Hallway!
As HR Professionals, we search for ways to connect with our employees... Should we throw a party? Should we keep candy in our offices? Should we offer outstanding perks? How do we know if our perks are outstanding?

As simple as it is to attain next practices online, it is equally easy to open your door and meet your employees where they sit.

Building trust is the result of a lifestyle choice. When you choose to close the distance between you and your employees True Engagement begins to take shape. If employees know that you are not sitting in their meeting to survey inappropriate language, you might get invited to more meetings. You need not survey your employees quarterly if you can talk to them right now. You need not communicate an open door policy if your door is always open.

HR sets an organization's cultural tone:
Let your employees know that their ideas will be heard/adopted and you'll find that complaints turn into suggestions.

When the Sales Team runs toward you (not away from you) at Happy Hour.... You are officially a Business Partner!

Vendors Are People Too....    
It's hard enough to stay up on the tricks of the HR Trade while embracing your employees. The good news is, you can always beat up on your vendors to make you feel better..... Right? Not Right!

What do you look for in an outsourced HR Partnership?

Efficiency, Improved Resources, Reliability?

You will be in an office building at 10pm. You will be on conference calls in the middle of the night. You will yell at people from the front seat of your car. You will laugh uncontrollably over a well-deserved Martini at happy hour.

... and over time, these annoying little sales people can become among your closest of friends!

We tend to beat ourselves up. The pressure of maintaining order pushes us away from building and cultivating stronger relationships. The easy thing to do is keep your door closed, stay off social media, sit by yourself at lunch and turn a blind eye when you see the sales team at Happy Hour during lunch.

The far more difficult journey for a HR Professional is to take the bold step into building trust.

... To interact!

... To present yourself as a safe harbor for the troubled!

... To know about everyone in every phase of the organization and what it takes to Engage them!

We cannot be a Resource to Human Beings if we choose to hide from the very things that make Being Human difficult.

The great news is that there is a support network that exists within the people who we are called upon to help. There are people who are dealing with everything that challenges us just a few keystrokes away. If you seek to trust and empower your outsourcers, they become Partners.... or maybe even friends?

Go Make Some Friends!