Monday, September 28, 2009

Engaged Companies: Are You Serious? Really?





Today’s post is written by Barbara A. Hughes, Co-Founder, Intellectual Capital Consulting:


I’m impressed – and frankly amazed sometimes – at the sheer number of blogs, articles, posts, etc. that turn up in my Google Alerts on the topics of employee engagement and customer engagement. Some of the information is interesting and occasionally, it is thought-provoking. But, I wonder how many of these ideas are actually applied in organizations?


Here is my problem with this stuff: it often mirrors what doesn’t work in organizations. We have silos of data, knowledge, know-how and information gathered, hoarded or used as our personal or departmental power bases which cannot move the company toward its strategic objectives when it’s so fragmented. Thinking along these lines is like a Chinese menu – 600 items somewhat related but never integrated. And, like Chinese food, disparate discussions about engagement often leave us hungry for real answers after a couple of hours.


I read a blog post recently suggesting that companies create a new C-level position for Engagement because top level executives are too busy doing other things and middle managers don’t know enough about organizational strategy. As they say on Saturday Night Live: Are You Serious? Really? I’m not denigrating the idea of an Engagement Champion but I’ve held similar internal positions and it is a recipe for failure unless this position is accountable for bringing together resources and managing the execution of complex, enterprise-wide initiatives and not the dog’s body who has the thankless task of being the one who is “doing stuff to us”.


Inside-out, bottom-up, outside-in and top-down, it is our ENTIRE organization that must be engaged in order for any single factor to be engaged to a degree that makes a difference. Here is how we at ICC view the design of a successful engagement model:


Leadership: engages through continuous communication of strategy and vision; sets the tone for an engaged culture; creates resilience. Is relentless about linking business results to employee and customer experiences.


Strategy: engages by instilling a clear and compelling vision of the company’s purpose and future direction. Motivates by setting goals that link to each person’s contributions.


Culture: engages when there is transparency of thought, ideas and information; and when there is flow among units, departments, functions and individuals.

Employees: engage with an understanding of their work and how it furthers organizational strategy and goals. Give their best efforts to a company that values their contributions, and the customers they serve. Link their personal view to the organization’s view of success.


Customers: engage with an organization that is designed to provide a unique combination of product, service and experience they would find difficult to get elsewhere.


Linking and integrating the key engagement factors strengthens the process of delivering on your brand promise to both employees and customers. This model is your organization’s unique competitive advantage and will attract and retain the relationships – employees and customers alike – that drive business results. It’s not about copying Zappo’s culture or GE’s lean processes or Amazon’s analytics. It’s about discovering what you want “engagement” to mean in your company and then designing the five key factors to create the results you want.


I know that there are engaged companies out there. Will you share what is working for you?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

HR as Rock Stars!

Over the last week, I have had some very interesting discussions in Social MediaLand.

I have had many lively discussions regarding my last post, "Dear Job Seeker in HR." Some of the comments were left on my blog but most were either emailed or communicated to me in person, which I find interesting. Some of the comments were around the idea that recruiters are using social media to make decisions on non-job related criteria. There are definitely two schools of thought around this issue. I have heard:

1) Recruiters should have a process and a framework to evaluate social media content as it relates to the job
2) Whatever is on the internet is fair game and if it is in the public view then recruiters can use that information however they wish.

This topic has really sparked a lot of discussion and thought., I have a colleague, Brent Churchwell, that suggested a panel discussion on this topic for the SHRM-Atlanta conference. We are in the process of organizing that event now. Stay tuned for details; it should be interesting! Now, this is how social media can be effective...keeping the conversation going.

What are your thoughts on the role Social Media should play in the selection process? How do you BRAND yourself as a ROCK STAR online?

After the Social Media discussions, I joined another discussion on "Is HR Dying" over at Punkrock HR. Laurie Ruettimann, a well known HR blogger posed an interesting and thought provoking question. (please read the comments, and yes there are many, but worth it). The net, net of the post was that many people had various opinions on the subject, but at the end of the posts bloggers agreed on one thing; HR bloggers do not do a good job of talking about the GOOD that HR does. We need to talk more about how HR has made a difference and highlight the ROCK STARS!

So, I decided that as a follow up to my post from last week, discussing what HR Manager candidates did wrong, I would discuss how the final candidates were ROCK STARS.

In my opinion, we had some of the best talent out there interviewing for an HR Manager's job for a client. Here is what made the finalist ROCK STARS:

1) Well prepared: They knew more about the client than I did.
2) Leave behinds: They had designed a brochure, a folder or another "marketing" tool to leave with the client. Excellent idea
3). Followed up: Sent an immediate "thank you" email and expressed again, why they would be a great fit for the job.
4) Asked GREAT questions.
5) Tied HR initiatives back to results: Discussed the value of HR programs in terms of ROI.
6) Listened
7) Asked for a tour of the facility
8) Used real examples of situations form their experiences that were relevant to the client.

So, what are your thoughts on being a ROCK STAR in the interviewing process?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dear Job Seeker in Human Resources

Over the last few weeks, my colleague and I have been conducting a job search for an HR professional for a company here in Atlanta. I have been so surprised by a number of things as it has been awhile since I have conducted a job search for an HR professional.

The first surprise came when we sent out 2 emails to our email network and received over 100 resumes, just in the Atlanta area. The resumes for the most part are for very talented individuals. Many applicants are coming out of some of the biggest corporations in this country. So, the number of talented HR people out of work really hit home for me and that worries me.

I wasn't sure whether to be excited that we had such a great applicant pool or to cry because of what that says about my profession in Human Resources. The scarier idea is that I am not so sure all those big SVP HR jobs will come back as the economy recovers.

My next surprise was around what I will call interview basics. I would think that given the current economy everyone would be on their very best behavior. NOT! Here is just a sampling of what we experienced over the last few weeks:

1) We actually had a no show. I mean the interview was scheduled and confirmed. The phone screen went well and then nothing. Blew my mind!
2) When you phone screen please do not wash the dishes I can hear that in the background. I know it shows you can multi-task but I could not hear how strategic you were from your bowls hitting your frying pans.
3) Please do not name your resume attachments anything other than your name___resume.doc. The HRsuperstar.doc and everythingandthekitchensink.doc does not get my attention.
4) Study your alphabet. It is FMLA not FLMA. It's not URISA it is ERISA.
5) When asked a question about HR strategy do not respond with, "I was very strategic at my last job, when I started tracking turnover for several departments"
6) SPELL CHECK-IT MATTERS. We all make spelling errors, I do it all the time, even in my blog. But in a resume that is your one chance to get noticed; get someone to proofread it for you.
7) Be careful of the language you use. "Our morale sucked" is not what I would call professional speak.
8) If you have a linked in profile make sure it matches your resume. If not, that sure does throw up a red flag.
9) Do a Google search on yourself. We do. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube all come up and they are all very interesting. (HRsuperstar sure can party!)
10) Be prepared to send samples of work documents. "They are in the garage on a floppy" does not make me think you are technically savvy or current.

As an HR professional myself, I know I am overly sensitive about some of these things. But, these are the basics that should be common sense. I also felt a lot of desperation with some of the candidates. I hate that, it is a terrible feeling to need a job and the number of available jobs being so scarce.

The competition is tough out there. You have to articulate your value proposition to the company. Don't let some of the things above get in the way.

Don't let the interviewer see you sweat, be confident and be professional, that is the entry to the next round of interviews!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can you Incent Your Employees to Innovate?

Over the last few days I have read two very interesting articles on the topic of innovation. The first one is from the September 2009 issue of HR Magazine, Motivating Innovation, How to Get and Grow Great Ideas. (Must be SHRM member to view) The Author, Kathy Gurchiek, discusses how HR professionals can create a culture that supports innovation. Gurchiek lists the building blocks needed for innovation to occur according to Judy Estrin.

1. Curiosity and a natural ability to question the status quo.
2. Risk taking and willingness to learn from failure.
3. Openness. Organizations with strong silos tend to be less innovative.
4. Patience, tenacity and the sense of giving an idea a chance to grow.
5. Trust, underpinning the other values.

I began to think about how you keep these ideas flowing? How do you recognize and reward new ideas, idea implementation, and the resulting new best practice or product.

Then, a blog magically appeared in my inbox, Daniel Pink and the New Building Blocks for Engagement. The 18 minute video is definitely worth the time. I thought is was very interesting that Pink discusses why the typical forms of rewards and recognition do not work for innovation. He states that creativity and innovation is a right brained activity, which is hard to put inside a box. By using typical carrot and stick rewards that focus you on some specified end result, you can limit yourself on idea generation. The traditional type rewards actually may have the opposite effect on innovation. WOW! That makes perfect sense to me, and I am a very left brained person.

The theory is that if you are engaged in your work, you are more apt to be creative and innovative. Pink discusses that what motivates people to high performance is intrinsic (from within). He discusses purpose, autonomy and mastery.

Phillip Blount, with Phillip Blount and Associates, a compensation consulting firm based in Atlanta, states, "I believe that for employees to be creative and innovative you really have to create the "right" environment for it. By that I mean you can't be too quick to "punish" mistakes if you really want employees to "take a chance" on making something better. You want to recognize and reward the "behavior" you want almost more than the actual results of the correct behavior. "


So do we as HR professionals have our rewards model all wrong? Are we rewarding the correct behaviors more than the actual results? Do we reward for taking a chance? These are all very interesting points brought up by Phil.

The question becomes how do you reward and recognize innovation?

Would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this topic. I will keep the conversation going in future blogs. (There will be a reward for your participation! :) )