Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Change, Change, Change; Change is Brewing

I read a report last week from i4cp. (Institute for Corporate Performance).  The white paper was very interesting, they surveyed over 313 respondents on what the critical Human Capital issues are for 2013.

You can download the entire report here.  (they do ask for some basic info but well worth it!)

They did the best infographic on the data:


The one theme that I thought was so interesting was how frequent the element of change was mentioned (3 of the top ten issues) and how "Managing organizational change" was on top of the list for high performing organizations.

Of course when I see reports/data like this I have a bunch of follow up questions like, who was surveyed (title), what determines a high performing organization, etc.

I began to think about organizations that we have worked with over the years, and what made those organizations manage change effectively.  If I think about the most effective characteristics they are:

1) Communication plan-successful change happens when everyone knows what the change is, WHY the change is occurring and how they are being impacted by the change.  This communication takes work.  It is not a one time, "send out an email" kind of communication.  It is continued and uses various communication mediums.

2) Leadership is available and accessible-Often times leaders pass off the change to middle managers.  That "pass off" is fine, however, middle managers need to understand how to communicate the change to their direct reports.  Leadership has to make sure they are visible and are a part of #1 above

3) Change is monitored-When goals and objectives are set up front and then they are monitored throughout the change process then corrections can be made and more importantly SUCCESSES can be celebrated.

4) Change is embraced-It takes some employees longer than others to get on board with change and that is ok.  The problem arises when we have employees that are stuck in "this is the way we used to do it."  Managing these resistors is critical as they can stall a change effort.  Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions when employees cannot make the transition.

5) Change becomes a part of the organizational DNA-Let's face it, change is not going away.  I will argue it is the new normal.  With all the external forces that organizations are dealing with today, business is complex.  Successful companies have to be able to change on a dime in reaction to those external drivers.  By "making change normal: in the organization, employees learn how to manage through it as long as they have all the information they need to move forward.

The above list is not exhaustive, what are some other characteristics that make companies successful with change?  What do you feel HR's role is in all of this?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lessons in Leadership

As many of you know, I have taken on a big leadership role this year with SHRM-Atlanta.  I am very excited about being the President of our Chapter.  I have had many leadership roles in the past including corporate America, Non-Profit Boards, and at SHRM-Atlanta.

This time it is different.

Unlike serving on a Board where you GUIDE strategy, I am in a operational position of LEADING volunteers.

Many say, "What's the difference?"

To me, it's huge.  Sure the infrastructure is very similar to a leadership job at corporate America.  You have a budget you follow, you have a leadership team that is responsible for his/her functional area,   and you have a strategic plan with goals and objectives.  But, my team doesn't get paid.  They are "working" because their heart is in the game.  The differences are the volunteers are there because they WANT to be not because they HAVE to be there to earn a living.

The critical question for me, and others in my position is how do you lead, inspire and influence a group of hardworking dedicated volunteers?

What I have soon found about myself is this:

My leadership style that has served me well at corporate America and in my own company may not serve me well in my current volunteer leadership position.

I am results focused to a point of being obnoxious.  I am driven by numbers, and progress towards a goal.  That's great when you have a team that shares the same end goal and is driving towards something that is great for the company.  Everyone gets rewarded and all is well.

Well in a volunteer situation, there aren't monetary rewards only the more intrinsic rewards that come from recognition, giving back, and giving of time and talents.  It makes us feel good...

So, given all that what I have learned is that I need to be more explicit on how grateful and blessed I feel in working with such a great volunteer team.  I need to BALANCE my goal orientation with some people appreciation.  

Here is a recent example of the balancing act I am referring to:

At one of my first meetings with my new volunteer leadership team, I passed out our agenda, went over the agenda and went straight to work on goal setting.  I did that in about 15 seconds or less, before I went over to the flip chart and started writing.  I didn't say thank you for being here...until the very end of the meeting.  I should have opened with that.  If volunteers want to be appreciated and recognized I should have put their need for that above my need for goal attainment.  Thank God, someone that is close to me and loves me, pointed out the error in my ways.  Boy, did I appreciate that feedback.  That kinda thing is both hard to give and hard to receive.  But, that feedback made me think, I better pay attention to this.  I feel all those things for my team, appreciation, thankfulness, pride, etc.  I just am not good in expressing that.

I will be working on this facet of leadership this year and for the first time in my life, I have reached out for help.  I am very fortunate to have a coach to help me in this journey.  It is my first experience ever...and I am excited about it.  So stay tuned...I am hoping at the end of this year I can say...I left SHRM-Atlanta better than it was and I influenced my team in a positive way.

What are your experiences with leading volunteers?  What lessons have you learned?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Business Acumen is so Important to HR


Unless you have been under a rock for the last few years, you have heard how critically important business acumen is as a competency for HR professionals.  Actually, I think it is a critical competency for all professionals.  In SHRM's new HR model Business Acumen made the cut.

Anecdotally, I have heard from business leaders and HR leaders alike how important business acumen is for HR professionals.

So, I wanted to dissect this competency by discussing, what it is, why it is so important and what to do to get it.

The following slide is how SHRM defines business acumen:



I found another perspective on business acumen: (Building Better Business Acumen, Drs. Raymond and Gregory Reilly)

Business acumen is keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome.  

I believe you can spot the people with business acumen a mile away, especially in HR.  They are the people that recognize strategic business issues, understand their industry from an internal and external perspective,  and they understand operations, finance and accounting principles.  They also understand that people get things done so they are great in the relationship management area as well.

So, now we know WHAT business acumen is, let's answer the question, so what?  Why should I bother?

I am answering this question from an HR perspective.  Here is the #1 main reason you should care as an HR professional:

Your job depends on it.  Period.

How can you be strategic in HR and be a business partner in HR if you don't understand the business?

You can't.

The final part of the question is how to obtain business acumen if you don't have it or need more of it?

I know that you learn a lot about business through experiencing business.  You also learn a lot about business concepts in college.  It's applying all of that knowledge that is the best classroom for this competency.  I believe there are definitely activities you can do that also build business acumen as well:

1) Read, read and more reading.  I read everything about my industry I can get my hands on.
2) Get a mentor and/or a coach
3) Ask great questions to executives
4) Volunteer in a leadership position for an association or a non-profit
5) Study other business savvy individuals and find out what made them successful
6) Study your companies financials until you understand them
7) Find out how your product or service is different than your competitors
8) Work on special projects outside your specialty area
9) Research your industry, company and competitor's and stay current on all trends
10) Go back to school, get a degree, or a second one

I know I missed several in my list above.  How have you developed your business savviness?  Do you think it's important?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Often Should Performance Appraisals Be Done?


I love it when I get a question from a reader.  So, please keep them coming.

Below is my most recent question:

Are there advantages of going to an 18 month cycle versus 12 month cycle for evaluations of employees?

I love this question because it is a topic that I think is really changing...performance management.

I believe that the trend in performance management regarding feedback is more, more, more feedback and do it more often.  Many things are driving this trend.  First of all, we have The Millennials that are both entering the workforce and being promoted.  We all have witnessed and read about their need for feedback.  I believe this is a great thing by the way, so no need to comment on my knocking Millenials.  I get it, and I have one at home that works for Home Depot.

Next, I think technology enables us as managers to give feedback instantaneously almost as the behavior is happening.  Yes, there is an APP for that!

So, I promise to get to the answer to the question soon...

As far as appraisals go I think most companies are at least completing appraisals on an annual cycle with  "check ins" during the performance period.  These touch points can be formal or informal.  Feedback, however is constant and continuous.  So, the old adage is true, "catch someone doing something great and tell them, RIGHT THEN!"  You also have to think about behavior that needs improvement, that also has to be addressed RIGHT THEN.

Of course we also must tie our reward and recognition programs to all of this as LINKAGE to corporate goals is a critical success factor in making all this work.  Remember the end result of a GREAT performance management system is increased performance.  It's not a paperwork or a disciplinary exercise.

It's coming...the answer:

So are there advantages to an 18 month cycle versus a 12 month cycle?

I can't think of any advantages except it would be technically less work for HR departments.  Managers may THINK it benefits them by not having to do appraisals as often but it doesn't.  Employees NEED performance feedback, they need to know how they are doing compared to goals.  It's just how we re wired.  Also, think about this, if there is an issue with an employee in attaining his goals, waiting 18 months to address that is a huge fail for all concerned.

I also posed this question to Sean Conrad (@SeanPConrad), from Halogen Software.  I hope he weighs in on this question as well.  (hint, hint Sean!!!)  I hear this is a topic near and dear to his heart.

Let's hear from you, what works in your organizations.  What technology are you using?  What trends are you seeing?