Thursday, December 23, 2010

Looking to 2011 and Beyond: “Who You Gonna Call?” Will it be to HR?

This time of year always brings out the crystal ball for psychics, bloggers, writers, and thought leaders in every profession. Well, maybe not in that order. 

I remember when I was growing up, I would always read the predictions of the psychics. I would literally keep track of who was right and who was wrong by the end of the year. The vast majority of time they were wrong, but that did not stop them from coming out the next year with a new and bold list.

Lately I have read about the changes coming in 2011 concerning social media, technology, human capital, talent management, strategic HR and the list goes on. Everyone has their take. In 2009, I wrote a piece for a career magazine on my thoughts on 2010 titled “Try to Put 2009 Behind Us, Making the Most of 2010.”

I recently reread that article and it could still stand the test of time.

Reports worth reading

In our HR space today, there has been excellent research this year that would have a psychic salivating. We don’t really need the predictions unless we have been blinded by the turmoil and stress.
Here are my favorites reports for the year:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to Set Goals for New Employees

This article is based on a recent interview with on setting goals for new employees.  Reprinted from (Inc. Magazine)


Effectively setting goals for new hires—both short and long-term—can be the difference between a successful and happy new hire or someone likely to leave the company quickly. Here’s how to do it right.

As companies attain quick success, they also face the struggle of hiring new employees, bringing them up to speed on company policy, and setting realistic goals for the new contributors. Defining goals starts before the new hire is even in the building with the human resources manager collaborating with the manager of the new employee, but it extends further than that and is a process that needs to evolve continuously.

“To me, there is no such thing as setting goals too early in the hiring process,” notes Ron Thomas, human resources strategy consultant and blogger at StrategyFocusedHR who developed a highly successful talent management strategy while at Martha Stewart Living and IBM. “It should be done almost as soon as you identify the need for a new hire and defined by anyone that will be working with the new employee. From there, the goals should evolve accordingly with the candidates and once the new person is brought in.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Make an Employee's First 90 Days Successful

This article is based on an interview that I recently did with on the importance on Onboarding New Employees.

The process of onboarding is vital to the success of the new employee and the business itself. Here are specific steps you can take to make an employee's first three months successful.

When a new employee reports to their first day on the job, the feeling is quite similar to those first day of the school year jitters we all had as kids. And while it's a challenge for the employee to familiarize him or herself quickly with the office, the job responsibilities, new co-workers and more, it's just as important and stressful for their managers. Making a new hire feel comfortable and a part of the team from day one is imperative to make the employee a successful and productive member of your business.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Job Descriptions: It’s All About Where the Job is Headed, Not Where it is Now

My normal routine is this:

Up at 4:30. Make the coffee. Check e-mail. Listen to Bloomberg TV for the business news update, get dressed in my workout gear and into the gym by 6. My workout is over and I am walking out of the door around 7 and headed into New York.

My workout is a like a retreat. Those 45 minutes are the best part of my day. I get all my heavy thinking done, review my upcoming day and week, review the previous day, and, make adjustments accordingly. In other words (as my wife said), I spend time “thinking about my life”

This normal routine was shattered last week. On my way to the gym, I heard a news report about the uproar over the appointment of Cathie Black for Schools Chancellor in New York City. While this appointment had been made a few weeks prior, it has now gotten more heated. The main objection was that she did not have a “Masters” in education.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stressing Out Over Performance Reviews? Here’s a Way to Fix That

Sometimes when I am thinking about writing a blog post, my thought process can be all over the place. Often times, my thoughts run to what either someone said or something I recently read.

Over the past few weeks, I reached out to a friend to ask her to intercede with another friend (and executive) who was looking to make a career transition into her domain. She readily agreed and I connected them. (On a side note, I believe we all should reach out to folks that are suffering from what I call careeer-itis. There, but for the grace of God, go I, as my mother always taught me).

My mission was accomplished, or at least I thought it was, until the day of their proposed conversation. Then I received a call from my friend that this executive never called or e-mailed. That sounded strange, so I sent her a quick note and never heard back. After a few days, I called her and left a message.

When she got back to me she apologized and suggested they talk this week. I immediately forwarded the e-mail over to my friend. As would happen, the day of the meeting she never called.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thanksgiving Thought: Listen to Your Employees, They Have Answers

Like a lot of you, Thanksgiving is a time for both thanks and family.

My family runs the gamut from senior citizens to Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. My wife and I have two children, a son who is Gen X and a Gen Y daughter, a daughter-in-law, and a new granddaughter. My niece who is a regular at our home along with her boyfriend, are both Gen X. Her mother — my sister — just retired. At the top of the food chain is my mother-in-law, who also recently retired from the school system.

Being in the Boomer generation myself, I love the interaction with both these groups. Our routine is always stimulating conversations which always turns into a spirited discussion. These discussions run the gamut of topics from politics to current events.

One of the topics that stirred the pot this year centered around careers, engagement, and overall talk of jobs. I drove this conversation when I mentioned a recently published post on TLNT that talked about the level of engagement within companies today. I listened intently, probed, and probed some more to try and get better insight into their thinking and the culture of their respective employers. I did not offer any opinion, but just tried to keep the thread of the conversation on track.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And the Winner is .............

My uncle had a love for the “ponies.” During the summer break from college, he would take me and all my brothers and we would head to the race track. It was always a fun family event on Saturdays. We would all sit in the clubhouse, which was a lot more elegant than the grandstand, and there we would begin the process of choosing winners for each race.

If you have never been to a race track, the list of characters who frequent them would give a screenwriter a treasure trove of material.

All the real fans would do their “workout,” which appeared to consist of looking at the horses’ past record and the times that they finished. I assumed they would extrapolate from this information for a fool-proof method of winning. Overall, it seemed to me about as successful as throwing a dart to choose the winner. My method was just to guess the top three winners of the race. My metric for a good day was to leave with more money than I came in with.
I thought of all of this the other day, when I saw the ad for the new movie Secretariat; the horse race, the expected and unexpected outcome, the drama as to who was going to finish in the money.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Are You Ready – Finally! – for HR 3.0?

A funny thing happened on the way to a tweet.

Last week I tweeted an article appropriately titled “Making the Case for Corporate Social Human Resources: Are You Prepared for HR 3.0?” The article reviewed a recently published book “CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business Practices,” and it makes the argument for connecting CSR (corporate social responsibility) with a company’s human resource function. I was intrigued with the 3.0 statement.

As with tweets, I always follow whether someone else votes for the article by re-tweeting it. Well on this one, I did receive a direct message from @TLColson. Her message was to the point: “most are still mastering 1.0, who are we kidding?” I had to smile, and chuckled as I read that.

This kind of stayed in my mind as I thought over the 1.0 to 3.0 analogy. What is HR 3.0 and how does it look?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning from AMEX: How Initiatives Can Drive Employee Engagement

Social media has been a godsend to a lot of us who love great content — although being told by someone what they had for breakfast does NOT count.

The amount of fruitful information you have access to is like nothing that you could have dreamed of years ago. Twitter, Facebook, and Google are just great tools. One of my mainstays is “Google alert.” To the uninitiated, it allows you to create a search “alert,” and then you will get the information when something is posted within the realm of your alert.

At times, the amount of articles you get sent from an “alert” can be overwhelming, but every so often, you read one that resonates. Last week, there was one that really stood out for me: American Express commits $25 million to Leadership Development.” Because I have a background in training and development, I was awed by the amount of funds being committed. My thoughts ran to the kind of  leadership development program that could be designed when money is not an object.

So much for reading the headlines.

Philanthropy and employee engagement 

Monday, November 1, 2010

What ‘Expert’ Advice Won’t Tell You: There’s no Shortcut to Anywhere Worth Going

Yes, the Yankees lost and believe me,  New York was in a twit.

How could we lose? We can’t lose. We always win. These were some of the comments on the subway and from conversations on the street. Every man and woman out there knew why the Yankees lost, and they also knew what they needed to do to win next year.

On Sunday morning, I turn on NFL Network and listen to the “analysts.” Each one has a plan as to why a team will win or won’t win. The majority of these analyst were former players, and it seems they have all the answers.

Sometimes I think maybe they should just become the coach and win each and every Super Bowl. They have it all figured out; just follow these 1-5 steps and you will get it done.

Online analysts make every answer sound simple

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gap Logo Debacle: There Are Lessons Here – Especially for HR

I looked on in amusement this past week when the Gap released their new logo to anticipated fanfare.

All of their design team knew they had a winner. Gap corporate knew they had a winner. The outside design consultant knew they had a winner. Everyone thought that, otherwise they would not have released it.

But that’s not how it played out. According to Advertising Age:
"Just four days after confirming its surprise new logo was, in fact, legit, Gap (said it) is returning to its old design (see below) Marka Hansen, Gap North America president, informed the company’s marketing department…of the change, acknowledging that the switch was a mistake and that the company would be tabling any changes for the foreseeable future.”

Why didn’t the Gap test drive their new logo?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are We There Yet? Dave Ulrich Insights on “What’s Next for HR?”

“I just hope that this conference gives me the answer to this project I am working on.”

This statement came from a conference attendee that I sat next to years ago as we waited for the speaker. He told me that this was his third conference that year, and he was still looking for the silver bullet. He said that he always comes away disappointed.

In the past, I tried to attend at least two conferences per year. My reason for going was to get some insight and clarity on an issue that I may have been facing. The speakers were key, and the topic was the driving point. I always came away with enough nuggets to inspire me to go back to the drawing board to finalize the product.

Is this Talent Management Heaven?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Employee Engagement: “How Did Things Ever Get So Far Apart?”

“When I lead my portion of the orientation, I do not have the heart to tell them and I can’t look them in the eye. This is a horrible place. It is like I am leading them to slaughter.”

That interaction took place last week as I was talking to a potential client and ran into one of my former co-workers who now works there and is involved in orientation. That short conversation gave me all the insight I needed — and all that research could have never provided.

Fittingly, I was leaving in a few days to attend the Human Capital Institute Engagement and Retention workshop. While I participated in the Executive Workgroup Session (which was a pre-conference session), I did not stay for the entire event. However, I played this conversation scenario over and over in my mind as I drove to Boston.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Conventional Leadership Wisdom is Wrong – and Why We Need to Change

Last Friday, I was interviewed as part of the Executive Conversation Series at the Human Capital Institute where I serve as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Talent Management. We spent an amazing hour discussing the The Look of Leadership 3.0

I started my conversation with the analogy about the styles of leadership over the years: Henry Ford, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. If we were able to do a comparative graph, the styles of leadership of each of these legendary individuals and leaders the arc would be off the chart.

Each one is a masterful leader in his own right. Could Henry Ford or Jack Welch manage a workforce today with the same level of success. I personally think not. The evolution of modern leadership requires a different style from what may have been successful years ago.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Career Management 2.0 @ Time Warner

I presented a seminar at Time-Warner on September 23 on Career Management 2.0.  The workshop was a Lunch & Learn Event.

Friday, September 10, 2010

HR as the Town Crier, or Why People Management Needs a Lot More Focus

 In the 18th Century, a town crier was used to make public pronouncements wearing a red and gold robe, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. They would carry a hand-bell to attract attract people’s attention, as they shout the words “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez.”  This translates to “Hear Ye, Hear Ye” before making their announcements. This was a call for silence and attention.

I have been giving a lot of thought to this role over the past few months and it really crystallized last week when I read the recent article in Human Resources Executive titled “What’s Keeping You Up?” This article was based on a survey of 802 HRE readers that found that “nearly 80 percent of HR leaders report their level of stress has gone up during the past 18 months,”  with one-third of those surveyed reporting that their level of stress had increased “dramatically.”

There was a common theme in these findings, and it’s this: that given the impact of the downturn, HR leaders are having a difficult time these days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Look of Leadership 3.0-Teleconference on September 24, 2010

I will be hosting a teleconference on the new models of leadership at the Human Capital Institute on September 24, 2010 at 12 Noon

  Teleconference Airs: September 24, 2010
Will the leadership model  of today be successful in the future?  What changes have you seen in your career as a leader? Multi generational workforce, economic turmoil, talent turnover, closing the engagement gap are just a few of the issues facing not only HR but corporate leadership in the future.  And yet, there is a fair amount of ambiguity and anxiety concerning these impending issues headed towards organizations.  How does the HR practitioner and aspiring leader play a role in this equation?  How will senior leaders make the transition to manage this newly “empowered” workforce and reinvigorate their companies?  Will leaders become teachers, and if so, how will they learn from the up and coming generations? In the end, it is all about that most important asset that companies have given lip service to over the years.

The rubber now meets the road.  Let’s exchange strategies and successes in this conversation about taking your leadership to 3.0.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The CEO and You are both the Same!

You have recently been appointed the CEO.  Once the excitement wears down, what do you do?

Have you ever given any thought to that scenario?  Maybe not, because a lot of us are not striving for that top role and just maybe it is not in our DNA to project that high.  Then again, maybe you are currently unemployed and that thought is the farthest from your mind.  However if that is the case, you definitely need to keep reading.  If you are employed, think about that dream role within your current company or another company for that matter.   Now hopefully you are getting somewhat of a vision as to where this is going.  This CEO scenario is valuable whether you are employed or not.
Everyone one of us is a CEO,  we are the CEO of ME INC.  You are in charge of your marketing, PR, finance etc. You devise the strategy that will project your career and life.  Maybe you have not thought of it that way, but now is the time to start envisioning that scenario

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Silent Call for Leadership Brings HR to the Top of the Pyramid

My daughter told me last year that she would be glad when she graduates because she is tired of the grind of studying.

I politely told her that studying never stops. Whatever industry or career that you decide to go into will always require that you stay on top of the trends, best practices, innovations, and industry knowledge. It never stops. It just becomes a new model of “studying” or staying abreast of your industry.

Over the past few months, I have read numerous articles and white papers on various topics relating to HR, as you probably have, too. Some have been pretty newsworthy, and this is what makes social media one of the most exciting inventions today — the ability to stay abreast of selected, newsworthy topics. Almost instantaneously, Twittter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Alerts (and others) allow you to gather all the information that you may need.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I’m Sick of Hearing About HR and that “Seat at the Table”

After reading “Survey: Leadership Confidence is Down – Especially in HR,” by Theresa M. Welbourne yesterday at TLNT, I searched Google and got approximately 263,000 results for the phrase “Seat at the Table” HR. The title of the articles ranged from the serious to the somewhat hilarious.
Here’s a sampling of some of the abbreviated titles:
  • Earning the Seat
  • How to get and keep the Seat
  • How to keep the Seat if you have it
  • 10 steps to get the Seat
  • HR needs to have the Seat
  • Beyond the Seat
  • HR from the break room to the conference room
  • Earning a Seat with the big dogs

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So Long and Farewell, Lon – You’re Simply Part of the CEO Trend

Ah, the perks of being a CEO.

We have all heard of the compensation packages it takes to bring someone into this role. It takes months of working with a search firm just to decide who and what type person is needed in the role to take the firm to the “next level.”  But one perk that is not discussed is tenure, and based on recent research, that is not one that any company or organization favors today.

When I heard the news about CEO Lon O’Neil of SHRM resigning with just under two years under his belt, I decided to take a closer look at CEO tenure within organizations. The findings are not all that surprising.
To give some background to the CEO’s role, 40 percent last no more than two years in the corner office. The average CEO tenure dropped from 9.7 years in 1999 to 8.3 years in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics were compiled by consultants Challenger Gray & Christmas, Crist Associates, and SpencerStuart. The median tenure – the number separating departures on the higher and lower halves – stood at 5.5 years in 2006.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LeBron James? He’s Just a Glimpse at Your Employee of the Future

This article was written for which is a great site for HR professionals.  My work is posted on their site approximately once per month.

By now, most of us have come up for air after being submerged in LeBron James fever over the past few days. I, for one, could really care less since I’m not much of a sports fan, but I love the passion of the fans in both cities and around the world. So to the two cities — both Cleveland in anguish and Miami in joy — my hat is off to both of you.
As is my wont however, I viewed this decision by LeBron through the microscope of human resources, and I came away with a totally different view.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Job Descriptions and Online Dating???

While having lunch with a friend who was a former CEO, we discussed our careers and the normal gossip at one of our former employers.  As with friends catching up, the discussion covered the full spectrum.  But the discussion took a weird turn when he mentioned his non-success with online dating.

I have always been skeptical of online dating because I felt that if you are in NYC metro area; there is no need for it. What will all the events, gatherings that go on daily; there is never a problem in meeting people.

He told me about filling the frustration of filling out the questionnaires. Trying to describe that perfect person, the qualities that he wanted to find in this person. The real must haves! This one is non-negotiable while this one is a maybe, no big deal. But the must-haves are the must-haves. He would occasionally get some nibbles and had a few meet and greets resulting in nothing. No sparks, Nada.

3-Step Plan to Beat the Competition as Jobs Return

July 05, 2010 (10:00AM) by Ron Thomas
This is a copy of my guest post at Pongo resume

The economy isn't as bad as it was a year or two ago. Unemployment has fallen to less than 10% and hiring is up over the last six months. These recent headlines may be leading to a light at the end of the tunnel.

But if you're out of a job and looking for work, this upbeat chatter is just that. You've been sending resumes, responding to job postings, following up leads and (hopefully) networking. But finding work today is nothing like it used to be.

What's different? For one thing, the competition is much tougher, and is likely to become even more so as the economy continues to improve. A Forbes article last year warned of a resume tsunami heading toward human resources departments, as employees leave the jobs they've been stuck in throughout the recession, and unemployed workers renew their efforts to land something.

So how do you increase your chance at landing a job? You have to have a plan. You'd be amazed how many people don't have a plan or strategy for their job search. They just check the job boards and click the "send" button with their resume attached.

If that's been your plan thus far, it's time to step it up. Beyond your resume and cover letter, develop a plan centered around the following three areas, and work it:

Networking: The Old Fashion Way

One of the advantages of living or working in New York is the availability or exposure to so many events. I thought about this on last week as I attended the launch party for Caribbean One magazine. What made this special is that I took my daughter, Lauren as my guest. Over the years I have always taken my son Sean, but she just graduated from college on last month and is now back home so she will be my permanent guest for a while.

Over the years, specifically since high school, I have always stressed to importance of meeting people, getting connected and the importance of being known in whatever industry you choose. They have for the most part followed this model and are constantly working on getting their careers in shape.

We met earlier in the day, had a glass of wine and she brought me up to date on her job search, 4 upcoming interviews that she got on her own. We discussed her research on the companies. We reviewed industry knowledge, we discussed their current marketing strategy and we reviewed her "2 minute pitch". She brought me up to date of the bio's (LinkedIn) that she had read on each person that she would be interviewing.

With that done we headed to the event. As we rode over in the cab, I gave her background on the event and who the key players were and the key points of her pitch to people she would be meeting. My role has always been to get them acquainted with the tools of career management at an early age. The first step is on this path is networking

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What can HR learn from the new General Motors

I recently came across an interesting article that highlighted how some companies develop various strategies in a vacuum called the conference room.

This article highlighted how GM has now started a program that their top engineers now drive various newly designed vehicles for a period of time and complete a thorough assessment  based on their driving experience.  Fair enough you might say.

What I found mind-boggling was that this is a new methodology that came in with the new regime that is now in control.  In GM’s storied past, this type assessment was never done.  Their cars were basically designed in a conference room.  Here is a major manufacturing company that made and sold millions of cars and from all indication, never thought about trying their own product. There was never a process to drive and structurally assessed the cars.

It makes you wonder how GM never thought of that. Their foreign competitors thought of it and focused on quality and in the end they won out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

From Human Resources to Human Capital

I was recently named to the Expert Advisory Panel at the Human Capital Institute located in Washington, DC.  This is my first post on that site.

Human Resources is a relative modern term coined from all indication in the 60’s. It was previously known, possibly since its inception, as “Personnel.” During this transformation, HR was basically an administrative function charged with a range of worker-related processes. This same model is still in existence in some companies today if you can believe it. They have plodded along feeling very comfortable in that space and some would stay there if circumstances had not changed. Because of the economic turmoil, the ground has shifted.

With the economic fallout there is a distinct need for a more strategic approach. Meanwhile we have all heard and read about our profession wanting that seat at the table. We wanted a brand as strong as marketing and finance. Because of this “perfect storm,” for all that wanted that new place on the corporate totem pole, your wishes have been answered.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Human Capital Institute Announcement

I was recently named to the prestigious Expert Advisory Panel on Talent Management Strategy at the Human Capital Institute.  My recent post: "From Human Resources to Human Capital" discusses the transformation from Human Resources to a strategic focus of Human Capital Management.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Brand of You!

 Like a lot of you, I have followed the Toyota story and all of its accompanying fallout. It reminds me of a situation that occurred back in the early 80's and this time it was Audi. They were trying to rectify a similar type problem. Lot of bad press. The story stayed alive for months. 60 minutes did a piece on it. It was as much in the news as the Toyota issue is today.

Wow did Audi survive! Today Audi is one of the hottest cars on the market today and nary a tweet of their past troubles. What does that have to do with Toyota? If you have a strong brand going into a crisis, there is a strong possibility that you will survive it. Both of these examples show the importance of a strong brand image. On the other hand, GM went into a storm with a badly damaged brand and even though their cars can now compete on quality, the stench of the past is still there.

If you have read this far, you are probably wondering about all this auto stuff and are probably wondering; what does it have to do with me? It is always about the brand. A brand is a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product, service and yes even you. While many people refer to a brand as a logo, tag line or audio jingle, a brand is actually much larger. A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guest editor at 5'O Clock News

I was a guest editor for 5'O Clock News April issue.  My article is titled "HR, Trying to Put 2009 Behind Us- and Make the Most of 2010.  Click on the link HR Strategy for the future.  The Five O' Clock Club is a premier Career Management and Outplacement firm located in NYC

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Undercover Boss and a Lesson in Leadership

Like a lot of you on Super Bowl Sunday, the game was the show to watch. My normal routine is no pregame, just enjoy the game. I do not want to sit through all the hype, recycled stories and the endless commercials. In previous years once the game was decided, I would turn off the TV and call it a day.

This year was different, because I did buy into the hype, but it was not football. The previous week I saw commercials about a new reality show called “Undercover Boss”. I have to admit that I have never watched a reality show. I have always found them to be contrived and just too much BS.

Make the Lessons of 2009 Pay Off in 2010

This week I was a guest blogger at PongoResume.  The article titled "Make the Lessons of 2009 Pay Off in 2010", takes a look at how to reflect of your job search of 2009 and tips for making 2010 the year of your comeback.

You’ve gone through one of the toughest years ever for finding employment and you hope 2010 will be better. When the calendar changes each January, everyone reflects on how far they went and where they want to go. For instance, a company reviews its performance, people make new year’s resolutions, and project team leaders review their progress.

As a job seeker, you should also assess your progress—or lack thereof. Have you gotten interviews? How many times were you in the actual running for a job? What kind of feedback did you receive from employers who interviewed you but didn’t hire you? How many phone interviews turned into face-to-face interviews? Think back and collect that data to determine where you need to try something different to get hired in 2010.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It’s time to put staff back at the heart of business - Times Online

It’s time to put staff back at the heart of business - Times Online

This article syncs with my previous post about the importance of the employees that survived the downturn