Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Office Christmas Party: One Last Chance to Get Engagement Right

“Yeah, our Christmas party is on Friday night in the conference rooms. In the conference rooms! They will bring food and drinks in. Nobody wants to attend so everyone is planning on going to the area, spend maybe a half-hour, and then get out.”
One of my commute companions told me that story the other day about his company’s “Christmas party.”
It reminded me of someone telling me last year that their company made the Christmas party MANDATORY. I said to him then that if you have to make it mandatory, a loud siren should go off in someone’s head. That should show one and all that there is a bigger problem besides some celebration.
Signals that management don’t seem to see

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Key to Great HR? It’s All About Great Customer Service

“OMG. I was dreading coming down here. When I knew I had to come to HR this morning, I was not looking forward to it. I will definitely have to tell all my friends about this experience.”

Sometimes we get stories second hand, but this time, I was in the room. This was a new employee who stopped by to fill out a few forms as I just happened to be a visitor.
He probably dreaded going to what he thought was possibly surly service, no personality, and lots of rudeness as an appetizer. This was his reference point to HR. Sadly, this is a lot of folk’s reference point to HR. Reference points are always based on fact.
In the end, it is all about the customer

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get Ready to Be Ready: Building a NEW HR Business Model

 HR must have the knowledge of the organization’s P&L, but more importantly, they should develop a people P&L.”
This was a statement by Cynthia Trudell, Executive Vice President Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer of Pepsico.
Last week in New York there was an event called the HR Leadership Summit (built “by HR Execs, for HR Execs). Well to me that line is an understatement. I have attended a lot of conferences, but this one day event is at the top of my list.
What will you call your plan?
Presentations were given by the folks at the top of the HR food chain, from people like Mark James, SVP, Human Resources & Communications at Honeywell; Dimitra Manis, SVP, Global Head of People for Thomson Reuters; Susan Peters, VP, Executive Development & Chief Learning Officer at GE; Cara Capretta, VP, Human Capital Transformation for Oracle; and Randy McDonald, CHRO for IBM.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Organizational Values: Are They Part of Your Workforce’s Daily Mission?

“I knew I had to help.”
A photo depicting an unknown New York City cop giving a pair of winter boots to a homeless man went viral after the woman who took it (a tourist and fellow police officer from Arizona) posted the picture to the NYPD’s Facebook page. 
This past week, there was so much talk about this amazing policeman who, while on patrol on a cold night, walked past a homeless person who had no shoes.
“I was cold and I had on two pairs of socks,” he said, “and I knew he had to be cold.”
What values are in your mission statement?
He went inside a store in Times Square and purchased a pair of boots and socks. When he returned, he helped the homeless man put the boots on. If that tourist had not been there to take the picture, this simple event would have never created such a media storm.
When I heard about it on the radio, I was impressed. The officer had no idea that someone was watching, or for that matter, recording his actions. The next day I read the full story in the newspaper and I was beyond impressed.
The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
If it were not for that picture, there would have been a terrible void of good news last week in New York City. Every station, newspaper and social media platform had this story.
Out of curiosity, I decided to check the NYPD’s mission/value statement to see whether it was sync with this selfless act.
Under the values section was this statement:
Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility.”
This was the statement that should have been the caption of that photo.
I thought that this was the ultimate campaign poster for recruiting officers. People do not join and engage with organizations, at least over the long term, unless they are about more than just profit motive. People are looking for a bigger hook and some alignment with their lives.
That also translates into the character of an organization. Although that one act of supreme kindness will not change a lot of people’s perception of New York’s Finest, it does go a long way to buff up the current state of their image.
Values created in a conference room carry no value
There are a lot of ways to define what is critical within organizations: the employee value proposition, the mission, the values, and the vision statements.
Is one more important than the others? That is a question that each organization must figure out. A group of words created in the confines of a conference room carry no value if the organization does not eat, breathe, and sleep on what they believe in.
These statements are supposed to be the foundation of their organization and a guiding light, not only in good times, but in bad times as well. Use the Rocher Test principles, think about an organization, and then quickly think about what it stands for. If it is the NYPD, what is your perception? If it is IBM or Google for that matter, what are your thoughts about its character?
The meaning of organizational character
In the search for organizational bedrock, let’s look at this in another way: If organizations were people, what would we wish most to understand about them?
Character is the inner core of a human being. If each of us were and onion and the layers could be peeled back, what we would have left at the core would be our character. It is the center. This core determines how we act when no one is watching or listening. You act because it is the right thing to do. Your definition of the “right thing” is your moral compass.
Should we seek it in our organizations? However you answer that question, it does not matter because the workforce is looking and seeking it. They are looking to attach themselves to something bigger than themselves. If we think it, as Jerry Maguire says in the movie, is all about “show me the money,” we are sadly mistaken.
The word “character” comes from the Greek term “engrave.” In other words, it is etched in stone or our inner being. Once that etching is ingrained, it is not easily changed. It is expressed in so many different ways: words, attitudes, our interaction, our mindset, and in all sorts of behaviors. But like a rubber band, its always comes back to form.
If your workforce is heavily staffed with the same character traits that can easily become the driving force to mask the character of an organization, regardless of your “statements”
I was told by an older man on my first job that you should always live your life as if someone is always watching or listening. An organization survives shifts in people and leadership because the core is there.
When organizations have character, they can build on it. But if they do not begin with a strong character, they will have a hard time ending with it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Culture: Here’s Why It Matters Now More Than Ever Before

 “I wanted to let you know that I got the job offer,” she said excitedly.
She had two interviews last week — one with a noted brand and the other with a fast growing start-up. One firm really wants her but they are on a hiring freeze until Q1. This is a dilemma that a lot of folks would kill for in this climate.
As we discussed how she was going to approach the offer vs. the “non-offer,” I was amazed at how she was approaching this decision. She talked about the pros and con’s of each company, her career growth and potential development at each, the known brand vs. a start-up, etc. All this came from a Gen Xer.
No alignment with her personal brand
My other discussion this week was from a Gen. Y/Millennial who had a job interview with another known brand. She knew the brand was not quite for her, but really wanted to find more out about the role.
She mentioned that the company’s lobby was a mess and not inviting at all. One of the recruiters she met with was chilly, to say the least, and according to her, bordered on being rude. This recruiter was asked a question, and as she tried to answer, was talking over her throughout.
When she walked out she knew that even if offered the role, she would not accept. In both cases, there was no brand alignment with her career. In all our discussions, the issue of salary did not come up.
You are the one being interviewed
If you are an organization seeking talent, the pendulum has swung away from you — and you are no longer in charge.
That’s right — you no longer have the upper hand with talent. You’re the one that is being interviewed. If that person sitting across the desk from you is top talent, you and your organization are the ones that are under the microscope.
No longer is top talent sitting, waiting, and hoping for YOUR call. They can have their choice of jobs.
Not only that, but just because you are a known brand (and that alone may add a few points to the equation), it’s still the top candidates that are creating the formula when making the hiring decision.
Not so long ago, the toughest part of job hunting was getting a decent offer. Today, people with talent get a flood of offers.
Their challenge is sorting through all of the choices to find the one that’s best for them. The organization’s challenge is learning a new organizational skill: How can I compete?
No, I have decided not to accept your offer
There are many reasons why a job candidate might have to turn down a job offer: the money, the work itself, or the people and culture at the company. In all these situations, money did not come up in the discussion. Work, people, and culture was paramount — and that is why the pendulum has swung.
How an organization approaches this conundrum will determine how successful they are in getting the talent they need. Innovation will be determined by the level of talent and how inspired it is.
The days of being the big shot in your industry, and having that mindset that everyone wants to work for you, are coming to an end. There was a line in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, where the magazine editor character Miranda Priestly tells her assistant Emily that “everyone wants this.” She was shocked when Emily said that, no, she did not want it or want to be a part of it.
Culture matters now more than ever
Culture is the elephant in the room. I remember reading a quote a while back that said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” a remark attributed to the late management guru Peter Drucker. No matter how far reaching a leader’s vision or how brilliant the strategy, neither will be realized if not supported by an organization’s culture.
Culture is the sum total of what people within your company believe and value about your organization. But are you in a company that is characterized by distrust, fear, and bitterness?
Recruiting for a company like that is a lot different than recruiting for an organization that is characterized by creativity, innovation, and a sense of responsibility for the entire organization.
Culture should be a discussion within the executive suite, because while strategy is the direction to the destination, culture is in the driver’s seat.
The work WILL matter
Is your company looking to grow their people and let them spread their wings? One of the people that I mentioned earlier said while she has a great job, she has been pigeon-holed doing the same thing day-in and day-out. There are no opportunities to grow. Career development is basically non-existent.
To a new generation of workers, work DOES matter. Work will have to be interesting and challenging like it is  at Google where we have all heard about the company granting time for employees to pursue their dreams while at work.
While this might not work at every company, you must encourage the whole person to come to work — because it the end, it is no longer about you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The “New” Engaged Leader: Why Everyone You Touch Really Does Matter

” ‘Where did you get that coffee?’ I got it from Steve, the coffee guy downstairs, I said. ‘Steve, the coffee guy?, you even know his name?’ he asked incredulously.”

“It’s simple, I said. I get coffee from him every day; why would I not know his name? He knows my name and even how I like my coffee. He is my first touch point in the morning.

‘When I was in college,’ he said, ‘I ate breakfast at the same restaurant every day and was waited on by the same waitress every day, and to this day, I do not know her name or who she is for that matter.’

“So you want to be an executive one day and you do not connect with people? I asked him. I could see the wheels turning in his head as I walked away.”

Everyday leadership

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

“You are a great model of work-life balance, Ron. Thanks for showing me.”

Last week I linked to an article titled Why the Work-Life Balance is Now More Important Than Ever. It was a UK-based article on work-life balance and it cited five (5)  countries and how each of them approaches it. The comment was based on that article.

The identity of the commenter brought a huge smile to my face. It was from one of the most inspiring people that I have ever worked with during my career.

Her name is Maggie Mistal, and she is now described as one of the nation’s best known career coaches by CNN, where she normally appears. We worked together at Martha Stewart Living, where she developed our training, coaching, and career development programs. She later went out on her own and built a media career around it. She can now be heard every Friday on Sirius XM Radio.

My first intro to work-life balance

My first exposure to work-life balance was during my tenure at IBM. I had never given it much thought, but I did know that once I left work, I LEFT work. Everyone knew that my phone was turned off as I left the building.

When my daughter was in primary school, I would pick her up from day care on Friday. For probably five weeks straight, I was always late. The last Friday, the manager of the facility told me that I was only getting one more chance and if I was late again, I would have to find another facility.

I had basically worn out my welcome by being the last one to pick up a child every Friday.

My daughter was the only one in the room when the director told me this, and she started to cry and said she liked her school and did not want to go to another school.

My problem was that I worked in New York City, lived in the suburbs of New Jersey, and had to catch the subway to get to the bus which took me to my drop-off point in New Jersey. From there I got into my car and drove about 15 minutes to the school. On a good day, this would not be a problem, but Fridays being Friday, it did not work.

Problem stated, problem solved

On the Monday following this discussion with my daughter’s day care director, I spoke to my manager and explained the situation I was in. I will never forget his thoughtful reply. He asked me the question, “what do you need to make this work?”

What I needed was to just leave on time, which for me would be by 3 pm. So, my new deal was that on Fridays, I would leave at 3 and get to my daughter’s day care no later than 5 pm.

That’s how it went. Problem solved. There was no company policy amended, no major pronouncements. My manager handled the situation by asking me for the solution.

The lesson I learned from that episode has carried forward with me to this day.

Forget about one size fits all

When anyone that worked for me ever had an issue, I would let them settle it. There is no one-size fits-all solution for work-life balance. In some cases, amendments can be made to policies to adjust to a core group of employees.

At one company where I worked, we noticed that we were losing a lot of first time moms. They would come back at the required time but could not make the commitment to the full-time work week.

At that time, we did not have (or believe) in tele-commuting or working from home. But once we realized that some of our top talent was walking away, we knew we had to make some changes. Not only had that, but the demographic of our workforce meant that this was just the tip of the iceberg if we did not solve the problem.

There can be a business case

So, we changed the policy to have them make adjustments on the days they were in the office. This was based on each individual working with their manager to come up with a solution.

In the end, it was a win-win for everyone involved.

My day care problem was my problem; it was not a company problem. The new mom situation was an organizational problem. In each situation, we approached it with the people that were directly involved and worked with them to arrive at their solution.

While a certain organizational mindset is needed for support of work-life programs, organization’s must realize that the workforce is different today.

Every time I hear of the work-life balance dilemma, I am reminded of the quote by Ralf Schneider, formerly of PwC:

“Companies flounder today because first generation leaders are working in second generation companies working on third generation problems.”

Work-life balance is a bottom line issue

Organizations will have to shift from the “one-way street” mentality of getting more out of people to investing in meeting people’s core needs so that they are pumped up and inspired to bring all of themselves to the job.

Policies must be created that will allow employees to better manage their workload, have a more balanced life, and give them some flexibility when it comes to how and when they get their work done.

Yes, policies that focused on flexibility and working remotely contribute to a more energized workplace.

Work-life balance has to be discussed in the C-suite. Your bottom line would look kindly on your organization if you do.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Best Ideas? They Can Come From Anyone – IF You’re Willing to Listen

“Don’t credit me with that success. That idea came from a janitor at the NFL Films production facility. He suggested that we take all the fumbles and mishaps and put them to music.”
That statement was from Steve Sabol, the late co-founder (with his father, Ed) of NFL Films. NFL Films was started by accident by his father from his love for home movies. Steve recently passed away from cancer, but his thoughts were captured in a documentary on how they built their organization
Have you ever seen the segment where all the fumbles and hits are compiled into a popular show of its own? As a matter of fact, it has become a brand itself within the company franchise.
And, that idea came from possibly the lowest person on the org chart.
I thought of three (3) dynamics that played out when I heard Steve Sabol’s statement about the janitor:
  • Having an organization that creates an environment where everyone brings value and feels comfortable in being heard;
  • Having employees who believe that their voices can be heard;
  • Having leadership that will acknowledge and give credit to their employees.

The big word that every organization talks about today is “innovation.” Everyone is looking, seeking searching, for that illusive next step. Everyone is asking where and the how.
Value comes in all sizes and titles

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Passing the Baton: What’s So Hard About Succession Planning?

“One of the things I did best was provide a successor. Adam has the respect of the owners and the players, he has expertise in the very important areas of social media, international and television, all of which report to him.”

That was a statement this week from the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, David Stern, in announcing his retirement. Stern steps down on Feb. 1, 2014, 30 years to the day after taking charge of the league, and he will be replaced by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver.

“I decided that things are in great shape and there’s an organization in place that will ultimately be led by Adam that is totally prepared to take it to the next level,” Stern said.

As the saying goes, “That’s what I am talking about.” I could almost see Stern’s checklist:

  • Identify new skill set needed for the future;
  • Hire for replacement;
  • Groom/Mentor with other needed skills;
  • Make the appropriate introductions as needed;
  • Work side-by-side as a true partner;
  • Announce retirement;
  • Pass the baton.
What’s so hard about succession planning?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Overthinking on the Job: It’s Both Costly AND Counterproductive

I looked at my phone and there was a text that said, “Urgent: now what do I do?

Like a lot of people in HR, I do a fair share of career counseling, especially with Gen Y. This was a call from someone who, to put it mildly, works in a terrible culture with mistreatment all around. There is no such thing as a normal day (10-12 hours per day).

This person finally decided that she had to get out. Resumes went out and, just like bait, she got a hit. She felt that this was her chance. Now she had to worry about getting the time off to go to the interview.

The power of overthinking a situation

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Attract the Right Talent, You Need a Fertile Environment for Growth

“When my daughter became of age, I recommended her to my boss. She got the job and worked there her entire life.”

While watching the Smithsonian Channel the other day, I saw a documentary called White House Revealed. That quote was from one of the housekeepers that started working in the White House in 1909.

She was talking about her daughter coming to work and getting a job where she worked. This was during an era when there was no such thing as a career. People had jobs and they did them as long as they could.

Her daughter was eventually hired as a seamstress and worked there until she retired. This was such a long time ago that when you think about it, there were not a lot of options open to people. The choices were limited, to say the least.

I had a conversation with a repair person from one of the utilities who was repairing a gas line at my home this week. He told me how he got out of high school and started working for this company and had worked his way up. Now he is trying to get his son a job a job at his employer..

No help from me

Friday, October 12, 2012

Is Your Candidate Experience Broken? 5 Keys If Your Recruiting Really Works

“I don’t understand it. They told me that they were just looking now and that they would not make a decision for at least another three months. Why would you have me make this effort? If I find the role I am looking for, do they honestly think I will stick around for their call? The nerve of them.”

As I heard that, I said that yes, it does make sense. But I also know that we all have done informational interviews from time to time, but three months out is totally different. I don’t know what type interview that I would classify that as.

But this I do know: if a candidate has a bad experience applying for a job, that can play a critical role if your company decides to offer that candidate a position. Your organization is then behind the 8-ball from the start, so if the candidate takes the position, they are probably coming in not fully engaged and already skeptical.

Recruiting: it’s sort of like dating

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Leadership 101: The Most Powerful Words You Want From Any Leader

“All I want is for someone, sometime, just one time, to say thank you.”

She works late every night, and pulls long hours. This particular morning she left home at 5:30 to make sure she got in to prepare for the big meeting. She left at 8 that night to go home.

As she wistfully told me that story, that first statement about wanting somebody to say “thanks” caught my ear.

I have a granddaughter named Peyton She is 2-years-old and is learning to talk. She stayed with us a few weekends ago, and her favorite phrase now is “THANK YOU.” As she followed my wife and I around the house, everything we did together came back with those two words.

Weighty words for a leader

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ready or not, here comes HR analytics

This article was based on an interview that I gave on HR analytics.  The article was originally published at Search financial applications.  Interview was conducted by Emma Snider, Associate Site Editor for

Much like big data has revolutionized marketing and finance, industry experts say that HR analytics -- workforce metrics that can help companies glean information about their talent pool -- will transform human resources. But are HR professionals ready to assume a more data-oriented role?

Not without better analytical skills, says Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based consultancy Bersin and Associates. "HR teams are not very analytical in their thinking yet," Bersin said, despite broader adoption of talent management software. "That is holding them back from doing more data-driven decision making."

Ron Thomas, director of talent and human resources solutions at New York City-based Buck Consultants, has a similar opinion. Thomas said it can be difficult for HR managers to get away from "gut-feeling" decision making.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Confronting Bad Behavior: Can You Step Up and Do the Right Thing?

“As I opened the door, I saw her with her back turned and shoulders slumped. When she turned around, I could see that she had been crying. I felt bad but it made me realize that I am not the only one who gets verbally abused. The kicker was that she was a senior level person.”
This tidbit was based on a senior level person being screamed at in the conference room by someone senior to her. This happened in front of a room full of people.
When I asked what happened and did anyone intervene, I was told this happens all the time to EVERYONE. They have developed a garden of screamers.
They have developed an organization with a culture that says it is OK to scream, and everyone is tip-toeing around, afraid of their own shadow. My question was: who is in charge? Oh, and by the way, the CEO is also known for getting upset and walking out of meetings.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Power of Failure: Why It Is One of Our Very Best Teachers

How did the project turn out? Oh, we lost it. The project was a disaster from start to finish.”
Sometimes during the course of the day, we hear statements that stick with us. This was my sticker statement of the week.
I was having a conversation with someone who was talking about their job and some of the challenges that it encompasses. Almost in passing, they mentioned a project that they worked on — and that’s when this statement was uttered.
My question was this: what did you and your team learn from it? To put it in a nutshell, they basically walked away from it and moved on. I could almost hear the buzzer go off, and I wanted to say stop, rewind, and let’s go over that again.
A powerful learning tool

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Future of HR: It’s All About Making It a True Decision Science

“It is important for communities to educate our children for their future, not our past.”
In a recent interview, Romain Dallemand, the superintendent of schools in Bibb County, Georgia,  talked about how he came into the job last year with a bag of changes he calls “The Macon Miracle.”  One of the tools in that tool kit was adding Chinese as a language requirement in his school district.
“This is HR’s future”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are You “Done?” You Need Some Fire to Fix Employee Discontentment

“I’m done.”
Those words were uttered by Andy Roddick last month at the beginning of the U.S. Open. Tennis is unlike a lot of sports, where the coach or general manager lets you know in so many words that it may be time to go.
Yes, in most sports they tell you when you are done. In tennis, it is the player’s decision and determination when they’re finally finished.
As I commute into New York City each morning, I know that so many people that are on my bus are DONE. You can spot it in the most minute bit of a conversation. It oozes out of their pores. At the smallest opening, they tell you it without uttering those two words — but we know.
Freedom or fallacy?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Organizational Values: Live Them and They — the Talent — Will Come

“For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money. It’s about values. We value originality and innovation and pour our lives into making the best products on Earth. And we do this to delight our customers, not for competitors to flagrantly copy.”
This was part of the missive that Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, sent his employees after the big jury verdict that Apple won against Samsung.
As I read through this statement, a big smile came to my face. It’s more important than patents or money — it’s about values. And if you ever wondered why Apple is valued at more than any other company, re-read that line.
Values = Culture

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Career Portfolio? It’s How Everyone Shows Their Organizational Value

“Can we speak later? I have a big interview next week and I have some thoughts that I want to run by you.”
My response was that I would be more than glad to hear what is on her mind. When we spoke later that afternoon, she told me about the value that she wanted to bring to the interview. She wanted to leave behind a career portfolio of some of her work.
The amazing part about this story is not that her background was not creative, which is a staple of any interview. It was the fact that she is just 23 years old, only three years out of college, successful in both jobs so far, and about to land that coveted position that she has dreamed of.
Yes, that’s right — a Gen Y-er talking about value.
Like a lot of you, I mentor a lot of this generation. Sometimes when I get in at night, I have two or three calls to follow up on, and I find that I’m left with an interesting perspective from this generation on work, career, and life. We could all learn a lot if we opened up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leadership: Good or Bad, It’s All About the Communication

All eyes turned towards the manager as she gave her opinion of a strategy that was being discussed.

This was part of the strategic meeting with the leadership team, with the C-Level executive sitting at the head of the table. As she walked through her reasoning, everyone was nodding their head in agreement. She was always seen as one of the thinkers, a person who always brought something to the table.

Here’s the problem with this scenario: the C-Level executive looked her in the eye as the manager gave her thoughts. When she finished, the executive turned, glanced around the room, and quickly moved to another topic.

As they say in the movie business — CUT.

An astonishing story

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Improving Performance: It’s All About Paying the Price to Get Better

“I don’t like average.”

During a recent webinar, that statement was made by the CEO of a major company. When I heard it, my thought was that I know of so many people that appear to LOVE average.

Like a lot of you, I watched the London Olympics this week and I am just intrigued not by the sport but by the commitment and sacrifices the athletes make to be the best, or shall we say, above average. Their training routine will basically kill off the vast majority of us.

But how about being that committed at such a young age? Any way you slice it, you have to take your hat off to them. Even the ones that did not win medals still went through that grueling routine, all in the quest to get better.

Do you have a plan?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Managing Up: How Do You Build a Relationship With Your Manager?

“I need to talk to you about an employee that I am having trouble with.”

Like a lot of you, I get calls all the time with people that want to bounce things off of me. I also volunteer my HR services to non-profits. This statement came from a founding member of the non-profit that I have been working with for the past year.

The executive director/founder had hired a direct report. The interview went well, and references checked out — that is, until this person started work. It seemed that as time went on, the new hire became disconnected from the executive.

Building a relationship

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paying Your Dues: Are You Willing to Do What It Takes to Get There?

To be successful, you have to pay your dues!!
That is a favorite phrase to all the people I know that complain to me about their journey. That journey could be attaining success in any endeavor. One thing that I have noticed is that you listen to any successful person, one thread always comes through: this is what I had to do to get there.
Whether it is long hours, weekends or insurmountable odds, they persevered.
They hung in there. They did the jobs that they despised. They did the jobs that were thankless and no one else wanted. They for the most part did without and endured all in search for that desired destination.
My daughter has been pulling lots of long hours lately and leaving just as early in the morning to get in. This is her second job out of college and she works in the advertising business. She has moved up the food chain and is now directing and leading projects.
We rode together into work the other day, and as soon as she got on the bus, she keeled over and went to sleep for the 50-minute ride.

You have to pay your dues

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Once Upon a Time: Remember When We Could Tell a Story Without Slides?

“Once upon a time …”
You say those words to any child and they visually go into a trance. These were the words that were always used to tell a story. When my children were small, my wife would give them their bath and I was the story teller.
I would come into the room, with our book for tonight. And as you might know, sometimes it was the same book each night because they loved the story so much. I would love to look into their eyes as I said those magic words. They would almost fall into a hypnotic state.
When I was small, my grandmother would not do the “once upon a time,” but when she would motion me over, that was the signal that it was story time. She would tell me stories about her growing up, things she did as a child. I would sit rapt, listening to her. She was a great storyteller. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fired For Being in the Moment – What We Can Learn From a Young Lifeguard

His answer was simple: Thanks, but no thanks.
“They are trying to fix the wrong that they did. On a personal level, I just don’t want to work for that company anymore,” said Tomas Lopez, 21, of Davie, Florida. “It’s not out of spite against the company. I really just want to move on and get another job.
The company began an investigation soon after news of the incident began to spread worldwide.
These were the responses from a group of lifeguards in Floridathat were fired when one of them saved a person’s life, and then the others supported his action (and also got fired for doing so). The reason the first lifeguard was fired was because he saw someone out of his zone struggling in the water, his lifeguard instinct kicked in, and away he went.
The gratitude for this was for management is to say “you’re fired!” Management’s reason was that the lifeguard was out of his “zone.” Never mind that he saved someone’s life. That did not matter; he broke the rule, so he’s out.
The reason they were offered their jobs back was that when this news hit the Internet, management relented.

Just shut up and listen sometimes

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why I’ll Be Happy When “First Ever” Recognition Is a Thing of the Past

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Long-Time COO, Becomes First Woman On Its Board Of Directors.”
That was the breathless announcement coming from CNBC this week.
As my daughter always says, “Really”?
Here we are in 2012 and to make mention of the fact that she will be the only WOMAN to me just sounds so dated. For that matter, any publicly traded company you would think would have a representative board with women.

Lack of female access to Board seats

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Looking For a Silver Bullet? The Problem is Converting It to Success

I am just looking for that silver bullet.
I remember attending SHRM a few years back, and I met a gentleman who was diligently taking notes in each session. He had sheaf of paper and was taking so many notes you would have thought that he was a stenographer.
I just had to wait for the right moment before I casually introduced myself. As the session ended, I noticed him sitting next to a wall reviewing his notes. As I looked over at him, I thought back to my days in college before the big exam. Everyone would be scurrying around with notes all over the place taking last minute glances before they went in.

“Looking for a silver bullet” from the presenters

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Who Holds the Real Keys to the Organization, Anyway?

What is the narrative of your movie reel?
The rank-and-file workforce had weathered layoffs, had their commissions slashed, and on top of that, their salaries had been frozen over the past five years.
However, the chief executive’s decision was this — let’s have the senior management team take a lavish trip down to Bermuda and live it up.
That was the story over at Benjamin Moore, where the CEO and top executives recently took that fateful trip.
How does clueless look?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sweet Spot: Helping Others Find the Inflection Point in Their Career

I have always been a people watcher.
I watch the way people react while in conversation. I watch emotions. I watch the dynamics of groups and how people respond.
Since I commute to work, I always watch the interaction of people on public transportation. You see the ones who know everyone and everything; you notice the ones who are consumed in thought. You talk with some that always have the “deer in the headlights” look.
More importantly you notice the ones that are eager and can’t wait to get to work.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lessons From The Pitch: 9 Steps to Building a Top-Notch Team

How is your pitch being developed?

Are you ready for your pitch? This past weekend I became fascinated with the TV show The Pitch on AMC.

The Pitch gives an inside view of advertising agencies. Each week, two agencies compete to win a new client by giving a presentation called the Pitch.

It gives a close-up view of the brainstorming process as they seek that moment of inspiration that will win them the job. To add drama to the mix, they are given just seven (7) days to prepare, so the pressure to perform is intense.

Analyzing the team effectiveness

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good Times or Bad, Everyone is Watching What Management is Doing

“In the end, I want to know that the next paycheck is coming. Everything else is secondary.”

I thought of that statement from an employee who was afraid that they could be laid off.

When I read about Hewlett-Packard’s impending layoff of 27,000 plus employees, I had a flash back. The subtitle of this announcement was that this would produce cost savings of $3.5 billion.

Plan for the survivors-ALWAYS

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where’s the Beef? It Takes More Than a New Title to Create Business Value

“So, what does the new title mean?”

She had walked out on Friday as a generalist and returned on Monday with a new title of Business Partner.

“It means I am now assigned to a business unit, I am their personal HR representative. “ And with that, a new title took hold, but within the confines of the organization, it did not bring value.

Where’s the beef?

There was a Wendy’s commercial a few years back where the catch phrase was, “Where’s the beef? This was my reaction when I heard this story about the new “Business Partner.” So did anything change beside the title?

How in all likelihood can you add value if you change the title but do not change the job and its alignment within the organization? There is such a proliferation of overblown titles today that I often find myself trying to figure out what was the thinking behind it?

Recruiters are now called Talent Acquisition Managers or talent managers. Did we tell them the reason that we changed their titles? If they are asked what the new title means, will the answer bring value to the title or the organization?

If the answer is “no,” it is just a new suit of armor. Why bother?

In my world, you grow a partnership when you learn how to create value in a relationship or business.

What is a real Business Partner?

When you create value in business, it establishes a win-win situation for you and your client. Providing superior performance and working to build relationships helps develop client loyalty. Your client will not be satisfied unless you provide them with real value.

To be successful in HR today, we must be a true partner to not only our business partner clients, but to the entire organization from the lowest level all the way up to the CEO. We must help shape the priorities and plans of the business. Our success as HR leaders will determine whether organization’s achieve success in these times.

PWC recently released their 15th Annual Global CEO Survey: Delivering Results — Growth and Value in a Volatile World, and if there ever was a lob thrown our way, this is it.

This research states that only a minority of CEO’s are getting comprehensive HR management information for the measures they say are important. It’s filled with devastating metrics which outline, in all the clarity that could be mustered, the important challenge that organizations are facing as it relates to talent.

The word value is one that pops up a lot in my vocabulary.

I often say that this is the greatest time to be in Human Resources. HR is the most important function within an organization today. Yes, I know the marketing strategy is paramount to completing an organization’s goal. I also know that an organization’s strategy is frequently built around a financial and IT model.

Talent as a competitive advantage

However, with all that being said, it takes an amalgam of talent to reach those key goals.

  • Where is the talent coming from?
  • Have we identified the key players in reaching those goals?
  • Do we have the right skills now or in the future to reach those goals?
  • How do we keep the workforce engaged as we march forward?
  • How do we develop our talent?
  • Do we have the right people in the right places at the right time?
  • Are we applying metrics to make decisions?
  • Are we mindful of the impact of employee engagement and performance?
  • All these questions bring us back to the value that HR brings or should bring to the equation.

I have always had this vision of HR as internal “people consultants” that provide insights and strategies on all the above. This will enable leaders to make the right decisions and aid in crafting the right business strategy using that most important asset with the organization — people.

All this alignment with the organization will take a lot more heavy lifting than simply changing a title.

Yes, value is the key word that should be in the vocabulary of every HR leader going forward. We just have to bring