Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Can You Get Away From the Job and Relax? Finding the Key to That Puzzle

So Dad, now you can relax since you have all this time off. I am taking my vacation the same time so we can both hang out.”
On my 12 hour flight from Saudi Arabia to New York last Friday, I thought of what am I going to do for close to four weeks off. In the Middle East, it is not viewed favorably if you are doing company work while away on vacation unless it is an absolute emergency.
I wrote a TLNT post that broke records in views and readership a while back about vacations: Americans vs. other expats. I know of so many people who have taken 30, 40 days of vacation and do not give it a second thought. But here I am in the solitude at 50,000 feet altitude wondering what I am going to do for the next month.
My wife is working; my son is also working, so my daughter said it is just the two of us to hang out. She met me at JFK and we went directly to the mall. When I suggested we go home first, she nixed that and said we are going to hang out.
Oh well; welcome home.
Breaking old habits
It seems that when we have been ingrained over the years in certain work habits, we have a tough time trying to break free. My plan was to take a few days to get settled at home, but my wife had other plans and I had the proverbial “honey do” list which took a couple of days and kept me busy.

Managing Your Career Before the Ambush Comes

I worked all those years, coming to work every day, doing a great job. Each year there was a raise and eventually more responsibility.
I went home at the end of the day and came back the following day. I repeated that cycle all those years until one day, I came in and was let go.
During all those years I had received numerous inquiries from outside headhunters, but at each call was kindly rebuffed because I loved what I was doing. My resume had never been updated in all those years, and I had not interviewed in 24 years.
Being negligent
As I listened to this call this week, I felt sad and angry at the same time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spotlight Friday: An Interview with Chief Human Resources and Administrative Officer Ron Thomas

Recent interview for the website: Something Different HR:  Marrying HR, Data and Occasionally Out of Place Personal Anecdote created by HR PRO Rory C. Trotter Jr. He is a HR leader with experience in Compensation, Talent Acquisition, and Employee Relations 

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
First of all, I think when a company places those restriction on a job posting (years of experience, industry experience required), they are closing the door on such a huge segment of the market. My question is what X years of experience makes you relevant. If there is a requirement of 6 years to be considered for a posting, what happens if I have 4 solid years in the industry? I wrote a post recently that spells this out: “Industry Experience Required.”

Supporting Innovation? It Takes a Lot More Than Talking About Innovation

Imagine coming home every day from school and there in the kitchen were fresh-baked cookies or home-made pies.
Every day there was something different. My mother was a baker who believed that everything had to be made from “scratch,” using no boxed items of any kind.
The only boxed cookies allowed in the house were Nilla Wafers— and that was temporarily because they were destined for banana pudding.
My mother was on my mind this week because when I started working for Martha Stewart Living, she would jokingly tell me that she could out bake Martha on a bad day. As a matter of fact, she said all that advice that Martha gives is what she already knew and that she had been doing it for years.
I must admit that my mother knew every trick in the book about anything, from coffee stains to ink and chewing gum removal. And, she is my yardstick for all baked items to this day.
My reply to her comment about Martha Stewart was that yes, you probably could out bake and out remedy her, but you did not know how to take it to the next level. She had an idea, but that was it.
Her reply to me was to just roll her eyes.
Sure you had the idea

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How Would Your Team Members Feel About Having Lunch With You?

A lot of our job candidates are from out of town, and we’ll pick them up from the airport in a Zappos shuttle, give them a tour, and then they’ll spend the rest of the day interviewing,” Tony Hsieh says. “At the end of the day of interviews, the recruiter will circle back to the shuttle driver and ask how he or she was treated. It doesn't matter how well the day of interviews went; if our shuttle driver wasn't treated well, then we won’t hire that person.”  

"There’s never an excuse for being impolite or rude to somebody just because they drive a shuttle."

Can I get an “Amen?”

I read this quote from an interview on Business Insider and this set the framework for my day. As I drove into work that morning, I could not help but think of a former CEO who was the model for me for what leadership was about.

Sharon Patrick was the founding CEO of Martha Stewart Living. What made Sharon so remarkable was that she exemplified this type of behavior of Tony Hsieh at Zappos.

Everyone knew her as Sharon, from the mailroom to the boardroom. If you wanted to find her early in the morning, she would be sitting in the mailroom with her feet up talking to the guys. She thought nothing of walking through the office and grabbing a chair next to your desk to ask what you were working on.

Her laugh was a Sharon laugh; it echoed throughout the building. That set the tone and that set the culture.
I always felt that when she left the company we went into a slow spiral, and from all indications, they are still struggling to come out of it.

The key to cultural alignment is that the tone starts from the top. There’s no need to sit in some conference room and hammer out some statement, post it all over, email it all over, and expect the organization to change.
It will not happen until the lowest rung on the org chart feels it. How do you think the van driver at Zappos feels? Do you think he or she is engaged? Having the “suits” reach down to ask their opinion and get them involved has to be a morale builder.

Executive “attitude” needs to go away

I was with one of our managers recently, and security asked for our ID. I gladly provided mine, and when the guard asked a question about my companion, he snatched his ID from the agent and tried to belittle him just for asking a question.

I was incredulous at this behavior, and I can guarantee that this will never happen again. There is nothing that causes my blood to boil as when some high-ranking individual treats someone below them in a lesser way because of their status.

This is especially rampant in all kinds of organizations. I have seen the so-called “big folks” step into an elevator and not make an utterance or a “good morning” to anyone. It was as if they owned the elevator and we were invading their space.  This smug attitude by some leaders is going to have to die a slow death if they want innovation, dynamics, and profitability in return.

This brings up the debate of IQ vs EQ. There was a time that test scores, technical skills, school ranking, etc, were at the top of the list in the interview dynamic. I call this the IQ Factor.

However, people began to realize that high intelligence in no way guaranteed a life of success.

Leaders that people want to work for

I believe that individuals with strong leadership potential in today’s work environment need to be emotionally intelligent or have high EQ. The new found dynamic is moving to the forefront in the hiring process.  The dynamics of the workplace has changed with the evolution of project based or teams working on projects. The technical skills are needed but the soft skills [EQ] are paramount.

Gone are the days that leaders resided in a cocoon and you had to have title superiority just to get in the vicinity. This type of leader is gradually fading away and companies and boards should realize that a new skill set is needed to deal with the demands of these turbulent times, because these times are the new normal.

If you want great results, you must have an excess of leaders that people want to work for. These are the type of leaders that people just enjoy being in the company off.  There is nothing I enjoy more than having a conversation with our company’s gardeners and laborers. At first they did not know how to respond to me, since it seemed that no one in authority had ever spoken to them. Now, we talk and they stop by to see if I need anything.

Will people be happy meeting with you?

I had one of them tell me the other day that it is a joy just to come into HR if they have an issue. On occasion, they have even walked me to my car while taking everything out of my arms, briefcase and all. This is all because I took a few minutes here and there to ask how they and their families were doing. They are not afraid anymore.

In your organization, people may still be afraid. The further you go down your org chart, the more that may be the case.
But remember: If you want an initiative to succeed, you must go to the people who it would affect the most and get them involved. Everyone that you engage will become a brand ambassador for your department or initiative.

I have worked for companies that, for various initiatives, gave people the opportunity to have lunch or dinner with the executives. You could almost see the squirming when it happened, because no one wanted to have to sit through a meal with someone who they had no connection or relationship with.

However, I go back to Sharon Patrick and think that employees who worked under her would have been lined up around the block for the opportunity to get together for a lunch or dinner.

Would your team members get excited about having dinner or lunch with you? If the answer is NO, then your EQ is suffering.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Your Business Strategy Needs A Talent Strategy

Last week I was a guest blogger over at  
So what happens if I create strategy and ‘ignore’ the talent side since we have never paired the two together?”

As a senior faculty member for the Human Capital Institute, I was leading a two-day strategic workforce planning session in Aduja, Africa when that question was posed to me. I stopped in my tracks and tried to take my facilitator hat off while putting my consultant hat on.

I thought, “How could you not?” If the CEO and her team are developing their strategic plan, this process cannot be complete unless the talent implications are reviewed. I like to think of it as shining your strategy through the prism of talent. It is meaningless to conduct or create a strategic initiative if your talent configuration is not there. If your plans are to move your organization to the proverbial “next level,” your chance of being successful is hampered because the consideration of the organizational capabilities is not within the equation.

Today, as business leaders are struggling to get their organizations back on track, the organizational leverage and its connection to the enterprise are becoming more important. The vast majority of companies develop a business strategy that typically covers strategic plans on market positioning, investment, growth and other major initiatives. This is normally a rigorous process; however it is rarely paired to the talent strategy of the organization.

Execution by its very nature begs for talented individuals being in the right spot to increase the propensity of success. You can lay out the best strategic direction covering all the key areas within your organization, but if you are not equipped, or the talent implications are not taken into consideration, your successes could be hampered.