Thursday, January 27, 2011

Best Practices for Successful Talent Management

Check out this new Focus brief on Best Practices for Successful Talent Management - it's very brief and (I think) a good list.

The picture is unrelated. Well, not totally unrelated, since I found it over at Intellectual Capital Consulting when I Googled 'Talent Management.' Not sure why Ohio was singled out, though, since it could also apply to any of us slinky catwalk-walking HR professionals.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Modern Workforce Series

Within the next week I'm expecting my third child, which will I expect will add to my work life complexities. From a blogging perspective, however, it presents certain possibilities.

The workforce is changing and becoming more diverse. Companies are employing more contractors than ever before to minimize fixed costs. The workforce is also expanding globally in order to remain competitive. Technology allows more people to work from home or collaborate effectively from remote locations. And we now have four generations in the workforce (and it may be 5 or 6 before the Boomers retire).

I consider myself a modern worker: I have almost three kids. I'm about as remote as you can get, nine hours ahead of most of my colleagues. I've studied in Moscow and managed teams in California, Tokyo and Munich. And I rely heavily on technology to make it all possible.

And lately... probably influenced by my personal situation... I've got modern workers on the brain. In particular, how do they navigate the workplace and how can companies best manage and engage them?

Related topics keep occurring to me during the day and I'm running out of crumpled napkins to write them on:

  • Coping as a Working Parent
  • Effective Collaboration With Fewer Meetings
  • Manage the Time Zone, Don't Let It Manage You
  • Best Practices for Leading Global Teams
  • Diversity and Good Management
  • Etc.

I have lots to say about each of these but I also welcome guest posts if anyone would like to chime in. If you're interested, DM me at @workgal or drop me a line at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project Social: How Do You Motivate Everyone Else?

I write a lot about motivating employees, both here at Working Girl and at Compensation CafĂ©, and for the most part I’ve been focused on how to motivate knowledge workers to higher levels of engagement and creativity. 

Recently my project social partner Dave Ryan reminded me that a large portion of the workforce is made up of workers who are employed to perform manual rather than creative tasks. 

Or, as Dave put it in his recent post on employee engagement, what if your company doesn’t have so many of the darlings?

So the question is, how do we motivate non-knowledge workers?  And the answer is, pretty much the same way you motivate knowledge workers, because when you get right down to it, everyone’s a knowledge worker.

Everyone has some specialized knowledge or experience that is somehow relevant to the job they are performing and may - if they are encouraged to apply and develop that experience - enable them to perform better and with more enjoyment.

How do we tap into people’s creative energy, regardless whether they work in marketing or manufacturing?  It comes down to about seven things:
  • Good management – People who are otherwise hard-working and passionate can lose motivation working for an ungrateful, micromanaging supervisor.  Conversely, people who don’t normally go the extra mile may do so out of personal loyalty to a skilled, caring boss.  
  • Development – Most people like to feel they are making progress.  Once a skill has been mastered it’s important to learn new skills or new applications of the old skills to stay motivated.  Offering job rotation or new responsibilities can help keep people interested and open minded. 
  • Involvement – So many companies call in ‘experts’ to advise them on best practices and process optimization and that’s fine, but don’t forget you’ve got a house full of experts.  Why not ask employees where time could be saved or quality could be improved? 
  • Trust – If you give employees a tight script to follow, leaving no room for improvisation when something unexpected comes up – like an angry customer – don’t be surprised if employees take a passive aggressive attitude to problem resolution or customer service.   
  • Pay – Overpaying doesn't increase motivation but underpaying is demotivating.  People who can will leave and the ones who can are the good ones. 
  • Recognition – AKA ‘good manners’.  We are all hard-wired to respond to gratitude. Thank people for the good work they do and show appreciation when they go the extra mile.  
  • Incentives – Targeted incentives are a powerful motivational tool, although you have to be careful not to motivate in unexpected and undesirable ways.  For example, rewarding based on # units can have a negative impact on quality.
Leadership.  Development.  Rewards.

Did I forget anything?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't Waste NHO!

Let’s see a show of hands: Who has ever read an employee handbook?

OK, I have, but only the ones I helped write. Mind you, I’m not implying that the employee handbook isn’t useful or popular. And if your desk wiggles it makes a great wedge.

Now let’s have another show of hands: Who’s attended an New Hire Orientation (NHO) that consisted mainly of walking through the employee handbook?

Well, not surprising, really, since it’s the only way to get people to read it.

Far be it from me to diss the employee handbook or argue with the need to familiarize new employees with its contents. After all, the employee handbook exists to protect the company from employee lawsuits so we have to have it.

And frankly, it’s probably not even worth making it less boring, since most people still won't read it unless it's composed of Tweet-sized sound-bytes that pop up on their iPhone while they're updating their Facebook status.

My point is simply this: If your New Hire Orientation process consists of presenting the employee handbook and reminding new hires about deadlines for benefits enrollment you’re missing a golden opportunity to create a feeling of connection to the enterprise.

Connection is a feeling of belonging and is strongly linked with engagement. We talk about ‘hiring for fit’ but the real magic happens if you can create a corporate culture that brings diverse people together.

Here are some ideas for creating a more meaningful NHO and on-boarding experience:

New Hire Orientation:

Welcome – Express how truly happy you are that these fabulous people have decided to join your company. Perhaps the CEO can say a few words, although depending on how often you hire that may not be realistic.

Who we are – There’s no feeling like pride in belonging to something bigger than yourself, so tap into that and shake your great company booty! Connect the dots between your amazing company culture and how people can be part of it.

Start group – People who start together have a higher chance of building lasting bonds as they spread out over the company. Help your new hires define their first network at your company by assigning them to a start group.

Fun activity – This is a chance for the start group to get to know one another and begin identifying itself as ‘us’. Mind you, it can go too far, as when my start group at a large consulting company had to run through the office singing, ‘We Are Eager Beavers.’ But it did break the ice.


Company email – Let everyone know about your fine crop of new hires. Send an email around, or post the information, introducing new hires with bio and pictures. Encourage employees to make them feel welcome.

Team lunch – Please don’t just turn new employees loose with a vague introduction to their new co-workers. Nothing promotes team spirit like free food.

Buddy system – Every new hire should have a ‘buddy’ on their new team to show them the ropes.

Mentor – This is advanced on-boarding but it’s a great advantage to new hires if they have someone higher up than their own manager in the organization that they can turn to for career support.

Have stuff ready – Every day a new hire sits around without a desk or wondering what to do or unable to get started because the new laptop hasn’t been configured yet is money wasted. Not to mention frustrating for the new hires, who are eager to dig in and start proving themselves.

Make admin easy – I once spent two weeks enrolling in benefits. I kid you not, it was so hard! Either offer a great online enrollment experience or have someone available to help people navigate the complexity. Don’t waste that sweet new hire momentum on kludgy administration.

Start group debriefing – After a few weeks have passed, bring the start group back together again to discuss first impressions before they are completely desensitized to your crazy inefficient processes. It’s also a good chance for the start group to meet up again, if they haven’t already.

One final show of hands: Who still reaches out to people they worked with years ago, with questions or just to hook up for lunch?

A feeling of connection makes people want to come to work. Don’t miss out on the golden opportunities provided by NHO and on-boarding to help people feel connected from day one.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Would ANYone Work for House??

Lately I've been watching House in earnest. The basic storyline is this: A doctor with a genius for diagnosis is allowed an improbable amount of freedom to perform expensive, dangerous and often unnecessary procedures on largely uninsured people. Scarcely an episode goes by where a patient isn't given an MRI, a complete physical diagnostic and blood workup and brought back from the dead twice.

Once these standby plot points are gotten through, the treatment generally branches out into dialysis, a heart or brain biopsy, or the unnecessary removal of either the liver, spleen or lymph nodes before they finally figure out the magical pill that will cure the patient completely of the extremely rare parasite they picked up from eating a brazil nut.

By the time Dr. House has saved their life, they owe at least $600,000.00 to the hospital.

The show is saved from being completely farcical by interesting characters and great dialog. In fact, my early objections to the show had nothing to do with the regular malpractice that occurs on the show and more with how Dr. House treats his team. Or, more properly phrased, what his team puts up with.

"No one would ever put up with that!" I thought in amazement the first time I watched the show. Particularly not Dr. House's team, extremely competent doctors in their own right who could work anywhere.

Even the ones who quit tend to stick around.

It bothered me because it upset my pet theories about good management and motivation so I kept watching. In every episode, Dr. House is uniformly rude and disrespectful to his entire team and forces them to perform menial tasks at all hours while he sleeps or gets drunk.

And yet...
  • Dr. House's team knows no admin or process. They have creative freedom and can focus on the job rather than paperwork.
  • They work on intriguing puzzles. I can imagine the average doctor gets a bit tired of broken arms, cancer and overweight smokers with diabetes.
  • The team is world class and if you're that good there's attraction in working with others as good as you.
  • They work as a team and are constantly learning new things.
  • Dr. House treats them all badly so there's no favoritism or incentive to withhold information for personal gain.
  • Common suffering can strengthen close relationships. While Dr. House's treatment is sometimes divisive, for the most part the team is a tight unit.
  • Dr. House occasionally acknowledges a good idea, recognition that carries more weight for its rarity.
  • Dr. House really is that good. He solves problems no one else can solve, which makes his insufferable personality more... sufferable.
And I got to thinking:

How many talented people would put up with an awful boss if they could say good bye to bureaucracy and red tape, work with a world class team, and solve interesting problems?

Mystery solved.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project Social: Why Should HR Care About Sustainability?

As an HR professional, you might think sustainability isn’t a high priority for HR.  And, given all that's going on in the HR world right now you may be right… for now.

However, the business climate is changing.  Increasingly, customers and investors want to know what kinds of companies they’re doing business with and they’re starting to ask for evidence of sustainable business practices.

In the not so distant future, being competitive will mean being sustainable.  Even today:

  • In 2010, a record number of investors filed shareholder resolutions related to climate and energy;1
  • According to E&Y recruiting top talent is more difficult for organizations that do not communicate their sustainability agenda.2

Mind you, most people assume that sustainable means ‘green,’ which is not the case.  Sustainability means being a responsible corporate citizen and looking after the best interests of the people and communities that interact with your company.

So how might this impact HR over the next year or so?  Well, for one thing, sustainability is good business and the purpose of strategic HR is to support the business.

But more tangibly, if your company decides to produce a sustainability report - as more and more companies are beginning to do - HR will asked to produce the workforce metrics.  So it can't hurt to start thinking about sustainable workforce practices.

The most common sustainability reporting framework follows the guidelines laid out by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  The complete list of GRI reporting metrics, which includes a variety of economic, environmental, workforce, community and product performance indicators, may be found here.

The ones relevant for HR are these:
  • LA1 - Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region.
  • LA2 - Total number and rate of employee turnover by age group, gender, and region.
  • LA3 - Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees, by major operations.
  • LA4 - Percentage of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.
  • LA5 - Minimum notice period(s) regarding significant operational changes, including whether it is specified in collective agreements.
  • LA6 - Percentage of total workforce represented in formal joint management-worker health and safety committees that help monitor and advise on occupational health and safety programs.
  • LA7 - Rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and total number of work-related fatalities by region.
  • LA8 - Education, training, counseling, prevention, and risk-control programs in place to assist workforce members, their families, or community members regarding serious diseases.
  • LA9 - Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions. Health and safety topics covered in formal agreements with trade unions.
  • LA10 - Average hours of training per year per employee by employee category.
  • LA11 - Programs for skills management and lifelong learning that support the continued employability of employees and assist them in managing career endings.
  • LA12 - Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews.
  • LA13 - Composition of governance bodies and breakdown of employees per category according to gender, age group, minority group membership, and other indicators of diversity.
  • LA14 - Ratio of basic salary of men to women by employee category.

Pretty basic stuff, really, but it’s best to be prepared.  Are you?

Also be sure to check out my Project Social partner Dave Ryan’s upcoming post at HR Official on health and safety initiatives at his company, which will stand him in good stead for reporting on sustainability indicators LA6-LA9.

1 Ceres, “Investors Achieve Record Results On Climate Change”, July 7, 2010 - available here
  2Ernst & Young, “Ready Or Not, Here Comes Sustainability” (2009).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January 5 Carnival of HR: Reflections, Resolutions, Predictions and Rants

Between you and me, I thought no one would have time for the Carnival of HR so soon after the holidays. Which is why I'm extremely pleased to present 35 fantastic posts to give 2011 a big HR welcome.

I've divided the Carnival posts into 4 categories:

  • Reflections critically examines the previous year.
  • Resolutions looks at what we should do differently next year.
  • Predictions foretells the future with amazing accuracy.
  • And Rants... well, you know.

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did AND that some of you will join the conversation by leaving comments for the good folks who wrote them.

(If I overlooked anyone please let me know - it wasn't intentional.)

And now... drum roll please... the January 5 Carnival of HR Line Up, including my spoilers favorite quote from each post.


Why people would rather plan than execute by Wally Bock, with an important reality check about planning. “Praise execution, not planning. Execution is real results. Plans are fond hopes that never survive a brush with reality.”

Some Great Books from 2010 by Mark Bennett with great reading recommendations on topics ranging from navigating change to defying logic. “When we achieve meaning through our work, we succeed beyond our wildest dreams.”

Hopes, Disgusts and the Best Albums of 2010 by Paul Smith with reflections on 2010, hopes for 2011 and a few musical recommendations. “I never read another resume that is written in the third person. Unless that person has a personal assistant which chances are they do not, it is creepy.”

Before You Make Your New Year’s Resolutions by Kevin Eikenberry on how the why is more important than the what when it comes to goal setting. “Before you make your New Year’s Resolution or set your goal, decide why. Make that why exceedingly clear and compelling. and remind yourself of that why every time you think about the goal or resolution. “

A Dozen Things the HR Technology Market Needs in 2011 by Steve Goldberg, reminding us that while HR tech’s come a long way, there’s still a ways to go. “Here’s a list of a dozen things that would continue advancing the HR technology market in material ways…”

Takeaways from 2010 and Thoughts About 2011 by Dave Ryan with a surprise prediction for 2011…“My oldest son graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineer from M.S. & T (formerly University of Missouri – Rolla). It is my understanding that now as parent though I must pay for his cell phone forever, and car insurance until about age 30 or so. “

Farewell 2010 by Steve Boese, a post that ‘attempts to take a breather, to look around a bit, perhaps at falling snow, or anything at all that may provide a kind of respite prior to the New Year.’ “I think sometimes we do ourselves a disservice with the need to summarize, to compartmentalize, to decode the events, relationships, or desires of our lives using externally devised deadlines.”

Help Me Blog: Your Best Memory from 2010 by Trish McFarlane with a request to share your favorite memory from 2010. “It can be whatever you want to share. Make it a short sentence or a long paragraph. I just want to hear all the best that 2010 had to offer us collectively.”

If Hindsight was Foresight by Shauna Moercke herself looking back over the personal and professional challenges of the last year and decade. “And not only is it the end of a year, it’s the end of another decade. Looking back over the last ten years and how I’ve changed… dude.”

What’s Your Digital Succession Plan? from the Devon Group, with an interesting twist on succession planning. “Today, valuable corporate information is locked behind passwords and on individual computers or handheld devices. Ironically, more than ever before, much of this information has the potential to be forever lost or inaccessible following an employee’s departure.”

Values and Beliefs are the Foundation by Susan Heathfield sharing several deeply held personal principles. “In a workplace, we are all equal. We just have different jobs and callings through which we are challenged to add value every day.”

Silver Bullet – Who Should You Look to for Answers? by Benjamin McCall, reminding us how important it is to find the right answer for ourselves. “There are times you will, whether you like it or not, have to spend time with failure before you can live with success.”

Highlights so Far… and Hopes for 2011 by Alison Chisnell on a mostly positive year in which blogging and work life balance played an important role. “Funny how a few months can change things. The lesson from which, of course, is that you always make time for the things that you enjoy doing.”

History: Learn or Rinse and Repeat by Lynn Dessert on the importance of focusing on the big picture when it comes to solving challenges. “There is only one common denominator – you. There is something you have to fix otherwise you will continue to rinse and repeat the cycle.”

Raise Your Glass by Lois Melbourne with personal reflections about the past decade. “Standing in my old office and thinking about 10 years ago having a play pen in the corner for my then-newborn son, I got a little teary eyed.”


Reflections on 2010: The More I Know About Leadership Development the Less I Know by Dan McCarthy on the relationship between humility and great leadership. “While it’s great to take the time to bask in those moments of glory, it’s also important not to let it go to our heads. Because it seems like when we do – when we start allowing ourselves to get all puffed out and feel like some kind of guru or role model- that’s when we uncover some blind spot about ourselves, screw something up, or discover some new ideas that challenges our deeply held beliefs.”

Be at the ready and resolute: EQ and Effective Communication by Kevin Grossman on the importance of taking time to think so emotional intelligence doesn’t slide. “Emotional intelligence isn’t fixed. It can be learned and then it can be lost and then it can be learned again.”

New Year’s Career Resolutions by Quashan Lockett with a few helpful resolutions we should all consider for 2011. “It doesn’t take Einstein to see that by networking you can significantly increase your chances of landing that new job as opposed to simply doing the RDD (Resume Dump Dance) as I like to call it…”

New Year’s Resolutions from Leading HCM Executives from i4cp that compiles the 2011 resolutions of six HR executives at high performing companies. “Our goal for Human Capital Planning in 2011 is to drive change in our business processes and systems to enable an integrated and holistic approach with all of our talent processes.”

Resume Roulette - Is Yours Ready for 2011? by Kelly Dingee with some practical advice for updating your resume and getting it noticed. “Want to see if you come up in my results? Search Google for yourself.”

I Hereby Resolve for 2011 by Evil Skippy with some humorous suggestions for 2011. “Twitterers: Tweet no tweets unless they are (a) interesting, (b) funny or (c) funny and interesting. (In most circumstances, what you’re eating for lunch is none of the above.)”

Put Up or Shut Up. That is All. by Ben Eubanks with a look back at 2010 goals, a new set of goals for 2011 and an offer to help new HR bloggers. “If you have something to say but don’t know how to get it out there, reach out to me.”

Year 2011: Let’s Make it a Smoking Free and Debt Free Year by Gireesh Sharma, with a story of personal goal achievement and suggestions for HR organizations in 2011. “Organizations should educate employees on better financial management. Financially stable employees are less likely to quit jobs because they achieve higher satisfaction in the same salary.”

Time for Due Diligence on Personal Objectivity by HR Introvert with thoughts about achieving greater objectivity by interacting with others. “Objectivity is not maintained by keeping to yourself. You get objectivity by opening up, sharing with others, and providing them feedback as well.”

5 Resolutions You Shouldn't Make (and One You Should) by Drew Tarvin on the 'unresolutions' he recommends for 2011, as well some serious advice for a happier 2011. "In space, no one can hear you "Mooo."'


The Top 10 Talent Management Trends of 2011 by Mark Vickers with predictions and recommendations ranging from performance management to HR transformation. “Don’t throw emotional dimwits into your high-potential pipeline.”

2011: The Year of Reactionary HR by Mark Stelzner with a candid assessment of his own 2010 predictions and his prognosis for 2011. “Suddenly buzzing past you are the 2011 wing-walking fools who squint their eyes into the blinding sun and pretend to see what’s ahead, often misinterpreting the smallest of clues as a means of preparing a seemingly interested world for what is most assuredly an uncertain future. I am one of those fools.”

2011: The Year of Visibility from Laura Schroeder on the absolute necessity of understanding your workforce. “In 2011 HR professionals will be challenged this to provide timely, accurate, operationally relevant information about the extended workforce.”

Taking it Up a Notch – What Does 2011 Hold in Store for HR? by Amit Bhagria with some great predictions for 2011, including the increasing strategic importance of corporate sustainability and putting the ‘human’ back in HR. “Nowadays customers want more. They want to be involved with the companies they do business with. Who runs the company, what is its mission? Do they care about me?”

A 2011 Human Resources Forecast by Michael Haberman with a list of trends we can expect to see in 2011. “As communities realize the disparity between desired skills and those people actually possess, the issue of workforce development will become more important.”

What’s the Future for HR? by Judith Lindenberger on what HR professionals can expect to see in 2011. “Flexible work schedules and using consultants will be the new reality of doing business.”

10 HR Analytics Predictions for 2011 by Cathy Missildine-Martin on how companies will use HR analytics in 2011. “Metrics are yesterday.....(tracking). Analytics are today and tomorrow (insight based decision making).”

Where will social media and #socialrecruiting go in 2011? by Bill Boorman on social media trends in 2011 and the increasing importance of popularity rankings. “Being found will be more important than being heard.”

The Social Network for Workforce Planning by Mick Collins on how social networks can impact workforce planning. “Also of note: the concept of workforce planning networks – beyond stakeholders and champions, who else in the organization will be affected/influenced by workforce planning and what impact will it have?”

Rants (alas, only one, but a fine one)

Thomas Wailgum Inspired Post #1 -- My Airing Of Grievances by Naomi Bloom on how HR executives, vendors and customers should get their act together in 2011. “If you really don’t know what about the people side of the business drives your business outcomes, then you sure as hell don’t know what about the people business you should be working at measuring and improving or rethinking completely.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011: The Year of Visibility

I think it’s fair to say that 2010 was a year of change and reflection for many of us. Jobs were lost, assumptions were adjusted, expectations were lowered and in some lucky cases opportunities were seized.

It all started innocently enough. First came the crash, which occurred when someone unwisely decided to investigate various financial instruments and discovered a mountain of poorly backed debts that had been sold multiple times for vastly more than they were worth. If financial analysts were taught basic physics they would have known that nebulous moving objects don’t bear close investigation.

Then came the inevitable lay-offs and retrenching. Business courtesy flew out the window as recruiters were swamped with resumes and simple compassion for others was consumed by personal worry. Those were the darkest times for many.

Finally, people started rallying and a new spirit of optimism and connection was born. And yet, the world had changed:

Business leaders had discovered that products continue to ship with fewer people.

Well, they were bound to discover it at some point. But unfortunately, this epiphany for business leaders glosses over a number of issues, such as product quality, workforce engagement, customer service and long-term macroeconomic viability.

These are the themes that must concern us in 2011 if we are to recover from the greed, short-sightedness and personal tragedy of the previous two years.

So I am going to make a prediction and call 2011 ‘The Year of Visibility,’ because companies that rely on reactionary hiring, contracting and downsizing in lieu of informed business planning probably won’t be around in five years.

The kind of visibility I’m talking about is the kind that allows companies to maximize business performance and ride out economic cycles with minimum disruption by answering questions like these:
  • Do you understand the skills and capacity of your workforce?
  • Does the work people are doing align to business objectives?
  • Are you able to determine cost and quality of work across organizations, teams and initiatives?
  • Can you compare workers to determine optimal fit for job, skills, interests, location, or budget?
  • Can you find ‘ready talent’ anywhere in your organization?
  • Can you group workers into actionable talent pools to support strategic talent initiatives?
  • Are you able to anticipate and avoid critical skills and leadership gaps?
  • Can you reduce contingent labor costs by better utilizing existing resources?
With the increasing reliance on contingent workers to increase flexibility and reduce salary costs, workforce visibility has never been more important - to minimize costs, ensure quality and avoid co-employment lawsuits.

That's why I predict that in 2011 HR professionals will be challenged to provide timely, accurate, operationally relevant information about the extended workforce.

Are you ready?

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