Are you one of those companies that would rather preserve everyone than let them go? Right now, I know of at least one organization -where despite lackluster performance, poor behavior and the disbanding of their team of direct reports- a leader is being salvaged beyond their time because no one has the balls to let go of people who are detracting from the organization.
Let’s be honest employers…
With the exception of a select group of companies, it has been my experience that many of you see your workforces as being dispensable. If business is down over a period of time and tough decisions have to be made- you layoff people without blinking an eye. If one of your employees doesn’t exactly fit the mold or doesn’t flow with the way of the company- get rid of them is what you say. Oh, but there are a select “untouchable” few that get to stay for the ride. They have a certain pedigree these untouchables. If you went around and did a very unofficial survey of your workforce at the moment to find out who people believe are “untouchable” in your organization they would either be reluctant to answer and/or with some further assurance of no retailiation -they would give you at least one name. Note: silence is also an answer.
Sometimes these people are at the staff level. In the eyes of their peers, they are disruptive to an otherwise healthy work environment. They do very little or sometimes they do a lot. Whatever they do, they are not interested in assimilating and working cooperatively, because they don’t have to. Despite any complaints or even visual cues that they are contaminating your ecosystem- you, the employer continue to reward poor behavior by promotions that they aren’t worthy of. You offer these “untouchables” opportunities that your other employees would die for. In fact, they may be dying for said opportunities- as they continue to work painfully hard hoping that it will someday be recognized and rewarded.
What of the untouchable leader?
This is probably the most damaging of all of the untouchables. You all know at least one leader that you have encountered that shouldn’t be allowed to lead anyone- let alone be employed by a company in such a capacity. They are not always the vile characters we often think about. Sometimes they are just cunning, undercutting, always playing and dealing a card at the right time. Everyone on their staff sees them for who they are. Internal and external partners even see it. The trouble is when HR ignores the smoke and the C-Suite is blinded completely by charm and other artificially-sweetened personality trickery. There are usually attempts to dethrone this person, but they are usually thwarted by a lengthy list of reasons why the person cannot be fired.
You may be saying: “this is how it is”. If that is your stance, you should also be made aware of the damage these people cause.
Here are some reasons why you should stop salvaging bad employees now:
1) You are setting a precedent that good performance and showing up everyday in a positive manner has no bearing on an employee’s success in your company.
2) These people disrupt the office environment. People tip-toe around them, avoid them and are sickened by having to share in office events or the presentation of yet more accolades for someone who really isn’t deserving of any of it.
3) It causes a slow and painful deterioration to both employee loyalty and effort. Some will hang in there with you unwavered, but many will see your allegiance to an untouchable as a personal affront to their career aspirations. If the sentiment is the latter, you will either lose people or see people do less, because they will figure working hard isn’t a worthy approach in your company.
It’s important to be cognizant of the messages you send about what success looks like in your organization. It’s fairly easy to write down a mission and values statement, but what does that look like in practice? Be sure that the picture of success that you woo candidates with is the same view they have as they progress through your organization.
More insights on this topic will be on The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel tomorrow. Click here to tune in.
A study released in the Employee Engagement Series developed by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and WorkplaceTrends.com, states that the boomerang employee is being reevaluated by employers. To be clear, boomerang employees are the alumni of your organization. They are people who worked for you at some point, that would rejoin your company at a later date. It is reported in this study that 76% of employers are more accepting of hiring former employees now than in the past.
While it is admirable and even interesting that company alumni are being seen in a different light all of the sudden, we need to examine the underlying factors to understand why this trend may be emerging and has longevity.
Employers like it easy…
Considering a former employee for rehire is fairly easy. Sure, they could have picked up some bad habits elsewhere, but they are a known entity. There is a familiarity that puts both the employee and employer at ease. Training is more of a refresher than actual training. Assimilation into the the company ecosystem is fairly seamless as both parties have a sense of what makes the other tic.
The trouble with all of this “ease” is most employers have nothing in place to either keep tabs on alumni or to even rehire them without any hiccups. To effectively keep in contact with former employees, companies would actually have to change how they view voluntary terminations/resignations. Regardless of how well people perform on the job, there is often a stigma left behind when a resignation is tendered. Some companies see it as an affront when an employee leaves their company. Bad feelings, a lack of interest in knowing what motivated the resignation and poor system tracking- usually impede most companies ability to adequately follow the alumni footprint.
Got a Corporate Alumni Network?
Companies like Deloitte, IBM , KPMG and Microsoft have them. Beyond the hurt feelings and resentment often felt when employees move on, corporate alumni networks allow you to keep in touch with your former employees, so as to not have them stray too far from your grasps. It also creates a secondary pool talent pool that can act as a direct and/or indirect talent pipeline for your company.
You may be thinking you need to manage another talent community like you need another form to fill out. However, there are significant benefits to creating these networks- so long as you have the resources to manage them effectively.
Here are some of advantages to having a corporate alumni network:
1) Continued rapport and connection with former employees.
2) The ability to disseminate hiring opportunities to a network of people you already know and who understand what makes for a successful hire in your organization.
3) Creating a proprietary place for former employees to connect, share ideas and rally around your company.
From a systems, tracking and incentive perspective, there are some things we need to get right before we can even tackle a network. Watch this week’s Ask Czarina below for tips on properly tracking and incentivizing alumni/boomerang hires.
Why does your entire workforce need to be seen in the flesh? Can you provide three reasons why you need to have your staff physically present themselves to work that doesn’t begin with “Our internal customers” and end with “need facetime”? Among the other excuses for why flexible work arrangements can’t happen are:
1) How will I know they are truly working?
2) If I allow one person to a flex work arrangement, everyone will want it.
3) I need my people here doing the work.
The Supply and Demand of Flex Work and Collaboration
According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com , 50% of the US workforce holds a position that is compatible with at least a partial telework arrangement. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com goes on to report that 80-90% of US workers would like to telework or flex their schedules at least part-time to allow for concentrated work at home and in-person team collaboration via the office. Technology has made it so that we can be productive whether we are sitting in an office or at the doctor’s office. You need to check emails- our mobile devices make that possible on-the-go. Is there an online meeting coming up that you need your staff to attend? Most online meeting platforms have an or mobile optimized site for people who need to a join meetings from where ever they are. Many years ago, we could say “no” to telework, because the technology wasn’t there. Now that we have virtual workspaces, cloud storage, and video technology that allows us to collaborate and remain connected with our teams- what is the excuse?
The Telework and Flexwork Challenge
Image courtesy of Unsplash.com
If we are honest with one another, the nature of work is changing. It’s changing at an uncomfortable pace that appears to threaten our traditional way of doing things. Change is both uncomfortable and inevitable. However, the case of telework and flexible work arrangements seems clear. The workforce wants it, the technology is ripe for facilitating it- yet organizations are still relying on antiquated ways of thinking to approach this topic.
As Human Resources professionals, it is key that keep a pulse on what is needed by our workforce versus constantly campaigning for what the organization needs. No one wins when there isn’t some compromise. The issue around telework isn’t with the employees wanting it, but with our reluctance to evolve with the times.
Let’s be clear, not everyone in your workforce will want to work from home. Working from home requires discipline. There are employees that will naturally prefer to come to the office for a more structured environment. This puts to rest the idea that if you offer one employee a flex arrangement that suddenly a stampede of employees will be outside your door. For those that either need or want to telework or flex work, it is as simple as sitting down with them and figuring out a schedule that not only helps the employee, but compliments the needs of the business. After teleworking two days a week for two years at my previous company, I can tell you that my internal customers were well taken care of, interviews conducted and projects were on target. Granted, my then employer had me filling out work plans to show “proof” of my work from home; but they could never deny the fact that I was productive. Which brings me to the point of trust. Much of the challenge with managing a virtual or mobile workforce has to do with a lack of trust. There is a lack of trust with the collaboration tools and technology that make these arrangements possible and in some cases not semblance of faith in your employees. Think of it like this, if you are asking for a telework arrangement and you choose to abuse that privilege by not working as you would in the office- who loses? In some regard, the employer loses due to lack of productivity. However, most people who ask for flexibility need it more than it being a “want”. That said, the egg is on their face if they fail to work to standards and do what is expected of them.
What’s my Call-to-Action?
Cease the excuses for why telework and flexwork arrangements can’t happen. Instead, look at all of the instances where it is possible. Use a mix technology to keep your team engaged and connected. The need for face-to-face interaction isn’t going away yet. In the meantime, look at the endless possibilities on-demand video technology provides. Video not only makes it possible for teams in different parts of the world to meet and collaborate, it allows candidates to record an interview without missing a day of work and tipping off their current employer. I’m certain that some dedication to helping people work smarter and more flexibly can only help your talent management efforts. It’s all about adapting to what makes sense for your workforce while getting things done.
What will you do to kick the telework and flexwork excuses to the curb?
Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode on this post on “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel.
Have you ever worked for someone who couldn’t understand that you don’t need to have your hand held through each of your tasks? I have encountered this many times over. I get it as a parent can be with their child or a person with a spouse or boyfriend- some leaders have a dysfunctional and almost abnormal need to feel wanted and/or needed. These are leaders who like a dependent team not an independent team. They derive their worth from micromanaging every aspect of their teams work and day.
There are some employees on your team that will appreciate the extra hand-holding or may need it. Another percentage of the bunch, will be annoyed with your constant meddling. In either scenario, you are doing your employees a disservice by operating this way. In the first scenario with the needy employee, they need you, you need them- it is the perfect situation- right? No. On one hand it is great for you to provide the individual support that one of your team members may need to be successful in their position. In contrast, you are so hands-on that this person never spreads his or her wings. They will never realize the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from working through a problem and ultimately fixing it without anyone else’s assistance. This level of problem-solving and critical thinking are the same skills that become important from a developmental standpoint and could hurt the person’s chances of moving up the proverbial ladder. With your independent players, the liability here is that they will feel like you are purposely trying to stifle them not only in their positions, but also from growing beyond their current rank.
When I went through this, I just remember thinking: “Wow! This lady is a nutjob! Can I breathe? Let me do what you hired me to do.” The beauty of leadership is rooted in remaining flexible to the needs of your team. If one person needs a little more attention, you give it. If you have a few high-performers who require simple guidance and behind-the-scenes support, move out of their way and let them get the job done. More importantly, if you are a micro-manager, you need to redefine your worth within the parameters of your job. You are not more successful as a leader when you are giving orders and trying to manage everyone else’s desk plus your own.
What your micromanaging proves is that:
1) You have no faith in your team to execute their tasks accordingly.
2) You have issues with true delegation and that should be addressed.
3) You prefer the visibility to be on you and not your team which is why you won’t allow them to do their jobs.
4) You fear the potential for failure when you are not in a position to handle a task or project.
5) You are not interested in developing your team so they can eventually move into other roles. Keeping them dependent allows you to stagnate the very skills that would propel them ahead.
No matter what the needs of your individual team members are; have faith in them. Empower them. Allow them to problem solve and critically think through issues. Create a safe-haven for failure so employees don’t fear failure, but see it as an inevitable outcome in business. Support your team so they bounce back from those inevitable failures wiser and better than before. This is what people have wanted in a leader in the past and present. Equally, this is how leaders will have to operate in the future.
Join me on The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel for more dialogue on this topic:
Some time ago, my dad was unemployed and picking up contract work when it was made available to him. In order to procure this contract work, he had to sign up with a few security agencies. In doing so, he eventually landed a full-time gig supervising security guards and investigators for a major supermarket chain. The nature of his employment agreement with this chain was that he was technically employed by the security firm but assigned to the supermarket as a worker- so no company perks, benefits or official employer-employee relationship. This supermarket is well-known for their concepts around creating democratized workforces that enjoy their work, have a passion for what they do and are rewarded in innumerable ways for such efforts. I’ll let you ponder that one.
Despite the purported mindful leadership at the helm, my father had no direction of what was right or wrong- where it concerned his employment. What do I mean? As a supervisor, his job was to watch the cameras for any potential for theft. He also supervised a staff of investigators and store detectives. In addition, he was required to walk the store to observe customer behavior ensuring the overall security of the premises. When the store closed at night, he was responsible for making sure all remaining customers exited in a timely fashion so he could continue his nightly closing procedure. At least weekly, there would be a customer that felt his presence was “harassing” when he would pleasantly ask the customer to proceed to the nearest register, because they decided to shop for food at 9:50 p.m. and the store was closing in ten minutes. There would be one or two customers who tried to steal goods under his watch and he would act accordingly. There were managers that would gossip about him saying he “had an attitude” because he didn’t spend time chatting with them on the floor. In light of all of this, no complaint was ever logged with the agency he was employed by and so he continued on doing his job. Yet there were very different views and perceptions about whether he was doing his job,
One day, he is told don’t show up to his normal store. Manager X didn’t want him there any longer, so the agency pulled him- no questions asked. The agency’s response was “that’s a tough store to work in and lots of guys have had issues with that manager- we’ll just reassign you.” He was reassigned to a new store, things were great there until some months in- he receives notice that another manager wrote to the regional head to say that: “a customer allegedly complained about him harassing them at closing- suggesting that he should not be employed by any of the supermarket’s other locations.” He was never called by the agency to find out his side of the story. He had to proactively seek out answers- which was met with the following answer “we have a lot of issues with the managers there- we’ll get you working with some other clients.”
The problem with this entire situation is the employee-whether my dad or someone else is always in limbo. The supermarket and the agency operated under separate and very different standards of operation- which was confusing to the people working for either of them. The agency signed and enforced a contract with this company that basically prevented them from defending their employees. Their unwillingness to get to the bottom of the alleged complaint against my dad (which affected his employment) told me that they were far more concerned about tarnishing the business relationship than retaining him as a contractor. They set the precedent that, anytime any alleged customer complaint was filed or if a manager disliked any contractor they sent- the worker could expect to be ousted from that location.
He who fails to plan, plans to fail…
The biggest mistake they made in this partnership was not planning for a collaboration that ensured the seamless integration of workers whether directly employed or via the agency. You cannot have a successful workforce outsourcing situation where the rules are different for how employees work and are treated because of the nature of their employment. Since this company was quite possibly the biggest account they had-therefore contributing to a large portion of their revenue; the agency was unwilling to stand up for their workers when these issues arose. In return, they also had a hard time retaining people with this account because of the treatment.
The terms of any workforce outsourcing agreement need to be true to how each entity operates, while also ensuring the fair and consistent treatment of employees. Each party has to be willing to be flexible in their terms-as the relationship continues, to allow for tweaks to the service level agreement in place. As a vendor, your primary focus cannot be the money you will make on the account. You also have to seriously consider your ability to hire and retain the talent you will need to sustain the account.
Here are some other items to consider when entering a workforce outsourcing contract:
1) Did you ask about the company culture? You need to. Understanding and deciding how your workforce will blend with the existing client workforce is an important consideration for how successful you will be.
2) Creating a conflict mediation practice. Just like the client values their employees, you do too (hopefully). If you do, it is important that anyone you hire knows how they can resolve an issue should one arise. There should also be a collective agreement between you and the client of how these issues will be resolved.
3) How do you socialize the onboarding of new staff? Will the client simply have people show up to work on Monday or will there be a formal meet and greet? Whether an employee is a contractor or directly employed by the company, it is important for management to communicate the acquisition of new talent and communicate the expectations for how everyone will work together.
4) What can you do to make “contractors” feel like they are a part of the company? Can you afford to offer contractors a discount or pro-rated benefits? Making people feel more like an employee even if the relationship is temporary, can increase productivity and improve their engagement in the business and operations.
Customers don’t care who employees work for when it comes to patronizing your business. They know that they expect to have a great experience and if something should go wrong- they will be provided with a consistent and speedy resolution. Spending time in the beginning to develop and incorporate some basic talent management practices into your workforce outsourcing agreement will help to assimilate these new people into the current workforce seamlessly.
Ready to develop or improve your talent management strategy for your business?Contact me.
As someone who worked in Talent Acquisition for most of her career, I was the person responsible for ensuring the continued progression of thousands of people’s careers. I made offers that meant people could feed their families and others that catapulted people to the executive suite, I negotiated great packages and sometimes had to sell the not-so-attractive offers. I was an agent of opportunity always on the hunt for the best person that met the company’s needs. With all of this workforce good I was doing, it occurred to me that many of my colleagues and I were often closing better career deals for the people we served than for ourselves.
If you have worked in Talent Acquisition you know it is not an easy job. As a function we are responsible for making sure that every department is adequately staffed. From the Janitor to the CFO, we are charged with keeping the halls filled with talent with little to no disruption to the business. In my experience, I have had varying requisition loads. I have handled as little as 6 reqs at anytime and upwards of 175 when I worked for someone who was blatantly trying to drown me- but I digress. My point is this job isn’t for the faint of heart and yet there is often a lack of interest and focus in creating a career path for the very same professionals who dedicate themselves to doing it for others.
If you’re a TA Specialist or Internal Recruiter in a company, where do you go next? The path isn’t always clear or it doesn’t exist. In some organizations, TA Specialists move to TA Leads or Senior TA Specialists and eventually to TA Manager if they shake the right hands- but where else can their skills be utilized? It has been the great paradox of my existence in TA to realize my opportunities were non-existent while remaining excited about the opportunities and salary increases I was able to offer others.
Alas, I have met someone who understands the need to develop her Talent Acquisition team. Last week while attending the Take The Interview Talent Acquisition Summit/#truNewYork, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a track led by Ali Wong of NBC Universal. She heads up the Talent Acquisition function there and is changing the game for the Talent Acquisition professionals on her team. During her track, she spoke about how she is helping her team get out of the rut of just filling requisitions and on to thinking about how they personally want to impact the business. She’s not telling her team, “sorry, there is no career path” or “we’d love to see you in leadership, but…”. She is insisting that ever recruiter, sourcer, and coordinator have a clear understanding of how they impact the business; while allowing them to constantly learn, develop and be exposed to the people that can advocate for their career progression.
At NBC Universal, Recruiters are responsible for the mentorship and career progression of the sourcers and coordinators who support them. I have always been perplexed by organizations that went as far to create these talent acquisition teams composed of a recruiter, sourcer and coordinator only to remove the recruiter from having any input into the development and performance management for the roles that support them daily. Frankly, it’s a missed opportunity for the sourcers and coordinators to be mentored by someone in the role they will eventually have and it robs the recruiter of key leadership experience that will be needed as they progress up the ranks.
Back to Ali, she holds her team accountable for results and business impact. None of the ridiculous rumination about time-to-fill and other baseline headaches. She has a clear standard and that is to produce what the internal customers need and she will develop you so you can move on to do the things you want to do in the company, Conversely, if you cannot work up to her standard or find that the job is not what you wanted-she encourages you to move to another area of the company where your talents would be better served.
Changing the game…
If you can’t tell, I am more than impressed with the way she leads her team. Her leadership is not one to admire superficially, but it is backed by results. Her team consistently meets and exceeds their targets. They are “game changers” as she calls them.
Anyone can hire recruiters or a TA team and deploy them to frantically fill all of the positions in a company. However, it takes time, thought and effort to build and deploy a team that love what they do, produce and make an impact. Oh and by the way, she doesn’t care where the work gets done as long as it gets done- a nod and a wink for telework. TA Specialists, Recruiters, Sourcers, Coordinators, TA Assistants need career love too. If you are going to hold them responsible for bringing in the talent you are going to have to invest in them as well. Moreover, ensure that they are lead by someone who understands the value and importance of their work- who also relentlessly pushes them to find their passion. That passion will not only make them happier in their work, but it will come through when prospective candidates meet with these people to size up your company.
I was also reminded by colleagues at the summit that the recruitment and/or talent acquisition function will cease to exist in the next 10 years, so while we still have it-let’s show a little career love to the guys and gals in the trenches making it happen one job at a time.