These days you can’t evade commentary on what HR should be doing and assuming responsibility for. The list is endless and maybe even unreasonable.
How organizations structure their HR departments differs based on an innumerable amount of variables. For starters, complexity of the organization, functional clarity and employee headcount are some of the more common variables that account for how HR gets structured within an organization.
The nature of work is changing and so Human Resources is also changing as a result. This means rethinking the way “the way we have always done things”. In shifting from the “Personnel Mindset” to present day HR, we must also realize and admit that some of the ways that we chose to operate never worked and as such will not be sustainable in the current business climate.
I’ve spoken a lot in the past about how we move forward as a discipline, but there is an elephant-in-the-room and it is about how we are structured. It doesn’t matter how many strategies, tips, or insights I or any other expert provides to you as an HR practitioner, if your HR department is so fat that it is bulging from all of the unnecessary sub-disciplines dragging it down from a both a functional and financial perspective – HR will be inert.
We can’t be all things to all people…
Perfection is impossible and while we are still collectively trying to get there – we miss the mark everytime, because some of our beloved sub-functions need go or need a makeover.
Here are three examples:
Exhibit A: Payroll the odd HR stepchild. If you are a small to mid-size company, Payroll may be fine under HR. Still, I never understood how this was an HR function at all. I get that there is FLSA and other labor considerations that scream HR. Nevertheless, anytime a function is handling funds for an organization – I immediately think Finance. If you ask me, Payroll belongs under Finance with maybe a dotted-line reporting structure to HR because of the nature of their work. Why HR in many organizations remain responsible for this function is beyond me.
Exhibit B: Very few employees trust Employee Relations/Conflict Mediation owned by the HR function. Let’s talk about transparency and HR’s “open door’ policies around employee complaints and disputes. I worked as a recruiter for many years. Transitioning to a Talent Management professional was easy, because I had so much practice being an ear for employee’s who didn’t trust HR let alone the conflict mediation/employee relations process.
Some of the concerns expressed over the years have been:
” The ER Specialists never listen to our side, they immediately jump to defend the managers and/or organization.”
” I told the HR Business Partner something in confidence about my work environment and now everyone in my department is treating me indifferently.”
“I see my manager go to lunch with the ER Specialist all of the time, I could never go to her with my issue.”
When it comes to Employee Relations, it may make sense to have this be a standalone function separate from HR. HR needs to be aware of the volume complaints and may even partner with them on approach and resolution of larger organizational issues. Outside of that, you may find employees being a little more transparent with what’s going on when this is no longer under HR. Additionally, I like when functions that have a direct effect on Talent Management report directly to the CEO. It gives frequent ER and discrimination issues the visibility needed to stop them in their tracks.
3. Exhibit C:Diversity and Inclusion should be an organizational strategy not a slapped-together group in HR. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. Unless there is a true dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment from the top, HR is where Diversity and Inclusion strategy goes to die. Why you may ask? Every organization I have been in has suffered a year or more of a meager HR budget. In almost every instance, the first function to have their funds tremendously cut, was the Diversity group followed by Learning & Development. I don’t think any organization can afford to defund or piece together a Diversity function lacking in both financial and strategic support in today’s social and political climate. In my humble opinion, this sub-function needs a direct-line to the CEO as well.
I could make the case for a few more functions to move based on company specifics. The point is: no one should be structuring HR as it has been for the past 30 years because that is what has been done. The focus and challenge for HR is to be lean and flexible. To be both means we need to take a hard look at what we have on our plate and start creating smaller, smart portions of HR so we are able to focus and add value where we are truly needed.
I was at IBM Insight last week and as per usual it was an awarding experience. There is a shift going on in business and technology that I find both interesting and exciting. It is a shift that is about partnership over competition. Big name technology companies are partnering with new school app developers and tech startups to provide consumers with better products, experiences and customer service.
Image courtesy of IBM.
You may be thinking: “How will this all be done?” The surge of cognitive technology is leading the way in allowing for better insights that allow for a better understanding of people. Cognitive technology allows us to get to the root of people’s behaviors, motivations, needs, and wants. The compilation of this information around these things allows companies to provide a personalized experience and resolution to some of the most pressing human issues.
For instance, we all know the dreaded unexpected breakdown of appliances. They are costly and unwelcomed. Whirlpool is focused on the connecting everything that is important to us through mobile-optimized appliances. This means that you could receive notification telling us that a part in our machines is going and have that information sent back to Whirlpool for troubleshooting.
Image courtesy of IBM.
Box is working with IBM’s Watson Analytics to synthesize the information you house in Box to provide real-time analytics for end users. I know it frustrates me to have unstructured information and data that is either hidden or lost in the systems I use. To be able, to have insights derived from the files you save with Box is a tremendous capability for individuals and business owners.
Courtesy of IBM.
The Internet of Weather
How about all of these catastrophic weather events we’re experiencing? The Weather Company is on the heels of being acquired by IBM for their Internet of Things division. At the conference, they described an app that could be used during hurricanes not only for timely push notifications based on minute-to-minute news surrounding a weather event; but also the app has the ability to function as a flashlight and alarm to alert authorities to people who may be stranded during a catastrophic weather event.
Partnership > Competition
It is interesting to see the market moving in a direction where being competitive means partnering with a competitor to disrupt the market and provide a better product overall. Companies that you wouldn’t dream of seeing on the same billboard let alone working together realize that innovation in a vacuum is no innovation at all. The reality is: Customers want more. Whether it is quality of customer experience or a better product- very few companies are able to upkeep the supply of new, exciting and efficient products. In return, they are collaborating with other businesses or competitors to leverage their respective market strengths and technology to create new or increased value.
Why Should HR Practitioners Care?
With all these new ways of collaborating and doing business, HR needs to be looking at new and creative ways to deploy individuals and teams to get the work done. Additionally, it is a wake up call to all of us to remain aware of the changing business climate. We need to be aware of shifts in business and be prepared to pivot how we serve in our organizations. You can’t be a part of the conversation, if you don’t know what’s going on. It is equivalent to the moments in which a person comes in on the tail end of a conversation and arrives at an incorrect conclusion because they were otherwise occupied or absent from the majority of the conversation. We have a duty to become knowledgeable not only in the practice of Human Resources, but in business, market shifts, changes in customer behaviors and sentiments. It is near impossible to be a true partner to the C-Suite when you don’t know enough to craft a solution.
How do you see these competitive partnerships impacting what we do in HR?
Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode. Subscribe to “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel to be notified when new episodes are published.
Hey HR Aristocrats! On Sunday, I will be travelling to Las Vegas as a member of the 2015 SHRM National Blogger Team. It is my first time visiting Vegas and I am beyond excited. There will be a lot going on in my corner. I want to get you caught up, so you know where you can find me and what to expect.
The first thing you should know is: I will be one of the panelists on the Building a #SmarterWorkforce Twitter Chat sponsored by IBM on Monday, 6/29 from 11am-12pm PST/2pm-3pm EST. The topic is: The Future of Work. Brian Moran of Brian Moran & Associates will be hosting it and I will be sharing insights along with my co-panelist, Mike Haberman of OmegaHR Solutions. Mark your calendar and join us!
Image courtesy of Purematter.
The second thing you should know is:
I will be dusting off the #czarinatravels hashtag. Follow the hashtag to see food, random musings and sights as I make my way to Vegas. In addition, I have taken the plunge and I am now on Periscope. Follow me @CzarinaofHR to view my pop-up live streams. It is unlikely that the bloggers will be cleared to stream sessions (although we have asked). I will keep you posted if this changes.
Check out my latest vlog below from The Aristocracy of HR You Tube Channel for more #SHRM15 nuggets. If you plan on being in Vegas, let’s connect. If you are a part of the #notatshrm15 crew don’t fret- I will make sure you feel like you are there.
Campaign/FTC disclosure:I will receive paid sponsorship for promoting this campaign. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. This opportunity was made possible because of my participation in IBM’s #NewWayToWork Futurist Program. I am not formally employed by IBM. All opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Image courtesy of IBM.com
There isn’t a week or month that passes where you don’t have the bad fortune of coming across a doom and gloom article about Millennials. If experts aren’t warning us of the demise of the workforce as we know it – they are busy labeling an entire generation of people as being needy, lacking work ethic, technologically savvy and many other half-truths that seem to be fodder for the usual generational conversation.
With our workforce slated to be infused with a 75% millennial workforce by 2025, it is clear that we either need jump on the millennial bandwagon or move out of their way. This generation has learned well from previous generations. They know what they want and will not settle for anything less. Call it “obnoxious” or “entitled” it doesn’t much matter. The point they drive home is that we all have a purpose- we just need to find it and execute.
If we are to believe any of the stereotypes, the millennial-led startups in IBM’s #NewWayToStartUp competition will certainly provide a different lens for this often misunderstood generation.
What is the #NewWayToStartup Competition?
It’s easy to say we support innovation but what are we actually doing about it? IBM has taken action to foster innovation by creating a startup competition of ten millennial-led companies that are focused on social good. They invited one member from each startup to SXSW in March to pitch their venture to an expert panel. Ten startups pitched their companies whereby five startups were eliminated.
The remaining five teams went on to participate in a week long accelerator that included daily challenges and granted them the a year’s access to IBM’s Watson Analytics and their newest software, IBM Verse.
The progress of the startups is documented in webisodes that have chronicled their participation since the pitch event at SXSW.
The grand-prize winner of the competition receives free entrance into TED@IBM for up to three team members.
If the prize sounds cool- you will be equally impressed with the actual companies and founders.
Putting good things back into the world
If you’re going to go to the trouble of putting in the hard work, blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice that is synonymous with entrepreneurship, why not create something that benefits everyone? This is the kind of innovation and creativity that IBM is trying to foster through the #NewWayToStartup competition. Each of the five companies have founded their companies on the premise of being helpful and putting something good back into the world. After watching all of the webisodes, I was inspired. It left me feeling like the world may have a chance – if we have founders and companies like the ones I’m about to describe.
Being under the pressure of strict deadlines and the lens of some of the greatest minds in business is nerve-wrecking. Anyone who has ever pitched their company or has been a spectator of a pitch competition would know how that feels. Bravery comes to mind when I think about how vulnerable you feel as a founder sharing your idea with the world. At a minimum, they should all be applauded for taking a chance on themselves and their companies.
If you think I’m pulling your leg about the greatness of these startups, here is a short description of what each company does. I dare you to not feel inspired by what these millennials missions.
The Lassy Project– gives parents the ability to notify an entire local community about a missing child in seconds. They use a combination of community, data, and technology to create a new global standard for personal and public safety.
Owlet Baby Care-is a wearable infant monitor that can alert parents if their child’s heart rate or oxygen levels are in a dangerous range. They are caring parents who want to usher in a future where, just like a car seat, every baby comes home with a wearable health monitor. A future where there are less infant funerals, and more empowered parents.
Sproutel– makes health and wellness a playful part of everyday life. Their first product, Jerry the Bear, is an interactive learning companion for the 18% of children with chronic illnesses that combines animated content with an electronically enabled stuffed animal.
Stretch Recipes– is an app developed to help everyone eat better and save more by building an amazing app that will help empower people who are stretched for time, energy, resources, and knowledge to enter their budget, choose their meals, and automatically get their shopping list and coupons.
Charity Charge– is a platform to help customers create positive impact each time they make a purchase. Their first tool is a credit card enabling customers to donate 1% cash-back earnings to charities and organizations of their choice.
As a parent, I was immediately moved by ‘The Lassy Project’ ‘Owlet’ and ‘Sproutel’. The worst thing in the world that can happen to a parent- is to have a child go missing. The Lassy Project makes notification simple and quick by notifying networks of loved ones and friends-with the ability to escalate to authorities-if need be.
Two years ago my youngest daughter became ill with a bout of Pneumonia and we nearly lost her. A product like ‘Owlet’ would have been extremely helpful in our initial assessment of her condition. Not to mention that this has the ability to rid us from anymore sudden infant death cases.
With regard to ‘Sproutel’, who doesn’t love a cute teddy bear? It is beyond cool that children with chronic illnesses can have a friend in Jerry The Bear- while also learning more about their disease.
Both ‘Stretch Recipes’ and ‘Charity Charge’ have great promise, as we are in a time where every penny and minute counts for so many families. They are saving people time and putting customers money to work in beneficial ways.
As I mentioned in the beginning, so much of what you hear about millennials is negative. These millennial-led companies are doing what they love while adding to the greater good. In fact, the team at Owlet has taken lower salaries just to see this venture through. This is the kind of passion and sacrifice that awakens the senses and creates engaged workforces. I will wager, that we can all learn a great deal from these founders.
Whether you work for someone or for yourself, it is a necessary practice to ask yourself – if you are:
1) Being of service to others.
2) Working with a purpose in mind.
3) Passionate about what you do?
In Webisode 3, I love the talk the Mayor of Austin, Texas has with the founders. He mentions to them that what they are doing is not an academic exercise. He emphasizes the importance of failing quickly and creating something great in the world. This kind of advice is completely contrary to the advice fed to previous generations. With several generations in the workforce at once, it is no wonder there are misunderstandings and disconnect among the generations.
How much more productive and cohesive could we be as a workforce if we became comfortable with failure? In this webisode, you come to understand that failure is not a negative, but a necessary stepping-stone towards success.
Who will win?
Social voting is going on and ends today. The winner will be chosen on July 1st at 1-2pm EST. I won’t dare make a prediction. The original 10 were great and certainly the final five are all fantastic.
Call me a nerd, but this is the sort of reality television I could get used to. These founders are tackling some of the most important problems of our time. The reach and magnitude of what they are developing has the ability to change lives and the world. IBM should be applauded for giving these innovators the spotlight to share their gifts and passion with us all. This competition has the ability to not only inspire younger children to start their own businesses, but to inspire older generations to create the business they have been putting on the backburner.
The workforce is beginning to look very different- which may scare some. I prefer to get excited about the future. There is definitely something different about millennials, but it isn’t bad. They see the world differently than most generations. At the core of who they are, they care about others and are dedicated to creating the kind of society that favors everyone. On that sentiment alone, I have a renewed sense that the future for my children is bright because millennials are on a mission to make the world better one startup at a time.
Join me in supporting these impressive men and women, by watching the entire webisode series. You can check out the pitch competition below- along with links to all of the subsequent webisodes.
There is nothing more reassuring to a jobseeker than hearing that opportunity abounds in the company you are interviewing with. It isn’t the most important aspect for everyone, but for a good majority- it is the defining factor next to compensation and other candidate bait. There’s very little reason for candidates to doubt your claim of endless upward mobility. That is until they get burned. When they start a job and find out the yellow brick road to career greatness is more like quicksand; it leads to initial disappointment-but they haven’t lost hope in every employer yet. They start to search again and find another seemingly good company. To ensure that they don’t make the same mistake again, they ask your recruiter better questions during the interview process. They join your company with hope and promise beneath their wings; but this time there is a new set of tricks that halt their career progression. Now, it hits the candidate like a ton of bricks that there’s something wrong. Either they are really bad at choosing companies or they aren’t as great as they thought. To put it plainly it is utterly frustrating.
At a time where retention and talent management are all the rage, you would think companies would be more intentional about looking at practices that may be undermining their efforts.Whatever your sentiment is about how employees progress in the company, you have to agree that the following practices are pretty lame and counterproductive to your talent management strategy.
1) Bogus Job Postings– Here we have those highly-coveted positions where you have quietly identified your candidate of choice, but decide to waste your employees’ time, energy and emotions as they fawn over a job they have no possibility of attaining. The worst part about this is the imposition you put both your recruiters and candidates in. Both parties know how it’s going to turn out, but instead they have to go through the motions because you want it to appear that you conducted a competitive search.
2) Sneak-Attack Promotions- When you feel the need to confidentially promote employees followed by a celebrity-worthy press release announcing your decision- morale is going to plummet. It doesn’t say very much about your leadership ability, when you don’t think enough of your team to give them a chance to apply and interview for positions they are qualified to do.
3) Hold em’ and Fold em’- Are your managers undermining your employees’ ability to transfer by creating performance issues and personality narratives that never existed? This is typical when opportunity presents internally, but the manager does everything in their power to keep the employee from progressing further by sharing off-the-record performance fodder that influences the selection process. The problem with this is the employee catches on eventually and realizes they’ve been blacklisted.
4) The Relic on the Shelf- Poor tenured employee who has done well in becoming the go-to gal or guy in their department, but can’t seem to get any further. So you mean to tell me that this person who has been with the company for 30+ years with nary a bad performance review and happens to be fluent in the company rules, norms and culture is suddenly not good enough for any other opportunities in the organization or even their own department? Stop the madness!
5) Give Me More… more education, more experience, more skills, a third arm, the stem cells from your first child- I get it-you don’t have time to train and you need them up and running like yesterday. How do more KSA’s help when you haven’t established what is absolutely essential to your operation? In addition, why is it necessary when you have promoted and continue to promote people with no credentials? If you’re going to ask someone to go back to school or learn more, the request needs to be consistent and operationally-warranted. Last time, I checked Jesus Christ already has a job.
Here you have five scenarios where there is likely a disconnect between your intention and practice. The moral of the talent management story is this: if someone isn’t performing well, don’t promote them. However, have the decency to have a conversation about how they can fix it. When they do fix it, don’t hold their past performance mistakes and deficits over their head indefinitely. Strike a balance between what you want and what is needed. You may think you “need” someone with a PH.D and the ability to read minds for that receptionist role, but does it have to be so?
For God’s sake be thankful for your tenured employees, if not for them many of your triumphs and financial gains would not be possible. If they aren’t trained to the standard of the current workforce, blame yourself for not investing in them and insisting that they continue to grow professionally. Speaking of growth, stop hiding and withholding opportunity from your workers. Be transparent about present and upcoming opportunities. Allow your employees to apply for internal opportunities aligned with their backgrounds and interests. The best case scenario is you could find out you have been missing out on some unknown strengths of your employees. The worst case…you hire the right person and your employee carries on knowing that you at least gave them a chance.
Lastly, no more bogus searches. External and internal candidates alike know when you are full of sh%&! Stop putting out external postings knowing you want a qualified internal candidate and stop posting internal positions knowing there’s a VIP in mind. Interviewing for a job is stressful and we have all been there. There is nothing considerate about making someone go through the scrutiny that is synonymous with the interview and selection process for no reason. Being honest about opportunity is just one more way of building rapport with your employees. It also ensures that prospective employees aren’t deterred from joining your company because you haven’t committed to a consistent and fair talent management strategy.