Monday, February 22, 2010

HR, Get Your Bass Guitar and Leather Pants!

Why, because we are going to be ROCK STARS!

I feel a shift in the usual HR conversations going on in the media and Social Medialand. We have all heard the endless rants about HR not being value added, whining about a seat at the strategic table, and the infamous Fast Company article, "Why We Hate HR."

Post recession, I feel a different tone and a different conversation. Sure we are not Rock Stars yet, but I think we are poised with guitars in hand.

I read about HR really getting serious about "Pay for Performance" "HR Metrics" and 'Workforce Planning." These are areas that HR really needed to be on top of during this recession and even beyond. Some HR professionals were definitely better than others, but at least we are focusing on the right things.

I read a very interesting article over the weekend in HR Magazine, January 2010 issue. This magazine definitely has a vested interest in HR's success, but the points were good ones. Adrienne Fox discussed HR's new paradigm for future HR leaders:
1) Anticipating future workforce needs
2) Sourcing talent globally
3) Finding the right mix of contract and regular full and part time employees

I didn't read one thing about planning parties, or making sure paychecks are correct. Thank goodness. Those 3 areas above are some really value added areas that can really move companies forward. (Get your lighters ready for HR's encore in a few years!)

The article went on to discuss 3 different types of organizational scenarios that will unfold and how HR can add value to each:
1) A metrics focused company -makes decision based on data
2) A growth focused company-needs recruitment and retention strategies
3) A project based company -needs a true talent management process

This screams opportunity for HR and I believe the recession has forced those individuals that want to stay in HR to think differently about their roles and education. I back that up by evidence of the individuals that are continuing their education or getting certifications to assist them in obtaining the skills discussed above.

I am very excited that I see these "rock stars in training" on a personal level as I teach for 2 Universities and SHRM-Atlanta here in Atlanta. The caliber of HR professional that are returning to the classroom is different. I see MBA's, many with various undergraduate degrees, many from different functions (i.e. operations, marketing), but they all want to be better HR professionals.

Fox, states in her article that, "The HR professional who can produce data in terms the CEO and CFO can understand will become the most important person in HR in the future." I believe this is something that HR can and will do.

I am hoping this means we can finally STOP talking about that TABLE and make sure our guitars are in tune!

What are your thoughts are we ROCK STARS in training or are we stuck in the same old paradigm?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons from the Line Undercover Style

This morning many bloggers, writers and critics are weighing in on the new television show, Undercover Boss. After two episodes, I have found I like the premise but the logistics make it difficult for me to believe that the employees didn't know something was up. If cameras are following a new hire around at work how open would you really be in that situation? I know editing and scripting have a lot to do with the end product.

I do believe that CEO's should have contact with the front line and do that often. By the front line I mean with employees that are delivering to the customers on a daily basis AND actually meeting with customers to get their perceptions of the brand and service delivery. From the front line perspective I think the CEO's from Waste Management and Hooter's probably gained a lot of good information that they can now TAKE ACTION on to be a better company. The key is now that the big hoopla is over, what are those CEO's going to do to make things different?

Here are some lessons I think any company can learn from the front line:

1) Which processes work and which do not. Sometimes processes are developed at corporate with cost cutting in mind with out regards to the impact on employees and customers.

2) Polices and procedures can actually work against you. At Waste Management, in Episode 1, the employees were being docked double for being late for lunch. I am sure that cost the company more than just dollars: morale, engagement and productivity took a hit as well.

3) Managers are sometimes just idiots. Jimbo the Hooter's manager had a blatant disrespect for women. This behavior will never be addressed by training as one of the leaders at Hooter's declared. Disrespect unfortunately is in your character and is hard to "unwire" that trait. He may be on his best behavior for awhile, but it will come back up again. I read a lot of blogs and tweets that said the CEO, Coby Brooks should have fired him on the spot. I don't think he had that authority since Jimbo was a franchised employee...wasn't Coby's decision.

4) Customers should be listened to. In the Hooter's episode Coby took to the streets to promote the restaurant. He asked some passers by about Hooters and the ladies responses were, "degrading to women" and "I wouldn't let my daughter work here." Depending on what Coby wants to do and what he means by expanding his customer base, he may have to take actions to change the perception of Hooters. He did state he wanted to create a marketing campaign that showed Hooters girls are people too while keeping the uniforms the same.

5) Sometimes the top Leadership just loses touch with the business. Leadership forgets how hard it is to serve customers, they forget how their decision impact the workforce, and sometimes they lose touch with the people that make it happen everyday. I was amazed at the every day life stories that were uncovered so far that seemed to shock the CEO's, single moms, tough schedules, time management, bad bosses, illnesses, etc. All of that is just everyday life for the working class....

I also found it very shocking that not one person recognized the CEO's even in their slight disguises. For Coby he hadn't been in one location since he was 16, no chance of blowing a cover there. That speaks volumes to me. I contrast that with a big box retailer that I know and how it is very common for the CEO and his leadership team to WALK the stores on a weekly basis. I think his cover would be blown by store 2.

My goal would be NOT to be able to go undercover in my company because so many people knew me that it would be impossible!!

What are your thoughts on "Undercover Boss?" What lessons has your company learned front the line?

Monday, February 8, 2010

What is the #1 HR Metric to Report to Your CEO?

I ran across a very interesting blog from Halogen Software regarding Hot Button HR issues for 2010. I liked the 10 questions they posed to the HR subject matter experts in the HR Raging Debates Forum. What I found the most interesting is that Halogen conducted a poll with HR professionals and one of the questions asked was, regarding the #1 metric HR reported to their CEOs. Here are the responses according to Halogen:

1) ROI on talent management - 35%

2) Employee engagement - 24%

3) Retention - 17%

4) There isn’t one - 24%

I found this list pretty incredible, although I do not know the composition of the sample. So, let's just assume these are HR professionals that report or report close to the CEO. Here are my thoughts on that list:

1) ROI on talent management-what does that mean? what is the exact metric? I am assuming the metric is trying to prove productivity and efficiency of the workforce as a result on talent management activities. Why not just report productivity numbers, I bet the CEO gets that?

2) Employee engagement-I am a BIG fan of this metric but not on its own. I believe engagement needs context, it needs to be in context of trends, i.e. employee engagement has increased 10% this quarter and customer engagement has increased by 5%. Engagement is a great metric it just needs "cause and effect" data to illustrate the point that it is not just a soft measure but one that really does impact the bottom line.

3) Retention-REALLY? Not too many people are having that problem. I know this needs to be tracked, but right now it is not the #1 metric on your CEO's mind....I promise.

4) No metrics-Now this really hurts my feelings. Has no one been paying attention to HR becoming a strategic business partner? Not having metrics is a good way of making sure HR's value is never understood. Start with an easy metric let's say revenue per employee or profit per employee. Try average performance rating per employee or % of employees scoring "exceeds expectations." Track those over time and see what trends and information you uncover.

I know there are many others that you are using, tell us your #1 metric for your CEO and any others you are using that assist with HR's value proposition.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Can You Train Your Employees to Solve Problems?

Over the last week I have had some very interesting interactions in the B2B environment involving our company. It is a New Year and part of our company's strategy is to be BOLD. (See Barbara A. Hughes, Intellectual Capital Consulting's Co-Founder, first blog on the subject). So, we really are taking some of our own advice...imagine that.

So, with BOLDNESS in mind we decide to :

1) Buy email marketing lists
2) Buy new laptops
3) Buy a license for salesforce/email automation

We made all 3 purchases in one week. (is that BOLD or just CRAZY?)

So, I would like to contrast the customer experiences to see what I learned.

1). One vendor sent the email marketing list with duplicates and missing information not once but twice. Although quite apologetic, it took making an announcement on Twitter to get the issue resolved.

2) Another vendor told us he could not fulfill or laptop order for a particular color that we configured online because that was for "home" customers and not "business" customers. I then suggested that I had my credit card out ready to buy and that he needed to figure that out internally. After 24 hours and an announcement on Twitter, he did figure how to get me my Laptop with the green circles, after I was ready to switch vendors.

3) Another vendor worked with us on price as a small business, gave us a discount, and walked me through the ordering process to make sure I was comfortable with the order. He did all of this while at the airport leaving for his vacation. He sent follow up emails and gave me contact information for another employee while he is on vacation.

Which one of the three am I raving about to friends, family and anyone else that will listen?

So what could vendor 1 and 2 from above done differently?

Employees from those two vendors should have been able to solve the problem immediately. It's not that a problem occurred, we all make mistakes. It's all about the solution and resolution and the SPEED that that resolution occurs.

So, then I asked myself if it is all about problem solving, can you train your employees to be better problem solvers? Is it really training or is the authority to make this resolutions at the critical point in the customer experience? How to you incorporate speed into your customer service process?

I have my own thoughts, but I would like to hear yours....