Monday, June 28, 2010

How Can an HR Professional Move From Tranactional to Strategic?

Last week I had the honor to present at HR Helping HR an event hosted by SHRM-Atlanta.  The event was designed to assist HR professionals in transition with tips, networking and workshops. It was a great event.

I delivered a presentation on 10 HR Trends: HR 2.0, What's Next?  I had many great questions and wanted to discuss one of the questions here on my blog today.

Fatima Goins, an HR colleague and friend asked, "How do you change your perception of being a transactional HR person to one that is perceived as strategic?"

You can hear my quick answer here:

So, I wanted to ask your opinions on other ways for an HR professional to be seen in a strategic sense.  How have you moved from a "transactional" brand to a "strategic" brand?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can HR be Strategic Without C-Level Support?

I read one of the best blog posts last week, that I have read in a long time.  Bill Taylor, at the Harvard Business  Review blog wrote, Why We (Shouldn't) Hate HR.   He recounts the infamous Fast Company article, Why We Hate HR with a totally new perspective.  (One that I happen to agree with).   One of my favorite quotes from his post is:

As this provocative essay approaches its fifth anniversary, perhaps it's time to change the debate. The real problem, I'd submit, isn't that HR executives aren't financially savvy enough, or too focused on delivering programs rather than enhancing value, or unable to conduct themselves as the equals of the traditional power players in the organization — all points the original essay makes. The real problem is that too many organizations aren't as demanding, as rigorous, as creative about the human element in business as they are about finance, marketing, and R&D. If companies and their CEOs aren't serious about the people side of their organizations, how can we expect HR people in those organizations to play as a serious a role as we (and they) want them to play?
Recently, I have seen the situation described above play out in living color.  You can TALK about employees being an "asset" or a "competitive advantage" but if you don't put your money where your mouth is..then it is just that...TALK!

Today, I had the privilege and honor to speak to 140 HR individuals in transition in the Atlanta area for SHRM-Atlanta's HR Helping HR program.  We had a room full of very intelligent, motivated HR professionals.  I was discussing the trends that I see in HR and we began talking about Mr. Taylor's comments.  Everyone in the room agreed that there is a shared responsibility for an HR department to be strategic:

1) The HR professionals have to have the competencies to pull it off AND
2) The C-Suite has to have the vision and support the effort to make resources available

What are your thoughts on Bill Taylor's article?  Agree or Disagree?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Who Appreciates You the MOST at Work?

In the June 2nd edition of USA Today,  I noticed one of their polls at the bottom of the "Money Section."  It asked the question, "Who appreciates you the most at work?"  Here were the poll results: (1079 adults over 18 were surveyed)
  • 54%-colleagues
  • 30% Supervisor
  • 16% Executives
So, of course those results made me think.  If the supervisor is the critical component in employee engagement, no wonder over 60% of our workers are disengaged/actively disengaged according to Gallup. I think that 30% number above needs to be much higher if engagement is going to make any significant improvements. The supervisor can do so many things to show appreciation and do those in a VERY cost effective way.

Companies have really been creative in the rewards and recognition department lately, due to our recent economic climate.  

Bob Nelson, a management consultant, has many examples in his book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.  Here are some samples from his work:

1) A simple “thank you” costs nothing.
2) Gifts create a lasting reminder of your appreciation (gift cards in the amount that is affordable to your company)
3) Low cost gestures can create a story  Creating a story will create memory that employees can pass on to friends, family and colleagues.  (A photo session with the president, renting a nice car for the employee to drive for a week)
4) Food is always in good taste
5) Time off is universally appreciated

What are some of the ways you have recognized and rewarded your employees lately?  What has worked for your company?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hard Wired for Exceptional Customer Service

I have been traveling on business more than I usually do this year.  I have really been exposed to the best and the worst of customer service.  I find it fascinating how some companies ALWAYS get it right and some companies ALWAYS get it wrong.

I went to my client's preferred car rental company instead of where I am a "preferred member."  I was on the bus from the airport on my way to the offsite car rental facility.  The bus drive was happy, greeting everyone, almost whistling while he worked.  I thought, "That is refreshing."  The next week, I come back, he greets me, "Hi, Ms. Martin, how was your flight from Atlanta?"  Wow, he saw me one time.  I said, "How did you know that?"  He just smiled and said, "It's my job."  
 I wish more employees felt that knowing the customer, "was just their job."

Contrast the experience below to the one above:

I went to my gate to board my plane, the airport is jammed packed at 6AM.  The agents begin boarding and are calling rows and zones.  I pass by 2 gate agents, 3 flight attendants, 1 captain and no one even says good morning.  I know it is impossible for them to know my name, but is "good morning" too much to ask?

When I returned my car back to the rental car facility, I was greeted by yet, another eager, friendly employee just waiting to check me in.  I couldn't help myself to ask this employee about why everyone is so friendly around here.  He just said, "I guess we are all just WIRED that way."

How interesting is that?  I think there is a lot of truth in his revelation.  People can be hard wired for customer service.  So, how do the companies that always get customer service right, find people that are hard wired?

I know there is a lot of upfront work that has to happen to make sure we hire for that "hard wiredness" but how to you keep those types engaged and more importantly keep them on board?

What is your experience?  Please leave a comment or an example of a company that understands the concept of Hired Wired for Customer Service.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why Does Strategy Puddle Instead of Trickle?

I have noticed an interesting problem with organizational strategy lately.  As companies are clamoring for growth, market share and differentiation, new strategies are all the rage.

I see the same process with strategy over and over:
1) Create new strategy
2) Tell a few people about it
3) Conduct a PowerPoint about it
4) Tell (at a high level) employees the new strategy
5) The End!

The question always comes up..."Why aren't we implementing/executing on our strategic plan?

I say, "Did you tell the people that need to execute it?"


"Did you tell them HOW to behave differently and how their roles have changed.  Did you let them know how they were going to be measured and how those measures link to the overall strategy?"

This is where I her crickets, no matter if we are talking about organizational strategy or HR strategy.  Strategy gets stuck in a puddle somewhere, often near middle-management and it no longer can trickle down to the level where execution occurs.

If your front line employees don't know what the mission is, how are they going to execute?

How have you avoided the strategy puddle in your organization?  How have you encouraged the trickle effect?  Let's chat about some ideas on how to get strategy unstuck.  I will start us off...

1) Keep strategy simple so managers can explain it simply to employees.