Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011, It's a Wrap: 10 Ways to Tell if HR is #Winning

Well it's that time of year again, when we bloggers look into our crystal balls and predict what's going to happen next year. Check out this link for Laurie Ruettimann's predictions here. I always read her's.

I want to take a slightly different slant for my predictions this year...I would like to think about how we will know when HR as a profession has "made it?" We have been talking about improvements to this function for years...and years.

And years. So...

How will we know that HR is #winning? (had to use the lame hashtag). Here are just a few of my thoughts on the subject:

1) When HR and CEO's are working towards the same objectives.
2) When HR knows exactly how much value it adds to the organization
3) When the organization is #winning
4) When retention is high, performance is increasing and innovation is expected
5) When data and analytics are no longer scary and avoided but embraced and acted upon
6) HR has left its legacy of personnel and firmly branded itself as a department that is integral to success for the organization
7) The organizational brand and employment brand are linked and working for consumers and candidates
8) Business discussions are the norm for HR Execs not just headcount and turnover discussions
9) HR Execs are seen as "likely" candidates for CEO or COO positions.
10) HR professionals have diverse backgrounds including finance, accounting, customer service, marketing and statistics. Not just technical HR stuff.

I don't know how long this list will take...I see some HR departments that are darn it may be 2012 for those organizations.

How can you tell if HR is #winning?

Monday, December 19, 2011

You Might Be A Strategic HR Professional If...

I have been posting a lot this year around my opinion that the strategic HR pendulum is swinging in the right direction. I have labeled HR as being a Rock Star for over a year now and I still feel the momentum. So in true, "You might be a Redneck if..," form, I have a similar list for strategic HR professionals:

You Might Be A Strategic HR Professional If...

1) You are on your CEO's speed dial
2) You understand your companies P&L and the balance sheet
3) You have spoken to your company's customers
4) You understand how much ONE dollar invested in people will produce in profit
5) You NEVER mention that table, ever!
6) Your staff did not all start in HR, some are from the business and some are analyst
7) You attend M&A meetings with your CEO in the very early stages
8) You aspire to be another C...COO, CEO, CAO, CFO
9) Your main objective is making sure talented people are producing at their highest level, delighting your customers every single day.
10) You develop leaders at all levels of the organization

Ok, that was my 10, help me add to this list to keep it going...

You Might Be A Strategic HR Professional If...

Monday, December 12, 2011

HR You're A Rockstar!

We are almost finished with 2011 and what a year this has been. I am so ready for 2012, looking forward to a fresh start and new opportunities.

As I look back on 2011, it has been an interesting year. I have seen my HR profession really step up to the economic challenges that we have all been facing for the last 3 years. I hate that it took a recession to wake some HR professionals up...but hey...whatever it takes.

I have seen some real HR Rockstars this year, so let me recap the reasons for my renewed enthusiasm for my peeps:

1) Our company conducted 3 HR Strategy and Metrics Bootcamps this year. At each one I saw HR professionals from small, medium and large companies discuss their company's strategy like nobody's business. It was amazing to hear, HR professionals talk about competitive advantage, strategic objectives and business outcomes. Music to my ears!

2) I attended the Halogen Software's users conference this Fall. I had the opportunity to discuss performance management with attendees. I heard things like, "We have linked our competencies to our organizational strategy" and "We pay for performance and we mean it" Yeah....finally. I also heard attendees talk about the ROI of purchasing a system like Halogen. WOW, ROI and HR professionals...there is a God!

3) I also have the honor of teaching HR professionals and I have NEVER had the calibre of student I have had this past year and I have been teaching for 10+ years. Students are asking great questions, discussing how to be better HR professionals, and really being great business people first and great HR people second. I love that.

4) Our HR clients seem to be more intertwined with their business. Whether that means, HR is leading strategic execution or participating with strategy creation, I see a change. 4-5 years ago when I asked about "strategy" you would have thought I asked for the cure to the common cold. Today, HR professionals can discuss, link and align with corporate strategy. #winning!

5) HR professionals are getting serious about metrics. Even though momentum has been stalled for awhile, I see forward momentum in this area. I believe it has been driven by CEO's needing data for decision making. It's been a slow ride, but I do see progress. We still have a ways to go as now metrics are yesterday and analytics are today.

As you can see, I no longer feel we should discuss, "Why We NEED HR?" I now believe HR is a strategic weapon for our organizations. Companies are winning with their talent, their competitive advantage. HR is in charge of managing that talent and making sure strategic objectives are obtained. Now, that we have realized our mission....there is no stopping HR Rockstars!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The State of HR Measurement

I am honored to be asked to join the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. My first article for them was posted last week. I wanted to share this article with my blog readers.

Click here, to read article.

Tell me your thoughts on HR Measurement and where you think we are as a profession.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Execution TRUMPS Strategy: 5 Ways to Engage Your Employees

The one thing that has stood out in my mind this year is strategic execution. We have had several clients this past year struggle in the area of strategic execution. Why do most strategies fail? EXECUTION!

The story goes something like this:

Client: "Our strategy isn't working"
ICC: "Really, why do you say that?"
Client: "We are not reaching our goals and no one knows what our mission statement is"
ICC: "How did you communicate the new strategy to your employees?"
Client: "We emailed them our strategic plan via email. It was 27 pages long"
ICC: "I am shocked, it isn't working"

If I don't know anything else, I do know this: Strategic Execution takes Engaged Employees

Employees want to engage for these reasons:
1) They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves
2) They want to feel a sense of belonging
3) They want to go on a meaningful journey and want to know that their contributions make a significant impact.

Those three reasons really speak to being engaged to an organizational strategy...if the strategy is communicated properly. Strategy is definitely big and is a journey.

Don't get me wrong the "what" part of the strategy is not a consensus process. Strategic development does need to come from the top down. It's the "how" part (strategic execution) that needs employee engagement.

Here are some ways to engage employees around strategy:

1) Create a shared meaning, tell a compelling story. Discuss why the strategy is changing and what the before and after will look like and WHY it's important to the success of the organization. Leaders must engage their managers and managers must engage their front line workers.

2) Cultivate aligned behaviors. Make sure the culture is CREATED based on behaviors that drive desired performance.

3) No more silos. Strategy is hard to execute in a vacuum. Make sure all functions, departments are on board and working together.

4) Align goals and objectives making sure all understand how they contribute to the overall organizational goals.

5) Give status reports with mentions, shout outs, atta-boys and girls to keep the momentum going. Recognition is king to keep employees motivated and moving in the right direction.

What are your strategic execution war stories, what has worked? What have you learned?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Moving from HR Data to Organizational Insight

Over the last few months, I have been presenting and discussing the topic of HR analytics.
I feel that as a profession, HR is stuck. I think we have "got" the measurement part down pat. We can measure turnover, we can measure cost per hire, and time to fill.

But it's not really about these activity based measures anymore. It's about what you actually DO with the data.

You have to use the data in context with other data in order to really get to impact. For example, using customer satisfaction data and performance data to understand who is delivering the best experience to your customers and further determining how to sustain that experience over time...that's impact.

I have been giving some thought to why we are stuck at the Phase 2 on the above analytics roadmap. Why can't we make it faster to phase 5, where HR provides the business with BUSINESS INSIGHT that has significant IMPACT to the business.

Here are some of my initial thoughts:

1) It's the data excuse-Stop the madness. HR has more data than most departments. The issue is the condition of the data in most cases. Also, we have data in so many systems it is difficult to bring it all together. NOT IMPOSSIBLE just difficult.

2) It's the talent excuse-I don't have analytical people on my team. See last week's post on how to accomplish this one from two very smart HR professionals from Wells Fargo.

3) It's the "I don't have time excuse"-Find time before someone else takes over your data and does it for you. Enough said...

4) It's the "I can't get the data I need from other departments" excuse-Make a clear business case or state a compelling question that you need to solve that has impact on the business. State this at a high level meeting to get buy in and interest.

5) It's the "it's not important" excuse. keep thinking this while HR tasks are being outsourced and HR is suddenly being staffed with non-HR professionals who get analytics. Nay, it's not important.

I believe HR has the chops and smarts to get this done. Start small with one business problem that needs to be solved like:

1) How can I get my production workers to be more productive and get orders fulfilled on time when absenteeism is at an all time high and morale is at an all time low?

2) How do I increase our market share in a new market, where our competition has a strong hold and we have had problems recruiting talent that we need to make this happen?

3) How do I increase customer satisfaction in our call center, it has been dropping for two quarters straight?

Each one of these issues can be looked at with metrics and then analytics. It just takes asking the right questions, getting the right data and telling a great impactful story!

Why are you stuck? or...How have you moved past being stuck?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Human Capital Metrics Conference: It's about Value

The Human Capital Metrics Conference was awesome this year. Check out my recap of Day 1, here.

Day 2, did not disappoint either. Michael Echols with Bellevue University began his keynote with a very profound point for me and for all HR professionals.

See my tweet below:

"The opportunity is to create FUTURE value from current human capital investments."

Boy, do I believe that. That one statement gives HR measurement a whole new perspective. It's not so much about what has already happened, it's more about WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. Don't our CEO's want to invest in whatever will give him/her the most return? We are in "predictive" land now.....say goodbye to HR tracking's over. (Thank goodness).

The second highlight for me on day 2, came from two very smart women from Wells Fargo. Natalie Tarnopolsky and Kathy Doan delivered a great presentation on "Building a TRUE HR Analytics Team." It was not only a good presentation but entertaining as well. Yes, they made analytics entertaining.

Natalie and Kathy outlined their 9 step process used at Wells Fargo:

1) Assess your analytical capabilities. Where are you today (reporting) and where would you like to be (optimization)?
2) Assess your foundation. Conduct a gap analysis of your foundational building blocks. (foundational data, vision, key questions, truths i.e. cost and value per FTE)
3) Strengthen partnerships. Identify stakeholders, build relationships, determine goals and share, build credibility and communicate loudly!
4) Have a clear plan and ensure sponsorship. Review HR organizational structure, accountability, and create business case.
5) Select the right technology. Decisions on build or buy with right people involved in process.
6) Support self sufficiency. You must control demand or increase manager self sufficiency in the reporting area.
7) Secure the right analytics team based on the following key skills: business acumen, people influence, communication effectiveness, data manipulation, financial acumen, analytic rigor, and critical thinking.
8) Outline the analytical process. Clearly plan and communicate what the key question is, the assumptions and approach that will be used to answer the questions and the potential value that can be derived.
9) Conduct analysis and share the results. Spend time in prepping the data and previewing the findings.

I like their process as I believe it will work for large and small companies alike. It was one of the most popular topics on the twitter feed for #tcbhcm.

I look forward to next year, as I see HR professionals and the C-Suite embracing HR Analytics more and more every day. It's very exciting to see this topic finally get its fair share of attention.

I believe analytics are no longer a nice to have.....they are a must have for competitive advantage, no matter your industry.

What are your thoughts? Are HR Analytics a fad or here to stay?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Human Capital Metrics Conference: Recap Day 1

I was honored to be asked to serve as the official blogger for The Conference Boards's Human Capital Metrics Conference, today and tomorrow in NYC. HR Metrics are definitely a passion of I am thrilled to be here especially hanging out with Dr Jac Fitz Enz.

To see more specific insights go to twitter and search on: #tcbhcm....interesting observations, check them out!

Last year, I was also serving in the same capacity. Below are observations I have noticed as differences in 2011 vs. 2010:

1) There are definitely more people here. Small talk contributes this increase to a slightly better economic situation and an increased interest and focus on HR metrics and analytics.

2) The conversations are not about tracking measures, or even dashboards and's about making BETTER BUSINESS decisions. I love this as it puts context around HR and their role in the organization. Michael Gregoire, CEO Taleo said it best:

"Business Strategy and HR Strategy should be ONE!"

3) Last year, I didn't even hear the word social media and its impact on talent management. Today, I have seen how smart companies like Juniper are leveraging technology to manage talent, leading to engagement, leading to desired business outcomes. AWESOME!

4) Lots of talk around HR metric standards. The over arching opinion is that they are coming...from industry experts. My question around this topic is, why hasn't SHRM taken a lead on metric standards? I know they have finally developed a standard around cost per hire. YEAH, but guess what? We have moved on from that metric...#toolittletoolate

The audience was polled and 54% were involved in HR Metrics but only about 1/2 as many involved in predictive analytics. I mention this because HR must get to "predictive" in order to assist CEO's in making better decisions. Mike Echols of Bellevue University said it best....

"HR needs to be better competitors for organizational investment capital"

If that is to be the case, as the money is certainly there on US balance sheets for the taking, then HR needs to make a business case. That business needs data most of the time and what the predicted outcomes will be so that CEO's can make informed decisions on resources.

I think this need for talent management investment must be HR's driver to get on the analytics train.

I always like to know what is next...what's the next topic after we leave tomorrow. Dr. Jac said he is thinking about, "How to build and analytic culture." OMG....2 of my fave topics all in one. Please can I come back?

Ok, so here are some other thoughts regarding today's sessions:

1) I think there is a need to use other Talent Management examples besides training. I believe you can look at examples for rewards/recognition, engagement, performance management, etc and show how companies have linked those to bottom line results as well.

2) I think one big example of aligning strategy to HR strategy and then analyzing MULTIPLE HR investments against desired outcomes would be great. Even better, how to choose between competing HR initiatives. If you have identified through strategic mapping that you may need a training program or a rewards/recognition change, how do you use data to pick the one that has the "most bang for the buck" (discussed by attendees at my lunch table as a suggestion)

3) Dr Jac had a great slide demonstrating linkage between employee investments, operational outcomes, customer outcomes and finally financial results. This really drives home the need for HR strategy and business strategy being one. This idea supports it's not about alignment really but about integrating HR's strategy into the business strategy.

4) Talent management data is not business intelligence by itself. It's just another siloed data set that needs context. It needs to be analyzed with its other data friends...customer, operational and financial data.

Bottom line...a company's competitive advantage is not about services/’s the people. Don't you need to know how that investment is performing for you? Don't you need to know how to increase that asset's performance?

The only way to answer those questions is through analytics.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HR Metrics: Q&A The Conference Board

Tomorrow, I will be attending the HR Metrics Conference hosted by The Conference Board in NYC.

Dr. Jac Fitz Enz, the "Father of HR Metrics" will be in the house.

I can't wait...I met him last year and yes, I am a groupie. For those that know me, HR Metrics are a passion of mine. Call me, geeky, I don't care.

I thought this opportunity would be a great time for my readers to get their pressing HR Metrics questions answered.

So let's have them....what do you want to know about HR Metrics....

Follow #TCBHCM on Twitter for real time insights from the conference.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Creating a Culture of Recognition

I had the pleasure of attending Globoforce's workshop on Building a Culture of Recognition last week. The workshop itself was conducted by Derek Irvine and was very well done. Derek set expectations for the "desired behaviors" for attendees upfront and then used recognition throughout the workshop to encourage attendees to participate. They definitely practice what they preach.

The premise for building a culture of recognition is that recognition leads to a more engaged employee and that engagement leads to better customer service and an increase in profits and revenues.

Another interesting tenet of their philosophy is that more employees need recognition not just the usual top 10%. Globoforce believes that in order to truly MOVE engagement scores you need to recognize those employees that are in the middle of the bell curve. Those employees that are your steady workers, the ones that show up everyday and do consistent work. We need those employees to keep our organizations moving. Often this group of employees is overlooked in most rewards and recognition programs as most are focused on the top performers.

In most organizations the middle of the bell curve represent consistent, average performers and that can be on average 60-70% of the workforce.

The question then becomes: if you want to move engagement scores higher, do you focus on your top 10%, who are highly engaged anyway, or do you move to the 60-70% group that can use recognition? Think about this question for a really makes sense.

That is a premise that we at Intellectual Capital Consulting believe in as well.

Derek outlined a framework for building a culture of recognition:

1) Tempo begins at the top. Leaders have to give and receive recognition.
2) Must be tied to strategic goals and objectives. Metrics must also be created.
3) Involve program participants and invite their input.
4) Call all managers to training. Enough said!
5) Establish key indicators of success early and measure often
6) Touch as many people as possible as often as possible.
7) Promote program or it will perish.
8) Match recognition with achievement
9) Ensure a recognition moment. Making sure the employee receives a personal message either public or private with the reward.
10) Right currency and reward of choice. Make sure reward is meaningful to the receiver.

I will be reading Derek and Eric's book, "Winning With a Culture of Recognition." Stay tuned for a review when I finish.

What are your thoughts on recognition? Best practices?

Monday, October 24, 2011

HR Themes from 3 Conferences

The conference season is in full swing and I had the opportunity to attend three wonderful conferences last week.

1) SHRM-Atlanta's HR Conference
2) The Performance Institute's Performance Conference
3) The University of Alabama's HR Management Conference

It is so interesting to participate and listen for themes to emerge. As I wrote notes for each one of the workshops/keynotes I attended, I began to see familiar topics. Here are the common themes from all three conferences:

1) Alignment-seemed to be the most popular theme. Whether it is alignment of organizational goals to the departmental level or aligning HR activities around organizational goals, the topic was mentioned at each conference. My personal opinion is that HR has a huge opportunity in the alignment area. As execution is the reason strategy fails...HR can exercise its strategic muscles in this area. "Execution trumps strategy every time," Rich Berens, Root Learning at the Performance Conference.

2) Engagement-is no longer a nice to have. Engagement is now a must have for a company's competitive advantage. Speakers at all three discussed engagement in the following ways:
1) Employees must be engaged with their work
2) Employees must be engaged with their manager
3) Employees must be engaged with an organization's strategy
4) Employees must be engaged with their team

Tracking and acting on engagement data is key so that those things that drive engagement can be identified and sustained.

3) Focus-such a simple word, but yet so hard to do. Speakers discussed the recent economic challenges forcing companies to get focused on what is truly important. Instead of rolling out 10-12 objectives, speakers discussed the necessity to simplify and focus on the top 3-5 strategic objectives. By focusing on a smaller number, it really makes an organization pay attention to what matters most. Whether it is an individual's goals or an organization's goals a smaller more manageable number keeps everyone's eye on the desired target...organizational success as defined by the strategic plan.

The next time you attend a conference, sit back and listen...listen to common themes across presentations.

For those of you that attended conferences over the last few months, what themes did you hear? Do tell...

Monday, October 17, 2011

HR You're A Rockstar

This week I am attending/presenting at three conferences, SHRM-Atlanta, The Performance Institute and The University of Alabama's HR Management conference.

I am always excited to attend these conferences as I meet great people and learn a ton of new things.

Today, at SHRM-Atlanta's conference the energy was high and so was the knowledge sharing. If you want to check out the twitter stream, follow hashtag #shrmatl11. With record attendance with over 1100 HR professionals and resource partners, the day was off to a great start. Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon gave the opening keynote. She is fantastic, and at 33, what a dynamo. Kat talked about an organizational learnng building competence, confidence and connections to the business.

I guess what impressed me most today were the great conversations that I was able to participate in. They inspire me and validate for me that the work that I do is truly important. Here are some snippets from my conversations today:

1) The economy is still a hot topic especially around Atlanta. Most individuals I spoke with whether employed or not, whether a practitioner or a vendor, seemed to be surprisingly upbeat. Even with the news media and politicians talking about a double-dip recession, I certainly didn't feel that opinion coming from today's attendees.

2) Engagement and training are still important even with tight budgets. Smart companies are paying attention to engagement because they know this economic situation will pass. And when it does, employees will have choices. Smart companies are still investing in training to increase the skills and knowledge of their employees. Leaders know that making investments now will pay off in productivity and retention increases later.

3) HR peeps are Rockstars! I had so many conversations about business issues. Not just people issues but issues involving market share, mergers and acquisitions, capacity planning, customer retention, product development and many others. I was so excited to hear my fellow HR comrades having a business discussion without mentioning the words "policy", "procedure" or hear it comes...."seat at the table."

I can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings....

A big shout out to my blogger and twitter friends...@jheineck @havrilla @mattcharney @mikehaberman @mgrindell @teelajackson @incblot @debdooken @jennyinthesouth @JenniferAMartz.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The How-To's of Deliberate Culture Creation

Last week I wrote about culture, specifically discussing if it is created or does it just happen by chance. Most responses I received via comments and twitter stated that culture is created.

So my question to you last week was:

What is the formula for creating a culture that is a competitive advantage for your company?

I wanted to share with you the responses I received and then add my two cents:

1) The values of an organization must be articulated to employees (how business owners want to conduct business)
2) Those values must be cascaded into everyday processes, policies, procedures, relationships, etc.
3) Human performance has to be aligned with the values as a way of doing business.

(thanks to Debbie King of Evolution Management for 1-3)

4) Hire people that are aligned with the organizational values

5) Review values regularly with all employees by CEO (even review at the beginning of team meetings)

6) Employees should be empowered in the decision making process to determine how decisions align with organizational values.

7) Communication and leadership are key in the process. Leadership must demonstrate behaviors that are expected in the organization.

(Thanks to Melany Gallant with Halogen Software for 4-7)

8) Values that truly connect with people's higher aspirations (to improve, to serve, to create a better tomorrow) are easier to build culture on as employees can get behind these. Companies that have a more profit mind set might find it more difficult to build culture around.

(Matt contributed #8, no last name or company)

Ok.. here is my two-cents:

I agree with everything mentioned above. Culture must be grounded in values that drive behaviors. Employees need to understand those values and behaviors and the consequences of not behaving according to values. Managers have to make decisions based on those values and hold others accountable for the same.

Culture is a very delicate thing. It takes constant reinforcement and deliberate "care." But, the rewards are many. Just look at those who get it and do it right....the return is huge.

Who wouldn't want to work for Zappo's? The Ritz-Carlton?

Why do customers love the Zappo's and the Ritz experience? You can buy shoes and get a room's the employees delivering a world-class customer experience grounded in a culture that values the same.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cathy's Vents for the Week

I need a place to vent and what a better place than my blog. Sometimes you just need to get a few things off your chest.

1) I do not like this cold weather in HotLanta! More summer please.
2) Please, please quit asking me for free consulting. We are still in a dismal economy and I still have a kid in college.
3) Mediation is a place where you go to argue with rules
4) My dogs need a haircut
5) I don't watch Dancing with the Stars and I probably never will. So quit asking me, "Did you see Chaz Bono last night?"

And sometimes you need to be reminded of your blessings....

1) Our business has survived 14 years :)
2) My son is in college and he seems to like it :)
3) I get a new beginning at 47 years old :)
4) My dogs love me :)
5) We live in a country where you can be yourself...whomever that is :)

Ok, I feel much better!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Culture: Nature or Nurture

It's funny how topics come up in discussion in several venues over a short period of time. As you have read in a past blog post, I was at the Halogen's user's conference a couple of weeks ago, where I was on a blogger's panel. We discussed the topic of culture and how you can leverage culture to your benefit as a company in the recruiting and retention areas.

I also had the privilege to teach the PHR/SPHR preparation class and the question about measuring culture arose in a discussion.

Lastly, I was presenting to a group last week on how to create a "High Performing Organization" and of course culture came up in that discussion.

I guess the most common theme was the idea of culture creation. More specifically, "Are cultures created or do they just happen?

In each venue we discussed companies that had a very strong well known culture. The following companies were mentioned:

1) Nordstrom
2) Publix
3) Ritz Carlton
4) Chick Fil A
5) Zappo's
6) Home Depot
7) Quick Trip
8) Apple

Some on the list were the usual suspects, but some were surprises (Quick Trip and Chick Fil A). So I had someone ask, "Did they create their culture on purpose?"

Such a simple question, but huge on impact.

My answer is a resounding YES. You have to be deliberate in creating your culture OR you get one that is created for you. In my experience the latter is not a positive culture or one that is aligned with the organization's mission and values.

So of course the next question is, "How do you go about creating a culture that is positive and one that can be a competitive advantage to your organization like the one's mentioned above?"

I have some ideas, and have had some interesting discussions on the topic, but why don't you all help me out here....

What is the formula for creating a culture that is a competitive advantage for your company?

You can give me your thoughts and I will compile them in a blog post for next week.....I love it, I have just given my readers some homework! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Data Based Decision Making: HR You're Up

I have noticed a by-product of the recession is the way C-Level executives make decisions. The decisions can be about investments, people, markets, pricing, marketing, well just about anything. I believe the reasons for this shift is that the C-Suite is a lot more risk adverse than pre-recession. Gone are the days where decisions are made by "gut-feel" and "by the seat of the pants."

Boards of Director's and consumers have demanded more and more fiscal responsibility and ethical behavior.

What does this shift mean to HR?

1) HR must be able to make a business case for people related investments. Just as marketing outlines it's expected ROI for marketing related spends, HR must do the same thing. For example, if HR proposes organizational wide training, what is the expected return in terms of sales, productivity and performance.

2) HR needs to get its HR data house in order. Historically in HR we have stored data in many disparate systems. I see this issue is changing with talent management systems that integrate many HR functions in one platform. Data also needs to be standardized across platforms so that analysis can be performed. One more issue with the needs to be clean. Data integrity and data entry standards must be addressed.

3) HR must perform analytics on its own data. I know I beat this drum loudly and I know I have a bias to action in this arena. However, we HAVE to provide insight to our C-Suite when it comes to people related data and information. In most service related companies the people spend can be 50-80% of budget. So, understanding how that spend is performing is crucial information our C-Suite needs and wants.

4) HR must make decisions based on data too. HR has been guilty over the last few decades of using gut feel to make HR related decisions. I "feel" like we need a wellness program instead of "if we implement a wellness program it will save $500K in insurance expense per year and only cost us $250k to create."

So, what are you hearing and observing regarding data and decisions? Is your leadership team asking for more or less data? What are you doing about it?

Image source:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 1: Halogen Conference Recap

Halogen's User's Conference kicked off last night at the Atlanta Hyatt. With over 300 attendees, the conference was off to a great start.

This morning we heard opening remarks from Paul Loucks, CEO of Halogen. He spoke of his customer focus. Paul was just not saying "nice to hear words." He was actually giving examples of their customer intimacy strategy citing examples of user advisory boards, customer account managers and actually giving customers their product development person's name. It was refreshing. This strategy has certainly paid off as Halogen has been growing at 40% per year.

Paul also discussed Big Picture Talent Management. The idea is that by linking your typically siloed HR functions like compensation, recruiting, onboarding, succession planning, to your organizational strategy you will have the platform to build a world-class workforce. Halogen gets linkage and their software is built in a way that allows their company to leverage talent in a world-class way.

I had the honor of presenting the keynote this morning. My topic was "HR's 5 Most Important Roles in Talent Management." The roles we discussed were:

1) Strategic Role-Be a strategic planner and an executer

2) Performance Manager Role-Pay for performance and mean it

3) Goal Cascader Role-Make sure all employees know what is expected and how they will be measured.

4) Talent Manager-Hire the best, Succession planning is a must to be competitive. Talent mobility allows organizations to be flexible and competitive.

5) Metrics Guru-Tracking measures like cost per hire and days to fill are no longer enough. It's all about being predictive using analytics.

I had the pleasure of attending a Session conducted by Sean Conrad and one of Halogen's customers, Scott Chase, Human Capital Manager at INTRAA. Their session was on goal alignment. My big take-away there was that not only do you cascade goals down from the organizational level to the departmental level but you also need to cascade goals up from employees to managers. The reason for this is so that employees are ENGAGED with their own goals. Makes perfect sense!

To round out the day, I participated on a bloggers panel that included:

1) Kris Dunn from the HR Capitalist

2) Chris Havrilla from Recruiting Chicks

3) Mike Haberman from HR Observations

With Kris as our ring leader discussing "Tools to Attract and Retain Your All-Star Talent Pool." The panel discussed interesting ways to attract and retain talent in a medium sized business environment. Company culture was also discussed as an attraction and retention tool.

"Culture has to be created deliberately or one will be created for you."

I wonder who said that very wise statement....

If you are interested in reading all the tweets, check out the back channel at #HSUC11.

Monday, September 12, 2011

7 Deadliest Sins of HR Metrics

When it comes to HR Metrics these days there is no shortage of information, opinions and blogs like this one. What I have learned after reading, teaching and presenting on the subject for almost 10 years is that in order for HR to be considered a player and a rock star, you must measure your impact. All the other functions measure, so why not HR?

In my travels I have heard many excuses, and even written on that subject here. But, I have also seen some really BAD practices when it comes to HR Metrics. Please don't commit these deadly sins:

1) Thou shall not measure meaningless crap (not measuring what is tied to impact)
2) Thou shall not measure endless crap (measuring too many things that don't matter)
3) Thou shall use valid, reliable and clean data (enough said)
4) Thou shall display the data in a meaningful way to those that use the data (stop with the rows an columns, it's boring)
5) Thou shall tell a compelling data story that leaves managers and leaders wanting more (tell them something they didn't already know, and it's not cost per hire)
6) Thou shall balance your metrics measuring both efficiency and effectiveness
7) Thou shall never start measuring until you map your organizational strategy first.

I am very encouraged to hear so many HR professionals embarking on the metrics journey. I get many questions on how to start (see #7). The point is, HR is at an important juncture, we have been through the personnel phase, the get a seat at the table phase (please say that's over) and now I believe we are at the influence phase.
Influence (transitive verb): to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means
I love that definition as HR has always had the word "intangible" associated with it. Intangible doesn't mean you can't measure it. Indirect doesn't mean you can't measure impact. You just have to know what questions to ask and which connections to make. HR is perfect for this task.

Let's use our influence to make a difference in our organizations...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unplugged and Loving It!

I went to the beach this past week for Labor Day and I made a conscience decision to leave my work at home. This situation as a business owner is one that is very difficult as you think you (I) must be connected at all times.

I did take my Iphone of course, but I didn't go to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare or email accounts. I did post some cool places I visited on the beach on my Facebook account so my friends and family knew I was still breathing.

It was by far one of the best, stress free vacations I had been on in a long time and I was in the middle of a hurricane!

Here are the lessons I learned from all of this:

1) I am not that important...and as I watched the other A Types in restaurants on their phones and checking emails it just made me LOL. There was one dude on the beach with his laptop, I am not making this up.

2) If you are good at what you do, it will be there when you get back. No one got mad or upset that it took me 3-4 days to still went on.

3) Your friends and family appreciate it when you are fully engaged with them and not your social media tools. I mean sometimes....I didn't even know where my phone was. Imagine that.

4) I feel like I actually had a break. I think this one is most important. I feel my battery has been recharged and I am ready to get back to work!

Now, this morning, I had about 450+ emails of those I need to answer maybe 100 or so. I had 45+ Facebook invites, messages etc. Not feeling too inclined to respond to those. I had 50+ Twitter connection requests and several LinkedIn messages. It will probably take me until lunch to get through all of this, but hey I am doing it with a smile and sand still in my shoes.

I have a big presentation to finish today and tomorrow and I feel like my creative juices are flowing once again. So, here is my advice to all you Cathy's out there.... does a body good!

Monday, August 29, 2011

HR Metrics: Tracking vs. Insight

HR Metrics have been a passion of mine for several years now. It seems that HR Metrics have gained a lot of momentum in the last 2 years. I get many requests to speak on the subject and our company has increased projects and workshops in this area.

What bugs me the most, is the same issue I observed 5 years ago...

HR departments are not providing insight to leadership they provide tracking to leadership.

Yes, leadership wants to know something that impacts results or something they didn't already know. Here are some examples of things leadership is not (typically) waiting on pins and needles to see:

1) days to fill
2) # open reqs
3) # of training participants
4) turnover % for entire organization
5) hiring ratios from recruiting sources

But give leadership some insight, and you will be a rockstar:

1) turnover % of high performers with reasons for turn and an action plan to improve
2) HR forecast with new hires projected over next 12 months with staffing plans attached
3) ROI of recent training initiative with % increase in productivity and $ revenue increase
4) Average performance rating of new hires with baseline revenue/employee (to see growth over time)
5) Analyze new hire recruiting data and performance data to create a "success profile" for candidates increasing hiring success rate and decreasing cost per hire.

I was at a metrics conference last year and an attendee asked me the following question:

"Our team spends hours on our metrics, we have over 100 HR metrics we provide to our management. I send the document with a return receipt request to over 50 managers. I had 2 people actually open the document." "How can I increase the number of managers that use our data?"

I said, start over. After some more questions I found that ALL of the metrics were tracking metrics. If you were a CEO would you want to see how many transactions accounting processed last month, or so you care about receivables outstanding and what the impact is to the business? Same thing with HR. Yes, those tracking metrics are important to your department to make sure we are delivering quality service efficiently BUT what really matters is impact.

You have to start with strategy and work your way to metrics. By mapping your organizational strategy and then aligning HR to that strategy...the metrics that your leadership cares about become crystal clear.

Don't just start measuring for measuring's will wind up with way too many measures that don't tie to anything. Make your metrics matter by aligning them to your organizational strategy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

To Coach or NOT to Coach

I had the pleasure of speaking at a lunch and learn last week at one of my favorite company's headquarters here in Atlanta. The topic was coaching and the audience consisted of HR Managers and Directors.

Most of the discussion centered around how HR can influence managers to use coaching to increase performance.

After reading a lot of material on the subject and a really good recent blogpost from Kris Dunn, I have decided there are 2 camps on this subject:

1) Get rid of the performance review and replace it with coaching sessions
2) FORCE managers to coach in the current performance management process

I think there is a happy medium that uses coaching skills to produce RESULTS. Really? Coaching can impact results and that is how HR can influence managers to be coaches. I think HR managers must educate line managers on the benefits of coaching employees:

1) Employees have cited the need for feedback as an engagement driver. X'ers and Y'ers have come into the workplace expecting feedback. Managers have not been trained on effective coaching there is a disconnect...big time.

2) Goal attainment. Think about a sports coach with the goal of winning. There are countless hours spent on coaching the athletes getting them ready for the game.

3) Employee Development. Managers can coach employees on many subjects but the WIIFM for the manager is an employee that has developed a skill that he/she didn't have before.

Back to the lunch and learn....when asked why managers DO NOT coach employees, the audience said:

1) Managers don't have time

2) They don't like confrontation

3) Our culture is one of getting things done and fast...all about results.

My answer to the objections above have to make the time because employee's engagement at work is stronger when feedback is 2-way. Coaching is not confrontational it is collaborative. And for #3...coaching is about getting those results, with clear goals and objectives set, results will follow.

Sometimes, coaching is seen as a punitive activity. "We do coaching when someone is going to get fired as a last step." If this sounds familiar, then some education has to be created around why coaching is positive and needed in the organization.

So I ask you, coach or not to coach?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Telling A Great Strategy Story

Once upon a time, there was this big company. This company wanted to grow into a bigger company, so it huffed and puffed and blew its competition over...THE END.
I wish I had $100 for every time I have heard, "Our organizational strategy is stuck." "We did our planning, but it was just that, planning and no execution."

What we have found, with some of our clients is that strategy gets stalled. And it gets stalled somewhere between the top and the employee, who by the way has to actually execute on that strategy. The problem is, in my opinion that leadership understands the strategy and doesn't do a good job of translating it for the next level. The 3 ring binder with all the initiatives, the vision, the mission, values etc is great. Except....when no one knows what to do differently.

So, why not explain the strategy in a simple, easy to understand way. I know....what a novel idea. Use a story, with a beginning (current state) a plot (what we will do differently) and an end (what we will look like when we are finished).

Employees will be so grateful. No more strategy by PowerPoint...just an easy to understand story.

HR is great at this, so get your strategy documents and start writing!!

I wish strategy execution was as easy as telling a story, but it's not. There are several other critical success factors for a successful implementation:

1) Make sure strategy is understood by ALL employees
2) Make sure ALL functions, departments, and divisions have mapped their strategy and understand how their contribution impacts the overall strategy
3) Make sure goals and objectives are tied to performance management system
4) Make sure metrics are created and tracked
5) Accountability for results is a must

Don't let all your planning be in deliberate about your execution!

Tell me about your challenges and successes with strategy execution....

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Measure HR

I speak and write on the topic of metrics a lot. And I always ask where individuals are on their "metrics journey." I get answers from beginners to "we are using data to be predictive." I also get "we aren't measuring anything." I always ask, "Why not?" Here is my unscientific list of why HR professionals do NOT measure:

1) It's hard
2) Don't know what to measure
3) My leadership doesn't understand why we should
4) Our data is in too many places
5) We do not have anyone analytical in our department
6) We are swamped, don't have the time
7) We used to measure a few things, but no one did anything with the data
8) You can't measure the impact of HR, it's too soft
9) Finance is doing that!
10) We don't have the technology to do that

Ok, now for my answers to the "excuses" above

1) If you can't do basic statistics, or even just formulas, partner with an analyst in your company to mentor you. Take some classes, be curious
2) Start with organizational strategy and work your way to metrics from there
3) Find something in the data that your leadership didn't will be a rockstar and in a better position to ask for resources.
4) Data is scattered in an organization. Getting it in to one repository is challenging but really worth it. Access and Excel are 2 choices that most everyone has on their computers right now.
5) See #1, find someone within the company, an intern, learn by doing....
6) Metrics allow you to focus on what is important, you can't afford not to make the time
7) It's all about the data story and how you present the data. If you use rows and columns then expect no one to act on it.
8) You can measure the impact of HR, it just takes time to understand causal relationships and then testing those hypothesis. Today with most companies spending 60-80% of budget on HR related costs, you have to understand the ROI of this investment.
9) Finance can and will do this if we don't start measuring ourselves. Enough said...
10) Start in Excel it is powerful and available...

If you aren't measuring today, start by mapping your organizational strategy within your HR department. Mapping is a great way to illustrate what is driving your strategic initiatives. This exercise will also assist in the discovery of what metrics matter to YOUR organization.

Ready, set, start measuring....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 1: HR Strategy and Metrics Recap

Today I had the pleasure of facilitating a HR Strategy and Metrics workshop for the Performance Institute in Washington DC. I had just over 30 attendees that were eager to learn more about linking HR strategy to organizational strategy and how to measure the execution.

The majority of the day was spent on a tool we use, called the Business Strategy Map. I have written on this topic here.

The participants were engaged as they brought their own strategic outcomes from their companies to gain hands on real time experience with this process.

After we spend the majority of the day on this process I asked the participants what the good, the bad and the ugly is what they said:

1) It's hard, really hard but worth it
2) I can see how this could be a communication tool in the area of strategic execution
3) It can be a collaboration tool between functions as most organizational strategies require interdependency between functions
4) HR coud be instrumental in leading this process (YES!)
5) It identifies gaps in the understanding and interpretation of strategy by different functions and leaders
6) It serves as a visual clear line of sight that can be shared with all employees

So tomorrow, we will use the maps and determine the necessary metrics that need to be tracked and analyzed from an HR perspective...I can't wait!!

It was more than evident in the room that no matter if you are a large corporation, a non-profit, a government agency or an educational institution this process is needed because strategy if not executed is useless.

Drilling down and mapping the strategic details is where the rubber meets the road and where your front line employees begin to behave with purpose.

I believe that spending a few days on mapping strategy is well worth it...

Information on our next HR Strategy and Metrics bootcamp can be found here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

10 “Don’ts" When it Comes to HR Metrics

I am asked what lessons I have learned when it comes to HR metrics a lot when I am speaking. There are so many lessons as this field has come such a long way in such a short period of time. When I first started reading and speaking on the subject back in the late 1990’s the top HR measure was cost per hire. Fast forward to today and we can analyze things like: PREDICT ING who will be successful in our organization by using recruiting and performance data and we can PREDICT who is at risk for leaving our organization. Fascinating, and the possibilities are endless.

Here is a shortened version of my lessons learned in regards to HR metrics. (They are in no particular order)

  1. Don’t just start measuring the usual suspects, start with your organizational strategy and work from there
  2. Don’t copy your neighbor’s HR metrics for the reason listed above
  3. Don’t use benchmarks for the sake of benchmarking because average does not equal better result
  4. Don’t just email metrics out and expect your managers to understand them. Make sure the metrics tell a compelling story
  5. Don’t celebrate metrics that aren’t impactful. No one cares how many days it takes you to fill requisitions on average or if you have 100% participation in the performance management process. They care about what impacts revenue, profit and costs-DIRECTLY
  6. Don’t use unreliable data or data that has not been verified. This will make you lose credibility points fast
  7. Don’t go through a lesson in correlations and regressions…no one cares. Just tell the story on how the data analysis has uncovered something that impacts the business
  8. Don’t measure for measuring sake. Tracking hundreds of metrics is not smart nor does it move the dial. Determine what are those levers that move your organizational success factors and measure those
  9. Don’t use fancy technology when an Excel spreadsheet will do. Start small and if you get traction and buy in organizational wide then move to a more robust solution
  10. Don’t depend on current staff to have the analytical muscle to perform statistical testing. Not everyone is a quant jock…if you have that talent on staff great, but that skill set is not one that is usually found in HR departments.

I would love to hear your lessons out there…I am sure you have your own metrics stories…do tell!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Performance Management and The Atlanta Public School System

Our Atlanta City Public School System has been in the news lately for its highly publicized cheating scandal. You can read about this here and here.

Being an Atlanta native, it breaks my heart on many levels, the worst being what this has done to our children and all for what? More dollars in the bonus checks of high-ranking APS employees. I cringe every time I see that logo. "Our focus...Student Success," at what cost?

I do not have all the facts in this case, all I know is what I have read and heard on our local and national news on the subject. But at the heart of the matter, these teachers and schools were being rated and bonused based on CRCT standardized test scores.

Of course, that made me think as performance management is something I do know a little something about. Did anyone at APS ever hear that, "What gets measured gets done?" And just sometimes employees take this to the extreme to make more money.

I have no idea what the teacher's and principal's performance management system looks like. I do know that there are many other factors that play into this mess, like integrity and chain of command issues and culture. But I also know that a balanced set of performance measures might have tipped some folks off that something wasn't right.

I think about performance management systems for our military, it is very structured and highly technical like our men in uniform. A one size all approach is definitely not the answer at APS or really anywhere I can think of.

One article cited above stated that the "culture of fear" and "higher than attainable growth targets" as the root causes for the crisis. I am sure this situation will be dissected to near death, but at the end of the have some management basics that were either ignored or not acted on. WHAT A SHAME!

When you are designing performance management systems you must consider these basics:
1) What is at stake (revenue, profits, people's lives, children, homeless individuals, etc.)?
2) What behavior do I want repeated in a consistent manner?
3) How do I incent that desired behavior and keep that going?
4) How do I measure desired behavior and other business results (operational, customer, etc.)?
5) How do I stop/track/punish unwanted behaviors (cheating, dishonesty, etc)?
6) Goal setting is an art and a science. You set them too low and you have under performance, you set them too high....and you can have an even worse situation given the right circumstances.

I don't think that a performance management system could have prevented this debacle as there are many things that led to something like this. But, if you have great leadership, that instills a culture of TRUE accountability, with rock solid VALUES that are rewarded though a highly customized performance managements system....then you have won about half the battle.

The other half is that you must HIRE the people that can execute ON and IN the above described situation.

And if they don't fire them instead of promoting them! me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Capacity for Change: New Skill Set for Employees?

I thought long and hard last week about an individual's capacity to handle change in the workplace. So many times when we are called in on a project we are changing something in the organization. Whether it is strategy or a performance management system. The way things used to look, now look different. And every time we are involved in a change project, we have those employees that embrace change and those that go and hide in a corner.

I am wondering if through this recession, we have increased our personal capacity for change?

I mean people have lost jobs, people have lost their homes and finances....but I hear stories of resilience and perseverance.

Then, I thought about my own situation I am going through all of life's greatest changes all at once and I feel I have a different perspective on change. It almost makes me feel like if change isn't happening something is wrong.

Back to the organization...change is here to stay and I believe change is even more prevalent now. Companies have to course correct and react to competition and environmental issues. They have to do this quickly or be left behind. They depend on their employees to make this shift.

If this is the case, how do you "train" your employees to handle change? Is it change management training? How do you hire employees that can handle change?

Maybe we become "change seekers" by experience. Like in my example, this year I think I have experienced about as many changes as a person can. I feel it has made me stronger and has given me perspective. It makes a new organizational change seem like child's play.

We use an instrument called the CSI, Change Style Instrument, that assesses your style when it comes to change. I like the instrument because it is all about awareness and how you can communicate change to people that have different change styles. Here are the styles CSI has indentified:

My question is this...are we all moving to an "originator" style, based on our experiences? Can we be a conserver and then over time become an originator?

What are your thoughts on the subject of change capacity....

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Consultant-Post Recession

So you think you want to be a consultant. You better think about it long and hard. It's not the glamorous "get on an airplane and bill $3K a day life" that has been rumored.

It's tough out there. Clients are more informed than ever, competition is stiff and pricing is all about who is the best negotiator. We have been involved in bidding where large companies "give" the business away because they have extra capacity and they "just can." TOUGH!

Before you order those business cards, here is a day in the life of Cathy Missildine-Martin, Consultant and HR Rock Star!

A typical day starts (7:00AM) by scanning Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, WallStreet Journal and Google to see what's going on in the business world. Then, if it is blog day, I have to get inspired to write something interesting that HR professionals will read and retweet. This inspiration usually comes in the shower or from something experiential from a client, colleague or student. I love to write now, I thought I would never say that.

After all that, it is time to start the clock ($$$). This year it is all about content. So, whether I am developing a keynote address or a customized training session, or an all day HR Boot Camp, I am building content 24x7. I am thinking about content in my sleep and how to design interactive activities in the's crazy.

My partner, Barbara Hughes and I decided to write a book this year. It has been a great experience, but very time consuming...again more and more content. (I secretly love this process as well, but don't tell her!)

Most of my days are spent marketing, networking, meeting, chatting, and conferencing with potential new clients. it is very challenging and yes sometimes frustrating, in this environment. CEO's are more demanding as far as HR deliverables go, so that is great as that usually comes in the form of HR metrics which happens to be a passion of mine. We see more and more clients focused on their organizational strategy and more importantly, the EXECUTION of their current strategy. I believe this is a result of our current economic environment, companies must be able to change direction when necessary and do it rather quickly. Again, this is good for us, as we love this type of work!

You never can stop the marketing process, it's all about the pipeline and keeping it full of interested possibilities. I feel that if you have something interesting and relevant to say, that is half the battle.

After all of that, I then am off to a SHRM meeting or to teach HR certification or maybe to have drinks with some of my collegues to discuss what's hot in HR.

At the end of my day it may be 10 or 11PM, but I put my head down at night, knowing that I do what I LOVE, with whom I want to work with. Even in a recession, I will take this job over any other!

Can you say that?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

GenY and the Performance Review

Today I am pleased to have Kyle Lagunas from Software Advice as our guest blogger. Thanks Kyle for contributing to our blog!

The workforce is changing. Just as a company would adjust its business model to a changing market, organiz

ations must rise to meet the needs of the new kids on the block: Generation Y. One of the biggest questions posed to HR professionals has been, “Can Gen Y handle performance reviews without the sugar coating?” The answer is yes.

Some analysts have dubbed us “trophy kids,” and believe we grew up being rewarded for our endeavors regardless of scale or success. Many believe we cannot handle life in a less-than-adoring work environment. Contrary to popular belief, though, we don’t need our hands held or our egos stroked daily. It’s important for leaders and managers to understand things from our perspective, so they can get the most out of our performance reviews.

Here’s how we see it:

1. We don’t get it. You say performance reviews are important, but they are executed so poorly. Dust off your thinking caps, modernize your reviews, and capitalize on your most valuable asset (your people).

2. Lose the sugar coating. You weren’t the only ones suffering through the recession. Our idealism, though strong, has been tempered. If our performance can improve, give us strong, actionable feedback with measurable goals.

3. Connect with us. Regular feedback doesn’t have to be complicated. If you don’t have an instant messaging client in your office, get one. They’re a great tool for maintaining informal lines of communication (which we love).

4. Positive reinforcement isn’t a bad thing. Whoever demonized trophies should think again. Rewarding good performance can be as simple as an “Atta boy!” or “You go girl!” sent via email--and they go a long way in giving Gen Yers a sense of accomplishment.

To read this article in its entirety, check it out the Software Advice’s blog:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

5 Things to Make Your Performance Appraisals Rock!

Now more than ever performance metrics are becoming more and more visible. As companies demand high performance from their talent, performance metrics are critically important in determining who is performing and who is not. The recession has forced managers to get every ounce of efficiency from their staff as budgets were tightened and slashed.

Pre-recession we viewed performance management as the "necessary evil." Now, we are needing to rely on performance data but we are discovering that the data may not be valid and reliable. Often times, we are using the same appraisals that we used five or ten years ago. Employees have a huge need for feedback especially Gen X'ers and Y'ers. With managers needing performance data and employees needing feedback, it just makes sense to make sure the performance process is updated and improved.

Here are 5 suggestions to make your appraisals rock:

1. Identify your organizational competencies that are critical for your success. This process is relatively easy by collecting data on what knowledge, skills and talents are needed to drive your organizational strategy forward. Include these competencies in your appraisals.

2. Make sure job responsibilities that are rated are relevant to the jobs being rated. Sometimes this means creating multiple appraisals for different job families. With talent management systems, this process is relatively easy. Employees need to see the linkage between their job and how they are rated.

3. Include a goals/objectives section that can be weighted accordingly. Goals are critical to strategic execution and without a tracking mechanism STRATEGY will fail. Yes, I said Many times strategy stalls at the top of the organization because all employees do not know what their role is. By cascading goals all the way down, you can track and make course corrections as necessary.

4. Train managers on giving feedback and rating scales. Make sure managers understand the rating scale. In other words, what does a "5" look like? What are the behaviors associated with a "5" performer? We call these calibration sessions. Also, not all managers are great at feedback especially when its not positive feedback. Training managers on how to coach, mentor, and give job related feedback is critically important in making the process effective. I believe managers are critical in the process...they can make it, or break it.

5. Automate your process. With so many talent management systems available today, it is relatively inexpensive to automate the process. By making it less paper intensive and more about "performance conversations" the better the impact.

Those are my five, now tell me yours...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

HR Innovations Conference Recap: Day 1

Yesterday, I presented and attended the "HR Innovations" conference hosted by the Performance Institute in Washington, DC. This conference is geared to the public sector and has some very interesting sessions.

I found some common themes in today's sessions. Effectiveness, efficiency, performance and strategy were key topics. Today's discussions had a different focus than previous conferences that were also geared to the public sector have had in the past. I have to assume that the recession has forced our public entities to move from a culture of "status quo" to one of "high performing and service focused." I think the reasons are clear, our government and educational institutions have slashed budgets, smaller workforces, and potential outsourcing and privatizing of "usual" government services.

So, with all that said, it was refreshing to hear HR professionals from many government organizations discuss strategy and metrics. Just like in the private sector, some agencies are ahead of others, some agencies have a clearly articulated strategy, others do not. But, I see it is a new day on Public Sector Street. Accountability and performance are now being expected just as it is in the private sector. I know in my home town in Atlanta, GA our mayor has a platform of change around performance and accountability.

I believe there is room for best practice exchange between the public and private sector. In each sector there are pockets of excellence. I have noticed that certain areas of the public sector seems to have a better grasp on data analysis and data visualization where the private sector has a lot of experience in the areas of increasing performance, in particular "pay for performance."

If one issue was burning for the Federal Government, it had to be performance management. They struggle with getting rid of non-performers and redeploying staff due to a shift in competency requirements. With changes in strategy with incoming administrations, competencies are subject to change on a frequent basis.

I was asked a very good question...

How do you keep talent engaged and deployed according to their skill sets with changing priorities in a government environment?

What do you think? We have some best practices from the private sector that may help...please let me hear YOUR thoughts and opinions.