Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yes Please! I Want a Customer Centric Culture

I wish it were that easy.  You just decide that your organization is going to be customer focused and BAM, there it is.  If it were that simple every company would have a Nordstrom, Disney, Zappo's or Ritz Carlton type culture.

But it's just not that easy.

It is a deliberate, dare I say...process.

Every little concept and strategy must be aligned and if one thing is out of alignment, then well you know the drill.  Your culture winds up like Delta or Circuit City where the customer is confused about what is really important to the company.

Here are some of the important tenets when moving from a culture of _____________ to one that is truly focused on the customer.

1) The leadership team has to absolutely believe the customer is #1.
2) Customer service standards and behaviors have to be clear and aligned to customer strategy.
3) Middle managers have to drive the change with assistance from HR
4) HR has to align its programs and practices to align with the new customer service culture (rewards and recognition, performance management, etc.)
5) Training and communications need to take place so skills are developed AND employees understand why the company is focusing on the customer.
6) Success must be celebrated and results shared
7) Happy employees equal happy customers so treat employees accordingly

For those of you that have a customer centric focus and culture, how have you done it?  What has your journey been like?

I would love to hear from a variety of industries as I believe building this culture for a "for-profit" business is very different from building one in a government environment.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HR Has its Game Face On!

I have had the pleasure of teaching HR and Strategy bootcamp for the last 2 years.  We have probably had almost 100 attendees go through our 2 day intense workshop.  The topics we discuss are strategic alignment, metrics that matter, and data visualization.  This ain't your Mom's HR workshop.  It's intense.  It's hard.  And, most of has given me a new perspective on our HR profession.

I ask attendees to bring in their organizational strategy.  We then spend a lot of time mapping that organizational strategy to understand what HR needs to do to make the strategy happen as far as the people are concerned.  People still have to execute strategy, we don't have a software program that will do that for us yet.

HR has come a long way in their understanding of linkage and alignment.  I love that.

I have been so impressed over the last few months watching HR professionals from EVERY industry not only understanding their organizational strategy but having the ability to translate to HR strategy.  Individuals from private business, government, and non-profits were able to take the organizational strategy and translate that to tightly aligned HR strategy with corresponding HR metrics that matter to the organization.

I can remember not so long ago (pre-recession) when the above hardly EVER happened.

So, I then ask myself...why is this happening?  Are we finally getting on the strategic band wagon?  I know we still have a long way to go, but progress is important.  Here are my theories to explain the shift from a focus on picnics to a focus on alignment:

1) HR professionals were sick of being called overhead, policy police and party planners.
2) The profession started to offer development in strategic areas
3) HR professionals are getting advanced degrees like MBA's
4) HR professionals want to be taken seriously in the organization
5) The recession forced HR's hand...either get on board or get out.
6) CEO's became more demanding of HR
7) HR is being invaded by non-HR professionals that are doing a great job in HR
8) HR functions are being outsourced at a rapid pace

I believe HR professionals must continue down the path of influence and embrace HR Strategy, Metrics and keep adding value to organizations.  Strategy is no longer a theoretical concept that HR professionals don't understand.  It has now become a tool for organizational competitive advantage that HR is beginning to embrace and understand.

What are your thoughts on why HR professionals are making progress?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Drama Queens at Work

I needed a little comic relief this week, so I am off topic today!

I am from the South and there is nothing I like more than telling a story and being extra dramatic using my best Southern girl drawl.  I have many friends (and a Mom) that have a flair for the's fun.

But at work....that is another story.

Do you know this person?

You have an employee that can't make it to work on time...ever.  The excuses seem to come right out of a Hollywood script.

"I was on my way to work when all of the sudden a tractor trailer full of mayonnaise wrecked in front of me and I slid all over I- 285."

And then there is the employee that can't get along with anyone:

"Joe is making it impossible for me to work today.  His cube is right beside mine and he keeps sneezing and blowing his nose.  I need to be moved."

And then we have the managers and supervisors who jockey for position:

"I noticed Al didn't get his status report on time.  I hear he may be looking for another job.  Just know you can count on me, if you need me to pitch in, just let me know." (as he is winking at you)

I think the best of all drama comes from the executives.  I can steal a few from recent headlines:

"Yahoo CEO resigns over falsifying resume."
"HP CEO resigns over inappropriate relationship with a contractor"

When I was in HR for corporate America, I sometimes felt more like a referee than anything else.  I believe this is why I no longer work in that environment.

Why can't we just do work while we are at work?  Why do we have to bring all of our baggage, drama, and crap to work?  I guess its because that is where we spend a lot of our time and we are all human.  I know I have had my fair share over the last few years.

So what are your best drama tell!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HR's 3 Most Important Areas of Focus

Ed Nangle is our guest blogger today.  Ed has many years of HR experience spanning several industries such as electronics, manufacturing and  management consulting. Ed has been a trusted mentor of mine for years as well as a valued teacher for Kennesaw State University.  

Knowledge Management is a topic near and dear to my heart as my business partner, Barbara Hughes and I embraced this concept 15 years ago this month!


Over the years I have determined that these three programs (Pay for performance, knowledge management and talent management) could be the catalyst that makes Human Resource Practitioners more acceptable to the Executive Management Team in successful companies.

Talent management has become more important in the past few years since the demand for experience and skills has increased when the supply has declined substantially. We continue to educate students in curriculum that does not meet the needs of the growth in industry. Business needs are not the driving force when it comes to curriculum design and education programs. So given that, companies need to retain their human capital once attracted and educated to the culture of the companies. By combining Job Analysis, Recruitment, Staffing, Training, and Retention functions into one umbrella, Human Resource Practitioners can become more visible to Executive Management Teams. The executives can see the value in having the experience and skills on board instead of continuously turning over and recreating the wheel over and over again. The loss of productivity and negative ROI is very costly and very evident to executive management.

Pay for performance is something all executive management teams understand and can see the 
are very eager to have financial rewards attached to measured productivity rather than hoping that the numbers are reached at the end of the period for a guaranteed wage. For instance, in the manufacturing industry cost analysis is paramount to bottom line results. But for some reason when we get to some companies outside manufacturing, we pay for non-performance or for almost performance at the same rate as meeting the expectations of the job. Many companies continue to evaluate performance at lower than acceptable levels but continue to pay 100% of salaries? How can we continue to absorb the lack of performance and continue to pay salaries and bonuses?

Now, that I have beat pay for performance to death and most companies still don’t want to
pay the investment of time to get the best results possible, I would like to hit on Knowledge Management as the subject today.

Many, many years ago in the dark ages I have read that the natives scribed on stones and wood so they always had a record of what occurred and so it could be used for future development. In the early 1950-70’s companies required each employee to record their daily, weekly, and monthly duties so that they could always add to the manual as they learned more or was given additional duties. Then when an employee passed, terminated employment, or became unable to perform the duties, another replacement would be able to step in and study the manual to perform the duties without loss of productivity.

Now many, many years later, we have become very lazy and most companies state that it takes too much time to record everything we do on the job. So when an employee leaves the company for any reason, we must start from square one to educate the replacement so they can start to produce up to the level of the previous employee. What a severe loss of knowledge and what a negative ROI on all the experience and education supplied in previous years.

With E-Communications and all the advanced options of data storage we should all require that our companies initiate a job duty manual for all positions in electronic format. This should become one of the job expectations of each job and become part of the evaluation for performance issues. Come on salvage knowledge management as one of our contributions to the bottom line. Be a hero!!