Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A New Mantra for HR: Leading, Influencing and Impacting the Organization

I was delighted to be asked by Halogen Software to contribute to their TalentSpace blog.  Check my post out and tell me what you think!  It's all about INFLUENCE and IMPACT for HR.  See how you can make a difference next year and many years to come.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Designing Performance Management with Line Managers in Mind

Today’s Blog comes from Scott Mondore and Shane Douthitt of SMD. They have the only talent management technology with business analytics and have written two books on connecting HR to actual business results: “Investing in What Matters: Linking Employees to Business Outcomes” and “Business-focused HR: 11 Processes to Drive Results”. Visit them at, on LinkedIn and Twitter: @scottmondore @smdhr

Nearly every week a new article comes out about getting rid of performance reviews and starting over because of all kinds of reasons—poor ratings, fairness, poor feedback and managers not putting much effort into them. Those are certainly valid reasons—and every year it is an uphill battle to get managers to complete their ratings on time. As usual there are plenty of new unproven theories (and products!) that actually propose that we do MORE performance reviews and include MORE raters (crowdsourced performance appraisals?!?). This logic seems to say that “we have a bad system, so let’s get more people involved to do more low-impact ratings”. Academics have spun their wheels for years focusing on ‘rating’ training with little impact. But shouldn’t HR look in the mirror and ask ourselves why performance reviews have such a bad image in the first place?  The real issue is that we in HR often focus on the execution and compliance of the process – not the business impact.  Performance management, when done correctly, is simply an extension of the business planning process – and who will argue that we don’t need business planning?  We need to focus more on goal setting, goal alignment, and the impact of the process using analytics.

Think about it from a manager’s (our customer’s!) perspective and this is what they hear from us:
“I need you to have your employees’ reviews entered into the system by November 22nd, so that we have all of them completed on time. Once they are completed you won’t get anything back from us, just check the box. Hopefully you have a good conversation with your employees and you don’t get us into any legal trouble. We’ll see in you in a month to do a calibration meeting where we will change all of your ratings around anyway.”

Not very motivating from a manager’s perspective, is it? If you were a front-line manager, how motivated would you be to put in maximum effort to complete a quality review?
The good news is that performance reviews can be a treasure trove of data—and if analyzed properly can give us tremendous insights on how to drive real business outcomes. If you rate competencies along with goals (which you should), then you can do some analytics to uncover which competencies have the biggest impact on goal performance. You can then create leadership and organizational development programs around those competencies with the biggest business impact. In those talent review/calibration meetings, focus on making talent decisions based on who performs well on the important competencies.

As an HR Business Partner, use the goal ratings data to create development coaching plans for those employees who are struggling or work with managers to create performance improvement plans—or even exit plans.

A question you should ask yourself:

Do you train leaders on how to write strong, measurable goals with specific parameters?
Do you do goal audits?

Here’s an example:
Typical Goal: Hits Sales Quota
Better Goal: Makes 100% or more of sales quota
Even Better Goal: 5 rating: 100% or more of sales quota; 4 rating: 90-99.9% of sales quota; 3 rating: 80-89.9% of sales quota; 2 rating: 70-79.9% of sales quota; 1 rating: below 70% of sales quota
Now let’s revisit our customer’s perspective once we start thinking like business leaders and not box-checkers:

“I need you to have your employees’ reviews entered into the system by November 22nd, so that we have all of them completed on time. Once they are completed I will conduct an analysis that will show us exactly which competencies have the biggest business impact—I will use that information to create development opportunities so that we move the needle on competencies that actually help us make more money. I will also examine the goal ratings and do two things: make recommendations on how we can write better goals (because, as your HR business partner, I have made it my job to understand our business as well as anyone) for employees and how we can get specific under-performers on-track or off of the bus. Finally, I will make sure all compensation decisions are directly tied and aligned with the ratings that you give your people.”
Sound different?

Let’s not fall into the typical HR trap, that if we make something prettier, faster and with minimal thought—it will get our leaders to buy-in more. How about if we tie it directly to business results? Leaders seem to be able to make time for things like that. There is nothing wrong with the classic performance appraisal process (just like there’s nothing wrong with the classic employee survey process)—companies that tie the process to business results and hold people accountable for quality follow-up seem to do just fine. Eliminating performance management is not a solution and would be as irresponsible as the CEO saying, “let’s not have a plan or goals for any parts of our business, let’s just wing it this year”.  Likewise another fad/theoretical approach (like turning performance management into a social media event) will do nothing but erode HR credibility. The process doesn’t need prettier reports, it needs to be more business-focused.

Click here to read about ICC's new Performance Management workshop, titled: Results Driven Performance Management: Driving Employee Performance for Business Results

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is HR Really Becoming More Strategic

This week's blog post is written by a dear friend and colleague of mine, Ed Nangle. Ed is President of Corporate Management Consulting, Inc.  Ed has tons of HR wisdom as he has seen many changes in our profession over the years.  

Having been in the human resources profession since the beginning of time (well almost!), for many years I was doubtful if HR would truly ever be viewed by most business leaders as more than a transactional hub and a place to dump all their “people problems”.  Those of you that really know me might even say I was more than doubtful.  The word pessimistic comes to mind.  Even as I saw many companies moving to the “business partner” model, I continued to scratch my head and wonder if we were really making progress.  Listening to my students who were in shared service environments that were mired in service problems (Center of Excellence…really???) contributed to my doubt.  And, although many of them were providing business support to their functional areas, I heard them describing environments that still sounded like silos to me.

I can recall many debates on this topic with my business partner (aka my spouse Charlette).  She continued to tell me that I was working in too narrow of a world…not really understanding that there were HR professionals and companies out there that were truly making progress…putting their human resources departments where they should be…in decision-making roles that really impact the bottom line.  As I look back now, perhaps she was right.  After taking an early-out from corporate life, I spent the last 17 years teaching HR Certification classes.  Although over the years I have met many very talented HR professionals in my classes, many were in the early stages of their careers or even what I would call “wanna be’s”.  I mean no disrespect to all of the hard working individuals I have taught over the years.  This is more of self-criticism…perhaps I spent the last 17 years in my own silo!

Although being a major planner by nature, I’m still amazed at that path my professional life has taken.  What I thought was my last career gig, turned out to be just another stop-over in the journey.  Awhile back I partnered with my long-time friend and colleague, Cathy Missildine of Intellectual Capital Consulting, to deliver an educational program to a client.  The topic was moving their HR department from transactional to strategic. Because we had such a positive response, we decided to take the show on the road.  In my mind the major marketing point was the fact that our workshops provide 12.5 strategic HRCI re-certification credits.  However, I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people who are attending because they are ready and eager to become business leaders in their organizations and, for them, the credits are just the icing on the cake.  I am even more encouraged by the number of workshop attendees that are working in organizations that truly see the value of HR as an integral partner in meeting strategic business results.  And understanding that only happens through HR leadership that demonstrates the competencies and business acumen to make that happen.

So are we there yet?  We still meet many people in our workshops that voice frustration at their inability to convince senior leadership that there are ways of accomplishing the necessary transactional responsibilities that free up HR leadership to have impact on things that truly produce business results.  But by the end of our couple of days together, many go away with new plans and goals of how to make this happen.  It has been such a rewarding experience to hear people say, “I know what this means now, and I have the tools to start the journey.”  So my answer is YES…I can see us moving in the right direction and it is amazing and exhilarating.  Take some advice from an “old dog”…you can learn new tricks.  Get out of your own silo…and make your own plan to sharpen your competencies and business acumen and get up from the table and make something happen!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From Transactional Data to Strategic Insights

It's been awhile since you have heard from  me.  Can I use the excuse I have been on the road for about  6 weeks?  I did write an article on an airplane last week for HR Examiner.  I think you all will like it.  Think about all the transactional data HR has just lying around in databases, HRIS systems and Talent Management systems that isn't being analyzed.  What an opportunity! Check out the article to see how to go from transactional data to strategic insights.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's Up With Your HR Metrics?

I have been so blocked the last few months regarding my blog.  I used to pump out posts every Monday rain or shine.  This year it's been tough.  I am not sure why I have this writer's block.  Maybe it's because I am going in 19 directions and can't focus.  Maybe it's because my world is about as polar opposite as it was five years ago and I am shell shocked.  Maybe I have run out of things to talk about.

How can that be true?  I am never at a loss for words.

I have been writing this blog focusing around being strategic in HR and HR metrics since 1998.  Maybe I have covered it all.  (not hardly!)

I do know that HR metrics and analytics are now part of the HR conversation.  No matter what you read, HR metrics is an area where HR is spending time, money and resources.  So, I should have plenty to say.

I think I was talking about all this stuff before everyone was ready to listen.

So, now I think I will do the listening.  I do see the change in HR conversations.  I see the change in how HR is approaching metrics.  Change takes time.

So...tell me what is going on in your organizations as it related to HR metrics.  Is there a priority around metrics?  Are you creating a HR dashboard?

What do you still want to know about metrics (this should give me some topics!)

If you still don't want to discuss metrics, how about commenting on my dog Titan...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

12 Questions to Consider when Analyzing "Big Data" in HR

I counted the messages in my inbox that had the words "Big Data" in them.  In one week, I had 32 messages that referred to "Big Data."  Now, I know that's partly because of the work that I do and the sites that I visit but that is a lot of noise about the data subject.

I wonder why they call it big? It sure does make data sound really scary when they refer to it as big.  Data has been around since the beginning of time, large companies have always had a lot of data to analyze, manage and store.  I had a client tell me recently that they had more data than the Library of Congress...I believe him! So what's the big deal?

For me, I don't get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data, I know that it grows by gazillions everyday and I know that we are smart and will find a way to store it, analyze it, etc.  What bothers me is getting to the most relevant and useful data.  That to me is the bigger deal.  What is the data that actually matters?

Looking at HR, we have "Big Data" on our employees especially if we have a lot of employees.  So, which data matters and which data needs to be analyzed in the Human Capital arena?

If I could answer that in a succinct, easy to understand way, I think I could retire to a very lovely beach somewhere.

I believe the following questions are good ones to start off with when trying to figure out which data matters in regards to our people?

  1. What is important to the company and where is the company trying to go?
  2. What issues and problems are facing the company in trying to achieve #1
  3. What do our customers say we do well and what needs improvement?
  4. What human capital behaviors drive business results?
  5. What human capital competencies drive business results?
  6. What is our company's competitive advantage and is it sustainable?
  7. Why do our customers keep buying from our company?
  8. What knowledge, skills and experiences do our top performers possess?
  9. Do we have bench strength in key positions?
  10. Do we have capacity for higher productivity or are we maxed out?
  11. Are our processes without waste and duplication?
  12. Do we have the right people doing the right jobs?
That's just a start, I know there are other considerations.  What do you all think?  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Most Underused Data Set in HR

In the name of recycling good content...

Check out my post for Halogen Software on their blog, "Exploring Talent Management."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We Need More Balls in HR

Just coming off "the big HR Conference" I have been thinking about the theme of "becoming more" in regards to my HR colleagues, friends and clients.  I have been analyzing some common themes and it gets down to this...


I believe we need more balls in the sense of chutzpah and assertiveness.  We need to get off the business partner train, grow balls and be a true business leader.  I feel like a lot of HR professionals are waiting for a business problem to be solved.  Why not figure out the pressing issues in the organization and begin to solve those proactively.  Those are the problems that you will be recognized for not the obvious ones.  Some of us are just waiting to be told what the new normal looks like.  We need to help shape the new normal.  We need to drive the new normal so it doesn't get created for us.

I know I am going to get some flack for this next statement, but we need more men in our profession.  So, literally we need more balls. I think men bring a difference in thought, approach and experience that HR can really use at this time.   Let's face it, I didn't see too many men dancing to Kelly Clarkson at the conference last month.  We are at a critical juncture within HR.  We are rethinking ourselves.  As Jennifer McClure says, "We need to blow this thing up."

I think a more diverse group of professionals would do our profession good.  I think we have a overwhelming amount of women because of our reputation as "caretakers" of the people.  During our administrator days, women were perfect for pushing papers and organizing picnics.  Remember those days, when women hadn't been in the work force that long.  I am stating a fact...not that I agree with the stereotypes.  I am a very strong-willed independent woman that happens to be in HR, so I believe we have way more to offer than we have been given credit for in the past few decades.

I think with the addition of more males in our profession, we would have a more well-rounded profession.  Depending on who you read,  about 67% of most HR departments are female and that is not surprising as females are great at intuition like when it comes to hiring and nurturing when it comes to employee development and problem solving when it comes to employee relations.

What we haven't been good at is understanding the business, data and metrics, efficiency, technology, project planning and decision making.  In GENERAL these are competencies that men bring to the table.  Not that some women don't...I personally have all of these, but I am the exception and not the rule.

Anytime you have a group underrepresented in a profession there are discussions that happen.  Nursing is a female occupation.  Teaching is for girls.  HR is for women.  If you think about organizations and their functional areas HR is really the only one that has this big of a gender bias.  IT and Finance had a gap at one time, but even those functions are closing their gaps.

I believe there are many reasons for the stereotypes in these professionals.  Historically, some jobs are seen as more "women" friendly so that women can balance their professional and personal lives.    Fast forward today, roles in business and at home have changed dramatically.  Women are now more often than not the sole bread runner or the primary bread winner:

According to a recent study from Pew Research, 40% of all households with children younger than 18 include women who are either the sole or primary breadwinners. Most of us -- 63% -- are single mothers.
As women are now in the bread winner role, does that mean typical "female" careers are no longer desirable and more "male" oriented roles are the target?

I see a huge shift in skills sets needed in HR, more left brain work as opposed to right.   As, HR departments are morphing to meet these shifts and current challenges within organizations what do you see as far as demographics and skill sets?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Employee Engagement: The Great HR Credibility Killer

Today's post is brought to you by my friends and colleagues, Dr. Scott Mondore and Dr. Shane Douthitt.  If you haven't' read their books listed them.  If you haven't heard them that.  

Guest Bloggers: Scott Mondore, PhD ( and Shane Douthitt, PhD ( They are the authors of two best-sellers on talent management and HR Analytics (Investing in What Matters: Linking Employees to Business Outcomes and Business-Focused HR: 11 Processes to Drive Results) and the managing partners of Strategic Management Decisions ( only talent management platform with integrated business outcome analytics.

OK, let’s get this straight: Gallup sends out a new report to tell us that Disengaged employees are at an all-time high. I’m sure there’s good reason for that with the economy being where it is. But this chart is absolutely absurd.

In 13 years, the needle hasn’t moved on engagement! What about all the money that organizations have spent on the Q12 and countless other surveys that claim to measure and drive ‘engagement’? What about all the consulting and so-called ‘best practices’ that are supposed to drive ‘engagement’? The HR profession has attached itself to another fad (see “empowerment”, “satisfaction” etc) that is touted as a savior and turns out to be a credibility killer. At some point, HR needs to step up and be actual business partners that only talk about, and drive, actual business results. The term ‘engagement’ was coined 20 years ago—and we still don’t have an agreed upon definition. We still don’t have any evidence that it consistently drives business outcomes.

Studies that say things like “organizations that score in the top 20% of engagement have a 40% higher stock return” are not real studies. This is not real research, and this is the laziest approach to data analysis available. It’s like saying that women named Cathy make 40% more money than other women. Should you just change your name to Cathy and watch your 40% raise come through?
There’s also no target number that organizations should strive for. At what point do you reach the perfect balance of engagement that maximizes results? Is it 4.5 out of 5? 4.6? NO ONE KNOWS. If your answer to leaders is “we just need more of it”, that’s a credibility killer.

Since we don’t know much about engagement (the value, the definition, the target), is it any wonder that front-line managers see little value in it and regard it as a BARRIER to their actual work? In our first book, we asked a simple question: “How much damage has been done by the book ‘First, Break All the Rules’”? Based on how much money organizations spend on poorly designed surveys and expensive, non-impactful consulting, the damage is quickly rising. ‘I have a best friend at work’ is a credibility killer.

We now have everyone saying that social media in the workplace will ‘drive engagement’, that frequent crowd-sourced performance reviews will drive engagement (even though we can’t get leaders to do one performance review, one time a year!). We have big consulting firms now talking about transformational engagement and sustainable engagement. When did we ever figure out regular, ol’ engagement? Re-branding a topic and calling it the next big thing is a credibility killer.

There is a better way. You can conduct an employee survey and connect the results to business outcomes. You can show leaders the exact areas of their management style and work environment that they can work on to maximize real business results (profits, sales, productivity, safety etc). You can get front-line manager buy-in by giving them the training/tools to work on business drivers. You can create metrics around business drivers instead of chasing a nebulous engagement score. You can rate your performance as an HR department based on the organization’s business outcomes and not around a vanity engagement benchmark/percentile score.

It’s only a matter of time before the next silver bullet phrase is coined, the next fad is born and the next HR credibility-killer creeps into our work. Let’s focus on driving business results and get our credibility back.