Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Changing a Profession Takes Courage

Taking the bull by the horns

Making decisions quick and asking for forgiveness later

Speaking up, demanding to be heard

The three statements above have one thing in common.  It takes courage to do all three.  I have been thinking about some of the common themes I have heard from over 600+ HR professionals that have come to our workshop, "Moving HR from Transactional to Strategic: Becoming an Effective HR Business Leader."  One of the themes I have been giving some thought to is the idea of courage in HR.

I think it's time to rustle up all the courage we have as a profession.  At a time where we have our National Association fighting like siblings over our credentials, our profession continues to struggle.  We have made strides post recession, but as Joe Gerstandt would say, "we need to fly our freak flags."  HR needs to do an about face and revolutionize the way companies manage their most precious asset, it's talent.  We need to make sure we use our INFLUENCE and IMPACT to make our businesses successful AND profitable.

In our workshops, we have heard statements like:
"I feel like I can go back to my company and demand to be involved in strategy.  The absence of HR in those discussions could be the difference in executing flawlessly on strategy or failing miserably."
I could not agree more.   When I ask our attendees why they don't BE MORE DEMANDING, I hear responses like these:

  • HR has been told its broken for years so why bother
  • HR professionals do not realize how what they do IMPACTS the bottom line
  • HR professionals that understand the impact, can't MEASURE it
  • Business leaders outside of HR have preconceived notions that HR is administrative 
  • Courage is not a characteristic usually associated with HR professionals due to lack of respect
The last one of course made me pause for a minute, but then I realized:
 Courage is something that everybody wants — an attribute of good character that makes us worthy of respect
And then it hit me...finance and accounting may be a necessary evil, but when they talk people listen.  Those functions are respected.   The same sentiments for sales, the are respecting because they have tangible results.

It's not about the piece of furniture...the question becomes how can I gain my company's respect.  Answer....Be bold, don't wait on invitations, speak up, solve problems, do something innovative, dye your hair, get a tattoo....BE COURAGEOUS!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HR Metrics Can be as Simple as Asking the Right Questions

I bet many of you thought I had fallen off a cliff or got hit by a bus.  I took quite a lengthy writing hiatus.  I just got to the point where I felt I was repeating myself.  I was not looking forward to Monday mornings when, "I had to get my blog out."  So, I took a break.

So let me catch you up on the last two months:

Well that about does it...you are all caught up.  

So, as I think about the last few months with my HR hat on, I have had many questions on getting started with metrics.  The question makes me happy and concerned at the same time.  Happy that I am asked the question.  Concerned that I am STILL BEING ASKED the question.  We are way passed getting started on metrics.  We should be using metrics, making decisions based on metrics and delivering insights to our leadership team.  

So my best answer to the question on getting started is taking the Nike approach...just do it.  I really thing it begins by asking the right questions in your organizations.  Think about what the most pressing issues are today that your leadership is facing.  Is it growth, rising costs, competition, expansion, product differentiation or market share?  After you've identified the most pressing issue, start asking questions to right people on that subject.  So for example, if growth is the goal, what questions can you ask pertaining to growth?
  • What are our growth targets?
  • What have our sales been in the last five years?
  • Are we on target to make those goals?
  • If not, WHY?
  • If yes, how do we sustain that momentum?
Trust me, if you as an HR professional and you start asking questions like those above, leadership will think differently about HR.  We talk about being more consultative in HR in order to work with our line managers to solve business problems.  One key component of being consultative is the art and science of asking good questions.  Sometimes I hear pushback like, "leadership might think I don't understand their business if I ask those questions."  I think the opposite, you CAN'T understand their business if you DON'T ask the questions.  

Lets say that in the answers to the questions above you find out that sales aren't on target and the reason cited from the sales manager is that turnover in the sales department has been trending upward.  BINGO!  What a great opportunity to use data that you already have in HR to solve a business issue.  

I would start trying to get to the root cause of turnover by looking at engagement and exit interview data.  I would then look at what drives results for those salespeople by analyzing performance data, sales data and engagement data to uncover what needs to stop happening and what need to continue happening as far as salespeople are concerned.  

It's really that easy.  I am sure you are wondering about the analysis and the math part.  That tends to make folks nervous.  If you don't have the talent in-house HIRE someone.  It's worth it!