2017 HR Trends

‘Tis the time of year when you read all of the lists, the Top 10 of this, the Worst of that, the Best of whatever. You have probably also seen more than your fair share of trends for 2017; tech trends, political trends, etc… Following suit, here are my thoughts on the 2017 trends for the HR profession.

  1. HR Practitioners particularly of the Business Partner or Generalist variety must strive to demonstrate both their business acumen and also their HR and employment law knowledge. In 2017, HR Practitioners should stop asking whether certification is required to practice HR (it is not, but) and start getting certified. The profession as a whole needs to own our sphere of knowledge. If any professional thinks they also can be HR-savvy and we in no way differentiate ourselves, the farther our occupation fall towards obsolescence. Further, certified HR practitioners needs to broaden their business acumen by pursuing an MBA or pursuing industry-designations.
  2. HR Professionals should begin to learn the basics of programming, data analytics and become social media experts. These skills are no longer the future of the job, they are are the present and current needs of HR practitioners. As more and more of our profession can be automated combined with the rise of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, bots will be able to do  the tactical stuff we do now as well as interface with employees directly. Additionally, HR should stay abreast of all technology trends and how they may apply to disrupt the HR profession.
  3. Heightened emphasis on the Employee Experience. For several year now, we have been in an employee-driven marketplace. As I do not see this changing in 2017, companies will be challenged to compete for talent based on the employee experience and HR has to take the lead on this. From the time a candidate enters our company vortex to the time they terminate and even beyond, HR needs to review all of its processes, policies, physical space and operations and ask themselves how it positively contributes to the employee experience at their company.
  4. HR will have to take the lead or involve themselves closely as we continue to see the rise of and evolution of the Digital Workplace. HR has to step up and consider how the Digital Workplace challenges traditional notions of management, organizational structure, communication and how we understand the basic concept of work. These ideas should be generating out of HR, we have to become the innovators of the workplace.
  5. Federal deregulation is likely under the Trump Administration so HR will see a lot of change (as usual), and will have to respond accordingly to the repeal and possible replacement of the ACA and how that impacts benefits offerings and health insurance plans. While the Federal government is deregulating business, be prepared to see a lot of activity impacting the business world and workplace at the State-level particularly with respect to the minimum wage, requirements around eligibility for overtime, parental leave laws, deregulation and/or legalization of recreational marijuana, sick leave laws, and more activity around protected classes specifically sexual identity, national original, criminal history and compensation history.
  6. Strategic talent acquisition. Each new role within a company deserves a very specific and strategic recruiting plan, not a one-size-fits-all post and wait for them to come strategy. Employee referral programs and social media recruiting should be maximized to find the right candidates.
  7. Personal Time as a right and not a privilege. The right of the employee to disconnect without adverse employment actions. Recently France passed a Right to Disconnect law, giving employees the legal right to ignore work email when they are off the clock. As wellbeing research shifts to understanding the negative impact to employees of being “on” all of the time, there will be more and more social pressure on companies to enact policies setting boundaries around work time and non-work time.

 

9 Do’s and Don’ts to Completing Your Self-Evaluation

Once or twice a year many companies undergo a formal performance review process. On average, most companies ask for their employees feedback by way of a self-evaluation. Most employees exude an audible groan, give it a cursory overview and write down the same garbage year after year.

As much as I don’t totally agree with the standard annual review process or the 360 review process on principle, I totally support the notion that an employee is his or her own best advocate. And if you are given the opportunity to speak for yourself, absolutely take it seriously and follow these do’s and don’ts.

Do keep a  running diary or file  ALL YEAR ROUND of all of your work accomplishments, projects completed, client accolades, awards, educational achievements and peer praise. Also, keep notes on areas you made mistakes, encountered the issue again and improved.

Don’t blow off the process by not writing anything or digging up last year’s review and re-writing the same things. This is a signal to your boss that you are not taking the process seriously. Why would your manager bother with putting any effort into your review or development, if you do not bother yourself.

Do provide concrete and clear examples of the competencies you have demonstrated over the course of the review period. For example, if your company prizes efficiency, provide an example of the time you identified a redundant process inside a workflow, brought it to the attention of management, and how the elimination of that process resulted in less time taken to complete the process.

Don’t sell yourself short. Provide any and all examples of your work accomplishments, do not make judgement calls on the level of impact to the business or department. Your role and your performance have a purpose to the company, otherwise the job wouldn’t exist.

Do provide areas that you may have failed in or areas of improvement. You should be the first one to bring this up, not your manager. It shows you have self-awareness and that’s important.

Don’t rate yourself as a “Meets Expectations” or “Average” on all rating categories. This is called Central Tendency Bias and highlights our human propensity for avoiding extreme categories. But this is just lazy, don’t do that.

Do review your performance reviews from prior years so that you can identify areas that you have improved upon over time. If you don’t have copies, ask your manager or HR.

Don’t forget to address your work goals. The review process is about the past but should also provide some direction for the future. Be the first to write down a few goals that you would like to address with your manager during the performance discussion.

Do proof-read your self-evaluation for grammar, spelling and content before you turn it into your manager.

What Does HR Do?

Type this into Google, and you get 3,880, 000,000 results. Seems like HR does a lot. Let me break it down for you.images

  1. HR “keeps the lights on”- we process payroll, administer benefits enrollment, process direct deposits, answer 401k questions, reset your ADP password, interpret company policies for managers, walk employees through leaves of absence, fix employee PTO balances and gather acknowledgement forms.
  2. HR tries to create an environment where employees feel safe and secure. We make sure there are band aids, that staff is trained in first-aid, we take first reports of injury, we create policies around front-desk security, deliver discrimination and harassment prevention training and monitor the work environment for bullying or violations of standards of conduct.
  3. HR plans social activities, but we don’t like to. In companies, the job of potlucks, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, baby showers, pumpkin carving contests and all-hands meetings usually lands in the lap of HR. Not only does it suck but it totally erodes the value of what a good HR department can do for a company.
  4. HR creates brand strategies. We figure out the value of the organization and what it can provide, package that message and use it when attracting talent to the company.
  5. HR does not terminate employees. Managers do. When managers are not satisfied with an employee, they come to HR. HR asks a series of questions to investigate the issue, determine the cause and make recommendations. If one of those solutions is termination, HR further investigates to make sure the termination is not wrongful. HR may be in the room to witness the discussion, but we do not pull that trigger and we do not deliver that message.
  6. HR partners with management to determine talent needs and develops strategies to find that talent. This is an ongoing and continuously challenging responsibility.
  7. HR covers the companies’ ass. HR practitioners must stay on top of Federal and State Laws,  and County and City Ordinances, interpret the repercussions of those laws on the company and work environment and advise leadership accordingly.
  8. HR helps company leadership develop compensation philosophy. HR takes into account the companies’ financials, the organization’s mission, vision and values and makes recommendations on the company’s direct and indirect compensation and benefits package.
  9. HR mediates disputes in the workplace, disputes between employees, disputes between managers and employees, disputes between leadership and employees.
  10. HR does not deliver disciplinary warnings or performance discussions to employees. Again, these are a manager’s jobs. HR gets involved to help document issues, serve as a witness to the discussion or we get involved when the manager botches it.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but is just a sampling, if you will, of what HR does. For those who don’t know.

Interviewing Your Next Employer

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Portrait Of Female Woman Sitting At Interview

Do you have any questions for me? Almost every interviewer asks this question of a candidate. If you, the candidate, do not have any questions prepared, you are doing interviewing wrong. For a bevy of reasons, not every employer is able to  or willing to disclose or share everything about the job, the company, the culture, and the environment during the interview process, although, a good employer will try to do so. But, it is up to you, the candidate, to ask those questions and find out the answers during the interview phase.

Think of the interview not as the one-sided, fact-finding mission of the employer vetting the candidate, rather, think of the interview as a mutual invitation for the employer and candidate to determine what value each can bring the other and if both parties’ needs can be aligned for the benefit of both.

Consider asking the following questions:

  1. What is the company’s mission and vision? What are the company’s short-, medium-, and long-term goals and objectives? Companies that do strategic planning well will have clear answers to these questions. However, most companies do not do strategic planning altogether, and authority may be concentrated at the top of the executive leadership where business plans and actions may be based on as little as whims or knee-jerk reactions. These questions will help to determine where the potential employer may fall on this spectrum of reactivity or proactivity.
  2. Describe the typical flow of communication throughout the company? Or, how are corporate goals and objectives communicated to all employees? Again, companies that do strategic planning most effectively not only have a mission, vision and goals but intentionally create communication mechanisms to make sure ALL employees from their non-exempt to their management know what is going on. Clear, consistent and transparent communication from the top-down correlates with high engagement scores amongst employees.
  3. What is the purpose of this position and how does it directly relate to the company’s success? If you are going to invest 40 or more hours in a week at something, don’t you want to know the purpose and agree that it’s a purpose worth working for?
  4. What are the company’s biggest strengths and challenges? What is the biggest challenge to the position? In the business world where things change daily, good employers should have a handle on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Also, not all positions are easy peasy lemon-squeezey, there are challenges to all jobs whether they are a lack of IT systems, outdated processes or manual heavy-lifting. Employers who have an ear to the ground and a true open door policy will know the pain points of the position and should be willing to share them.
  5. What is the company’s compensation and benefits philosophy? This one will probably make most interviewers squirm because most companies do not have a philosophy. But since you already know this, the reaction to this question both verbally and non-verbally will be key to knowing how the company recognizes its employees via extrinsic rewards.
  6. How would your employees describe your management style? Here, you are looking for the managers ability to delegate not only the details but certain levels of authority. Is he or she the type of manager who is going to not only care about the outcome of your work but also be all up in your shit about how you get the work done?
  7. How is performance evaluated? Is it informal or formal? Everyone likes to know whether their performance is meeting the company objectives and their managers’ expectations. Does the company actively manage performance all year round, does the company do a once-a-year formal performance review or do they take the position of, “if you are doing well, you won’t hear anything from me but you’ll certainly know if you aren’t”.
  8. Does the company have formal succession plans? How are high-potential employees developed? Key talent can and will leave an organization for any number of planned or unplanned reasons. Find out if the company develops from within and how they do it.
  9. Does the company have a formal professional development plan? What does it look like? Find out if the employer has written and/or formal development plans for high-potential employees, if the employer funds professional designations and adult education and if the employer has internal training programs. The answers to these questions will help you find out if and how the company invests in its employees.
  10. Why is this position vacant? Why did the last incumbent leave? Many times, the employer or recruiter will already answer this question. If they do not, find out why the position is open- is it due to growth, to answer a need or to fill an opportunity area? If the position is open because the incumbent left, probe further to determine if there is something inherently bad about the position or if management is causing attrition.

Pepper these questions throughout your interview. Ask them of multiple interviewers. Jot down questions to ask interviewers so you can probe deeper or ask for clarification. Listen and observe non-verbal cues. An employer worthy to have your talent, will be eager and happy to answers these questions, will be ABLE to answers these questions and will honestly answer the questions even if the answer is less than great. The more information you can gather from the interviewers, the more information you will have to make an informed decision about an offer.

Setting Up Employees to Fail

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Implicit within the employment agreement are certain things that the employer owes to the employee to set him or her up for success. If the employer neglects their end of the bargain, the employer ensures the employees’ failure. This is very basic. And I think almost every reasonable person would agree on what the role of the employer is. Yet time and time again, employers fail on this fundamental level. The way this usually plays out is when a manager is sitting in my office complaining about an employee who has barely worked 6 months and all of the shiny luster has worn off because reality has set in. It’s almost like the manager really wants to say (and in some cases does) “well, we hired the employee, now you’re saying we have to something with him:?!?!?!?!”.

Employers owe the following things to their employees as part of the employment agreement. These should be nonnegotiables and HR should be doing everything in their authority to make sure the employer is holding up their end.

The tools to do their jobs. Oh my god. This is so damn obvious. But we have all heard the stories of employees starting work and on Day 1, they do not have a computer, a login, a security badge to get in the door let alone an orientation, a resource to ask questions or a written training plan. Employees know they are hired to do a job. But without the proper tools and training, you, the employer, are making this impossible.

Decent compensation. All companies should have a compensation philosophy, at the end of the day it provides purpose for whether the employer decides to lead, lag or meet the market. This philosophy should be transparent and communicated to candidates and employees. So when the inevitable conversation arises about pay dissatisfaction, the company and the manager are prepared and feel comfortable reiterating the legitimate reasons behind an employee’s compensation.

Expectations. At every position I have been at I attempt to train managers on defining and setting their expectations from Day 1 with their new employee. This is also one of my greatest pain points. How does an employee know what is expected of them if you do not say it? Did you hire a mind reader?

Purpose. Employees need to understand how their individual contributions help achieve the goals of the company. Employees need to understand the purpose of their jobs. Employers who have business plans that flow top down and bottom up, should have no problem defining this line of sight for each employee.

Trust in Management and Leadership. The individuals that represent the leaders of the company must be approachable, they must be honest , they must be transparent and do what they say they are gonna do. Employees who do not trust their management and leadership will do just enough to fly under the radar and will be focused on when the next shoe will drop and not the success of the company.

Safety and security. I’m not just talking about guns or violence in the workplace. I’m talking about workplaces where there is respect for the individual. Employers that allow mockery, drama, off-color jokes, bullying are creating a hostile work environment for their employees. The only thing the employee will be focused on is how long they have to wait for another job to come along to leave their current one. They won’t be focused on helping the company meet its goals.

If an employer does not actively ensure these basic tenets are being met via partnership with HR, they are setting themselves and their employees up for failure.

Got What It Takes to Hack It in HR?

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HR isn’t for everyone. And truth be told, that’s just the way I want it. I believe there a lot of HR peeps who have what it takes to elevate this profession into a more respected business partner to the corporate world. These folks have a special and rare combination of knowledge and soft skills. These are the HR professionals that can not only hack it in HR but are leading the radical HR movement.

Here are the must-have competencies of a kick-ass HR professional:

  1. The ability to forego quick wins. As in life, in HR, nothing worth having comes easy. HR Professionals must possess the ability to delay gratification and work and toil towards the accomplishments that are hard-fought by winning over every layer of bureaucracy, decision-maker and stakeholder before seeing their ideas bear fruit.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EI). This one is a non-negotiable. HR Professionals must possess a high EI factor. EI is said to be the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, while harnessing those emotions and applying them to tasks such as problem solving. HR may be the only side of the business that gives permission to bring emotion into the workplace. A good HR professional has to be self-aware before they can counsel and advise others.
  3. The ability to stand-up for oneself and to push back when necessary. History’s most significant accomplishments were at inception some of the most radical and rejected ideas. HR professionals must be willing to stand up for their core beliefs, own their arguments, disagree when needed and fight for what they know is best for the business, even when it’s exhausting and would be easier and safer to relent.
  4. A somewhat obnoxious ability to interject oneself in business situations . So, no one invites you to the party. Invite yourself. Crash that party. Instead of nodding and going on your merry way when your manager says “We’ll keep you posted”, take yourself out of that reactive position and get all up in that grill. Ask questions, get a better understanding of the situation and offer solutions right then and there. Make your participation in employee relations issues and business problems a requirement. Instead of your  managers waiting until something escalates, they should be seeking you out at the onset.
  5. Super strong customer service skills. The world is your customer. Everyone in the world looking for their next best job. Your peers, your managers, your employees, your pain-in-the-ass IT team. They are all your customers. Even when the situation is negative and you have to deliver a negative message, leave that customer with a “wow” experience.
  6. Business acumen. HR professionals can no longer afford not to know what line of business they are in. HR professionals need to know their businesses’ services and products. An HR professional worth their salt should be able to perform a SWOT analysis of their business without breaking a sweat.
  7. A mastery of HR knowledge. During an interview for my first real HR job, the Director of HR asked me to recite to her several tenets of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Totally legit question for an HR Coordinator job, right. HR professionals need to know not only all of the directly and indirectly applicable Federal and State labor and employment laws but also how to apply them in any situation especially on the fly.
  8. Must question the old-timey HR ways of doing things. When the nature of work was as simple as you do your job and the company pays you and the balance is equalized, Personnel Administration did a really good job at the tactical work of HR payroll processing and hiring people. If we are indeed undergoing what some people call the new Industrial Revolution, HR Professionals must get off their ass and revolutionize the profession or the profession will die.
  9. Ability to live and operate in the gray. Humans are messy. And human situations are messy. Even though laws and regulations in the past may have dictated that we treat everyone the same, consistent, equal or whatever, there is simply no way to create one-size fits all solutions. HR professionals must be able to creatively solve issues while operating within the confines of the law.

In several weeks, DisruptHR will be holding an event in Raleigh, NC. I’m super excited to network with and learn from  some of these radical HR leaders who hopefully possess some or all of the competencies above.

Things HR Needs to Break Up With

HR- I think we are in a dysfunctional relationship. The things I used to love about you are now driving me freaking crazy. The things are not moving forward and there is really no explanation for it. I think we are just going through the motions. You know this isn’t working. I think it’s time we break up.

Here are some things I think HR needs to break up with.

  1. Performance Reviews- all performance reviews. Not just the annual performance review. Changing the frequency does not make a difference. HR needs to let go of the notion that performance is something that we can or should document and formally discuss once per year, or bi-annually, or quarterly. Within the rapid pace of the modern workplace where projects and priorities change daily, constant and daily feedback is required. The vast majority of the workplace is already populated by Millennials and Generation Z- these groups of folks take in their information best when its short, fast and often.
  2. Traditional Full-time, Part-time Permanent Classifications of employment. Business must flex, flex or fail. The great thing about our current workforce is that there is plenty of talent out there looking for options- options to work on short-term project based assignments, longer-term contract-based initiatives, as consultants, as overseas resources or traditional regular full-time employees. HR should explore this available menu of talent options, build talent pipelines accordingly and present these options to the business as viable staffing options.
  3. Recognition Programs- it’s great to be recognized for a job well done, or for excellent performance on a key project. Programs that mechanize the natural expression of appreciation and thanks come across as inauthentic. Rather, HR should focus on hiring people with emotional intelligence who have a general behavioral propensity for delivering authentic gratitude to their peers. HR also needs to hold those same people accountable for that behavior.
  4. Managers and supervisors. I would venture to say that the majority of managers and supervisors are ineffective. They are ineffective for a number of reasons and mostly it is not their fault. Managers are often working managers and their people management responsibilities are compartmentalized as secondary duties. Most companies do not hold their managers accountable for people management responsibilities. Technically excellent employees are promoted to management because the company doesn’t how else to promote them. And, managing people is not fun or easy, unless you have a passion for leadership, most people do not want to manage (read: babysit) others. In our world where the only constant is change, HR should instead focus on the correlation of various soft skills to leadership, elevate those individuals and focus on readying internal talent to take on short-term assignments as team leaders and project coordinators.
  5. Wellness Programs- I simply believe wellness initiatives and programs do not fulfill their mission, and that employees don’t really put a lot of value in them. I think employers love to say they have them to attract talent. I believe employees like to have the options available. If wellness programs were the answer to the work/life balance thing, and work/life balance is a made-up thing (which I believe it is), then of course it doesn’t work. Most HR teams I know, love the idea of wellness but the actual execution is time-consuming, stressful and ultimately not rewarding for either employees, the company or HR.

On behalf of all HR, this is over, it’s not you, it’s us, we are just different now. And we have grown apart. 7f2c652740dc3783adec4aafa05aa2ce