How To Ask For More Money. Part I.

Feeling overworked and underpaid? Join the crowd. In a March 2016 article from Fortune, only a little more than 1/3rd of Americans feel they are paid fairly. As an HR Representative counseling employees, I often hear a multitude of reasons why people are unhappy to some degree with their salary. From the perception to being “on-call” all of the time, to doing more than what their manager realizes to just plain feeling undervalued, employees are starting to wonder how to take steps to ask for more money.

Before you barge into your manager’s office demanding more money with little to know argument to back up your request, which never works out well for anyone, I strongly urge you to do the following.

Do your recon.

First, you need to do a little reconnaissance. Schedule a meeting with your Human Resources department and tell them you want to discuss your compensation. You need to find out if the company has a compensation philosophy,  does the organization tend to pay above market, do they pay to meet market averages or do they lag the market? A lot of companies right now are opting to pay median salaries, giving raises each year that just beat cost-of-living inflation, while awarding performance with discretionary bonuses. This is a less riskier option for companies than awarding high salaries in a ever-changing economy that can render a business obsolete in 6 months. Ask HR how the company recognizes performance. You also have to consider how your company is doing overall and where your company is in its life-cycle. If your company is in start-up or decline mode, they likely do not have the capital to be throwing around on employee raises. As the old saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a turnip. Other questions that are helpful to ask are if your company assigns salary ranges to each position and where your position lies on a career track (junior, mid-level, senior-level). Also ask your friendly HR professional for his or her recommendation on how to approach a salary review or request inside of your organization. Any HR practitioner worth their salt, will be able to give you an honest response. If your HR rep is squeamish about your questions, that may be a red flag that your company has an old-school mentality around compensation transparency which still isn’t all that unusual to encounter these days. Yet, it’s good to know this about your company.

External Research.

Next, you also need to do some external market research. You need to hit the internet and find out what data is available on salary ranges for your position, think payscale.com, glassdoor.com and onetonline.org. But heed caution here and build in a margin of error. These websites usually cite self-reported data and individuals usually inflate their salaries when asked. Additionally, these sites do not take into account certain nuances that make an apples-t0-apples comparison very difficult- different geographical regions, international versus regional organizations, successful versus declining companies, and booming industries versus dying industries. You may also want to reach out to recruiters in your area or network and ask them what they see is the going rate for your position. But, proceed with caution for the same reasons stated above. Also, don’t forget the monetary value of your benefits. The company probably pays for a portion of your health insurance and matches your 401(k), even though this isn’t money deposited in the bank every 2 weeks, doesn’t mean it isn’t compensation. You need to figure out the value of your benefits as part of your total compensation to understand what you are truly being paid to do your job. Now, with this information, you can create an acceptable range of what you think your position is worth.

 

 

Once you have done all of this stuff, you are ready to put your plan into play. Tune in on Thursday for How To Ask For More Money, Part II.

 

Kill The Resume

Why do we even use resumes? Are they meant to signal the candidate’s interest in a particular position with a company? We know that past behavior is not an accurate predictor of current or future behavior, so no matter how the resume is formatted or what information is on it, why do companies require this as the entry point to employment with the organization?

Has HR or any organization ever challenged the reason why the resume is the thing that a candidate has to send in? It seems to me that this is just assumed. All people have resumes and all companies request them. But the majority of resumes suck, they do not provide valuable information, they most certainly do not provide valid and reliable data.

I say kill the resume. Let’s take a hard look at what we as an organization require from a candidate and hack a better way.

What about a video profile? Job incumbents can easily use their computer or mobile device to make a short elevator pitch describing what they can offer to the company and why he or she deserves to be considered further. Through video, recruiters and hiring managers get a better idea of how well the candidate prepared for his or her video submission and how effectively the individual advocates for himself or herself to advance for further consideration of employment.

How about using a test or an essay submission that is specifically designed to draw out required competencies of the position? Humans are used to writing essays or taking a test to be considered for things like college, a grant, a scholarship etc… why not use these tools in lieu of a resume? Individuals that truly want to work for your organization and have a vested interest in earning consideration for a particular role in your company, will have no problem accepting the challenge of an essay or test.

Why waste our time on resumes when we can cut right to the chase of assessing one’s skills and competencies from his or her very first interaction with the company? It’s time to get innovative with the application process.

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.

 

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

On behalf of all of us HR professionals that have been nice,  and not naughty this year, here are a few things, in no particular order, that we are wishing for:

  1. An HRIS system that actually does what it purports to do. Has a user-friendly interface. Doesn’t require a 45 minute hold to get a customer service rep on the line. And reps that are actually knowledgeable of both the platforms they represent and HR stuff.
  2. CEO’s and other company leadership that are less narcissistic, less bottom-line obsessed and actually DO value the contributions of his or her employees by showing them not just saying it.
  3. Fellow HR professionals who are less rule and policy oriented and more strategic and progressive thinking.
  4. Some clarity from the U.S. Federal Government on the ACA, and the FLSA, that balances both the best interests of the citizens and corporations.
  5. To stop giving companies the same rights and privileges as human beings. And if we can’t do that for some dumb reason than start holding companies accountable for their fraudulent and unethical actions, just as we would any individual person.
  6. Employees who require less hand-holding and are more self-sufficient.
  7. That HR stops being assigned non-HR things like coordinating company potlucks and buying office supplies.
  8. Some attention. A seat at the table. Some realization that if HR is done right, it can be a hell of a factor in the success of the business.
  9. For other non-HR professionals to stop thinking they know HR stuff. Cause you don’t.
  10. Our bosses to get the hell out of our way so we can actually lead some positive change within our organizations.
  11. More compensation, nice benefits and some recognition for our contributions to the company.
  12. A workforce free from toxic employees and dumb managers.

We are all very excited for your visit this holiday and will leave out some company branded pens and coffee mugs for you and your reindeer.

Love,

HR

The Pulse of Performance

If you’ve read my blog before, you might get the sense that I am ready to scrap the traditional performance review. Your sense is correct.

My problem is not the “annual” part, it’s the entire foundation of the performance review. The traditional performance review process simply doesn’t fit our current work world, which lives in days, weeks and months, not years and where the traditional management hierarchy doesn’t exist and where teams get a hell of lot more done that a department, where employees work flex schedules and don’t meet face-to-face sometimes ever, and where our companies span time zones, countries and cultures.

Also, why are we doing performance reviews? Are we doing them because that’s what we’ve always done? Are we doing them because we believe people want feedback on their performance? Are we doing them to reward high performers? Are we doing them to tie compensation with merit?

I would argue that companies should still have some mechanism to provide feedback to employees; however, the whole traditional review process should be thrown in the garbage and replaced with something that actually aligns to the work world of the 21st century.

If I worked with an unlimited HR budget and a leadership team willing to give it a try, I would initiate a performance pulse check. This pulse check would be much like the pop-up you get on a website after you make a purchase or engage in a customer service exchange that asks you to rate your experience with emoticons and asks for comments. Something like this:

customer-satisfaction-ratings-for-desk-email-replies

Both Employees and Managers would have the ability to request feedback by sending a quick pulse check. Employees could request feedback from anyone including their manager, project manager, team lead, peers or customers at any time and get on-demand feedback. Managers could schedule routine pulse checks, for example, monthly, quarterly or at the conclusion of a major project. Further, the manager could submit requests for feedback from anyone that interacts with his or her employee from peers, to other managers to external clients.

The application could include required or optional prompts to provide commentary and not just a rating if someone chose a poor or exceptional rating. Or, lay a roadmap to provide further ratings on other specific criteria or core competencies such as results deliverability, communication, negotiation skills, responsiveness, etc…

With the ability to give feedback in a wink of an eye, the assumption here is that more people would be willing to do so. The instantaneous feedback also provides more relevant data to the employee to act upon- the employee will know almost immediately whether a course correction is needed or to keep up the great work.

Over time, this data paints a picture of the employee’s performance trends which his or her manager can take specific action on. From the collection of feedback from multiple sources, the managers can determine key talent ripe for succession plans and also where training needs are essential for improved performance.

This should be the current and  the future of performance evaluations.

 

 

Common Mistakes Managers Make on Performance Reviews

It is a rare phenomenon in HR to see a performance evaluation from a manager that even meets our expectations let alone exceeds them. Here are a sampling of a few common mistakes I see on the regular:

  1. The manager uses the annual performance review to rake an employee over the coals for his or her entire prior year’s performance. It is NOT okay to use the annual performance review to tell the employee they’ve sucked all year. As a manager, why would you endure that? Think of all of the lost productivity and pissed off coworkers. If you wait a year to tell someone they’ve not performed to your expectations, guess what, it’s not their fault, its yours for not having the spine to confront it sooner.
  2. Failure to clearly communicate expectations and objectives of the position. Granted, this discussion should be happening within the first week of a new hire’s onboarding with the company and should also be reiterated during ongoing performance discussions. This exact thing is the reason you see employee’s rating themselves as exceeds expectations, while the manager is left scratching his head wondering how the hell his employee could lack such self-awareness. In the absence of this information, an employee will always default to what they believe are the expectations and objectives and perform accordingly. Duh.
  3. Failure to keep any documentation from the review period to look back to. And thus rely on memory. An HR professional can always tell by a manager’s vague and sweeping statements in a performance review that he or she has no fucking clue what his or her employee accomplished all year. You know what also gets forgotten when only memory is relied upon? An employees’ weaknesses, fails,  and areas of opportunity. Fast forward to 3 months later when Mr. Manager is in HR’s office  complaining about his employee’s performance issues. HR pulls the performance review and lo and behold nothing has been indicated on the evaluation, but Mr. Manager insists this has been happening for months or years. Sorry, Mr. Manager, your documentation does not back up your accusation. Discipline and termination are going to be pretty difficult to justify.
  4. Never awarding an employee anything other than a “Meets Expectations” although his of her performance clearly goes above and beyond. This is a great way to actively disengage your employee, reduce his or her productivity and send your employee to the next job offer that is extended. If your employee is killin’ it at work- give them the props they deserve. An “Exceeds Expectations” should never be elusive but it should be reserved for the rare but deserving “A”-game employees.

But to the HR folk who see the above on a routine basis, I would ask what they are doing in their respective organizations to fix it. Rampant crap reviews are more indicative of poor training and unclear managerial expectations than they are any single manager’s fault. HR- get your shit together, and start whipping those managers into performance review ninjas.