Archive | June, 2013

Meet Ryan Blanck

27 Jun

Ryan Blanck Amanda BlanckRyan Blanck, founder and CEO of Deviate, is a fun, magnetic leader who is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Blending his unique background in leadership and fitness, he specializes in performance improvement to lead his clients to achieve their champion within.

His primary clients are visionary leaders, high-performing teams, and world-class athletes and entertainers.

Ryan is a guest leadership educator at Stanford University and Penn State and has been interviewed by The Huffington Post, The Desert News, Esquire, and Vim and Vigor magazines. Ryan has advised and coached leaders within organizations such as the World Bank, Google, Nike, and United Way. Ryan is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, International Association of Facilitators, American Council on Exercise (ACE), and IDEA Health and Fitness Association.

Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: Tell me about your company. What do you do, and what is Deviate’s mission?

Ryan Blanck, Deviate: Deviate’s mission is to inspire and activate peak performance. We are a performance improvement consultancy. We focus on three major markets: First is the individual bold leader (for example an executive who wants to elevate his/her game), the next group is elite teams or organizations, and the third group is professional athletes and entertainers who want to achieve the next level of greatness. We work primarily in within three buckets: leadership, organizational, and life development.

Staying “on top” is often more difficult than getting there. For leaders and teams committed to their pursuit of greatness, there is no such thing as resting, coasting, or simply maintaining. Once we’ve tasted success, it only fuels our desire for more; and, with it higher expectations and pressures. Preparing for and dealing with these expectations and pressures is vital.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whom you are talking to; everyone wants to perform better or reach that next level in his or her career and life. We help leaders build a plan to achieve their goals, facilitate that process, and hold them accountable to make it happen.

For example, I am working with a music group, and one of their ten-year goals is to win a Grammy. We are helping them find a way to do that. Musicians are great at what they do but are not trained in strategic planning and organizational development. How do you hire the best manager, tour manager, or strategically think about where you want to be in ten years?

Musicians focus on their craft and focus on music, so oftentimes they are not as skilled with running their “business.” We help mold that in them and help them elevate their game when it comes to working with all the different personalities within the group. We teach them how they can function at a high level using clear, real-time communication to propel their career forward. The same can be applied to business organizations and athletic teams.

How did you come up with your company name Deviate, and why?

When I was in the process of starting the business, I was working with a friend of mine, and we were talking about my background, which is in human performance from a physical standpoint in personal training and leadership. He came up with the name when he was summarizing what I did. He said, “It is like you take people down a deviated track; they have been going down a certain path, and once they meet you, you help them go down a different path they always wanted  to follow.” The tag line for the business says it all: “off track on purpose.” We literally take people on an off track journey purposefully to get them where they are their happiest and where they want to be.

What are the top issues facing today’s business leadership?

I see communication as a huge issue today. What you say, how you say it, and how quickly you say it. Communication has two actions: intent and impact. What you want to say is the intent, and how your words and delivery are taken by the receiver is the impact.

Regarding communication and leadership, another large issue is giving clear, concise feedback in real time. Most people sit on their point-of-view and wait too long to provide coaching. They stew on their thoughts and enable bad behaviors. The result of this inactivity is a culture of toleration and lack of trust. Leaders should address issues and conflicts in a positive way immediately. Having a dialogue right away is easier and more effective than enabling a behavior and trying to correct it later down the line.

What makes a great leader stand out in the crowd?

There is one significant difference between a leader and credible person. The characteristics of the two are very similar but the leader has one key trait: vision. A leader takes his vision and paints a vivid picture with a lot of color to show his team what they are working toward – the destination. Otherwise employees are just doing whatever is in front of them without intention and clear focus. To stand out as a leader, you need to be deliberate in bringing this vision to your team.

Think of it like this… you’re headed out on a family vacation. You need to select your destination before packing your bags and loading your car. And, you need to outline your route to determine when to hit the road to miss traffic and time your arrival accordingly.

Leadership needs to follow a similar process. Otherwise our performance suffers because we end up doing a lot of activity rather than productivity.

How important is collaboration in the workplace?

No one is successful alone. When you work in a collaborative environment where there is clear and open communication, where a vision is set, and people are clear on their roles and expectations, that is when true collaboration happens, and your organization can move forward faster.

At Deviate when we work with organizations that want to better their collaboration, we introduce them to the “Reverse CARE Model.” Reverse CARE stands for Expectations, Responsibility, Accountability, and Consequences. When each team member knows what is expected, what they are responsible to do, what they will be held accountable for, and what the consequences are ahead of time (not always negative, often are rewards), a model is created for that group to succeed.

What else can organizations do to foster collaboration? Can you recommend a particular activity or organizational structure? 

Team-building retreats are a great exercise to help improve the level of collaboration within a group. These retreats, if done correctly, help build group camaraderie. When people have better relationships, they embrace each other’s vulnerabilities, communicate more effectively, and become more productive.

When leading an organizational overhaul, we ask three question to assess the culture and employee engagement/satisfaction:

  1. Would you recommend (to a close friend) working here?
  2. Do you have friends at work?
  3. Are you having fun?

Oftentimes organizations have siloed teams, those groups that segment themselves off from the rest. Organizations need to break down these groups by creating cross-functional teams. Cross-functional teams cause people to work with those they wouldn’t otherwise work with. When they work in different environments on organizational goals instead of only their segmented team goals, they see a broader perspective. This enhanced perspective allows them to have a great stake in organizational success, and the silos crumble.

Here’s another analogy… you’re star quarterback in the National Football League. What matters most: Winning a passing title, leading the league in touchdown passes, leading the NFL’s top-rated offense, or winning the Super Bowl?

We see many leadership experts talk about health and wellness in the workplace. What steps can businesses take to provide their employees with improved health and wellness options? Also, why are these initiatives important to organizations as a whole?

We believe that your performance will only go as high as your health and happiness. Who we are doesn’t change between work and home. When you have someone in your organization who is unhappy and unhealthy, it will rub off on their work performance and the team environment. Cancer spreads.

Health and wellness are important because it has been proven that for every 50 minutes of rigorous fitness in your week, you will reduce your likelihood of feeling depressed by half. Working out will also provide you with more energy and helps you become more productive. A half-hour workout before work will make you 15% more productive that day. Through science we continue to learn the deeper connection between body and mind; ignore one and we suffer greatly. Working out helps create healthier, happier, and more innovative people and work environments.

Can you give us some easy health and workout tips we can all do while in the office?

Sure thing, here are a few tips:

  • As a society, we are overfed and under nourished. Remove unhealthy food and beverages from the workplace. Make sure that if you are offering food to employees, provide healthy options. Offer fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and raw seeds instead of sugary and salty snacks. Offer green teas, water, and other healthier drink options instead of sodas and coffee.
  • Provide group fitness activities for employees.
  • Hold stand-up or walking meetings and provide stand-up desks. Why can’t we meet in the gym or during a jog? The key is to get employees up and moving and not sitting all day.
  • Provide health screening so employees and their families can understand their body composition and the health risk of unhealthy living. Make sure these screenings are provided by a health professional.

Employees who are healthier will take fewer sick days, will create a happier work environment, and will become more productive as a result. At Deviate we like to call companies that understand the importance of wellness in their workplace “sweaty companies.”

Thanks for the opportunity to allow us to interview you! Anything else you’d like to mention?

It was a pleasure for sure. I’d love for your readers to subscribe to the Deviate blog. We publish a few times a week with content that is extremely relevant to human resource professionals. Also, they should take a look at one of our upcoming communication coaching programs, Thrive.

How to Find the Talent You Need and Keep It

14 Jun

Strategic human resource management is the key to finding the talent your company needs, but it’s also how you will ultimately retain that talent and improve your return on employee investment.

According to data from the ManpowerGroup’s latest Talent Shortage Survey, nearly 49 percent of the 1,000 U.S. employers participating in the survey reported that a shortage in talent has impacted their ability to do business. That being said, there has been a significant improvement in closing the talent gap.

Last year, 49 percent of employers reported difficulty sourcing appropriate talent—a figure that dropped by nearly 10 percent in 2013. A large reason that more companies are finding better talent is a result of the increasing use of human resource systems and software to manage talent management initiatives that ensures employees are aligned and developed for maximum productivity and contribution to the business.

Changing Game Plans
Positions in the skilled trades and specialty professions continue to be the hardest positions to fill. As employers face job seekers who lack the technical proficiency required in the job, many are mixing up their strategies.

Companies are revising their talent strategies. In addition to implementing HR solutions to extend into untapped talent pools, 23 percent of businesses are prioritizing development from within by training existing employees in the skills they will need. Even more promising, businesses are recognizing that, even though a candidate may lack the necessary technical skills right now, hiring managers have begun to forecast an employee’s potential to learn and prosper in the workforce in the near future.

There are companies out there that realize that just because candidates may have everything lined up on paper doesn’t necessarily make those candidates a fit for the company. Quick thinking and personality tests are just some examples of how employers are assessing a candidate’s drive, versatility, and a willingness to learn and collaborate—intangible attributes that often matter as much as technical qualifications.

Retaining Your Dream Team
A recent CareerBuilder survey got a pulse on the ways employers are seeking to reward and retain employees on their payroll. Of the respondents in the CareerBuilder 2013 Hiring Forecast, a majority cited increases in compensation were the best way to retain employees. Nearly 72 percent of participants plan to raise existing employee pay, while 47 percent intend to raise starting pay to attract new talent.

An employee’s income is only a small sliver of the bigger retention pie. The survey also revealed that 58 percent of employers valued alternative forms of compensation, perks and add-ons that they found employees valued.

Yes, competitive benefits and opportunities for growth are major players. But one less tangible, but equally important, alternative perk is a positive work culture. Derek Irvine, vice president of client strategy and consulting at Globoforce, says he encourages HR professionals to stop thinking about retention in terms of perks.

Often, employers can create a positive workplace environment by showing employees how much they are valued with specific, relevant, and frequent recognition. Sure, a stocked refrigerator or a massage chair make for good talking points, but a reinforced positive culture at work is priceless, and it will become the touchstone employees return to in order to assess future opportunities.

To locate the talent you need and keep it takes a sound human resources strategy that is, perhaps, grounded with employee engagement ideas that reward the pocketbook as much as they reward performance.

HR, Social Media Becoming Increasingly Intimate

12 Jun

Human resources departments are becoming increasingly savvy regarding their approach to information technology and social media as HR software continues to become more commonplace at organizations around the globe.

In the past few years, the value of social media and data analysis to HR processes has begun to surface, persuading HR and IT departments to join forces and collaborate in ways not seen before. Yet the increasing importance of human capital management and HR’s reliance on new technology has made such initiatives critical to an organization’s performance.

“[HR and IT collaboration] has not mattered in the past because people management has not been seen as essential to success as it is today,” John Ingham, HR technology consultant, told Computer Weekly. “What you have is a huge gap between what organizations are doing and what they could be doing, in one of the areas that is becoming the most important for business.”

The Year for Social
In order to make the most out of that partnership to benefit the company as a whole, HR has consistently upped its use of social media. Already, Forbes has heralded 2013 as the “Year of Social HR,” as organizations and individuals mine the business possibilities of social media and find innovative ways to integrate them into the fabric of their recruiting, talent management, employee engagement, and development strategies.

According to a recent study commissioned by SilkRoad, 75 percent of human resource and talent management leaders admit their organizations’ internal and external social networking technology is lagging behind.

Forming a Social Media Policy That Matters
A social media policy is a must for any organization, and there are a few major points that need to be taken into account when creating a social media policy that will be of genuine benefit to the company and the workforce.

First, social media isn’t going anywhere. Employees are already coming to the table with years of social media exposure and experience. As time passes and more people who were drilled in social media platforms at an earlier age cycle into the workforce, a common-sense social media policy is going to become more and more necessary.

Providing employees with the technological tools and know-how should enable them to better perform, collaborate, and innovate—but that’s the easy part. While it is clearly beneficial to any business to engage social media, it is important employees operate within a known and clearly communicated framework to ensure the business benefits from facilitating social media interaction. Steps to take in working toward that goal could include formulating guidelines for social media communication, maintaining a professional code of conduct, and clearly outlining disclosure allowances over social media. Another point to keep in mind is time spent on social media. For example, how much time is healthy for an employee to spend engaging in social media platforms in an average day? Any guideline should operate as a forward-thinking, empowering policy for employees, not as a mechanism of control.

Second, when creating a social media employee handbook, invite and incorporate employee input into the drafting process. Employees are more likely to enforce and adhere to a policy they helped create. Evaluate your company culture as you go along and listen to what your employees are saying. If the majority of your employees frown at just the mention of a “handbook,” look for more innovative ways to make your policy interactive.

Incorporating conversational elements into an interactive policy platform engages both employees and clients. If it’s interactive, you increase the likelihood that people are being stimulated at a level they are accustomed to and perhaps expect from any thoughtful organization as a minimum.

How to Make Social Media Work for You
The recruiting power of social media has become, in many ways, common knowledge. But its potential to improve employee engagement has yet to be fully exploited by employers.

One of the most powerful tools inherent in social media lies in one’s ability to listen and monitor. Social media allows real-time, organic conversations to take place among employees, clients, and potential clients, conversations that can be observed in public for free, conversations that employers can join and interact with to improve business practices and perceptions.

To learn more, download our white paper “Social Media and HR: Friend or Foes?” from our Human Resources Best Practices and Tools document library.

Prepare Your Business for Efficiency: Going Paperless

10 Jun

This guest blog post is courtesy of Mary Anne Osborne, SPHR, and principal of the Osborne Group. Mary Anne is a people-centric HR professional and consultant with over 25 years of HR experience in telecom, finance, manufacturing, healthcare and higher education.  Mary Anne presents monthly on our complimentary Sage Refresh and Recertify Webcast Series that are approved for 1.00 recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

While there are numerous benefits to going paperless, there are a lot of questions to answer before you take the plunge and commit yourself and your business to a paperless software solution.

Businesses are increasingly being forced to address these questions because of a complete shift in how HR operates on a basic level. Using electronic records is efficient and cost-effective and quickly becoming a standard function. According to statistics cited by marketing provider iPost, an eight-employee company, is estimated to achieve annual savings of $10,000 after going paperless. For a 370-employee company, the savings are more significant—a whopping $1 million annually. The U.S. government predicts an approximate savings of $1 billion over the next ten years as a cumulative result of going paperless.

Yet before the larger issues are faced, simple questions about going paperless can be answered. Like: “Does it streamline workflow and cut costs in the long run?” The answer is a resounding yes.

An average four-drawer file cabinet holds about 16,000 sheets of paper, and approximate costs can total $25,000 to fill and $2,000 to maintain every year. It’s estimated that the average office worker uses 10,000 pieces of paper a year. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, organizations spend $20 on average to file a document, $120 to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document. Of all documents, 7.5 percent get lost; 3 percent of the remainder get misfiled. You get the idea.

The weight, scope, and expense of using paper is staggering; understandably, businesses want to avoid those costs by implementing paperless solutions. Yet before rushing into a decision, there are several factors that merit consideration, and firms need to come in with an idea of what solutions will do for them and what the process will entail.

Know What You Want and What You Need to Do
Whether you are considering changing your existing software or are preparing for your first paperless venture, you’ll want to first ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish by going paperless? Yes, efficiency and cutting costs are great reasons. But there could be more, and, depending on the software vendor, you don’t want to miss out. Will your software allow you to create recruiting strategies more easily? Improve internal or organization communication? Build an integrated compliance strategy? In what ways can your employee evaluation process take advantage of technology to be more effective? Think about the critical components for your business.

What does your business or industry require regarding HR compliance? Document security? How and where are you going to store the electronic files? Is the archive searchable? Intuitive?

The questions don’t have to be heady, either. What’s your budget? What’s the timeframe? Who’s going to manage the system? Will you need professional assistance to implement and install the system? Will you need help converting old paper files to electronic ones? What hardware will such a system need to operate reliably? Is your corporate culture ready for the shift?

Converting Paper Files
This is probably the most challenging period during a company’s paperless transition. The conversion of old files is a task that requires a heroic amount of work, and most companies make the mistake of misjudging how much time and labor it will actually take to complete. It’s important to understand the benefits your business will experience during this stage of the process. Once digitized and archived, your files will be searchable, electronically shareable, and modifiable—all within seconds.

Once a document is scanned, it needs to be labeled, indexed, and placed in an appropriate database. If done right, this will consistently save time and money and significantly reduce misplaced or lost files.

It is generally recommended to take baby steps, converting one department or section of the office at a time. Some companies perform a pilot test first on a small scale to work out any bugs and equipment needs as well as gauge employee reactions.

Once You Are Paperless
After your old files are converted, you’ll need to answer a new set of questions concerning your business. Clients, vendors, and customers will continue sending paper documents—and some tax documents cannot be converted electronically—so you’ll need to decide how you are going to assimilate these hard-copy documents into your paperless system. How and when will employees be trained using the new system?

You’ll also need to evaluate how your system will be backed up. Do you have an emergency power supply or plan of action? In regards to document security, will you need user authentication? Digital signatures? Data encryption? Are your servers robust enough to support your business activity?

The transition to a paperless work environment isn’t as easy as it sounds, but once you make the choice to change and select a software vendor, your business will begin to save time and money, and before you know it, you won’t be able to imagine how you did business without a paperless solution.

Reduce Stress and Boost Profits

6 Jun

Not all stress is created equal. There are healthy levels of stress that can be highly motivating and push employees to rise to workplace challenges. But too much stress produces diminishing returns in the long run. In a quickly evolving working environment, employees are confronted daily with increases to their workloads, changes to teams and promotion structures, ineffectual or unsympathetic management, and various day-to-day elements of working life—which can all lead to stress.

This is especially important for HR professionals to recognize. High stress leads to low productivity and strategic human resource management aides in alleviating some of that stress—like ensuring employees are not too pressed on deadlines—will turn out to be beneficial to the employee, the manager, and the business, which will see the financial results in the long-term.

The Economics of Stress Management
For many HR professionals, stress is recognized as a serious wellness issue. In a December 2012 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), stress and mental illness were identified by HR professionals as their top employee health concerns.

The impacts of workplace stress are numerous. Stress has the potential to cause headaches, anxiety, substance abuse, high blood pressure, obesity, exhaustion, heart disease, and diabetes.

It is no secret that stress and depression are linked, as research suggests. Stress is both a mental and physical phenomenon. When we are overstressed, the body releases chemicals that compromise the immune system. It comes as no surprise then that stress, depression, and other mental illnesses are the primary causes of workplace absences, according to SHRM.

Factors like low job control, job insecurity, a lack of social support, work-family conflicts, and high-job demands have all been identified as potential causes of stress and depression.

According to SHRM, stress is the number-one cause of long-term absences—more than physical injuries such as neck pain, repetitive strain injuries, and acute illnesses like cancer and heart attacks.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 18.8 million American adults—9.5 percent of the adult population—will suffer from depression or a depressive illness. In any three-month time period, an employee struggling with a depressive condition will miss, on average, 4.8 workdays, resulting in 11.5 days of significantly reduced productivity on the job. It is estimated that depression will cause 200 million lost work days each year, costing employers between $17 and $44 billion in lost productivity.

There are many other impacts besides this staggering loss in productivity. High-stress levels lead to other negative, less tangible side effects, including employment disengagement, apathy, and high turnover and attrition—which all have economic consequences of their own.

When human resource planning involves employee engagement ideas that combat depression at its source, it will not only save the company money in lost work days, but also motivate employees to work more efficiently through the support and aide of colleagues and supervisors—helping the business to achieve a larger return on employee investment.

What Can Be Done About Stress
There are certain occupations that are associated with more demanding workloads and higher levels of stress. HR professionals need to prioritize stress management in those industries, especially the service industries. While reducing the workload may not be an option, there are a number of stress management options companies can pursue to improve their employees’ quality of life, reduce stress, and save money.

Many companies establish some form of wellness program. Typically, these programs include resources employees can access that promote healthy living habits such as dietary suggestions, exercise programs, and discounts or incentives at a partnering gym. Such programs enable employees to manage their own time and schedules and juggle the demands of various workload responsibilities.

One possible benefit from employing such a system is the ability to offer flexible work arrangements—by far the most significant factor in reducing stress. Some companies already offer flex time options, or “being there” time—a time management strategy that recognizes an employee’s obligations outside of work. Usually, flex time comes as a set number of hours that can be used at the discretion of an employee a few hours at a time, empowering him to attend his child’s school play or ballet recital. HR software solutions allow employees to log their own hours and track projects independently. Not only does this reduce stress, it improves productivity and employee engagement.

Time Management Leads to Stress Management
There are myriad ways a business can implement a flexible work arrangement, and the demands of a specific business will dictate the type and amount of flexibility that is available. Whether they organize a weekly lunch outing to destress employees or provide greater flex time options, effectively managing time will translate to a happier, less stressed employee—which in turn means good things for the business itself.

By changing mindsets about how a workload is distributed and tackled by employees, businesses can dramatically reduce stress by restoring control to an employee’s life—a trust that many employees will be grateful for and work hard to maintain.

What Matters Most

4 Jun

For HR professionals who are recruiting for a new position or looking to fill an existing opening, you will inevitably be confronted with the task of writing a job description—the first impression a prospective employee gets for both the position and the company.

Compliant Job Descriptions
It is important as you draft each job description that the posting is in full compliance with federal regulations such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963 or the Fair Labor Standards Act. To ensure the job description is fully compliant, employers needs to write descriptions as directed by a number of legal standards.

For example, the FLSA stipulates that employers will need to analyze the proper classification for the position they are recruiting for to determine if it is exempt from overtime pay. Compliance can sometimes be a complex issue. Descriptions with vague wording or gray areas may end up being violations of federal laws such as the Equal Pay Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. A good job description may not eliminate all of these discrepancies or involuntary omissions, but the goal is to minimize them as much as possible.

As part of your human resources solution, it may be easy to get distracted by legal compliance issues and forget about the tonality of the job description. It’s important that a balance is struck so that compliance is achieved and the description also falls within the cultural life of the brand and the company. A dry, off-message job description might be fully compliant but lacks the versatility and life that inspires and attracts top talent.

The Black Hole for Job Seekers
According to a recent study conducted by TheLadders, job seekers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a job posting before deciding to apply or move on—a figure that HR professionals ought to pay attention to when drafting job descriptions.

The online job-matching service conducted the survey in March of 2013 employing eye-tracking technology to determine not only what information job seekers prioritized as they perused potential job listings but how they read them.

“Job seekers and hiring managers alike share a problem with job listings—job seekers apply for jobs they don’t fit, leaving hiring managers with applications that don’t fit the bill,” said Alex Douzet, CEO and cofounder of TheLadders. “There is so much finger-pointing in the job search, mostly by job seekers who think that overwhelmed recruiters and faulty application software are the factors behind them never hearing back. However, our eye-tracking study shows that job seekers simply need to take a better look in the mirror—and better understand their competition—before they even think of applying to that next job.”

The survey revealed that even though job seekers self-report spending ten minutes assessing each opportunity, only 10 percent of that time is spent evaluating the job description. Of that percentage, the most time was spent focusing on the title of the position, the company name, and the details of the job, such as salary and recruiter contact information.

As an HR professional, that’s important information. Go into the job description drafting process knowing what job information is a priority for a job seeker. You have 60 seconds to make an impression. Make it count.

Writing a job description can be a tricky thing, navigating both the legal world and that of the prospective employee. The key is in striking a balance between legality and language that is as inviting as it is clear.

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