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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.

Twitter is More Beneficial to HR Than You May Think

5 Apr

Social media platforms have become increasingly popular among businesses for hiring purposes. Widely used social networks have also contributed to companies’ revising their privacy policies to include guidelines for professional use of these networking sites in employee handbooks and company rules and guidelines. As human resource managers, businesses, and recruiters continue to utilize virtual recruitment strategies to find talent and maintain a presence online, it may be a good idea to add a Twitter account to the list of sites organizations use to attract new talent and engage employees.

Establishing Twitter as a Business Tool
Businesses are more open to using Facebook and LinkedIn to promote themselves and network with other industry professionals. Meanwhile, most organizations view Twitter as a personal social media platform rather than a professional one. However, Twitter is a great way to find potential job candidates, and company accounts can easily gain followers from employees, who may already be using this site, to help build a strong Twitter presence right away. Twitter helps companies connect with other industry leaders to promote and educate followers about hot topics and news updates and to spread the word about what your particular business or company mission is.

Creating a Twitter Account
It’s actually very simple to create and maintain a Twitter account—first things first, you have to remember that Twitter only allows users to “tweet” messages up to 140 characters in length. Secondly, building a presence on Twitter requires a daily commitment to post, search, and respond to followers. To create your business Twitter account, follow these steps:

1. Go to
2. Create a username and password
3. Upload a photo that best represents your brand or business
4. Connect!

Yep, four easy steps will get you going on Twitter. At the initial sign up, Twitter allows the creator to import established email and other social contacts directly from your computer. This is a great way to build an immediate contact list with business partners, employees, industry leaders, and company clients.

After the initial account setup, it’s also imperative to create a biography for the organization. The biography should include, but is not limited to, what your business does, what your company wants to talk about, and searchable keywords you want your account to be associated with, advised the source.

What Do @ and # Mean?

To build a following you’ll need to understand what all of the symbols on Twitter mean.

Account names are preceded by the @ sign. Whenever this symbol is used on Twitter followed by a username it’s called a ‘mention’ and the user that is mentioned will be notified. This symbol is used to communicate with other users. A common misunderstanding on Twitter is using the @ sign to begin a tweet. If that happens, the only people that will see that mention are those that are following the sender and the user mentioned. This is why users send tweets that start with ‘.@’, so everyone following the sender will see it.  

The other frequently used symbol users will run into on Twitter is the # sign, also known as a hashtag symbol. Twitter users incorporate the # sign and words, phrases, topics of interests, and so on to discuss their interests, news, and ideas. This is a great search tool for companies to utilize in order to start conversations on Twitter with users who share the same interests as their organization. Tweeting #hashtags also allows others to see what your company is interested in. If they like the same things you do, you can potentially gain a lot of followers.

How Can Twitter Benefit Companies
Aside from marketing your business or brand name, Twitter has many benefits for HR professionals and recruiters. Establishing a company Twitter account is a great way to promote employee engagement. Companies can assign one or two workers to completely manage the account, making them responsible for starting discussions and finding business contacts and potential job candidates. If the account is better managed by HR or another manager, employees can still contribute to business conversations on Twitter to help bring in third-party contacts for the organization.

Finally, the benefits of having a Twitter account can help recruiters search and connect with high-caliber candidates for job vacancies. These connections may occur by following other industry contacts, employees, and business leaders. Social Hire blogger Marcie Taylor suggests the following recruitment strategies for leveraging twitter as a recruitment tool:

1. Use #hashtags that include keywords associated with job openings
2. Maintain industry connections by actively participating in chat sessions
3. Search for topics you know potential candidates are interested in

It’s also a good idea to tweet pictures of the office, employees (with their permission), and business events to attract job prospects. Most candidates will appreciate and respond to positive employer cultures. Twitter is a marketing opportunity to showcase why your company is a great place to work.

You won’t truly know how beneficial Twitter can be as a social networking and marketing tool until your organization gets plugged in. If your company is seriously thinking about creating and maintaining a Twitter account for business purposes such as engagement and virtual recruitment, it’s best to take the time to explore all of the site’s features.

For more HR and social media news, join the conversation by following @SageHRMS or me, @JoeyBaird, on Twitter!

Meet Tanveer Naseer

15 Feb

Tanveer NaseerTanveer Naseer is the principal and founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with managers and executives to help them develop leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development while ensuring they remain focused on what creates a fulfilling sense of purpose in what they do. Tanveer also writes for his own blog as well as contributes articles to such organizations and publications as The Globe and Mail, Human Capital Institute (HCI), American Management Association (AMA), and Hallmark Business Connections, and he also shares his thoughts on Twitter with the username @TanveerNaseer.

Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: You are one of the top recognized bloggers and thought leaders on leadership in today’s workplace. What do you feel are the biggest issues facing leadership in the workplace today?

Tanveer Naseer: The biggest issue in the workplace today is the lack of communication. The key to communication involves engagement, recognition, innovation, and the ability to tie all of these aspects together. I’ve never heard of someone complaining that his manager communicated too much. Today’s business leaders have lost the art of active listening, which is a building block of clear communication.

The team members on the front lines of the business are the ones who receive feedback from customers and clients, and by engaging these employees, leaders can gain key insights about customer needs and wants. This does not happen enough, and as a result leaders are somewhat out of touch. By giving employees recognition for these insights, they feel empowered and inspired. Empowered people think outside the box and become more innovative.

Can you take a moment to explain the difference between a leader and a manager?

I agree with much of the work John Kotter has done in this area. Like him, I believe management is process and task oriented. Management focuses on things like budgeting, staffing, goal setting, strategizing and developing metrics. Management is a position, and managers need that role in order to carry out their tasks.

Leadership is about working with people. Leaders develop the message, the vision for the organization; they help people answer the question “Why is this important, and why does it matter beyond a paycheck?” Additionally, leadership is not positional. Leaders can drive ideas forward and influence others while they occupy many different positions.

Can a person be both a leader and manager?

You have to have a good understanding of management processes to become a good leader. A good leader understands how the business is run and relates that into goals for their team. A good manager understands what matters to the employees and how to relate the processes to them in a way that makes them become invested in the processes. The best manager understands how to lead, and the best leader understands how to run the business.

A number of business leaders say it is important to have a mentor. What are your thoughts on mentorship? What should one keep in mind when looking for a mentor?

Mentorship is only as valuable as what you put into it. The real challenge is how you select a mentor. When looking for a mentor, you should look for someone who has the life experiences, organizational culture, and values similar to yours. A proper mentorship allows you to learn from their experiences (accomplishments and mistakes) and then implement them into your own style.

Many executives say they are focusing on trying to speed up the leadership development process at their organization. Why is leadership development so important for the future of business?

Things in today’s business world change rapidly. What we know today may not be relevant six years or even six months from now. A good leader stays on top of these changes and can adapt and then relate them to their team. Leadership development is a never-ending process that takes commitment. A good leader sees this and understands that his or her leadership development is not a finite term and continues to adapt and change with the needs of the business world. Without good leadership employees are less willing to buy into the company vision; thus, they become complacent and less productive.

How does good leadership affect the company’s bottom line?

Fundamentally good leadership means you help employees succeed. When employees succeed, the organization succeeds, and the outcomes are usually things like increased profitability and improved market share. Effective leadership is the key to the enduring success of a company because great leaders communicate to stakeholders that short-term sacrifices will lead to long-run improvements.

What are the top traits of a good leader?

Communication, engagement, respect, and trust. These traits create a willingness from their team to follow and gather around a common cause.

A good leader is also inquisitive. Good leaders know they do not have all answers but are willing to ask and find those answers from those whom they lead. They encourage their teams to challenge themselves and to continuously look for ways to improve. Good leaders trust that their employees have the right answers and empower their team to not only come up with solutions but to implement them.

We know that you have a background in science. How does your background in science help you today with coaching business in leadership?

You have to have the ability to observe what causes outcomes to happen and experiment with them. With science we experiment, observe, and study the outcomes. If an experiment fails, we try to learn why it failed and then communicate our findings to others. Nothing is relevant or correct unless others can see that they can replicate your results. These steps are also skills we see demonstrated in good leaders in today’s businesses.

You often tweet about gamification. What are your thoughts on gamification in the workplace, and how does it relate to leadership?

The term gamification elicits interesting feelings from people. Many people see it as something that is underhanded or scheming, because it sounds like someone is trying to “play” a person or trick them. I don’t look at gamification like that. I have a fascination with stripping away the notion of the game and look at the psychological issues behind the activity. I think we can learn a lot from how people make decisions and how they learn by viewing their activity with games.

I believe that moving forward, gamfication is going to become a tool leaders employ to assist in developing team skills, teach leadership techniques, and how teams and individuals can share those skill sets to empower other to succeed.

Can you give us your list of the most influential leaders of today and what we can learn from them?

For sure: I read and pay attention to the work of many leaders; here are a few I enjoy:

  • Doug Conant, ex-CEO of Campbell Soup Company and author of The Action is in the Interaction.
  • Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge.
  • Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and the blog “Work Matters.”

It is important that we gather our information from many sources and relate the experiences of others to our own story. This helps us frame ideas in a proper context.

Thanks for allowing us to interview you and learn more about your views on leadership in the workplace today!

No problem; I enjoyed it and am happy that you selected me for the interview.

Meet Mike VanDervort

14 Nov

Meet Mike VanDervort. Mike is a human resource professional and the writer of the blog, The Human Race Horses. Mike is a volunteer leader for SHRM at the state and national level and current member of the SHRM Special Expertise panel on Labor Relations. Mike frequently speaks and writes about how social media is impacting the HR profession and tweets at the handle @MikeVanDervort.

Joey Baird, Sage:  We know you’re a frequent speaker, volunteer, you’re extremely active online, and in social media, but can you tell our readers what your day job is?

Michael VanDervort: Yes, I’m a corporate human resources strategist and specialist; I work primarily on our associate (employee) relations. I also dabble in industry research and look a lot at developing trends. My background is in manufacturing and logistics.

At my company, my social media role has evolved over the years. Because of my experience I was asked to help with its implementation, and it’s been a great project. Social media falls under our Public Affairs department, which works closely with Human Resources. We were tasked with creating an internal voice, one that we could respond to customers across networks and in our communities.

Social media is taking more of a presence in the workplace. What are your thoughts on the relationship between HR and social media?

The relationship has been very interesting the past three years or so especially. HR, rather than being an early adopter viewed social media as a risk. Now I think it has evolved, and many see it as a valuable communication channel. I really like that aspect because I think that is what HR does, convey the message, no matter how you communicate. In the beginning I couldn’t understand why HR wouldn’t want to use it. It’s really starting to become part of the culture now and getting more mainstream.

You’re pretty involved in the social sphere of human resources when it comes to live chats, live tweeting at conferences, and so on. What sparked your interest?

From a personal standpoint, I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. In 1991 the company I worked for funded a purchase program so employees could buy home PCs with low interest rates. It wasn’t because the employees needed to work from home; it was because the company cared about enhancing learning and development for its workforce. So I ended up buying that PC and then stumbled onto the Internet. I started looking at what HR was doing online; it was mostly tech companies in chat rooms and rudimentary job boards. Following that crowd, I bounced along, and it kind of dragged me into social when it presented itself. In 2006 a business colleague sent me an invitation to LinkedIn, and I joined.

You must get this question a lot but can HR and social media ever coexist peacefully?

In much of my speaking I talk about why HR needs to be in social not just because it’s “cool” but because it is useful. I don’t think HR practitioners think of it as the snake hiding behind their desk anymore.

What’s a fun fact about you (not HR related) that our readers may not know about you?

Actually, you wouldn’t know it from my presence online and the way I network but I’m an introvert. It has always been hard for me to “break the ice” with people, and social has really helped open up a dialogue for me.

We noticed you enjoy traveling. Do you have any exciting adventures planned?

Funny that you mention the travel, because I just got back from personal vacation to St. Augustine, Fl. We rented a pet-friendly condo, and my wife and I took our dogs and enjoyed the time at the beach.

I just got back from Dallas, for the People Report Best Practices Conference. So now I don’t have anymore travelling for 2012, but I did just get accepted to the LA SHRM State Conference next year, so that should be great!

Do you have any upcoming activities or work that you’d like our readers to know about?

Well, next month or so I’ll be writing a little about how the outcome of the election will affect HR. There are likely to be some changes with the NLRB and so on. Outside of that I’ll be contributing on a semiregular basis to I’m looking forward to 2013 and planning out new opportunities.

Thanks for your time, Mike!

Meet Melissa Fairman

2 Nov

Meet Melissa Fairman. Melissa is the author of the HRreMix blog. She has worked in the HR industry for over five years and is currently working as an HR Generalist. Melissa has an MBA with an HR concentration from Baldwin Wallace College and holds the PHR certification form the HRCI institute. You can follow her on Twitter at the handle @HrRemix.

Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: We love the name of you blog and your Twitter handle. What inspired you to choose that name? Did you use to be a DJ?

Melissa Fairman: Well I do love music, and a good friend of mine is a DJ! When I was thinking about starting my blog, I wanted a name that was different, that communicated the idea of change. Techno and house music, especially mashups, are a form of music that is heavily tied to change. Quite a bit of it is a blend of other different types of music, and oftentimes it builds upon older music and makes it better. So it was in that vein that I decided on my name. I almost decided to name the blog HR mashup, but I liked HR remix better.

Blogging is very popular way to share information in the HR industry. How important is it for an HR professional to participate in engagement through blogging and social media?

Social media is an excellent way for HR professionals to get involved in the community.  It helps you to learn and grow within the field on a daily basis. It isn’t something to go into half-heartedly; I make time every day to be on Twitter and Facebook.  That consistent presence has helped me to build a large network of other HR professionals I can reach out to when I have questions.  Jump in with both feet in order to build a community and establish a presence.

Blogging is a much bigger commitment, but I encourage everyone to do it. You develop such a great knack for synthesizing your thoughts in a few hundred words, and that is a great skillset to have. I’ve been blogging about a year now, and I’ve learned so much from blogging; it makes it easier to keep up with the pace of HR news because I’m constantly writing and thinking about the issues.

There must be an endless amount of topics as they relate to HR write about. How do you prioritize and choose topics to blog about?

I wish I had some ordered system, but I really don’t. I use Evernote to take notes about potential ideas because it allows me to sync all my notes across all my devices. These notes are usually short thoughts about news stories that stick with me. After I think about these stories for a while, I’ll then develop the ideas into posts.

Do you have any insight as to what some industry trends will be in this upcoming year (2013)?

It’s hard to predict what is going to be impactful in the future. So much of what affects HR depends on what happens in the general world of business. I know that a big force of change we are currently seeing and will continue to see is technology. There are constant additions of new technology to the industry, and I can barely keep track of all the tech solutions. Social media is another aspect of technology that’s helping to push human resources forward. The overall driving force though is how quick technology is changing. If a company can keep up with the pace of technology, that will give it a huge edge in the marketplace.

The HR blogger community seems like a close bunch. Do you have a change to get together with members of the community throughout the year outside of conferences?

I’ve only been in social media for a year but I’m really starting to develop some connections. Earlier this year I was able to meet Buzz Rooney from The Buzz on HR. I recently attended the Minnesota SHRM State conference and had the opportunity to meet many people from Twitter in real life as well as some of the great speakers.

There are so many HR publications! What are your go-to resources that you find inspiration for your blog posts?

I think it is important for HR professionals to read information that is geared toward business, not just HR. To truly partner with a business, you need to understand how money is made.  I read the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, the Economist, and articles from It’s a lot of information, so I’m always a few months behind!

I’m a member of SHRM so I read the email newsletters and their magazine as well. I also read a lot of HR blogs. Some of my favorites, my must reads, are by Chris Fields, the Buzz on HR, the HR Capitalist, and Fistful of Talent.

Sometimes I cut back on blog consumption in order to read some of the great books that come my way. I have limited time so I have to prioritize my reading selection.

We noticed you’re a fan of the NFL. How are you feeling about this season’s encounter with replacement refs? Do you have any friendly HR advice for the NFL?

The NFL can learn a number of things from this season’s replacement ref ordeal especially along the lines of talent management, succession planning, and workforce planning.

For example, I worked briefly at a company where some of their manufacturing team was part of a union, but some were nonunion. We started planning a year in advance for the contract renegotiation just in case there was a walkout. We knew we needed to be prepared for that and other instances.

It shocks me that with the money the NFL generates that they didn’t have people on top of the issue. Their back-up plan was to bring in refs from the lingerie league. Really? What kind of a joke is that? I didn’t even know it existed.

Thanks for the interview, Melissa!

Meet Ian Welsh

12 Oct

Ian is a 20+ year veteran of the human resources industry and now currently operates a consulting business out of Toronto, Canada. He is a frequent contributor to the ToolBox for HR and The Search for Mutual Success. Ian’s posts are his thoughts and expertise on how human resources operate within organizations and society’s impact on business operation and HR’s role. Ian tweets from the handle @ianclive.

Joey Baird, Sage: You’ve been involved in the HR industry for a while now. How did you get started writing for the HR Toolbox?

Ian Welsh: Well I think I came across the HR Toolbox on LinkedIn originally. The Toolbox is a great open forum where lots of people talk about HR and post their blog posts as well. I contribute about ten articles a month, and over the past several years I think I’ve published over 400 articles.

Do you follow any specific bloggers or other sources to remain up to date on what is going on in the world of HR?

I do read a number of websites but nothing on a set consistent basis. I really enjoy getting the international perspective and often visit UK, Australian, and South African sites. Usually I find these blogs and sites through LinkedIn discussion groups. LinkedIn is great because there is a broad international base of people involved in each group.

Another source of information that I enjoy following is the Carnival of HR. That is a great sort of “cooperative” that brings together a number of different viewpoints that focus on different themes every few weeks.

What’s the biggest change or shift you’ve seen in your HR career?

I haven’t really seen major changes to HR principles over the last 30 years, the same programs that were in place then are still in place today. One area that has changed is ethics. Legislation really has led to large changes in this area, especially around government compliance. As soon as some of the major ideas were passed like nondiscrimination, affirmative action, occupational health and safety, and environmental, companies really took notice and focused on building their HR departments.

Generally employees embraced these changes, and employers wanted to be good citizens. In the past few years or so, though, I’ve seen businesses become more Machiavellian, almost ruthless in a way. Businesses are now prepared to buck the system and confront government legislation; they’re almost more willing to take the fines and punishments if they believe it will be better for their business. In some businesses this has really created a gulf between HR and management.

The trend then was to treat any program like compliance programs as a burden, and management was prepared to go against legislation if they balanced the risks and thought they would be better off. I think this also has a lot to do with the tenure of top executives now. The average tenure has gotten much shorter, so they are making decisions more for the short term rather than long. 

As a neighbor to the Great White North, are there any work policies in Canada that differ from the United States when it comes to work-life balance or work culture?

Canada has stricter rules around employment standards and various things such as social programs. In Canada, though, people aren’t as close to one another geographically, and many companies operate in multiple provinces. This really opens up the need to have employees who are able to work remotely and balance their priorities on their own.

We’re having a Facebook contest and giving a year’s worth of free HR training by asking followers to share their most essential HR management tip. We have to know, what’s yours?

I’d say that human resource professionals need to really put themselves in the other person’s shoes that they’re dealing with. They need to be practical and observant; they need to provide the value that is needed within businesses. They need to understand the issues and attack the problem, not pull some off-the-shelf program and try to fix issues that way.

I’m sure we have some HR readers who toy with the idea of starting a blog. Do you have any tips for newbie HR bloggers?

The most important thing is trying to write in a natural style that the blogger can maintain. Don’t write in flowery language with large words to just try to sound educated. Be yourself and use your own voice. Also, bloggers have to engage readers and introduce questions and ask for comments.

I actually wrote a couple of posts about this in the early stages of writing my blog. One was written about three months after I started so it really does have newcomer perspectives. The other was after my first year; it reinforces some of my earlier thoughts and also talks about some of my accomplishments.

Do you have any other projects coming up in the near future, perhaps new blog posts?

One project that I’m really excited about is an e-book. I’m working to bring some of the themes and thoughts I’ve had over my 400+ blogs into a more concise format. So be on the lookout for that!

Meet Charlie Judy

8 Oct

Meet Charlie Judy. Charlie is a global HR executive and talent management blogger. Charlie is a Human Resources Executive with expertise developed globally in organizations recognized for their people-centric environments; he brings two decades of broad and progressive experience as a strategic business advisor and HR steward to organizations and their employees; he is the global director of HR strategic development and operations for Navigant Consulting, Inc. where he is responsible for optimizing the firm’s Human Capital function. Charlie Judy is also the author of the talent management blog HR Fishbowl and tweets at the handle @HRFishbowl.

Joey Baird, Sage: We are huge fans of the HR Fishbowl blog and frequently share your posts with our followers. How do you decide which topics to write about?

Charlie Judy: Most of my articles really are consistently focused on making HR easier, making it more of an extension of who we are as people. I try to speak to how people can just learn to leverage what is already part of their makeup and not waste time on stuff that doesn’t add a lot value to the career experience.

When I first started the blog, the online space, especially around social media, was dominated by people and groups who weren’t necessarily living and breathing the practice of HR every day. Their voice was crucial but only one part of the discussion. I really wanted to make sure the true “trench HR” practitioner had a voice.

You’re active in social media with not only your blog, but also on Twitter. Do you ever get to engage with any of your followers in real life at either Tweet Ups or HR conferences?

Yes, I attend several conferences each year. I’d love to attend more, but they are just really time consuming. I will be at HR Tech this week in Chicago, and I’m going to try to pop into HRevolution as well. I’d put those on everyone’s lists.  

I also enjoy the national SHRM conference. It is a pretty amazing event. It’s hard to find an HR conference with that kind of scale. The level of vendor participation is great, the content is extensive. It’s important HR professionals hit this one every now and then.  SHRM in general has also really done a good job of getting more plugged into the social space, and I’ve enjoyed supporting that foray.

I try to make it to at least one State SHRM conference a year – I was the emcee for the Illinois Conference again this year; there were close to 800 people and, as always, it really had a world-class speaker line-up. It’s amazing with the volunteer organizations for the State can put together – these are no small undertaking.

Many of the bloggers on your FishRoll are favorite HR bloggers of ours, as well. Are there any up and comers in the industry whom you haven’t mentioned yet on your FishRoll? 

There are too many to even mention and I’d be afraid to leave someone out. I admittedly don’t read as much as I’d like. And I do all that I can to encourage others to get their voice out there…I wish there were more. The echo chamber is alive and well – we need to mix it up if we can. I’d encourage all of your readers to go out there and find a few blogs they love and follow them regularly – the goodness you can get from this space is first rate.

Do you have any other important initiatives that you support that you’d like to get on the radar of our readers?

Well, lately side project stuff has slowed for me; I like to front-load most of my speaking and other activities during the calendar year because my day-job gets tough towards the end of the year.

I’m involved in a longer-term project which will hopefully get some energy behind it here in the near future. Last year I spent three days locked in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with some of the brightest cats in the talent management, marketing, social media, and leadership space, discussing ‘the future of work.’ We put together a Manifesto around what we think it might or should look like. It is our fundamental belief that what work becomes is something we all have a large responsibility for and that only through strong grassroots efforts might a sea-change occur. We’re all getting together again soon to talk about where to take this next – stay tuned on that one.

We are running a Facebook contest right now giving away free access to HR training, and we’re asking people about their most important HR tip. What is your tip to share with others?

I have a list of well over 200 of them that I call “Fishbowl Logic.” One of my favorites is that “it’s hard making things easy.” If we want to be really good at delivering HR services to and enriching the career experience for our employees, we have to do that in a way that isn’t burdensome or extraneous or doesn’t bring any perceived value. One of the best ways to do that is to make it easy for them to access, take advantage of, and ultimately get something out of what we do for them. But that takes a real concerted effort. It’s partially about removing the clutter. But it also involves challenging every aspect of what we’ve done, asking why it is we do it that way, and sometimes not liking the answer.

I have to ask . . . do you or your family have any fish?

That’s a great question; I do not have any fish. I was home one day with the kids, and in a moment of weakness I succumbed to their urging that we go to the pet store and get a lizard as a pet. The kids were ecstatic. . But while we were there I realized that taking care of a lizard wasn’t anywhere as easy as taking care of fish. So we went home with the idea to try and convince my wife about getting fish. She didn’t like the idea of anything in a tank and set into how much of a pain my dog was already. So sadly we remain fishless (and lizardless).

The moniker HR Fishbowl comes from the notion that people are constantly on the outside looking into our profession; everybody thinks they’re an HR expert and with that comes a great deal of scrutiny and critique. It’s just like being in a glass bowl.

The Bring Your Own Device Divide

18 Jul

There are two sides to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend now that IT departments are facing off against human resources professionals. Each side of this polarized debate has valid points, but finding ways to work together is essential for employee engagement and business security. The key to solving these issues and creating a friendly workspace is collaboration which, while facilitated by BYOD programs themselves, can be difficult to promote acceptance with at first.

HR Support

A Forrester report recently showed that more than three-fourths of company technology is already purchased by employees and used for both home and work purposes. The study went on to say that, based on previous adoption trends, BYOD will probably be the ruling institution among SMBs and big business alike within the next three years. These devices have proliferated in personal life and tend to go with workers whenever they travel already, representing a savings for businesses that don’t have to invest in new technology to make operations more flexible.

IT Resists

While this cuts costs and increases productivity for the workforce, it could result in a security problem in terms of increased data breach probability. The trouble with BYOD initiatives is that it’s already difficult enough getting employees to follow security procedures for company-owned technology, but introducing personal devices make people feel like they have more liberties with data protection. This could result in serious danger to business continuity, and by default complicates the job of IT personnel who have to buff up endpoint security to account for anticipated lackluster personal device security.

Some IT and HR professionals share the concern, though, that it could enhance FLSA compliance issues. Studies have found that workers tend to keep at job tasks even after they should have stopped for the day, resulting in overtime and reporting issues. Seeing as some of the problems of BYOD are shared, these departments need to get together and offer ideas on how to effectively solve each of them. By finding a middle ground, companies should discern a way to save data and money at the same time.

What do you think about BYOD? Should employees be allowed to use their own devices? Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @JoeyBaird with your answer.


Meet Mollie Lombardi, Research Director With Aberdeen

18 Apr

In this first installment of a five part series, we interview Mollie Lombardi, a research director for Aberdeen Group’s human capital management practice. She has surveyed and interviewed thousands of end-users to gain a better grasp of the key challenges facing human resources and talent management leaders. Mollie has an extensive background in writing and speaking about topics such as strategic talent management and employee engagement. 

Joey Baird: You have a very impressive background in HR. What notable changes have you seen in the industry throughout the years?

Mollie Lombardi: It’s been interesting. Even in just the past 10 or 15 years, we’ve seen periods of extreme growth followed by severe economic downturn. And in the midst of that turmoil, organizations always have struggled with the same key questions:

  • Where do I find talent?
  • How do I grow talent?
  • How do I hang on to my best people?

But I would say that the way we answer those questions has changed. Technology has caught up with our desire to have greater transparency, and it has allowed us to reach employees wherever they are through mobile and social tools. The questions remain, but our arsenal to go after them continues to evolve.

How do you see social media playing a factor in the HR industry? Do you think the importance of social media is positive or negative?

I think that in the end, it is a positive. But a lot of organizations still struggle to “control” social media. They’re missing the point. You can’t control social media, so you simply have to live the way you want to be perceived. Social media can be an amazing window into your organization’s culture, your brand, your mission, and your goals. It can be a powerful tool to help connect you to potential employees, as well as retain and engage your existing employees.

But you can’t fake it. If you want to be perceived as a great employer and corporate citizen, or a great consumer brand on social media, you have to be one. The level of transparency brought by social media leaves organizations with no place to hide—which will be the best thing for employees and employers.

Do you see social media alleviating or creating more problems in the workplace?

At first, social media might be seen to be causing more problems—but a lot of that is growing pains. It’s something new, and organizations have struggled to understand what it really means. But it’s not going to go away, and social media and whatever comes next will be a part of our lives. And at the end of the day, these tools are about communication. Open and honest communication within organizations will, in the end, alleviate more issues than it causes.

You’re a Boston University alumna with a degree in theater. What made you transition to the HR industry?

My job and field of study within theater was as a stage manager, and what a stage manager really does on a day-to-day basis is make sure everyone knows what they need to know, shows up where they are supposed to, and delivers for the audience. The stage manager also keeps extensive records for all the various stakeholders, such as producers, backers, and even the various unions that represent stagehands, actors, and musicians. So, in a lot of ways, it’s an excellent training ground for HR. And it was excellent training for the project-based nature of my consulting work.

I noticed you did some work with Harley-Davidson. How was that experience? Did Harley-Davidson set you up with a motorcycle—or at least a ride on one—in exchange for your services?

I’m afraid not. But I will say that touring its corporate headquarters and one of its factories is one of the more interesting client experiences I’ve had. It was pretty awesome to see the amazing collection of machines in the motorcycle section of the corporate headquarters parking lot on a sunny spring day.

What are some of your favorite Twitter accounts to follow? Do you have any bloggers you’d recommend to our readers?

I follow all the folks over at Fistful of Talent pretty closely: the FOT blog, the Twitter accounts of most of their contributors, and the personal blogs of folks such as Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, Jessica Lee, and Andy Porter. I also closely follow Naomi Bloom for her insights on HR technology, and I like to keep up with Laurie Ruettimann for her irreverent commentary on topical issues and the latest updates on her cats.

What are the most important points organizations should understand when looking to recruit and retain talent?

I think the biggest one is to pay attention. If you’re trying to recruit people with certain skills or attributes, look at where the people you know have those skills and attributes spend their time outside work. Pay attention to how they interact, and model your hiring communications around things they already respond to. For retention, paying attention is even more important. A manager’s job should be to know what’s going on with the team. People convey their unhappiness long before they turn in their resignations. Getting tuned into the signals of disengagement is critical, both in terms of data, such as a drop-off in productivity or a slowing down in their contributions to internal and external social networking, as well as in terms of interpersonal cues.

The other important point is transparency. Whether someone works for you now or might work for you in the future, painting a clear picture of what it means to work with your organization and what the opportunities are for them as individuals is key to the decision to join or stay with the company.

Do you see a difference in what members of Generation X and Generation Y seek in job fulfillment compared with what those in previous generations consider to be important?

One of the biggest things I’m seeing about Gen Y is the need for advancement. I think to keep these employees happy, organizations are going to have to find ways to offer them mobility and new challenges. It’s not about everybody rocketing up the ladder to a vice presidency by the time they’re 28, but it is about helping younger employees see the types of career paths and opportunities they may have. I think we’re also going to see a more networked approach to work. People might come and go from jobs, but they will build relationships that cause them to continue to seek out work with certain groups of people or individuals. It is more of a loyalty to a team than to a particular corporate brand. People want work that interests them and to do it in an environment and with colleagues that they enjoy, and they are placing a premium on that versus a promise of a 30-year career with one employer.

We are also seeing that no matter the generation, there is a high demand for personalization. The continued consumerization of technology has made people come to expect on-demand access to all the information they need. If I can go to my bank’s website and see the entire history of my relationship with that bank, I want to be able to go to my HR system and see all my benefits transactions or schedule history. People have come to expect the ability to get the information they want, in the format they want, when and where they need it.

All of us at the Employer Solutions Blog thank Mollie for allowing us to interview her and we look forward to providing more thoughts from her next week!

In the meantime, you can follow Mollie on Twitter, @mollielombardi, connect with her on LinkedIn, and read more about her work with the Aberdeen Group.


Social Media Marketing Can Increase Employee Engagement

9 Apr

Social Media Increases Employee EngagementSocial media marketing is more complex than many dabblers may assume. While the field is still fledgling, forward-thinking companies have developed social policies that involve and encourage participation from all members of the organization. This strategy ensures consistent delivery of content with a diverse voice and perspective.

However, any policy needs to outline the types of activities that are permitted, and include a clear description of appropriate behavior. There really are no second chances when it comes to social marketing, so there is a certain degree of trust involved in an open policy. It can help build loyalty among staff and, ultimately, drive employee engagement.

Managers need to set the tone for conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other networks. A respectful and ethical exchange should be the cornerstone of any policy.

Here are a few ways that employees’ social media activities can enhance marketing and also increase engagement levels.

Engage in Facebook and Twitter conversations - Every employee has a different perspective, and each individual has a host of experiences and interests they can bring to the table when developing content. Employees should be free to share valuable insights, company news and industry information to help spread buzz through the web. Of course, you need to make sure your workers know where to turn for guidance in the case of questionable posts.

Participate in LinkedIn groups - As a professional network, LinkedIn can be an important opportunity to share expertise and glean valuable insight. Coupled with its affiliated apps and services, LinkedIn can also help employees stay informed of market trends and seek out industry talent.

Leverage social aggregators - Digg and StumbleUpon are important social platforms for employee engagement and participation. Workers can use these free services to share content and comment on relevant articles, videos and other media. These sites are also critical for content marketing and search engine optimization.

Empowering employees to speak on behalf of your brand is a surefire way to drive satisfaction and loyalty without investing in direct monetary incentives.

Do you know of any other ways social media can drive employee engagement? Let us know via Twitter by tweeting to @SageHRMS or @JoeyBaird with suggestions.


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