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Get a better handle on your conflict and relationship management

9 Feb

Failure Leading to GriefWhy does it seem that some people deal with conflict more easily than others? Does it seem to you that there are some people that appear to thrive in high-stress situations? For some folks, it’s very hard to assess and manage conflict, while for others, it seems to come naturally. Learning how to identify sources of conflict and managing expectations requires a lot of patience and is hard work. If you can learn how to identify sources of conflict, recognize the early warning signs of destructive conflict, identify how to deconstruct your thought process, it can help you toward developing positive outcomes during stressful situations. Here are just a few tips on how to get a better handle on managing your conflicts and relationship management more constructively.

Managing conflict may mean you need to learn to manage your expectation of others better. If you repeatedly have the same outcome from an individual you are in conflict with, it may be time to tweak your thought process a little in a way that will help resolve situations and keep your feelings in check. I’m not suggesting that you conform to the person you are in conflict with but, stop thinking you can change people. You can’t. However, you can change certain behaviors. Start changing your behavior first, then you will be able to find other ways that may be leading indicators of others’ behaviors. This may help you to realize ways in which you can help to manage to a more favorable outcome.

Observe others who you feel are successful at handling stressful situations, those who seem to have those positive outcomes you desire. What behaviors do they exhibit that you can emulate? Don’t reinvent the wheel; take something that you see worked for someone else, then adapt it a little and try to make that type of behavior work even better for you.

It also helps to learn what your “hot buttons” are. If you know what negatively escalates your mood, you are already one step ahead of the game and can manage your internal response to others’ behaviors. This will help you facilitate discussions that are open, constructive and less emotional. Sometimes when you take the emotional factors out of the equation, this allows you to process your thoughts in a logical manner and helps to yield a more positive outcome.

Start employing a certain level of empathy toward others, even if or when they’ve pushed your hot buttons. Again, it’ll help you think in a more logical sequence thus, providing you with a clear pathway to resolving your conflict. This takes a lot of practice but, it does work. Try it. You’ll see.

Now, ask yourself how important it is to be right in all situations. Sometimes making simple concessions help diffuse situations quickly and move you a huge step forward in working constructively to resolve conflict. If you are the type that likes to be right all the time, set a personal goal for yourself to be right less of the time. That means something different for everyone however, it’s part of modifying your behavior in a way that others may take notice. Their perceptions of you may change to a certain degree and situations could end up more favorably than you thought they would.

Do you have a positive attitude? Sure you do. Everyone thinks they do. Here’s where you need to take a true self-assessment on it. Make the assumption that you could do some work and retooling on your positive attitude and thought process. Yes, thinking positively will help. While others dwell on negativity, continue with a positive outlook. Continue this positive outlook even in the face of your worst adversity. No one who is truly working toward conflict resolution and relationship management appreciates a negative attitude.

So, in the grand scheme of things, how important is the issue you are working through? Sometimes situations that occur are part of a much bigger process or outcome. Try talking your situation through with the other person and actually trying to see things from his or her perspective. This is one of the hardest things to do but, once you hone that skill, you begin to see things that others don’t. This may prove instrumental to you in problem solving and conflict resolution.

What’s your tolerance level and actual acceptance of others? Not everyone will act or think like you do. People come from diverse backgrounds and will have other perspectives to offer that may differ from your opinions. Take the time to actually appreciate this diversity and let their perspective “marinate” in your thoughts before you act or over-react. Doing this will keep your emotions in check and allow for processing thoughts using a variety of ways, all working toward a more favorable outcome.

Of course you already know to maintain professionalism. But keep a calm tone in your voice. Don’t escalate it if someone else begins to escalate theirs. As a matter of fact, when someone begins to raise his or her voice, bring yours down an octave. Also remember, no one appreciates sarcasm, so keep that out of the equation all together.

Last but not least, I’ve found that simply openly and honestly communicating with the person (in a non-threatening manner) always works the best. Try approaching the person you are having a conflict with in a very sincere manner, talk through your points, take the time to listen to his or her points, then offer a compromise somewhere in the middle. Of course, there will be times where it may come down to saying to that other person “Let’s just agree to disagree,” but at least you’ve agreed to something.



Are you subtly but certainly killing your credibility?

29 Jan

Recruiting and retaining millennials can be difficult for many companies.Want to know how to build and sustain credibility as an HR professional? Practice your communication so that it delivers the desired results that will allow you to be viewed as a credible resource. Does credibility of your function really even matter? It most certainly does. As a matter of fact, it matters for every function within an organization, regardless of the role you have within it. Here are just a couple of tips for you to establish, maintain, and become the trusted resource for providing credible information.

When someone asks for your assistance, listen to their request. Ascertain if it’s reasonable, and if the request isn’t “up your alley,” then redirect the person making the request accordingly to the accurate person or area. Don’t waste his or her time by providing vague answers or answers that you think are correct. However, if you choose to redirect the request, take that extra step to ensure the requestor has been given a response by doing a quick follow-up with the requestor. Keep in mind that any lack of further response from where the requestor was re-directed may provide the requestor with a negative perception of you. Do this a few times and your credibility perception will quickly, but subtly spread. Take the time to follow up. Appropriate follow-up builds credibility.

Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. This sounds like a no-brainer but really, think before you speak. Don’t say anything affirmatively to anyone without having all of your facts straight then think you can simply retract it later on because you didn’t do the appropriate fact-finding. Don’t kid yourself. This erodes credibility in a big way as well.

If someone knows more about a certain topic than you do, don’t try to “one up” him with your knowledge. People are looking for you to deliver specialized expertise and advice to your organization for the information that you are most familiar with. If there’s even a hint or illusion that you don’t know what you are talking about, people will stop seeking guidance from you within your specialized area of knowledge or expertise. In some cases, they may even find a way to work around you. Allow others who are viewed as the experts in their field to apply their expertise. This is one of the hardest habits to break.

So what do you do about it? Well, we’ve all heard about 360-degree reviews, right? You’ll need to do this assessment on yourself. Start right away. Don’t ask your friend or your best colleague. They may not give you the honest, open feedback you need in an attempt to spare your feelings. Don’t ask your direct reports either. After all, you sign off on their reviews and hold a key to their future. Do you really think they will tell you what you don’t want to hear when it comes to this? You have a couple of choices here. You can seek the input of someone who others view as credible, not who you view as being credible and ask them for an honest assessment of what their honest perception is of your credibility and hope they give you the honest feedback. It’s advisable to tell them first that in order to become a better leader, there are always ways where one can improve upon themselves. So, since this is one area that you want to improve upon for yourself, you are soliciting their feedback and honest input.  Or, you can just reflect upon yourself, admit you do these things and begin to change your behavior now.






Strategies on how to have tough conversations with your employees

15 Apr

InterviewWhen it comes to strategic human resource management, at some point, every manager or HR professional has to sit down a worker to have a hard conversation. Many leaders hold off speaking with employees about difficult issues because they are unsure of how to handle these types of situations. Should they apologize to show empathy? Is it acceptable to just email the worker? Whether it is a termination or a performance review, HR professionals and company management must walk a fine line. Supervisors who know how to handle tough conversations and employ effective employee management are able to ensure positive outcomes to difficult meetings.

Here are four strategies for having tough conversations with employees:

Hold Conversations in Private to Keep Confidentiality
Every time managers need to have a meeting with workers about sensitive topics, they need to do so in private. This keeps the situation between the supervisor and the employee. Co-workers shouldn’t know if an employee is not doing well unless the manager feels it is in the person’s best interest to let others know, and even then there may be legal consequences for not maintaining confidentiality. Having conversations where other people can listen into the meeting can cause the employee to feel as if he or she is not being respected. Being compassionate and empathetic can go a long way to the worker understanding the points his or her boss or HR professional is making during their meeting.

Stay Brief and to the Point
Managers don’t want to beat around the bush when they enter a difficult meeting. According to a review of an HR management book in Forbes, being truthful right from the get-go can prevent any miscommunication and let the worker know exactly what the issue is. The article suggests leaders follow a simple, three-step process: facts, feelings and identity. Stating the facts right from the beginning gets everyone on the same page.

However, managers need to be careful how they plunge ahead with the conversation. Being overly critical can cause only further issues. According to Forbes, HR consultants advise supervisors should always try to achieve “clean, clear, lucid truth.”

According to an article in Inc. magazine, compassion is a key trait of effective leaders. Professionals who show they are empathetic to their workers’ needs and feelings are more likely to receive loyalty from those employees and enhanced productivity. In an article for Harvard Business Review, leadership consultant Peter Bregman wrote managers need to approach difficult situations from the employees’ point of view.

For example, the Forbes article explained how one manager would use the phrase “I’m not loving that” to get right to the point of an issue without being too harsh.

Seek Guidance of Legal Counsel Where Necessary
Leaders shouldn’t hesitate to receive advice from legal counsel when appropriate. Some types of difficult conversations, like terminating an employee, can have legal consequences if supervisors don’t handle the situation correctly. Speaking to lawyers or legal experts can prevent professionals from inadvertently sticking their feet in their mouths.

Keep HR in the Loop
Perhaps most importantly, managers should take advantage of HR professionals’ knowledge and experience with speaking to workers. HR should role play the conversation so the appropriate adjustments to leaders’ delivery can be made. According to Forbes, everything from body language to tone of voice is important during sensitive meetings. HR professionals can ensure managers understand what they can and cannot say, as well as how to correctly get to the point without sacrificing empathy.

Managers shouldn’t hesitate to speak to workers about issues that need to be addressed, but they need to do so carefully and make sure they are not creating further problems.

The importance of mentorships within the workplace

2 Apr

Man w clipboardMost workplaces provide internships to college or high school students, or they utilize training management software and match young employees with their more experienced colleagues for mentorships. Both types of learning opportunities can benefit workers and their employers, and human resources departments should not discount the advantages of establishing internships or mentorships in the workplace. With the right employee management system, your organization can develop or optimize its internships and mentorships, benefiting the entire company.

Developing workers through these solutions allows them to learn from subject matter experts and provides HR departments with a stronger pool of internal talent. Here are the three biggest advantages your organization can experience by instituting internships and mentorships:

Have the Best Teach the Business
Every company has subject matter experts whose knowledge can greatly benefit the whole workforce. Developing entry-level or mid-level workers’ skill sets through mentorships and providing students with opportunities to experience the professional workplace firsthand gives them access to industry experts at your organization, which can lead to networking opportunities.

Developmental opportunities with industry experts are so coveted that tech giants Google and Apple and multimedia powerhouse The Walt Disney Company grabbed the top spots of ideal employers for business students in the 2014 Universum Student Survey. When asked which companies the 46,000 surveyed undergraduate students would want to work for, most picked companies that had professional training and development opportunities as well as were leaders in their respective fields.

Providing internships to talented students and investing in mentoring within the workplace can help experts pass on their knowledge and encourage innovation within their respective industries. Internal workers who are mentees of company leaders or experienced workers may even be fast tracked for promotion, furthering their companies’ success.

Develop Internal Talent
According to an article in recruitment resource, many companies approach internships and mentorships as opportunities to scope out potential talent. Giving students real-world experience in their chosen industry lets companies get ahead in acquiring the best new talent. Hiring workers who have been mentored by the best also means you don’t have to go through a long and tedious recruitment process. As these employees already know how the workplace operates and fit into the company culture, they are great candidates for positions.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, competition for workers with strong potential has heated up over the years. However, without effective mentoring programs, companies can see themselves with low worker retention and employee engagement, the article noted. For example, the HBR story’s author explained one consulting firm saw itself losing talented young professionals because it didn’t have a mentorship program.

Workforce suggested matching mentors with mentees using employee management software to help HR departments develop key performers.

Promote Positive Associate Relations
Positive associate relations is often not a benefit many HR departments consider when looking at the advantages of mentorships and internships. However, these developmental opportunities encourage positive relations between associates. Mentors and mentees, as well as interns and their supervisors, can develop working relationships that strengthen the entire workplace environment. According to new research published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, mentors and internship supervisors’ perceived organizational support (POS) increases when they coach talented workers.

“There is empirical evidence that suggests that employees’ POS helps increase their sense of obligation and desire to reciprocate to the organization, fulfill their socioemotional needs and incorporate organizational membership and role status into their social identity,” the researchers wrote.

Developing talent through either mentorships or internships is crucial for employers. Taking time to train and support workers with leadership potential can strengthen the entire company from the inside out. When mentees and interns do well and are either promoted or hired, they feel loyal to the organization and mentors and supervisors feel accomplished.

Challenges facing HR and Payroll Managers in 2014

24 Mar

Woman Working Using Flex HoursHuman Resources is an ever-changing industry, and HR professionals know they need to remaining constantly alert for new regulations and issues to arise. This year has already shaped up to be a challenging one for many HR departments across the U.S. From keeping key workers at the company to implementing effective payroll management, HR professionals and payroll managers are facing numerous challenges during 2014.

Here are the top three issues HR departments are coming up against this year:

Compliance with the ACA and Its Results
Much has been said about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) within the past few years-especially within the last couple months. This is because the ACA is not only going to impact how companies provide healthcare to employees, but there will be legal compliance standards that will occur as a result. These include employee litigation and audits from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the ADP Research Institute, the ACA presents one of the most complex HR compliance challenges of all time. The lack of preparations on the part of employers has escalated the impact the ACA is having on the business community as a whole. For example, ADP wrote one-fifth to one-third of companies did not even have a clue how much of an effect the ACA’s health insurance exchanges would have on their businesses this past January. In addition, more ACA regulations are coming, and employers are just as unprepared for potential penalties and the Excise Tax Assessment as they have been for other aspects of the healthcare reform law. Even though the healthcare landscape continues to shift and evolve, HR and payroll professionals need to get on steady ground when it comes to understanding their compliance requirements and mitigating their own legal risks.

Retaining Top Talent
The recession remains in many people’s minds, but employees are beginning to feel more confident about their employment options. As the labor market shows signs of improvement, many employees who have waited on the sidelines for better career opportunities may decide to jump ship before the year is out. While this is a good sign for the job market, HR professionals are looking to lose some of their best performers this year if they don’t implement new employee engagement ideas.

According to a late 2013 poll by Right Management, 83 percent of 871 surveyed U.S. and Canadian employees said they will look for a new job this year. In 2009, only 6 in 10 employees said they intended to “actively seek a new position” in the coming year, but that number jumped to 84 percent the following year and has stayed about the same ever since. More top workers used to network to feel out their employment opportunities, but now the majority are becoming active job seekers instead. Twenty-one percent of employees said they were networking to keep their options open in 2009, but that number remained at 8 or 9 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Being able to provide competitive compensation is going to be an essential employee engagement strategy for not only 2014 but into the long term, as Right Management’s numbers suggests retaining top talent is going to be a struggle for a while. Human resource planning will be a go-to solution for many in the industry because of this, and more HR professionals will need to seek out additional employee engagement techniques if they want to acquire and keep key performers.

According to Human Resource Executive (HRE) Online, employee engagement may be its own challenge throughout 2014. Offering employees growth opportunities through effective talent management, tracking worker satisfaction, and maintaining collaboration in the workplace are all going to be important strategies to keep employees engaged this year, HRE Online suggested. According to Forbes, it is going to take recognizing where dissatisfaction comes from for HR professionals to entice workers to remain at the company.

Complying with the OFCCP Mandate
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) mandate pertaining to the hiring and employment of individuals with disabilities will be another key challenge this year, specifically Section 503. According to Business and Legal Resource, hiring managers must now reference Section 503 rules that require contractors to invite job seekers to voluntarily self-identify as disabled at the preoffer and postoffer phases of the hiring process.

BLR states “OFCCP’s final regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), require that employers invite job applicants and employees to self-identify as being an individual with a disability. On Jan. 22, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the final Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form for use by covered federal contractors, beginning with contractors’ new plan year following the effective date of the final Section 503 regulation on March 24, 2014.”

The OFCCP does have training materials available on its website to help recruiters and HR professionals comply with the mandate.


E-Cigarette and Medicinal Cannabis Use by Employees: Gray Area Matters

20 Jan

Every year brings new challenges for employers, yet few are probably prepared for never-before-seen issues, such as e-cigarettes and medicinal cannabis use at the workplace. Not surprisingly, employers in states that abide by the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988, such as Colorado and Washington, may be especially hesitant when it comes to understanding the law’s full legal implications. It’s understandable that many HR policies in states where these laws are active may be a bit hazy, as the legal rhetoric outlining the rules are less than clear.

Guidance on E-Cigarettes at Work
Twenty-nine states have laws that strictly prohibit “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, or other lighted smoking device for burning tobacco or any other plant” in the workplace. However, electronic cigarettes don’t actually burn anything, but rather contains a heating feature which releases nicotine vapor, according to Ohio lawyer Jon Hyman’s blog on Workforce’s website. This distinction will surely challenge workplace anti-smoking rules, as e-cigareets technically fall outside the lines of what a traditional cigarette consists of and how it is smoked. E-cigarettes are currently allowed in public places that restrict traditional smoking.

In the past, anti-smoking laws in the workplace were implemented to help reduce employees’ exposure to second-hand smoke and lower health-related risks of nicotine addiction among employees who smoke, wrote HR Hero. However, most employers still allowed workers to take intermittent breaks throughout the day to smoke in designated areas. Yet today,’s proponents of e-cigarettes in the workplace say allowing indoor use on the job boosts productivity because the need for outdoor breaks is eliminated. These advocates also say there is no evidence that proves people’s exposure to electronic smoking increases their health risks”, Hyman explained.

To cope with the changing landscape of workplace smoking laws, employers and HR departments must make sure to specifically prohibit e-cigarettes while on the job, as current laws technically allow their use.

Smoke on the Water Cooler: Clarity Needed on Medicinal Cannabis Users
Although employers must be sure to pay attention to their smoking policies in the workplace, there is even more work to be done to negotiate proper guidance on employees who legally use medicinal cannabis outside of work or after hours. Not only are the stratification of laws across America unequal in their level of legality (as in decriminalization, medicinal use, recreational use and total prohibition), the laws regarding their application for employees and employers alike are muddled.

“It’s throwing employers for a loop because many have policies in place where testing positive for THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in pot) requires the employee to be terminated or to participate in some sort of treatment program even if it’s not necessary,” Alison Holcomb, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, told CNBC when asked how employers with anti-drug policies should enforce rules against legal users of medicinal cannabis.

The only clear guidance issued so far comes to HR departments of businesses that receive federal grants and contracts as these businesses must adhere to the Drug-Free Workplace law, which would require the termination of employees who test positive for THC regardless of any medical uses. Similarly, the Department of Transportation also prohibits any use of illegal substances by its drivers.

Some states, such as Montana, New Jersey, Michigan, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont and New Mexico all have specific employee protection clauses built into their legislation which only allow termination for on-the-job use or impairment.

Yet, not all states have issued statues that explicitly state what is allowable or legal for workers or HR departments, so it’s vital employers advise legal counsel before implementing any specific policies or enforcing workplace drug rules. Employers must also bear in mind that medicinal cannabis users have been approved by a doctor, usually for compassionate use due to terminal diseases or serious illnesses, and should compare medicinal use to workers taking a Vicodin for pain management once off work premises and after hours.

Now is the time for HR Departments to consult with their legal counsel, review and update the employee handbooks and stay in front of the changes in the legislation.

Stop Talking and Listen For a Change

13 Jan

Positive and Constructive CriticismWhat do you look for in a good candidate?  That’s the magic question.  There is an easy answer.  It’s the candidate who is the best qualified candidate to do the job, right?  Well, yes in that respect but, there are other factors to consider.  Aside from the legal-type considerations, and believe me there are plenty, there is something called behavioral interviewing that you should really consider.

So, what is behavioral interviewing?  Long story short, it’s getting the candidate to talk about their previous (work related) experiences and describe past projects, success stories, failures, reflections and how they may have handled their failures differently with a more favorable outcome.  What does all this mean to the interviewer?  It means you need to SHUSHHHHHHH…listen to the candidate talk.  One of the most interesting things that occur during interviews is that the interviewers talk more than the candidates do.

Stop for a minute and think back to every job you’ve ever interviewed for.  How many times has that happened to you?  My guess is that it’s happened a lot of time throughout your career.  Why does this phenomenon occur?  Well, the easy answer is that most people don’t like long gaps of silence. It falls outside of their conversational comfort zone.  They like to “fill up” the dead air space.  Additionally, listening is not the same as hearing.  You can hear a lot of things but, are you really listening?  Have you really honed the skill of being able to filter out all external stimuli thus being able to focus on only one thing solely?  Most people would probably not admit to being able to do that though.  Let’s face it, we are told continuously by our teachers, peers, mentors and supervisors that being able to multi-task adds great value to our job and works well for meeting overall objectives.  In the interview though, not only could your multi-tasking be mis-interpreted by the candidate as being rude (for example looking at your email, sending a quick text or answering a call), you are also missing out on actually listening to the candidate talk about their experiences.

Bottom line, ask your question.  Hopefully, its open ended and behavioral based.  Then, listen to the candidate’s response.  Process their response, and then ask another probing question to their response.  Do this until you are satisfied that you have a good feel for the fit in matching the candidate’s professional experiences to your company’s mission and where you want that candidate to add the most value for you.

After all, you want to feel extremely comfortable that you know this person will grow to be your star top performer!

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.