• Important Info:

  • Pages

  • Archives

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Follow The Armchair HR Manager – Advice from an "HR Fan" on WordPress.com
  • Recent Posts

Titles do matter…especially in HR!

For some reason, I have taken up the “title cause” in HR! Not because I believe that titles are the be all and end all, but because I believe one’s title has a major impact on how that person’s role/function is initially perceived. Just to be clear, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how one builds relationships and executes in their role; however, it is only fair that we all start off on equal and fair footing. The worse culprits for providing underwhelming and negative role impacting titles to their people are, are you ready for it…HR Professionals!

consulting-image

Yup, you got it, the very people that conduct job evaluations, define compensation practices, develop and promote employment branding and help improve employee relations are the ones that eat their own! HR Pros are the worst at what they call their own people and often don’t give enough thought as to the impact of the titles they bestow upon their people. Keep in mind, titles don’t cost you anything so why do we “cheap out” on them? Now, I am not talking about calling someone who does administrative support work in HR an HR Manager or anything, but why do we come up with horrible titles that further give our operations clients a reason to believe we don’t or can’t add any value?

You see, if you work in the average HR department, you are probably facing a somewhat uphill battle to have the position respected, valued and appreciated for what it does and for what YOU as an HR Pro can do. Yes, we have come a long was as a profession, but we still have that much further to go. Building off of the theme I wrote about last week and was inspired by based on my colleague Sabrina Baker’s writing, we have to stop asking for permission to do things. So let’s start by not asking for permission about what we call ourselves. I have written about this title thing in HR before here and here; however, I will state it one more time – let’s stop calling ourselves “Business Partners.” No other function refers to itself as a business partner unless they have an inferiority complex. Also, the title of “HR Generalist” has to go. (What do you “generally” do here? Well, I “generally” do HR work…except when I don’t) I firmly believe the entry point for front line HR work should be the title of HR Consultant. Boom! There it is.

What typically happens or what do people think of when your company hires consultants? Subject matter experts? Experienced people in their field? Highly educated? Competent? High priced advice? Does your company usually follow the advice of consultants? (More often than not the answer is yes.) How is that any different then what we as HR Pros do now? We are all internal consultants (except for maybe the high priced part.) But as HR Pros, we, as a group, are highly educated, subject matter experts in our field and we provide expert advice in our respected competency areas. Better yet, we are internal so we know the business better than any external person ever could!

As I indicated in my post last week, if we changed our mindset and acted like we were true consultants, we would HAVE to add value and solve problems; otherwise, we wouldn’t be in business. So, as HR Pros, if we were called Consultants and acted like Consultants, we would have to demonstrate value to our clients and to our department. We need to take on a “billable hours” mindset. We should be prospecting with our internal clients and advising them (and delivering) on ways to find them better people faster, improve their retention rates, develop succession plans for them, find ways to help them keep their best talent and improve their employee relations so they can deliver a better product or service to their customer.

Don’t ask for permission to do this. Start to change your titles and your mindset immediately. Get out there and consult the hell out of your operations clients and drive up those non-billable billable hours! Remember, we don’t generally partner with the business…we CONSULT! (Said in my best Marty Kaan voice.) As always, I welcome your comments and feedback…especially about House of Lies

Image courtesy of geralt/Pixbay.com

 

HR as the Great Enabler

Have you ever had one of those days at work where you truly felt you added value? What about one of those days when after it was over, and you reflected on it, you could say to yourself, “Now that is why I got into my chosen profession!” For me I recently had one of those days and it caused me to really be proud of my chosen profession (HR) and the value it can add to an organization, but more about that in a minute.

First things first, I find as HR Pros we often don’t do enough self-reflection. That is, we don’t take the time to look back on what we have done at our organizations and give our own selves a bit of a pat on the back. We are often so busy fighting fires, making sure our organizations are compliant with recent legislative changes, and scrambling to fill position vacancies that we don’t recognize the VALUE we are actually bringing to our companies. I think if we are ever going to obtain that universal respect level we are seeking for ourselves as HR Pros, we have to start by giving that respect and recognition to ourselves and each other for the work that we do and what our profession brings to each and every organization that we work for and represent.

Human Resources EnablerOk, back to our regularly scheduled programming. So what caused me to reflect on my day and feel so good about being in HR? It was because I feel I helped enable our leadership team to accomplish a very important goal/objective. Specifically, at one of our companies, they wanted to put together an action plan to address areas of opportunity that came up in a recent employee survey. The challenge, at the time, was that this team had never done this before and needed guidance on how to come together, build trust, come to consensus on outcomes, dissect the information at hand, analyze it and formulate action plans. Enter HR to help play the role of the Great Enabler and help guide the team to the way ahead!

At the end of the day, the role I played was in helping engage the team in dialogue and providing context to their thinking. Essentially, it was to facilitate dialogue so that each member of the leadership team could express their opinion and analyses on the survey results and have an opportunity to offer solutions for improvement. I felt really good about playing the role as a communication facilitator and kept the team on track by following a step by step framework to guide their thinking towards achieving their outcomes. At the end of the day, it was a highly successful session as the team was able to come up with their own action plan that was real, achievable and that they OWNED!
So why/how did this all work and why did I get so tingly about this as an HR Pro?

1. Leadership – no, not mine, but that of the company leadership. They were invested in the process – emotionally and mentally. They wanted this to work and they were looking for an outcome that they could feel good about being a part of developing and that they could actually own and deliver on.

2. It wasn’t an HR thing – too often as HR Pros we make things into “HR things.” Whether it is a new performance management system or employee surveys themselves. In this case, I didn’t want this to be an HR thing. I wanted it to be an Operations thing. The response/action plan and communication was developed and owned by Operational leadership.

3. HR played a non-traditional HR role – I almost wrote that HR played a non-HR role, but then thought, “Who gets to say what an HR role is?” The roles of facilitator, communication enabler and change agent are all roles that HR can and SHOULD play in any organization. By being that guiding and supporting force that ENABLES operations to accomplish their goals and objectives, HR is, in effect, accomplishing its own goals and objectives. We are playing the role that HR truly needs to play in its organizations.

4. Something got DONE – at the end of all this, all the time and energy that the leadership team invested in the process meant something. They accomplished their first goal, (the development of an action plan), as a team. They identified the root causes, they developed the solutions and they are holding each other accountable for completing the action plan.

So, the takeaways here for HR Pros are this:

1. Do some more self-reflection. Look for how you added value in your role today, yesterday, last week, etc. You will be amazed at the areas where you have made a difference; then, capitalize on those moments!

2. Look for ways to be “non-traditional” in your role. Lead a group session or facilitate an operational meeting. Step up to help an operational department lead a change management activity.

3. Take on the role of enabler. Don’t make it all about HR. Work your magic in the background. Enable your operations clients to be successful in their roles – your success will follow!

What about you? Can you think of other ways that HR can be the great enabler in your organizations? What is holding you (or HR) back from doing it? Is it simply a mindset? If you are stuck, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn, I would be happy to help share my experience(s) if it helps enable you to achieve HR success! As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What HR REALLY wants Managers to Know (and Do)

Last week I blogged about what your Managers really want HR to do. It was meant to serve as a bit of a reality check for us HR practitioners to ensure that what we think we should be doing is really truly serving the needs of our operations partners. The intent was to give HR Pros something to think about in terms of what we focus on and how we deliver our HR services. I have received a lot of feedback on the article in terms of its accuracy! The good news is that this feedback has come from both HR and operations folks – so that balance is nice to see! However, as many of you know, there is a dark side of HR that comes out from time to time. These are all the things that HR wants to say to operations but they really can’t or are reluctant to do so. So as a good HR Pro, I will present a balanced approach to this debate and give the list of things that HR really wants the managers at its organizations to start doing, do better, or stop doing! HR Pros, feel free to share this post with your managers afterwards. Managers – take note, here is what your HR folks are really thinking!

• Talk to your people – seems like a simple one doesn’t it? However, it is often seen as one of the biggest gaps in the employee/manager relationship. Far too often managers simply fail to communicate to/with their staff. If your employee is not performing properly, than you need to talk to them. Identify where the gap is and what needs to be done to close the gap. If the issue is more behavioural/conduct (i.e. tardy, poor customer service, etc.) than speak to them about it. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away but will really frustrate and annoy your good employees.

HR needs managers to know• Bring HR into the loop sooner – as a follow up to the point above, don’t wait until you have a full blown crisis or performance issue on your hands before you consult with your local HR person. Far too many times I hear the story of an operations manager coming to see HR and the conversation starts with, “I have this employee and something needs to be done,” or “I have an employee who can’t do their job and they need to go.” When you first get whiff of an issue and/or you are unsure of how to deal with it, come and talk to HR. We are more than happy to provide guidance and direction. If you are an inexperienced manager, we will give you the step by step playbook on how to address the issue and we will coach you through it. (And no, we aren’t going to terminate the employee, you are – they are your employee).

• Follow our advice – assuming you brought HR into the loop as soon as you could and your local HR person gave you some really awesome advice on how to deal with your underperforming employee or your misconduct situation, than you only need to do one more thing after that – FOLLOW THE ADVICE! You wouldn’t believe the inordinate amount of time HR spends coaching managers on how to deal with a situation only to have the manager turn around and either not talk to the employee (see point #1), ignore the advice, or put their own spin on the advice. Then when the problem doesn’t fix itself, the manager comes back to HR wondering why their “advice” didn’t work!

• Document, Document, Document – documentation is king. Assuming you follow points #1-3 above, when you have the conversations with your staff, document them. Keep a log of what was said, discussed, etc. If you need to issue something formal to the employee, do it in the form of a letter. If it isn’t documented in some form, it didn’t happen! (I know, I know, managers HATE that saying!) This advice also works well for non-disciplinary things such as performance reviews. Keep a record of your coaching conversations with employees. Document their good performance and moments where they received recognition. Then, when writing their performance review, you have a years’ supply of information to revert back to!

• People don’t grow on trees – yes, I know you know that metaphorically speaking; however you need to understand the cost of investing in employees and then losing them and what it takes to replace them. Your Java developer cannot be replaced tomorrow. No, unemployment is not 20% and there aren’t 50 aeronautical engineers lined up at our door looking to apply. No, classified ads don’t work and nor do Help Wanted signs and no, your brother in law who has an arts degree is not qualified fill that vacant engineering role. It is important to know that our reputation is our brand. People want to work at companies where they are respected, challenged and communicated with. You are far better off to invest in and coach up your current staff than to rely on a quick fix, external replacement because someone external isn’t automatically better or smarter than staff you have now. Finally, no, a new hire isn’t going to be as productive day 1 as the person who just quit. That is why we need to focus on retaining our people and not replacing them.

• We don’t like performance reviews either – but they are a necessary evil. Yes we know they are time consuming and take a lot of effort and we do realize you have other critical priorities too, but darn it, your people are important and this is the one time a year we know you will sit down and talk to them and really communicate because you HAVE to! We would rather your employee dialogue was ongoing and goals and objectives were fluid and supported in a coaching environment, so that we didn’t need performance reviews, but until we reach that promised land, we will rely on the trusty annual performance review.

So HR Pros, what do you think about these examples? Operations Managers, do these sound like things your HR folks would want you to know? Is there a middle ground here were we can all “just get along?” Now that HR knows what operations wants them to do and Operations knows what HR wants them to do, maybe we can move the dial on our working relationship? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Your Managers REALLY want HR to do

I got inspired to write this post based on what one of my favourite bloggers, Tim Sackett, recently wrote about. In his post, Tim was looking to crowd source some ideas for his 2015 SHRM conference presentation. One of his ideas was, “Why CEOs Believe Weird Things.” His take was that “every SHRM conference has a ‘what your senior executives want presentation.” Tim in his own brilliant, witty, sarcastic way I am sure will do this topic justice. However, his blog post inspired me to take the topic idea down to more granular level and write about what line managers want from their local HR folks. Based on my experience, the operations managers that HR supports are looking for a handful of things from their local HR person to help make their jobs easier. So, with inspiration from Tim, who I hope doesn’t feel that I ripped off his topic idea, (and that I have given proper credit to) here are my thoughts on the topic in terms of what your managers want from HR:

Manager Help• Your managers want HR to find them good people….quickly. (and discuss the issue with them with no B.S.) Yes, I know all the stories about how recruiters find candidates and present them to hiring managers and then the resumes sit on the manager’s desk for weeks at a time and then the (good) candidates are no longer available. What the hiring manager wants is for you to come to them and tell them which one (or two) of your slate of candidates is the real deal and then have the candid conversation with them. There is no need to fluff things up and over sell the slate based on skill sets, current market conditions, etc. You don’t need to tell them that if they don’t move on your entire slate they will lose them all. You need to tell them, “Look Mr. Manager, I know you are busy. I am busy too. I really want this to work out so you need to move on Candidate A. She is exactly what you need. She has the bulk of the skills you are looking for but not all of them. However, what she lacks in the balance of the skill department, she makes up for in the fact she has worked in some crappy industries/companies and is able to put up with a lot of crap. In fact, so much so that will easily be able to deal with the environment here and thrive. Hire her and you won’t be replacing this position again for a long time.”

• They want you to make the bad employees go away. Again, I know that hiring is a two way street. Bad managers don’t want to manage, but good managers inherit bad employees that they then want gone because they are a complete drain on time and resources. Don’t give them the song and dance about what should have been done, could have been done or what they can’t do. Managers don’t want to be lectured or given a history lesson…or worse yet, they don’t want to hear the “I told you so” line. Tell them what they CAN do. Tell them what it will cost and what the risk is to make the “bad” employee go away. Spell it out for them and then work with them on a solution. Give them control and ownership into the situation – don’t babysit them.

• Your managers don’t want to fill out forms. At the very least, make the necessary forms easier to fill out/complete. In HR, we fall in love with our forms and processes, especially the performance review form. There isn’t a manager in the world that wants to fill out an 8 page performance review in Word format for 30 of their staff. Shrink the form down – make it two pages max. Make it goal and behaviour based with a simple, clear rating system. Make the form easy to complete in digital format (PDF or online). Bottom line, no paper copies and have digital signatures. You will get a lot more up take with managers when it comes to them completing performance reviews on time if you do this.

• They want you to help them build an effective performance rating system. Maybe not in those words, but your operations managers find this whole performance management thing challenging at the best of times. Help them to baseline performance expectations for their jobs and employees. They are also fine with the fact that it may only be a usable 80% solution (vs. your current unusable but “perfect” HR system.)  Also, your operations managers want you to remind them over (and over) again about the importance of documenting performance examples so that they have something to put on the nice form you created. (Really, they don’t mind the reminders at all because it makes their jobs easier – you just have to be ok with being a nag.)

• They don’t want you to write stupid policies – stupid policies are any ones that are written to deal with an issue with a small group of employees but then apply to everyone (i.e. dress code or attendance). Stupid policies are any policies that are written with no clear goal/end state in mind other than to create a police state or compensate for bad managers. Stupid policies are ones that are not clearly understood and/or communicated. Stupid policies are ones that ultimately are not supported by HR, even though THEY (HR) wrote them (yes, this does happen.)

• They don’t want you to make them jump through hoops or give them the run around – this could take the form of having to fill out 20 forms to get a job requisition approved, to have someone’s job evaluated or to deal with a payroll/benefits issue. Make it easy for them to take care of their employees. Remember, managers have project deliverables as well as responsibility for taking care of their people. HR beats them up when they have turnover, absenteeism, etc; so make their job of taking care of their people that much easier for them.

So what do you think about these examples? Do you think they reflect the way your operations /line managers see HR contributing to the company? Do these sound like the sort of things that your operations managers want from you? If you really want to be a true HR “partner,” try keeping these themes in mind when working with your operations managers. To provide a balanced approach, for my next post, I will write about what HR wants from its operations managers – it will be a beauty. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

%d bloggers like this: