Quote of the Week: To educate the intelligence…

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public domain

public domain

…is to expand the horizon of its wants and desires. – James Russell Lowell

This quote (for which we can thank the late American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat James Russell Lowell) is timely for me because lately I have been feeling stuck in place… but now I’ve figured out how to move forward again.

…I didn’t write or read about anything new for the first time in 556 days on Sunday. Instead, I just gave myself some white space to be alone with my thoughts. Afterwards, when I woke up this morning I realized that in order to better my understanding of the world – and in the process become a more well-rounded professional – I have to literally experience it differently than I presently do.

…As a practical matter this has all sorts of implications for my life. But for the purposes of this blog it means that the subject matter it focuses on will change:

This used to be a blog about HR. Now it’s going to be a blog about learning new things. The bucket they fall under is less important than the way to enhance and enrich the way I process information. This change (or, rather, expansion) in focus for the blog doesn’t mean I’m not still dedicated to ultimately becoming the best HR person that I can be. To the contrary, I would say the expansion of focus denotes a recognition that to be the best HR person I can be I need to be more than an HR person.

1. I may even dedicate a specific day to it.If you read this blog for the HR don’t worry – that will still be here too. 1 And if something on a given day isn’t relevant to your interests just keep checking back, and perhaps I will touch on something more relevant to your interests next time. ^_^

With that said, as we get started this week I want to encourage you to consider what knowledge you need to be successful in your endeavors. Are you exposing yourself to enough? How else could you be growing? What more could you be learning? Don’t be afraid if the answer is that you can be better. And don’t be afraid if isn’t immediately clear how you can do it or in what way. Be patient. Be thoughtful. Figure it out. And when inspiration strikes you, be purposeful.

As always please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Video Saturday: Bonus Programs and Practices 2014 Survey

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<www.getreadytocoach.com

<www.getreadytocoach.com>

Rose Stanley, CCP, Practice Leader, WorldatWork, and Alison Avalos, CCP, WorldatWork discuss the current state of bonus programs and how organizations are using these programs to their best advantage:

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Best,

Rory

Spotlight Friday: An Interview With Jane Watson, Sr. HRBP at Ontario Securities Commission

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Jane WatsonJane Watson has more than 10 years of generalist HR experience gained in private, public sector and non-profit organizations. Currently she is a Sr. Human Resources Business Partner at the Ontario Securities Commission in downtown Toronto. Jane also chairs the HRPA Toronto Chapter’s Mentorship Program Committee, and blogs about HR, organizational culture and the future of work at TalentVanguard.com. Her views shared here are personal and are not intended to represent the views of her employer.

You can find Jane on Linkedin here, and follow her on Twitter here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

Well, I always tell people that I’ve never worked in the same industry twice (which is true), and I think that the variety of types of organizations I’ve worked in has made me adaptable, and given me a more varied ‘HR toolbox’ to draw on when approaching workplace challenges. I’ve been in generalist roles for over 10 years, and again, that breadth makes me flexible. As for training, I have a degree in Anthropology and an HR Management diploma, as well as my CHRP designation. My Anthro degree has been great at providing perspective on organizational culture (which I get on my blog soapbox to rant about regularly), and developed my writing skills, which are tremendously important when communicating with an Executive audience in a credible and professional manner.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

Oh, I’m never satisfied with what I know, and there are simply not enough hours in the day to explore all the subjects of interest to me. When I joined the organization I work for just over a year ago (which regulates capital markets in the province of Ontario), I didn’t know much about the mechanics of capital markets and the unique challenges that regulatory organizations face; it was a very steep learning curve. 14 month later, I know a lot more, but recognize there is still so much more to learn about my organization and the sector in which it operates. It’s an ongoing process, but luckily a very interesting one. I would also say that additional wisdom to address complex people situations would always be helpful, but unfortunately that mostly has to be earned through trial and error (although the great mentors I have in my life help).

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

I think that ambiguity almost always exists in roles that deal primarily with people, so yes, having a degree of comfort with that is definitely essential to my job. Given that it is a highly professional environment strong communication skills are essential also. When I provide advice to senior people within my organization I must be able to do so in a way that inspires confidence and conveys the appropriate professionalism.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

Hmmm. Probably an Improver, with a dash of Thinker thrown in? I’m not sure I agree with Mr Adler on this…

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

My current role does not involve direct supervision of people, although I rely heavily on specialists on my team to support my internal clients fully (recruitment, payroll, benefits etc). It’s a very collaborative environment. I have had direct reports in a few previous roles, and that comes with both challenges and advantages. At the moment I am enjoying being a member of a team, rather than leading one.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

I provide support and guidance to leaders of particular groups within my organization, with the goals of promoting consistent and exceptional people practices, a great employee experience, mitigation of legal risk, and building people management capacity.  Doing my job well assists those leading parts of my organization to hire, retain, and motivate the best and brightest to achieve our mandate to foster fair and efficient capital markets, as well as confidence in those markets, and the protection of investors. Not doing my job well could result in impaired employee/manager relationships, inconsistent application of practices and policies that could lead to demoralized employees, decreased productivity and increased turnover, and potentially situations that present a legal risk to the organization.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

It’s very safe – certainly a 1. I spend most of time in my office, or in meetings with others. Occasionally I visit local campuses because I coordinate our student outreach and hiring, which I really enjoy. Our building is attached to a major downtown shopping mall though, which is not safe for my personal budget…

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

That I love it! I feel incredibly fortunate to be at this stage of my career, working as a senior individual contributor with incredibly bright, talented people who believe their work has meaning and want to get it right. So often I hear people complain about their demoralizing jobs, and I am truly grateful to never, ever feel that way.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Infographic Thursday: Navigating the Recruitment Cycle

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Ultimate Software has an infographic up on their site about the recruitment cycle. It illustrates that there’s a lot of great talent out there for employers with strong sourcing and on-boarding strategies. To get a clearer picture of what poor performance in these key areas might be costing your business (and for some helpful hints on how to get better), check out the full infographic below. And as always, if you like what you see you can follow Ultimate Software on Twitter here.

RecruitmentInfographic

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

White Space

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<www.apriso.com

<www.apriso.com>

…So the past few weeks I’ve hit a wall of sorts.While I’m dedicating the same amount of time I always have to learning and development, I’m simply not seeing the same gains I have in the past. I suppose part of this is just a product of diminishing returns: As we enhance our mastery of a given discipline, growth simply becomes more incremental as a matter of course. I’m exploring some mental tools I can leverage to shift my modes of thinking that should help with that.

Conversely, I think that another contributing factor here is that for going on 600 days now, I haven’t stepped back and gotten some distance from everything I’ve been learning about. And I am beginning to think that distance is necessary to continue to grow past a certain point.

You can call it white space, a vacation, work-life balance, or any number of other things. But it’s really important – and not because of burnout. People that like what they do and find a good rhythm don’t suffer from burnout. But I *do* think they plateau in even the best of cases if they don’t occasionally take a few moments to step away from what they’re doing and allow it to simmer without adding any new ingredients.

What’s the right amount of time here, though? Obviously that’s different for everybody, and it also looks different.

…I think I need some white space to let my thoughts settle for a while. But I’m not sure how much. I will figure it out, but am sharing my thoughts here today in case there’s anyone else experiencing the same feeling. If so I hope this helped contextualize it.

…And if you have any insights of your own, as always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Examing the Impact of Culture on Knowledge Management

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<shiftonline.org

<shiftonline.org>

…So this morning I read part 2 of a great working group summary on knowledge management. The working group took placed in March of 2014, and was hosted by American Express at its New York head-quarters. Attending companies included Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, Eaton, GE, IBM, Shell, and Verizon. The summary of the discussion(s) had at the working group can be found here. I highly recommend checking it out.

With that said, one theme I took from reading the summary was that culture often plays a deeply integral role in the efficacy (or even existence) of knowledge transfer initiatives and processes. From the summary report:

“…Regardless of specific business case, all participants agreed that there must be a strong culture that supports KM and coveys its importance to the success of the company. Putting systems in place is important, but participants noted that you need people to engage in knowledge sharing behaviors. ~”

And:

“…KM is being used is being used across many companies as a means of connecting people in order to drive innovation. The goal is to bring together different perspectives and ideas that together lead to something new. As one participant stated, “People can hold on to their thing. But, we want to encourage them to get together with other people and their thing, to create a new thing. ~”

And:

“For the knowledge to be accessed, employees must first contribute knowledge to the systems, and that can itself be a challenge. Often employees have a tendency to share their knowledge and solve problems privately, in one-on-one or small group discussions. For KM systems to work, you need to create the discipline whereby people post/share their knowledge publicly. ~”

The anecdotes and insights shared here resonated with me as I thought about stories shared over the years by friends and colleagues recounting duplicated efforts within the same function, valuable information walking out of the door with the departure of a few key employees, failed internal social networks, and information hoarding within departments. Sometimes the primary inhibitor to knowledge transfer is a lack of collaboration, sometimes it’s a lack of access, and sometimes it’s even a lack of interest. The list goes on and on…

…But culture almost always lies at the center.

To be fair, getting people bought into the value of contributing to knowledge transfer efforts if they have never done so is not easy. This is because the idea that individual success is directly tied to continued, collective organizational excellence is not necessarily intuitive. As such, to gain said buy-in around this idea leaders must help people understand their role in the KM process, how engaging in it helps them, and finally requires providing tools and training to help them understand how to contribute. It also requires key influencers to lead the charge, and a few brave ‘first followers’ to engage with those leading the charge.

…But is this all easier said than done?

What has your organization done to facilitate and optimize the knowledge transfer process? What challenges has it faced in trying to do so? Has it found success on a departmental, functional, or even enterprise level? How?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

 

Quote of the Week: Leadership is the capacity…

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…to translate vision into reality. – Warren Bennis

<www.mlquotes.com

<www.mlquotes.com>

We can thank the late American scholar, organizational consultant and author Warren Gamaliel Bennis for today’s quote. It is timely for me because I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to what it means to be a leader, lately

Being a great leader is not easy. On a purely technical level it means becoming an exceptional project manager, and it also means having the soft skills required to identify key stakeholders, understand what motivates them, and create alignment between your objectives and their own (even in cases where the link is fragile).

On another level, for those of us that are HR Business Partners our jobs also call on us to serve as coach and counsel to other leaders; doing this requires a mastery of execution capability that extends beyond the ability to lead an engagement, additionally demanding the breaking down of barriers in places where one has little if any formal authority. With this in mind, I think that great leadership might be more about bringing people along to have buy-in on a shared vision than it is about being a focal point for execution/change.

…So as we get started this week, in an effort to accomplish our bigger picture objectives let’s think about how our visions for the future fit into our organization’s collective destinies. And when we’ve done this, let’s then help others see how helping us realize our personal visions can also help them realize their own.

We are limited in what we can do as individuals, but if we strive to increase our ability to build coalitions in the pursuit of larger organizational goals there is no limit to what we can do.

…I think. But as always, maybe I have this wrong. Let me know one way or another in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Sunday Reading: August 24, 2014 – Retention, Fit, and Soft Skills

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<charterbenefit.com

<charterbenefit.com>

I got a really late start today, so apologies for the delay. With that said, here is your Sunday reading for August 24, 2014:

1. Ann Bares has a great post up on TLNT talking about the difference between good and bad turnover. This one is really good because it focuses on some of the major consequences of spreading turnover efforts out too broadly (e.g. you lose top performers who feel unappreciated while conversely under-performers don’t receive the incentives they need to either improve or else self-select out of the organization). This post is great because of the examples Bares gives to contextualize good vs. bad retention strategies, and also because of how it illustrates that failed strategies at one organization can succeed at another with just a few tweaks. Check the full piece out here, and as always please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

2. In this post, HR Director Kandie Kelley writes about the trap of labeling new-hires ‘bad fits’ in instances where the real challenges are failures on the part of management to clearly define expectations and properly on-board said talent. This is a good read for any line leaders or HR professionals who may be struggling with getting external hires up to speed. Before assuming performance issues are the culprit , take 5 minutes to check out Kelley’s piece here and examine if there might be other causal factors undermining your new employees ability to thrive.

3. Sharlyn Lauby has an outstanding list of 10 soft skills that every employee should have up on HR Bartender here. There isn’t one on the list that isn’t table stakes for someone looking to eventually step into the a senior leadership (or even middle management) role, so if you have aspirations for either (or are already there and struggling in your current position) check Lauby’s post out and see if you might be missing a core competency in the soft/people skills department.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Best,

Rory

Video Saturday: Implementing a New Total Rewards System at LinkedIn

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<www.astronsolutions.net

<www.astronsolutions.net>

Christina Hall, Sr. Director, Global Compensation, LinkedInJulia O’Connell, and Alison Avalos, CCP, WorldatWork discuss the steps Linkedin took as a company to implement their new total rewards system.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Spotlight Friday: An Interview With John Baldino, President at Humareso

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John BJohn Baldino is an SPHR certified professional with 20+ years of HR experience – business development, strategic planning, organizational development, coaching, leadership development, training, curriculum development, compensation analyses, labor relations, policies & procedures, payroll, & benefits administration.

He is the President of
Humareso, a company focused on business development, talent management and human resources administration for small to medium-sized businesses.

You can find John on Twitter here, and Linkedin here.

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

From an educational perspective, both the MSHRD I received from Villanova University as well as the SPHR through HRCI have been invaluable for direct HR work.  I received my undergraduate degree in English from St. Joseph’s University (GO HAWKS!); this degree prepared me for the inordinate amount of correspondence, business writing and blogging that I do now.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

I think an MBA might have proven beneficial from a credibility standpoint.  It takes a little time for me to prove my business savvy so there are moments where I think an MBA might cut through some of that.

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

HR tends to require both sides of the brain.  Both the creative and analytical components of a person are valuable to process and to people – two major factors in HR.  In addition, I find a willingness to lead purposefully an attribute that sets HR practitioners apart from HR strategists.  It’s not about having the loudest voice, but about having a direction you know works, believe in and can translate into a business case.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

I think I am a builder.  I see that I am a mix of all of them, in part due to the work I do.  I have to play roles often and can assume a persona to get it done.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

I have 6 direct reports.  Our company is an HR consultancy that works with many other businesses.  Indirectly, we have the opportunity to supervise and manage many more.  Those 6 direct reports oversee lots of managers, line level employees and others.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

Human Resources is about business strategy and its alignment to its talent.  How can we encourage our people to produce, process and perform efficiently and excellently?  This should be the question HR pros ask themselves each day.  The degree of impact is off the charts when this is the focus.

When this work is left undone or, in most cases, done by someone without the expertise, the damage can be substantial to culture and to bottom line profitability.  The entire business is impacted.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

I don’t think my job is safe.  Dealing with people is never safe.  But my job is good.  Good and safe are mutually exclusive. It’s not about an air-conditioned office or outer space.  It’s about cutting to the heart of the matter with people.  When this door is opened, the flood of emotion and perspective can be great in scope and impact.  It’s not to say that HR is holding counseling sessions, but rather, we work with distinct personalities and generational differences.  It’s not safe.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

I have lots to say!  Ultimately, I love my job.

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