Today, I say Goodbye…

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<www.fluentu.com

<www.fluentu.com>

…To the client group I have supported for the past 2 years.

It’s a day of mixed emotions for me. I feel very sad to say goodbye to many of the people whose faces and voices I have so grown so fond of seeing. But I am also happy about the big things we have been able to accomplish together, and that this end signals perhaps our biggest accomplishment yet.

I have written about goodbyes before… but I am unsure of how to do this one.

I don’t have much more to say just now… but I will add that I also feel very lucky to have known and worked with each and every person in my client group and team. It was a privilege to learn from them. And the way that everyone works together and helps one another is very unlike anything else I have ever seen before.

I will miss them. But as I move on I know that – together – they are going to be just fine.

More later, maybe…

Happy Friday,

Rory

Infographic Thursday: DOL Proposed OT Regulations

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Check out this great infographic (below) from G&A Partners outlining a visual overview of the DOL’s proposed overtime rule changes. This is the best summary of the changes I’ve seen so far, so I wanted to share. As always, if you like this weeks’ infographic then follow its author in Twitter here.

GA_Partners_DOL_Proposed_Overtime_Regulations

Happy Thursday,

Rory

Don’t Just Tell It, Sell It! Marketing Your Employee Benefits

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<rxmdmarketingsolutions.com

<rxmdmarketingsolutions.com>

This video was timely for me because I’m currently in the midst of a new benefits plan roll-out. Ergo, check out this great video from WorldatWork featuring Paul Barton, author of Maximizing Internal Communication as he discusses the importance of connecting with employees when communicating benefits.

Best,

Rory

A Few Thoughts on Feedback

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<www.tanveernaseer.com

<www.tanveernaseer.com>

…So this evening I read a great article from Ashley Goodall (Deloitte) in Harvard Business Review. She discusses the process of re-designing Deloitte’s performance management process.

You can read the full piece here, but what was most interesting to me about this article was that it outlines how Deloitte made the decision to re-do their performance management process despite the facts that (i) a majority of the workforce thought the process was fair and (ii) that people liked the predictability of the process. The reasoning for the change in the face of these headwinds is captured in the quote below:

But the need for change didn’t crystallize until we decided to count things. Specifically, we tallied the number of hours the organization was spending on performance management—and found that completing the forms, holding the meetings, and creating the ratings consumed close to 2 million hours a year. As we studied how those hours were spent, we realized that many of them were eaten up by leaders’ discussions behind closed doors about the outcomes of the process.

^So this is powerful for many reasons, but perhaps the most significant of these reasons is the fact that effective performance has to really be a dialogue between the manager and employee. We can spend all the time in the world discussing how to improve an employee’s performance as managers… but the most impactful way to raise an employee’s performance is to have frequent, candid conversations with them about what’s working and what isn’t. As soon as a performance system loses sight of this – once it becomes more concerned with tracking trends and checking boxes than facilitating conversations – it ceases to be effective at the very thing it was designed for.

…I am really big on leveraging data and analytics when it comes to managing people and developing performance. Ergo, if it might be possible to quantify a success or identify a strong correlation between two outcomes I am generally prone to attempt to do so. And yet any insight derived from data is only as good as the inputs used to create said data. Ultimately, if we want to get good data to help us drive performance management decisions we need to do the hard (and good) work involved in yielding that data.

Yes, right? Is this too much common sense to dedicate 400(ish) words to? You tell me in the comments section below.

Best,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “If everyone is moving forward together…

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…then success takes care of itself. – Henry Ford

<en.wikipedia.org

<en.wikipedia.org>

For this week’s quote we can thank  American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company Henry Ford. It’s timely for me because this week will be a challenging one; accomplishing everything that needs to be done will require a strong commitment to team work and focus.

Both personally and professionally, no one accomplishes anything of substance alone. Even our individual successes are a product of the family, friends, and teachers that invested in and believed in us. And so when others reach out in times of need it’s important to remember that it’s our responsibility to reach out a helping hand however we can, and whenever we can.

As we get started this week, let’s take care to recognize the smaller role that we all play in a bigger picture. Doing so not only keeps us humble, but it keeps us aware of the fact that any independent actions that we take can really only have meaning if the other members of our teams are also successful.

Happy Monday,

Rory

The Thin Line Between Leadership and Manipulation

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<parksandrecbusiness.com

<parksandrecbusiness.com>

…So this evening I was reading a Sci-Fi/Political Thriller called Here Comes Earth by William Lee Gordon. Without spoiling too much of the (highly recommended) read here, I wanted to share a question asked by one of the main characters during one of the book’s many expositions. To elucidate his ideas, he poses the question:

“What is the difference between leadership and manipulation?”

…The character goes on to note that there are many different types of leadership, but that perhaps the most powerful form that leadership can take is when the leader exercises a high degree of influence over a group (as opposed to having to use formal authority to advance his or her agenda).

^What is particularly powerful about this idea is that – re-visiting the original question asked – both effective leadership and manipulation are at core exercises in influence. Going further; manipulation is in fact defined as “the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone.”

…The key differentiator here is that great leadership – at its best – is influencing others to work together in the pursuit of goals and objectives that advance the best interests of the group, while manipulation is influencing others to work together in pursuit of goals and objectives that advance one’s own (self-serving) interests.

As someone that is currently really focused on learning how to inspire, engage, and otherwise influence others, this idea really hits home for me because it reinforces the point that leadership is fundamentally about service and selflessness. And as soon as your actions start becoming all about serving you then you stop being a leader.

…Or maybe I have this wrong? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Happy Friday,

Rory

I’ve Had Six Great Bosses in Four Years – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Each One (Part 2)

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<bentleymasterminds.com

<bentleymasterminds.com>

…So on Tuesday I wrote the first part of a two part post exploring the big learnings I took from great bosses I’ve had throughout my career. Part one covered my first three bosses – today I want to talk about the last three:

Manager #4: 

I moved into my first Manager role – from Generalist to HRM – after my prior boss (#3) left the Company to pursue other opportunities. Many aspects of my role stayed the same – I was still in charge of managing day-to-day employee relations, recruiting, training, and safety at the location. And yet the job was without a doubt much bigger. My client group expanded to include supporting an executive and a half dozen directors; I had responsibility for several salaried (HR and administrative) direct reports for the first time in my career; I also now had ownership of talent management, payroll, and was the primary point of contact on all Labor Relations issues. Finally, I took on a Project Manager role wherein I supported HR efforts for a multi-million dollars business divestiture (which was a huge exercise in change management for the employee population). At core, wear as before my focus was fundamentally on tactical HR issues – e.g. filling open reqs, resolving employee relations issues between line employees, leading a line, administering trainings etc. – my new role was much more strategic: I was creating trainings to develop the identified skills, competencies, and opportunities for growth of my client group, partnering with managers on succession planning at all levels, and both setting and leading the labor relations and talent strategy (attracting, retaining, and developing internal and external talent) for the client group I supported. I also played a much more active role in compensation decisions at all levels, and was responsible for dozens of different processes and workstreams related to HR systems, human capital data management, benefits administration and roll-out etc.

…But if I am being honest, the biggest change in the role was adjusting to the much higher level of visibility and being looked at as a leader. Wear as in all of my other roles I was either an individual contributor or tasked with leading very entry level populations, in this role I quickly became aware of the fact that people were watching much of what I said and did. I routinely addressed large groups of people and/or other leaders discussing high importance issues… and the comments and decisions I made carried much more weight than they ever had before: If I was silent on a matter that was controversial it was viewed as tacit endorsement… and if I made a comment that could be construed in a negative light then it made waves in a way that my words never had before. In certain client groups, I was setting the culture and expectations based on the way I addressed things.

…As a person whose default approach to life is ‘live and let live’, this freaked me out. My permissive approach to HR was fine when I was in individual contributor roles; because even when I was tasked with enforcing policies and setting standards, if I was too laissez-faire about any given item then my reports-to Manager could (and occasionally did) step in with suggestions on how I needed to amend my approach. But in my new role, there wasn’t really anyone managing my performance anymore. I could make the calls that I wanted to make, and if they were bad calls there wasn’t really a built-in safety net. I could seek feedback from others with more experience if I chose… but decisions mostly rested with me. People regularly came to me for guidance, and I was expected to have answers.

…Entering into this role, I knew enough about HR from a legal, process, and best practice standpoint to manage the function… but where I struggled was with (i) holding people accountable and (ii) reconciling my self-image as a free-thinking, hands-off individual contributor with the leader, project and people manager I was being asked to be. My 4th boss played an invaluable role in helping me on both counts.

<blog.procore.com

<blog.procore.com>

What I learned from him:

I’d had a mentor/mentee relationship with my new Manager even before I had a formal reporting relationship with him. He was my boss’s boss beforehand (The Senior Manager for location), and had given me a lot of coaching on effective performance management whilst I held my developmental Line Manager role over the proceeding year. As my Manager he built on this, giving me valuable insights into effective follow-through, coaching, and feedback. He lived the advice that he provided – methodically reviewing the performance of his direct reports, praising them on their strengths, coaching them on their weaknesses, and moving quickly to address performance issues. On more than one occasion – when I defaulted to my permissive nature and allowed various issues (employee relations and otherwise) to go unresolved because I didn’t think they were big enough deals to address – he pushed back on my approach. He reminded me that what I didn’t act on (or didn’t act on strongly enough), set the water level as it concerned cultural expectations on performance and behavior. Through observing him and internalizing his coaching and advice, for the first time I learned how to hold people accountable and grow comfortable in a leadership role.

Manager #5: 

While I’d had an informal mentorship with Manager #4 for over a year, he was actually only my reports-to manager for around 4-5 months before moving into another role within the company. Afterwards, Manager #5 stepped into his old role (and I again had a new boss).

Some of the great strengths she immediately brought to the table were a huge emphasis on transparency, frequent and open communication, professionalism and respect, and perhaps most importantly a strong willingness and desire to objectively listen to all stakeholders.

^All of my Managers have held these traits to varying degrees, but she embodied them in a way that I haven’t seen before or since. I think that Manager #5 honestly and truly believed in hearing all sides of an issue from all stakeholders regardless of level, and took great care to balance the needs of the business and the employee population in a way that left no one in doubt about her objectivity and fairness. To this point: The most frequent (and accurate) comment that I heard from people throughout the organization is that she listened to people and had their best interests in mind. She was authentic in her dealings with others and sought to collaborate and build consensus when dealing with others across the organization.

To this point, she was the first Manager I had that I really partnered with on making big decisions with: From developing training programs to setting the talent strategy to raising the water level on performance, we spent a lot of time thinking through and implementing solutions together. I think a major reason for this was because it was the first time I was ready to be a contributor in this capacity… but I also think a big contributor here was that we were both always on the same wavelength. With few exceptions, if I was leaning a certain way I generally found that she shared the same views… and when she didn’t I almost always came around to her way of thinking. We were both collaborative and consensus seeking by nature, and both of us really valued transparency and communication. This created an easy rhythm that allowed us to work together on rolling out a lot of programs together, which also empowered me to become confident in my decision making.

What I learned from her:

The biggest thing I learned from Manager #5 is how to balance the needs of all stakeholders when making choices. While I have always been able to empathize, this Manager taught me how to apply that empathy to my decision making.

Manager #6: 

<hwww.lesliebennett.ca

<hwww.lesliebennett.ca>

I’m still learning new insights from my current Manager, but I would say that the biggest takeaway I’ve gained from him is how to make tough decisions. Watching him work as an HRBP and Project Manager for a 2,000+ employee division, I’ve seen him make extremely difficult choices over and over again.

…I am by nature collaborative – I look to seek consensus whenever possible, and loathe using formal authority to force an action or decision unless absolutely necessary. *But* my experience with Manager #6 has shown me that in cases when finding compromise is not plausible, that it’s possible to force difficult and even unpopular decisions and still be respected and effective in one’s role. Leadership is often about making tough choices in a decisive and graceful manner… and doing it well requires patience, poise, empathy, strong leadership/communication, and empathy.

…I will probably always default to seeking the middle ground or finding broad consensus when faced with any conflict or challenge… but in the short time I’ve worked for my current Manager I’ve learned how to also advance an agenda in other ways.

There are dozens of other managers that I’ve had informal reporting relationships with over the years in addition to those outlined in these posts (maybe I will talk about them another time), but this was a fun, introspective post.

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

Best,

Rory

Using Deferred Compensation to Pay for Performance

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<abstracta.us

<abstracta.us>

…So I don’t quite have the energy to finish up part II of my article on great 1. The past two days have been all-time exhausting.managers today 1, so instead I wanted to share this great WorldatWork video focusing on the benefits and drawbacks of using deferred compensation to pay for performance. It stars, Bertha Masuda, Partner at Vivient.

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

Best,

Rory

I’ve Had Six Great Bosses in Four Years – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Each One (Part 1)

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<www.forbes.com

<www.forbes.com>

…So I’m relatively early in my HR career. Out of my undergraduate program in 2009, I completed my MBA and Master of Human Resource and Industrial Relations over a two year period. Since graduating, I’ve had five great roles in four(ish) great years with six great bosses.

…I am a moody person by nature… and I would be lying if I said that I haven’t had up times and down times over the course of my career to date. But honestly? Looking back, I don’t think I’d change any of what I’ve experienced so far if given the chance to do it all over.

^At the core of my reasoning here are six amazing managers that each taught me something that I will carry with me forever. I want to share a bit about each of those lessons today.

Manager #1: 

My first HR role out of school was as a Recruiter. I’d had several Generalist and Labor Relations internships with various companies prior to that point, but this was my first “real” HR job… and boy was it a doozy. I joined the Company right as it was in the midst of a massive organizational restructuring: Almost immediately after starting, I picked up 50+ requisitions mid-stream that were spread across a geographic region covering most of the U.S. The positions spanned from entry level line roles at small facilities in the middle of nowhere… to Regional Sales, Technical Food Scientists, and Plant Superintendent positions at locations ranging from less than 50 to as many as 500+ employees. Furthermore, post re-org the Recruiter role had also evolved from a “source, screen and close” role to a full-cycle role that called on the recruiter to manage every stage of the hiring process from sourcing to interviewing to offer+negotiation, to background checks, drug screens/physicals, pre-employment admin (including I-9, direct deposit setup etc.) and onboarding (first day details and manager hand-off) for every candidate hired.

I had never filled a job in my life, and I was terrified.

^Cue my first manager. She was new to her role: In addition to managing a team of HR Generalists at our global HQ, she’d recently taken on expanded responsibilities over staffing for all of North America. I imagine that it was a very challenging time for her as well.

…And yet she never outwardly showed it… and she always made herself available to me when I needed help.

…In the 6 months I was in that role, I probably spent nearly 20 hours in her office. I had questions about processes, how to manage relationships, and how to source roles and close candidates. She always made time.

I did not have much to offer starting out. I was inexperienced in recruiting, shy, and managing the greatest scope of responsibilities of my entire life. But you know what?

^I filled every single one of those jobs – and then some – within those six months. But I would not have done it without my first HR Manager.

<denovati.com

<denovati.com>

What I learned from her: The importance of coaching and being generous with your time.

^Again – I didn’t have much to offer in my first role. I was a recent college grad that had never been a recruiter before. I was a blank slate. The difference between my success and failure in that role (where I filled 80+ cross-functional jobs across 25+ locations in the United States within 6 months) was having a manager willing to put the time into developing me. That experience taught me that the right manager can develop anyone. And in the years since that role – during which I have had a dozen+ different direct reports – that lesson has stuck with me.

No matter how busy I am or what else I have going on… if someone I’m managing needs me I always make the time. Development is (almost) everything. And the time you make upfront here will always pay enormous dividends over time.

Manager #2: 

As I was in a rotational program, six(ish) months into my career I had the opportunity to transition into a role as a Global Compensation Analyst. In this role, I managed pay reviews for my Company’s entire non-professional hourly (non-exempt) population in North America, managed job mapping for all new job postings/hires and promotions, did offer reviews and made salary recommendations for non-executive new hires, and did analyses (i.e. market pricing/internal equity review etc.) of executive level positions on a quarterly basis that was reviewed at the board level. It was really good work that stoked a passion for the compensation function within HR that I have to this day. But you know what?

It was a really stressful job.

…The Compensation function also doubled as a ‘reports’ function within HR. This wasn’t hard work… but there was a lot of it and I was always expected to produce it immediately. Anytime an executive wanted to see the compa-ratios of everyone in ‘X’ population, wanted to market price ‘Y’ job, or wanted to understand how extending an offer to a candidate would impact internal equity within ‘Z’ department etc… I was the person in charge of providing that data. I was also a go-to person where it concerned presenting the million different cuts of data required for quarterly board books… which meant that my job was a constant daily grind of ‘drop everything else you are working on to complete _________ for ‘insert executive here’ in a short period of time.’ 

^But if I had it bad here… my Manager had it much worse. As the Global Compensation Head for the entire company (30k+ employees at the time), she was up against a constant daily grind wherein she was asked to provide data and insights on short notice to executives under extremely tight deadlines.

<www.mariacostellonow.com

<www.mariacostellonow.com>

What I learned from her: My manager was constantly under time pressure… but you know what? No matter what she (or her team) was up against, she always had poise. When the world is beating you up the hardest thing in the world to do is to remain calm… but my Manager at the time always did that. Her calm was infectious – positively impacting the rest of the team and causing us all to show a similar poise. And so whenever I had a day where I was feeling really overwhelmed, I looked to her example as a reference for how I should carry myself under pressure.

Even today, no matter how stressed I am I remember my experiences with that manager and think to myself “Just be cool. Everything is going to be alright”  

Manager #3: 

After spending a little less than a year in the compensation function, I relocated to Wisconsin to take on a Generalist role supporting two sites. One was a 200ish employee unionized confectioneries plant; the other was a 125ish employee division headquarters that housed a collection of Sales Managers, Food Scientists, Procurement Specialists, Product Line Managers, and various support personnel (IT, Business Analysts, CSRs etc.). Reporting to an HR Manager, I had day-to-day responsibilities around employee and labor union relations, recruiting, training, and safety. I was also given a line manager role as a developmental opportunity… which was my first experience managing people (more on that later).

…My experience in the role was eye opening to me for a number of reasons… but the biggest one was being exposed to the power of empathy and transparency in the workplace. During the preceding year and a half that I’d spent as a recruiter and later compensation analyst, I’d gotten exposed to many different union/employer relationships: For developmental purposes, I’d sat in on several labor contract negotiations, participated in dozens of 3rd step grievance hearings for multiple locations, and spent several weeks in a compliance center of excellence where I investigated a myriad of different issues – many involving union/management complaints that had spilled outside of the grievance process. Those experiences – coupled with my labor experiences at other companies – had instilled in me a belief that the union/employer relationship was hopelessly adversarial by nature. In my mind at the time, unions by design existed because management and bargaining unit employees were unable to reach consensuses. I’d never seen a dynamic wherein the two parties had a healthy, highly-communicative relationship where they started from a place of collaboration when faced with disagreements as opposed to being adversarial.

My manager changed that view. No matter who he worked with, his default place was to demonstrate empathy for both sides involved in a discussion, and to seek common ground. He didn’t focus on ‘winning’ disputes – he focused on shared understanding and building consensus. He knew when to bend (and even break) policies, and he knew when to make exceptions to longstanding practices. And perhaps most importantly – no matter what choices he made there was always a long view of how those choices impacted the relationships between any stakeholders involved. Sometimes he acquiesced to less than ideal terms and conditions from one party or another because he recognized the importance of doing so to keep the peace. But conversely, when he had to draw firm lines in the sand he still always took the time to ensure that anyone that might be unhappy with a decision he made understood why he did what he did.

<www.compassionlab.org>

What I learned from him: The importance of empathy and humility. In the year that I worked for this manager, he completely took his ego out of any decisions involving others. He recognized the validity of other points of view, and constantly sought to understand other’s motivations, perspectives, and perceptions. In doing these things, he created a culture of open-mindedness and understanding that allowed for the most harmonious union/employer relationship I’ve ever seen… and when I moved into his role a year later, I internalized those lessons when it came to managing relationships with the employees in my client group.

…Breaking this one up into two parts because we’re at 1,600+ words and I still have three bosses to go. Part two tomorrow.

Happy Tuesday,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “Fall in Love with the Problem…

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…Not the Solution.” – John Boudreau and Steven Rice

<www.hrstrategyforum.org

<www.hrstrategyforum.org>

This morning I read a powerful quote in a Harvard Business Review piece here from John Boudreau and Steven Rice. In the piece, the authors note that easier than ever access to best practices, new research, tools and ideas makes it tempting to reach for the latest off-the-shelf solution to whatever challenge one’s team or organization is facing (as opposed to really ruminating on the problem itself and coming up with a customized solution).

The insight was powerful for me because it gets at the heart of a challenge I constantly struggle with when addressing individual, departmental, and even broader organizational issues on a day-to-day basis; which is remaining focused on contextualizing the current state of an issue so that I can map out a solution that starts off where we are as opposed to where we want to be.

Case in point: Lately I have really been bullish on the idea of having high departmental pass-through rates. Whether this takes the form of frequent, short-term job-rotations… or clearly defining development plans and progression time horizons for all colleagues, I think setting targeted pass-through rates is a great way to develop talent pipelines for succession at all levels of the organization (and this process also helps contribute to a robust knowledge management system for operationally critical roles).

^And yet any decision to set pass-through rates must take into account the function, team makeup, and business conditions: What works for one group may *not* work for another, and simply saying ‘this is a best practice’ and setting blanket target rates (or even setting any rate at all) misses the fact that a talent development function should not be managed the way that, say, an accounting function is managed – which is to say that there is not one set of universal principals that can be applied to managing and developing individuals and teams.

…The same could also be said of most other aspects of HR. For example, many HR pros often wonder what the ‘best’ ATS is, and/or agonize over the ‘best’ compensation strategy (broad banding, traditional structures, market pricing, step systems etc.). They wonder how much transparency is too much transparency, what the best incentive program is etc.

1. Copyright TAE.Of course, the answer to all of these queries starts with ‘it depends’. 1 Every organization has different business conditions that should impact its talent development, succession, compensation and benefits, HRIS management, and labor strategies (among others). And even in situations where the end goal for every company should be to get to the same place (for example every company should aspire to have an internally equitable, market competitive total rewards program that attracts and retains top performers), dependent on where one is in their journey the steps to get to that place may be different (e.g. such a program is not built and implemented in a day).

Ergo, as we get started this week, before looking to generate solutions to our challenge(s) of the day, let’s look to really understand the problem(s) at hand and generate a customized solution that really solves the matter(s) in the best way possible.

Happy Monday,

Rory

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