Infographic Thursday: In An Office Far, Far Away…

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Top Management Degrees has a great infographic up on their site postulating what communication will look like in the workplace going forward. Among other things, it suggests that the prevalence of telework will dramatically increase going forward. This is a really well done infographic, and I recommend checking it out below. Additionally, you can check out Top Management Degrees’ website here.

Future Office
Source: TopManagementDegrees.com

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

Best,

Rory

Good Organizational Change Looks Like…

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1. Apologies for the misleading topic title. I typically come up with these after I’ve written my post. But today I lead off with writing the title and then went in a different direction as it concerns content when I realized I didn’t have an answer. I like the title too much to change it though so……Full Disclosure up front: I don’t know. 1 So if you are seeking a one-size-fits-all answer here you will not find it (if it even exists).

With that said, I wanted to write about this topic today because of an interesting post I recently read from Ilya Pozin (CEO of greeting card company Open Me) highlighting some of the more unique company perks organizations have implemented to attract and engage talent. As I made my way through the list of perks on his list, I found myself passively asking myself if – setting aside potential value add – each one of the perks could be implemented effectively at an organization similar in size and industry to my own. There were things like:

…An annual all-expenses paid international trip (this certainly could not be done enterprise wide at a big company – it’s more of a start-up perk); flex hours (maybe one day, but probably not practical on a large scale right now due to sector/customer needs); free gym memberships (sure)…

This was a fun exercise, but most of the impractical ones were obviously so because of common-sense business reasons. As I worked through the list, however, I encountered several perks that might succeed or fail largely and/or exclusively on the basis of how the change was introduced:

Video game day (not likely, but more so because generating a high degree of participation might be difficult at a big firm); Unlimited vacation days (this could theoretically work, but if rolled out poorly it could just as easily lead to abuse by a select few and/or else be under-utilized by others because of the potential stigma)…

In some of these cases it turns out that cultural fit challenges would be as high a barrier to implementation as any other factor. This is in many respects all well and good – a change that would have difficulty generating cultural traction in an organization internally is often simultaneously bad for said organization overall… and yet as any seasoned HR person will tell you, good and needed changes are also sometimes painful to implement in the beginning. To this point, many organizations across time have abandoned change efforts not because they weren’t needed, but because the associated growing pains weren’t properly managed. But how should we know when we are dealing with the former versus the latter situation? How do we determine if a change is failing in our organization for fundamentally irreconcilable cultural fit reasons versus just being poorly implemented?

…As I said at the start, I don’t know. There is a lot of literature out there on how to effectively lead a change management effort (get buy-in from leadership at the top down etc.), but not so much on how to know when to forge ahead when faced with adversity.

To those with experience effectively leading large-scale change efforts, how did you know you were on the right track once trouble spots cropped up? And for those that eventually abandoned large change efforts, when did you know you needed to do so?

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

Best,

Rory

A Few Thoughts on Good Resume Writing

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This morning I read a post from Linkedin resume writer and best-selling author Jim Giammatteo on the utility of listing responsibilities on resumes. Giammatteo suggests that if you’re going to use precious page real-estate to list out what you were responsible for (as opposed to what you did) that you keep it short and concise because the value add is limited. This is a really good post, and I recommend checking it out here.

With that said, having filled well over a hundred jobs over the past two years spanning a wide range of complexity and scope, I would like to share some personal insights on this particular topic as well as – by extension – the value add of a well written resume.

…So as a caveat to the advice/thoughts I am about to share, I will first say that a shocking number of job seekers apply to jobs for which they have no directly applicable experience while simultaneously failing to qualify why they are a fit (via either a cover letter or their resume itself). Ergo – and this varies by job posting – generally speaking a large percentage (in some cases upwards of 40%) of applicants automatically DQ themselves from the process simply because they don’t effectively communicate in their resumes that they have the skills, experience and capabilities required to do the work as described.

What this means in practice is that if you are selective in the sorts of jobs you apply to and know how to get your resume in front of a hiring manager/decision maker then the responsibilities-listing approach may very well work for you; simply by applying for jobs for which one has directly applicable experience, the odds of being considered for a role are better than those of a big chunk of applicants.

…But I will also say (to Giammatteo’s point) that anecdotally speaking, candidates that take the time to qualify and quantify their achievements in their resumes typically interview better than those that just lists their job duties and responsibilities. To be sure, if my applicant pool for a role is thin enough (as it has often been filling jobs in rural and undesirable locations) then I will interview both sorts of candidates. But the former sort are often better prepared, and have a greater handle on how exactly they can add value to the position for which they are interviewing.

With that said, perhaps a balanced mix works best here. Below is one of the jobs on my resume/LinkedIn profile. Note that I take a few short sentences to explain what I do (complexity, accountability, scope) and then list out my accomplishments (actions and deliverables/results) in bullet-point form:

As an HR Generalist, I serve as a primary HR point of contact to a client group of approximately 270 operations, commercial, and support employees at ____’s division headquarters. I manage employee relations, employee discipline, site investigations, site communications, recruiting, labor contract interpretation, safety, training, and workforce/staff development. I also supervise (workforce direction, payroll, compliance, etc.) a seven person department of hourly employees. Some of my accomplishments to date include:

•Decreasing year over year average job time to fill 100% by streamlining the onboarding process
•Partnering with the local union and site management to successfully negotiate a labor agreement extension
•Optimizing the knowledge transfer process by partnering with managers to design SOPs and train new employees on work procedures
•Developing and implementing new recruiting processes, expanding both the pool of talent and quality of final round applicants for historically hard-to-fill positions
•Driving employee participation in the location’s safety program, conducting internal studies to assess program engagement and leveraging the results to implement changes which increased participation by over 20%

Is the above a good way to write a resume? I don’t know – you tell me.

And if you’re a recruiter, what do you think when you see a responsibilities laden (but achievements light) resume?

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

Best,

Rory

Quote of the Week: “I’m pretty disciplined to keep the momentum of a story going…

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…by writing everyday, even if it’s only a couple paragraphs or a page or two.” - James Rollins

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This quote has been attributed to American veterinarian and best-selling action-adventure novel writer James Rollins.

When we begin a new undertaking - be it something like a personal diet, learning a new skill, or even leading an enterprise-wide change management initiative – the beginning is often fun. When we start new things we typically do so with a lot of energy and optimism. This makes sense because once we recognize the value add of something it is normal to jump into it with a great deal of zest and gusto.

With that said, it is much harder to maintain that momentum over time. Because once we get past the initial excitement over the major improvements we’re going to make to our lives, the lives of others, and/or our organizations, the high octane enthusiasm that accompanied us at the start of our journey is replaced by the sobering reality of the (often difficult) work ahead. Adding to the challenge, the further along we advance in a process the fewer easy victories we get.

James’s quote speaks to what it is to recognize this reality and keep moving forward. See, the truth of the matter is that no matter how wonderful our intentions are, some days it is simply much easier to be our best self than others. This is normal as life has ebbs and flows, and such things play a role in the degree to which we can give our best effort on any given day.

…So as we get started this week, I would like to ask you to establish a zero marker. If you’re working on a novel like Rollins it might be writing a paragraph a day no matter what, or if you’re learning a new programming language like me it might be exposing yourself to (and executing) one new piece of program functionality per day. If you’re on a diet then maybe it’s a 10 minute run in the morning. Or if you’re implementing (or learning to live with) a new system – then perhaps it means trying to do one thing a little bit differently than you did the day before.

…This zero marker will be different for everyone. But – regardless of what that step looks like for each of us – if we take at least one step forward every single day then we will keep making progress. 

…And yeah, it will just be incremental.

But change always is.

Happy Monday,

Rory

Sunday Reading: April 20, 2014 – CEO Remuneration and Good Pay Plan Design

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Sunday reading for April 20, 2014:

1. Zachary Karabell, Head of Global Strategy at Envestnet has a great post up on Linkedin illustrating the futility of fixating on out-sized executive compensation packages as a potential means to improve the economic conditions of the middle class. He points out that many of the largest companies are now multinational ones that answer to no single government. As such, implementing broad policies that impact the size of their pay packages would be difficult. Perhaps more importantly, however, he also points out that re-distributing, say, two-thirds of the highest compensated CEO’s pay to the 100 million lowest earning individuals would have a negligible to incremental impact on the day-to-day lives of the people the re-distribution is intended to help. He closes by postulating that attempting to eliminate the disparity between the highest and lowest paid people around the globe by capping the compensation of those at the top misses the point – that being that the best way to raise the remuneration of those most in need of the extra cash is to do the hard work of changing the way they’re educated and the skills they develop before they enter the workforce. This is a really good, highly recommended read. Check it out here.

2. One of my big professional goals is to one day build (or re-design from the ground up) a compensation structure for a large cap company. As such, I was excited to read this piece from Ann Bares, Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC. Among other things, in the piece Bares talks about a principle challenge that many a structure architect may encounter during the ideation and design process – namely that senior management is likely to push for a swift end to it. She then counsels on walking the delicate line between capitulating to pressure to move the process along too early versus allowing it to continue on for too long. Again, I recommend that you check this one out here.

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

Best,

Rory

Video Saturday: Variable Pay Part 1

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<rosariolongo.blogspot.com>

Variable pay reflects employee payouts based on a variety of factors. WorldatWork’s Kerry Chou and Alison Avalos discuss the basics of this type of pay program.

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

Best,

Rory

If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com

@RoryCTrotterJr

http://www.linkedin.com/in/roryctrotterjr

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Spotlight Friday: An Interview with Instructional Designer and Learning Strategist Julie Winkle Giulioni

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Julie Winkle Giulioni has spent the past 25 years improving performance through learning. She’s partnered with hundreds of organizations to develop and deploy innovative training products that are in use worldwide. Julie is well known and well regarded for her creative, one-of-a-kind solutions that consistently deliver bottom-line results.

Since co-founding DesignArounds 14 years ago, Julie has run the west coast operations, leading multi-disciplinary teams that create award-winning electronic and instructor-led training. Previously, she was director of product development for AchieveGlobal, one of the world’s largest commercial training companies. She was also a professor and department chair at Woodbury University.

During her career, Julie has received numerous awards including: Ten Best Training Products Award from Human Resource Executive Magazine, LGuide’s Editor’s Choice Award, and awards from CINDY, JOEY, and AFTRA.

Julie is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want, and a respected speaker on a variety of topics, including career development, leadership, sales, and customer service.

For more information, visit juliewinklegiulioni.com. You can also find Julie 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?

There are certainly lots of programs that offer degrees and certifications in instructional design and development… and many are very valuable. I came to this work differently though. I started out as a high school teacher, then moved on to the university level. And everything I learned teaching those aspiring to enter the workforce applies seamlessly to teaching those who are already there! Since making the transition to industry (and now consulting), I think the most valuable experiences have been working with clients – lots of them. Going through countless cycles and rounds of this sort of work helps an instructional designer more quickly understand the needs of a wide variety of organizations… and how best to approach content… and most importantly, learners. 

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

Until recently, I’ve been very US-centric. Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to work with more global organizations and later this month, I’m off on a whirlwind working tour of Singapore. The international perspective I’m cultivating now supports my work with all clients… and I just wish I’d had more of it earlier in my career.

2. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

Instructional design is an odd job, requiring a seemingly competing mix of skills and abilities. An analytical nature is required to be able to assess, discern and internalize critical content and project requirements. But, at it’s core, this work is about communicating. So, being able to speak and write with ease is a huge help. Insatiable curiosity and empathy for the learner help ensure the best possible solutions. Also, it helps to cultivate the mind of an editor… being able to include what’s essential and be ruthless about leaving the rest on the cutting room floor. Finally, the job requirement that always surprises me is the ability to embrace and be comfortable with ambiguity. Every complex project I do comes to the same uncomfortable point where I feel like I’m swimming in muddy water and fear that I’m in over my head and will never make sense of the content. Then the water clears, concepts fall together, and a great way forward presents itself. No matter how long I do this, it feels like a miracle each time.

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?

My role is all of these things.

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

Our organization operates a bit like an accordion, expanding and contracting with trusted contractors/partners based upon client needs. Depending upon the nature and complexity of the project, it could just be me or up to 10 other talented professionals.

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?

Training and development delivers results in two critical areas. From a business case perspective, instructional design impact job performance… and all of the down-stream implications of that (productivity, profitability, quality, innovation, customer satisfaction….) But there’s a human impact as well. When employees feel that they are being invested in and developed, engagement grows. So does confidence, capacity, job satisfaction, retention, and the organization’s ability to recruit top talent.

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?

The biggest hazards I face are paper cuts and carpel tunnel syndrome. It doesn’t get a lot safer than instructional design and development.

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 firmly believe that I have the best job in the world. I get to work with individuals and organizations committed to helping employees grow, develop, and contribute more of their skills and talents. I get to keep learning myself as I take on new projects (recently, I learned how to apply those cool adhesive graphics to cars while working with a client!). And I’m never bored given the kaleidoscope of industries, business and issues I get to address. This is the sort of work that will keep me so engaged that I just might forget to retire!

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

Best,

Rory

Infographic Thursday: What Do You Do When You’re 27?

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Below is a great infographic from the folks at The Best Master’s Degrees summarizing the educational, financial, familial, geographical, and occupational makeup of today’s 27 year olds. It’s an interesting snapshot in time of the modern millennial. As an HR professional, this is a troubling one because the lagging professional opportunities afforded this generation speaks to some of the talent shortages that many companies face (and will likely continue to face) in their succession planning efforts. It will be difficult for organizations to fill their benches with young talent when most of them are working in (presumably non-exempt) administrative roles today as opposed to receiving developmental opportunities that will prepare them to lead in the future. Check out the infographic out below to learn more, and visit “The Best Master’s Degrees” website here:

What You Do at 27
Source: BestMastersDegrees.com

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

Best,

Rory

The Role of Culture in Performance Management

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As I did my daily HR reading this morning, I came across an abstract for an interesting study from Zhongxing Su and Patrick Wright (of Cornell and now University of South Carolina fame). The study examined which HR best practices are most associated with high performance in China, finding that a mix of conventional “Control HR” practices (such as open competition for positions) and “Commitment HR” practices (such as formalized grievance procedures) typically yielded better results for Chinese firms than adopting a strictly westernized HR system.

…Honestly? A lot of the practices lumped into both buckets sound like conventional/western HR practices to me. I’ll need to read the full study to learn more, but many of the practices associated with high performance at the Chinese firms - such as promotions from within and regular performance reviews – are things that good HR organizations everywhere should be doing. Regardless, this is an interesting study and you can check it out here.

With that said, the reason I shared this today is because it made me think of an interesting observation I’ve made working in a myriad of different environments around the world. I’ve served as an HR Generalist primarily supporting warehouse employees and route drivers in Boston, supported geographically dispersed client groups out of a corporate office in the heart of the Midwest, worked as a Generalist in a manufacturing plant (that sat adjacent to an office space) in a big city, and worked within a multi-national team on a project that ultimately took us to multiple corners of India. In each case the work styles of the teams I partnered with and the client groups I supported were different – no two approaches worked exactly the same.

…Now, as I’m managing people for the first time in my career I’m finding the same dynamic within teams – everyone has a different work style. As such, while there are general themes around coaching, vision, and empathy that seem to be universally effective, there are other aspects of management that vary by person (such as the degree to which they need to be micromanaged).

…As such I am beginning to think that instead of seeking to implement HR best practices / benchmark everything that we should instead be looking internally at our workforce to understand what works best for our company cultures and (local?) employee populations. I’m not sure of what this looks like from a resource or practicality standpoint yet, but I wanted to share my thoughts here this morning.

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

Best,

Rory

What Role Should Employers Be Playing in Ending Occupational Segregation?

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I recently read an article from Daniel Tunkelang, Head of Query Understanding at LinkedIn that asks us to consider if engineering-driven cultures are sexist? This is a well structured, multi-faceted piece, and you can read it here.

With that said, one takeaway from Tunkelang that really stood out to me was the role that occupational segregation plays in driving down women’s wages. Quoting from Wikipedia:

Occupational segregation refers to the way that some jobs (such as truck driver) are dominated by men, and other jobs (such as child care worker) are dominated by women.

The interesting thing about occupational segregation is that there is nothing inherently sexist about it. Credit to the daily beast article here for these lists of the highest and lowest paying jobs (and their gender makeup):

Highest and Lowest Paying Jobs

As you can see, men make up the majority in 9 of the 10 highest paying professions and women make up the majority in 9 of the 10 lowest paying professions (exceptions highlighted in yellow).

…And a recent study from the Association of University Women (AAUW) found the following:

…women working full time or multiple jobs one year after college graduation earned, other things being equal, 6.6  percent less than their male peers did. This estimate controls for differences in graduates’ occupation, economic sector, hours worked, employment status (having multiple jobs as opposed to one full-time job), months unemployed since graduation, grade point average, undergraduate major, kind of institution attended, age, geographical region, and marital status.

You can read the full study here. To be fair, 6.6% is still a significant pay gap, but it isn’t the 23% that is often widely cited in the mainstream media.

…Okay, so my question for readers today is this. Assuming for the sake of argument that STEM skills (primarily held by men) are in fact more rare than people skills (more often possessed by women) in the marketplace – and thus more valuable – what role should the private sector be playing in addressing the broader societal and institutional factors that cause this occupational segregation?

By the time someone is in their 20s and has entered the workforce, their educational pedigree (and brand) is largely defined as it concerns what sorts of careers they will be able to pursue. There are outliers of course, but rarely do we see, say, a Human Resources Manager make a switch into Computer Programming. In this respect, the heavy lifting as it concerns re-defining the role that gender plays in shaping career aspirations seemingly needs to be taking place before young people enter the workforce.

Conversely… I would submit that the attractiveness of a career path is on some level shaped by the perceived culture and lifestyle perks of the population within it. In this respect, companies can take steps to make both male and female heavy work environments feel more welcoming and inclusive for the minority gender in either situation.

…Or maybe I have this wrong?

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

Best,

Rory

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