Months ago I had the opportunity to present at DisruptHR on managing the emotions of change. You get 20 slides and 5 minutes to do it! Remember the magic words- coax, encourage and inspire!
For years I have been preaching the opportunity in Great HR. When I do my CEO workshops, I show the financial logic behind the opportunity. I have business owners understand that every HR problem becomes a sales problem. And yet HR still has difficulty getting traction.
In this article, I will talk about where the real opportunity lies… and that is getting the blockages out of the way. I have heard executive after executive tell me how to have a difficulty finding talent, and then I go to their website, and there’s not a word about finding talent. When we talk about performance management many business owners will agree with me that the one to five rating approach doesn’t seem to improve performance and, yet they are unwilling to experiment to find a way that does. So, let’s talk about some blockages and slay those beasts so we can actualize the HR opportunity.
It seems as if most every executive I speak to is on overwhelm. From the CEO on down. And that includes HR. This overwhelm is a symptom of poor time management. It’s a symptom of not defining and focusing on what is truly important. Here are a few ideas to battle the time/overwhelm obstacle:
- Stop spending any time doing low-value work. This is true whether you are the CEO or the HR executive. Outsource it, delegate it or eliminate it.
- Know where your time goes. Peter Drucker advised us in The Effective Executive to track your time and not assume where it goes. I find that once executives do they are amazed by how much of their time is spent on lower value work.
- Draw a line for total hours worked and don’t work past it. As Parkinson’s Rule states “People get things done in a time allotted for it.” . Give yourself less time to get things done. You’ll work with greater urgency and focus as a result.
- Stick it on a calendar. You must calendar working on strategic objectives. It is just as important to work on the business, as it is in the business.
- Understand that overwhelm is neither healthy, productive, nor job security.
Money, money, money
Having spoken to more than 400 CEO groups, I have a good sense of how business owners think about money. Plus, I too ran a business. And the bottom line is this: CEO’s are up for spending money anytime it produces a return on investment. Here’s a link to my HR Cost Calculator. It helps to find the financial opportunity in Great HR. For example, if the company bemoans its ability to find talent and therefore rushes to hire, how much did the last bad hire cost you? When we act out of desperation instead of out of a process, we produce very expensive variances. These variances are a negative ROI on our activities.
The fight between saving money and making money is very emotional. I encourage HR to connect the dots and help executives understand that all poor HR decisions eventually become a sales problem. That poor hire that might have cost $50,000 out of pocket is the equivalent of at least $250,000 in replacement revenue. I find that when executives connect the dots between costs and their revenue equivalents, they will spend time… and money trying to eliminate that waste.
Top Level Executives Who Could Care Less About HR
Vistage, the CEO organization that I speak for, has some 900 speakers in its system. The vast majority focus on marketing and sales- the number one concern of most CEOs. Every year or two they’ll have a speaker like me to come in and talk about HR practices. If you are at a company where leadership could care less about HR (and there are plenty of those companies out there), then find a company where leadership is open to the GreatHR opportunity….and get that blockage out of the way!
Last, it’s a fact that half of all HR executives are more motivated to make a difference at their companies than the other half. Unmotivated HR is Bad HR and has disastrous impacts on the bottom line. Bad HR focuses on excuses as opposed to execution.
- Great HR takes the time to understand the company’s strategic initiatives. Bad HR does not.
- Great HR has a strategic plan. Bad HR does not.
- Great HR understands the math and data of their operations. Bad HR does not.
- Great HR coordinates with their fellow executives to understand how they better support their needs. Bad HR does not.
- Great HR stays on top of their game. They watch webinars, go to workshops and they network with other Great HR executives. Bad HR does not.
- Bottom-line is Bad HR is disastrous for any organization.
Bad HR is a blockage to the Great HR opportunity. If your HR person doesn’t want to kick ass in HR…find someone who does!
HR continues to get a bad rap, although it professes a desire to be “strategic.” Yes, there are real blockages…and there are also far too many excuses which allow those blockages to hinder doing Great HR.
PS if you are in HR and have not watched my video The Truth About HR….and You, now would be a good time to do so!
I went to an excellent Vistage Chair Group meeting and was treated to the presentation Conversational Capacity by Craig Weber. Craig comes from an organizational design and psychology background and has presented to Vistage groups more than a thousand times. He works with large teams trying to improve their performance under pressure.
Craig asked the question “do really smart people in your company get to use their smarts?” The problem is often they don’t. That reality crystalizes when a group is under pressure.
Craig uses the term “the sweet spot” where one’s position is clearly identified, supported by facts and analysis, and is put to the test by asking for feedback in an open manner. Likewise when considering a divergent idea, seek to understand the basis for their position, facts, and analysis.
Engaging in such a dialogue makes common sense but… emotionally we tend to be driven towards either a “weak” position or a “win” position. Craig suggests that to move from a position of weakness we have to do a better job of identifying our position and providing our supporting facts and analysis. Conversely, if we are win-oriented we can suppress our smart people unless we engage in invitation and inquiry.
Craig brings a unique languaging to the concept of leadership based on his experience. All authors do this, yours truly included. David Bohm, the late quantum physicist, in his treatise On Dialogue said his experience in understanding quantum physics helps him to define dialogue as a safe place for communicating. He said the truth does not emerge from an opinion but only through dialogue. In Good to Great Jim Collins language a similar concept as the humble level 5 leader.
Craig suggests that we keep a “trigger” journal that helps us to gain awareness of when our energy can become too strong.
One thing I love about Vistage meetings is they are built on this belief in Conversational Capacity. We not only get to interact with presenter experts but then have the afternoon devoted to encouraging each other and holding each other accountable…throughout a dialogue.
How can you build the Conversational Capacity at your company?
I’ve been around the HR and leadership block. For decades it seems like I’ve read a dozen articles in business publications blasting HR for every article that praises it.
There is great opportunity in great HR. The results of Great HR practices fall directly to the bottom line.
I’ve coached dozens of HR executives and spoken to thousands of CEOs. Most leadership does a poor job of supporting HR executives. Most CEO’s don’t want to manage the HR executive. So they pass it off to a CFO or COO, who are not exactly enamored with the HR function either. How many CEO’s, CFO’s or COO’s do you know who got into their careers so they could manage an HR executive? Answer: none.
Yes… there are the outliers …and they are exactly that – the owners who value HR and have it report directly to them.
Instead of talking about splitting HR in half or abolishing it all together perhaps it should be viewed as a strategic objective for the long term success of your company.
Here are a few ideas of how you might support your HR executives:
- Hire great HR executives. As with any position, half of the employees in it are better than the other half. And then there is the top 10%. It makes a world of difference when you hire that top 10%, whether you do so in a full time or part time basis. Simply they can see things about the HR opportunity that most people can’t. And they are prone to action.
- Help them understand your strategic objectives. Then work with them to align their practices towards those objectives.
- Have a monthly meeting where you go over a report identify progress on KPI’s and a summary of the latest HR related data.
- Encourage them to shed low value duties. When they ask for administrative help- give it to them. I want none of my HR executives doing $10-$20 work.
- Include them in your critical meetings and decisions. Encourage their contribution.
- Support their career growth. Get them into a Vistage group or remote coaching from Don.
- Acknowledge when they add value and motivate them further by giving them a raise.
A mentioned in the email I encourage you to take advantage of the free ZeroRiskHR assessment you can put to use today. Have your HR executive complete it and gain insight into how to better manage them.
Today’s Political Turmoil- It’s All About Work
When I step back from this current election and crazy world events, it strikes me that there are a lot of angry, fearful people. In a recent quiet moment I had an epiphany- I believe all has to do with work and the most basic of human needs.
The first two rungs of Maslow’s needs ladder are survival and security. Very simply in order to survive, humans have to do work. If you can’t work what use are you? Why do we even want you in this tribe? When I look around the globe I see few people with jobs shooting, rioting or blowing things up. With rare exception it’s usually the people without jobs doing these things. Without work we lose a part of our soul and can lose the capacity for caring. Useless people are dangerous people.
When I speak to my friends who don’t have jobs…or can only get menial work, their fears are very immediate. About getting enough money today to stop going backwards. To take some pressure off, at least for a short time. To keep the wolf away from the door. They are fearful, angry and see little hope on the horizon.
Knowing how employment numbers relate directly to political turmoil I think the current administration has been disingenuous with how it tallies unemployed. 5% unemployment? Does that seem like reality to you? How’s about more like 10%. When you kick in the eventual impact of advanced robotics and AI, that number may never get any lower. Ever.
To address the need for security humans attempt to keep the benefits of their labor. You survive longer that way. I think we are seeing an equally fearful and angry group of people who do work…but don’t think they get to keep enough of it. Russian serfs rioted because they worked…but kept no fruits of their labor. Middle class workers came out in droves to vote because they felt the administration wouldn’t let them keep a fair share of their fruits. It created a security crisis in them as well.
When we can’t do work or secure the benefits of labor then “the system” feels unfair. No matter where you live in the world. Makes no difference whether you’re a millionaire or working minimum wage or you are out of work. I have met few people who get an opportunity to work and keep the fruits of their labor that are discontented.
Too many young men and women across the world don’t have work to do. When they can’t fulfill that basic human need, all they have left to do is rebel against the system that puts them in that spot. If we want to end inner city shootings and global terrorism then we have to provide young people with work to do.
When it comes to those of us who are working, we want to make sure government isn’t designed to see how much of our hard earned money it can inefficiently spend. The bell has rung that we will take no more of that.
It’s all about work…and keeping the fruits of our labor.
Here’s hoping you get to meet your survival and security needs, Don