Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fake Excuses for Your Employees on the Internet

Heard this on the news and had to look for myself. There is a website where your employees can download excuses to get out of work called . They can go here and purchase any type of excuse they need, even funeral announcements for the "dead aunt."

Have you fallen victim to any of these? What do you do to an employee that you find out is using one?

Primer on the Balanced Scorecard

Most HR people don't know or don't understand the balanced scorecard concept. Here is a good primer on the balanced scorecard from BNet. Take a look at it, it is helpful. Of course if you don't measure anything in HR then it will not be helpful. That means you have another hurdle to get over.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making Informal Networks Formal- Say What?

I was reading an article out of The McKinsey Quarterly entitled Harnessing the power of informal employee networks by Lowell Bryan. The article starts off discussing the importance of the informal network for communicating and passing on ideas. In fact Bryan and his coauthors state "As we studied these social and informal networks, we made a surprising discovery: how much information and knowledge flows through them and how little through official hierarchical and matrix structures." So they suggest that companies need to take advantage of the strength of these informal networks by making them formal! They even go on to suggest this formalization include a leader of the group, evaluation of the leader, required membership by employees who fall into the practice area or job grouping around which the formal informal network has been formed.

Now I am not a McKinsey consultant and I don't work with very large organizations, but it seems to me that by formalizing informal networks you run the risk of making them as unappealing and unworkable as the heirarchical or matrix organizations they initially compared them to. To me informal networks are formed around people with like interests who are attracted to each other not only for the interest but a personal attraction or likability factor. Requiring an employee to participate in a network established around a practice or field will work no better than a heirarchy if there is no personal attraction to the group. I have participated in a number of networks that were established around a common interest that ended up falling apart or splintering into groups who wanted to share with each other.

Now I am not knocking Bryan, in fact he has a new book out, Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth from Talent in the 21st Century Organization, that I have already ordered. Formalizing informal networks may work in very large organizations, but I think it is doomed in smaller organizations.

People in HR and Management should recognize the power of these informal networks. They can work for both good and bad. One of the points Bryan et al. made was that informal networks fall apart if the "lynchpin" person leaves the network, hence the need to formalize. But knowing just that fact can serve the HR person very well in making use of, or in stopping, an informal network.

Friday, October 19, 2007

HR and Baseball Make a Connection

A lot of people would have a hard time making a connection between baseball and human resources, but as we near the World Series Kris at the HR Capitalist has done it. He is hosting the Carnival of HR and he has related all the HR blog articles to various aspects of baseball. There are a number of good articles to read and some blogs to become familiar with. So give it a read, link to a few blogs (in addition to this one of course) and enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Did You Figure My Pay and What Are You Going to Do About It?

"Today's (and tomorrow's) employees are not inclined to believe and accept a pay program that is shrouded in mystery."

This is how author and consultant Ann Bares ends her blog, Compensation Force, on the disconnect between employees and employers in dealing with compensation practices. This is one more example of how the workplace has changed with the generational differences. It used to be that no one ever questioned what they were paid or why. And companies had (and many still have) a prohibition against sharing how much you make with a coworker. BTW, this is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act if the sharing of such information is deemed to be concerted activity by employees.

Bares states that a study entitled Emerging Workforce Study (catchy title) shows "a significant divide between employees and employers on compensation. Three quarters (75%) of the employees surveyed cite compensation as the thing most crucial to retaining them, but only 26% are currently satisfied with this aspect of their job." Bares feels this is indicative of different attitudes by younger generation towards pay, and as she says "Good or bad news, what it adds up to is an employee population that is more inclined to challenge and/or disbelieve an employer's pay data, practices and policies than in the past. "

She has a warning to HR professionals, one that I hardily agree with, that we must be prepared to address this challenge. Her solution is transparency in the pay program. As she says "openly sharing how the pay program is built, where the data used to build it comes from, how it is designed to operate, and what its philosophical underpinnings are meant to be. And - certainly - I think individual employees should fully understand how the program applies to them (i.e., their salary range, etc.)." I have always been an advocate of such transparency. What people make is no secret. People talk, or whisper, or see things, or some how figure what everyone else is making. And if they don't know they generally inflate what they think the other person is making, which is worse for the organization.

So if you are one of those organizations that shrouds the pay system in mystery you may be facing a challenge in the coming years as your workforce shifts to the next generations.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Generational Differences At Work

Author/columnist/blogger Penelope Trunk wrote a blog on the 5 workplace practices that should be over, now. Trunk is a writer and speaker who provides advice to the younger generations in the work place. Her blog The Brazen Careerist is a great source for identifying generational issues in the workplace.

In her blog on the 5 workplace practices two of them are clearly generational. First, she states that voice mail is seldom used by workers under the age of 30. Only the "old" people leave voice mails. For the under 30 crowed, they either use texting, email or just return the missed call. They don't listen to or leave voice mails. So if you are having communication issues with younger workers (or if you are a younger manager and have older workers) take a look at the communication system you have set up and give the "generational test."

The second practice that might be considered generaltional is using the "reply-to-all" button in email. As she says "This was a great button to have in 1993 when even the busiest people only got fifty emails a day. Back then reply to all was a way to have an inclusive conversation.
Now reply to all is only a way to annoy people and make
yourself look foolish."

Her other three practices that she thought should be gotten rid of are:
  1. The office candy machine.
  2. The office fundraising drive.
  3. The massive office party.

She is an interesting read, especially for us "older" HR types. So I recommend you link to her blog and keep up with this "voice" of a younger generation.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Less Glass Ceiling?

Fortune Magazine just published its list of the 25 HIGHEST PAID WOMEN . Are we seeing less glass ceiling today? These women work or did work for big companies in a variety of industries. So is this progress?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Motivational Fit: Two Shortcut Questions to Good Employees

Fellow HR blogger Kris Dunn, The HR Capitalist, posted a blog the other day about interviewing. He mentioned the standard way most managers interview, the hypothetical question methodology and its pitfalls. He talked about behavioral interviewing and apparently he is a fan and user, as am I. He did point out the downside of it, and I agree, which is, if not practiced the interviewer falls back into the hypothetical mode. It is very effective, but it does take training and practice and a willingness to ask the hard questions.

Kris suggests using two questions, which he feels cut through the B.S. These are:

  • Tell me when you have been most satisfied in your career.
  • Tell me when you have been least satisfied in your career.

He suggests "Those two questions measure Motivational Fit and are stunning in their simplicity. Assuming you like the background and experiences of the candidate and are confident they can do the job, you really only need to evaluate if your company, the specific opportunity and the candidate are a fit for each other. So ask these questions one at a time. Once you get the response from the candidate, ask "why?" and say "tell me more" multiple times. Then, s.h.u.t. u.p. Seriously - stop talking. Don't bail the candidate out, but rather force them to tell you what really jazzes them about jobs and companies, and subsequently, what drives them crazy."

I like this. I have one client where we have had a difficult time finding the right match for the executive positions. The background and experience have been good, but the "fit" has not been there despite DISC behavioral profiles. So I am going to suggest to him we use these questions, perhaps that will be the solution.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Too Chicken to Be a Manager

I just read this quote from CCH Net News:

Ten percent of U.S employees say their company has used email to fire or lay off employees, according to a national survey of 752 U.S. workers. And, 17 percent indicated their boss used emails to avoid other difficult face-to-face conversations. "Email has become the new shield of today's business. Companies hide behind it to avoid the negative reactions of unhappy employees," said Frank Kenna III, president of The Marlin Company. "While email works fine for day-to-day communication, the last thing you want to do is use it for something as sensitive as layoffs. That risks turning former employees into disgruntled ones who can become walking negative advertisements for your firm."

I am astounded that ANYONE does this, let alone 10 percent. If you don't have the guts to face your employees and say you are letting them go then you don't deserve to be a manager! And what HR departments are allowing this to occur?? They have no more back bone than the manager and run the risk of causing the company more trouble. What has happened to courage?