master's degree hr

master's degree hrFor most of you, I’ll go ahead and said it: You should not get a master’s degree in HR. Really. While that doesn’t apply to everyone, it does apply to a large number of the people that email, comment, and interact with me online. That’s mainly because this question looks a lot like this template:

  • I just completed my bachelor’s in xyz. I have decided/now want/think I should get into human resources. Should I get my master’s degree in HR?

OR

  • I just completed my bachelor’s degree in HR, but I haven’t been able to find a job. Should I get my master’s degree in human resources?

No. No. And no.

In each of these cases, you lack something very important that most of you overlook when you’re asking the question: do you even like HR?

No, really. How do you know? What evidence do you have? What proof?

All too often I hear about someone finishing their bachelor’s on student loans and jumping right into the master’s degree in hopes it will make them more marketable, only to find out later that HR wasn’t a field they actually enjoyed working in. If only you could drop the loans because you didn’t like the profession, but it doesn’t work that way.

And even if you pay for it outright by choosing an affordable college (like this one, for instance) AMBERTON LINK, how do you know that HR is going to be a career field you even like?

For me, I didn’t even consider a master’s degree for the first few years of working after college. That’s because I wanted to make sure of what I wanted to do. Now I’m actually enrolled in an MBA program because I realize that while HR is the love of my life, I also need to be crystal clear about how HR intersects and interacts with the rest of the business. Hint: you need to be able to understand that as well.

Click here to watch the video where I explain the nuances of this decision.

But I have some HR experience

Now, if you have some HR experience under your belt and you’re wondering if you need to get an advanced degree, we can have a conversation about that. It is often interwoven with the certification conversation (Should I get the PHR OR SHRM certification?), because people wonder about the value of each and how they interrelate.

If you have experience and you want to pursue an advanced degree, you need to understand the purpose and intent very clearly. Are you hoping to move up the ladder? Is there another job you need it to be qualified for? Are you trying to make yourself more marketable? Do you need it to perform better in your own work?

In some of these cases, depending on how you answer the question, education might not be the right answer for you at all. On the other hand, it’s possible that additional education could help you to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself.

I’ll be doing a series in the coming week addressing two other related questions. First, should I get an HR degree or an HR certification? I’ll also address another fundamental question around HR education, which is this: Should I get an MBA or a Master’s in Human Resources?

I’d love to get your take on this commentary. Am I spot on? Way off the mark? What’s your reasoning?

We're Only Human Podcast

We're Only Human Podcast

Whew.

I’m in recovery mode from last week’s jaunt to Vegas for the HR Technology Conference. For people in my line of work, that’s our version of the Olympics (or whatever other metaphor you need to demonstrate how much it puts you through the wringer). With that in mind, I’m feeling like a walk down memory lane might be a good route for today.

For starters, though, did you notice our new logo for the show? I was looking for something that was somewhat playful but still kept the “human” element at the forefront. Hope you like it!

So why the walk down memory lane? Back in August I celebrated a year of hosting the We’re Only Human podcast. I had some initial ideas and thoughts before starting the show in 2016, and some of them turned out to be true (while I obviously also had a few lessons to learn!) For instance, I had a suspicion that the format would make people feel more comfortable with me because it’s a very personal medium to hear someone’s voice. That very quickly showed itself to be true.  Continue reading

This week I’m at the HR Technology Conference. I wrote about everything I’m looking forward to and planning to talk about last week on the Lighthouse blog if you want to check it out. One thing I’m doing again this year is a 5-minute Ideas and Innovators talk to close out the conference, and this time I’m talking about something very personal and very close to my heart. The video below was my semi-practice run and reflection on a few of the things I’ll be squeezing into the 5-minute presentation. Plus, Berklee joins me for the first time on video! (subscribers click through to the website to view)

Check out this behind the scenes peek and let me know your thoughts below. If you’re interested in hearing more of the takeaways from my talk I should be able to get a recording for you after the conference.

Be sure to read all the way to the end. I’m giving away free stuff to those that help!

The first person I ever met with Parkinson’s disease was Mollie. She is an incredibly sharp analyst and friend, and she taught me some great lessons in my days transitioning from practitioner to analyst. She is a proud supporter of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research and this year has asked me to help as a supporter of her campaign.

At this point my team is behind and we need to surge and pull ahead. I know many of you are runners, walkers, just parents that cover a lot of ground chasing your kids, etc. :-) I think we can still win this but I need your help!

How to sign up

  • Head over to the website to register
  • When given the option, whether on the website or the app, be sure to choose Team East, since I’m the captain
  • After you register and download the app for your phone, it will take you back to the website to donate the required $15 minimum to participate
  • The steps challenge will take place Sept 25-Oct 6 (just a few days left, this isn’t a big commitment!)
  • Help my team win the step challenge by walking at least 5k steps and checking in on the app (every 5k steps you log, ADP will donate additional money to the cause)
  • If you have issues with the app, step tracking, etc. the app support team is very quick to respond

A special “thank you”

If you sign up to help within the next 24 hours, just forward me the signup confirmation email as proof and at the end of the challenge I will send you a copy of the HR Recertification Guide or the Rock Your Corporate Culture Guide, whichever you prefer, as a special “thank you” for supporting this challenge.

Thanks in advance for helping!

power of moments

I’m reading a new book, and it’s pretty amazing. The Power of Moments tells stories and gives examples of how to create amazing moments of value for employees, students, families, etc. Two of the principles from the book can be leveraged for employee reviews and I want to focus on them today.

Assurance + Expectations > Feedback

The first concept is called Assurance + Expectations. Researchers performed a study on students that received graded feedback on their work.

  • In the first group, students received a generic “these comments are feedback.”
  • In the second group, students received “I’m giving you this feedback because I have high expectations and know you can do better.”

After receiving the feedback the students had the opportunity to edit and resubmit their work. A much larger portion of group two resubmitted their work for review. But why?

The concept comes down to Assurance + Expectations. If we provide assurance and give a set of expectations, we can empower individuals to perform at a higher level, provide greater depth, and make the transaction much more of a positive experience. Those individuals in group one didn’t get any positive reinforcement, insight into expectations, etc.

Within the performance process, it’s not enough just to give someone a piece of feedback and move on, especially when it’s critical. We need to provide critical feedback in the context of assurance (you can do great work) and expectations (I expect you to do great work). That relatively minor change shifts the whole context of the conversation from punishing someone for messing up to helping them discover how they can improve.

Backward Integrated Design

The second concept that applies to the performance management process is backward integrated design. This basically means backing out the design process and starting with the outcomes you hope to achieve. For example, many would say the ideal outcome of performance appraisals would be to help employees perform better. But when we look at how they are structured (especially when done once or twice a year), that simply can’t be the case, because we spend our time measuring their old performance, rating it, telling them what they did right or wrong, etc.

Instead we need to think about what actually creates better performance:

  • Recognition
  • Coaching
  • Feedback

By incorporating these elements into the process we can actually improve our chances of hitting the overarching goal of improving employee performance. Our research shows that high-performing companies are much more likely than low performers to use these and other elements in the performance process. You can check out the rest of our findings on the Lighthouse Research website if you’re interested.

We're Only Human Podcast

HR compliance is a necessary evil in the workplace. Rarely do employers make it to the top of the “best employers” lists by handling FMLA or DOL regulations well. Yet time and time again we see HR professional flocking to sessions like “Top 10 Ways to Get Sued in 2018,” taking notes like this is golden content.

Why do sessions like those attract so much attention when they don’t help employers create a more employee-centric, engaging workplace?

In today’s podcast discussion, I get the answers to these questions and others by interviewing Mike Haberman, one of the HR industry’s best resources for staying on top of compliance and labor requirements. Mike takes a very balanced approach by covering not only the compliance topics, but also by exploring future trends and how employers can improve their HR practices.

It’s a fun discussion and listeners will be treated to the story of when I was audited by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, providing a great example of how NOT to make decisions about what’s best for your employees. #truestory

To connect with Mike or learn more about his work, you can find his blog at:
http://omegahrsolutions.com/

To listen to the archives of We’re Only Human and learn more about the show, check out:
http://upstarthr.com/podcast

how to comfort employees

I know I need to focus on engagement and our HR strategy. But how can I do that when some of our employees don’t even have homes to go home to?

When I had this conversation with an HR leader based in Houston just after the hurricane had unleashed flooding on the state, I had to think carefully about what I was going to recommend. In the end, what I told this woman was the same thing I will recommend today in more detail.

how to comfort employeesWhen employees are going through a tough time, we need to recognize the fact that they are humans.

People.

Individuals.

That man? He’s someone’s father, brother, or son. That woman? She’s someone’s mother, grandmother, or daughter. Just like the story I told in my initial episode of We’re Only Human when the podcast launched last year, it’s important to see people as people.

I haven’t lost sight of the fact that business often goes on as usual in many circumstances. Things need to get done. But by focusing on the person and their fundamental needs first, you can earn amazing loyalty that is difficult to quantify.

One really easy way to show that you care for someone in more mundane circumstances, such as when a child is sick, an employee is dealing with an aging parent, or even a more positive situation like the birth of a child, is to send something unexpected. Research shows that we don’t just like general surprises, we actually like to be delighted.

Spoonful of Comfort is a great example of how to do this with a relatively low investment. Recently my wife and I were struggling to handle several travel activities for my job while juggling the needs of our kids. Plus our youngest was facing a few doctor’s visits for some issue. Basically we were stretched to the max. Thankfully, the team at Spoonful of Comfort sent a care package over for me to test out and it happened to come at the exact perfect time for us. I was so appreciative!

  • We didn’t have to worry about pulling together a family-friendly meal
  • We were able to focus our time on our family needs and taking care of other priorities
  • One word: cookies.

If you’re looking for a simple, practical way to help your workers through a tough time, send them something that feeds their body while also meeting their need for appreciation and attention at the same time.

On a broader scale, people want to know that their employers care about them. They want to know that their managers and others are thinking of them, especially when things are difficult in their personal lives. In the instance of this horrific damage done in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere, it’s important for us as business leaders to stay in tune with what our employees need and make sure we’re offering a helping hand to the extent possible.

I can vividly remember when tornadoes ripped through north Alabama six years ago and one of our employees that had been with us for two days lost his home. Everyone gathered around him in spirit by donating leave so he could take the time with his family to recover and begin the project of replacing what they had lost.

Like many things in HR, this is simple, even if it’s not always easy in the moment. Pay attention to your people. Treat them like people. Meet their basic, fundamental need for attention and support. And in the long term, it will be worth the investment in the lives of the people that enable your business to function.