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How to Get 45+ Free HRCI Credits for the PHR or SPHR

This week I connected with a wonderful person who shared something that I just had to plug here. You know I’m a fan of certification and the benefits it can bring to your career. But once that certification is done you have that teensy, minor detail of getting 60 credit hours in order to recertify every three years.

Truth be told, many of us scramble at the last minute to get them in (or just to collect the information if we already attended enough events–goodness we can be so disorganized with our own professional development!) But what if I told you there’s a way to get 80% of the credits you need for your next recertification. For free. Over the Web. From the comfort of your home or office.

Yeah, I knew that would get your attention. :-)

free hrci credits hcm academyMay I introduce you to Ultimate Software’s HCM Online Academy? Let’s get you two acquainted.

What is it?

This tool was developed by the team at Ultimate to offer free learning opportunities to the HR community. Unlike many groups that offer archived webcasts, these courses fall under the “elearning” category for PHR/SPHR purposes, which means there is no cap on the number of credits you can earn. For those of you that didn’t know, many of the webcasts and webinars have a 20 hour limit each recertification window.

There are currently 48 recertification credit hours available, but that number is increasing over time as new classes are added. Want something more interactive than a video? There are additional resources and discussion forums available to take it further.

I have to give a shout out to Erika Shapiro for reminding me of this very cool initiative. Thanks again to Erika and the Ultimate team for making this available to the HR community in general and to the certified HR community specifically! Here are the reasons they recommend that you take advantage of this resource:

1. You’ll gain industry experience from HR executives who’ve already tested out-and found great success-with the concepts they’re discussing.

2. There’s no cost for you to attend! Where else can you gain industry knowledge for free, network with your peers for free, and earn recertification credit hours-for free?

3. No asking, no driving, no hassles! We know how hard it is to take time away from the office to attend tradeshows, workshops, seminars, and conferences. With the HCM Online Academy, you don’t have to ask your boss for permission to attend an event, get stuck in traffic, or worry about how much work is piling up back at the office.

4. You can view the materials as often as you’d like. Plus, the speakers’ presentations are broken down into digestible segments, so you can watch part now and then come back and watch the rest when you have time.

5. You can participate in the Academy at your convenience. Want to jump-start your morning by watching an inspirational HR video at the office? Please do so. Interested in viewing a presentation over lunch? Feel free. Can’t sleep at night? We’ll happily keep you company-and informed-24-7. In short, we’re ready when you are!

Have a friend or coworker who is certified? Forward them this link so they can reap the benefits, too!

Speeding Up Selection, Rewards, Training (and HR in General)

ricky bobby go fastThe other day I received an email from UPitch. It’s basically like Tinder for PR pitches. Still not sure? Here’s the gist:

You open the app and see a pitch. Then you have two options:

  • You don’t like it, don’t care, or generally are disinterested, then you swipe it left off the screen and see the next one (anonymously).
  • You like it and want to know more, you swipe it right and connect with the PR professional behind the pitch to begin the conversation.

What’s the point? Speed. Within a minute you can swipe through a dozen that are irrelevant to you personally and find the one or two that you want to pursue.

Taking the Leap

Now, what if we apply this to recruiting and HR? If you ask me, we’re in need of some speeding up. Many processes are bogged down and full of friction points. Employees need more from us. The business needs more from us. And we’re just struggling to fax in the darn health insurance forms. Yeah, I know the feeling. :-)

So, where were we? Oh yeah, uses for a speedy HR app. Here are a few potential ways to leverage this sort of technology:

  1. For HR: swiping across candidate resumes with a headline and 2-3 key bullet points
  2. For managers: picking out the right recognition/reward for employees who meet goals
  3. For employees: checking out available training/development opportunities
  4. For employees: (flipping responsibility for #2) looking through available rewards for meeting a goal
  5. For employees: bidding on open jobs/projects within the organization with their available time

Again, as I said earlier, this is very individualized, and it can even change depending on the day/time a selection is made. For instance, years ago one of my favorite managers would come by at 3:00 in the afternoon and say, “Grab your notebook. We’re walking downstairs for ice cream for a quick meeting to discuss some things. My treat!” Asking that at 9:00 in the morning might not have received an enthusiastic response, but in mid-afternoon it was the perfect way to show her appreciation and get everyone away from their desks for a bit.

So, what do you think? Crazy or awesome? What ways would you use something like this, whether for yourself or for manager/employee self service? 

The Front Line Leader (Video Book Review)

the front line leaderRecently I read The Front Line Leader by Chris Van Gorder while I was on a flight. Usually when I’m flying I take something fun/entertaining to keep my attention, but I needed to knock down my review pile so I grabbed this one.

I’m so glad I did.

I read it from cover to cover and made dozens of notes as I did. In short: this book is one of the best and most interesting that I have read in several years. It highlights Chris’ role as the CEO of Scripps Health Network and how he leads the organization, some of the practices they use, and loads of other interesting things about this innovative organization. Get your own copy.

The Front Line Leader Video Review

(email subscribers click through to view the video) 

20 other notes from the book

In order as I ran across them in the book, here are some of my notes. Many of these will become future blog posts! Which ones hit home for you?

  1. Managing on the front lines is not easy. Many executives try to avoid their front line workers and this is one of those reasons.
  2. The “executive fly by” doesn’t show your employees that you care–it reminds them how often you DON’T care. Be authentic or quit this fake stuff.
  3. Real leaders get dirty. Roll up your sleeves once in a while and jump in with the staff to accomplish something.
  4. Be accessible. Chris shares market news with the organization as a way to keep them abreast of information and to maintain his link with the staff.
  5. Puncture the CEO bubble.
  6. Be friendly with staff, but don’t be friends. There’s a difference.
  7. Highlight the elephant in the room, don’t let it hide.
  8. Engage your people in the bigger picture. It pays off.
  9. Tell personal stories that resonate with specific audiences. It’s more powerful and memorable.
  10. Managers should realize that it’s their job to advocate for their people. Create a culture of advocacy.
  11. An open door policy is not an invitation to passivity. You still have to get out there and talk with your people.
  12. If you won’t stand up for your people, you’re not a real leader.
  13. What if you had a commitment to help employees to reskill and find other positions instead of offering a termination letter and an apology? How would that change the exit relationship?
  14. People ask for authority and responsibility but not accountability. Help them understand that it’s intertwined with the other pieces.
  15. If the penalties of poor performance extend down and hurt all levels of employees, why not the benefits of good performance for the company? Reward people of all levels if the company is doing well.
  16. Use rewards to drive cultural behaviors and changes.
  17. Command and control is quick and painful. Collaboration is slow but sticky.
  18. Knowledge is power, especially when it’s shared freely.
  19. Structure doesn’t bring results–people bring results when they have good structures/systems in place.
  20. Have internal thought leaders that are driving employees to think and do things differently.

Which of these did you like best? Again, be sure to get your own copy of The Front Line Leader  if this sounds like a book you would enjoy.

Like this? Other book reviews can be found here.

Five Ways to Assess a Business’s Training Needs

assess training needsIf you’ve been tasked with conducting a training and development program, it’s important to look at the issue from all angles. This involves taking a deeper look at the role that each individual plays in the organization, and where there are gaps in the current employee training program. Here are five areas to focus on as you examine the organization’s training needs.

1. Analyze the organizational goals

One of the primary ways to identify a business’s training needs is by looking at the organization’s goals and strategies. An organizational assessment takes a deeper look at what these goals and objectives area, and how effective the team currently is at the moment. You can also look at the history of employee training and if it made any measurable changes in the organization’s performance. The purpose of this type of assessment is to help you see the bigger picture, forecasting where training would be required and how effective it would be.

2. Conduct a work or task assessment

Another type of assessment involves looking at a specific task or job. There are a number of ways to go about this. For example, you can observe high performing employees as they complete these tasks, ranking tasks in order of importance. Compare the tasks being performed with what is listed in the job’s description, to determine whether a given position involves additional tasks and the need for training. Some tasks involve processes which could potentially be improved with employee training. It’s helpful to compare the performance of both experts and novices in a given task, to maximize training.

3. Identify and prioritize areas of weakness

A key component of devising a customized training program for an organization is determining where the company’s areas of weakness lie. To do this, you’ll need to be able to measure and monitor performance, getting feedback from business partners or customers when applicable. It’s also helpful to speak directly to employees to see if there are any areas where they feel training would be particularly beneficial. Gather a variety of viewpoints to determine where improvement is most needed.

4. Assess the individual

After conducting assessments at the organizational and task levels, it’s also possible to look at each individual employee. An individual assessment looks at an employee’s existing skills, experience, strengths, potential, and learning style. This allows you to tailor a customized training program to best benefit each employee’s development, using the latest training and assessment techniques. Be sure to look at any training that an employee has already undergone as part of this assessment.

5. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis

Finally, you can look at the situation from a strictly financial perspective. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine what the return on investment of training and development would be. In many cases, an effective training program leads to a high return for an organization, but it may need to be scaled back or rolled out in stages for a maximum ROI.

Training and assessment is an important aspect of helping foster organizational and individual development, yet every business has different needs. Looking at it from many different angles can help ensure that training is tailored to be as effective as possible.

This post is courtesy of the team at


How to Ruin Credibility in One Easy Step

credibility integrityRecently someone asked this question on Quora, a site that I sometimes drop by to help shed some light on the world of HR:

If I lie about a past felony on job applications, will the California FCRA keep background checks from finding out?

The first two responses to the question were focused on what the law covers and how the person might hide their information–interestingly enough I don’t see their answers on the site anymore, so I’m not sure what to think on that. However, here’s what I offered as advice:

Since the others didn’t address it in their answer, I’ll go ahead and say it: you don’t want to start your career off with a lie. There are studies that show the number one predictor of long term success is integrity–if you’re willing to sacrifice yours now, well…

If I was the HR director at the organization and found out later that you had lied about something like that, we would terminate. If you lie to me once there’s a good chance you’ll do it again.

This isn’t a dig at you or your history–this is a plea to maintain your honesty, especially when it gets hard. There are careers that don’t require you to pass background checks (small employers and startups rarely use them).

My response was somewhat short, and to be frank I was fairly upset with the other commentators because they just accepted the decision to lie to an employer and went on with their business. I felt like it was my job to offer some insight based on hiring (or not hiring) these kinds of people in the past.

We’ve all seen the movie where the guy meets the girl, one of them lies, and then the rest of the movie is spent trying to hide and then fix that lie. It doesn’t always work out perfectly in real life like in the movies!

The problem with self-reported honesty

The other day I wrote about the podcast where the Chief Analytics Officer at Cornerstone OnDemand was talking about honesty. Candidates who said they were honest on pre-hire assessments were 33% more likely to be fired for policy violations.

When you ask a dishonest person if they are honest, they will probably lie. That’s the issue with self-reported honesty.

By the way, if you didn’t see the article, click over now and read points #20-23. They tie in nicely here.

Integrity matters

If you’ve never heard of Thomas Stanley, he is a researcher and has done some very interesting research on self-made millionaires in the US. These are not “trust fund kids.” They started with nothing and became wealthy over the course of their lives. When asked, the number one response from that group on what led to their success was integrity.

Most of what we think about millionaires is wrong, and his books (The Millionaire Next Door is my fave) shed light on how that works. I highly encourage you to check out his writings. The lesson here is not just that long-term success is based on integrity, but that a lack of integrity will in some way contribute to a lack of success.

Think that’s too general/vague to apply to you? SHRM did some research a few years back and showed that out of the top 5 key skills for HR leaders, two of those were ethics and integrity. I did a video to discuss the topic, and even though it’s old, the topic is still relevant. [Note to self: update that video series :-)]

Culture of trust

Here’s what I wrote previously about building a culture of trust:

Developing an intentional culture of trust is similar to gardening. When weeds begin to flourish, the answer is not to wipe out all nearby vegetation. The solution is careful weeding to take care of the specific offenders.

A few years ago I was at an event listening to the speaker talk about what had led to his organization being named on a local “best company” list for several years in a row. He said something to start his presentation that I will never forget.

You don’t create a “Best Place to Work,” you defend it.

That was such a powerful statement. You can develop a workplace that people really want to join, but in order to have a noteworthy organization for the long term you need to create a mindset that it is everyone’s job to protect the culture from harm. A great way to make that happen is by enabling employees to seek out those “weeds” and apply pressure to either get in line or get out. You should find willing participants, especially if the current employees have already begun reaping the benefits of a culture of trust (greater autonomy, less micromanagement, etc.) Here’s a hint: if your employees are willing to fight for you, then you’re probably on the right track.

The best example

The example I come back to when I’m thinking about how this plays out in the real world is a piece of glass. Once it has been broken I might be able to glue it back together and keep the pieces more or less in place, but it will never be the same. It will always be weaker and I will not want to rely on it as much due to its history of breakage.

If you break trust with someone, the same implications and consequences apply. Don’t just pursue integrity for yourself–teach the next generation that it’s worthwhile. Look for opportunities to encourage integrity when a choice puts it to the test, whether for you or for others.

Have you run across applicants or employees with integrity issues? How do you normally handle them? 

Top 10 Conversations with Employees (Seriously)

crazy employeesFun, happy, and crazy employees make this job awesome

I absolutely love this profession, but we have some interesting challenges in front of us. On one hand, HR really wants to be strategic. On the other, we deal with unbelievable people issues. The variety really keeps us on our toes! The notes below are based on comments I have had with employees and managers over the years, and I’m willing to bet you have had some of these, too. Feel free to add your own to the list below!

  1. I know you don’t like that brand of clothing that one of your employees wears, but we can’t create a policy banning it. Might I suggest something radical? How about taking with the individual directly?
  2. Yes, we have limits on what we can offer to candidates. That’s why we call it a compensation range, not just a compensation suggestion.
  3. No, you can’t fire her for poor performance solely because she’s not working as much as your other staff. She’s taking intermittent FMLA leave, remember?
  4. No, I can’t find someone with all of those qualifications you listed. The job requisition asks for a combined total of 72 years of experience.
  5. Sorry, tuition reimbursement doesn’t cover your travel to a quilting conference. No, I won’t request a waiver of the rules just for your “special” case.
  6. Certainly! We’d love to consider you for a promotion just as soon as you can start coming to work on time and sober for more than a two day stretch. No, I don’t think that’s asking too much.
  7. What do you mean you didn’t know about the seven emails I sent, the poster in the break room, the flyer I put on your desk, the letter I mailed to your home, or the all hands conference call where I explained the open enrollment deadline?
  8. I know you think you’re right, but cc’ing every management level up to the CEO on notes in your email battle with another individual is a bit much. Yes, it makes you look a bit crazy.
  9. I appreciate the retirement plan fund suggestions, but your brother’s company stock isn’t available through our company plan. Yes, I already checked.
  10. I know you think your employees are engaged, but your manager survey scores indicate otherwise. Why haven’t they said anything? Probably because of this “blows up angrily at any comment or question” item that I keep seeing on all of your survey results.

Bonus (vendor style): Yes, I’m well aware of the mistake, Mr. Insurance Provider. We provided the complete and accurate documentation in time and via your requested method. Apparently the mistake was choosing you as a provider since despite all that you managed to lose my employee’s application for coverage and are now denying them coverage.

So, which ones have you said lately to your employees? What would you add to the list? 

24 Things I Learned about Behavioral Science This Weekend

I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a nerd of many facets. Recently I listened to an episode of Freakonomics on behavioral science and really enjoyed it, so I listened to it all over again, took notes, and created lessons for you guys from them since it was just that good. Enjoy!

  1. We need to make it safe to have conversations others won’t naturally have. That’s how you make innovation an integral part of what you do, not an after the fact, bolt-on, clunky process. The more comfortable people are in making innovative comments, the more innovation you’ll have. The more “danger” people face in making innovative comments, the less you’ll have.
  2. Economics focuses on a perfect world. Behavioral economics focuses on real behaviors from real people in an imperfect world. Don’t assume all else will remain the same when you make a change in the workplace. There will be some unintended consequence, either for good or ill.
  3. Don’t assume cash is the answer to motivating people. They highlight a newspaper losing customers that brought in an agency to help them use non-cash incentives to retain subscribers, and they were incredibly effective (see #6).
  4. Use role playing to demonstrate new techniques. Don’t rely on PowerPoint or even something as interactive as employee video communicatins just to get the point across, especially when the interaction requires dialogue. Role playing might be a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s better than facing a new situation unprepared.
  5. Behavior trick #1 to get what you want: get some background on the “why” when you get a question/complaint. Use that in your counter. For example, “I want to cancel this subscription because I’m busy, have a full time job, and my kids are growing up so they need my attention” would warrant a response such as “Oh! Did you realize you could get reduced price movie tickets for you and your children with this subscription?”
  6. Behavior trick #2 to get what you want: using social norming (peer pressure) to help drive behaviors. “Many people in similar situations do xyz.” That pressures us to follow the norm and not take our own path, even if the norm seems to be against our own best interests at the time. “Most people choose x, but you can choose y or z” led to triple the conversion rate.
  7. Behavior trick #3 to get what you want: loss aversion is powerful. Basically, this means that it hurts us more to lose something than the pleasure of gaining something of equal value, even if we don’t particularly like what we have! Script: “I’d hate to see you miss out on that…”
  8. Reframe statements to be positive. Calls using positivity and the techniques above were 3x more successful with an 80% save customer/avert loss metric. Wow!
  9. More on social norming: we feel a sense of comfort doing what others do and mild anxiety of doing what others don’t. It’s the “herd mentality” at work.
  10. Human beings survive on inference (guessing about a situation based on known facts), so copying others is a fairly safe bet. people pay for big brands because they think there’s less chance of it being catastrophically awful.
  11. If you can play these emotions in other people you can get them to do what you want. In a position with a lot of influence opportunity but little hierarchical position power, this is a big deal. We are extremely irrational creatures, even though we like to think we are good at rationalizing things. Newsflash: we’re not. (click to tweet)
  12. The funny part is that these ideas aren’t new, they’re just being rediscovered and proven with empirical data. Shakespeare, Solomon, and others throughout history have used ideas like these to get their points across.
  13. Plus, advertising firms have been using these techniques for years–now they are gaining exposure elsewhere and for other types of situations.
  14. Moment of joy! They turn to HR/employment and bring on the Chief Analytics Officer from Cornerstone OnDemand, Michael Houseman. He talks about his mission to help companies hire and keep the best employees by analyzing all the potential factors of employment:  prehire assessment results, when the person was hired (or left), supervisor, shift, wages, overtime, etc.
  15. There is some correlation of pay vs longevity: pay enables people to stay longer. Data shows that a 10% increase in pay delivers a 5% decrease in quitting behavior.
  16. You know that “warm fuzzy” feeling someone gets from a raise? Research shows that feeling only lasts 1-4 weeks. (click to tweet)
  17. Wages are a lever you can use to drive behaviors, but other things keep your turnover low, and are less costly. For instance, finding better supervisor fit is a great opportunity.
  18. But seriously, how important is a supervisor in the employment relationship? The supervisor accounts for about as much reason someone will stay as all other factors (culture, job, wages, etc.) combined. Huge.
  19. Research shows that raw talent only predicts about 10-15% of success. This is the myth of “A players.”
  20. Measuring honesty in employment–people claiming honest were 33% more likely to be fired for policy violations. (click to tweet)
  21. The issue is in asking people if they are honest. Dishonest people are likely to answer falsely, and honest people are more likely to admit when they have faults here, skewing the numbers.
  22. The real way to measure honesty: applicants were asked about computer skills and level of tech savvy, then a couple screens later they were tested. Researchers compared the results of both data sets. In the end two groups emerged: one was honest and one was “creative” in their responses (cheating/lying, in other words).
  23. Honest employees tested better on virtually every performance metric, except for one: sales.
  24. And my personal favorite: employee web browser choice can indicate job proficiency. In their studies Chrome/Firefox users are better employees on every metric. They can’t speak to why that is or what the cause is, but the simple answer is they suspect users that are informed about technology and concerned with productivity will actively choose another browser and not rely on the built in (and poor overall choice) of Internet Explorer.

 So, what was most interesting for you? Anything truly surprising? 

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