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Team Difficulties-Why is this so hard?

I’ve talked here before about teams and what makes them work (or not). Have you ever stopped to think about why it’s so difficult to get teams working in the right direction?

  1. Different people want different things from their work.
  2. Different personal styles/personalities.
  3. Interpersonal communication preferences.
  4. Power struggles and competing agendas.
  5. Politics.
  6. Lack of participation.
  7. Members who reject new ideas because “we’ve never done it that way before.”
  8. People with a constant sense of negativity.
  9. Team that agrees on everything too quickly just to avoid conflict.
    Keep reading…

Onboarding Process or Onboarding Mess?

Last week I dropped in on a webinar by the Brandon Hall Group and one of the comments floored me.

40% of organizations say their onboarding process is “less than effective.” Wow. @BrandonHallGrp

— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) February 12, 2014

Seriously? 40%? That’s pretty incredible, considering the amount of information available out there to help with this process. In the organizations I’ve worked in, there have been three players involved in an employee’s onboarding:

  • Recruiting brings the person in during the recruiting process, then gives them to HR
  • HR helps with the basics up through day one, then hands them to their manager
  • The manager either does their own internal team welcome/kickoff/assimilation, or they don’t. It’s fairly obvious which one occurs, because the difference is obvious within only a few days on the job.

I’ve written previously on the topic of onboarding, and I feel like those suggestions alone are enough to get the processes up to snuff for many smaller organizations. Whether it’s onboarding tips for managers, the importance of intimate and personal contact, or onboarding remote employees, plenty of information exists to help HR professionals, managers, and organizations DO onboarding better.

The SHRM Foundation put out a solid guide to maximizing success during the onboarding process a few years back, and I’m sure you can find at least one or two tips (or a dozen) to increase the effectiveness of your own internal workings.

The bottom line is this: we hear the numbers like I quoted above, and we feel helpless to act, or we feel like “at least we’re not the only ones,” or we think ours is “good enough.” There’s no shortage of excuses. However, while it’s never going to be perfect, you can always be looking for ways to make it better.

Let me put it this way: if your competitor down the street is getting new hires up to speed in 4 weeks and it takes you 8 weeks to get the person to the same proficiency level, they are going to beat you. When you think about it in that context, it gives the argument considerable weight.

Better people practices lead to better company performance.

Let’s make it happen! How are you going to tweak your onboarding process to make it more effective?

Employee Retention Techniques

Recently I was talking with someone about employee retention techniques and how to get people to stay at your organization. At first I gave a rote answer based on my gut, but after thinking on the topic for a while I realized there were some pretty significant pieces to the puzzle. I would hazard to guess that the multitude of options explains why there isn’t a magic bullet for fixing retention problems overnight.

In the video below I talk through some of the key employee retention techniques and give a reminder that not all turnover is bad. In fact, we measure two separate items there: turnover (any staff leaving over time for any reason) and retention (voluntary turnover). Check it out:

Employee retention techniques video

Employee retention video notes

Here’s the short list of important items:

  • Respect-for the people and their work
  • Fit-culture fit, baby!
  • Basics-pay/benefits are a basic must
  • Challenge-offer a challenging, growth-oriented environment
  • Professional development, or mentoring for higher level-give people something more than a job
  • Connect with mission-have a mission worth buying into
  • When in doubt, ASK  your people what they want from you
  • Not all turnover is bad!
  • Retention vs. Turnover

Also, please don’t forget that I put together a free guide to employee retention that you can download, print, or share. Lots of great content in there from some excellent professionals in the industry.

What are your employee retention techniques? What has worked for you in the past?

HR Certification Training Course

Over the past few years I’ve put significant time and effort into researching, developing, and sharing HR certification training tools. Today I am unveiling a new course I developed over the past few months that I’m excited about. Read on for how you can get it for way cheap (or just go check it out now).

While I had released the very popular SPHR/PHR Self Study Course a while back, I felt like something was missing. I really wanted to incorporate more video content as a way to help students feel more engaged and to help convey some thoughts and ideas that were difficult to translate in a written context.

Then I found the Udemy platform. Udemy is a tool for developing and delivering courses to students around the world. I was itching to try it out, and then I remembered my desire to incorporate more video into a study tool. The HR Certification Study Course was born! A few highlights:

  • This course was designed to be used in conjunction with the HRCP study materials for the PHR/SPHR exams. HRCP offers a money-back guarantee if you do not pass, and I am a big fan of that policy. Plus, it’s much less expensive than the other options!
  • The course includes over five hours of video content.
  • This course is meant to take the place of going to a local study group, sitting there for an hour, and going home for additional studies. Sometimes that isn’t feasible due to geographic restrictions, scheduling issues, lack of local programs, or a multitude of other reasons. Now you can watch the course from the comfort of your home!
  • The promo video for the lecture is below. Check it out!

Get the friend discount!

For the duration of this week, I’m giving blog readers $50 off the price if you use this link. This offer expires Friday the 14th of February, so “get it while the gettin’ is good” as we say in the South. :-) This is for lifetime access, so if you plan to take the exams any time in 2014 or 2015, this is the best price you’ll ever see on this course.

Also, please note that this is my first venture with Udemy, so any input, feedback, or thoughts are appreciated! Thanks, as always, for your support. You guys are the best!

Promo video

Articulate Your Culture

I talk about corporate culture often. Very often, in fact. You can tell what people value by what they talk about most often, so it’s no surprise that I believe a solid culture is one of the key ways to differentiate your organization.

But there’s a problem with that. See, you have to know what it means when you talk about this “culture” thing. If a new hire comes in, how do you explain it to them? If someone is not fitting the culture and needs to move on, how do you explain the invisible requirements they are not satisfying?

 

It’s time to take a few moments to articulate your culture. Define, in concrete terms, what it really looks like. Whether it’s through legends, core values, or something else. I was recently hiring for an opening, and I wanted to put together my “service philosophy,” but it’s also a good peek at what the culture is like and what we expect from our people. Here are a few of those key pieces:

  • Find ways to say “yes” as often as possible
  • No job is too small or insignificant
  • The better we treat our staff, the better they treat our customers
  • Talk about the “why” of what you do as often as the “what”
  • Everyone should know what winning looks like

Those are just a few of the concepts, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. If more people took the time to explain these sorts of things, there would be fewer poor hires and thus fewer unhappy/disengaged staff.

Have you ever taken the time to articulate your culture in real terms? What sort of information did you share? What would your bullet points look like?

Hey, We’re High Tech, Too!

When I tell people I work in Huntsville, I usually get a glassy-eyed stare in return. I mean, really, I work in Alabama. How great could that really be, right? Cotton fields… Relatively low population density… Who cares? :-)

madison countyThe other day I ran across this study and wanted to share. Just click on the image to view it larger. The gist of it is that the top three fastest growing technology jobs areas are all centered right in Silicon Valley. No big surprise, right? But number four on the list is my own hometown of Huntsville! Pretty cool to see.

With the concentration of NASA, Redstone Arsenal, and the various other government contracting firms in the area, we are not what people think about when they think of Alabama.

In a 2011 study, Huntsville came in as the “4th geekiest city in the US” based on the number of math/science-based jobs and the average educational level of the people in the city.

What’s the point?

I’m using a familiar place to illustrate the example, but I get a few key lessons from this kind of thing.

  1. Don’t assume you know everything about a place unless you’re familiar with it. I live just outside Huntsville and didn’t even know this stuff until recently. 
  2. Know the place you’re recruiting for, because it helps when you have to relocate someone to the local area. Some people are drawn to cities with more people, others prefer a more rural existence (rural recruiting), and some don’t much care either way. 
  3. Now I have an idea of why it’s hard to find good engineering talent when we have openings. Lots of competition!

Have you ever been surprised by a place you had to recruit for?

76% of CEOs Value Relationship with HR

I was reading a white paper recently that touched on the role between HR and the CEO, and it was something I have experienced personally and never took the time to put into words. There are a few key roles that the head of HR plays when it comes to the CEO, and I have listed a few below. But first, a quote:

75% of CEOs say their relationship with the head of HR is close and trustful and 76% hail it as one of their most valued.

Most valued. Wow. That’s both an opportunity and responsibility that many HR professionals should not take lightly.

Informal coach

In terms of feedback, HR takes on the role of informal executive coach to the CEO. They will provide input on things that might not be at the forefront of the CEO’s thoughts and help them to get their message across in a way that is “comfortable” for the parties involved.

“Safe” performance improvement feedback

In cases where critical feedback might be necessary, the HR person might have to provide “safe” performance feedback to the executive. In this context, “safe” means direct, private, and confidential. The advice is provided directly to the CEO, it’s in a private location, and the feedback is confidential and will not be repeated.

Personal touch

The one that I’ve seen more of is what my friend likes to call “the office spouse.” I liken it to my relationship with my wife in that when we go somewhere, I look at her helplessly and say, “Who is that guy’s wife again?” and “What did you say happened to their son?” She has those minor details all memorized. Same relationship at work: the CEO expects the HR professional to have the staff information on a personal level close at hand, among other things. In addition, HR acts as a representative of the staff. The CEO can also ask (this ties back in with the two points above) how staff will receive/comprehend an announcement about upcoming changes, whether good or bad.

The relationship between the executive leadership and HR is an interesting one with many facets. I think this is an area for HR to be strategic to a certain extent. The relationship is a very personal one, and just like any friendship there can’t be more taking than giving; however, it can be an excellent way to facilitate necessary discussions in a safe way.

Have you ever had a one-on-one relationship with a CEO? What do you remember most about it? 

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