A few weeks ago, one of my good friends was tapping away at his phone, and I asked him what he was up to. He told me that he was playing this “Clash of Clans” game online.

During my college days, I played games regularly. I enjoyed it, and it was a great way to pass the time. Now that I have kids I don’t have much time for games anymore, so I started to dismiss it. Then he said something that struck me. He was playing on a team with some of his peers from work.

After digging deeper into the story, I knew I wanted to share about it. Not just because I still have a fondness for games, but because this has some interesting impacts on the workplace as well.

Growing Up

One of my best memories growing up is playing games with my family: board games, word games, and all kinds of others. One of my absolute favorites is still Scattergories, in case you were curious. And when I think about those games I don’t think about which ones I won or lost. I think about the way I felt playing together and feeling like I was part of something special. Continue reading

A few years back, I was in a local mentoring group through my SHRM chapter. I heard a story from one of the senior level HR professionals in the room that has forever stuck in my mind.

Recently they had won an award as the “best place to work” in our area, and the others in the room were asking for the secrets to their success.

Here’s a paraphrased version of the story.

Others began talking about how their ratio wouldn’t allow for an HR person to be embedded into the work groups of 50-80 employees, and the conversation quickly began to turn into a “Well, we have 150 employees and only 1 HR person” discussion. People were actually proud of the fact that they were extremely lean in HR staff.

Now, assuming there’s work to be done, I am a big fan of avoiding that overly-lean level of staffing in the HR function. Check this:

Sometimes you have to stop and wonder where common sense has gone. Companies are expecting more from their HR team than ever before, but according to data gathered by XpertHR, companies are increasing the number of employees relative to the number of HR professionals. This leads to a number of trickle-down effects, but the major one is forcing those human resources employees into a more administrative function.

No, it’s just an ever-increasing spiral in an attempt to decrease costs and increase efficiency. While you’ll never meet someone who’s for increasing costs and lowering efficiency, that does come with its own baggage. Recent information from Gallup puts employee disengagement higher than 25%.  Source: HR to employee ratio

Now that I’m off my soapbox, let’s look back at the original idea. Embed HR pros in the employee work groups. Don’t centralize the HR function in a remote location and expect to get the same results in the areas of recruiting, employee relations, etc. The more time I spend getting to know our people, their work, and our customer, the better I can serve them as an HR professional, pure and simple.

So, let’s take a peek at the “groundbreaking” concepts that you can use to make your HR team great.

The big three

  1. Let HR interact with the employees, managers, and leadership team. Yes, all of them.
  2. Have enough bandwidth in the HR team to do more than just cover administrative functions. Unless you like being a secretary.
  3. Be in the middle of things. There’s no substitute.

And I didn’t mention it outright before, but it needs to be said–don’t use the employee to HR ratio as a means of measuring effectiveness in your function. Some industries think 1 HR pro to 100 employees is perfect, but they also might have different challenges from following that formula with no regard for the people on the other side of the equation.

Want a breakthrough in company performance? Hire great people (HR included!) and let them work. It’s a pretty neat concept. 

Today I want to talk about HR competition. And cooperation. It’s something that I stop to consider every so often, and I am curious if I’m the only one who really thinks about it. Here’s my thought process in a nutshell:

We as HR professionals are very collaborative. We’re cooperative. But we’re also competitive. Whether we want to admit it or not, the companies we work for are often competing for the same customers and the same dollars. In the short video below I look at the collaboration vs competition mindset we hold as HR professionals.

Subscribers click here to view the video.

While I think there’s plenty of competition to go around, I also know that there’s a collaborative aspect that we all can leverage as well. This comment by Brad Lomenick says it very well.

Question: How do you become Collaborative without Competitive?

Answer: Collaboration has to flow from a place of generosity, truly believing that a higher tide lifts all boats. Be more concerned with others. Listen instead of talk. Be interested over interesting. To be collaborative we must understand that it’s not about me. It’s not about your organization, your non profit, or your project. It’s about connecting people, not competing. Collaborators are okay sharing their wisdom, their knowledge, their connections, and their networks, because collaboration means working together alongside others. Co-laboring. Building bridges instead of constructing walls… When you have an abundance mindset you are more likely to collaborate instead of compete. Avoid the scarcity mentality – the idea that there is only so much to go around.

I know some amazing HR pros who embody the cooperative spirit. Who do you know that fits that mold? Do you have a more collaborative or competitive mindset? Why?