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.

Every year I republish my “state of the HR union” article from previous years with new additions and edits as a challenge to each of you. Am I on target, or did I miss anything pertinent? 

Early every year, the President of the United States makes an address to the nation. The purpose of the annual “State of the Union” address is to give an account of the year’s events and discuss the priorities of the coming months. If communicated properly, this is an opportunity to reach a larger audience, share major goals, and get buy-in from the constituency.

So, why don’t we give it a shot?

hr-state-union-address

I think every HR pro needs to have their own State of the Union address within their own company, department, or team (depending on the level of responsibility). This is strategic HR communication at its best, and it could become a valuable tool to allow leaders to peer into the inner workings of the HR strategy while allowing HR leaders to share key results areas as well. In fact, even compliance can be strategic, if communicated properly.

When I think about this, I remember the best boss I ever had. She did an annual HR “touch base” meeting to get us on the right track, get everyone on the same page, and help to lay out key themes and strategies for the year. In reality it was a team of two of us, but she brought in additional stakeholders and interested parties to hear the session, giving them a peek into our priorities. It also allowed them to see how we might be able to help them and enable their success, a primary part of how I define successful HR.

She was always good at pointing out the need to be agile, knowing that business needs could dictate changes in our approach. Knowing that the HR strategy could change rapidly helped to give me some sense of control, despite the complete lack of it! That’s one reason I put together the following video a while back, because I know that the HR strategy sometimes changes, shifts, or even fails. We need to be prepared for some of those eventualities.

Featured Video: What to Do if Your HR Strategy Fails

HR Needs to Step Up

Are you ready for me to step on your toes? Here’s a quote from one study I found:

“Only 20 percent of [the largest publicly traded] companies discuss HR in their reports to shareholders. About one-quarter provides only limited references to the workforce, and some don’t mention their employees at all.”

Can you imagine how our stakeholders would react if we spent 30-50% of our budget on a resource and then never followed up about how it was being utilized? In effect, this is what’s happening with regard to our human capital investments. People are quick to say that payroll is the largest line item in a company’s budget, but then when it comes to proving how we’re doing in terms of diversity, development, direction, etc. we fall down on the job.

I did a little digging and found a few examples of HR annual reports that organizations have created. You’ll see some interesting insights in them, from hard statistics proving the value of the HR function to strategic plans for the coming year ahead.

  • Deutsche Bank-Lays out progress toward long-term “Strategy 2020” goals that belong to the business, not HR. This example also provides the most comprehensive data around specific performance of the various HR practices–for example, 1 in 3 employees were hired from internal candidates and 10,000+ internal staff changed roles during the year, providing ongoing talent and development opportunities for workers.
  • John Carroll University-Gives a one-page executive summary followed by monthly highlights of programs and contributions to the organization.
  • UCF-Demonstrated specific metrics around HR performance, from increased screening measures to specific training points and diversity improvements.

Nobody said you have to create a full-color, 25-page report to show what you’re doing. But a one-page executive summary with key insights into the core HR areas? That’s totally doable. At a minimum, it should cover:

  • Recruiting–what has your performance been like? Common metrics? Best success story as a case in point?
  • Training and development–how much, what kind, and most importantly, what has it enabled the business to achieve?
  • Safety and health–what is the progress/status? What’s the well-being of your staff? Are they performing and productive?
  • Strategy–is your HR team aligned with the business in terms of overarching strategy? Can you demonstrate that alignment with a few examples of how HR projects and accomplishments translated into the business strategy or impacted business outcomes?

How big is your “union?”

As I stated above, depending on where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, you might only be addressing your HR teammates. Or maybe you have the ability to snag an audience with your senior leadership team, and you’re willing to put together a short presentation for that group.

Whatever the case, the size and target audience will be different for everyone, but the tips below will still help you in defining what to discuss.

What to say

Okay, so I’ve sold you on the idea of delivering your own “state of HR” address, but what do you actually say? Here are a few ideas

  • Talent retention—Discuss retention initiatives and any cost savings associated with reduced turnover
  • Learning and development—Give examples of new human capital capabilities brought about by learning and development investments
  • Performance management—Talk about increased performance or reduced turnover expenses associated with improved employee performance
  • Leadership strategy—Provide insights into the role the leadership strategy has played in supporting business growth
  • Sales strategy and planning—Offer data to demonstrate how HR supported the needs of the sales staff and leadership

These certainly aren’t the only topics you can cover, but this is a good starting point based on what organizational leaders want/need to hear. Remember, your goal is to demonstrate that HR isn’t just a cost center, but that you’re bringing value to the organization and its people on a regular basis.

The bottom line? This is your chance to get in front of a key audience (whether it’s the rest of your team or another influential group) and share your message about how HR’s priorities align with those of the business.

What are you waiting for?

Closing Question to Ponder

  • Which stakeholders would benefit most from hearing this address from you or your HR leaders?
  • What are the key issues your leaders are facing that you can include in your address?
  • What is the best format for your culture, geography, and leadership preferences that makes sense to deliver this? Internal webinar/teleconference? In-person with slides? Handouts and a conference room? Hint: think about how finance or marketing would present something like this and do something similar, assuming those functions are respected within the organization.

When I speak about HR strategy, one of the things that inevitably comes up is that it’s hard to plan ahead. Things change. The business changes. The objectives shift. It makes it difficult to pin down the right HR strategy to support the organizational goals.

And that’s okay. Death, taxes, and change are the things we can count on in this life. In the video below I tell a personal story that helps to illustrate the need to not only be prepared for change, but to actually expect it in some regard so that the molehills don’t become mountains.

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It’s quick and to the point, but I hope you get the idea. We can let changes break us down or we can use them to get smarter, faster, and better in our approach.

I’d love to hear your story! Tell me about a time (whether in HR or not) where you had a carefully crafted plan and things suddenly went awry. How did you cope? What were the results? I enjoy sharing stories with my audience both here and from the stage, because stories are powerful and connect us at a deeper level than a series of stats and data points.

 

One of the challenges for HR pros is not necessarily gathering data. We’re pretty good at that, since we have access to recruiting, benefits, and a host of other business practices. The hardest thing many people have trouble with is actually in the delivery. How can I share this data so others understand? What can I do to get people to pay attention to this critical business area? Why doesn’t this data get the same treatment as that coming from finance or marketing?

Today I’m going to share a short video with you that is going to change how you share data internally. It involves you crafting a story around the information to make it compelling. In the video I talk about a friend who, years ago, was writing some of the greatest content I had ever seen. I asked him why he was not using some of the concepts to make it more Google-friendly so that other people could find the content, and he protested that he was not simply “writing for Google’s sake.” I asked if he thought his content was helping people, and he agreed that it was. So I simply told him that if he wanted to reach more people and help more people, he could add in some small tweaks to his work to help the search engines pick up his content and deliver even more people to his site. Ultimately he would be helping many more individuals that way.

This is the same concept. If you can wrap your data and information in a story, you are going to reach and help more people. Enough talk, here’s the video.

If this was helpful for you, I have two other posts in my HR data series:

Do you tell stories when it comes to sharing data or interacting with others? Would you be interested in learning how to create stories that engage and educate others? 

Recently I asked for some help in preparing for a local session on HR compensation challenges. I had some good responses and wanted to share some of the insights and advice with everyone. I’ll be sharing two blogs on the topic: determining what to offer employees and how to get managers on board. 

The second most cited HR compensation challenge faced is how to keep managers in line and/or get managers on board with decisions. In the video below I discuss some of the ways to accomplish that. A few ideas:

  • Do you have a written compensation policy or process? When I started putting things in writing with clear instructions it helped to reduce issues.
  • Also, it helps to explain the structure/process because not all managers understand how compensation “works.”
  • Give them a sense of the budget, what decisions are made, how a single change affects others, and what your responsibilities are to ensure accurate information across the company.
  • Above all else, be a partner, not just a gatekeeper. Explain how the guidelines aren’t there to give them a hard time–they’re there to protect them, the budget, and the company.

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Recently I asked for some help in preparing for a local session on employee compensation challenges. I had some good responses and wanted to share some of the insights and advice with everyone. I’ll be sharing two blogs on the topic: determining what to offer employees and how to get managers on board

The number one response that HR professionals said was most difficult was figuring out what to offer. In the video I talk about some of the key ways to determine that information, including using local salary surveys for the cheapest and most accurate information. I would encourage companies to avoid using free, unverified tools like salary.com for building compensation structures. In addition, I discuss the importance of having an overarching compensation strategy to drive decisions from a high level. Check it out!

Employee compensation challenges video

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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

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