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Browsing Posts in HR Trends

I recently read an article about complaining at work that reminded me of an email that flew around years ago.  It was supposedly a speech given by Bill Gates to graduating college students and it hung on my refrigerator for years.  In fact, it may still be there under our soccer, baseball and gymnastic schedules and fundraiser information.  This was the one that tried to reel in the expectations for a graduate by pointing out things like “Life is not fair – get used to it!” and “Flipping burgers is not beneath you.”   I believe this was back in the day when things were great all around and my generation (I’m dating myself) kind of disgusted me as being spoiled and  ridiculous.  The more I think about it, it probably is buried somewhere on my fridge – I wanted to have it in case I had kids someday.

I think this article is well written and to the point – it names the complaint and possible solutions for the employee recommending that complaining will get you no where.   I am interested in how many of these complaints really cause disruption.  Some of them make sense professionally, such as having too large of a workload, but do your employees really invest a lot of time in complaining about there being a lack of decent restaurants within the vicinity of the office?  Wouldn’t this be something that was known prior to accepting the position?

Hasn’t there been an attidue adjustment with the economical changes most companies have experienced that would mean an automatic reduction in complaining in general?   I, for one, am grateful to have a job at all so even if I had all kinds of issues, (which luckily, I do not) my attitude would still be one of gratitude.  Of course, my experience with people currently looking for work may be a little too close for objectivity.  How disruptive are these complaints in real life and has there been any reduction in the amount or type of complaints you deal with?

As I read article after article about social media and what it means to Human Resources, the more I see that this is a huge topic that is only going to get messier and probably create far more questions than anyone will have answers for.

Here are some examples of the different topics and the opinions being formed. I encourage you to take a look at these articles, and particularly the comments, to see the many discussions taking place.

  • There is the argument made by fellow blogger Lance Haun that you don’t need a social media policy. His opinion is that too much policy is a bad thing and if the focus is on education, there isn’t a need for policy. Do you have a policy? Do you need one?


  • Another example is a very scary article about Pre-Crime coming to HR by Mike Elgan that essentially shifts responsibility for employees’ future behavior to the company based on what can be learned by mining social media platforms. Will HR ultimately end up responsible if you don’t monitor social media?


  • There is an interesting article written by Michael Greco regarding whether updating profiles after an employee leaves is considered breaking the non-compete agreement. How do your contracts read? Is social media included when your employees sign their employment contracts, non-competes, and confidentiality agreements? Do you think it should be?


  • Then there is the debate about whether it is ethical to use social media when recruiting. Laurie Ruettiman wrote a post citing personal experience as an example of why it is wrong to do so. Do you use it to recruit? Do you believe it is public and therefore okay? Do you think it is unethical?


  • Jeannette Palodino wrote a blog post about the success IBM has had in using social media to engage and retain employees. The choice of whether to promote its use or restrict it is yet another hot topic. Has it been a useful tool for you to engage employees? Have you considered using social media in this way?


Reading all of these articles has led me to three conclusions:

There seem to be an equal number of people on each side of each issue and pretty much all the arguments are compelling.

The only certainty is that there is no certainty. Things are changing rapidly and even the Supreme Court is ruling on both sides of many of these subjects, depending on the situation.

Human Resources should not ignore social media. It is already having a huge effect on your department whether you like it or not, and it is not going to go away.

Do you discuss the impact social media is having on your employees, your company brand, your methods, and the legal ramifications of these impacts? Do you use it, monitor it, and keep up to speed on the debates that are occurring around social media?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation recently given by a CEO about the strategic role HR has played in the success of his organization.  And he has a very successful company.  Although his HR department has always gotten his full support, I realized while he spoke that there must be things HR can do to earn that support, even if you don’t necessarily have it now. 

One of the things that struck me most was the value he placed on the trends he was informed of by HR regarding his employees.  He counts on HR to be aware of who is doing a poor job of managing, what the employees are frustrated about in the resources they are provided, how the employees feel about where the company is going, how the employees perceive their individual career development – really everything that the employees had to say.  Is it possible that you have this information but never thought to put it together in a cohesive way, present it to the owners or executives, and recommend solutions? 

Another area where he values HR’s is their creativity in coming up with ideas that make employees happy.  These things range from a diner within the building because traffic is hellatious and there is nowhere within walking distance to eat, to the implementation of a “quiet room” for those on break who just need a few moments to decompress in solitude, to an employee recognition program where employees can publicly give kudos to each other via the intranet.  These are just a small number of the programs this company has in place that he credits directly to HR.  Is it possible that you know the different things that would make your employees happier but haven’t made these recommendations under the assumption that nothing would come of it?  Can you show in dollars and cents the impact small changes may make in terms of production?  Or maybe how production is impacted when morale is down?

A third example he mentioned involves HR recommending a different hiring process that aligns with the company values.  HR realized that their most productive employees shared the mindset that fit into the culture of the organization.  The technical skills matter of course, but they suggested that the core qualities that align with the mission statement ultimately end up being more important.  HR recommended 16 personality traits that must be present regardless of skill set because they accumulated examples where the top talent had a derogatory effect on the team and ultimately the company.  Because of the data HR had, they were able to change the hiring process to focus more on these traits than on skills and show why this would ultimately mean more production in the long run.  And it has.  Do you have this information regarding who ends up being a good employee and who doesn’t?  Have you considered recommending a new hiring process based on what you see?

Many seem to think that without the CEO supporting the value of HR, Human Resources can never be a strategic partner in an organization.  But have you ever tried to earn that support?  This particular CEO explained that he has no time for whiners and what he values most is not only a description of a problem but a recommendation on how to fix it.  If you take the approach that you have information that is helpful to the company, support it with data, and then suggest a solution, will you then find yourself with a “seat at the table”?

Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on the lack of support for HR and instead take the initiative to make HR invaluable.  I would love to hear examples of anyone who has tried and what response you received.

Everywhere you look online you will see articles about all the people preparing to quit their jobs.  One article says 95% percent of employees will consider looking for a new job.  The Spherion Workforce study released last week shows many reasons why, including lack of security, increased workload with no additional pay, and an inability to completely disconnect from work when on vacation or even when sick.

But a manager’s role is the most important factor.  A Gallup poll of more 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.  ERC, Ohio’s leading HR organization, recommends 5 ways to engage employees to help retention.  Numbers one and two involve training managers to pay attention to certain behaviors so that they can be addressed and holding managers accountable for retaining their best team members.

If you want to assess whether managers at your company are responsible for the loss of talent there are few questions you can ask yourself. 

 Have you heard of an employee who left to take the exact same job somewhere else for LESS money?

 Have you learned about people leaving and saying that they would be a “better fit” somewhere else?

Has anyone ever told you they are leaving because they just have differing philosophies than their boss?

If you have, you might need to hire better managers

The best managers are those that are going to take accountability.  They will ask “What didn’t I do that resulted in one of my members wanting to leave my team?” 

Do you have employees leaving for non-better jobs?  Do you pay attention to the relationship between your managers and their teams?  Do you train your managers and hold them accountable for retention?

I apologize in advance if this turns into a rant.  I’m about to hop up onto one of my biggest soapboxes.  I am very interested in whether HR is seeing any ramifications yet in employees or applicants. 

What is with the whole attitude surrounding kids’ sports these days?  We can’t keep score at games because we don’t want anyone to know the other team is better than them.  We can’t let kids on the same team compete for starting positions because that puts too much pressure on them.  We can’t punish anyone who doesn’t show up for practice because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  We go for ice cream after every game instead of only when we win.  We can allow kids to practice with their team but not participate in meets or games if they feel nervous. After your part of the meet or game is done, you can leave.  Everyone gets a trophy.

I don’t understand what happened to change the way “competitive” sports (and I use that term loosely) are run now versus when I was a kid.  And what are we teaching our children?

Here is a list of life lessons I learned by participating in sports as a kid:

Competition – It is much more fun to win than to lose.  But you compete mainly against yourself and if you’ve done well, you can feel good about losing.

Goal Setting / Ambition – Lots of hard work pays off and achieving your goals feels awesome.  Once you do, you set new goals.  And you do your best, all the time. 

Dedication – A team is a group of people who depend on you to do your part.

Teamwork  - You win as a team and you lose as a team.  There is no I in team.  Your teammates will encourage you when you are struggling, will teach you things you do not know yet, and will share both your successes and failures with you.   You do the same for the other members of the team.

Commitment – When you commit to being on a team, you do not quit.  You may choose not to join again in the future, but you committed to the season and you will show up.

Humility – Sometimes your best is NOT good enough.

Respect – Your coach is the head of your team and is there to push you to be your best.  You may not like what they are saying or making you do, but they are above you in the hierarchy and you will treat them with respect.  Likewise your teammates, even if they have a bad day.

Sportsmanship – How to lose gracefully.  And more importantly, how to win gracefully.

Coping Skills / How to Manage Emotions – How to manage nervousness, pressure, disappointment in yourself, and disappointment in a team member, just to name a few.

I believe wholeheartedly that we are doing a disservice to our children by the way competitive sports are handled now.  At some point they are going to try to get a job and how are they possibly prepared for that?  We have now taught them that the world revolves around them (me, me, me), they don’t have to work hard to be rewarded, and no one will criticize them.  Their feelings will never be hurt, they’ll never be turned down for a job, and they are entitled to all kinds of great things just because they exist.   Participation is the only requirement to be successful.  Do we want a generation of people who strive for mediocrity? 

This does not even remotely resemble the real world.

Are you seeing the effects of this yet?  When you are interviewing applicants, do they have a sense of entitlement?  Do you find yourself dealing with a lack of these life lessons with your current employees?  Are candidates and employees dedicated, committed, and respectful?  Or do you now spend a lot of energy trying to create this mindset?

With the advent of text messaging, spell check and Twitter an annoying trend is emerging – the inability to spell or communicate effectively using the written word.  And a who cares attitude to go along with it.  I certainly have my opinion on this topic, which you can figure out from the first sentence, but I wonder if it’s just me? 

I have done some research and opinions do vary.  There is a wide gap in tolerance of these mistakes by people who read resumes.  Some people provide feedback with an opportunity to correct, which I think is very generous, but many either toss the resume immediately or require a little more effort on the candidate’s part to prove him or herself to “make up for” the mistakes.

There are typos and then there are grammatical errors.  Spell check does not always catch every spelling error due to context.  It is only a computer doing the thinking after all.  You also may or may not get the squiggly green line when you should.  The result is the same – if there is a mistake YOU need to catch it and not depend on a program that doesn’t think to understand what you are trying to say.  I may be a bit harsh but what I take from that is you didn’t actually read what you wrote, which I extrapolate to laziness. Or, at the very least, a laissez-faire attitude.  If you don’t care now, how much will you care when you already have the job?  When writing a resume, being a bit anal is better.

Now I try to be humble and know that I may in fact proofread an email 6 or 7 times (which I do) and as soon as I hit send, I will see a typo.  It happens.  (Makes me CRAZY but no one is perfect.)  But with something like a resume, it should be proofread 6 or 7 HUNDRED times.  By multiple people.  This is your one shot to make a first impression and problems with your resume say a lot about you, none of it good.   

Why not err on the side of caution?  Proofread, proofread, proofread.  You never know who will be reading it, and if it happens to be someone like me, spelling and grammar matter.

That being said, please feel free to comment on any typos or grammatical errors you see in my posts!!  :)

Engagement and trust have been the subject of numerous posts now and it feels like everywhere I turn, this is being discussed.  I think that is because of the job evolution that is taking place – as the economy begins to turn around (we hope), those still employed are being challenged to fill different roles.  Managers are being challenged to retain their top talent and improve morale within the organization.   These circumstances make “engaging employees effectively” a very hot topic.  There are many differing opinions on how to go about achieving this goal of engagement (some of which I will mention below), but there is a definite consensus that it is mandatory for a company’s survival.  Engaged employees equal productive employees, and productive employees equal more money.

One of my favorite articles on this topic is 5 Ways to Ensure Mediocrity in Your Organization (and not just because # 1 on the list supports a couple of my previous posts).   I personally have a huge appreciation for witty and satirical writing (sarcasm is my friend), but great points are also made in this article.  Trust will make your company profitable. 

While researching for my previous post on trust and a lack thereof equaling disengaged employees, I read an article called No Trust and a quote at the end made quite an impression:  “People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”  (This is often attributed to motivational speaker John C. Maxwell.)

Does the act of caring create engagement?

I then recalled an online discussion which began with the article What is Engagement All About.  As I read and made comments on what engagement is all about, a comment made by Kim Morgan, PHR, who is currently looking for work, really struck me.  She said “As a current HR professional in the job market, I had been floundering a bit with my purpose/strength; this discussion cleared my eyes to the fact that “engagement” is my strength. Perhaps because it is intrinsically interesting and obvious to me, i do not always recognize the importance of this skillset.”

Can engagement be a marketable skill?

Engagement is being thrown around all over the place as a state you would like to achieve with your employees.  But isn’t it true that engagement could also be a skill?  In today’s economy with employees’ morale low, their level of trust low, and their level of responsibility high, wouldn’t possessing the ability to engage be a very valuable and necessary skill?

I know that if I were looking for a good manager right now, at the top of my wish list would be the ability to connect, engage and build trust.

I read an article that blew my mind regarding writing recommendations for your past employees on LinkedIn.  Apparently there are people noticing a trend where these recommendations provide a platform for legal action down the road.    I never would have thought of this!  On the bright side, many bosses want to help their former employees find new positions and blasting a recommendation for their work is a great way to help them.  But as the search goes on, the employee may wonder why they were let go and others were not and they’ve got the written proof that their work was good.   The endorsement of their abilities by their supervisor makes them feel that they were wrongly terminated and then lawsuits arise.

In my mind, if the quality of work is there, being let go is a business decision.  Of course, not having been in this situation I can’t say for sure how I would feel, but I think I could move on without taking it personally.   I would imagine that I would appreciate a former boss’s willingness to help me land on my feet. 

I’m sure there are other factors involved too, such as trust in the organization that this was a necessary choice.  I mention the importance of this in my previous post and this reiterates that fact.  I also think how a company handles the process of letting someone go must be extremely important as well.  If you can leave a place with the trust that this is a business decision and in a way where you are treated fairly and feel valued as a person, that should take away the anger that would cause you to view a recommendation as a platform for a lawsuit.

I would love to know if HR Managers find this to be an increasing trend.  I think it is pretty sad if it is true.