Category Archives: HR Credibility

Ian Ziskin on CHRO Success

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I don’t usually do book reviews on Data Point Tuesday. But Ian Ziskin, a high profile CHRO, has written a book and he very kindly sent me a copy. Ian and I both contributed chapters to The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders, edited by Libby Sartain, Bill Schiemann, and Dave Ulrich (2015) from HRCI. I like this book, Three (The Human Resources Emerging Executive). And if you’re in HR, I think you should read it.

Three by Ian ZiskinThe book jacket says “This indispensable text gives emerging HR executives a roadmap for accelerating their overall business effectiveness and establishing their place in the field.” And it does just that in easy-to-digest, practical chapters that cover the whole spectrum of being an effective business and HR leader. Note that business comes before HR. And that’s why I really like this book:  his focus on the business.

Ian was the CHRO of 3 Fortune 100 corporations – Northrop Grumman, Qwest Communications and TRW – so he knows whereof he writes. His practical models and approaches ring true. Adding to the mix are academics like John Bourdreau, Wayne Cascio, Jay Conger, Ed Lawler, David Lewin, Dave Ulrich, Al Vicere and Theresa Welcourne. They have all been at the forefront of providing the academic research that underpins today’s HR practices.

The book itself is not a hard read. It is a bit of a workbook that encourages readers to actively engage in the content and in self-reflection. If you’re serious about becoming a CHRO, you should get a copy and get started. If you’re in HR and don’t want to be a CHRO, you should still get a copy and get started.

We all know that the world of HR is transforming before our very eyes. Read this and be prepared for what’s next.

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Filed under China Gorman, CHROs, Data Point Tuesday, HR Credibility, Human Resources, Ian Ziskin

Deeply Disengaged

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DeeplyDisengaged-thumb-300x295-177582Last week a guest poster wrote an anonymous letter that was posted on the U.K. ExpertHR blog. This U.K HR professional is “at the end of their tether” and writes a very transparent and poignant piece about the reasons for their massive professional disengagement and personal sadness at their lot. The publishers suggested that others might respond with guidance for the writer and the responses were numerous and detailed. The post and its responses created a robust and fascinating discussion.

And everyone – except one responder – totally missed the point. Totally. The discussion focused on whether or not Deeply Disengaged should “stay and fight” or quit and find a more conducive employer. Ugh!

Deeply Disengaged says that their “work every day is focused around making the workplace a better place to be for employees… To me, ensuring people are at the centre of everything you do is fundamental to being successful in all other areas. It is the foundations on which everything must be based.”

But the bottom line of the post is this:  “The powers that be don’t value the work that I am doing.” The old (ugh) furniture lament. (See my post here if you aren’t familiar with the furniture lament.)

I’ll bet it’s true. I’ll bet the powers that be don’t value the work that Disengaged is doing because Disengaged don’t know the value of the work they’re doing.

So here’s the real, hard truth – for Deeply Disengaged and all the responders:  HR needs to be focused on making the organization more efficient and productive leveraging the organization’s most costly resource, people. HR’s work needs to start with the organization’s strategic and business plans and deliver solutions that enable the successful growth of the enterprise. In other words, HR needs to be focused on the business!

Deeply Disengaged lists a number of supposed outcomes from his/her work:

  • Feedback is now two-way and things are improving fast
  • Retention of employees has increased significantly
  • Retention of candidates in the recruitment process has increased
  • Speed of work output and completion has risen
  • I could talk and talk about the things I am doing and results that we have seen but you get the picture…

I have to take a step back and say, Really? You wrote some nice stuff there, but nothing quantifiable.

I have to take a step back and ask, how do you know your outcomes if you don’t (or can’t) quantify them. And if you can quantify them and you don’t talk about them, why would a business leader listen to you?

I’m skeptical because in the entire post there was not one number. Not one. How can you talk about the value of the work you’re doing without numbers? Seat at the Table NotWithout percentages of increase or decrease, without dollars (or in this case, pounds)  saved, without numbers of days saved…

And that’s the challenge for HR – all over the world:

  • To leave behind “banging on about how these areas can hit the bottom line” and focus instead on providing clear, evidence-based business cases that are linked to the strategic plan.
  • To leave behind doing things “because I believe it can and will make a difference” and start doing things that the business requires and be able to prove it with data – including numbers.
  • To leave behind being “focused around making the workplace a better place to be for employees” and leading the effort to ensure the culture and values actually enable the achievement of the strategic plan.

I’ll bet that Deeply Disengaged is more of a business thinker than they know. If they really are working on improving business processes and outcomes the way they describe, they must know something about how business works, how business leaders speak, how business decisions are made and how resources are distributed. The question becomes, why aren’t they stepping up to the plate to act like a business leader with deep HR expertise rather than the disrespected HR functionary that the organization has to put up with?

It’s a troubling question. And frankly, it’s one of the reasons I started the Data Point Tuesday feature here at http://www.chinagorman.com. To provide data- and research-based sources that will help HR professionals move up from HR functionary to business leader with HR expertise.

I feel for Deeply Disengaged. Being disrespected is the pits. But quitting is not the answer – because the same thing will happen in the next job, and the next, and the next. Until the perception of HR professionals as functionaries changes to business leaders with HR expertise, this won’t go away. And the only way to change that perception is for HR professionals to start to behave like business people, to speak the language of business people, and to become comfortable with numbers, data and research. The only way for Deeply Disengaged’s experience to change is for them to start to behave like a business person.

It’s not easy – but it’s also not hard. Because I truly do believe that most HR people really can be business people — because they do know business. They just aren’t comfortable with that. Yet.

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Filed under Business Language, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR, HR Credibility, XpertHR

Is HR Still in a Bad Mood?

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This was a popular post from last year at this time and I’m wondering if HR is still in a bad mood…

Results from The Fifth Annual Talent Management Study by Knowledge Infusion and Human Resource Executive® were published recently in HR Executive by Mike Brennan and some of the findings were surprising.

I didn’t find it surprising that 63% of the respondents report that they have trouble filling jobs and that they can’t find the right candidates. That’s been reported frequently.

It also doesn’t surprise me that more organizations than not will be increasing their investments in Learning/Development, Performance/Goal Management and Workforce Analytics/Planning services and technology. That’s obvious.

What really does surprise me is that 58% of HR executives believe that peer leaders in their organizations “do not buy into talent management.”

Lordy, I hope this isn’t the furniture conversation. And I’m willing to believe it isn’t because 83% of the respondents also believe that “many of our managers do not know how to manage people.” Additionally, 65% of the respondents believe that “many of our HR generalists/business partners are not equipped to consult with the organization on talent.”

Ouch. Either the HR respondents to this survey were all in a colossally bad mood, or they’re starting to look clear-eyed at their organizations and re-calibrate their challenges.

It’s clear that many organizations need to look at legacy systems and programs in the talent management arena (can you say annual performance review system?) and, according to this survey, they are. But focusing on leadership understanding and managerial effectiveness in talent management might be a strong first step.

It’s a great day for HR if the results of this survey mean a new focus on talent management effectiveness – at the top, in the middle, and most importantly, in HR.

But if it was just a systemic bad mood, we’re sunk. Because, in the words of one of my favorite movie characters in one of my favorite movies, “we have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them.”

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Filed under American President, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Credibility, HR Executive Magazine, HR Technology, Knowledge Infusion, Managerial Effectiveness, Talent Management

Background Screening: Not So Fast

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Well, not so fast, my friend, as Lee Corso likes to say. A new survey results report from EmployeeScreenIQ, Employment Screening Practices & Trends: Not so fast, my friend (Lee Corso)The Era of Heightened Care and Diligence, brings up some important issues and is interesting on several fronts.

First, from a regulatory perspective, it would seem that employers aren’t paying a lot of attention to the relatively new EEOC guidance on criminal background checks that was released in April 2012.  According to the survey, of the almost 70% of respondents who said that their organizations have reviewed the EEOC guidance, only a little more than half of them have not made changes to their screening policies as a result. More interesting, though, is the 32% of respondents who either weren’t familiar with or haven’t reviewed the guidance. Huh.

Second, more than half the respondents report that only 15% or less of job candidates distort their resumes to the extent that they aren’t hired. This is surprising given the perception that distorting resume claims is the best way to be disqualified from employment opportunities. Surprisingly, these survey results may reflect that employers see resume distortion as a minor factor in the screening process. Huh.

EmployeeScreenIQ Resume Distortion Impact

Third, and most interesting to me, is the impact of the legal uncertainty for using social media as a source of background screening information. This uncertainty appears to have scared the you-know-what out of employers. Huh.

Actually, I’m not sure I believe the data here. Or rather, the survey questions may not have been posed to the right people.

EmployeeScreenIQ Social Networking Sites

Really? Only 36% of employers always or sometimes check social networking sites for background information? Huh. Here’s what I think is happening. Those corporate folks responsible for filling out surveys like this – in the recruiting function – know the legal quicksand that is forming around the use of social media for employment screening and are clear that their formal guidelines restrict the use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, etc. in this way. This doesn’t mean that hiring managers aren’t doing it anyway. In fact, I think it’s a fair bet that although many employers are specific in excluding social networking sites for candidate background screening, as reported in this report, hiring managers do it anyway. All. The. Time.

That’s why the next survey question’s answers seem highly suspect to me.

EmployeeScreenIQ Why Not Social

Don’t have time? Right.  Not relevant? Please.

I guarantee that hiring managers make the time because they think checking out “social” behavior is extremely relevant.

This report brings up some great questions for recruiters and hiring managers and shows the need, I think, for greater communication between these two groups. Staying on top of EEOC guidance is, of course, a critical part of HR’s regulatory and risk mitigation obligations. Evaluating the impact of resume distortion is part of the recruiters’ responsibility. And staying current on the evolving legal decisions in the employment/social media space is a critical new high impact area of contribution for the HR and recruiting functions.

One might not think that the arcane world of background screening would present such an interesting opportunity for HR pros. Think again.

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Filed under Background checks, Candidate Experience, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Data Point Tuesday, EEOC, EmployeeScreenIQ, Employment Screening, HR Credibility, Talent Acquisition

Is Talentism the New Capitalism?

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“Is talentism the new capitalism?”

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, thinks so and said as much as he opened this year’s event in Davos.

Mercer chose this quote to open the executive summary of its new report, Talent Rising:  High-impact Accelerators to Global Growth. It includes some great survey data from more than 1,250 HR and talent management executives in 65 countries around the world. It includes important and useful data about how organizations are or are not expanding their definition of capital to include talent.

Forever, it seems, organizations’ primary sources of value and competitive advantage have been financial in nature:  money, lands, buildings and machines – all the values carried on the balance sheet. Mercer’s observation that with human capital being the main determinant of success today, it is troubling that so many organizations leave the development of their talent “largely to external systems and forces, with resulting gaps in their talent portfolios.”

(One could also position that if, indeed, human capital is the main determinant of organization success today, then there should be an entry on the balance sheet to capture its importance. But that’s for another day.)

This report is a huge call to action – not just for HR, but for the entire C-suite. And it is a great roadmap for HR to initiate the discussion of talent as capital.

Central to this discussion is the definition of strategic workforce planning. We hear about this all the time in HR. And BCG, funded by the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations together with SHRM, has observed that there is low current capability worldwide in strategic workforce planning. Perhaps that’s because we know it when we see it, but we can’t really define it.

Mercer’s done a great job of defining strategic workforce planning and published a great infographic along with the Talent Rising executive summary.

Mercer Strategic Workforce Planning Infographic

This 7 step virtuous circle seems simple enough, but I think we all know that sometimes the most simple things are the hardest to achieve. And that certainly would be true for strategic workforce planning. Identifying accelerators on which to focus might help organizations begin to break the process down into manageable chunks.  Just knowing where to begin will undoubtedly help some make progress.

“Talentism is the new capitalism.” Well, maybe in 5-10 years. When HR is seen as a business function and not an overhead function.  And human capital is valued on the balance sheet.

We can dream, can’t we?

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Filed under Boston Consulting Group, C-suite, CEOs, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, HR Credibility, Human Capital, Mercer, SHRM, Strategic Workforce Planning, Talentism, World Economic Forum

Social Technology + Business = Social Business

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Last week we discussed the difference between social media and social technology.  There’s more.

IBM logoThe IBM Institute for Business Value’s report, The Business of Social Business, is full of research and survey data that can help in understanding how organizations are “seeing the value of applying social approaches, internally as well as externally.  Social business can create valued customer experiences, increase workforce productivity and effectiveness and accelerate innovation.”

That’s a mouthful.  But the point is that organizations going beyond counting “Likes” on their Facebook pages and using LinkedIn to recruit new staff members are optimistic about the value of embedding social technology into business processes that enable communication, collaboration and insight into customer, employee, supplier and business partner behavior.  And they’re prepared to invest mightily in social tools that will help them achieve those outcomes.

HR should be particularly aware of two areas that are seeing increased adoption of and investment in social technology – or social business, as IBM defines it:  creating valued customer experiences and accelerating innovation.

Moving far beyond promoting brand awareness on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, social business is becoming embedded in the end-to-end customer experience including lead generation, sales and post-sales service:

Uses of Social Business IBM

Look at the anticipated growth in the use of social technology to create stronger more persistent customer relationships.  Organizations are are preparing to move far beyond marketing applications to sales and services applications.

In HR, we all talk a good game about the need for innovation and collaboration – whether or not we’re talking about social technology.  Many HR professionals are leading these charges within their organizations while the inhabitants of the C-suite are looking for every competitive advantage their employees, suppliers and customers can offer.  The systemic use of social tools to enable communication and collaboration between and among these groups are powering some formidable product/service innovation and HR needs to understand them:

Uses of Social Business 2 IBM

Savvy organizations are using social technology to deepen the customer relationship by customizing the customer experience.  This goes way beyond branding and messaging through social media.

As HR becomes a knowledgeable proponent of social technology and its tools – not just social media – it can become a more relevant partner in their organization’s transformation from a traditional 20th century venture to a 21st century social enterprise.  Clearly that’s where business is heading — social business, that is.

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Filed under China Gorman, Connecting Dots, HR Credibility, IBM, IBM Institute for Business Value, Social Business, Social Media, Social Technology

Decreasing ROI on Human Capital

PwC Saratoga publishes an executive summary every year that picks out noteworthy new data from its US Human Capital Effectiveness Report.  The report covers more than 200 unique metrics related to the effective management of human capital from more than 300 organizations in 12 industry sectors.  The average organization in this year’s report has yearly revenue of $5.5 billion and 19,500 employees.  While PwC Saratoga gathers information globally, this report covers data from US operations only.

This executive summary is not a difficult read – it includes some case studies – and it contains some pretty sobering statistics.  For example:

The revenue per FTE (full-time equivalent) has been declining steadily since 2008 –  by 18% — and has only marginally improved over 2006 levels. During the same time period, labor cost per FTE has grown nearly 14%:

It doesn’t take an MBA to understand that when costs rise and revenue falls:  you have a big problem.  And when labor costs rise and productivity declines, HR has a big problem.

The continued growth in labor costs per employee could be surprising to some given the relatively flat increases that trended during the recession.  According to this survey data, however, even during the darkest days of the recent recession, compensation costs per FTE (without healthcare or other benefits) increased year over year.  Surprising no one, though, health care costs increased year over year with the exception of 2009-2010.

The bottom line is that while the all-in cost of labor is going up, the revenue produced by that labor is decreasing, thus the diminishing ROI of human capital in the U.S.

While this might look like bad news for HR – do they really understand the dynamics of business? – it actually creates the beginning of the business case for increased investment in workforce planning, productivity and engagement.

Turning these trends around will take clear-eyed assessments of the current state, deep knowledge of solutions and the ability to connect the dots between multiple organization and environmental dynamics, compelling fact-based business cases for new investment and the courage to take bold action.

Want to be a strategic business leader?  This may be your best opportunity yet!

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Filed under Average Wage, Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, FTE, Full Time Equivalent, HR Credibility, Human Capital ROI, PwC Saratoga