Tag Archives: Business Success

From the Archives: Stick a Fork in Annual Performance Review Systems

While I’m traveling, I thought I’d re-post one of the most popular Data Point Tuesday posts from 2012.  Enjoy.

Today’s data points come from two recent surveys:  one from Achievers and one from Cornerstone OnDemand.  Both surveys show clearly that annual performance review systems’ time has come.  It’s over.  Time to stick a fork in them.

Well, it’s time to stick a fork in them if you’re interested in providing the kind of feedback to your employees that is focused on growing their skills, binding them closer to the organization and engaging their full and discretionary energy.

Let’s look first at the Achievers data.  As part of a survey fielded in April of this year, employees were asked how frequently they would like to receive feedback from their managers.  HR professionals and CEOs were asked how frequently they thought employees in their organizations would like to receive feedback from their managers.  Do the answers surprise you?

No surprise that employees would like to receive feedback immediately or on the spot – or at least weekly.  Maybe a bit of a surprise that both HR professionals and CEOs know this.  Here’s the question, though:  if employees, HR professionals and CEOs all know that employees don’t want feedback in an annual context, then why are the majority of performance feedback systems in use today based on an annual model?

Making matters worse, Cornerstone OnDemand published survey results from late 2011 with related findings:

  • only 37% of employees report that they’ve been given useful feedback from their manager/employer in the performance review process
  • Only 32% said that their performance goals are aligned with their company’s business objectives
  • Only 20% have established career goals with their manager/employer

So.  Annual feedback systems satisfy no one from a frequency perspective.  And feedback systems in general are not providing useful feedback for employee skill growth or engagement – or in line with business objectives.

At this point you could say, “Yikes!” and start moaning.

Or, you could say, “This looks like an opportunity for HR to make a significant contribution to the success of the business!” and start collecting similar data from your organization to identify whether this opportunity is real.  If it is real, I see the building of a compelling business case in your future – just in time for the FY2013 budget planning process.

And a new more powerful way to engage employees and manage performance in your organization could be right around the corner.

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Filed under Achievers, Annual Performance Reviews, Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Cornerstone OnDemand, Engagement, HR Data, Performance Feedback

The Language of Business

Visier, named one of the “2012 Awesome New Technologies for HR” by Bill Kutik, the founding conference co-chair of the upcoming HR Technology Conference in Chicago, is changing the face of HR analytics.  And by changing the face, I mean, putting a beautiful, incredibly interactive and astonishingly useful face on the workforce data collected by the many and disparate systems inside organizations.

All vendors in the HCM space commission research and surveys by credible third party organizations and write what they hope are useful white papers to ensure an educated prospect and customer base.  These white papers, while clearly biased, have some powerful data and insights that any HR practitioner – generalist, specialist or leader – can use to educate themselves.  Trolling through the Resources tabs of HCM solutions providers when you have some downtime can be worthwhile.

As I was browsing through the white papers at the Visier site, I came upon some great stuff.  Since Visier is in the workforce analytics business the subject matter is all tied to workforce analytics.  And they’ve got some great survey and research data for you.  But in this survey report, 2012 Survey of Employers:  Workforce Analytics Practices, Preferences & Plans, tucked in at the very end, was a chart showing what more than 150 U.S.-based employers (presumably through the voice of HR professionals taking the survey) thought their top workforce concerns were for 2012:

This is the first survey that I’ve read in which performance was ranked as the top workforce concern of HR professionals.  These top concerns lists are everywhere and none of them rank performance at the top.

  • Llloyd’s annual Risk Index (most recent 2011) lists Talent and Skills Shortages as Risk #2 (Loss of Customers is Risk #1)
  • Deloitte’s 2012 Human Capital Trends lists Growth as #1
  • The HR Policy Association (most recent list is 2011) lists Executive Development and Succession at the top of CHRO concerns
  • The WFPMA &  Boston Consulting Group survey (most recent is 2010) of global HR leaders lists Managing Talent as the most critical global HR issue
  • Human Resource Executive’s annual “What’s Keeping You Up Now” survey (most recent is September 2011) lists “Ensuring employees remain engaged and productive” as #1 (note that the 4th concern in the Visier survey was engagement.  Performance and engagement are not the same thing.)

I’m happy to see a survey of HR professionals identifying workforce performance as their top concern because performance is about business.  Performance is quantifiable.  Performance isn’t touchy feely.  Performance is not the language of professionals who chose HR because they “like to work with people.”  Performance is the language of professionals who are comfortable with measurements, analytics, data, accountability, business success.  In short, performance is the language of business people.  And I cheer when HR people speak the language of business rather than the language of HR.

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Filed under Analytics, Business Language, Business Success, China Gorman, HR Analytics, HR Conferences, HR Technology, Performance, Visier

Best-in-Class Engagement Metrics

The Aberdeen Group just published a fascinating report, The Rules of Employee Engagement:  Communicating, Collaborating and Aligning with the Business, that looks at what best-in-class organizations are doing about engagement and why they’re doing it.  Author Madeline Laurano takes a pretty deep dive into the subject and her analysis reveals some pretty intriguing conclusions.  What hooked me from the start were the three metrics for performance criteria to distinguish best-in-class companies for employee engagement:

  • 71% of employees exceeded performance expectations, compared to 14% of Laggard organizations
  • 85% of 1st choice candidates accepted an offer, compared to 8% of Laggards
  • 72% of employees rated themselves highly engaged, compared to 9% of employees of Laggard organizations

Most of the statistics we see about the value of engagement focus on tying engagement scores to financial outcomes.  No question:  we need that.  Data about the outcomes of engagement are helpful in building business cases for investing in the employee experience.

But tying other types of outcomes to higher engagement scores can also be helpful – like the number of 1st choice candidates accepting employment offers.  If a talent shortage truly is the number 1 concern of CEOs and their boards around the world, as the latest Lloyd’s Risk Survey suggests, then strategies that effectively raise the likelihood of securing the top talent you go after should be of interest. And it makes sense that A+ talent likes to affiliate with other A+ talent.

And connecting the dots between engagement outcomes and high levels of individual employee performance also makes sense.  I’ve long wondered at the value of trumpeting the engagement scores of every employee — when we all know that it’s the most effective employees’ opinions we care most about.  Linking employee performance and engagement scores makes a great deal of sense to me.

Take a look at the report.  I think you’ll find the data extremely useful.

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Filed under Business Case, Business Success, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Economist Intelligence Unit, Engagement, HR, HR Data, Lloyd's, Performance Feedback

Workforce Reporting and Analytics

A great deal is written for and about HR’s agenda in the “post recession” economy and world.  Everyone has an opinion.  To be honest, sometimes it’s a little tiring.

Because I try to stay on top of the key issues facing organizations and the management of their talent to achieve business success, I read all the reports.  So when I ran across yet another report titled Human Capital Trends 2012, I steeled myself for another rote discussion of becoming strategic, immersing the function in social media, yada, yada, yada.

Imagine my delight, when I started reading and found an actually interesting and useful report from Deloitte.  Really.  Download it here and read it.

Deloitte identifies key business trends facing organizations in 2012.  Key trends include:

  • Growth is the top priority for many CEOs this year.
  • Developing the next generation of leaders to drive future growth is a nearly universal need.
  • People risk is a risky business so HR’s role in managing enterprise risk is expanding.
  • Advanced tools are turning workforce data into powerful insights that help businesses navigate uncertainty.

There are several additional trends called out and discussed, but I found the treatment of these particularly useful.

The discussion of the ability of workforce reporting and analytics to help make better, more informed decisions about people was easily understandable — for once.  For instance, I think the chart below is one of the most easily understood diagrams of how tactical reporting can lead into predictive analytics.  By breaking it down into three categories even emerging HR professionals can grasp the concept and context of predictive analytics:

  • What is happening?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What might be happening?

As far as maturity models go, this one is a winner!

I think you’ll enjoy the entire report.  It’s full of high level trends that all HR professionals will recognize as well as practical approaches to combat, overcome or exploit them.  Get a cup of coffee, your highlighter, and check out this report.

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Filed under Analytics, Business Success, Deloitte, HR Data, Predictive Analytics, Workforce Reporting

Is Your Workplace Engaged?

My friends at Achievers are collecting applications for inclusion in the 2012 Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards. As an HR business leader you should think about applying. Today. Because time is running out.

The process is not onerous and even if you don’t win – it’s a highly competitive and influential list – the process of answering the application questions will get you thinking and focusing on what you need to do create an engaging workplace.

Achievers, the leading next-gen solution provider in the Rewards & Recognition space, has identified Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Culture
  4. Rewards and Recognition
  5. Professional and Personal Growth
  6. Accountability and Performance
  7. Vision and Values
  8. Corporate Social Responsibility

The questions in the application survey ask employers to comment on their programs, policies and structure around each of the eight elements. In some cases, as in the Vision and Values section, the survey asks how your organization handles behavior that is NOT in line with a core value.

Each answer can be no more than 250 words, so the survey won’t take hours to complete – but will require thought in order to be both comprehensive and brief.

Previous winners have included organizations as diverse as ADP, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, North Shore-LIJ Health System, Glassdoor.com and E&A Credit Union.

The winning organizations will be notified on August 20 and the public announcement will be on August 27th, with the awards galas on October 25th in San Francisco (U.S. list) and November 14th in Toronto (Canada list).

Achievers has a strong history of research and analysis in the engagement arena and is a strong go-to source for current data and thinking on how engaged workforces outperform their unengaged peers.  Check out these white papers here and here.

Winning an award like this is great. Being able to declare to your talent community and other stakeholders that you are an organization publicly recognized for its effective focus on creating a culture and environment focused on employee engagement is pure gold. Apply here before time runs out to be included in the 2012 list. And good luck!

*Full disclosure: I’m one of 6 judges who will determine the final winners.

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Filed under 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Award, Achievers, Business Success, Engagement, HR, Razor Suleman, Talent Community, Talent pipeline

The Wisdom of CEOs

Booz & Company recently published its 12th annual CEO Succession Survey. It’s fascinating reading:

  • As the economy gets stronger, the numbers of CEOs leaving their jobs are rising to pre-recession rates
  • CEO turnover is highest at the largest companies
  • CEO turnover is highest in market sectors that face the most challenges
  • Outsider CEOs returned to historical averages
  • Insider CEOs bring higher returns
  • Insider CEOs serve longer
  • The combined chairman-CEO model continues to decline

With average CEO tenure declining, the survey’s data are clear that new CEOs – whether they come from the inside or the outside – are under historically high pressure to perform quickly.  (Can you say Leo Apotheker?)  And concerned boards are more frequently appointing the outgoing CEO as board chairman to provide a sort of “apprenticeship” experience in the early months of a new CEO’s tenure.  Interesting stuff.

This year, the study focused on the new CEO’s first year.  Booz & Co. interviewed a number of CEOs from around the world and asked their advice for incoming CEOs.  There were 7 common recommendations:

  1. Deal with the obvious executive team changes as early as possible
  2. Be wary of changing strategy too quickly, even if you think the current strategy is wrong
  3. Make sure you understand how every part of the company operates and how it is performing
  4. Build trust though transparency
  5. Be selective in listening to advice
  6. Find a sparring partner with whom you can discuss plans openly
  7. Manage your time and your personal life with care

The survey provides a great deal of background data and commentary on these 7 “tips” for succeeding as a new CEO — and I encourage you read it.  But I’m thinking this is great advice for any new executive at any level.

And I’m really thinking this list is great coaching for HR.

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Filed under Booz & Company, Business Success, C-suite, CEO Tenure, CEOs, China Gorman

Data Point #8: Risk of talent and skills shortages

I recently came across a fascinating report published by Lloyd’s, the world’s leading market for specialist insurance.  Lloyd’s Risk Index is based on a survey of global business leaders by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Lloyd’s.  It’s the second of its kind, the first having been published in 2009.  The survey is global and breathtaking in its scope.  It measures the top 50 Priority Risk factors for business – as identified by business leaders – as well as measuring how prepared businesses are to face these identified risks.

The headline for this survey is that business has gone from identifying credit as one of the biggest business risks in 2009 to focusing on talent as one of the biggest risks in 2011 and beyond.

As I read the report (see it here), I am struck that in the top 50 individual risks, as many as 12 have to do with people:  talent shortages, impact of regulation, demographic shifts, population growth, industrial/workplace accidents, changing legislation and others.

The respondent profiles are from more than 500 C-Suite executives (although it doesn’t look like CHROs were included) from large global enterprises.  The survey rated their attitudes regarding risk and their preparedness to face risks across five key categories:

  • Business and strategic risk
  • Economic regulatory and market risk
  • Political, crime and security risk
  • Environmental and health risk
  • Natural hazard risk

As the report explains, anything high on an executive’s risk priority list can be considered in terms of a potential critical point of failure of business.  So we’re talking big risks here.  Identified by board members and C-Suite executives in the largest global businesses in the world.

So of all 50 identified risks, guess what made the number two spot?  Talent and Skills Shortages (Including Succession Risk).  Woah.  Here’s what it looks like:

Talent and Skills Shortages — Priority and Preparedness by Region

The big headline for me is that more than 500 of the business leaders of largest businesses in the world agree that that the talent shortage is real.  That it’s big.  And it’s global.  And it threatens every business.

The second big headline is that this evaluation is being made by business leaders who do not identify themselves as HR Executives.  And that’s big.  If the board members and C-Suite executives of the largest enterprises in the world believe that the second biggest risk to their success is the looming talent shortage, then HR better be prepared with solutions for critical talent acquisition, retention and development.  And they better be prepared today.

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Filed under Business Success, Corporate Risk Management, Demographics, Economist Intelligence Unit, Lloyd's, Talent pipeline

Data Point #5: We Can’t Succeed Without Baby Boomers

In earlier Data Point Tuesday posts (here and here) I’ve recommended the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website as a treasure trove of talent management related data.  Another great source of useful information is SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.

SHRM’s research group works tirelessly to bring relevant, actionable trend and survey information to its members.  And if you aren’t a member (why aren’t you?), the value of SHRM’s research services alone is more than the cost of membership. *

Workplace Visions is part of SHRM’s Workplace Trends and Forecasting program and is published multiple times each year – as new data become available.  The reports are useful signposts for new developments that impact organizations, talent management and HR professionals.

The first such report published this year is “Changes to Retirement Benefits:  What HR Professionals Need to Know in 2012” (member protected).  It’s full of useful observations about changes coming to 401(k) plan rules, Social Security changes to keep an eye on and great data from EBRI (The Employee Benefits Research Institute).

One of the discussion points piqued my interest:  data from EBRI about the reduction in confidence by Baby Boomers that they will have enough money in their retirement years to live comfortably.  See the chart below.  This has big potential impact for employers.

The aha! is that while a steady stream of Americans still plan to retire in their early to mid-60s, many more workers are unsure when they’ll be able to retire – or if they’ll be able to retire.  As you can see from the chart, in 2007 70% of EBRI survey respondents reported some level of confidence in their retirement plans.  That number fell to 49% in 2011.  SHRM also cites data from Towers Watson surveys with similar outcomes.

What does this mean for talent management professionals?  Well, SHRM thinks that providing a stronger hand in retirement planning and financial education for Baby Boomers will help reduce retirement-related anxiety.  I absolutely agree.

Additionally, though, SHRM counsels HR professionals to “weigh the positives and negatives of employing an older workforce.”   They counsel that “older workers are often costlier to keep on board, due to higher salaries and health benefits costs.” Woah.  The  thought that employers will have robust options besides Baby Boomers and other older workers to staff their organizations isn’t supported by the demographic trends.

My take is a little different.  Here’s what the data say:

  • the U.S. population is growing more slowly leading a more slowly growing civilian work force (http://bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf),
  • the Baby Boom generation moves entirely into the 55-years-old+ age group by 2020 and will represent 25.2% of the work force (up from 13.1% in 2000)
  • the “prime-age” labor cohort (ages 25-54) is projected to drop to 63.7% (from 71.1% in 2000) of the work force

So the engagement, development and retention of Baby Boomers and other older workers will be a very critical part of most organizations’ talent strategies because they’ll make up 25% of the available work force.  Providing incentives to stay, financial education for pro-active retirement planning and unique engagement strategies — among others — will all be part of talent strategy in 2020.  There won’t be any weighing the positives and negatives of employing an older workforce.  But there will be significant effort spent in figuring out how to keep the Baby Boomers’ skills, talents,and  organizational knowledge in play in the work force — and in our organizations.

At 25% of the available workforce, there won’t be other options.  We won’t be able to succeed without Baby Boomers.

*Full Disclosure:  I am SHRM’s former Chief Operating Officer

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Success, China Gorman, Demographics, Employment Data, HR, Retirement Planning, Talent Management, Talent pipeline, U.S. Department of Labor

Memo to HR: Raise Your Hands!

Several times this year I’ve given the wrap-up keynote speech at HR conferences.  This particular speech is titled, “HR Wake Up Call.”  The message is simple:  HR professionals have far more business savvy and leadership opportunities than they are given credit for.

One of the ways I prove this is to quiz the audience on a range of business related topics, testing their savvy and knowledge.  Nearly every question I ask gets an almost unanimous positive answer.  The questions cover topics like the current unemployment rate, the current U.S. GDP and the topics of current business books.

When I ask how many in the audience have ever been responsible for a sales quota, 70-80% of the audience raises their hands.  And when I ask how many have managed a P&L, between 80 and 95% of every audience raises their hands.

After the quiz is over and we discuss the answers in detail I ask how many of their executive teams know that they’ve been responsible for a sales quota or managed a P&L.  Astonishingly most do not.

I find that remarkable.  No.  Actually, I find it disturbing.  HR professionals routinely lament their lack of standing in the strategic workings of business, and yet when they’ve got the golden ticket they ignore it.

So here’s the deal:  if you want to be an HR professional who focuses solely on the tactical and compliance parts of HR, then don’t let on that you’re a business person.  Not letting your C-suite know that you’ve managed a business will ensure that you stay off their radar and can focus on the day-to-day stuff.

If, however, your organization can benefit from your business insight and experience, and you want to operate at a strategic level – not just the tactical level – MAKE SURE YOUR FULL BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE ARE KNOWN!

That is all.

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Filed under Business Language, Business Success, HR, Leadership, Uncategorized

HR and Furniture

Normally, I agree with everything Laurie Ruettimann says.  Not because I’m a robot, but because she’s right 99% of the time.  .9% of the time we just see things through different lenses.

And .1% of the time we just disagree.

And this falls in that .1%.

I think that when you’re in HR you have to speak the language of business.  I think speaking HR in business is the kiss of death – or irrelevance, which is really the same thing.

It’s not about furniture, it’s about influence.  And when you’re influential you speak the language of those you influence.

Business people are everywhere in organizations.  They’re in Finance (where they speak finance and business).  They’re in Marketing (where they speak marketing and business).  They’re in Operations (where they speak operations and business).  They’re in R&D (where they speak r&d and business).  They’re in Sales (where they speak sales and business).  They’re in IT (where they speak technology and business).

Business people are most definitely at the top of the organization where the only language spoken is business.  So if you want to influence the people at the top of the organization – all those people whose job titles start with a great big “C” — you have to speak to them in their language, not yours.

This quote from Frank Romer says it all:

People will sit up and take notice of you if you will sit up and take notice of what makes them sit up and take notice.

The bottom line is that language is important.  Using language your target audience doesn’t understand ensures that you won’t be understood.  It also ensures that you will have no influence.  None.  Zero.

So if HR is to be influential and interact with a certain type of furniture it has to be fluent in the language of business.

Actually, I’m pretty sure Laurie Ruettimann will agree with me.

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Filed under Business Language, Business Success, HR, Leadership