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Today is National Kiss and Make Up Day When will Leadership and HR Kiss & Make Up?

Lip Prints of Kissis WEBOK, right off the bat, I’m in trouble for linking kissing and the workplace. But I’m pretty certain that blowing up HR is frowned upon as well. Lately there have been cries to dismember HR in some way, by splitting it up, blowing it up, redesigning it, or doing away with it altogether. In fact, in a report by Deloitte, there is a gap “between what business leaders want and the capabilities of HR to deliver.” The report goes on to state that even HR gives its teams a grade of C-. Business leaders rate HR with a D   I would relate the relationship between HR and leadership as that of teenagers and their parents. Here’s why.

When HR or as it was called then, personnel, was first created, it more or less had the behaviors of a child – more play than substance. Personnel at that time was more about planning parties, making everyone happy, and staying in the background. A recent article on suggests that changes in the personnel department began with the entrance of women (you knew it would be our fault) in the workforce during WWI. Because of this, a new level of people management became necessary along with more regimented training and better organization.

The 1930s brought a dip in employment, but when WW II broke out, history repeated itself with women filing back into the workforce. Now personnel began shedding its training wheels as the previous work to better employee management was beginning to pay off. After WW II, serious changes began to evolve in the workplace. This is when discrimination began to rear its ugly head or at least began to be noticed and reported. Later health and safety landed on personnel’s desk. In the 1980s organiztions began to see people as valuable assets and the term Human Resources now launched the department into the tween years. Now leadership wants HR to grow up and take some business responsibility and HR wants to be appreciated for its to date accomplishments. As with any family disputes, there is no doubt blame, responsibility, and changes that need to be made on both sides.

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The 5 Best Ways to End Meeting Mayhem

Meeting Boring WEBAt times, getting a root canal seems a better way to spend your precious time than to sit through another dull, boring, and worse, unproductive meeting. Think:

1 Meeting = 1 Hour
People in Meeting = 6
Total Time: 1 Hour   WRONG!!
1 Hour Meeting + 6 people = 6 hours!

Can any of us afford such waste? The answer is, of course, no. The bigger questions is why are meetings such a waste of time? Some complaints clients express are:

  • Some people talk too much
  • Some people don’t talk at all
  • Lack of structure
  • Poor assignment of action steps or no action steps
  • No follow-up or follow-through
  • Meetings lack leadership
  • Behaviors such as bullying, know-it-alls, side-conversations, getting off topic/rambling; negativity, griping, and ego battles run amok

It doesn’t have to be like this. While I am not of the mindset that there should be no meetings, in order to have effective meetings, you need to know the following five important steps to help prevent meeting mayhem:

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The Grapevine Has Gone Legit

NetworkpeopleWEBThe grapevine has now come into its own by gaining a true identify and validation as a serious business tool that can, according to an article by Stephen Garcia, Ph.D. and Greg Wallace, retain and develop employees as well as identify emerging leaders and even define a business. A study by Garcia adds innovation to the mix and that it is the number one global growth strategy. This business tool is organizational network. It is through these networks that problems get solved, decisions are made and personal support is garnered. In other words states the article, “It is through these connections that the real work often happens.” This newly acquired sophistication has come as a result of restructuring resulting “in organizations with fewer hierarchical levels and more permeable functional and organizational boundaries”, according to Rob Cross a professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. As with any tool, a business must understand how to use it.

Enter Organizational Network Analysis (ONA). The analysis process, on the surface, appears to be fairly simple.

Step One: Identify business objectives.
Step Two: Define your project scope.
Step Three: Collect data.
Step Four: Process the collected data via new software specifically for ONA such as UNINET, Pajek, SYNAPP, InFlow, Socilyzer, DNA-7 and others.

But, of course, there are pitfalls to consider. For example, one of the ways suggested to collect data is to monitor historical email traffic. This could lead to privacy issues. In addition, emails may lack useful data, and surveys to gather data cannot be anonymous. If you are using the data to identify emerging leaders, some executives may be too removed from knowing those with potential outside the executive suite. Others may only look at those like themselves or never poke their heads beyond the OBN (Old Boys Network). However, a network analysis can help identify some issues. Here’s how.

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Clap Along if You Feel Like Happiness is the Truth

Happy EEs WEBStudies indicate that those with a positive mental attitude or PMA as its often referred to, has a well, positive impact on people’s lives in general. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune

‘Thousands of articles in virtually all popular, medical, health and news journals
tout the benefits of PMA on longevity and many other positive aspects of aging,’
says Dr. Peter Norvid, a geriatric specialist treating patients at Adventist Hinsdale
and La Grange Memorial hospitals and medical director for Heartland Hospice.
‘Optimistic people live longer, have closer personal relationships and are able
to deal with the negative things that happen to them in a way that allows them
                                         to continue to be able to be there for others so that others can help them.’

But can this same PMA have a positive effect in the workplace?

According to an article in HR Magazine by Aileen Wilkins, that would be affirmative – to a point. In other words, while a toxic culture breeds “unhealthy internal politics and dysfunction”, a more positive culture can lead the way for people to “focus on growth, minimize internal politics, and constructively support and challenge each to do better.” Further, employees are more engaged. Ms. Wilkins is not claiming that people will go around singing “The Happy Song” or even be joyous, but simply that people will work together better and be more productive.

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Are Assessments the Holy Grail or a Wholly Fail?

Grail or Fail WEBThe short answer is neither. The longer answer is a bit more complex. Nor is any organization likely to find the perfect workforce regardless of whether they use assessments or not.

The debate over the usefulness, accuracy, and even the legality of assessments has raged on for a number of years. For those who like to categorize everything into the black and white, right or wrong, good or bad piles, the true answer may not be that clear cut. According to recent research by Aberdeen Group, there is a shortage of critical talent and replacing an employee can carry a price tag of upwards of five times a bad hire’s salary. Therefore, it is evident that making good hiring decisions is crucial for an organization’s bottom line. Moreover, the use of assessments can have a positive impact on not only hiring, but retention, performance, and engagement.

Aside from measuring a potential candidate’s interests, backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses, assessments provide other bonuses.

  • Best-in-class organizations are 45% more likely to use pre-hire assessments
  • Best-in-class companies are 95% more likely to have a consistent competency model used for hiring, [including using assessments consistently as part of the model].
  • Companies that use assessments are 36% more likely to be satisfied with their new hires
  • Organizations using pre-hire assessments with performance results are 24% more likely to have employees who exceed performance expectations.
  • Businesses using pre-hire assessments in conjugation with performance results have employees who are 17% more likely to rate themselves as engaged.
  • Assessments can provide information as to whether or are not an employee is a good cultural fit. Best-in-class companies pass this information along to manager
    You can read the full report, Pre-Hire Assessments: An Asset for HR in the Age of the Candidate, at

Those of us who tout the use of assessments as a critical tool in combating turnover, for increasing productivity, and improving customer satisfaction are also aware that cautionary measures must be taken in the use of assessments. So, no they are not the Holy Grail nor are they a wholly failure. Assessments are designed to be used in conjunction with the entire hiring process of implementing good search techniques, establishing performance standards, using good interviewing techniques, reference checking, and drug testing. Here are some other ideas to consider.

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The Art of Recycling...Employees

Recycle EEs WEBA “new trend" is the rehiring of employees. In fact, one small study reveals that hiring a CEO for the second time can result in higher stock performance over the immediate predecessor. The word “new” is in quotes as in the hotel industry, for example, this has been fairly common over the years and someone who leaves a hotel as your bus person or housekeeper, could very well return in a couple of years as your general manager. I’ve been rehired twice, once by a hotel and once by a utility company. While this may be a “new” trend, a point is made in an article in HR Magazine that it is becoming more frequent. Why is this? I’m glad you asked.

This is yet another trend in the wonderful world of work that we can blame on the younger generations. They figured out that the gold watch is not really worth all that much for a lifetime of loyal work. The younger generations change jobs and careers like some people change socks…frequently. This phenomenon has created yet another phenomenon referred to in the article as an “alumni” of an organization. Here’s how it works.

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The Tandem Team Trilogy

Team Technology WEBThe makeup of team members is diverse. Not only are the people diverse, but the tasks they perform and the systems they work within are part of that diversity. In my bio, I have this sentence: “She understands that people, systems and tasks need to work in harmony in order to produce positive results for both employees and the organization’s bottom line.” An article in the Journal of Business Management states why such a trilogy is important.

Leaders must remember that team members are not “human doings” but
“human beings”, [and] often results in them actually delaying the work flow.
People are not “owned” by a business, they are participants in the business.
                                                       The successful virtual team leader balances people, tasks, and technology,
                                                        and recognizes that they are different but equal

Ahhhh, it’s so nice to have a bit of validation. The more serious point about this “validation” is that it is no easy task to have this trilogy come together in a harmonious working relationship. There are steps to take that can help facilitate the process in having your team reach that goal.


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Mid-Year Review or Mid-Year Renew?

Tree Face Renew WEBMany organizations conduct mid-year employee performance reviews. Fewer conduct midyear business performance reviews. Most people look forward to neither of these. However neglecting either of these robs you and your organization of valuable information. In addition, linking these two processes can give your people and your organization the jump start it needs, not only for the rest of the year, but for the beginning of the New Year.

The idea of “looking back’ has no appeal for many. In fact, one manager at Adobe, commenting on their 1 through 4 employee review rating system, criticizes it as being a “soul crushing exercise.” That’s a pretty brutal description. The HR director dubs the company as “team oriented” and goes on to say that the rating system tended to compare one employee to another, decimating some of their top notch hires and a high turnover resulted after every review cycle. The HR director has now dumped the entire review process in favor of what some are deeming a “new” process. This process is one of more frequent, informal conversations between managers and employees. One organization calls it a “check in.”

This process is not new and has been touted by Herman Aguinis as a valuable performance monument tool for many years. Possibly what is new is gearing this process to the future and not so much to the past. After all, there is nothing we can do to change the past. Here are some ideas on how to utilize the midyear review as a midyear tool for renewal.

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