Category Archives: Best Practices

Starting the year with the right “Who”

I recently completed a book that I believe that either most business people have heard of or even read, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. After reading the book I had a couple of thoughts that relate to HR and where I believe 2015 trends are going (thanks Forbes).

Good-to-GreatMy colleagues and I talk a lot about “great employees” and how many times we lose them for the wrong reasons. However, what I loved about the book, and specifically the chapter on “first who then what,” was the notion of hiring great people even if you don’t have a role.

Like most organizations, January is the sign of a new budget approved, or the final ending of a fiscal year, which means that things usually slow down (specifically in the talent acquisition realm). However, how many times do you lose a great candidate due to timing?

Now with Gen Z coming (it is true) and Gen Y taking leadership roles, I suspect HR will need to catch up by taking less linear and more holistic employee centric approaches to both attract and retain the next two generations of our business world.

Food for thought, based on the book, Level 5 leaders start with the “who” and then go to the “what”, but as Gen Y’ers become first time leaders, they like to win (stereotype, absolutely) but they also will follow rules if it lets them win faster. So possibly, HR (and other business) processes are stopping potential Level 5 leaders in developing sooner.

Now there are three principles in the book to help you become “rigorous,” and like all things in January, there is one that sounds like a New Years resolution. “When you know you need to make a people change, act.” To put this in other words, if you see your plant dying, water it. If you don’t like the number on the scale, do something. If you want something, do something about it.

Good luck to those out there looking for great talent.

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The HR diet: “best practice”

If I were to think of one phrase that makes me roll my eyes, cringe, or even laugh, it would be ‘best practice’. It’s such an HR cliché, and something that people just throw into a conversation or direction to give it some more umph. At the end of the day there are some flaws with ‘best practices.’ First, they are usually specific to an industry (and rarely disclosed). Secondly, it is usually unknown who has deemed it a ‘best practice.’ Was it a dinosaur who has liked something a certain way for a long time, and solved the issues of the 1980’s? I’m just saying. Next, ‘best’ is not equal to ‘always’ which is a common mistake of practitioners. If you think about it, how many times there is a unique situation and people (maybe even yourself) have tried to cram in a situation to fit a ‘best practice,’ and was it really the best? Lastly, ‘best’ also insinuates never needing revision, innovation, or challenge, which makes is mediocre.

Don’t get me wrong, I use the term ‘best practice’ but specific to an outcome. For example, when a manager sent out an amazing PowerPoint slide deck announcing someone moving overseas for an internal job. But I said the same thing when another manager created a tumbler countdown for theirs! It wasn’t the tool, but the outcome or intention. In HR so few times do we ask why something is a ‘best practice’ or what obstacle it solves. Usually it seems obvious, but than that’s not a ‘best practice’ its just common sense.

I challenge us, HR professionals, to undertake what it means for something to be a ‘best practice’ and sometimes its just a really good solution at your company for your culture and lastly your outcome.

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Citation:

Becton, Bret J., and Mike Schraeder. 2009. “Strategic Human Resources Management.” Journal For Quality & Participation31, no. 4: 11-18. Business Source Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed February 10, 2014).

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Part 1: Are you a Manager (and you just hired someone), read this!

Being a manager (in both role and skill) is important; this is the first installment to supporting you develop a great onboarding experience for your new employee, regardless of how much or little your company does today. This part is about the human side of onboarding, and the second one as a follow up with be about the business side.

The most common mistake I hear managers make is that they either 1) coddle a new employee for way too long or 2) drop them in the middle of the ocean to swim. Neither are good for them or the business. Here are some ideas to help a newbie feel welcome while getting their contribution right away.

1. Send a welcome email at one week prior to their start date (or at the latest the day before they start) to express you excitement, tips and tricks, and a general feel of the first day will go.

  • Why: Imagine you are traveling to a new country – what do you do? You look online for transportation options, customs, and weather. The same is true for a newbie. They want to know if they should drive or bus (and is there parking), what to wear & bring (ie. Lunch) and who they will be meeting with. Setting them up on expectations and letting them know things will be alright will remove the internal anxiety they may have.

2. Day one is important for both you and the employee, and making sure you are available and visible is important. Its okay to still have meetings, but find ways to check in, invite them, and spend time going through a plan.

  • Why: The employee is on ultra alert and going through the internal dialogue of “did I make the right choice, do I fit, am I going to succeed” etc. So being there for them will make them feel less isolated and feel like they already fit the flow of the environment.

3. Week one check in.. A good practice is to spend a casual one-hour at the end of the week and let them do a AMA (as me anything) session.

  • Why: Many times the week flies by for most of us, but the first week for a new person is full of emotion, stress, and just feeling overwhelmed with information and experiences. This allows them to go into the weekend comfortable with that first week journey, have you in their corner, and having something to celebrate. It’s also great for bonding!

Remember, everyone has a human side.

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How to resign (with class)

Oh what! You got a new job! Wicked!

But before you leave your current employer to the place where you want to be, there are some ‘best practices’ you should take to leave on a good note. Here are some practices I have seen play out well in a variety of environments:Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 6.32.09 AM

  1. Give ample notice. If your role is specialized, manager level, or unique, give more notice to help with the transition – you will need to gauge your relationship with your manager & past performance.
  2. Own the transition documentation and training and provide feedback and progress reports to your manager.
  3. Offer being available and check in for the first week (honoring your word and living by them).
  4. Be responsible for messaging and communicating. Offer to own the communication and follow up. Remember: every company is different, so this might not work everywhere.
  5. Get your hands dirty, when your last days are empty, get in and file documents that you know are sitting around or do some admin (like correcting naming conventions).
  6. Clean up your desk. Simple, right? Nope – time and time again the artifacts of previous employees sit around and just collect dust. If you think something should be in the garbage, do it. #recyclefirstplease
  7. Send personalized thank you notes to people who made a difference and respond to each congrats email you get. #gratitude

Not all these will apply, but remember that your last few weeks are equally as important as your last couple months, years or decades. Lastly, best of luck on your new adventure!

For those who use apps for everything, this is an interesting spin on quitting a job. Although I have yet to hear of someone using it for real!

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Interviewing, 2 tips for success!

Firstly, congrats! You’re interviewing! Now there are two pieces of information I think candidates miss time and time again when interviewing. The first is setting up the recruiter and hiring manager up with expectations. Let them know if you are; employed and confidentially seeking new opportunities, recently moved into the city, about to take a long vacation, and how you like to be contacted. It’s important that the interviewee feels comfortable to take some ownership in the process.

Secondly, managers and recruiters open up the last part of the interview for the interviewee to ask questions. Yet so few actually ask questions or share information that they believe is relevant. By far my favorite interview was when someone told me “what you didn’t ask me and I want you to know is….” #joblanded!

Great questions to help you make an informed decision maker as well showcase that you are strategic and make logical decisions. Some good question include:

  • Company
    • What is the vision of the company?
    • What are the strategic objectives for the next year?
    • How does this role support these objectives?
  • Manager
    • What is your leadership style?
    • How do you like to be communicated to?
    • What’s the most important skill to have for the role I’m going for?
  • Job
    • What do you think it’s the largest obstacle or challenge in this role?
    • How do you measure success?
    • If I were the successful candidate, what’s the first thing I would do?

Happy job hunting! For another good article, check out this one.