Category Archives: Manager

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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Part 2: Are you a Manager (and you just hired someone), read this!

In part 1 of hiring someone, I focused on the employee experience, which is very important. However, this blog is dedicated to the business side of the onboarding experience.

So many times managers forget the journey it took to hire an employee, from last year’s budgeting, the job descriptions, interviewing and making a final decision. Many things can change over the course of time, so its important to realign your new hires purpose, expectations, measures of success and what the first 90 days should look like (or whatever number of days). Here are some things to consider and get you started.

1. Look at the job description with new eyes (yes you are familiar with it, likely you wrote it or some of it)

  • See if your new hire really fits the bill, usually not! So think about what they will succeed right away and where you need to provide them safe learning opportunities to work on their shortcomings.

2. Was there something about this candidate that made you change course a little? (That’s okay by the way)

  • If you ended up picking up a high potential that was some level off your original plan, you may really need to start from the job description point above and figure out a plan of action (ie. Update the job or start from scratch).
  • From experience, I recommend putting a high level list of things you need and then getting into the details after that.

3. Plan their first week and expected outcomes.

  • This is more than ‘making relationships’ because trust me, no one likes feeling useless – even in the first week. Make a schedule or make meetings with this person’s future VIP’s (not yours) and do a soft intro and some expectation setting with both parties.
    • WHY? You would be surprised how many times people have fabricated this new employees job, so consider this a level setting exercise.

4. Provide the new hire a list of specific and achievable (but still challenging) outcomes you would like to see with some dates

  • I personally like the 30/60/90 day framework and I do casual check-ins and see how things are progressing. I would note here, its important to also be flexible, some things will come easier than others, but know to look for appropriate or inappropriate behaviors and address those quickly.

Good luck on onboarding your new hire, you got this!

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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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