Category Archives: HR leadership

On HR Leaders and the Strength of Love

dv1080014I am feeling very compelled to share this with you at this time. I had seen this post on the HRExaminer site a while back, but what I’ve just been through personally has been bringing it front-of-mind in a very big way.

The piece, by Jason Seiden, co-founder and CEO of Brand Amper, addresses love. Specifically, as his title makes plain, “Love: Why Tomorrow’s Leaders Will Come from HR.”

If I had to interpret his overriding theme, I guess it would be that the people he knows in HR are better at real friendships and real relationships than people in any other profession he knows. And it’s because of that ability on the part of HR professionals to really connect with fellow humans who are doing, or going through, human things that the future of business rests — in his estimation — in their hands.

“They’re the best group of people you could want to be surrounded by,” he writes. “They get it: Success in business doesn’t come from technology. It may come through tech, but it comes from relationships.” He goes on:

“If you want to see the future of business leadership, look at the nexus of social HR and recruiting. I know HR gets (and often deserves) a bad rap, but the smaller circle of social HR leaders — the ones who share aspects of their lives with each other online, get together at conferences, and support one another’s businesses — have what [one] former friend and others actually crave: genuine connection.

“This HR group understands that sending a ‘happy birthday’ note on Facebook isn’t about pretending to be friends; it’s about knowing what it feels like to open your phone to 100+ birthday messages and wanting to be small part of that avalanche of love for someone else.”

We may not be HR professionals here at HRE; we may only write about your profession. But I can at least tell you Seiden’s onto something about the heart of business running on authentic relationships, not the manufactured or rhetorical ones.

The day I left on a recent extended leave to see my father through his final life journey after he bravely chose to cease all cancer treatment because it had failed, I received the kind of love Seiden describes. I did my best to leave my HRE house in order, knowing how my forethought would help my friends.

The love and support, and hugs, I received here as I set out on that heart-wrenching journey — to my father’s journey — spoke volumes to me about the power of friendship and relationships to lay enduring foundations in any environment where people work together toward a common goal.

Likewise, the kindness, patience and understanding I’ve received since my return one week ago today solidifies this sense of power that human connection has in the workplace.

People are, indeed, our most valued resources — an idea that’s still catching on here in corporate America, but seems to be taking hold in the United Kingdom, according to this intriguing piece posted on HREOnline today by our talent-management columnist, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli.

And this value isn’t just reflected in higher wages or paid leave, as the U.K. initiatives Cappelli talks about seem focused on. It’s reflected — at least I think it is — in workplace cultures, and in the courage of managers and HR leaders to show some heart on their pathways to becoming better business partners and leaders.

If any of you in HR are waiting for permission to lead with the love Seiden says is your strong suit, you certainly have mine.

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HBR: It’s Time to ‘Blow Up’ HR

powIt’s summer blockbuster season, with actors like Chris Pratt and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson saving us from rampaging dinosaurs and earthquakes with the aid of tons of CGI special effects (and plenty of clunky dialogue), so perhaps it’s appropriate that the Harvard Business Review (subscription required) has emblazoned the cover of  its July/August issue with an icon of a ball of dynamite and the provocative headline “It’s Time to BLOW UP HR And Build Something New.”

The three related articles inside aren’t quite as explosive as the cover suggests, but  thought-provoking nonetheless. The first piece is by none other than our own Talent Management columnist, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, who writes that business leaders tend to see HR as a valuable asset during talent crunches but as a mere nuisance when times are better. In order to get out of this rut, HR leaders need to “set the agenda,” Cappelli writes. Rather than waiting for the CEO to tell them what to do, HR leaders must strongly advocate for excellence in every process the function touches (or should touch), from layoffs to recruiting to performance management, he writes.

HR leaders also need to either deepen their own knowledge of analytics or partner with those who are experts in order to “help companies make sense of all their employee data and get the most from their human capital,” Cappelli writes. Finally, HR leaders must help their organization’s leadership “take the long view,” he writes:

How can HR bring the long view back into organizations? By reconciling it with the immediate pressures that businesses face, which those one-at-a-time projects are designed to address. … HR should also keep stepping back to study those initiatives in the aggregate: What emerging needs do they point to? How do those needs map to the organization’s talent pipeline and practices? Which capabilities need shoring up?  … That’s the kind of analytic counsel the “new HR” should provide.

The next piece is by none other than Ram Charan, the management consultant who stirred up controversy last year with an HBR piece in which he argued for splitting HR in two. Well, he’s back and this time he’s got company in the form of co-authors Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Co., and Dennis Carey, the vice chairman of Korn Ferry. In “People Before Strategy,” they argue for a new triumvirate at the top of organizations comprised of the CEO, the CFO and the CHRO. This three-person team will form a “core decision-making body” for the organization in which the CHRO will be the trusted advisor in all things people-related. “Forming such a team is the single best way to link financial numbers with the people who produce them,” they write.

The final piece is a deep dive into the work done by the HR department at tech firm Juniper Networks to make itself a vital part of that business. Juniper Networks has had to make a number of adjustments to its business over the years, write co-authors Jon Boudreau (of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business) and Steven Rice (former EVP of HR at Juniper Networks and now CHRO at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and HR has been key in those transformations. Rather than reaching for the latest “bright shiny objects,” as too many HR leaders do, they write, the JN team worked hard to understand the big picture of the company’s business, identify the most valuable ideas, apply them in context and carefully manage their impact.

The work the HR team did included working closely with business leaders to reorganize the organization to make its operating model more simple, do away with cumbersome processes that were adding little value (including a forced-ranking system that was hurting morale) and finding ways to increase collaboration and innovation.

Developing a reputation as an innovative HR organization “requires walking a fine line,” the authors write. Ideas for innovation often arise from popular talks and articles, yet if you “embrace too many of these … or apply them too superficially,” you’ll develop a reputation for fad surfing, they write. Instead, “dig beneath the surface to the fundamental scientific research and insights, and you can set the stage for true impact.”

All in all, a worthwhile series of articles — complete with the bizarre yet compelling artwork the HBR has been featuring in recent years.

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A Sampling of What to Expect at HR Tech

In case you didn’t notice, this year’s full HR Technology Conference and Exposition® agenda was posted online about a week or so ago and was officially announced yesterday by HRE, via a press release. 200213603-001As you’ll see, the program continues to build on many of the general and concurrent sessions that have resonated with HR and HR IT leaders and professionals at past events. It also features a number of new and exciting additions. Here are just a few of the highlights mentioned in the release …

  • The return of the “Awesome New Startups” session, showcasing  HR technology innovators that are pushing the envelope.
  • Live demonstrations of “Awesome New Technologies for HR,” featuring new solutions from industry leaders.
  • Recognition of HRE’s “Top HR Products of 2015.”
  • HR Tech’s first-ever Hackathon, providing attendees with an exclusive peek into how today’s technology vendors develop solutions that address real-world HR and business challenges.
  • HR transformation and employee-driven organizational-culture shifts at companies such as Cisco, Delta Air Lines and MGM Resorts International.
  • The latest developments in mobile HR technology, as told through the experiences of companies such as Ovation Brands, PwC, Texas Mutual Insurance Co. and Marriott International.
  • Examples of successful HR technology strategies and implementations that have gotten it right in areas such as HCM, talent acquisition, employee engagement and change management.
  • Results from the 18th Annual Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey.
  • A closing general session featuring some of the most innovative thinkers in HR, who will share cutting-edge ideas about HR, technology and the workplace in a fast-moving “Ignite”-style format.

There also will be keynotes by two industry luminaries, Marcus Buckingham and James Whitehurst. New York Times best-selling author Buckingham will discuss a radically new approach to equipping team leaders with the tools they need to enhance employee engagement and improve performance management. Red Hat President and CEO Whitehurst, meanwhile, will share how unleashing the power of openness within an organization can transform corporate culture and drive higher levels of engagement and business performance.

And, of course, HR Tech will again feature the world’s largest expo of HR technology products and services.

Be sure to check out the full program at the conference’s website, linked above, if you haven’t already. Hope to see you there.

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Do HR Leaders Have What It Takes?

This past Tuesday, I had a chance to hear Bill Conaty, HRE’s 2004 HR Executive of the Year, share his insights on how chief HR officers can be more effective leaders during the National Academy of Human Resources’ 13th CHRO Academy, held at the Yale Club in New York.

Bill Conaty, speaking in New York on Tuesday. (Photo by Robert Knowles)

Bill Conaty, speaking in New York on Tuesday. (Photo by Robert Knowles)

Conaty addressed his remarks to about 30 CHROs attending a dinner at the two-day, invitation-only event, which is held annually and specifically focuses on the needs of CHROs who are new to the job, have moved to a new employer or have a new CEO. As far as I know, there’s nothing comparable in the field today. (The faculty for CHRO Academy primarily consists of NAHR Fellows.)

A Distinguished Fellow in the NAHR, Conaty retired as senior vice president of HR at General Electric in 2007, but still remains quite active in the field and advises business leaders on a wide range of HR issues through his firm Conaty Consulting LLC.

In his talk, he touched on a number of important topics—but for purposes of this post, I’d like to specifically focus on his comments about what it takes to be a strong HR leader today. His list was based on the specs he had for his own job while at GE and reflected many of the qualities he was looking for in his own successor, though he was quick to point out that he didn’t necessarily fulfill each and every one of the items himself. Whether you’re new to the CHRO role or not, perhaps they might prove helpful in elevating your own game.

First on Conaty’s list: Ensuring that there’s a good fit between the CHRO, CEO and CFO posts. Conaty shared how CEO Jeff Immelt, one year, did something at GE that hadn’t been done before: He asked to take a close look at the CEO, CFO and HR leader in each GE business. “What he was looking for was styles and fits,” he said, “If you had a CEO who was a hammer, a CFO who was a hammer and an HR leader who was a hammer, employees had no chance.”

Stressing the importance of having the “right balance,” Conaty said the exercise resulted in “changing a couple people out.”

Also on Conaty’s list is being able to earn the trust and confidence of the entire senior leadership team. “I’ve heard a lot HR folks say ‘I have a phenomenal relationship with my CEO—I’m in,’ ” he said. “I’ll tell you how long you’re in for: about 18 months. And then you’re going to get sucker punched and you’ll never know where it came from. The CEO is going to say, ‘Bill, I love you but no one else does—so we’re going to need to wrap this game up.’”

As the CHRO, Conaty said, “you have to work the whole 360.”

Other qualities Conaty cited included being a “talent magnet,” a great assessor of talent, someone who is able to operate in a global marketplace, a clear thinker and a change leader.

CHROs, he said, also need to have the ability to think through business issues and a capacity for complex problem solving. “You’ll still get some of the easy treadmill ones,” he said, “but you’re probably also going to confront things you haven’t confronted before … .”

His list also includes attributes such as operational savvy, decisiveness and the courage to make the tough calls, along with the need to be a continuous learner. You don’t want a person in the role who says he or she’s “ ‘been there, done that. I’ve seen it all,’ ” he said. “I never saw it all in my 40 years at GE. It was always a new day.”

At the end of the day, Conaty said, your job is to take [issues] off the CEO’s desk, not add to the pile. Conaty said he made it a point to never add to CEO Jack Welch’s pile. (I’m assuming the same was true when Immelt took the reigns.) If an issue arose that he felt Welch needed to be aware of, he said, he would bring it to his attention, but then tell him that he would take care of it and, if he couldn’t, would then get back to him. If you follow this approach, Conaty said, you’ll be “a welcomed face when you stick your head through that door.”

And who wouldn’t want to be a welcomed face when he or she entered the CEO’s office, right?

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HR’s Not Dead, It’s Just Changing Names

name tagA quick Google search of the phrase “human resources is dead” brings back approximately 27,800,000 results.

On the first page of results alone, you’ll find articles declaring HR’s downfall—or calling for the human resource function to be dismantled—dating from 2002 all the way up to just a few hours ago.

In other words, reports of the HR department’s demise are in no short supply, and are nothing new.

One of the latest missives comes from the Huffington Post and Jacob Morgan, who earlier this week penned an online piece entitled “Why Human Resources Is Dead.”

Now, some articles of this ilk have written off HR as a largely useless, bureaucratic function that has no real potential as a “strategic partner” and needs to just go away. Others—think Fast Company’s 2005 “Why We Hate HR” feature—describe human resources as a “necessary evil” within the organization; a department that could really contribute to business performance but ultimately underwhelms.

Familiar headline aside, however, Morgan’s piece doesn’t follow either of those well-worn narratives.

In fact, human resources isn’t even really dead, he says. Rather, the profession is just undergoing an identity makeover of sorts, or a rebranding.

“Companies are dropping the term ‘human resources’ altogether and are shifting towards more ‘people-centric’ terms,” writes Morgan, a futurist, consultant and author of The Future of Work.

Titles such as chief people officer, vice president of people operations and chief talent officer are becoming the norm, he says, replacing your oh-so-old-school monikers like chief human resource officer, for example.

Morgan acknowledges that this isn’t a new phenomenon, noting that some companies “have had these titles and departments for several years already.”

Lately, however, he says he has seen this transition “accelerate dramatically.”

Morgan cites a number of companies as examples of this evolution in action. Cisco’s Francine Katsouda, for instance, recently saw her title change from CHRO to chief people officer. Anne Byerlein at Yum! Brands shares the same designation. There’s Laszlo Bock, of course, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, and the list goes on.

But does bestowing these “nontraditional” titles upon HR leaders portend real changes in what the function actually does, at these organizations or elsewhere?

Morgan seems to thinks so.

“Most of the companies I have been speaking with or researching,” which include Cisco, Google, Glassdoor and LinkedIn, have all made “considerable strides in rethinking what the purpose of traditional ‘HR’ is, and all of these companies have moved on from looking at employees as capital assets,” he says.

I agree with Morgan in thinking the notion of employees as capital assets is antiquated. And, frankly, using such terms to describe thinking, feeling human beings has always seemed a bit cold and callous.

So, if employees have truly come to be seen as something more than “capital assets” or “human capital,” then that’s a positive. But, beyond that, Morgan’s short piece doesn’t get into detail as to how the aforementioned organizations are transforming their HR functions. So we’ll see whether we’re really on the cusp of what turns out to be a drastic reimagining of how HR works and what it does.

In the meantime, though, if the actual term “human resources” is truly on its way to extinction, then I suppose we here at HRE should probably start brainstorming new names for our publication.

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Moving in the Right Direction

Yesterday, I was able to get an early look at the findings of The Hackett Group’s latest study on HR budgets and trends.

ThinkstockPhotos-166114849While there weren’t many huge surprises in the report, titled “The HR Agenda for 2015: Major Transformation Efforts Are Planned to Close the Gaps in HR Capabilities,” there definitely were a few data points to reflect on. (The study can be downloaded today with registration.)

As far as budgets are concerned, the study—based on research involving executives from more than 170 large companies in the United States and abroad—found that HR organizations, for the first time in a while, should experience marginal increases in both staff levels and budgets in 2015. Specifically, budgets are expected to rise 1.4 percent and staff grow by 1.5 percent—no doubt a reflection of a relatively healthy economy and the growing awareness among business leaders of the importance of talent strategies and practices.

The report, however, also points out that the increases are far from universal. Only 40 percent of the companies in the study actually expect to see budget increases, with just under 30 percent saying the same for staff levels. Further, just over 30 percent still expect to see declines in budgets and full-time employees, with the remainder expecting no change.

Of course, it’s good to see things move in the right direction, but as the Hackett report suggests, even more important will be what HR organizations do with the extra dollars and staff. In their report, the experts at Hackett suggest many HR organizations are largely unprepared to help improve enterprise agility and address those issues most relevant to achieving business objectives, including workforce strategy, innovation and talent management.

When I asked Hackett’s Global HR Practice Leader Harry Osle to elaborate on how world-class organizations differ from others when it comes to addressing these issues, he said, “they’re continually looking for ways to optimize their HR organizations.”

More specifically, he said, three characteristics come to mind when you look at world-class organizations. “First, these companies continue to look at process optimization … and look for ways to [eliminate] slack in the system.”

Next, he explained, they have a sharp focus on talent management and a hunger for finding and keeping the best talent, and making that talent more productive.

And finally, they have a strong commitment to digitization and technology. “That means,” Osle said, “having the right data at the right time to make the critical analytical decisions that organizations have to make today.”

The study found that the best-prepared HR organizations are clearly committed to making digital transformation and the utilization of cloud-based technologies a reality. Roughly 70 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations view the development of an HR digital-transformation strategy a high priority, compared to 25 percent of typical HR organizations. For cloud-based HR solutions, the gap is smaller, but still significant, with 50 percent of the best-prepared HR organizations considering it a high priority, compared to 40 percent of typical HR organizations.

As Osle explained, investing in technology in the cloud and SaaS is an easy decision to make when you consider the cost savings—and efficiency and effectiveness improvements—it can result in.

Osle predicted a substantial amount of the budget increases will likely be targeted to HR technologies. (Assuming he’s right, I would have to think this fall’s HR Technology Conference and Exposition® in Las Vegas will be a pretty lively event.)

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Capturing the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’

On Wednesday, a new digital book titled The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders arrived in my inbox.

HRCI_BookCover_front_finalThe book—edited by Dave Ulrich, William A. Schiemann and Libby Sartain—is unquestionably ambitious in scope, running 582 pages and featuring essays from more than 70 thought leaders. Yet it’s also very straightforward in its approach, asking all of its contributors a single, simple question: What do HR professionals need to know or do to be effective in today’s and tomorrow’s business world? The end result: an impressive collection of diverse points of view covering a wide range of topics.

As the book’s website puts it, “the essays describe how HR practitioners must live up to and even extend expectations of their profession’s growing and evolving role. They focus on how HR professionals and the tools they use must adapt to shifts in demographics and the impacts of technology on the workplace.”

(The HR Certification Institute underwrote the e-book and plans to share it with its database of 140,000 individuals who have received HRCI certification.)

As you’ll see, the book is divided into seven sections—Context to Strategy, Organization, Talent Supply, Talent Optimization, Information & Analytics, HR Governance and HR Professionals—and features lots of gems.

For purposes of this post, here’s just one of many perspectives featured in the e-book, this one offered up by John Boudreau, professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business …

“Can any human do human resource management? That’s what HR constituents and clients sometimes seem to believe—especially when leadership teams admonish their HR leaders to adopt practices such as “rank and yank” performance systems simply because they read about them in a book about Jack Welch and GE, or when they appoint leaders with little professional HR training to top HR roles. Although these practices do have value, they can also seem to dilute the profession’s stature by implying that professional HR qualifications are unnecessary.

HR professionals and professional associations work hard to banish the idea that HR is just common sense, and to establish valid professional standards for HR professional status and practice. As the historical development of the medical profession in the nineteenth century shows, emerging professions strive to establish common qualifications, adjudicate professional practice, establish a monopoly on professional practice among members, and carry out science to build knowledge and inform practice.

There are promising efforts to establish HR as a proper profession, including proposed standards for human capital reporting, several efforts to set HR standards with the ISO and others, renewed attention to certification by SHRM and HRCI, and an increasingly clear and independent role within organizational leadership teams and boards.

In an effort to protect the HR profession, it is tempting to draw a line and say, “You cannot practice unless you meet these standards.” Indeed, sociology research shows that placing such limits is one of several paths to transforming an occupation into a profession. Though tempting, it is important that HR not fall into the “profession trap” by using exclusion to define its professional boundary. Evidence from our work on the future of HR at the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) suggests a more inclusive approach—one that properly welcomes the contributions of disciplines beyond HR while advancing the profession’s stature and evidence-based platform.”

The above excerpt reflects one of a number of threads that runs throughout the volume: that organizations, as well as HR leaders themselves, can no longer afford to view and approach HR in the same way they’ve done in the past. To contribute to their businesses in substantial and meaningful ways, HR professionals, going forward, have little choice but to look at their organizations through a much different lens than the one they’ve used in the past and exhibit a very different set of us behaviors.

Before I conclude, I probably should add I was flattered to be  invited to contribute an essay to The Rise of HR. With our “What’s Keeping HR Leaders Up at Night” survey finding “ensuring workers are engaged and productive” to be the No. 1 concern year after year, I figured I would focus my piece on raising the bar on engagement. You’ll find it on page 257.

I’m personally looking forward to spending more time reading what my fellow contributors have to say on the state and future of the profession.

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HR’s Role in Fostering Innovation

100843802 (1)How do you define innovation?

Chris Hunsberger asked that (rhetorical) question of the 550-plus attendees within minutes of kicking off his keynote talk yesterday morning at the 9th annual HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

A quick Google search will bring you nearly 270 million different definitions, explained Hunsberger, the executive vice president of HR and administration at Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts.

So there are a few different ways to define the term. But, in essence, innovation is about “creative problem solving,” he said, “and doing things in new and different ways.”

Indeed, doing things in new ways is a necessity for any organization with hopes of succeeding in 2015, said Hunsberger, who is, by his count, 75 days into his new role, after 34 years in operations at Four Seasons, where he has spent his entire professional career.

To illustrate the importance leading companies (and their HR functions) place on doing things “a little differently,” Hunsberger pointed to organizations such as Zappos and Netflix.

Zappos, of course, has famously offered employees financial incentives to leave the company, in part as a way to separate those who are truly committed to the organization’s success from those who are simply working for a paycheck.

Meanwhile, Netflix is piloting a program that allows employees to set their own holiday schedules.

To further demonstrate his point, Hunsberger also offered a few “short stories of innovation” from within Four Seasons.

In search of innovative ideas from employees, Hunsberger and the leadership team asked senior leaders throughout the organization to arrange and oversee “innovation sessions” focused on identifying opportunities to improve the guest experience, for example.

At one of these sessions, the Boston-based hotel’s team came up with an idea for “15-minute room service.”

“We obviously get a lot of feedback from guests, and many felt room service was too pricey and, at an average of 30 minutes to 40 minutes, took too long. So the Boston team had the idea to develop a 15-minute room-service menu,” said Hunsberger.

Leadership loved the idea so much, he said, that “we rolled this out as a global initiative in about 90 days, and we even had a competition to see [which hotel] could come up with the best menu.”

In addition to drawing raves from Four Seasons guests, the 15-minute room-service initiative “really allowed our team to think about innovating,” he said, “and doing things in a new way.”

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Are You a Minister of Culture?

How’s your company’s mojo supply these days?

According to a new piece by Forbes contributor Liz Ryan, it’s likely lower than it could be because some “leaders can’t imagine treating their employees any better than the law requires.”

And that’s what happens when fear-based leaders tell their HR people to simply focus on employment-law compliance instead of employee engagement and other strategic issues, she writes in a new post titled “Reinventing Human Resources For The Human Workplace.”

In the piece, Ryan calls it “a tragedy when HR people are assigned to spout policies and process performance reviews rather than to serve as the Ministers of Culture every organization needs.”

“HR people who see their job as keeping the firm out of court miss dozens of chances a day to build community and trust.”

In order to do this, she says, HR needs “to actively get out there with our teammates and into the talent market and say ‘How do we make this place the hands-down coolest place to work?’ I’m not talking about slogans and happy talk or even Friday night pizza parties or foosball.”

“I’m talking about grown-up accountability for the trust level in the organization. That’s the fuel tank your HR team is responsible for keeping full to its brim. Your Finance team looks after the money. Your HR people keep the mojo stores full.”

And one of the best ways for HR leaders to maintain a company’s good energy, she says, is actually quite simple: “They have to ask way more questions than they answer.”

Indeed, when it comes to mastering a topic as tricky as mojo, taking a “curious” approach certainly seems to make quite a bit of sense.

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What Workers Want and How to Supply It

As most of you embark on your first official work day of 2015, and Bruce-Tulgan-New-Photo-June-2014-200x300just in case a New Year’s resolution was to treat your employees even better this year than last, I thought I’d start you off with some suggestions from workplace and demographic expert Bruce Tulgan.

As I noted in this earlier (summertime) blog post about his recent book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face, Tulgan, CEO and founder of New Haven, Conn.-based management consultancy RainmakerThinking Inc., is pretty authoritative when it comes to employer-employee relationships.

In this more recent post, What Employees Want and How to Give It to Them, Tulgan once again relies on his and Rainmaker’s more than 20 years of research into workplaces and manager-employee relationships to give you these “key elements of every job that employees typically care about,” he says.

As he puts it in the post:

“You want to be generous and flexible with your employees. Why wouldn’t you? Everybody is working harder. Everybody is under more pressure. Everybody needs more than what they are getting.

If you are the boss, one of the most important parts of your job is taking care of your people. Remember, people work to take care of themselves and their families. They want your help. Some managers consistently do more for their employees. If you’re not one of those managers, what is your problem?”

He’s not the only one stressing the importance of treating workers with respect and helping them develop — especially as more millennials and Gen Zers enter the workforce. But he’s one of the few with this much research behind what he recommends.

So here’s Tulgan’s list of what employees really care about:

  1. The ability to earn more money. This is all about the compensation package. What is the base pay and the value of the benefits? How much of the pay is fixed? How much is contingent on clear performance benchmarks tied directly to concrete actions the individual employee can control? What are the levers for driving the pay up or down?
  2. More control over their own schedules. What is the default schedule? How much flexibility is there? What are the levers for achieving more or less scheduling flexibility?
  3. Relationships at work. Who will the employee be working with? Which vendors, customers, co-workers, subordinates, and managers? What are the levers for controlling who the employee has a chance to work with (and/or avoid)?
  4. Task choice. Which regular tasks and responsibilities will the employee be assigned to do? How much of it is “grunt work” (tedious or otherwise difficult recurring tasks)? Are there any special projects? What are the levers for controlling the employee’s opportunities to work on more choice tasks, responsibilities or projects?
  5. Learning opportunities. What basic skills and knowledge will the employee be learning in order to handle his basic tasks and responsibilities? Will there be any special learning opportunities? What are the levers for controlling access to those special learning opportunities?
  6. Location and workspace. Where will the employee be located? How much control will the employee have over his workspace? Will there be much travel? Are there opportunities to be transferred to other locations? What are the levers for controlling these location issues? Within a given workspace, how much latitude will the employee have to customize his/her immediate surroundings?

Tulgan says the key to making these desires work for you has a whole lot to do with how you leverage them, as bargaining chips. He offers these examples:

  • “You don’t want to work on Thursday? I’m glad to know that. Here’s what I need from you by Wednesday at midnight.”

  • “You want your own office? Here’s what I need from you.”

  • “You want to bring your dog to work? Great. Here’s what I need from you.”

  • “You want to have lunch with the senior VP? Here’s what I need from you.”

“When managers are able to [leverage employee desires and business needs like this],” Tulgan says, “they are giving the employee control over [his or] her rewards by spelling out exactly what [he or] she needs to do to earn them.

“In exchange,” he says, “the employee will probably be willing to do a lot [more] — to work longer, harder, smarter, faster or better” — while getting a valuable and immediate reward in return.

Sure, you can say all this is intuitive, but I would counter with, “then why aren’t more employers doing it?”

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