Posts Tagged ‘CAI’

CAI Celebrates Big Move with Open House Bash

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

CAI_Open_House_CollageCAI, Human Resources partner to 1,100+ North Carolina member companies, celebrated its new Raleigh location at 3150 Spring Forest Road, #116,
with a ribbon cutting and open house event. “After 32 years, we needed more parking for class participants, an open floor plan suitable for team collaboration and space for our state-of-the-art training facility,” stated Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO.

More than 220 CAI members, local business leaders, and special guests were in attendance for the big event which was held on August 8.  Guests mingled and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, wine, and live jazz while touring the spacious, modern facility. Popular guest speaker and author of The Freak Factor, Dave Rendall, delivered a motivating message on “Initiating Change and Inventing the Future.”

Storr Office Environments, Vision Contractors, and Little Design were acknowledged for turning CAI’s vision into reality.  Included as an integral part of the office transformation team were CAI member companies: Precision Walls, Strategic Connections, Stephenson Millwork and Atcom Business Technology Solutions.

Clarke and CAI board member, Randy Neuhaus, CEO of S&ME presided over the ribbon cutting ceremony and champagne toast.  After a warm round of applause, members congratulated CAI on their long-awaited new facility. “I love the new space,” said CAI member Sean Walsh of Red Hat, “it’s really great to see a company make this kind of investment in their members as well as their employees.”

CAI is a trusted resource for HR, compliance and people development. With locations in Raleigh and Greensboro, CAI is a membership-driven organization that helps North Carolina employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, public policy advocacy and consulting services. For more information, visit

Helping Managers Overcome Performance Review Anxiety

Thursday, March 24th, 2016


In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips for managers looking to escape that dreaded performance review anxiety. 

Conducting performance reviews and discussions on a regular basis is a key part of a manager’s responsibility.  Conducting a performance review also carries a certain amount of anxiety, as any manager tasked with providing one can attest. There is always the potential of a dispute over the facts, a difference in perspective, or even an unplanned, unexpected, or premature discussion regarding compensation.

In order to effectively have performance discussions that identify employee accomplishments, address areas for improvement, and generate individual development plans, managers must get past any anxious feelings and move through the process confidently and deliberately. Below are some tips which will help managers overcome some of their apprehension:

Expect Some Negotiating 

Approximately one out of every five employees will work to negotiate some part of the performance review process.  It may be around the rating itself, the wording of the review pertaining to “areas for improvement” or even the compensation aspect of the review – even though this typically occurs in a subsequent discussion.   Expect it and be prepared for it.  Anticipating issues, understanding what latitude you have within your organization’s guidelines, and knowing your response(s) will go a long way towards you  being  successful in this part of the meeting.

Keep it Conversational 

Performance reviews should be conversational. Remember, this is also your employees’ opportunity to provide their input and feedback on the performance period under review.  By keeping it conversational, you will remain at ease as will your employee.

Know the Details 

Some performance reviews are conducted only once a year.  This makes it not only difficult, but imperative that details are provided during the review.  Recalling the specifics of something that happened ten months ago can be a challenge for both you and your employee.  Having accurate details can make things easier to discuss and avoid disputes. Moving forward consider meeting once a month to discuss progress towards goals and objectives. These discussions will benefit both you and the employee for the annual review meeting – which would now be more of a “year in review” format.

Take Time to Consider 

There may be questions or considerations which arise during a review that need some additional thought.  This may include an employee request about a different job assignment or perhaps a promotion.   If the answer is not obvious or if you are not prepared to have that conversation at the moment, advise the employee that you need additional time to consider his/her request.  This is reasonable, but make sure you get back the employee within the stated time allotted.

Time to Re-evaluate Process/Approach? 

If you have reviewed tips above and your managers still feel somewhat anxious about conducting a performance review, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your approach or the process in general.  Maybe the reason they are so uncomfortable is because something about the process leaves them with a lack of conviction in some area of either evaluating the employee’s performance, measuring improvement, ability to have a “critical conversation”, or some other aspect of the review details.

Maybe it’s time for a critical review of your process.  CAI can help – give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746!

Please be sure to share below any tips you have about overcoming the pressure and anxiety of performance reviews.

Here’s How HR Earns a Seat At the Business Table

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

In today’s post, Advice & Resolution Manager Rick Washburn discusses how HR professionals can earn their seat at the table by building a bridge between their role and the larger purpose of the company.

Do you have a “seat at the table?”  This is an age old question in HR circles and it is basically asking if you are an HR business partner and as such are you and your team delivering maximum results to help your business achieve its goals and strategy?  If you do not have a seat at the table what are you doing to earn it?  If you are just waiting for it to happen I’m afraid you may be out of luck.

HR professionals must ensure that there is a direct connection between the policies, programs, and services they offer and the organization’s larger purpose/picture.  Absent that clear and intentional linkage, HR is just a cost center that goes under appreciated and delivers minimum real value to the business.  In order for HR leaders to take a strategic approach to their work they must first fully understand their business (business acumen) and what the HR implications are to the business.  HR leaders must also be able to articulate their views clearly and concisely to business leaders which often times means taking an unpopular position (managerial courage).  Influence skills are exceptionally important also.

A prerequisite to the above is to ensure, at a minimum, that your HR organization is effectively and efficiently delivering HR services.  Providing good service is the price of admission; if HR cannot operate effectively as a “mini business,” it will be hard to convince others that its input on business issues is worth much.

A good place to start your HRPB journey: Staffing.  HR typically has influence when it comes to how staffing relates to strategy.  In other words, HR needs to recruit and hire X talent, in Y location(s) over a specific time frame in order for the business to perform and execute its strategy and there are many discussions with leaders in that process.  This is often a good place to leverage and increase HR’s role as a strategic partner.  Conversations with senior leaders in this space should be relatively easy to have. Ensure you have solid and meaningful staffing metrics such as the quality of hires, not simply how many hires over a given time frame. Incorporate competencies into your talent acquisition process to help ensure your hires are a “good fit.”  Include senior leaders in this process.

Once instilled in the recruiting process, competencies can easily be transitioned and effectively used in the performance management process to measure “how” employees are doing their jobs. The performance management process is a very effective way to articulate and cascade the company’s strategy and goals across the entire organization and can also be the catalyst for additional strategic discussions with senior leadership.

If you can effectively accomplish the above in your organization, you will have built a very solid foundation from which to grow into a true HR business partner role and earn your seat at the table. Please also review our Learn & GO HR/organizational modules on myCAI to help you in this journey.  If you would like to discuss this journey in the context of your current role and business environment please call Tom Sheehan or myself here at CAI.

For any other questions, please contact our Advice & Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746!


Are You Getting Leadership Development Right?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

leadership developmentIn today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares strategies HR professionals can take to ensure their next generation of leaders are prepared to fill the shoes of their predecessors and lead their business to future success. 

One topic that is a constant point of dialogue for HR professionals is leadership development. The quality of leadership, more than any other factor, often determines the success or failure of an organization. Leadership development helps to improve leadership quality by ensuring that leaders possess the competencies to achieve the organization’s strategy, continue to improve the organizational culture, and strengthen organizational capabilities.

The best investment an organization can make is in the development of its future leaders. Such an investment yields both short-term and long-term dividends. In the short-term, leaders will be better prepared for the challenges they face in their current roles. They will also be more likely to help foster a learning culture if they themselves are an active participant in learning.

Additionally, and more importantly, the risk associated with leadership departures is greatly reduced by improved better bench strength that is a consequence of leadership development. Many organizations fail to adequately develop the next generation of people who will replace individuals in these leadership roles. Making matters worse is the fact that a significant number of baby-boomers will be retiring in the next 5 years.

On one hand, the responsibility for an organizational commitment to developing future leaders begins with the executive team.

On the other hand, HR should own all talent processes and must play a key role in spotlighting the issue and driving the leadership development and succession planning processes.

Forward-looking HR professionals should begin the process by answering these questions:

  1. What are we doing to prepare our next generation of leaders?
  2. Is our pipeline filled with the talent needed to carry out our organization’s strategy?
  3. Who is the ‘person in charge’ of developing our new leaders?
  4. Is leadership development an organizational priority?
  5. How are our top leaders involved?

Where to Start

Step 1: Align with strategy

Ensure that the leadership development efforts are aligned to the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic plan. Senior leaders also must accept that leadership development is a lengthy process.

Step 2: Create common set of values

Ensure that there is a common set of leadership values and standards that permeate everything the organization does including-  recruiting, hiring, succession planning, and performance management.

A good starting point for the values may include the following:

  • Results Focus
  • Accountability
  • Respect for Others
  • Leveraging Diversity
  • Effective Communication
  • Building Trust

Step 3: Communicate the philosophy

Create a leadership development philosophy statement that defines the principles the organization champions. A leadership development philosophy provides direction for those crafting the plan and a communication tool to help the organization understand leadership development.

Step 4: Agree upon objectives

Make certain that all leaders are aligned to the following objectives:

  1. Make improving bench strength a top priority (including succession and retention plans)
  2. Ensure each leader takes responsibility for developing future leaders
  3. Measure the business results of leadership development
  4. Making learning an organizational priority
  5. Create formal development plans for emerging leaders

Lack of true engaged support from current leaders is one of the key reasons that leadership development fails. Your role as an HR professional is to help senior leaders see leadership development as a strategy as opposed to being the project du jour. Identifying and improving the quality of leaders must be a top priority to ensure a filled pipeline of experienced employees ready to be placed.

For any further questions about how you can support leadership development, please give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. If you have any suggestions as to how to improve leadership development, we’d love to hear them in the comments section!

Pay Attention to Causes of Preventable Employee Turnover

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer column, The View from HR.

When employees leave their jobs, we in Human Resources call it turnover. Then we label it “voluntary” or “involuntary” and assign drop-down reasons like “higher pay.” These labels are more about what happened than why it happened. You want to know why, not just what.

Turnover has as many causes as there are managers and employees. These four causes of preventable talent loss need more attention.

“I didn’t know.”I did not know this job had so much travel, that I have to cold call, that there is so much pressure to produce, that the business is unsound, that my manager is inexperienced, that it requires weekend work” and so on. These things are discoverable during the interview and application processes. Both sides own the problem: employers tend to accentuate the positive and applicants want to appear eager. If everyone spent more time in interviews talking about the job realities (and not just the fun stuff), painful and expensive early turnover would be reduced.

“We never talked about it”. I am convinced much of the turnover among talented, experienced and high potential contributors is caused by a lack of communication. Sure, no workplace has every opportunity or salary level a key player needs. Leaving for a new role might make the most sense. Too often, a great employee leaves because they do not understand all the ways this workplace could be as good as or greener than the grass on the other side.

Whether the motive to leave is pain avoidance (manager, hours, stress, type of work) or opportunity seeking (responsibility, autonomy, flexibility, pay) open conversations with a trusted mentor/manager will either make the choice clearer or uncover alternatives meeting everyone’s needs. Great managers create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing these big decisions in time to respond.

“I need a change.” Some people need change. What used to be challenging becomes routine. Without new challenges, the normal push and pull of any job seems futile. What is this all about? Why work this hard each day for the same set of problems, people, customers and results? This happens at all pay levels.

It should be easy to agree on fresh objectives, skills and behaviors the business truly needs. Even without a new role, finding better and more effective ways to do important things requires good communication and agreement. Your best people are hungry for this conversation.

This is an emotional decision. Sometimes, the decision to change jobs is mostly about pay, but usually emotion controls. Where will I enjoy my work more, where will I get new challenges, where will I have an impact on real people, where can I find a manager who knows how to manage? Employers that understand the importance of emotion in decisions to leave can address them proactively. The signs are usually present. Explaining turnover in primarily rational and economic terms misses the mark.

Of course there are often institutional reasons for turnover, but remember the individual, preventable and emotional reasons.

Will Employees Be Working for Free on Leap Day?

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

February-29While February is known for its famously short 28 days, every four years the month extends itself an extra day on the 29th of February. This year, this extra day will fall next Monday. While many employees may wish for a Leap Day Holiday off of work, most will still make their way to the office. But the question remains: Is Leap Day good or bad for employees? Well, that may depend on who you’re asking.

For hourly, non-exempt workers, coming into work on Leap Day may be a welcome occurrence: their employers will pay them for hours worked, and if they work an extra day this year, that’s roughly eight more hours of paid work on their paychecks this year than in a non-Leap Year.

Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, for salaried, exempt employees, the situation might be a little different.

If salaried workers earn a set amount each year irrespective of hours worked, yet there’s one extra day of work this year, does that mean they are working for free on Leap Day? The answer to this question can be puzzling, and it turns out even employment experts cannot come to a general consensus on the issue.

Daniel Schwartz, an employment attorney, believes employers could be getting a day’s worth of work for free from their employers.

“For the extra day, the employer really isn’t paying anything more for an exempt worker. The annual salary is just that, and the paychecks just reflect the portion of the year. Many employers thus get a ‘free’ day of work from exempt workers because they are not paying anything more than in non-Leap Years,” he wrote on the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.

Frank Heinz, a reporter from NBC, begs to differ.

“The short answer is no, you aren’t working for free on Leap Day … you’re just working for less than normal,” Heinz writes.

“Let’s assume you make $50,000 per year in a non-Leap Year.  If we take that salary and divide it by the 261 work days, that breaks down to $191.57 gross income, per day,” he goes on to explain. “During a Leap Year, with 262 work days, that breaks down to $190.84 gross income, per day.  That means during a Leap Year you will make .73 cents less per day in order to fund your salary on Feb. 29.”

But what the issue really may come down to is how your company’s pay schedule is set up.

A typical year will have 52 weeks plus one day, but a Leap Year has 52 weeks plus two days.  If your company’s designated payday falls on this extra day, it could mean an additional paycheck for your employees.

More than likely, employers will build this extra day into the yearly salary, and reduce a worker’s paycheck installment in order to make it all come out even at the end of the year.

However your business structures its payroll, whether it’s through weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly installments, it is imperative for HR professionals to take the time to examine whether their employees’ pay will be affected by the upcoming Leap Day.

If you find that it will alter your pay structure, be prepared to discuss the issue and how your business will respond with your employees. It is, after all, their right to know how their pay could be affected.

For any further questions on how Leap Day might affect your payroll, don’t hesitate to give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. Have a Happy Leap Day everyone!

The Key to Aligning HR to Your Business? Understanding Your Corporate Strategy

Thursday, February 11th, 2016
Doug Blizzard, VP of Membership

Doug Blizzard, VP of Membership

In today’s post, CAI’s Vice President of Membership Doug Blizzard discusses the importance of setting a corporate strategy to begin the process of aligning HR to the business.

I’ve talked with several senior HR executives recently about a conundrum they face.  They want to align HR to their business, however there doesn’t appear to be a business strategy in place to align HR to.  When they inquire about said strategy they hear things like “we are pursuing a growth strategy” or “our primary strategy is reflected in the budget” or even better “the world is changing too fast to really have a formal strategy.”

I’m not here to make the case for aligning HR to the business.  That case has been made a hundred times over and there are thousands of companies that have figured that out and they lead their industries every year.  I’m also not going to talk about how you can align HR to the business.  That’s a much broader subject.  Click here for more on that or see the reading list I prepared for you below.

I do want to talk about the first step in aligning HR to the business and that is setting a corporate strategy.While more enlightened companies have given HR a seat in the boardroom and the opportunity to help shape their corporate plans, the vast majority will expect HR and other departments to fall into line once a business strategy has been mapped out.  And some number of those companies don’t have a formal corporate strategy, particularly smaller companies in growth mode.

Here are three steps you can follow to help you understand your corporate strategy:

First, just because you haven’t seen a corporate strategy doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Unfortunately many companies don’t involve HR and some don’t trust or value HR’s contribution to the strategy.  Other companies hold corporate strategy very close to the vest.  It’s easy to go negative and second guess executives when you feel uncertain about how and why decisions are being made.  Check your own negative attitude and pursue further.

Second, the most straightforward and perhaps logical path to understanding corporate strategy is to just ask the CEO.  If you can talk to the CEO by all means do so.  Be prepared however to explain why you need to know.  The simplest explanation: I need to understand where we are going so I can make sure our workforce has the skills and competencies necessary to both get us there and keep us there.  Also I need to make sure we have the necessary leadership, culture, work systems, performance capabilities, rewards and incentives and governance to achieve our goals.    Now of course if your company doesn’t look to you to do any of the things I just mentioned then your bigger issue is building credibility for the HR function.  Click here for ideas on how to do that.

Now the CEO may not give you a formal plan so be prepared to ask questions to help you shape the HR implications of the ideas he/she has in their head.  Which brings me to an important point, asking the CEO about strategy isn’t a hallway conversation.  You should schedule a meeting.  If you don’t report to the CEO, by all means talk to your boss first.  They may have all the answers you need, or they may block you.

Third, if you’re unable or unwilling to talk to the CEO, or your boss doesn’t like the idea and can’t provide any insight, what can you do?  Well if you’re a publicly traded company you can find information in annual reports, investor statements, etc. Here are some other ways you can uncover your corporate strategy complements of CAI friend and world renowned HR thought leader Dr. David Ulrich:

  • Read positive and negative analyst reports
  • Read magazines, newspapers and articles about your company
  • Read magazines, newspapers and articles about your industry
  • Attend industry trade shows
  • Master internal market reports
  • Learn how internal market reports are generated
  • Visit customers in their buying context
  • Visit customers in their product or service utilization context
  • Study competitors in detail
  • Be personally involved in market research
  • Track financial analysis of market segments
  • Attend marketing meetings
  • Attached product development meetings
  • Attend sales meetings
  • Invite customers, analysts and shareholders to address training programs
  • Invite customers, analysts and shareholders to attend training programs
  • Invite customers, analysts and shareholders to address management meetings
  • Invite customers, analysts and shareholders to address HR meetings
  • Invite customers, analysts and shareholders to address meetings of line operators
  • Know what you don’t know

Your company desperately needs to have HR strategies woven into every fabric of the business.  Your path to do that may be difficult but it’s worth it.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, or Rick Washburn orTom Sheehan for help in aligning your HR practices to your business.

For additional guidance about how to craft your business strategy, please contact our Advice & Resolution at at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. If you have any suggestions about ways to align HR to business strategy, let us know in the comments!

Using Effective Recruiting Sources

Thursday, January 28th, 2016


In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares the findings of a CareerBuilder survey that reveals where employers should be wisely spending their resources on recruiting sources.

According to a CareerBuilder survey of over 1,600 of their clients, job candidates, on average, use eighteen (18) sources when looking for a new job.  Understanding which of these sources are used most often will give employers insight as to where to invest their recruiting time on job posting sources.

Most companies typically do the same things when it comes to getting the word out regarding job openings.  There are employee referrals, internal databases, job boards, etc.  No secrets or surprises here.  So, which sources are having the most success?

Forty-three percent (43%) of those surveyed find the most success posting on Job Boards.  Thirty-two percent (32%) find the most success by posting on Career Sites. Seven percent (7%) have more successful hires coming from Employee Referrals and two percent (2%) are more successful recruiting candidates through an Agency.  Other sources combined to make up the remaining 16%.

However, according to Leadership IQ’s latest research, the most successful companies are finding their best people in what they call “The Underground Job Market” through employee referrals and networking.

As an employer, now that you have this information, what can you learn from it?  In order to ensure the best possible formula for recruiting success, an organization must have a multi-faceted strategy for sourcing candidates.  An internal database, or pool, of qualified candidates you have already spoken with and vetted is one of your best sources.

However, you should also make sure you post openings on targeted job boards and career sites.  This will attract candidates for your current opening. Establish an employee referral program which rewards employees for finding and recruiting qualified candidates for an opening.  This will encourage participation and engagement from your existing employees, as well as serve to preserve your corporate culture.  People are prone to associate with and recruit people who they are most compatible with.

A single approach to recruiting is not enough to make you successful.  There will be specialty jobs which require very targeted approaches, including perhaps the support of an agency.   There will also be jobs requiring a certain level of soft skills in addition to education and experience.  For these, you may find yourself “smiling-and-dialing” to locate the right candidate.

Lastly, there are two important considerations to remember when putting these strategies to use.  The first is, a recruiting technology is only as good as the people who use them.  Make sure your team is well-trained on getting the most use out of career sites and job boards.  As with any technology, if you do not use it correctly, it will not work for you.  The second thing to remember is to accurately measure your source for each hire.  These statistics will tell you and your management, which strategies are working well and help to drive budgets for investing deeper in certain strategies.

Should you need assistance developing a new approach or validating your existing one, please contact Tom Sheehan on our Advice & Resolution team at (919) 878-9222 or


The Truth About Affirmative Action…

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

In today’s post, CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, sheds lights on what exactly affirmative action is and what it means for your business.

I get asked all the time “What is affirmative action?”.  You’d think since I am the manager of affirmative action services at CAI that I wouldn’t have difficulty in answering that question.  You’d think that, right?

The truth is I do struggle to answer this question.  Not because I don’t know what it is but more because I’m not sure what answer the person asking really wants. Are they interested in a quick summary just highlighting a few main points?  Or do they want more detailed information including all requirements and analysis.  I can provide both.  I tend to provide more detail.  For those of you who have spoken to me – you’re welcome….or I’m sorry.   What I’d like to address here is high-level information.

What Affirmative Action IS:

Affirmative action is based and builds on the principles of equal opportunity laws.  It is intended to provide opportunities for defined protected groups and give them equal access as others in the population. Groups covered by affirmative action are: race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability and veteran status.  Affirmation action laws are intended to:

  • Help eliminate discriminated members of groups who have been historically disadvantaged
  • Provide proactive action-oriented programs to include members of protected groups in employment
  • Assist in removing barriers for employment and level the playing field in the workplace

What Affirmative Action is NOT:

To me almost equally important as identifying what affirmative action is, is to educate people on what it is not. There is often a misunderstanding of what companies must do as affirmative action employers. Affirmative action is not:

  • Quotas/ Set aside programs
  • Preferential treatment and selection
  • Different standards
  • Selection of unqualified individuals

Affirmative Action Programs (AAPs)

If certain headcount/contract amounts are met, federal contractors and subcontractors are required to develop written affirmative action programs.  These programs are intended to be a management tool to ensure that equal employment opportunity is occurring in the workforce.  These programs should identify the extra steps contractors are implementing to include covered, protected groups. Written programs must be developed on an annual basis and include:

  • AAPs include analysis of the contractor’s workforce. Analysis includes comparing the demographics of the company in relation to the demographics of qualified individuals in the labor pool.  Where the company is underrepresented, placement goals are established (women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, protected veterans).
  • AAPs include a narrative which is a communication tool for what the contractor/subcontract has done or intends to do for the AAP year. This includes the company’s good faith efforts to address under-representation or impediments in employment practices.
  • Contractors must also annually review employment transactions (hires, promotions, terminations) that occurred in the prior twelve months,   often referred to as adverse impact analysis.  The analysis is used to determine if there are significant differences in selection rates between groups (females vs. males, minorities vs. non-minorities).
  • Contractors are also required to annually review compensation practices/systems to evaluate if there are gender, race or ethnicity based disparities.

While the AAPs could be viewed as a paperwork exercise, they really can be much more.  Use them as the tools they are intended to be to identify and address areas in which there are opportunities for good faith improvement.  Improvements to processes are definitely recommended where adverse impact exists in employment transactions or where unexplained disparities exist in compensation as monetary liability exists for companies in those areas in the event of a government audit.  Develop realistic and attainable goals for your organization by using your developed AAP as your guide.

If you need help understanding the requirements or how to implement your company’s program, please contact Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager of Affirmative Action Services, at or 919.713.5241.  We also invite you to sign up for our free one hour webinar AAP: Preparing Data for Analysis on Feb. 9th.

Here’s How to Master Doing Less Better…

Thursday, January 21st, 2016
Tom Sheehan, HR Business Partner

Tom Sheehan, HR Business Partner

In today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares the importance of HR professionals staying focused on one or two projects at a time rather than spreading themselves too thin.

Because of its inherent support role, the HR function and its leaders typically have a strong service orientation. That means that as ‘opportunities’ to support and serve the business are brought forward, there is a certain eagerness to please the customer. HR professionals frequently struggle to identify and prioritize which HR projects to push forward to the organization.

Because of the desire to please, HR teams typically conduct too many initiatives, often with mediocre results. Conducting too many projects dilutes the effectiveness of each initiative, and wastes valuable resources.

When deciding which HR initiatives are top priorities, answer these three questions:

  1. To what extent does this HR initiative further the key business objectives that have been laid out for the organization?
  2. If we decide to move forward with this project, what project or initiative must be bumped or moved down the priorities list?
  3. Can we articulate a true return on investment on this project?

Here are the most typical projects that the HR team may undertake:

  1. Improving leadership development
  2. Implementing new technology
  3. Restructuring the organization
  4. Delivering on recruiting initiatives
  5. Measuring and improving workforce performance
  6. Enhancing employee engagement

At the end of the day, HR professionals and their teams would benefit greatly by ‘doing less better.’  That may mean selecting one or two projects to focus on and delivering outstanding results on each of them. Do not move on to the next project until the current project is fully executed and has had a chance to take hold. Being able to stand your ground and appropriately push back when being pressured to take on a new initiative is often a key success factor.

Nothing will ‘short-circuit’ your credibility more quickly than a series of half-delivered projects with mediocre results. The ‘customer-requested’ projects should of course be added to the master list of projects and prioritized appropriately. The master list should include dates and timelines as well, and undergo periodic review with the leadership team.

Frequently, HR leaders are challenged by the business with a ‘critical’ training opportunity for the problem du jour. The expectation by the customer is that HR drop everything and hastily complete the training project. This ‘drop everything’ approach to training is frequently misguided and should also be weighed against existing priorities and projects. It is critical to remember that there is an opportunity cost associated with every project. Never allow a new ‘discretionary’ project to come at the expense of delivering on the strategic promise.

If you think you may need help rethinking your department’s priorities, please give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.