Posts Tagged ‘Employee Training’

Two Questions HR Must Answer Correctly

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

I once spoke to a large group of HR professionals and I asked them two very important questions.  WARNING: Getting the answers correct may require you to radically shift your perspective and focus.  However, making the shift may be the most important thing you can do as an HR professional to dramatically elevate your value to your organization.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest.  So here goes.

Question number 1.  Look at the pictures below and tell me who the most important group is to your business. This isn’t a trick question. There is only one correct answer.

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When I asked this question in a speech I once made to over 120 HR professionals, the most common answer was “the employees.”  As one participant confidently articulated, without employees and their contributions and innovations there would be no business.  Good point.

One person sheepishly said “the customers,” but I could tell she didn’t feel comfortable saying that in front of her HR peers.

No one said “the investors.”  Some experts argue that without investors you couldn’t have a business because there would be no capital to buy the equipment and infrastructure needed to deliver the product or service.

So what’s the right answer?  The answer came most succinctly from the late Peter Drucker who many called the Godfather of Modern Management: “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”  All three groups are important, but without a customer there is no business.  You can have investors in search of a business, and you can have employees in search of an employer, but as the customer goes so does the business.  A business will only continue to exist as long as it has products and / or services that satisfy customer needs.

Question number 2: Who is HR’s most important customer?  I asked the same group of HR professionals this question and overwhelmingly and emphatically they said “employees!”  Wrong again .  Now obviously HR spends a lot of it’s time serving employees, and yes the employee group is clearly a customer of HR, as are managers, other departments, executives, retirees, covered family members, etc.  However, HR’s most important customer is the company itself.  In today’s business environment, HR exists, along with other support functions like IT, to help the company create value for it’s customers.  Let that statement sink in for a minute.  When I ask many HR professionals what HR’s primary role is, I hear some version of “HR’s job is to sit in between employees and management…”  “To sit in between” suggests that HR isn’t part of either group.  Others tell me it’s HR’s job to “look out for” the employees.   Other’s say to “hire and fire.”  These views represent traditional notions of HR, or really “Personnel” or “Labor Relations.”

Companies of all sizes need much more from HR today.  Viewing HR”s primary role to support the company (and it’s customers) results in a much different view of what the HR function should be doing.  I’ll illustrate this point with a few examples I borrowed from a CAI conference speaker and noted HR guru David Ulrich.  Dr. Ulrich calls this new customer focused view of HR “Outside-In” HR.

hr outside in_ulrich_hr domain.png

Companies exist to satisfy a customer need.  In doing so they provide jobs and shareholder returns.  A firm’s talent is at the heart of satisfying that customer need and HR should be driving what kind of talent is attracted to and remains at the company.

Where does an HR leader start?  The most important, and difficult step, is to shift your perspective and your team’s perspective to a company – customer focused view. Next, go visit some of your company’s customers.  That’s right, ask sales to attend a few customer meetings.  These experiences will open your eyes to how your company provides value to customers and what attributes attracts them to your company.  The neat thing is that customers and top talent are attracted to similar things.  And when both groups are happy, amazing things can happen!  Think about it!

Let us know if CAI can help you transform your HR focus.



Doug Blizzard, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP serves as CAI’s Vice President of Membership, and has been with CAI for more than 15 years.  Doug is well-versed in the world of HR from compliance issues to workforce management to aligning business objectives with HR.  He strives to constantly improve the member experience and provide employers with the confidence needed to turn fears and opportunities into practical actions and results.   If your HR team could benefit from some guidance, you’ll want to learn more about CAI.


Transform Your Business With These 5 New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

In today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares the important resolutions HR professionals should be aiming to tackle in the New Year.

The New Year is here, and I imagine many of you will have already set goals you hope to achieve by the end of 2016.  As HR professionals, odds are attracting and retaining talent will be some of your top priorities for the year.  To meet these goals, I would like to call your attention to five resolutions that if followed will be instrumental in creating success for your business this year.

  1. Narrow the Front Door to Close the Back Door
    Commit to improve the screening and selection processes to ensure that poor fit candidates don’t join the organization. In particular, use structured interview questions to assess for cultural fit, and incorporate realistic job previews. In short, by acting as the ‘gatekeeper of talent’ and narrowing the front door, you will reduce the unnecessary turnover of employees leaving via the backdoor.
  2. Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill
    Winston Churchill famously said that ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG DIFFERENCE.’ It is much easier to train a new hire on a set of work skills than to correct issues with their attitude. If you want to know about their attitude, check their references thoroughly.
  3. Onboard New Hires with Real Purpose
    Make certain that the new hire process utilizes a formal, scripted plan for the first 90 days. Include check-in points for an HR representative to make sure things are still on track. Hold the hiring manager accountable for ensuring that the process unfolds according to plan.
  4. Dump the ‘once a year’ Performance Review
    Resolve to make the performance management process something more than a ‘check-the-box’ exercise. Train managers on how to give performance feedback on a regular basis. Encourage managers to have weekly one-on-ones with their staffs. At a minimum, there should be a formal mid-year check-in between the employee and the manager.
  5. Do Less Better
    In our zeal to please (and support) our internal customers, HR has traditionally had a hard time saying ‘No’. As a result, we are often overextended and inefficient. Endeavor to prioritize your HR initiatives and select fewer projects to start. In doing so, you will improve execution and results.

Follow these resolutions and you will likely find a positive impact across your organization. Not only can it help transform your business for the better, but it also will improve the credibility and faith in HR and establish a reputation and culture for doing things the right way.

For further questions about how to achieve your HR resolutions in the New Year, please contact our Advice & Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Using Collaborative Learning to Increase Critical Thinking

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Strong collaboration in a work environment is crucial to the success of any company. However, how much thought is given to learning collaboratively? When professionals are paired together in small groups, collaborative learning encourages the achievement of professional goals. According to Virginia Tech’s Journal of Technology Education (vol.7 no.1), collaborative learning enhances critical thinking. This concept is not something new; rather a notion measured and proven over many years.

The act of exchanging ideas within small groups not only increases interest, but promotes critical thinking. The members of these small groups are allowed the opportunity to engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning and strengthen their ability to actively and skillfully conceptualize information. We currently live in the world of the continuous “busy.” Being in a group such as this allows the learner to slow down, share, listen and evaluate themselves and others.

Participants in collaborative learning environments experienced the following benefits:

  • Improved understanding of issues presented
  • Shared knowledge and experience
  • Receiving and giving of helpful feedback
  • Higher level thinking ability
  • Openness to new perspectives

The time spent participating in collaborative learning opportunities also affected the social and emotional well-being of participants in the following ways:

  • Problem solving felt easier, and almost enjoyable, in a relaxed, trusting environment
  • Greater responsibility – not just for self but for the group as well
  • New relationships built and growth of professional network

Consider enhancing your critical thinking skills within the workplace by incorporating collaborative learning amongst peers. If you have any further questions as to how your business can encourage collaborative learning, please give our Advice and Resolution Team a call at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.


Use Training and Professional Development to Encourage Employee Engagement

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

 June 3 2013 quote blog

If you think the only way to boost employee morale and job satisfaction is increasing salaries or offering large bonuses, you are wrong. Competitive pay rates and earned raises are important to your employees and you should give them. However, if you don’t have the money to increase everyone’s salary, you can offer your employees opportunities for training and professional growth.

Providing employees with education that will be beneficial to their careers is a cost-effective way to increase job satisfaction at your workplace. You don’t have to max out budgets to illustrate to your staff that you want to help them achieve their goals. Help them feel appreciated by investing in their futures.

The list below shares several ways you can help your staff learn more, become engaged and be more productive. Try some of the examples at your workplace:

Encourage employees to join professional groups and associations.

Groups related to their jobs will help your staff members connect with similar professionals, learn best practices from their peers, and even gain new business and clients.

Set up a company mentor program.

Seasoned employees can teach your new additions a lot about the company. Your green employees can also give out important lessons. Organize a program that will be beneficial to most of your staff.  

Buy subscriptions to industry-related literature.

A budget-friendly way to increase the knowledge of your workers is to supply your workplace with magazines, journals and books that teach them valuable information.

Provide employees with professional training

Sign your staffers up for training classes to help them develop into strong leaders and better communicators. Experienced trainers will teach them applicable information to take back to the organization.

Capitalize on the information on the Internet.

Improve your employee’s technology skills while they receive training on the internet. Use webinars and blogs to cut costs or save travel time.

For additional ideas to increase employee morale and productivity at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

3 Ways to Increase Your Staff’s Energy and Productivity Levels

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Have you noticed that some of your employees are running low on energy? Yes, employers have had a difficult time withstanding the economic climate over the past few years, but employees have also felt the pressure. Many workers have taken on more responsibility after seeing their coworkers get laid off. Some are also working longer to keep their company running like there’s a full staff. Doing more work and putting in more hours without significant increases in their pay or positive changes in their benefits can drain the energy of your employees.

The economic climate of the past few years made it necessary for many employers to get the most out of their employees, but doing so may have led to decreases in their workforce’s productivity level and job satisfaction. To keep your employees away from the brink of exhaustion, try these three methods to encourage motivation, increase morale and boost work performance:

Workplace Flexibility

If feasible for their position, allow your employees to enjoy more flexible schedules. When employees need a physical or mental break from work, flex schedules help employees maintain work/life balance, which aids them in completing quality work for your company. For additional benefits from flexible schedules for both employees and employers read our post Employers, Reap the Benefits of Telecommuting.

Employee Recognition

Taking time to recognize the contributions made by your employees will improve their work performance and attitude. Your workers want to know that their efforts are affecting your company positively, so letting them know how they specifically contribute to their organization’s success will raise their morale and company loyalty. For different ideas on how to show your employees you appreciate them, please see our blog post 17 Ways to Show Your Employees Appreciation.

Ongoing Training

Your employees are more likely to stay with your organization and produce great work if you provide them with opportunities to expand their skill sets. Most employees are eager to learn new methods to streamline their workflows and new knowledge to assist them in completing projects. There are a number of ways you can help your employees reach their full potential. Check some of them out on our blog post Continuous Education Helps You, Your Employees and Your Business Thrive.

For more tips on engaging and energizing your workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Ongoing Training Helps Managers Reach Success

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO, discusses the importance of managerial training in his most recent edition of his News and Observer column, “The View from HR.” In his column, Bruce informs his readers that less than half of the companies he surveyed had no budget for managerial training. Bruce argues that without training, managers are unable to improve their soft skills, which are necessary to lead an organization. Communicating effectively, working well in teams, empathizing with colleagues and keeping calm in stressful situations are examples of soft skills that lead businesses to success.

Making sure your managers are adequately trained to handle their projects and supervise people is important no matter if your budget is large or extremely limited. Considering multiple budgets, here are a few ways to train your managers:

Training Classes

  • Employers’ associations and similar organizations offer companies several training options for their managers. While training programs range in price and length, they offer participants valuable information and leadership practices to take away and use for supervising their staff members.


  • In addition to training classes, managers can learn key concepts from webinars. Many times managers want to attend training classes, but their demanding schedules make leaving the office hard. Webinars allow managers to sharpen their skills and improve their leadership without leaving their desks.


  • An inexpensive way for managers to advance their skills is to invest in managerial literature. Many non-fiction books offer managers solutions for solving people management issues or ensuring the success of a project. These books are often available at public libraries.  In addition, reading blogs like this one that share tips on increasing retention and company morale is an effective way for managers to strengthen their leadership qualities.


  • A meticulously organized company mentor plan is another budget-friendly method to train your managers. To make this program successful, match new managers with experienced and high-performing managers. The seasoned managers will have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to help their newer colleagues tackle and conquer tough workplace issues. These employee pairs should meet regularly for an extended period of time to be effective.

Managers juggle many tasks and are responsible for multiple people. For these reasons, it’s important to ensure that they receive proper training. Giving them several opportunities to improve their soft skills will help your company see more success. If you’re interested in CAI’s training courses, please contact a member of CAI’s Learning and Development Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Ryan Holst

Keep Your Employees off the Playground: Preventing and Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Today’s news headlines are filled with stories of childhood and teenage bullying with dire consequences, but name calling, intimidation and similar behaviors do not always end in high school.   CAI’s CEO Bruce Clarke recently addressed the topic of workplace bullying in his News & Observer column, The View from HR. In his October 2 edition, he informed readers that 50 to 75 percent of employees have witnessed or experienced workplace bullying.

A company bully can be an associate, a manager or even the chief executive of the entire organization. Workplace bullies can utilize tactics that can be detrimental to a coworker’s health and career. Giving the silent treatment, humiliating others in public and attacking a person’s character or beliefs are shenanigans from a typical bully. Terrors in the office can hold even more power over their victims’ heads by refusing to give coworkers information, implementing impossible deadlines, ignoring achievements and repetitively mentioning mistakes.

Victims of bullies can suffer physically and mentally. Many studies have shown that workers who are frequently bullied report to be more stressed, prone to stomach aches and ulcers, and unhappy and unsatisfied at their jobs. Not only does the victim suffer, but the employee’s organization will also experience negative residual effects. Workplaces that ignore company bullies can lose respect and credibility from their employees. Company morale could lower and absenteeism could rise. Employees who are bullied may struggle to focus on their work, which can decrease productivity. Some staff members might look for new jobs to escape from their bullies, causing turn over to increase.

 As an HR professional, you must do your part to create a bully-free work environment. Here are some tips to help you form a peaceful and productive workplace:bully

  • Never ignore a complaint about bullying. Respect your employees and let them know that you trust and believe the information that they give you. Many times victims are embarrassed or scared to report incidents of bullying. Let your employees know that you care about them and will listen to their grievances. Assure them that you will help them resolve their problems as soon as possible.
  • Create an environment of open communication. Make it okay for employees to feel comfortable talking to their managers about how they are feeling at work. Encourage team members to share factors that make them feel stressed and help them devise a plan to work through tough times.
  • Educate employees on workplace bullies and the effects they can have on their coworkers and their organization.  Providing training on bullying to all staff members, including senior leadership, can help reduce the chances for a company bully to thrive. Advocate that employees report any occurrences of malevolent workplace behavior.
  • Draft a policy that prevents bullying and make it available to all staff members. This policy should include language on how to make a proper complaint, how managers should react and how issues will be handled. Enforce a strategy for dealing with bullies and assign appropriate punishment for misconduct. Counseling for bullies is also suggested, so they understand the errors in their behavior and can work to improve their work performance and keep their jobs.

Additionally, if a bully threatens his victim with violence, waste no time to get to the bottom of the issue. Depending on the severity of the threat, calling the police to report outrageous behavior can be effective. For more information on how to handle bullies, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice & Counsel at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Eddie~S

Two Key Considerations When Performing Background Checks

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

When people fib about their work history, educational degree, job titles or salaries, criminal background and substance abuse habits – the top five lies told by job candidates – the results can be devastating for a company to have these individuals on staff. Performing a strong background check to weed out violent and dishonest candidates is essential if a firm is to work at top efficiency. In fact, one study estimates that the resultant annual ROI for using background screening to prevent business losses is more than 900 percent.

Potential employees can omit details that hide facts that can be difficult to uncover. To make sure your background checks are as thorough as possible, consider the following suggestions:

Hire a professional background checking company, also known as a consumer reporting agency – A CRA can help a business conduct background checks on candidates so that it does not have to devote extra time and resources for this process, plus it helps reduce liability. If you use a CRA, you must follow the federal law and tell the candidate on a document separate from the employment application that you are going to conduct a background check to independently verify the information provided, and the individual must first sign a document authorizing the background check. Turning someone down based on information drawn from a CRA requires that you give the applicant a chance to review the negative information, and possibly dispute the record before you make your final hiring decision. To know what you can and cannot do with a CRA report, review the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements.

Perform searches appropriate for the position – Hiring a CRA is only part of the battle. You must make sure that you are asking for the appropriate research.  You should start with some sort of name and address history search to independently verify the applicant’s basic information.  Then you should search for criminal records based upon the address history for some given “time window” – maybe 7 years.  Other types of searches should be based upon job responsibilities. Check on licensing claims, driving records, education verification, professional  and employment references, Medicaid sanctions, and other registries where needed to ensure that the applicant meets the minimum requirements for the job. Early discoveries can prevent much bigger later headaches if the person is lying.

For additional information on what to consider for background checks, please call Kevin von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: showbizsuperstar

Use Professional Development to Motivate and Retain Top Talent

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Many organizations believe that increasing salary is the most effective way to retain their stellar performers. Although higher salaries might keep employees at their jobs, it is not a cost-effective solution for employers. To help staff members remain content without maxing out budgets, companies can devote time to staff development and education.

Employees stay in their positions when they believe they are accomplishing their goals and advancing in their careers. Showing serious interest in the development of your staff demonstrates to employees that they are essential in achieving success for the company. Support within management to invest in workforce coaching will help your organization attain a lower turnover rate and strengthen employee morale.

The entire organization benefits when time and resources are allotted to professional growth and job preparation. Employees are satisfied and become more productive, which leads to increased efficiency and greater revenue. Here are a few tips to promote the growth of your team members:

  1. Help staff set goals. Have employees evaluate their responsibilities to determine their strengths and weaknesses prior to setting goals. Help them establish obtainable goals that align with their interests and strengths to support success. Goals should be measurable, and a timeline can track progress.  Personally praise employees when goals are achieved.
  2. Inform employees on training opportunities. Alert staff of different training and educational opportunities that benefit their position, and encourage them to participate. Offer to sponsor their attendance for different activities, such as conferences and seminars. If sponsoring is too expensive, partial payment still exhibits your vested interest in their career.
  3. Encourage membership in professional groups and associations. Organizations relevant to employees’ positions allow them to network with similar professionals, learn best practices and even gain new clients. To help facilitate their involvement, consider providing them annual stipends to partake in group activities related to their fields or reimbursing membership dues and other fees. Provide flexibility in scheduling and options to work nontraditional hours to allow employees to attend events as well.
  4. Recognize training progress. Employees need positive reinforcement when they continually perform their duties well. By attending training sessions, they invest in their career development as well as benefit the organization, so it is important to acknowledge their efforts. Take time to discuss what they learned from their experiences, and advocate that they integrate new knowledge into their responsibilities. Congratulating team members on earning certifications also promotes company loyalty.

Members of management should consider training options for themselves as well in order to set positive examples for all employees. Company leaders should also explain the value of continual education and professional development during staff gatherings or one-on-one meetings.

For more information on staff development and professional training, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746, or ask for an account manager to discover the different training options CAI offers.

Photo source: lumaxart

Informative, Engaging and Entertaining: CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Three hundred and seventy-two executives and HR professionals traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 17 and May 18 to attend CAI’s 2011 Employment and Labor Law Update Conference. CAI’s annual two-day event is designed to inform employers on the challenging and ever-changing legislative and regulatory environment companies are up against.

During the conference, lawyers from Ogletree Deakins and CAI staff members updated conference attendees on pertinent information ranging from a variety of topics, including health reform, NLRB changes and tips for creating effective company documents.

First-time conference goers, like Joan Inman, human resources director of SouthData, explored the 2011 conference to get professional expertise and vital information related to employers’ issues.

“I’m just seeking knowledge, and I want well-informed people telling me what I need to know,” Joan said on why she attended.

Each year CAI works with Ogletree Deakins to develop educational and engaging program sessions for the attendees. Those participating at the conference also receive notebooks packed with PowerPoint slides, white papers and several case studies that all further explain recent legal changes. Not only are the legal and regulatory updates a huge draw for conference attendees, but HR professionals like Yolanda Dejesus, director of human resources for the Office of Strategy and HR at AICPA, said the conference is “well worth the value” because of the information provided and the opportunity to network with others, including attorneys and company leaders from the Triangle, Triad and Eastern North Carolina.

“[CAI] always has great training and conferences. I always learn something new,” said Erika Koteff, HR manager at District Distributors when asked about the updates supplied at the conference.

Participants also have the opportunity to receive legal counsel on their own employment issues during the conference’s panel discussion. Featuring lawyers and HR specialists, the panel gives expert solutions to questions raised by audience members. Popular topics addressed during this year’s session included questions about FMLA guidelines and staying compliant with government instructions regarding I-9s.

Entertaining the audience members was a must at this year’s conference as well, and during the lively Wild and Wacky Cases session, guests learned about unbelievable cases that occurred in 2010. This year, the popular session highlighted information on crazy bathroom break policies, jaw-dropping workplace fraternizing and outlandish professional dress. Another fun and highly interactive part of the conference was the trivia game. Once the final informative session ended, Matt Keen of Ogletree Deakins asked participants to test their knowledge on the information presented at the conference by using electronic devices to answer the game’s yes or no questions.

The 2011 conference evaluations revealed that attendees found this year’s topics relevant and applicable to the many issues they are facing in their HR departments. CAI members, such as the Director of HR at Haven House Jennifer Boyler, return to the conference every year to stay up to date on news affecting employers.

“It’s a can’t-be-missed conference,” she said when describing the valuable event.

Please see the Employment and Labor Law Update web page at for additional information on the topics covered.  The 2012 conference will take place on May 2 and May 3 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh.