Posts Tagged ‘Human Resources’

The Important Messages of Body Language and Leadership Style

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When leading a team, body language as simple as eye contact or the crossing of the arms can convey a significant positive — or negative — message to employees.  There are two sets of signals a business leader can communicate using just their body language.  The first type of signal translates the leader’s status and authority.  The second type of signal can convey warmth and empathy to the team members. body_language_gesture

Status and authority can be seen in how a leader carries themselves.  For example, a person’s posture when entering a room or sitting at a meeting can give off a signal of power and authority. Open hand signals, nodding one’s head, and making eye contact can promote feelings of warmth within a leader to the rest of the team.  Stand or sitting up straight, making expansive gestures, and hold your shoulders back exudes a confidence in your leadership skills and what you are saying. When feeling less confident or uncertain people tend to shrink, minimize the space they take up.  Legs and arms crossed, pulled in tight or slouching is a way to send a message of lack of confidence or even discomfort in the situation or discussion.

For the most part these gestures are unconscious.  Recognizing and being aware, paying attention to what your body is saying is important if you want to be seen as a leader. Awareness of your body language, projecting a positive and even powerful body language can actually transform how you see yourself.

There is no good or bad body signal per se, but these signals can be used to either unknowingly or deliberately support or sabotage a message when relating to the team as a leader.  As an experiment, a very gifted speaker delivered an incredible speech and concluded by asking if there were any questions and then crossing his arms. Not a single question was asked. The audience, without realizing it, saw this gesture as a complete contradiction to his request for questions.

Similarly, if a leader or speaker is less than 100% confident and certain of the message they are delivering to their audience, it will show in their speech, their body language, and even in their choice of words.  In order to appear confident, leaders have to believe in what they are saying and assure their non-verbal is congruent.

Signals of warmth and empathy are equally important qualities of a good leader. Communication during one-on-one time with an employee, or when delivering a difficult message to a group of employees is crucial to gaining support and trust.  Showing emotion through eye contact and facial expressions will tend to level the field of authority with your employees, and give them the confidence and feeling of trust they need to be honest and open with their leaders. You want to be a trusted leader with your employees and by projecting true empathy and approachability, your team responds accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding communications as a leader, please contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team. We know that providing excellent direction in effective leadership is the very core of effective management.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI member with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Cyber Threats & Security – Stay Safe & Stay Compliant

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

The post below is a guest blog from Jordan Whichard who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Credit cards with computer chips in them.  New online passwords every 30 days with capital letters and numbers and symbols.  Everywhere we turn these days, companies seem to be going to great new lengths to protect their employees’ and customers’ personal digital information against cyber threats.

hcw-blogaugust

There’s good reason for that.  Organizations ranging from Home Depot to the Federal Government have suffered serious data breaches over the course of the past several years. The healthcare industry appears to be particularly susceptible to breaches, with over 112 million individual records having been compromised in 2015.  With so many different companies suffering from breaches and increased scrutiny around hacks, now is a good time for employers to ensure that they’re doing everything they need to in order to remain compliant, and protect their employees from cyber threats.

If you’re an employer sponsor of a group health plan, chances are you’re already subject to privacy and security rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  When thinking about cyber threats that impact you directly, the focus should be on the electronic protected health information of your employees. The first step in protecting employee information is making sure that your plan is compliant with HIPAA’s security rules. That includes implementing safeguards on multiple levels, including administrative, physical, technical, and organizational safeguards.  These can run the gamut from tasks as simple as updating the access control to your facility (physical), or as intricate as ensuring that any data stored online is protected by appropriate firewalls and encryption (technical). Ultimately, the best thing you can do to ensure the safety of both your organization and your employees’ information is to be sure you’re HIPAA compliant.  If you aren’t certain of your compliance right now, consider consulting legal counsel or a third party HIPAA consultant.

What are some other steps that groups are taking to make sure their data doesn’t get into the wrong hands? One is educating all employees, regardless of their role, about cybersecurity and IT issues and risks management. Make sure that your company has a uniformly enforced policy for mobile device usage – especially for personally owned devices – in order to help protect sensitive information.  Finally, don’t wait until you experience a breach to learn how to respond. Make sure your affected teams are well versed in their response procedures in the event of an incident.

5 Tips for Better HR Communications

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

One way to streamline HR processes is to improve your HR communication.

Leadership and communication

Below are 5 practical tips that should help you more effectively communicate with the workforce:

Tip # 1: Communication from HR must be authentic and hyper-relevant

Generally speaking, employees have lost some degree of trust in the authenticity of the company communications they receive. In particular, HR communications are often viewed by the workforce as being less than straightforward, with some sort of hidden agenda. To further complicate matters, employees often feel the communication they receive is not important to them directly.

Tip # 2: Create simple, timely communications that focus on what employees need to know and do

In the spirit of trying to create full disclosure, HR tends to ‘over-communicate.’ In doing so we cloud the message. We don’t need to share every detail.

Tip # 3: Tag actionable communications in the subject line with ‘Action required’

E-mails from HR are often too generic and lack a “What’s in it for me?” or “What am I supposed to do about this?” message for employees.

Here is a good example of how to communicate when action is required:

  1. Issue: All employees must re-enroll for benefits.
  2. Action you must take: Log onto xyz website, and complete enrollment by xyz date.
  3. What happens if you don’t act: Your benefits will not be renewed.

Tip # 4: Don’t hide behind e-mails

It is also important to realize that your communications cannot be solely in the form of e-mails and memos sent to the masses. Follow up important company-wide communications with face-to-face interaction. This might include such things as town-hall meetings or stand-up department meetings to highlight key points. Make certain to open these meetings up for questions.

This type of interaction fosters a culture that shows the company cares about employees and wants their voices to be heard. Smaller companies can be more personal in their communications, using in-person meetings followed up by next-step e-mails.

Other ways HR can help set the tone for effective communications:

  • Establish training and clear guidelines on the proper use of emails (including cc’s, volume, respond times)
  • Create a consistent, clear format for company-wide communications
  • Establish a ‘gate-keeper’ for large-scale communications to the workforce
  • Encourage the better use of virtual technology—i.e. Live Meeting, WebEx, Skype, and MS Lync

Tip # 5: Hold ‘All Hands’ Meetings

In terms of communicating the company strategy, the use of quarterly ‘all-hands’ company meetings are frequently helpful. These meetings are typically facilitated by an HR leader and run by a member of the senior leadership team. During the meetings, leaders discuss the progress being made relative to the company goals and strategies. These meetings are also used as a means to proactively address employee concerns that may be gaining momentum.

If you need help thinking through your HR/Employee communications learn how CAI can help you create the best workplace for your employees.

Tom_Sheehan-circle

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

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 www.capital.org.

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.

ee cust inves.JPG

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

 

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.

 

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!

 

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!

Key to Employee Engagement Lies in Understanding Human Behavior

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

friendshipatworkIn today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares how getting back to the basics of understanding human interaction at work may be the key to strengthening employee engagement.

Employers spend a lot of time and money on employee engagement strategies, hoping they are doing all the right things to make a positive impact and maintain strong relationships and loyalty among their workforce.  Still, many studies suggest employee engagement on average is low.  This is an indicator that employers are either not doing enough to keep their employees engaged, or what they are doing is simply not effective.

There are some specific and very basic fundamentals surrounding human behavior and how they influence engagement.  Even seasoned professionals can forget from time to time and neglect to stick with these basics which can lead to an ineffective engagement effort.

Examine the fundamental truths below to see how they compare to your engagement strategy. If you are doing one of these, is it working?  If it isn’t, can you change it?  If it is, can you do more of it?

Employment Engagement Truths

  1. All the goodies, gimmicks and giveaways in the world are no substitute for a rewarding work experience.
  2. Spoiled employees, like spoiled children, become childish and entitled.
  3. Every action, no matter how small, can affect employee engagement. An email, an interaction or a simple note can have a definite impact.  Take nothing for granted.
  4. You build, or tear down, employee engagement one conversation at a time.
  5. Ask your employees for feedback on employee engagement and listen to what they have to say.  They are a valuable resource and know best what it takes to engage them.
  6. If you do not ask for feedback or you choose to ignore it when provided, you may not find what creates employee engagement until it is too late.
  7. Do not solicit input from your employees unless you plan to use it.
  8. Engagement is a two-way street.  Employees are not going to care about your goals unless they feel you actually care about theirs.
  9. It is one thing to make an employee feel like they matter, it is another to empower them to actually matter by making a difference in the organization on a daily basis.
  10. Your business is not a rehab center for troubled employees.  You can only do so much.  You are not a therapist, you are a manager.
  11. Avoid feelings of uncertainty among your workforce.  Uncertainty leads to fear and fear tends to focus on oneself rather than the common goals of the team or organization.  Communicate and be transparent as much and as often as you can.
  12. Give specific reasons for any directive.  It is always easier to deal with a “What” when you have a “Why” to back it up.
  13. Focus on what you can control, not on what you cannot.
  14. Finally, look in the mirror and ask yourself what it would take for you to continue to remain engaged in your company.  Put yourself in the shoes of your workforce.

Before you invest an inordinate amount of time and money into expensive employee engagement practices, see how getting back to the basics will work for your business. Stick to these simple truths and you may find that higher employee engagement is attainable without all the headaches of those expensive strategies!

For more information on engaging your workforce, please contact our Advice & Resolution at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

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!

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.