A close colleague recently received a well-deserved promotion, and I am thrilled for her and her manager. I believe that this sort of thing – “promotion” in the very best sense of the word – has the power to change careers … and lives.
Why Promotions Matter
It’s always nice to get a raise (more money) or a promotion (a loftier title and/or higher-level job responsibilities), of course. But I find that when done thoughtfully and purposefully, it can be much more than a “nice to have” or a brief shot-in-the-arm for morale purposes. In my friend’s case, the promotion:
- Showed her that she and her contributions were valued by the organization
- Gave her increased standing and confidence to interact with clients, colleagues, and vendors on a more equal footing as professional peers
- Changed her own thinking about what future steps her career might hold in store —what possibilities could become realities for her
- Increased her already strong appreciation for her manager, knowing that he had gone to bat for her when he didn’t have to
- And, in part that she’s not aware of yet, the promotion sets her up for other jobs (inside and outside the company) for which holding her new title/level is an unstated (but very real) requirement.
In the manager’s case, the promotion demonstrated: Continue reading
At a recent business dinner, the conversation was lively, the atmosphere cozy, and the mood light, as someone rose with glass in hand. “I’d like to offer a toast to Patty, for the terrific way that she has supported us this past year.” Looking over the clinking of glasses and the round of warm congratulations sat an embarrassed but clearly gratified Patty. This simple scene represented the culmination of a years-long journey to rebuild tattered relations between the groups present — and therein lies our story.
The Back Story
For more than a decade, relations between marketing and one of the lines of business had been frayed, sometimes to the breaking point—reflecting in large part the contentious relationship between the heads of both groups. Words like toxic, angry, skeptical, uncommunicative, antagonistic, and the like could be used to describe the tone between the groups at various points. How did things move from this paralyzed state of affairs to the happy dinner scene above? In a word, hard work—a series of steady, persistent actions over the course of years.
Several steps — some intentional, some happenstance — served to break the logjam and help move the relationship between the groups forward.
- Change in Players—The first key event was the departure of the marketing head (for reasons unrelated to this situation). The hard feelings between the two heads had become so entrenched that no Continue reading
Do you have employees who you are penning into a limited role — but whose skills and background (if not current position) enable them to contribute great things to your organization, if only “discovered” and given the chance to excel?
An under-employed friend recently shared her frustration at not being permitted to contribute at the level which she is capable. Empathizing with her plight (one that is shared by millions), I wonder whether companies need to attend more directly to this post-recession phenomenon. Is there a way to unleash the potential of this vast untapped reservoir of talent, energy, and ideas?
Point of Reference: The Survey Says
While pondering this, I noticed that SHRM’s latest national job satisfaction survey included a shocker. For the first time, “opportunities to use skills and abilities” displaced job security (63% to 61%) as the most important aspect of job satisfaction. The bottom line: we want to be secure, but even more than that, we want to be fulfilled in our work. President Kennedy once defined happiness as “the full use of one’s talents along lines of excellence.” In this way, we all want to be “happy.”
Recognize These People?
Do any of these folks work at your company?
- MBA-educated customer service rep—She has fifteen years of prior professional experience, but when she makes process improvement suggestions, she’s told “We tried that once and it didn’t work” (with the unstated subtext being, “Besides, managers make those kind of decisions here”).
- Non-degreed manager—You’re happy to have him managing the day-to-day HR affairs of your large retail operation (keeping you out of expensive lawsuits on a daily basis)—but when it comes to managing a high-visibility nationwide project, those are tacitly reserved for designated “high potential” (degreed) junior executives only.
- Receptionist-Playwright—Did you know that your friendly receptionist spent a dozen years as a budget analyst and project manager for a major bank and, in her spare time, is a playwright who founded and leads her own non-profit, community theatre group?
If so, you may have individuals who are vastly under-employed—i.e., highly under-utilized assets.
So, what can be done? Each company and individual circumstance is different, of course —but just using the three examples above, how would it improve your organization’s performance if …
- You sought out the MBA-educated customer service rep, let her know that you appreciated her process-improvement suggestions, and you wanted her to keep them coming. Separately, you ensure that the status-quo manager changes their tune and opens up to change in no uncertain terms.
- You realize that you’ve advertised a senior HR director role for months without success—all the while possibly having an ideal candidate in-house. You loosen the degree requirements, focus on who can truly do the job, and invite the non-degreed HR manager in for a serious interview / career planning discussion.
- You’re reorganizing a chronically under-performing department and are about to advertise for a project manager to lead the effort. Then, you remember the receptionist’s background and wonder if this is the sort of thing she has done in a past life. When she jumps at the opportunity and hits the ground running, you smile in satisfaction (and relief at finally solving the problem).
With managers at all levels just as overwhelmed as their employees—having little time to think deeply about the latent skills, talents, and experience of their employees—the “what if” above might strike some as unrealistic. But what if it’s not? It might just take some time and a commitment to dig a little deeper to see answers that might be right in front of us.
Posted in Employee Relations, Encouragement, Happiness, Leadership, Talent Management
Tagged bosses, Employee engagement, Excellence, Happiness, Human Resources, Leadership, Motivation and Rewards
Are our managers weighed down by doubts about their roles and the organization’s purposes? Simple clarity can help release powerful performance.
I was reminded again last week how important it is for organizations to communicate clear roles and purposes. Simply knowing where the organization is going and what it expects of you dramatically affects how you feel about—and how you do—your job. So simple … and so easy to forget.
As I was helping a group of front-line supervisors implement a new performance evaluation system, the question of “trust” kept coming up. At first, it was difficult to get a handle on what exactly the issue was. I kept talking about how the system would free them to coach, mentor, and support their employees—and they kept asking, “Really?”
The system itself was pretty simple, so I was confused, until it finally became clear that they weren’t questioning the system—only their role in it. The “really” was, “Are you sure that the organization really wants us spending our time coaching and mentoring? They’re really going to let us do that?”
Clearly there was some emotional baggage to overcome before any new system could take hold.
In the last ten or so years, they had experienced a number of short-term leaders. With each new leader—some more communicative than others—the role of the front-line supervisor had shifted, leaving them confused and dispirited. The common theme, Continue reading
Posted in coaching, Communication, Excellence, Leadership, Talent Management
Tagged coaching, Employee engagement, Employee Relations, Excellence, Happiness, Human Resources, Leadership, management
Has contacting candidates after an interview to let them know their status become as antiquated as a rotary-dial telephone?
It’s become apparent to me over the past few years that—somehow—it has become acceptable for even the best HR departments not to follow-up with candidates after an interview to let them know their status … ever. As a 20+ year HR professional, I’m embarrassed for our profession by this. We can do better.
Over the years, I have found recruiters to be among the hardest-working, most dedicated employees in an organization. They are almost invariably over-worked, underpaid, and putting in the maximum effort, day after day. Therefore, the “not calling back” phenomenon is certainly not due to lack of effort or commitment on the recruiter’s part. Yet and still, this isn’t acceptable, and we need to change it.
Here’s the scenario that often plays out:
- Candidate responds to an internet posting with a resume and cover letter.
- If they’re lucky, candidate receives an automated response saying, “We’ll be in touch if you’re a match.” (No problem there).
- Candidate is called for an interview (either on-site or by telephone). Hopes rise.
- Interview occurs.
- Candidate checks their e-mail/voicemail regularly … in vain. Hopes are dashed.
Here’s the part companies don’t see (or don’t want to think about). If they’re like most people, the candidate shares their potential good news with family and Continue reading
They say that “to err is human.” Indeed. Even after more than twenty years in human resources, I recently found myself guilty of some rookie hiring mistakes. Here’s my story, offered as encouragement to help others avoid similar errors.
I was helping a senior manager hire for a frontline supervisory role. When I tell you that the prior supervisor, though highly competent and a hard worker, had a contentious relationship with customers, wasn’t able to analyze or streamline processes, and couldn’t help but see the glass as half empty, I’m sure that you could predict every mistake we made in trying to find his replacement.
- Throwing out the baby with the bathwater — We were right to focus on the candidate’s customer service skills and general workplace attitude, given the shortcomings of the prior supervisor. We were wrong to focus on these aspects to the exclusion of the core skill needed in the job—competence in the subject matter.Unfortunately, this is a common error: trying to hire the opposite of the prior person and forgetting about all of the good skills they did bring to the job.
- Seeing what you want to see—When your assessment of the candidate’s answers is more hopeful than it is realistic, this is an indication that you’re “reaching”—and we were. In addition to being Continue reading
Can a fresh set of dry erase markers and a clean whiteboard really be tools for "good HR" (and bad)?
I had an experience this week that provided an “a-ha” moment for me about the power of “good HR” – HR support that helps bring ideas to life in ways that help organizations progress.
I was helping a small team come up with a list of performance traits that denote excellence in their field. They plan to use these characteristics through the full HR cycle of events, from interviewing and selection to performance evaluation and professional development.
The same group had gone through a similar exercise a few years ago. At that time, they accomplished the task – i.e., they put words down on paper – but (and this part won’t be a surprise for anyone who’s spent any time in HR or organizations in general), the document then sat on a shelf unused for years, to the point where people even forgot it existed.
An Example of Bad HR
This is a good example of “bad HR” that we unfortunately fall into in many of our organizations from time to time. Good people Continue reading