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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Why Develop a Competency-Based Learning and Development Strategy?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably already know that my pet peeve is HR or Training Managers showing me their training calendar whenever I ask them for their training plan.  That’s it! Their strategy for addressing the learning and development needs of the employees is schedule training for them based on a survey of which training Managers and employees wish to attend.

We need to change this! We need to go beyond just listing training titles on our calendars and call them training plan.  A plan is a strategy, and a strategy should be aligned with the goal, and by goal I mean organizational business goals. I believe strongly that an organizationally aligned competency-based L&D Strategy will work.  Here’s what I propose:
  • Take a close look at your company’s strategic objectives and initiatives and ask, what kind of competencies are needed to achieve those goals?  
  • Ask; what do those competencies look like in action? When you’re able to define the competencies and their behavioral indicators, you have to ask if the incumbents possess those competencies or if there is a gap. You'll need a gaps assessment tool for this.
  • The next question to ask is, if the gaps are caused by a lack of knowledge, skills or necessary attitude and if it is something that can be addressed by a learning and development intervention?
  • Here’s an important question to ask, what kind of intervention is most effective in addressing the competency gaps? Formal classroom training is just one of the many options, there’s coaching, job instructions, mentoring, exposure to projects, etc.
  • How will you ensure that learning translates to performance? Often, the department does not have a strategy for this.  They deal with training as event that you tick off from your list of things to do. This is why a lot of the training money go to waste because even a well-designed and delivered classroom training will be rendered useless by a lack of implementation and follow through plan.  Who will be responsible for following through, and the training department, what does it do to ensure that learning is applied to the workplace? There has got to be a strategy for that.
  • Then you draw a plan with clear set of objectives, clear strategy for implementation, clear roles for the department, the managers, the participants and other stakeholders, clear strategy for monitoring and evaluation of effectiveness. When these are clear, designing the intervention is more effective and efficient.

I know this is easier said than done, that’s why I developed a learning program to help L&D Managers and anyone who is interested in developing a good competency-based learning and development strategy.  Join me on January 8 and 9, 2018. Let me help you by teaching you how and giving you the following tools as a bonus.
  • A soft copy, completely customizable competency catalogue that you can use as a starting point for doing your own
  • A template learning and development strategy document with recommended strategy on how to implement your learning and development plan
  • Templates for competency gaps assessment, worksheet for lining up L&D programs
  • A new and improved Individual Development Plan (IDP) that covers the conversation between manager and employee that begins as planning and leads to evaluation of impact of learning in the workplace
  • Training Monitoring and Evaluation Tools. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Developing Leadership by Improving Internal Conversations

Think about it. The times you spend not talking to others, you spend talking to yourself, whether consciously or unconsciously. The quality of your internal conversations affects the quality of your external actions! Do you spend time encouraging yourself, scaring yourself or deceiving yourself? These factor-in on the decisions you make that impact on your interaction with others, with things and eventually with the quality of your results.

A Gallup research shows that 70% of managers are making their team worse.  A lot of them fail to communicate effectively, fail to motivate, empathize and build a strong working relationship with their team members. Where do you think this is coming from? I believe it comes from a lack quality intrapersonal communication skill, a lack of quality internal conversation.  Is it of no wonder that people attend training teaching them how to do things but fail to do so because there is an internal conversation hindering them from taking risk with their new knowledge?

One of my staff talked to me about a time in his previous employment when he resented being sent to an interpersonal skills training because he felt that he did not have a problem relating to others. So the whole time, he was trying to endure the training and continued to question the wisdom of him being sent there. I told him about the story of a CEO of a very successful company distributing  electrical products who attended my Basic Supervisory Training. I asked the CEO why he wanted to attend the training when it was clearly for his front-line supervisors. He said two things; first, there’s always something new you can learn from someone and second he wanted to learn what his team was learning so they can speak the same language.  During the session, he asked a lot of questions and acknowledged his own learning opportunities. Imagine, I told my staff, how different his internal conversation was compared to the CEO’s. It’s the kind of conversation that makes you a successful CEO, I told him.

What does your internal conversation do to you? It does a lot. It helps you understand your current emotional state. It’s called self-awareness.  Knowing, recognizing, acknowledging how you’re feeling help you understand what you need to do. If you’re clear about your personal motivations, your ability to self-regulate helps you point yourself towards the decisions that leads you closer to your goal. Without the ability to self-regulate, we get driven by our fear, doubts, or anger. Imagine how you deal with others when you’re being driven by those negative emotions. It hinders you from understanding others and that gets in the way of effectively relating to them. When you have barriers like these, you’ll have difficulty connecting with others and I tell you, leadership is all about connecting with others. To connect with others, you must effectively connect with yourself first.


If you think about the reality of all these and the urgency for all of us to improve the quality of our internal conversation, isn’t it a wonder why very few organizations invest on interventions to help people reach within themselves and bring out the best of themselves? It’s because people tend to resist the idea of needing to improve emotional intelligence. It’s almost insulting it seems to be sent to a training that tells you to be more self-aware, to have better self-control and to deal with others better. We need to think differently about this thing. We need to change our mindset and start exploring and accessing information and opportunities to deal with ourselves better. 

If you want to know more about how you can develop personal mastery by improving your internal conversations, check THIS. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

HR’s Role in Maintaining Discipline in the Workplace

Discipline is a line function. I believe that to be true, but HR plays a very important role in making discipline a shared responsibility.  I recently initiated a survey in Philippines HR Group, an online community of HR Practitioners in the Philippines about their practice in implementing disciplinary action. The result shows us where most of us are in terms successfully sharing the responsibility for maintaining discipline in the workplace.  Let me share my analysis of the result and my opinion on why and how HR can help the organization build a culture of accountability.  I also came up with a 5-level model that shows how  I think HR can grow from being solely responsible for disciplining to making everyone share the accountability to organizational alignment.
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  1.  HR does most of  the disciplining -  From orienting employees on the code of discipline, catching violators or acting on reports, issuing notice to explain memos (NTE), conducting investigation and issuing and implementing disciplinary action. To me, this is level one. It’s ok to do it if managers are not ready to take on their role in maintaining discipline in the workplace. I believe that HR should work towards preparing managers share responsibility for this role by training them  and helping the realize that making HR do this alone is untenable. This breeds a low trust culture where managers could not address performance and behavioral issues that they must go to HR so that they can deal with the problem. It promotes a cat and mouse culture where people try to avoid getting caught by HR while managers don’t feel responsible for calling people out for violating company policies.
  1. HR does all the paper work while managers discuss disciplinary action and implementation to employees - This is a good next step. When managers are not yet strongly familiar with policies and procedures for implementing discipline, HR takes on the role of the technical expert who ensures that all documentations are in order by doing all the documentation themselves. This should be a temporary situation. Equipping managers and providing them tools will make the process more efficient. Note that the survey shows, a lot are at this level. There are rooms for improvement!
  1. Managers are very familiar with policies and procedures, issue NTE, conduct investigation for non-grave offence, issue disciplinary action memos, discuss them with employees, submit record to HR and seek HR’s advice as needed -  It is quite a challenge to achieve this level as many supervisors dread this part and would gladly have HR do this instead of them. However, they are the best people to be responsible for this. When people know that their managers are keen on implementing discipline, they become more compliant because their managers are closer than HR. To achieve this level, HR needs to work with line managers and equip them with the necessary mindset, knowledge and tools for maintaining discipline in the workplace.
  1. Manager take on a more proactive approach to ensuring compliance with company policy – When managers realize that the way to avoid violation of company policies is to implement positive discipline by modeling the way, communicating and reinforcing performance and behavioral expectations. When managers serve as champions of good behavior, people become clear about norms and boundaries. They recognize the seriousness of alignment and behave accordingly. To achieve this, managers need to be oriented and buy in on the concept. HR’s job is to provide the information and resources to help managers become capable of positive disciplining
  1. For me, the utmost level of company discipline is when everyone in the organization is so aligned with the company’s core values. When the company culture of accountability is strong, all the rules make sense and people don’t just comply, they advocate them. This is a tall order, I know but I believe it can be done. It starts with having a clear and authentic set of core values that the company’s leaders model. HR hires people who are aligned with these values, the leaders talk about the values every chance they get and point out behaviors that are consistent with them. When the culture is strong, the organization builds an antibody of sorts that make people who are misaligned, leave the company or fail to get regular employment. 

In many organizations, HR strive to master the labor code especially in the area of disciplining and termination. There’s nothing wrong with that. I believe, however that it should not be the end. The ultimate goal should be to build a strong and aligned culture that makes people advocate discipline, wherever they are in the organization. It will require a lot of hard work but I think it’s worth doing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

HR and Communication Skills

I can name a hundred successful HR professionals and I would bet that they have something in common that aided their success. Nope, it’s not their HR expertise. It’s their ability to communicate well. I know a lot of people who know everything there is to know about HR management but fail because of their inability to effectively communicate.  If you are an HR professional and you aim to be successful, you need to assess your ability to communicate and work towards continually improving it. Here are a few suggestions:

 Written communication -  I get the opportunity of visiting offices and I could count the times when I see memos hanging on the bulletin board that makes me want to bring my red pen out. When you don’t mind how you write, employees feast on your grammatical errors and move their focus away from your message. If you don’t feel confident about your ability to write a concise and grammatically correct memo, learn how. Buy a grammar book or a business writing manual.

Public speaking - You know what happens as you move up in the HR career ladder, you start speaking in front of a lot of people. It starts with a small group when you become an HR specialist or officer, as you introduce a program, then you start doing opening and closing remarks, during company events. When you become really good at what you do, the HR community starts inviting you to speak in forums and conventions. When you speak in front of a group, you get an opportunity to inspire, motivate, change people’s mind and help them learn a thing or two. It’s a great opportunity which  you will waste if you cannot get yourself together and speak with some sense! I highly recommend developing your platform skills. There are many ways to do that but the best one if you ask me is Toastmasters. Join Toastmasters, it will give you a steady opportunity to practice and receive feedback to continually improve your public speaking skills.

 Collaboration -  I’ve always said that HR is a shared responsibility and many HR managers tend to operate in a vacuum. When HR does this, it weakens our effectiveness. Almost everything that we do requires collaboration – recruitment, training, employee relations and engagement, performance management, compensation and benefits. Almost everything. Writing policies and procedures on managing human resources should be consultative, participative, collaborative. HR needs to learn to ask for opinion and listen, really listen.

Facilitation -  To facilitate is to make easy, and HR can do a lot to lubricate issue identification, resolution, decision-making and relationship, overall.  HR needs to be good at leading meetings, facilitating conversations and mediating conflicts

Personal branding - Everyone has a brand and it communicates. A lot of the successful HR professionals I know specially the ones I like have clear personal brands. They’re clear about their advocacy. You can almost say what their values are. It manifests in their words and their actions. This gives them credibility. When you have credibility, people listen to you. It helps to build  a personal brand that people can trust and believe in.

Connecting - (Addendum) "HR professionals should know how to connect with the people. Communication is not about how articulate you are; it's all about touching the hearts of the people" -  Mark Lord. I agree. This is of course not to say that being articulate is not important, it is! But it's not enough. In fact, you can articulate yourself away to alienate people. I believe connecting comes from a desire to reach out to people, to help or to seek it. A friend once said that any job requiring leadership requires attitude and skills for connecting with people. To me, a great HR practitioner is good at reaching out rather than alienating people or "putting them in their place." I know some HR people who are very good at throwing the book at people, both figuratively and literally. We can't have that.

The HR career journey is a challenging and exciting one. It would be wrong to think that if you know the technical aspects of HR, you’re good. They’re the price of admission, the ticket to success is great communication skills. Build those skills!