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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From HR Management to HR Leadership

Management connotes control, Leadership connotes Influence. HR needs both, but I believe that HR’s success in management depends a lot on its ability to lead.

Why am I writing about this topic? I notice that many HR managers still focus on control, on ensuring compliance and using its formal authority to get participation and getting things done. For example:
  • In many companies, HR is still the sole vanguard of compliance to company policies and code of discipline. They still go around inspecting work areas for possible violation of company policies, and issue disciplinary action memos. You still see people scamper when they see HR because they’re afraid of being called out.
  • Managers submit performance appraisal forms to comply with HR instructions rather than see employee performance feedback as important means of aligning behavior and performance.
  • People attend training because HR told them to go or because their managers were instructed by HR to send people to training. Sometimes we see managers send proxies to training because the target participants are busy just to comply with HR requirements.
  • There seems to be an adversarial relationship between HR and other departments heads or there is a cat and mouse relationship between HR and employees akin to how elementary school students see their school principal.
  •   Job interviews feel like an interrogation rather than a professional exploratory conversation. Candidates are made to wait a long time and not given proper advice about the progress of their application.
This kind of situation put people on minimum compliance mode. They follow because  HR’s functional authority compels them to follow. This limits the effectiveness of HR. This is one of the major reasons why many HR professionals complain about their job being thankless and them being under appreciated. But HR can be more powerful if it learns to choose influence over control,
collaboration over downloading instruction, and partnership over superior-subordinate mindset.

Noncompliance, misalignment, and lack of appreciation of HR initiatives can be prevented if HR is seen more as a leader and partner rather than an organizational authority. I also think that this helps improve HR’s own powerlessness towards management decisions, if top management sees HR as a credible partner to consult with on organizational decisions that impact on people.  Here are my recommendations:
  • HR needs to start to see itself as a facilitator rather than instruction giver. For example, in formulating company policies, it helps to co-create with the leaders of the organization rather than impose something familiar from old practice or from the labor code. By acting as facilitator and as guide to the co-creation of policies, HR gets everyone’s buy-in at the onset and empowers the managers to implement because they have deeper understanding of rules.
  •  Give away power rather than make it exclusive. Sell interventions to stakeholders and let them decide on what’s good for their operation. For example, collaborate on developing learning and development strategies, provide managers all the information they need so they can decide on who to send to training and how to communicate their plans to people. The more HR empowers the other leaders of the organization, the more powerful HR gets in terms of making things happen.
  • Establish partnership on recruitment, training, performance management, discipline, career and succession management and employee engagement.  HR initiatives in these areas fail because people see the interventions as HR machinations rather than important interventions that they, themselves should lead.
Some competencies are necessary in order for HR to effectively carry out their leadership responsibilities. These are collaboration skills, assertiveness, facilitating change, empathy, and most importantly, self-mastery.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Rethinking Our Recruitment Mindset

Is it possible we are missing out on really good talents because of our screening biases? Here are a few so called red flags  and stereotypes that I came across and some guilty of believing myself that I think  needs to be revisited.

  1. Tardiness - some interviewers have strong opinion about tardiness and that's understandable. However, with the ridiculous traffic in the metro nowadays, maybe we need to keep a more open mind? Maybe we should even consider virtual interviews. 
  2. Unimpressive communication skills - some great talents are bad at interview while many of your current problem employees aced the interview and that's probably why you hired them.  I'm not saying communication skill is not important, it is, or it relatively is!  Sometimes we get mesmerized by a candidates ability to answer our interview questions, we forget the more important competencies needed to do a job. This is why I think we need to go beyond interviewing and use other forms of aptitude and competency-based screening methods.
  3. Candidates who keep on rescheduling interviews - Sometimes we get frustrated by those who keep saying they need to reschedule the interview because there are urgent demands at work they need to prioritize. We feel it's so unprofessional of them to cancel a commitment. If I have a candidate like this who prioritize his current commitment over his professional exploration, I will find a way to make it convenient for her/him to have the interview. Should we meet in a coffee shop near his/her work and/or after office hours? I will do it! I will accommodate it! 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Why letting a Poor Performer Go is the Right Thing to Do

A lot of managers find it difficult to fire people even if it is the most logical thing to do. There a number of possible reasons.

  1. They have difficulty initiating it because they are uncomfortable with the confrontations needed to make it happen
  2. Pity, they can't bear the responsibility of causing the joblessness of another person
  3. Guilt, feeling they haven't done enough to help the person
  4. They didn't do their homework. They have not established a case for termination. It is possible they gave the person a good rating in the last performance appraisal.
 The problem with keeping a poor performer is this. Poor performers very seldom enjoy being poor performers. The only time they would enjoy it is if it is tolerated. If they're not tolerated it means, they're miserable because they keep getting called out for their performance and behavior. They make you miserable. You're frustrated, you agonize about possible solutions and sometimes day-dream that they would just all of a sudden stop going to work! They make everyone else miserable! Having a poor performer in the workplace means more burden to other hard-working employees! Here's one more thing, keeping a poor performer means you are hindering them from finding a job where they may succeed. Often, the reason for poor performance is poor job fit. We make all sorts of bad hiring decisions. We need to correct it by letting people go and allow them to find a workplace where they can thrive.

Building a high performance culture is more than just about capacitating and empowering people to to perform. Sometimes it means recognizing who are incapable of meeting expectations, those who have no place in the organization where they can better contribute. Sometimes the best opening to show them is... the door. 
When you let go of low performing people, they eventually find other employment where they may succeed. You may find a more suitable team member who is better equipped to meet expectations.  By letting go, you allow both you and your low performing employee learn from experience, move on and grow. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Motivated to Stay or Motivated to Perform?

HR invest a lot of time, money and effort on so-called employee engagement activities but it is wonder if any of these works to really engage the employees.

First let’s talk about the usual menu for employee engagement initiatives being implemented now by HR in the Philippines. We have the usual suspects; Company outing, Christmas parties, sports fest, town-hall meetings, occasional get-together and other initiatives to give working in the company a semblance of fun. There’s also incentives and creative rewards. The big question that I know you know the answer to is this – does it work? Does it really improve employee engagement? Does it motivate people to use discretionary effort, to go the extra mile, take personal accountability, take pride of the quality of their work, etc.? The answer is no. At best, it motivates them to stay… sometimes.

I think that one of the biggest mistakes in employee engagement is relegating it to a position. What it does is make people… leaders think that it’s something you can outsource to HR or to an Employee Engagement Committee. Don’t get me wrong though, if the employee engagement programs you’re doing now works to retain employees, continue doing it. You have a fancy title for your employee retention strategy. But to really engage employees, to make them look forward to doing great work, you’ll need more than these. If there’s anything HR needs to do, to engage employees, it is to educate the leaders in the organization about how they can engage their employees every day.  According to Gallup research, the leading factor  for engagement is an employee’s relationship with his or her own direct manager. Equipping yourself  and your leaders on all things engagement,   can lead to the development of  real strategy for employee engagement, one that truly drives performance.

Being in HR, I guess we need to reeducate ourselves, if we haven’t done so about this thing called employee engagement. We need to learn how to equip the leaders in our organizations with the necessary tools and techniques so they can engage employees better. 

There are plenty of resources to learn this stuff. Or, you can attend the training we’re holding in October.  Shameless plug, I know but, it’s really good. Check out here