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Your Employee Matters


By August 1, 2012No Comments

HR has an exciting future with incredible opportunities — yet most companies undervalue it. As Kevin Cope’s Business Acumen Webinar stresses, if you want to have a more profitable HR operation, you’ll have to be unique. To meet this goal, you’ll need HR managers that have these 10 characteristics (listed in alphabetical order):

  1. Adaptable. We’re going through a period of accelerating, meaning that change is happening faster than ever. This means we need to adopt new practices quickly. Chances are that if you’ve been doing anything in the same way for the past 10 years, it’s out of date today. Adaptability happens in real time. You can’t think on it, plan on it, have a committee, produce a plan, etc. You just have to adapt, now! For example, have you adapted to today’s performance management realities — or are you using the same ridiculous performance management approach that didn’t work 10 years ago?
  2. Collaborative. None of us are as smart as all of us; we need the IQ and EQ of the entire team. Today we collaborate around projects and activities, rather than job titles. To collaborate, we have to communicate, produce vigorous dialogues that result in action. Collaboration does not mean consensus — it means input from all.
  3. Constant Learner. To earn more, you must learn more. To learn more, you must train more. Whether you’re in an organization with five employees or 5,000, you must out-educate the competition. How do you make it easy for everyone from the owner to the rank-and-file to educate themselves? Do you provide employees with on-demand access to training materials? Do you give them CDs that they can listen to in the car or MP3s they can upload to their players? Have you taught them about the factors that drive profitability at the company?
  4. Cross-disciplinary. Don’t limit collaboration to your own circle of influence — reach out beyond that. To what extent have you collaborated with your marketing director to help with internal branding? Have you spoken with the CFO to help understand the bottom-line impact of HR practices? Zappos requires new HR executives to start out by working in the warehouse taking customer orders and support calls, so that all of their executives have a cross-disciplinary view of the workplace.
  5. Designer. Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Brain, which discusses how we’re moving to the right side of the brain, includes design as one of the factors. Think about it: One reason why Apple products are so popular is because of their design, not just their functionality. To what extent can you be a designer of your environment, your internal brand, your culture, and workflow? Pick up a few design magazines and ask yourself how you can apply this thinking to human resource practices. You’ll never know the answer until you go through this exercise.
  6. Expert in time management. Most executives and employees get zero time management training and yet it’s the greatest stressor they face. Make sure you that you, and your workforce, get time management training (HR That Works has an excellent Training Module). Good time management involves 1) knowing where your time goes; 2) identifying where it should be going; and 3) determining how to replace low-value work and bring on higher value work. Although this isn’t rocket science, it requires discipline to implement. For example, how much time do you lose to distractions (an e-mail from a friend, an article in the New York Times or a Facebook page)? Because the amount of information is doubling approximately every 500 days, without time management discipline you’ll be twice as distracted as ever!
  7. Innovator. When you think of human resources, does innovation jump to mind? Of course not! To become an innovator, you need be a good observer of your current environment and “think outside the box.” As mentioned earlier, pick up a magazine on design, sales, or business in general and ask how any of the principles discussed could apply to HR. Dr. Deming taught that profound knowledge comes from outside a system because the system can’t understand itself. Your breakthrough thinking in HR will come from outside the HR field, not within it. HR That Works members should take a look at the Creativity Checklist and Employee Suggestion Form. HR also has the opportunity to get everybody else to the company engaged as innovators as well.
  8. New-media savvy. To what extent are you using social media tools to help empower the HR function? To what degree do you use social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to help build a dialogue at your company? How do you employ tools such as YouTube videos to attract, retain, and motivate workers?
  9. Motivator. The last thing HR needs is to manage an endless series of dramas. A better approach would be to find a way to empower, engage, and motivate the workforce. For example, how effective are your retention policies? Are you getting the biggest bang for the buck? Are you addressing people’s psychological needs? Have you surveyed workers to determine what their emotional drivers are?
  10. Technologist. It has become easier and easier to build database management programs, whether it’s for sales, finances, operations, or human resources management. Years ago there were a dozen or fewer human resource information systems (HRIS); today, there are hundreds and they’re increasingly available to smaller companies. How can you use technology to manage data more effectively? In an information society, well-managed data is essential. What tools can help drive performance management and what tools will you use for strategic HR purposes (of course we think HR That Works is the best!).