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Your Employee Matters


By February 1, 2013No Comments

Good to Great author Jim Collins identifies 12 questions leaders must grapple with if they want to excel. These questions apply to anyone in HR management, as well. Here’s my spin on them:

  1. Do you want to build a great company (or HR function) and are you willing to do what it takes?
  2. Do you have the right people on the bus and in the key seats? HR must be 100% responsible for making sure that this happens.
  3. What are the brutal facts? Where is HR supporting you and where is HR hurting you? For example, has HR allowed you to keep poor players on the bus?
  4. What’s your “hedgehog’? The hedgehog is something that you can do best, make a buck, and be passionate about! How does HR support this?
  5. What’s the one thing you do that you’re great at? Are you known for hiring the best employees in your industry? For getting them to perform beyond their peers? For having the highest retention rates? For fostering creativity? Where does HR help you to do things better than your competition?
  6. What’s your 20-mile mark and are you hitting it? The point is to be goals oriented. Unfortunately, too many people in HR don’t have a plan — and thus, don’t have goals.
  7. Where should you place your big bets based on empirical validation? As Jim Collins and any good marketer would tell you, test, test, test — and when you find out what works, blow it up big time. To what degree do you test one way of hiring, hiring tool, or managing performance, etc. to find out what works best?
  8. What is your 15 to 20 year Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal? Of course, this means that you might not be there when the goal is met. The real question is, what type of legacy do you plan on leaving?
  9. What could kill you, and how can you protect your flanks? For example, could a new, well-funded competitor swipe away your top talent? What is HR doing to prevent this? As stated in recent blog posts, swiping confidential, trade secret, and other proprietary information can harm a company overnight.
  10. What should you stop doing to increase your discipline and focus? This is a theme that I preach in time management. Before you can pretend that you’ll do anything new, you must first stop doing something. Otherwise, the result will be burnout, and non-productivity.
  11. How can you increase your return on luck? By asking question! Where have you been lucky? Where have you made great hires? Where have you had superstar performers? What can you learn about these people that will help hire more like them?
  12. Last, but not least, are you becoming a Level 5 leader building a Level 5 culture? To a large degree, this is about humility. It means playing 40/40, as I discuss in the HRThatWorks Victims, Villains, and Heroes program. Being humble does not mean that you are weak; it’s an inner strength that empowers others to find their inner strength.

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Jim Collins’ books over the years. To see my five-minute video summarizing his insights, click here. Collins recommends that we tackle each of these 12 questions every month. Likewise, I suggest that you focus on a single proactive objective in HR every month. See the Form of the Month, a 2013 HR Game Plan.