The HR Department of the New Millennium

Four Skills to Compete in the New Hiring Landscape

By Magi Graziano 

Magi GrazianoThroughout the last decade it has become painfully apparent that while most CEOs recognize there is a drastic talent optimization problem, they have absolutely no idea how to fix it, nor time to take it on alone. Most CEOs address people and workforce issues like a hot potato—they want it off their plate immediately. This is where the twenty-first century HR (human resources) professional steps in.

Today’s budding HR professionals have a whole new set of concerns that set them apart from previous generations. The human resources departments that remain from the twentieth century are ill-equipped to manage the scaling concerns of the twenty-first century enterprise.

In the early days of business and industry, human resources emerged as the answer to increasingly challenging and demanding labor relations’ problems. But what fundamentally worked in the pre-information age is grossly ineffective for optimizing the workforce of today’s wisdom age.

Today’s human resources teams must grow beyond what HR requires. They must develop themselves and their teams into savvy business professionals who leverage talent, optimize people at work and deliver tangible returns on their ‘people program’ investments.

Whether you are a seasoned professional on the ageing side of a successful career, or a newcomer entering the field, it is imperative that you gain the knowledge to address today’s workforce challenges head-on and strategize winning solutions that reduce or remove these constraints from adversely impacting the business.

By learning these four imperative skills, you position your business to compete in today’s hiring landscape.

1) Develop an Executive Summary: The first skill you will need to develop is the ability to write an executive summary. You must evaluate the major workforce challenges to your specific business faces and outline your plan to rectify them. If you do not establish a stout plan to address these issues your business almost will face an uncertain future. How do workforce gaps and frequent turnover impact the customer experience, employee partnership, innovation, and the business’s’ bottom line? As a businessperson specializing in hiring, you need to know how to communicate both written and verbally, in a way that can be heard.

2) Learn the Importance of Utilizing Big Data: The second skill you need to develop is the ability to resonate with, speak into and listen from data. Big data rules today’s world, and understanding it and how to make it work for you is imperative to your success. Sorting critical data from superfluous data is another key to getting your point across and keeping your audience’s attention.

In order to catch the ear of people who can solve a problem from a strategic and financial point of view, you need to speak to them in a financial and strategic manner.  This means you need to be able to read a profit and loss statement. You need to understand the total cost of labor and staffing in your company. Most decision makers in business have a strong preference to evaluate propositions through three-to-four salient points grounded in accurate, relevant data. To speak with someone who understands and responds to data, you must elevate your ability to think from data and make recommendations that speak to improve the data.

3) Cultivate Confidence: The third skill you need to continue to develop and nurture is your confidence. Standing for stronger people-optimization in the workplace and human systems transformation is a pretty big stake in the ground. If not you, who? Someone needs to keep people present to the commitments around the workforce.  Most managers in most organizations fall astray from their talent optimization commitments as soon as the pressure of another commitment overshadows it. Without someone standing for—and in some cases fighting for—doing the right thing and making people and talent a companywide focus, your competitive advantage initiatives fall out of existence. It takes confidence and stamina to create sustainable change; it takes a continual, unwavering commitment, sometimes in the face of no agreement—and that takes confidence.

4) Find Comfort in the Questions: The fourth skill you need to improve is your ability to be comfortable in not having all of the answers. Curiosity is a major strength of people who succeed in the new HR world. Having all the answers and knowing how things are going to or not going to turn out is a trait that no longer serves the business professional of the twenty-first century. In today’s world, curiosity, agility and creativity are how you win.

Fostering a workplace of collaboration and innovation begins with you. You need to be the change you want to see. Facing problems with an eye on understanding the systemic impacts on the business and the people in it opens you up to hear from people you might not otherwise hear from. Inviting ideas and solutions from your team gives you a much wider perspective and develops your balanced decision making skills, which are a requirement for a twenty-first century business professional.

While on the surface if might not be obvious, but the keen HR professional is the key to the successful evolution of optimizing people at work. Every business, in every industry needs someone in HR focusing on the future of people and talent optimization. From reducing unwanted employee turnover and filling the leadership gap to hiring better and transferring today’s knowledge to tomorrow’s workers, the right HR pro doing the right things, affects every single strategic lever in a company. The effective attraction, engagement, and optimization of high-quality people in any organization, may be as—or more important—than your services or products themselves. Therefore, the right HR pro is just as important as the right coder or right sales rep—choose and develop your twenty-first century HR team wisely.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the daytoday operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.keenalignment.com.

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Enduring Enterprises

Eight Essential Strategies for Achieving Business Longevity

By Jill Johnson

Everyone who starts or leads a business dreams of passing it along to the next generation. But few are successful in making it happen. Every year, countless businesses and organizations fail. Excuses are made and fingers are pointed. Long-term success takes more than hard work and a little luck. Leaders and entrepreneurs who achieve exceptional business longevity share seven business practices that move them to long-term success. They think differently. They operate differently. And they lead differently.

1) Engage in Ongoing Planning with a Realistic Vision: Successful executives and entrepreneurs prepare for success on an ongoing basis, not just when they are in start-up mode. They move beyond their initial business plan to augment their success by leveraging new opportunities and seeking ideas to enhance operations and profitability. They are disciplined in writing down their plans, reviewing them and sharing with their key employees and advisors. They know on-going planning keeps them focused and moving forward. These leaders continually, and formally evaluate, what is working and what needs changing.

2) Establish a Realistic Vision for the Future: Lasting business leaders also match their vision to their abilities. They leverage one success into another rather than rapidly making huge leaps beyond their capabilities. Those who don’t have a realistic vision risk everything because they reach too high before their cash, talent or operational capability is ready for higher levels of success. Enduring leaders actively and effectively manage their transitions and hire sophisticated talent to match their future needs. Their success is sustainable because they build it on a viable foundation that is based in reality not on wishful thinking.

3) Use Disciplined Approaches to Developing Leadership and Executive Skills: Leaders who operate enduring enterprises understand experience is critical; not just with the operational or technical expertise, but also with the ability to lead, manage and weather the daily challenges of not having someone tell you what to do. These leaders understand they need to continue cultivating their ability to manage and create strategies. Those with enduring success continue developing and enhancing their skills to build their business arsenal. They read. They hire the consulting and professional talent they need to augment their internal expertise.

4) Implement Sound Fiscal Management: Fiscal discipline is fundamental to long-term business or enterprise success. Yet few leaders have the self-discipline to manage their cash flow for the inevitable peaks and valleys. They respond to immediate pressures and spend money they don’t have. Too many leaders spend money on the flash and glitz trying to impress people. They never prepare for the future because they’re focused on living in the moment. Some make ill-advised decisions that create financial crises rather than making prudent commitments they can realistically handle. Successful leaders of enduring enterprises focus on building real net worth by being masters at financial discipline and tightly controlling what they spend.

5) Adapt to Changing Circumstances: Markets change and technology advances. Those who are successful over the long-term understand and adapt to change. They invest in people and technology to enhance productivity. They stay on top of competitors and respond as necessary. By continually adapting, they are able to leverage the evolving trends that are fundamentally transforming their industries. Enduring leaders create enterprises that last well beyond their tenure, always looking ahead to identify tools, resources, ideas and technology that can enhance their organizational success.

6) Build Substance into the Enterprise: Businesses and organizations have come and gone over the decades. Some succeeded brilliantly, but most failed to meet the expectations hyped by their founders and owners. The primary reason is lack of substance to the enterprise; most of what was promoted was smoke and mirrors. Sustainable enterprises have substance. They deliver on their promises. Clients, vendors and employees can count on them. These enterprises demonstrate a consistency of product and service quality that can be trusted over time. An on-going reputation for dependability is often a real predictor of long-term enterprise success.

7) Control Growth: Those who survive long-term carefully and deliberately manage the size and growth of their enterprises. Those who focus on growth ensure they have adequate finances, equipment and staff to meet their evolving needs. Those who maintain a smaller size often find they can better manage the stability of their overhead and fixed costs. Maintenance-oriented enterprises may even make more money and have less stress than their growth-oriented peers. Both growth and maintenance oriented leaders who succeed over the long-term effectively manage their appetite for risk and keep business scope within their comfort zone. They maintain leadership enthusiasm through controlled growth or by achieving sustained financial success.

8) Maintain Motivation: Staying motivated is tough in any enterprise after the euphoria of taking over or starting up dies down. Once the day-to-day activities begin to become routine, most people lose their enthusiasm. Even harder is dealing with the real stresses of leadership. Boredom is often a leader’s worst enemy. Leaders of enduring enterprises motivate themselves and their employees by continuing to look for new opportunities to better meet client needs. This provides at atmosphere of innovation and ongoing success measured in revenues, customer satisfaction and employee retention.

Final Thoughts: Leaders who enjoy enduring business success have learned to constantly adapt and evolve. They respond to continuing competitive pressures by finding ways to meet evolving client needs. The secret to long-term sustainable success is doing things with discipline and excellence. Leaders of enduring enterprises both big and small do more than just dream of success. They make their success a reality by taking the actions necessary to achieve it. And make it last.

Are you ready to become a leader of an enduring enterprise? If so, what is the first strategy you need to begin to implement?

Jill Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the forthcoming Bold Questions series. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com

The Risky Six

Six Keys to Shed Fear and Take Smart Professional Risks

By Lei Wang

Like all the knowledge and skills that people learn, fear of failure is also learned. And as you age, you gain mental constraints. Those mental constraints remove creativity and replace it with yet more fear.

Fear is perceived risk; it is learned, and it can be unlearned through practice. The ability to overcome fear—to combat fear—is like a muscle. It can be trained and can get stronger through exercise. Through deliberate practice, you can become courageous, and harness your fear to take informed, intelligent, and potentially lucrative professional risks.

1) Harness Fear’s Positive Power: Fear is an extremely powerful emotion—and thus, an extremely powerful motivational tool. When facing fear, the normal response is fight-or-flight. Flight is to let the fear and the worry take control of your mind. Fight is turning fear into a positive risk management response, forcing you to focus and actively do the best to overcome the present situation.

When you take a leap of faith to confront a new career challenge, instead of worrying “What if I fail?” imagine you have no opportunity to back out.

Instead of letting the fear hold you back, take that first step, and turn fear into a positive strength that compels you to focus and to make your best effort.

2) Act Early, Act Decisively: Rather than waiting until your industry or department becomes dispensable, proactively manage your career growth; learn new skills and think ahead of the curve continually to prevent a career crisis from happening.

Anticipate problems and dangers before they occur. Once danger does arrive, it is often too late to do much in response. Act early and act decisively, because waiting diminishes the chances for success.

Practice facing fear by taking chances. Even if you fail the first time, you should try again. Start with a small task, such as a new project, something you have never done. The more you try, the easier it will become to overcome fear.

3) Separate Probability from Consequences: Many working professionals are afraid of taking risks because the probability of success appears low and the consequences of failure are frightening. When you think about the consequences of a failure, it is important to recognize the difference between the immediate consequences and the ultimate consequences.

Yes, the probability that a new startup will succeed is low, and the immediate consequence could be losing investment money. For any new product launch or new job, there is a chance of failure, and losing your current position. But that is only temporary. Not taking the risk means that the ultimate consequence is failure.

A low probability of success should not be the reason holding you back, as long as the temporary consequences of failure are recoverable. Be more mindful of the ultimate consequence of not taking that chance.

4) Know Your Risk Management Capacity: When approaching a risky situation, some people—often those who have some special talents or experiences—would go all-in and aim to grab the opportunity fast by taking bigger risks. Others take time to build a more solid foundation through each step so they have more control of the risk—at the cost of slower progress.

Which style should you choose? It depends on the situation, your skill, and your risk management capacity. There is no right answer for everyone or every instance.

Consider what the cost and return of taking those risks may be. Think about the alternatives you have and what the risk and return of those alternatives will be. Evaluate what losses you can afford, and consider what the temporary losses and permanent loss might mean. Ask yourself what your options are in the event of a soft loss, a hard loss, or a replaceable loss. Think about how you would recover from these possible losses. Keep in mind ways you could prepare yourself for the best outcome. You have to balance your skill level and risk management ability.

5) Be a Smart Advice-Taker: It can be difficult to measure your own capability against the risk you are considering taking, because it’s hard for people to see themselves completely objectively. But there are mirrors to help you see yourself better. That mirror is the feedback from people around you, such as a mentor, colleagues, or your boss.

Seeking advice is imperative before you take a risk. How do you decide which advice to heed when they conflict with each other? It is important to discern the intention behind each person’s perspective.

Some might be overprotective of you because of emotional attachment, such as friends or family; some may be driven by personal interest. Everyone has a bias; it is important to learn to recognize the value of different feedback. Do not just listen to the feedback that you want to hear. Do not brush aside opposing opinions too easily. Learn to form your own judgment based on those who give you advice.

6) Pushing Too Far vs. Not Pushing Far Enough: The line between pushing too far and not pushing far enough is a fine line, especially when the stakes are high.

In business, not pushing enough causes mediocrity and may eventually lead to a company’s demise. Pushing too far causes burnout and unsustainable growth, or pursuing economic return without regard to the wellbeing of the environment or community.

Managing this delicate balance is a skill that can be learned, like courage and other risk management skills. In order to avoid costly mistakes on either side of the line, you need to learn the skill of heeding the feedback you receive and improve your ability to make sound judgments. Through practice, you can gradually develop objective criteria before real danger arrives, and become better at calculating risks.

Fear of failure is not the reason to avoid taking risks. Of course it’s not smart to jump at every opportunity—you have to calculate and make the best decisions under the circumstances and constraints of your knowledge and vision. Even a calculated risk can prove wrong sometimes, but when you take a chance you have the opportunity to learn and grow. If you are afraid of failure and never risk anything, you will risk everything in the end.

Lei Wang is an internationallyrecognized adventurer, motivational speaker and author of After the Summit New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life. The first Asian woman to complete Explorers Grand Slam (climb the highest peak on each continent and ski to both poles), Lei channels her experiences to convey a message of perseverance and steadfast determination that her audiences can use at work or at home. For more information about Lei Wang, please visit www.journeywithlei.com.

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Protect Your Company From Bad Employees

By Mike Campion

How much of a negative impact can the bad apples in your organization have? Are having no bad employees a realistic goal? First things first: What is a bad employee?

  • Is it just someone who is bad at their job?
  • Takes too much time off?
  • Has a penchant for punching other employees?

While none of those are ideal, they all focus on actions and results instead of the root cause.

Instead of trying to create a comprehensive list of “do’s and don’ts” for your employees to ignore, start at the foundation: Your Core Values.

A bad employee is anyone who does not love and live your company’s core values.

Discovering your core values is an action in—and—of itself, but when you have a set of “rules” to run your company with, you will find that the people who line up with those rules, don’t tend to violate the “dos and don’ts” of your company.

Luckily, you have the keys to the happy employee kingdom. Get ready to discover the three steps to protect your organization from the wrong employees:

Step 1—Stop Bad Employees From Showing Up: Pre-framing is extremely important when weeding out potential problem employees. How an employee is first exposed to your company is key. Consider the following two examples:

  1. A current employee tells his friend, a prospective employee, “You should apply at my job; the place is so disorganized, we could get away with anything.”
  2. A prospective employee comes across your website and thinks, “These are my people! I love what they are all about, I wonder if they are hiring…”

When you feature enough of your core values on your website, in your hiring ads, phone systems and your current employees become evangelists for your mission, you position your company as the right place for the right employee. Whenever, however a prospective employee becomes aware of your company they feel like they have finally found their tribe. This alone will dramatically increase the quality of your applicant pool. Which brings us to…

Step 2—Stop the Wrong Employees From Getting In: Once you have laid the foundation in step one, the job of keeping bad employees from infiltrating your organization is half done. All you have to do is make sure that your company is actually living and breathing the core values that brought prospective employees to you in the first place.

So many employers focus on job history and/or technical ability. Both offer good insight, but are only relevant with employees who have the same core beliefs as you do. Hire for attitude, train for skill.

If your company is passionate about outstanding customer service, it is eminently possible to teach an employee how to serve a customer. It is a fool’s errand to teach him to be enthusiastic about customer service. Your life and profitability will improve exponentially when you are in the business of stoking your employees’ passions and values. You are not in the business of convincing people to do something they don’t want to do or believe something they don’t want to believe.

Craft your interview process around the values that attracted your prospective employees. Once that is a match, job history and ability to do the job at-hand come into play. An unintended consequence of passionately living your organization’s core values is an extremely attractive community. This can make employees that aren’t a good fit work even harder to get in, even when your pre-framing and interview process is core valuesbased. Time for the big guns…

Step 3—Get ‘Em Out: Creating a core valuesdriven culture not only naturally repels the wrong employees; it strongly attracts the right employees. They feel “at home,” like they have finally found something special. They don’t want to leave. They stay longer, work harder and enjoy their jobs more.

The flip side is that people who are not a core value fit feel out of place. They don’t fit in. They don’t understand why everyone acts so differently. They discover that the amazing community that attracted them to your company isn’t for them. More often than not, they wander off into the night on their own free will.

When you do have someone that doesn’t get the memo, and needs a little help recognizing they aren’t a fit, you will weed them out by systematic recognition and application of your core values. Examples of core values being either applied properly or ignored or mishandled are common topics. Decision making conversations regularly start and end with your core values.

Those who don’t “get” your values will stick out like a sore thumb. When you see that is the case, have a conversation. Refer back to your hiring process. Verify they share your company’s values. If they do, their behavior will follow and all is well. If they don’t, it’s time to help them transition into a company that is a better fit.

It can sound like an overwhelming prospect, but integrating your core values into your company is like pushing a flywheel. It takes a lot of energy at the beginning, but when it gets spinning, it creates a tremendous amount of power on its own. Not only will keeping bad employees out of your company help your bottom lineit will make your life and your employees lives far better.

Mike Campion is a celebrated speaker, entrepreneur and author of I’m a Freaking Genius, Why is This Business So Hard?. A small business expert, Mike has built several multi-million dollar businesses, the most recent achieving $4.3 million in sales in the first 18 months. As the host of the “Conversations with a Genius” podcast, Mike imparts his business wisdom on his listeners. For more information about bringing in Mike Campion for your next event, please visit www.mikecampion.com.

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Treat Your Employees Like Volunteers

By Walt Grassl

Walt GrasslSarah needs a special project done as soon as possible. She approaches one of her resourceful employees, Ken, to see if he can do the project for her. Instead of directing Ken to get right on it, she explains to him that she has a problem. She describes the project and then asks if he can help her out.

Ken is a bit surprised by her approach and says, “Sure. But, you’re my boss. It’s not like I can decline.”

Sarah said, “Actually, if you have something more important to do, I want to know about it. Then I can make a decision. Do I make a priority call on your time or do I need to find someone else to do this project?”

Ken said, “I have a project I am working on for George. I should be able to complete your project now and still meet George’s deadline.”

In dire situations, a leader must give orders based on their position— with no push back or discussion. In today’s workplace, it is often not very effective. People resent being told what to do—especially when they receive conflicting direction from multiple leaders.

There are benefits to a leader treating their employees like volunteers. You should treat them as if they can say no or walk away at any time. It encourages feedback. It improves morale. Often times, the feedback provided can prevent wasted time, money, and materials.

Here are some ways to lead your “volunteers”:

Share the Big Picture: Give your people a sense of purpose. Whether they are performing a manufacturing task or a clerical task, it doesn’t matter. If they don’t perform their small task well, the product or the company will suffer. Put the importance of their seemingly unimportant task in perspective.

Communicate: Give clear direction. Create alignment. Encourage respectful push back. Be accessible. Not only have an open door policy, but also walk around. If you show up at someone’s work area and engage them; they may ask you a question. That question had not reached the threshold for them to call or come visit you. Create those opportunities.

Develop: One way to make people enjoy working for you is to encourage them to grow. Remind them of the importance of training themselves. Give them suggestions on things to learn. You can help their development by giving them new “stretch” assignments and responsibilities. Then, be patient and nurturing as they ascend the learning curve. Coach them through any reluctance they have to leave their comfort zone. They will feel better about themselves and be more valuable team members.

Play to Their Strengths: Know your people. Know what they do well. Know what they don’t do well. While you want them to grow, it is your responsibility to know their weaknesses that may be too hard to develop. You have to realize that people are what they are. Honor them by capitalizing on their strengths and not fighting them over their weaknesses.

Show Respect: People want to be respected. Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t make eye contact or acknowledge people when you walk into a room or when you are walking down the halls. And seemingly only when you need a favor, approach them like your long lost best friend. Smile and acknowledge the people you pass in the hall—whether you know them or not. Develop relationships before you need favors.

Acknowledge Experience: There is a saying that everyone is an expert within three feet of their workspace. People who have been doing a task for years or who have been with the organization for years have experience. Realize that and when you approach them on an issue, take time to honor that experience and listen to them. Nothing irritates a seasoned performer more than when a new leader comes in and wants to share their book learning and tell them what to do. Listen with the intent to understand first, and then discuss the best way to solve the problem. You will come up with better quality solutions and have a team that respects you.

Give Thanks: Be grateful for the big things and the little things. Always remember to say please when asking someone to do something and thank you when someone does something for you. So often, this doesn’t happen and the leaders are unaware of the effect. Also, seek out opportunities to catch people doing something right. People want to be appreciated. Go out of your way to show them.

Ken was able to complete Sarah’s special project on time as well as meet George’s deadline. He felt good about how he was approached and was allowed to be in a position to succeed on both tasks.

He also had a new appreciation for what it takes to be a good leader. He used to think that he could never be a leader because he didn’t like ordering people around. He is re-thinking that position, because he knows you can be leader without acting like a dictator.

Walt Grassl is a speaker, author, and performer. He hosts the radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” on the RockStar Worldwide network. Walt has performed standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas and is studying improv at the Groundlings School in Hollywood. For more information on bringing Walt Grassl to your next event, please visit www.waltgrassl.com.