Sunday, December 30, 2007

An HR Lesson From Psychology

Rob May over at The BusinessPundit blog wrote about the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I think this blog is required reading for all HR people. He writes "The essence of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than knowledge." Studies have shown that the most incompetent individuals are the ones that are most convinced of their competence. At work this translates into lots of incompetent people who think they are superstars." He then adds "...that if you have a manager that doesn't closely supervise work, he or she may judge performance based on outward appearances using information like the confidence with which these incompetent blockheads speak." That unfortunately is a situation most of us in human resources are familiar with, generally because we do not have an effective performance management system in place. We allow appraisals based on subjective measures to hold sway.

Now a corollary to the D-K Effect , as Rob writes, " that the most competent people often underestimate their competence." As a result, the very effective people in organizations may not get the recognition deserved. Rob suggests that organizations can handle this by doing the following:
  1. Use as many measurable standards of performance as possible. Even idiots have a difficult time refuting concrete performance goals.
  2. Encourage dissension and debate. This is tough, because if this is not handled properly, it can build a culture of negativity and risk aversion. Your goal shouldn't be to avoid risk, just to expose and understand it.
  3. Show confidence in your best employees, even when they don't have confidence in themselves.

Human resources can fight the D-K Effect by instituting effective performance management and by conducting managerial training to incorporate these three suggestions.

By the way, Rob is asking for feedback from readers on their observations of the Dunning-Kruger Effect and how you may have dealt with it. So if you have some feedback for him follow the link above to his blog and leave your feedback, or leave it here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Vacations: An End of the Year Thought

I hope most of you took some time off at the end of this year. It has been a good time to refresh, spend time with family and get ready for 2008. Management guru and author Harvey Mackay published a newsletter recently that had some very good words of wisdom in it:
  • Take your vacation time. Hoarding earned days? Do you lose them if you don't use them? Maybe you are just building up a cache of time that you will use "when you need to." People seem to be almost unwilling to take breaks when they really need them. Keep in mind that the workplace and world will survive, probably quite well, if you go on vacation. If you think you are indispensable at work, stick your finger in a bowl of water and notice the hole it leaves when you pull it out. Now try to imagine the hole in your family's life without you. It suddenly becomes a clear choice!

I hope you have made the choice to not leave a hole in your family life in preference to your job. As 2008 chugs along think about the "hole in the water."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Carnival of HR

The most recent issue of the Carnival of HR is posted at at Ann Bares' site Compensation Force. It is a collection of human resources blogs all worthy of reading. There is no better way to get a good overview of what is being written about in human resources than to review a Carnival of HR. Enjoy the reading.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book Review: Future, Inc. How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit from What's Next

I mentioned in a previous blog that I like "future" stuff and strategic impact. In addition to just finding it interesting I think knowing about trends and anticipating the future is an invaluable skill for consultants and senior HR people. This is especially true for the latter if they want to be a strategic player. If you truly want to make your "place at the table" being a "business futurist" is one way to do it. I just finished reading Eric Garland's Future Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate and Profit from What's Next and I think it is excellent. Garland steps you through the process of viewing the world as a system, recognizing trends, developing scenarios, drawing pictures to make those scenarios easier to communicate and then actually communicating the future to your target audience. One tool that I found to be very helpful, in fact I have already applied it to one consulting situation, is what he called the STEEP model. It is a model that you can use to think about all the potential impacts on your situation, as an example, your current recruiting method. STEEP stands for:
  • Society
  • Technology
  • Economics
  • Ecology
  • Politics

Thus, if you were trying to determine what future recruitment for you company might look like you would consider these areas and what their impact might be on recruiting. For example, society might include, Gen Y considerations, talent shortages, demographics, migration patterns, and educational shortages. Technology might include the impact of Internet recruiting and video resumes. Economics might include inflation, cost-of-living, and relocation expense. Ecology might include "green" considerations and your company's reputation. Politics might include federal and state legislative changes that would change discrimination definitions. If you get nothing else out of this book other than the use of this tool it will be well worth the price of the book.

Garland then finishes the book with his take on what he calls the "Drivers of the Future." He discusses: Aging, Information Technology, Health Care (versus what we do today which is 'sick care'), Biotechnology, Energy, Nanotechnology, Media and Communications, and Ecology and Sustainability. All of them are important, but for the HR professional the first three are of particular importance.

The key point of his book is to view the world as a system and to realize that there are multiple impacts on whatever you are working on and to be effective in anticipating the future you must consider this system. That is why the STEEP tool is so effective. This can be put to use today in ALL HR departments and it will have an immediate impact on how you view the strategic aspect of your job and how you are viewed as a contributor to strategy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Future View of Work: A Generational Perspective

I like to read "futurism" stuff. Penelope Trunk, at the Brazen Careerist, provides a "future" look work. I found it very interesting, especially given the Gen Y view of how work may change. I happen to think many of these will predictions will come to be. The one I think will be most difficult will be "everyone becoming a consultant." I think labor and employment law will be a big roadblock, as well as the influence of unions. The idea of working for yourself is great until you need a steady paycheck, holidays, overtime, vacations, etc. and no one is providing these to you. As a consultant, you don't work, you don't get paid. Most people can't handle that and would cry "foul" if suddenly employers started treating them that way.

Anyway, read her predictions and tell me (and her) your opinions. I encourage you to leave a comment here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Different View of the Organizational Chart

I had to chuckle when I read today's posts from BNET. They present a satirical look at employees, motivation, problems and what they called the Honest Org Chart. They present the work of Dr. Lawrence Kersten of Dispair, Inc. a demotivational company. He talks about how the typical org chart visually mispresents the importance of employees because the boxes are all the same size. They suggest using larger boxes to represent the size of the salary of the position, thus the bigger the salary the bigger the box on the chart, and the smaller the salary the smaller the box. They contend that this will visually tell lower level employees how unimportant they are to the organization, a good thing in their de-motivational thesis.

It is obviously a tongue-in-cheek presentation, but should give you pause to think about your own org chart. Does it tell everyone what it should? How might you do it better?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Social Security Number "No-Match" , I-9 and Homeland Security: Someone Explain This One

The Department of Justice filed an appeal, on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, on the injunction issued by a San Francisco federal judge on the implementation of the "No-Match" Rule. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on December 5th regarding the No-Match Rule stating that " I believe that the No-Match Rule is a major step forward in preventing employment of illegal migrants. Contrary to the ACLU’s incorrect statements, the rule is not harmful to legal workers. DHS is not abandoning it."

He further stated: "Employers receive a No-Match letter from the Social Security Administration when an employee’s name does not match the social security number it has on file. Sometimes there is an innocent explanation for this discrepancy, such as a clerical error. But sometimes the discrepancy reflects the fact that the employee in question is an illegal alien. When employers receive such No-Match letters, they are on notice that the employees in question may not be authorized to work."

He goes on further to state how important the No-Match letters on Social Security Numbers is to the security of The United States. I happen to agree with him but PLEASE, SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME, if this is so important why is it that THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ON THE NEW I-9 IS VOLUNTARY! Go figure.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Enjoying Your Work? A Quick Thought.

My favorite newsletter writer, Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting, sent his December newsletter to me. I love reading it. He is witty, informative and a pleasure to read. He is a fabulous book author and the consultant's consultant. As you can tell I am a fan. Anyway, in the December newsletter he made a comment that struck me as a great approach to viewing your work. When you are thinking about work ask yourself "Do I enjoy my work as much as a dog enjoys chasing a ball?" If you are not getting that kind of pleasure from what you do maybe it is time to look for a "new ball" to chase!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Overtime: And You Thought You Worked Hard??

A judge in Tokyo ruled that a Toyota employee in central Japan had died from working 106 hours of overtime in a month. The judge ruled that the family of the employee, who had died of an irregular heartbeat at 4 a.m., was due compensation. Apparently overworked employees is a big problem according to the Yahoo article. So the next time you feel overworked remember it could be worse. You could be working in Japan!