Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Engagement and Leadership: Follow Up to HR Happy Hour

The discussion on the HR Happy Hour hosted by Steve Boese focused on employee engagement and leadership. Broadcasting from the HR Florida conference, the show featured Cathy Martin and China Gorman. The discussion focused on the question of how to get employees engaged in their jobs and in the strategic direction of the company. One answer was that, while companies have traditionally focused on tactical moves to get employees engaged, what they really need to do is win the hearts of their employees. To do that leadership, based on ethics and values, and leaders who "walked the talk" were critical. But I don't think I really heard any "how to's" in that discussion. And I am not sure if there is any universal set of "how to's".

Geoff Colvin, in his book Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, talks about where the passion comes from that makes someone be a world class performer. His discussion really became one of motivation and whether world class performers were extrinsically or intrinsically motivated. Of course we all know there has been a ton of verbage written about that. My belief is that we all have an inidividual genetic make up that predesposes us to do some things better than other things. Then extrinsic factors take over "motivating" us to use, or not to use, those genetic "talents." Those that get motivated or rewarded to use those talents have the opportunity through what Colvin calls "deliberate practice" to then turn that talent into world class achievement.

This makes me wonder if the discussion of engagement and leadership boils down to a discussion of extrinsic motivation providing a situation that allows intrinsic talents and interests to take over. Is engagement just motivation theory in a different guise?

What do you "practicing theorists" out there think? Help me develop my thinking. Leave comment or comments, it is easy to do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

HR Conferences: Highlighting SHRM-Atlanta's 20th

HR Florida has started today and it has promise for being a great conference. Conferences can be a great professional development tool. The opportunities for learning and connecting are limited only by your time and willingness to attend. Since you cannot make it to HR Florida, unless you are already there, you need to look for other opportunities.

One I am familiar with, since I live in the Atlanta area, is the 20th Annual SHRM-Atlanta Conference. The keynote speaker is Don Yeager. As the conference brochure says:
 As a four-time New York Times bestselling author and long-time associate editor of Sports Illustrated, Don Yaeger has developed a reputation as one of America’s most provocative journalists. The variety of topics he has covered is so vast that every major talk show – from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America – has invited him to be a guest. Using the lessons learned over his extensive career as both a journalist and an entrepreneur, Don has also become an award-winning keynote speaker, working with audiences as diverse as Fortune 500 Companies and cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. Additionally, he has been engaged as a media coach to countless high-profile athletes, business leaders and elected officials.
The educational tracks for the conference include:
  • Business Acument and leadership
  • Law and legislations
  • Total Rewards
  • Organizational evolution
  • Talent management
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • and HR Connection (social media tools)
They have extended the early bird registration until September 13th. So click on the link.

By the way, one of the most educational aspects of a conference is the market place. That is where you learn what is happening with new products and new ideas. You get exposed to the cutting edge stuff. So ALWAYS visit the market place at a converence.

It is easy to get to Atlanta, so no excuses.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Networking is More Than Just Handing Someone Your Business Card

I have posted a couple of times on networking. This one is a video blog, prompted by one I got from Keith Ferrazzi. He was talking about an article that had been published about him that he thought might have been a mistake but turned out good. The article is The 10 Secrets of a Master Networker. Check it out. Great stuff. It made me think that today many people think Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is all they need to do to network. While these are valuable tools that is not networking. See what I have to say.

Two books have been influential in teaching me networking skills.  The first was one I read when I first went out on my own. This was Swim with the Sharks: Without Being Eaten Alive; Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate and Outnegotiate Your Competition. Mackay also wrote Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You'll Ever Need. Both are excellent books for learning networking skills. More recently Keith Ferrazzi wrote Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time and Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail. Both excellent resources as well. If you had to pick one I would most likely follow Ferrazzi in Never Eat Alone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Alternative Careers to HR: Ever Thought About Being a Welder?

In a study published by Manpower, Inc. on August 25th they concluded that a lack of skilled workers, such as electricians, carpenters and welders, threatens the global economic recovery. According to the report "Employers in six of the world’s 10 biggest economies ranked skilled trades as their No. 1 or No. 2 hiring challenge." The report indicates that there are several factors contributing to this shortage. Primary among them are attitudes, especially in the United States, where for decades parents have told their children to go to college, get an education and then a white collar job. For the recovery to occur those attitudes need to change.

Manpower suggests that easing migration and immigration standards will help, with skilled workers from one country being allowed to transfer to another. They did say however, that these skilled jobs are not easy to outsource and provide good income potential that is pretty consistent despite the economy.

 The skilled trades category also includes jobs like bricklayers, cabinet makers, plumbers and butchers, jobs that typically require a specialist's certification. Many of these jobs are being vacated by retirement and have few candidates to take those spots. As the report says "In the United States, recession and persistent high unemployment may lead parents and young people entering the workforce to reconsider their options."

So if you are tired of trying to find that HR job or you are tired of all the bullsh*t that you have to deal with in HR you may want to consider one of these careers. Afterall it was the road to success for Jennifer Beals' character in Flashdance. (Of course being beautiful, sexy and finding a rich man didn't hurt either.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Just In Case You Didn't the Feds Were Controlling Enough In HR

Before I start on my "rant" for the day I want to thank Stephanie R. Thomas for the post that is the inspiration for my post today. Her post, entitled The Men from NEPET Are Coming , appeared on the Compensation Cafe on August 20, 2010. In that post she pointed out a report from the government. This report, entitled National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force (Stephanie's NEPET), is a document from the White House that discusses the cross agency efforts to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed by increasing the amount of scrutiny paid to, and information gathered from, businesses in the United States. My post will summarize what I consider to be the "high points" (or low  points depending on your point of view) of this report. For a complete understanding of the what you will be facing you need to read the report and Stephanie's post in addition to what you are reading here. Just follow the links above.

In his campaign to be elected president and in the State of the Union address, Barak Obama made it clear that one of his goals was to erase pay inequities based on gender. Getting the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed was considered to be the first step. The report points out the next step "To implement President Obama’s pledge in the State of the Union address to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, the Administration has created the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, bringing together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”), and the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”)"

The report says that there are five areas that need to be addressed. These include:
  1. Three agencies of the government have jurisdiction over pay discrimination and they do not coordinate efforts enough;
  2. They feel they don't have enough data on pay and gender. So they will develop methods to extract this information from all the employers in the US, especially federal contractors;
  3. They think employees don't know enough about their rights. The implication being that if they did they would turn their employers in more often. Also, employers don't know their obligations under the law, so they are going to provide information. They will also be hiring and training more investigators in order to step up criminal prosecutions.
  4. They have determined they are not as "clean as a hound's tooth" so they are going to make sure they are complying with the laws too. (What an origianl concept!)
  5. They don't feel the existing laws, especially the Equal Pay Act, are sufficient to handle the situation. So doing what all governments are compeled to do, they want to pass a new law, the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Here is my interpretation of their solutions:
  1. Make sure that all agencies responsible do a better job of coordinating with each other. Hire more investigators and ferret out instances of pay discrimination in whatever form. Especially make the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) an agent of the EEOC in enforcing wage discrimination based on gender violations in federal contractors. Increase the focus of EEOC on wage discrimination. Remove restrictions on the OFCCP regarding audits, hire more investigators and prosecute more employers.
  2. Increase the methods used to extract data on wages from employers. If you are a federal contractor the amount of information you will have to reveal will be increased substantially. The goal is to reveal companies in violation of the laws (pick one) and to prosecute them. Failure to provide such information will result in loss of contractor status. Since they do not have that hold over the private sector they will probably change the EEOC reporting requirements and will be looking for more information. (My prediction is that the minimum company size for reporting on the EEO-1 will be dropped below 100, probably to the 15 employee level)
  3. Undertake a public education campaign in order to make it clearer to women why and how they can sue their employers for pay discrimination. They will educate employers on their obligations in order to remove "ignorance of the law" as any excuse. After hiring several hundred more investigators they will be trained to find cases to prosecute.
  4. Clean up the Federal government, so businesses can't complain that the Federal government isn't following its own rules.
  5. Working with unions, push and cajole members of Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, because, after all, that is what government is in the business to do, pass new legislation.
Ok I admit, if  you read the report, they probably didn't use the same language I did. I was taking some "poetic license". But it is clear that the intent is to get harder and tougher on businesses, ESPECIALLY FEDERAL CONTRACTORS. If you are a woman working in HR at a company where you are paid less than the men in HR, this may be a mixed blessing. You may get more money but jeeezzz look at the extra work you are going to have to do as a result of this effort.

And Stephanie... I think your title is probably incorrect. It will most likely be the WOMEN from NEPET Are Coming.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are Your Employees Looney Today?

Today is the day of the FULL moon in August. It is called the Sturgeon Moon (and several others.) In popular lore many people think that on the day of the full moon people act wierder than on other days. In fact the term lunacy derives from the name of the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna. There have been many scientific studies on the effect of the moon, some which showed an effect and most that did not. According to Wikipedia the effect of the moon is considered a pseudoscience. The argument for the moon having an effect on human behavior comes from the fact that the moon does have a proven effect on the tides on earth. The gravitional effect of the moon on the oceans on earth is a well documented fact. For many people it then stands to reason that, since the human body is composed mostly of water, that there should be some effect there as well.

The actual science aside, I think there is an effect on human behavior. For centuries people have felt there is a lunar impact on how people act. (Werewolves for example) And if you polled many people today they would say they believe people act stranger on the day of the full moon. And that is the effect. Belief. We all know the phrase "Perception is Reality." So if your employees believe they or their coworkers may be affected by the full moon they are likely to act stranger or attribute strange acts to the full moon.

So if your employees are acting crazy today they believe in the effect of the full moon... or at least you do.

(Photo credit: Mike Haberman, taken on Santorini, Greece June May 2010)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where Great Ideas Are Born

The inspiration for the title of this post actually comes from an article in Inc. in the May 2010 issue. (I am a bit behind in reading, but better late than never.) The online version can be found here at Incubation Nation. The article itself does not have anything to do with human resources. It is about 20 centers of innovation around the United States where new ideas and new start up companies are fostered and developed. It is an interesting read to find what and where. The relationship to HR comes from the fact that reading this prompted two questions to me.

First, where is the innovation in HR coming from? Are there "centers" of HR thought? Are there any HR thinktanks? (Cornell perhaps?) I am not sure if this can be tied to a location. It can certainly be tied to an event, that of HREvolution. (Hey Trish... when and where is the next one? I would suggest Atlanta, which will also be the host city for SHRM in 2011. We could have a convergence of meetings and a divergence of thought all at the same time.) It can also be tied to a number of people I consider "thought leaders." These include Trish McFarlane, Kris Dunn, Laurie Ruettimann, Steve Boese, Jessica Lee to name just a few. (The ranks grow each day. There is some very creative stuff coming from very creative people that you won't find in the mainstream HR literature. You need to read their blogs. It is encouraging to see, however, some of this stuff starting to seep into some mainstream channels.) Perhaps you, the reader, can someone you consider to be a thought leader in HR? Who is the engine leading your train of thought?

The second question this article prompted was one for you, yes you! Does your company have great ideas being born? Do you have centers in your organization where creativity runs free? Or do you have an organization that lets convention run roughshod over creativity? Do you reward it or punish it?

What about you personally? Have you had a great idea that you have been able to implement? Was it easy or hard to do? If it was hard for you then it is probably hard for others. What can you do differently in your organization to foster "great ideas"?

I know, this is more questions than answers. I am looking for the answers from you. Give me examples, give me names, give me ideas....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thought Provoking Reading: Four Great Posts from Last Week

Here are some very though provoking reads on a variety of HR subjects. Made me go hmmm... perhaps they will with you as well.

Where's MY Pay Czar? Why We Need a Total Rewards Audit of Congress by Ann Bares
Accountability for Congress...

Like It or Not, HR is PR...(and 5 ways to prove it) by Kris Dunn
Yes, you in HR you need to be a PR pro or at least take some lessons..

Which Managers Are Responsible for the Reality of Your Culture? All it Takes is One Question...by Kris Dunn
It is a great question.. you can develop a usable persona from the answers.

Are Job Descriptions Illegal? Here Are 9 Reasons Why They Should Be by Lou Adler
A thought that has divided the profession. I am still formulating my response to this one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

An Union Update: Craig Becker and the NLRB

I know many of you have to stiffle a yawn when you see the word "union" in a blog title. Well you shouldn't. It is IMPORTANT, especially at this time with this current administration. Of course if you feel that being unionized is good for business then don't even bother to read further. But if you are in the other camp, as am I, then read on.

Craig Becker, who was the chief counsel for the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), was given a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board, despite the fact that the Senate had voted overwhelmingly against his appointment. (52-33) Well, he is in and now in a position to help make signifcant rulings on hundreds of cases that had found to have been made incorrectly because of a lack of a quorum on the board.

If you think that now, as a member of the NLRB, he will make unbiased decisions then you need to probably rethink that stance. To give you a bit more background on Mr. Becker I point you to Michelle Malkin's blog post on him, Summer of corruption: Obama’s Big Labor ethics loophole. Lest you think this is a "fan" piece I will warn you right now it is not. But she points out information about Becker that I find to be rather telling. Here is bit more information on this subject from the WSJ.

So read up and understand why you need to be concerned about EFCA or EFCA like decisions that may come out of the NLRB.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Carnival of HR: The Jukebox Edition

I have a vague memory of an email that told me I needed to get a post in for the August 18th edition of the Carnival of HR. Well guess what, that is what it remained .... a vague memory. But that does not stop me from promoting it. The blog Welcome to the Occupation  is hosting this Carnival. You will find in it a creative assortment of blog posts described as a musical genre. Interesting and of course it includes many of my favorite bloggers. Haun, Eubanks, VanDervort, Elkinberry, McCarthy, Boese, Stelzner, McFarlane, Ruettimann, Martin and many more.

So click the link, put in a nickel (well that is what it still costs at Waffle House) and "play" some good blog posts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Independent Contractors and the ABC Test: The Future is NOW

When I joined the World Future Society I received a collection of forecasts taken from the society magazine called The Futurist. Included among them was the following.
Small governments will eclipse big governments as a threat to privacy/liberty. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, there are close to 90,000 local governments in the United States (school districts, special districts, municipalities, and townships), each of which may find ways to exert influence over individuals in ways that distant big government never could. — World Trends & Forecasts, July-Aug 2009, p. 8
Listening to a group of attorneys from Ogletree Deakins speak at the SHRM-Atlanta dinner last night, August 17, 2010, I have concluded that the forecast is already true. They were discussing the very difficult regulatory environment companies face in using Independent Contractors. Dealing with the Federal government is difficult enough. And as I have indicated in previous posts, the most recent being Independent Contractor Safe Harbor Now a Minefield, the government is looking for ways to make more money and capturing the taxes from "mis-classified" independent contractors is one way of doing it.

But the Federal government is not the only one to be doing so. Many state governments are also looking to capture "lost money" by re-examing in independent contractor status and other worker classifications. They are beginning to apply what is called the ABC Test. This is described as:
Under statute and case law, an "employment" relationship will exist (unemployment insurance coverage is required) unless and until the employer is able to demonstrate that all three parts of the so-called "ABC Test" are met. Those tests are: 
A. Such individual has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of such services, both under his contract of service and in fact; and

B.  Such service is either outside the usual course of the business for which such service is performed or that such service is performed outside of all the places of business of the enterprise for which such service is performed; and

C.  Such individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business.
Apparently Part B is the real bear. According to the attorneys most companies are failing that portion of the test.

Here is a link to Vermont's explanation of their use of the test. ABC Test. More and more states are using this test. They see the revenue that can be achieved from this as a gold mine.

If you are using Independent Contractors you need to carefully exam your relationships and your contracts. You need to ask yourself "Can we pass the ABC test?" If your answer is "NO", I would suggest you may want to be talking to your employment attorney or a good HR consultant.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Does Diversity Have to Mean Fewer White Guys?

An interesting article hit my email today. I am sure others have seen it as well. It is entitled Are White Males Under Attack?  Written by Kellye Whitney for Diversity Executive it discusses the premise of Stephen DeFelice, author of  The Attack on the White Male — and the Weakening of America, that diversity programs have reduced the competitive spirit of business and government in America. According to the article DeFelice makes the following points:
  • The competitive spirit of America was that of the founding fathers, white males, and that is what made the country great.
  • The civil rights movement, feminism, and diversity quotas have become (and have been) an anti-white male movement.
  • Increasing legislation and its accompanying enforced diversity are detrimental.
  • Diversity is mostly about quotas, and these quotas often are filled in lieu of competence.
  • What is good for the individual or organization may not be good for the country as a whole.
  • Diversity is working against the safety of our country because diversity means the weakening of the male.
Pretty strong statements. Author Whiney did get a response from the diversity perspective. "Cedric D. Thurman, senior vice president and chief diversity officer for Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc., said DeFelice’s use of the historical success of our nation prior to the 1950s as a reference point doesn’t take into account that our world is not static." Whitney further quotes Thurman as saying “We live in a world with changing demographics, changing economics, ever-changing political views, as well as technological changes. All of these factors impact the health and strength of all nations. Since we cannot live in a bubble and we cannot freeze time, we have to think strategically about how to build a strong nation. Besides, not everyone believes that things were so great prior to the 1950s.

DeFelice says "This anti-white male mentality out there, we’ve got to get rid of it. I would tell the diversity guys [to] push for white male participation and more freedom of expression, get rid of ‘politically correct.' "

From my point of view diversity is just a fact of life. The changing world has dictated that we are not going back. However, diversity is more than just race and sex. I participated in a "diversity session" once where the leaders where both African-Americans. They presented it mostly as a race issue. Having come from a human resources background I made the point to them that they were being too narrow. I used myself and another group member as examples. Though both of us are white and both of us had been reared in military families we both had very different backgrounds. His father was an officer. My father was enlisted. We had different privileges, different stores, different clubs, different pools and different housing we had access to. Although we were ostenively the same on the surface, "white males", we were very different people.

As a white male, especially one in human resources, I will admit that there is somewhat of a siege mentality. It started with Bakke. (If you are in HR and that is not familiar then look it up. Is something you should know.) I remember when I turned 40 and thought "Finally, I reached a protected catagory!" But the seige mentality has continued.

I think the field of human resources should lead the way and show that diversity is ALL INCLUSIVE. Yet I get dismayed when I see all female, or all African-American HR organizations. The profession that should be the banner holders of diversity carry those banners of exclusivity. Yet how would the members feel if there was an organization of White Male HR Professionals? I believe there would be a major outcry to such an organization. AND FOR THE RECORD I AM NOT SUGGESTING ONE. I am just making a point. While I don't agree with DeFelice I do like that he is making a point that diversity needs to be more diverse. I also agree with him that diversity just for the sake of diversity is foolish. It does need competence added to it.
Diversity for the sake of diversity is much the same as consistency just for the sake of consistency. That doesn't work in HR either.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How About This For Recruiting in the Future?

In a newsletter from the World Future Society I came across the following piece of information.
"Mobile devices are enabling new spontaneous connections in real-world settings, including love connections. One day soon, your phone will play matchmaker, recommending that you introduce yourself to someone nearby whose online profile displays tastes or passions similar to yours. Impossible? An iPhone application called Serendipity is currently being commercialized by MIT researchers." From an article written by Erica Orange entitled "Mining information from Data Clouds" in the July-Aug 2009 issued of The Futurist.
Well if works for finding romantic connections why not work for finding new employees? You can carry around your resume on your phone, with your job interests. Recruiters can have job profiles on their phones and be searching for matching candidates. An introduction is made and by "bumping" your phones a resume is transfered.

What do you think? Cool or creepy?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Influential books: A Personal List

I do alot of reading. I used to read books a great deal, still do, but less so with the Internet available. I am typing this from my home office, where I have decent size library,( but it does not look like Alan Weiss' library.) As I sit here looking at my books and wondering what to write about I got the brilliant idea of books! (Aren't I clever?)

I started thinking about the books that have been influential in my life. Maybe not so much influential but the ones that were memorable. And perhaps they did have an influence. Here is a list of mine:
I have many, many other books that I have learned from and enjoyed. The list is too long. I will confess I still love the feel of a book in my hands. A reader, while practical, especially if you travel, just doesn't do it for me. I imagine I will one day succumb. (Any company out there want to send me one? I will use it and post about it.)

What books have been influential in your life? Please share with us readers, perhaps we too will become influenced by your favorite read(s).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Look Backwards to Get to the Future

I have mentioned several times that I am interested in futurism, meaning forecasting trends, looking at possible future events, just exploring what the future may look like. I am especially interested in applying this to the field of human resources. To that end I do a lot of reading and, as I have also mentioned before, one of my favorite books is Futuring: The Exploration of the Future by Edward Cornish. There are a number of good lessons that can learned from this book and I will be, and have been, posting about many of them.

We are all aware of "forecasting". This is the method that the meteorologist uses to tell us the potential weather for tomorrow or for the next week. It is using current information to predict what may be happening in the future. But the one method that I wanted to bring to your attention is one you may already be somewhat aware of, and may have applied, but just did not know what it is called. This is "backcasting."

Backcasting is according to Cornish where "we postulate a future goal, event or circumstance and then try to develop a sequence of steps or stages to explain the imagined future event or goal came to pass." Cornish further explains that backcasting "... does not begin with where we are, but rather with where we want to be or might be at some future date."

From that point the task becomes to develop a scenario on how that event came to be. You work backwards developing what conditions must exist, what events must occur, what steps must be taken to determine if that future can actually occur. As Cornish says "Backcasting can be used to decide what is likely to happen in the future and to determine how to achieve one's chosen goal." Probably the most famous example of backcasting is President Kennedy's goal of landing a man on the moon. NASA had to take that goal and backcast to determine what was needed to accomplish it.

In terms of you HR department this can be a very useful tool. Suppose you get the mandate that in two years you will have to be serving twice as many employees, in twice as many locations, with half the staff you currently have. What would you do? You would paint the picture and then work backwards thinking of methods, times, abilities, staffing, automation, costs, etc. You would determine whether that goal could be accomplished or, if not, what an acceptable alternative might be.

So as you are tasked in your HR department to be more strategic think of using the method of backcasting to be creative and to look at possible alternatives. Look backwards to look forward.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Employment and Unemployment: A Crazy Mixed Up World

I have a lot of friends and know of many more people who are unemployed and have been for quite awhile. I am sure you do too... in fact you may be looking for work yourself. You hear from them that jobs are just not available. So listening to them and watching news reports you just get the idea that no one is doing any hiring and that business are being conservative in adding people. But then you read an article like the one that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, August 9th. Written by Mark Whitehouse it is called Some Firms Struggle to Hire Despite High Unemployment (no link, you will have to look it up.)

In his article Mr. Whitehouse tells the tale of many businesses who cannot get people to apply for jobs they have available. There was a previous article that indicated that many employers were having difficulty finding workers with the level of advanced training that was now needed. However, Whitehouse's article doesn't indicate that is the problem. For him the issues appear to be:
  • 99 weeks of unemployment benefits allows job seekers to be "pickier" in their choices. He tell of several people turning down job offers because the wage was less than the unemployment benefit.
  • Many of the unemployed are what he calls "middle skill, middle wage". They are unwilling to take a low skilled, low paying job. Human resources positions fall into this catagory?
  • Housing situations keep people from relocating for a job. Especially given that the "job security" and "loyalty" bonds have been broken.
  • Some people just cannot get themselves to "bite the bullet" and take a job that is lower than their expectations.
  • Some babyboom workers have decided to live on unemployment and savings until they can collect Social Security benefits.
According to Whitehouse "Some economists fear the U.S. could end up with a permanent caste of long-term unemployed, like those that weigh on government budgets in some European countries."

So the question I have for you readers, if you are unemployed, is are you on your way to being a member of this permanent caste? Answer my questions if you would:
  • What do you think are the reasons for still being unemployed?
  • Are you willing to change careers?
  • Are you willing to change geography?
  • Are you willing to adjust to a smaller income?
  • How are you getting by?
You can respond anonomously, no identity is needed. Thanks.

Monday, August 09, 2010

8 Steps to Thinking Creatively: Overcoming Paradigm Paralysis

I have mentioned before that I am reading Futuring: The Exploration of the Future by Edward Cornish. It is absolutely chocked full of great ideas and information. In Chapter 10 he talks about Inventing the Future. Well to "invent the future" you have to think creatively. To provide some guidance on this Cornish tells about the work of Michael Michalko, who studied the work of many of the world's most creative geniuses. (His book is Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius) Michalko came up with a list of eight steps that he found had been used by creative geniuses of the past. These are:
  1. Look at a problem in may different ways. Much like Leonardo da Vinci did in looking at his creations from multiple vantage points. He drew the different points of view. (And the added benefit if you draw is that maybe some day you will be famous too.)
  2. Make your thoughts visible. Diagrams are an excellent tool to make your thoughts visible. (Hey it worked for Galileo).
  3. Produce a lot. And this means alot. Edison is famous for this as is Issac Asimov, who wrote 450 books. To my way of thinking this is similar to Gladwell's 10,000 hours concept as found in Outliers: The Story of Success.
  4. Combine Things in new ways. New relationships of well-known concepts or ideas may spark something for you. It worked for Albert Einstein with E=mc2 (2 =squared). No one had thought of combining energy, mass and the speed of light together.
  5. Force Relationships. Samuel Morse came up with the solution to weak telegraph signals one day by watching a team of horses being switched out at a relay station thus getting the idea of boosting the signal as it went along the wires. (Hmmm... how can I apply that to HR?)
  6. Think in opposites. What if we ate dessert before dinner or we grew younger rather than older. (Benjamin Button anyone?) How might this apply to incentives versus rewards?
  7. Think metaphorically. Can you recognize resemblences between very different situations? Take a lesson from Aristotle.
  8. Prepare for the benefits of chance. Chance happens. As Louis Pasteur said "Luck favors the prepared mind."
You may want to print this list out and keep it on your desk. Make yourself a WW?D sign, where you substitute the ? with the names of Albert, Aristotle, Thomas, Leonardo or your personal favorite genius.

Thinking creatively will help you overcome one major problem PARADIGM PARALYSIS. Paradigm paralysis can best be described by the sentence "We have always done it that way because.... " How many times have we heard that a collegue or manager? Well don't let them get away with it. And don't allow yourself to be lulled into thinking this way.

So think creatively... become an HR genius.

Friday, August 06, 2010

What Do You Need to Know in HR? A Suggested Curriculum

I was thinking (oops... wait I have already done that once this week)  about all the "stuff" you need to know if you are a human resources professional. I came up with a list of things and I decided to put it in terms of what I would teach in a Human Resources degree program. Here are the classes I would require:
These would be required courses. Advanced degrees would require further study in particular areas of specialty.

I think anyone coming out of a college today with a degree in HR should have this preparation under his/her belt.

So what do you think of my list? Any suggestions?

And the big question, how much of this do you know? Is your education lacking? Is it time to go "back to school" and work on your "degree" in HR? The links above will provide  you with a resource if you want one.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Carnival of HR The Humor at Work Edition

Drew Tarvin, who is a humor consultant (yep, that is a real job) is the host of this early August issue of the Carnival of HR. There is quite a collection of blog posts, some dealing with humor, some not. (Mine doesn't.) Here is a sample:
  • Become Unnoticeable to Be Noticed – Getting noticed in the corporate world means doing the “non-sexy” work exceptionally well.
  • Don’t Pick My Pocket Just Because I’m Female – Wo(ah)man, that’s not right–even in female dominated professions men are still paid disproportionately more money.
  • Everyone has their own Trevor – Why “your cat not letting you do your work” is no longer a good excuse.
  • Five Ways to Disarm an Angry Mob – AKA delivering not-necessarily-happy news. Does not cover how to create the angry mob.
  • Getting the Most Out of International Assignments – Improving the value of international assignments regardless of currency, except Monopoly money.
And much, much more. The Carnival can be found at Carnival of HR: Humor at Work Edition so check it out and do some learning.

Hey, you might even find a chuckle or two....

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Blowing Up the Box of HR

I was reading a blog post by Kevin Elkenberry entitled Six Ways to Think Outside the Box. It was a good post. What I liked about it was the fact that he said he really dislikes the phrase "think outside the box." He said that even that, much over used phrase, constricts your thinking. He thought that perhaps "explode the box" or "find a new box" would be better phrases. Well that got me to thinking (an increasingly rare event these days) about the "box of HR." Many "thought leaders" and fellow bloggers are trying to think outside the box of HR. People are trying to find creative ways to do things, new methods of organizing, and new things to try to break out of the old mold of HR. (Another overused phrase.) There have been some successes, but to many not enough.

So I thought "why not BLOW UP THE BOX OF HR?" (Creative huh?) I think some people out there may even be trying to do that. Trish McFarlane of The HRRingleader cofounded HRevolution in an attempt to revaluate the world of HR as it exists today. I have not had the good fortune to attend so I don't know what level the thought processes are on. Laurie Ruettimann of PunkRockHR fame lights a fuse every once in awhile to blow up the box (and she is a real firecracker! Ok bad pun.) But she is moving on from PunkRockHR and starting her own company, so we will have to see what happens there.

I am doing some more reading about Futurism so I am not ready at this moment to suggest how I might blow up the box of HR. In fact I was wondering whether it can even be blown up. We have all this "stuff" that the government requires that has to be sheltered in a bomb-proof safe. So if that cannot go away then will we always be constrained by the existing box and be unable to blow up the box. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to change the shape of the box.

What do you think?
  • We can and should blow up the box.
  • We may be able to reshape the box.
  • We can only change the wrapping on the box.
  • Hey, I like the box the way it is.
  • What the hell are you talking about Haberman?
Vote for one and send me an answer.

Monday, August 02, 2010

How Old Are the Men In HR?

Last week I wrote post entitled Are Men In HR Going the Way of the Dinosaur. I ask the question, based upon some research, whether men are a dying breed in HR. Evidence certainly points to that. Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that, depending on what study you read, women hold anywhere from 65% of management jobs to 70%+ of all HR jobs today. The data is not clear on how many of the CHRO jobs are female, but these numbers show that most in the future will be held by women.

A corollary to this is the wages earned by men versus women in the field of HR. Over at Kim's HR Potpourri she lists The 10 Worst Management Jobs for Women, on this list is "Human Resources Manager: Women earn an average annual salary of $57,744, which is 69% of what male peers earn."
One of the interesting things about statistics is you can all kinds of different numbers. This is supposedly a BLS number, yet the studies I looked at show much higher numbers. These figures show women in HR management postions making 79.3% of male counterparts and in specialist postions making 73.4%. Still not on par, but as was shown in 77 Cents and Gender Discrimination: The Wrong Conclusion, written by Stephanie Thomas, there are multiple reasons.

One reason I believe, at least in the field of Human Resources, is age. Given the declining number of men you find it the field, I bet we would also find an increasing average age for men in human resources. And with age generally you see a higher wage. So as the average age of men goes up and the average age of women in the profession goes down statistics will show a wage gap. This may eventually go away as men go away from the field, or at least get reduced in the percent in the field.

I have no numbers to back this up. This is my impression and best guess from what data I have looked at. What do you think? Or better yet what do you know? Anyone have figures on the average age of men in HR versus the average age of women in HR?