Thursday, April 14, 2011

Two Types of Employees

Look, I am all about being honest. This especially comes to my high potentials. I am not going to BS them, and in return I hope that I am the first one they run to when they start getting the eventual offers from the outside. So here is the deal, there are two types of employees:

1. Employees with options
2. Employees with no options

Nuff said, that is all there is to it. I don't care what industry you are in or what your "niche" is. Employees with options reap the rewards of "choosing" to stay with their current company (until they inevitably leave) and employees who have no choice but to stay get nothing (or less) than their counterparts who have options.

Cold you say? I am definitely putting on the Darth Vader Mask here, for sure. But do the mental exercise for me just for fun. Which of your employees have options and which don't? Then adjust your retention efforts accordingly. I was at the BCHRMA conference today and had a speaker say that younger people don't expect to work for a company for 35 years anymore. I found this amusing because I don't expect people to work for me for more than five years (I think I can keep people around for that long) after that I expect them to move on without a promotion or significant change of some sort.

Keep it fluid my brothers and sisters.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Letting People Know Etiquette of Applying online

I know that navigating company websites to apply can be a daunting task. I also know that many of my readers (all 10 of you or so) will have no patience with people who do not intuitively know that someone has to navigate through multiple resumes and cover letters to decide on a group that is "best qualified" to be sent up to a interview. Here is the truth of the matter, on the administration side of things cut and pasted resume's and cover letters are extremely hard to read. In fact, while there may very well be a person whose qualifications are so "right" that I can decipher a resume that is cut and pasted into a little box erasing any formatting that helps me to zero in on experiences that could help my organization, I have not found one yet. I have to try very hard to decipher these and reading them is not easy.

Bottom Line: The site gives you the attachment option for a reason, use it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dealing with a Union Environment: "There is no Spoon"

Matrix - The spoon
Uploaded by Deepsound. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

"Do not try to bend the spoon...That is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth"
"What truth?"
"There is no spoon."
"There is no spoon?"
"Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

When dealing with a Union environment there are two types of organizations. The type that is wringing their hands and wondering what the Union will say about every decision they make and the type of organization that has won all of the policy battles and is actually managing their employees performance. This is what it is all about people. The more you pretend the Union does not exist the more you win. This is more for the line supervisor. Don't get me wrong, good Union reps will get you second guessing yourself all over the place, but that doesn't mean you roll over. Keep fighting the fight. Keep doing the right things for the right reasons. You have to drive the business and in the end they want that too.

All of the policy battles are just white noise. Policy is fine and it certainly makes it easy to make decisions on attendance and other such nonsense that should be taken care of already. But the real holy grail (the part that is in the management rights section of every contract), is the fact that you have the right to manage employee performance. The problem comes when you actually have to measure and have some sort of semi-objective means of evaluating that performance. But seriously, why else are we here?

I will tell you right now, you have no idea how many organizations have not made the leap to actual performance management. They are stuck just trying to get people to show up to work or complying with some other kind of basic policy. If you are doing this type of thing you are failing. That stuff should all be black and white. The real work starts when you raise the bar and say "Who is doing a good job and who is not." That is when your talent level really starts improving and that is something that, as long as you can back it up, the union has absolutely no say over.

"There is no spoon"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday in the Real World

When working in a 24/7 operation sometimes your shift workers miss things.

The memorandum that was circulated through the management ranks has all the trappings of a Jedi Mind Trick. I have not seen their collective bargaining agreement, but I assume attendence is addressed. Most people will tell you it is hard to deviate from any attendence practice and terminate for one missed day or even two.

Unless you want to call it a wild cat strike, work stoppage, or some other kind of unfair labor practice, in which case well played sir (you will never win, but you get style points). Scorched earth approach to labor relations is always an interesting lifestyle choice.

The problem is that most of the arbitrators will probably be Steelers fans (Hmmmm do you think you could sneak an Eagles fan in there?).

You have to put this kind of stuff on your line supervisors to create a sense of belonging and responsibility to each employee's fellow co-workers. Healthy crews do not have these kind of issues.

1. Supervisors work with employee's to ensure everyone gets a fair shake.

2. One someone does get the shaft they have the knowledge that they will get a fair shake in a future scheduling because they are taking one for the team.
Honestly, if I want to see who my good line supervisors are at US Steel, I will see who works with a fully covered shift on Superbowl Sunday. If I want to see who my best supervisors are, I see who can work a fully manned shift without overtime on Superbowl Sunday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hazards of Being New

HR people new to an organization have a double whammy of hazards. First of all figuring out the plethora of new processes and ways of doing things is difficult. In addition the hows and why's are an unknown. Everyone would like to think they are a No BS HR person who uses a machete to cut through red tape . But every organization has their own politics and drama. Sometimes it is very hard to figure out the dramatics (also paranoids or people who view risk takers as some sort of leper) from the people who are just trying to help you out ("You know the COO is the approval authority for that and he is specifically looking for..."). Until you figure the political atmosphere out you have two choices:

1. Take refuge in the protective embrace of corporate HR and become the operational spy that narcs and circumvents your operational leaders at every turn.
2. Trust your operations guys and go along for the ride, make mistakes learn (maybe get thrown under the bus), but learn with your operations guys (you know the guys that actually make stuff and drive profit) and hopefully bond with them to create a solid relationship for the future.

Of course I choose #2. I see no problem going on an early ill advised jihad against corporate with your operations guys support, even if you know you will lose. It is call team building people and OPS guys need to know that you are no pansy that you wont be the one to constantly nag and harass them out of any out of the box idea they try to implement. Once they see you don't mind bleeding a little for them you would be amazed at the respect you get from them. This you can cash in later when you are coaching them to have more patience before they terminate that person who hasn't had a below average performance evaluation in his life and no write ups in his file ("Don't you think you should tell him what he is doing wrong in a formal setting before termination?").

I have always been an all or nothing type of guy and, in the end, I don't mind sacrificing a little bit of my early credibility with the corporate types to solidify my position within my team of people who actually drive profit.

So my advice, be prepared to bleed a little or go home.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

But...Sometimes You Take the Money

In my last post I talked about how Jim Harbaugh would stay at Stanford because of the ownership he has of the Stanford team. Later that day, It was announced that Jim Harbaugh would be taking the head coaching position for the San Francisco 49er's.
So what does that say about my previous analysis? Well, it says that I have never been faced with a choice that had personal earnings of seven or more zeros attached to it, for sure. However if you look atmost of the news stories Stanford was always in the running. Jim Harbaugh was negotiating out of a pure strength position. He was happy at Stanford, but was open to other opportunities if, and only if, it was the perfect opportunity for him. Notice some of the earlier NFL teams were turned away. My guess (although no contract terms have been specified as of yet) is that Harbaugh was looking for the grand slam and, if he did not find it, would have been content to stay at Stanford until he did.
So Stanford, being the most prestigious academic school on the West Coast and not only landing, but making a good play at keeping the most sought after football coaching talent in America we salute you. It means you have something going very right in your athletic department. You don't win them all, but my guess is that Harbaugh will set you up for success and even help you with the search for his replacement.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Employee Loyalty and Owning a Team--A Hidden Retention Tool?

Jim Harbaugh is the kind of talented up and comer that makes corporate America drool. Certainly ready for the next step his accomplishments at Stanford speak for themself. He has taken an institution that was nowhere in the BCS discussion and high academic standards that probably have their own recruiting issues (no dummies at Stanford) and put them in the discussion their one loss is to either the national champion or the runner up. He has also mentored and trained the premier quarterback recruit of the 2010-2011 season. So when is Harbaugh going to make the jump to the NFL? He certainly has plenty of options with the Dolphins, 49er's, and Broncos chomping at the bit to sign him. Money, fame, and power are all within his grasp. Why would he stay at Stanford with so much to gain on the outside?

Andrew Luck.

Relationships matter. Often in business when someone is given the opportunity create their own team and has been recognized for success with that team a true leader wants to play out that success till the end. Very few people have so little ego that with the pinnacle of accomplishment (BCS Championship) so close they would give it all away for monetary gain or simple external rewards.

Andrew Luck is coming back to Stanford and so will Harbaugh. Ownership is the most powerful retention tool you can use in any organization. Harbough owns his success at Stanford, no one will dispute that he is the single most dominant force behind their success. Andrew Luck is giving up millions of dollars by coming back to Stanford next year and so will Harbaugh, just simply to finish what he started.

Let someone build there team and taste success and they will find it very hard to leave it behind for the unknown, no matter what is offered to them.