Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Searching for the Right Talent – An Overlooked Resource

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In an effort to improve the variety of our content, we have invited posts from guest authors. Today, we feature the first in a series of posts from exceptional HR professionals. Enjoy!

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In the never ending pursuit of finding the right talent, one large group of individuals is often overlooked, misunderstood or sometimes outright ignored. But the 53 million Americans with disabilities are an untapped resource that can easily meet most challenges in many companies.

The most diverse companies are the most successful. Our experience has been that diversity breeds innovation and innovation is a building block for success. By giving ALL people an opportunity, no matter how society chooses to label them, employers must look beyond the label and directly at the individual. That is another step in eliminating barriers to work for people with disabilities.

Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS) recently started a major push to tap into this labor pool by partnering with hundreds of organizations across the country that assist with the employment and placement of people with disabilities. Through these partnerships we now have more qualified, dedicated and motivated people that will improve our bottom line. We are convinced that these individuals could be successful not only at ACS, but other organizations as well.

Early internal research shows that employees with disabilities are three times as likely to remain employed when compared to the non-disabled population. While it is too early to say for certain why this is so, we have theories based on our initial success. For example, some of our employees with disabilities tell us they have literally been looking for a job for years. That persistence translates into loyalty and dedication once they find a position.

People with disabilities are employed at about half the rate of people without disabilities, according to the Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University. About 22 million Americans ages 21 to 64, or about 13 percent of the working-age population, have a disability. Only 38 percent of persons with disabilities are employed, compared with 80 percent of Americans without a disability. Among college graduates, 55 percent of persons with disabilities are employed, compared with 83 percent who do not have a disability, according to the Web site Disabilitystatistics.org. There is a large, well educated talent pool of people who are able to make a difference if they can be matched up with the right opportunity.

Despite this large pool of talented potential employees, many employers, hiring managers and recruiters fear there will be an added cost if they hire a person with a disability. Accommodations do not always come with a cost. The Office of Disability Employment Policy's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) reported that 68% of job accommodations made cost less than $500.

Many of the accommodations simply require awareness by the employee’s manager. That type of continued education needs to include ongoing training to employees and managers regarding hiring, managing, supporting and promoting people with disabilities.

Some accommodations, actually make recruiting easier. For example, ACS recruiters work with the Kentucky Office For the Blind counselors and blind or visually impaired applicants to identify their unique work skills and how their attributes can best be utilized. By modifying a pre-employment test to utilize alternative technology that makes the testing process more accessible for the blind and visually impaired, recruiters were able to provide Office For the Blind counselors with the necessary tools to conduct the testing at their offices. This ensured that blind and visually impaired applicants had the accommodations they needed at a location where they frequented in order to test and apply for positions, while ACS gained a larger applicant pool.

There may be some costs for some accommodations, but the Job Accommodation Network reports that for every dollar spent on accommodations, the company received $28 in benefits. Open jobs cost companies money – lost productivity, cost to locate, hire and train a new hire and the cost of churning through multiple hires until a good fit is finally found. A dedicated and committed recruiting team is required to make these potential savings materialize.

Knowing where to find people with disabilities and then establishing solid and trusting relationships with agencies that partner with those individuals is the first step. In the first few months of this program’s existence, our team of diversity recruiters has established partnerships with state and local vocational rehabilitation agencies and organizations such as community and local government groups, college disability services offices, self-advocacy, independent-living organizations, as well as veterans’ organizations and others that provide services to people with disabilities such as Goodwill. Once these partnerships are cemented, a steady flow of referrals from these agencies can be expected.

There are countless people with disabilities who have accomplished great things through the years. Franklin D. Roosevelt had polio and used a wheelchair. Ludwig Von Beethoven was deaf when he composed his 9th Symphony. There have also been actors, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners as well. There is no reason corporations can not open their doors to these potential employees. It’s ability, not the disability that matters.

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About our guest Author: 

Lora Villarreal is Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS). She is the visionary charged with making ACS’ disability recruiting program successful. Villarreal has more than 20 years of business, human resources, and administration experience.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Upcoming Webinar

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"What learning experiences are companies proposing to their executive talent to get them ready to secure strategic relevance and fuel business growth?" 

Dan Fisher and Michel Buffet will provide some answers to this question based on their experience of designing and delivering customized leadership and management training programs to organizations. More specifically, they will address the new business case for leadership development, breakthrough and practical approaches to keep leaders engaged and committed to learning, and robust ways to measure impact and ROI.  

Time & Location: 1:30 PM Central Standard Time as a global event on your laptop

Keynote Speakers: Dan Fisher and Michael A. Buffet, live from New York

Dan Fisher, PhD: Dan is a managing partner at Fisher Rock Consulting. He provides consultation on selecting, developing, and utilizing senior leadership capital within the context of positional demands, strategic goals, and organizational culture to clients across a wide range of industries. He has extensive experience assessing senior executives and providing them with critical insights and information on their pivotal strengths, key developmental needs, and potential derailers. He is often retained by clients to coach executives on being more effective leaders and achieving breakthrough results. Dan provides high stakes assessment on executives, for internal and external selection, and has designed and delivered leadership development programs for some of today’s top global companies. Prior to co-founding Fisher Rock Consulting, Dan was Director of Assessment Services for Worklab Consulting, a subsidiary of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw. A partial list of the clients he has worked with to date includes Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America,  Barclays Capital, ICAP, Highbridge Capital Management, Andor Capital MasterCard, McGraw-Hill, ADP, GE, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Eaton, Hewlett Packard, DoubleClick, Renegade, Alltel, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Dan received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara and completed his post-doctoral studies at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he later became a faculty member. In addition to serving on the board of The Metropolitan New York Association for Applied Psychology and the American Psychological Association’s Society for Consulting Psychology, Dan is an active member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

Michel A. Buffet, PhD: Michel Buffet is a partner at Fisher Rock, a consulting firm that works with senior leaders and Human Resources executives on organizational change and custom talent management solutions. Before joining Fisher Rock, Michel was a Partner at Oliver Wyman and for over 10 years, worked in the areas of organizational design, team and board effectiveness, executive talent management, and organizational assessment.  Prior to this, Michel conducted cross-cultural training and development at the Training Management Corporation and at the Prudential Intercultural Services.  He also worked on various applied measurement projects at Citibank Bankcards and for the Department of Personnel of New York City. Michel holds a PhD in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University and a DESS in Social Clinical Psychology from the University of Paris.  He was a contributor to Relationships That Enable Enterprise Change: Leveraging the Client Consultant Connection (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2002).  His most recent article on executive onboarding appeared in the October 2007 issue of Talent Management.  He has presented his work at several business forums on organizational transformation and leadership.  He is a member of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Metropolitan New York Association of Applied Psychology, the American Psychological Society, and the French-American Chamber of Commerce of New York.  He is bilingual in French and English and fluent in Spanish.  He lives in Princeton, NJ.

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If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to info@hr-meter.com with the subject line "Upcoming Webinar"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Coming Flood

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Not every industry is hurting right now. Many businesses are even hiring. Just take a look at Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com. There are a lot of open positions...

But with rising unemployment and the fluidity of marketable skills, comes the inevitable flood of job hungry candidates knocking at the door.

The number of online job postings at sites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com might have fallen in the last couple of months but the number of applicants crawling these sites has ratcheted up tremendously. Given the job market and the purpose of these sites, that's obvious...

But what might not immediately come to mind is the stress this is putting on the companies that are hiring. All of a sudden, the number of qualified candidates seeking employment is through the roof (and that number is still growing).  A lot of our clients are telling us that they are now spending as much time just organizing their applicant pool as they used to spend (total) on filling all of their empty desks.

The last thing that a recruiter or manager or whomever whats to have to do right now is to blindly pitch 50% of their applicants simply to 'narrow it down a little'. To put it another way, there are a ton of really smart, well qualified people on the market right now and you simply cannot afford to run the risk of rejecting A-candidates just because you don't have time to look at everyone's application.

Now, a lot of really big companies have applicant tracking software that can help them with this a bit, massive departments dedicated to hiring,  and whole teams that spend their day's conducting interviews. 

Fine. But what about small and medium sized businesses that A) don't have the above resources already in place B) don't have the funds to puts said resources in place (even if they wanted to) C) don't have 10K (minimum) to drop on fancy applicant tracking software?

Well, it seems to me that there are at least 3 (this is certainly not an exhaustive list) resources to turn to:

1) You could "blindly pitch some percentage of your applicants to narrow it down a little". [BAD]
2) You could turn to a local recruiter. Your local recruiter has already done a lot of the work for you. [Decent]
3) You could start using your own basic pre-selection 360 tool (which is what the recruiter is doing anyway) and cut out the middle man. [Best]

We talked about a little of this before the flood: See "New Tricks" and the employeement report just below this post...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

ADP Employment Report Data

Interesting new data was released today in the ADP Employment Report on data from August. 

According to the ADP Employment Report, created by ADP® Employer Services, the private sector saw a loss of 33,000 jobs in August.

The data for nonfarm, private employment, looks like this:

  • Small businesses gained 20,000 jobs. (+20,000).
  • Medium businesses lost 25,000 jobs. (-25,000).
  • Large businesses lost 28,000 jobs. (-28,000).
  • The “Goods Producing” sector lost 78,000 jobs.           (-78,000).
  • The Service providing sector saw a gain of 45,000 jobs. (+45,000)
  • The manufacturing industry saw a loss of 56,000 jobs. (-56,000)

A small business is defined as having payrolls with 1-49 people.
A medium business is defined as having payrolls with 50-499 people.
A large business is defined as having payrolls with 500+ people.

The growth shown in the Small Businesses sector breaks down as follows.
  • The Goods Producing sector for Small Businesses saw a loss of 16,000 jobs. (-16,000)
  • The Service Providing sector for Small Businesses saw a gain of 36,000 new jobs. (+36,000)
You can download the ADP Employment Report for free from the link below.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Tricks

It's a cooling economy... sort of. It would be a stretch (though it's made everyday) to claim economic hardship across every industry. With these “troubled times” comes a series of booms and busts.

HR Vendors are booming. Why?

Employees are expensive (everybody knows that). But it is estimated that a new hire can cost around $5,000 in time and money spent. That's quite a bit of money and a lot of companies have decided that, given the way things look (with the fed estimating a stabilization of the markets sometime in the middle of 2009) they no longer want to throw that kind of cash around on straight gambles.

So, the old selection methods learn new tricks. Metrics and quantifiable analysis made possible by on-line reference checking systems (external 360's and the like) shave the “time spent” column down a hair while revamped internal performance assessments, employee and organizational engagement / climate assessments help manage, benchmark and improve existing “human capital investments”.

Firms are starting to see these methods not as new-fangled “techie” approaches, but as smart, cost conscious and effective reinvestments in their capital assets. The picture doesn't even have to look that sterile. When employers are viewed as caring about their employees, they are viewed as caring about their business just like when they take time to wash the windows and cut the grass, do the books, and send out their PR announcements.

How does your company reduce turnover, improve employee engagement, streamline performance reviews, etc.? To put it another way, what are your “new tricks”?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Office Olympics

I got an email earlier today that made me chuckle a bit.

Apparently, many offices around the country have gotten into the Olympic spirit. SurePayroll hosts a Winter Olympics, which has an amazing five days of competitive departmental games, such as Scrabble, Wii boxing, bean bag toss, and Apples to Apples. Some of the other features include an Olympic village, which is created by having the cafeteria converted into an arena outfitted with free healthy snacks like fruit and granola.

Sounds like a lot of fun.

Have you participated in or hosted an "Office Olympics"?

(There was a slight misunderstanding surounding the nature of the "Office Olympics" e-mail I received the other day. I originally posted that the e-mail was intended as a sales pitch. It was not. It was a PR message intended to "spread the good word", so to speak.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Social Interactions at work and Psychological Health: The Role of Leader – Member Exchange and Work Group Integration

July 2008 in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Why should HR take an interest in the social interactions taking place at work?

The study found that stressors at work can be managed effectively by Social Resources in the work place. The availability of these social resources is determined by the quality of the relationships between an individual and their immediate superiors as well as co-workers.There are 2 main social relationships that exist at work. The first is the individual with his or her superior and the second is the individual with his or her co-workers.The first is called Leader Member Exchange (LMX)
The second is called Work Group Integration (WGI): This is the “perceived approval from coworkers and inclusion in their activities which can be a source of social support and assistance.

High WGI results in the following:

  • a feeling of emotional support
  • a sense of belonging
  • a sense that others will help if needed
  • a recognition of self-worth and value
  • a high degree of stability in one's life situation
The extent to which a leader provides a psychologically secure environment, the resources necessary for workers to complete tasks and the authority for workers to make decisions, regulates how likely subordinates are to think of a situation as being under control and non-threatening. If a leader fails to foster a strong LMX, the result will be a feeling of isolation and a perceived lack of control in the subordinates.

The study proved the following:
  • Low LMX = High stress, low organizational commitment, low job satisfaction
  • High LMX = Low stress, high organizational commitment, high job satisfaction
  • Low WGI = High stress, low organizational commitment, low job satisfaction
  • High WGI = Low stress, high organizational commitment, high job satisfaction
Many companies fail to properly account for the social relationships that form in the workplace as well as to account for the fact that these social relationships directly affect the performance and the psychological health of their employees which ultimately affects the performance of the company as a whole.

Does your company take social relationships at work into account?
Please take 30 seconds to answer 5 quick questions. We will post the results to this blog as well as e-mail them to those who would like them.

Rousseau ET AL. Social Interactions at Work and Psychological Health: The Role of Leader Member Exchange and Work Group Integration. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. July 2008, Vol. 38., Issue 7, p.1755-1777.

Scientific Research Update: Summer 2008

We found that the following academic research articles prove highly valuable and applicable to Human Resource Management in practice:

Should HR monitor the job satisfaction of various 'teams' on the job?

  • Kelly, Allison ET AL. Satisfied Groups and Satisfied Members: Untangling the Between- and Within-Groups Effects of Need Satisfaction. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. July 2008, Vol. 38., Issue 7, p. 1805-1826.

How to identify 'Self-Starters' and why this saves work for HR.

  • Lam, Chak Fu ET AL. Self-determined Work Motivation Predicts Job Outcomes, But What Predicts Self-determined Work Motivation?. Journal of Research in Psychology. Aug 2008, Vol. 42., Issue 4, p. 1109-1115.

How has our understanding of Work Motivation changed in the last decade and what does that mean for your company's motivational approach?

  • Latham, Gary. Work Motivation Theory and Research at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Annual Review of Psychology. 2005, Vol 56., Issue 1, p. 485-516.

Why should HR take an interest in the social interactions taking place at work?

  • Rousseau ET AL. Social Interactions at Work and Psychological Health: The Role of Leader Member Exchange and Work Group Integration. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. July 2008, Vol. 38., Issue 7, p.1755-1777.
  • Teven, Jason ET AL. Communication Correlates of Perceived Machiavellianism of Supervisors: Communication Orientations and Outcomes. Communication Quarterly. May 2006. Vol. 54., Issue 2, p. 127-142.

What do we mean by 'Justice' in the workplace and how does that affect organizational performance?

  • Wen-Chih, Liao ET AL. Organizational Justice, Motivation To Learn, and Training Outcomes. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal. 2006. Vol. 34., Issue 5, p. 545-550.

How can managers correctly identify potential drivers of e-service quality to improve their operations?

  • Heim, Gregory ET AL. Process Drivers of E-Service Quality: Analysis of Data from On-Line Rating Sites. Journal of Operations Management. Aug. 2007. Vol. 25., Issue 5, p. 962-984.

How long is too long when dealing with E-complaints?

  • Mattila, Anna ET AL. The impact of selected customer characteristics and response time on E-complaint satisfaction and return intent. International Journal of Hospitality Management. June 2003. Vol. 22., Issue 2, p. 135-145.

How E-services make HRM systems effective.

  • Ehrhart, Karen ET AL. HRM At Your Service: Developing Effective HRM Systems in the Context of E-Service. Organizational Dynamics. Jan. 2008. Vol. 37., Issue 1, p. 75-85.

You can download the abstracts for the above articles here >>

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blog Services Update: Customized e-mail updates

In keeping with our commitment to make this blog an immensely useful and valuable resource we will be launching a new service.

Within the next couple of days, you will be given the opportunity to sign up to receive a quarterly report containing the most up-to-date research on the subjects of your choice pertaining to various HR related topics. These reports will be compilations of academic research as well as the results of various research studies being conducted by HR-Meter and others.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Trait-Based Leadership VS. Situation-Based Leadership (Part 3 of 3)

The problem that such a conception of leadership comes up against is that the five “traits” outlined above are vague enough to be mapped onto almost any historical “Leader” while at the same time too vague to be taken into a board room. It is one thing to say that a leader must pursue their purpose with passion and quite another thing to somehow convince a room full of people that it is in their best interest, as well as in the company’s best interest, to pursue one man’s purpose with passion. However, it may seem a bit presumptuous to simply claim that the five “traits” that we have just mentioned are, in fact, not necessary for a good leader, for, as history has shown us, most every great “leader” that comes to mind has exemplified a few, if not all of these “traits”. How then to we reconcile these opposing claims: that leadership is situation based and that leadership is trait based.

Well, what it seems to really come down to is that in order to be a successful leader, one must somehow synthesize these competing views of leadership. That is, a good leader must survey a situation and come to an understanding of the unique situational factors that form it. Once one has assessed the situational factors that determine any given context, it becomes possible to employ the “traits” necessary to earn the trust and commitment of the individuals involved in a particular situation. In other words, being able to accurately identify the situational factors present in any given context gives a leader insight into how best to approach a problem. So, for example, when a situation involves a group of people, being able to seamlessly integrate oneself into the group’s identity is of absolute importance. Once, this is accomplished, it is far easier to get the commitment of the group and so to exercise any number of “traits”, be it pursuing the group’s purpose with passion or practicing solid values. Nevertheless, whatever the situation may be, a person with a set stock of “leadership traits” will not be the least bit affective if he or she does not correctly identify the situational factors that undergird every situation.

Bottom line: if you can correctly identify the situational factors in any situation, then learning what the correct action to take in such a situation is no different that learning a new skill. That’s not to say that a little charisma and self-discipline won’t prove useful either.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Trait-Based Leadership VS. Situation-Based Leadership (Part 2 of 3)

In a paper titled “The New Psychology of Leadership”, authors Stephen Reicher, Alexander Haslam, and Michael Platow, attempt to explain why what we commonly think of as effective leadership is, in fact, the result of something more akin to a situation-based theory of leadership.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s scholars began to embrace the idea that, what we have referred to as the “Born Leader” is nothing more than a myth. Rather, “scholars began to favor ‘contingency models,’ which focus on the context in which leaders operate.” (Reicher 2) In their paper, Stephen Reicher, Alexander Haslam and Michael Platow, explain that, since the research of Henri Tajfel and John C. Turner in the 1970’s, which subsequently led to Tajfel’s coining of the term “social identity”, leadership theories have begun to focus more on the “Leader’s” ability to induce followers to see themselves as part of a group, to embrace a kind of social identity that is akin not only to the other group members conception of self but also to the business’s identity as a whole. In other words, “[s]ocial identities make group behavior possible: they enable us to reach consensus on what matters to us, to coordinate our actions with others and to strive for shared goals.” (Reicher 3)

Given that group behavior hinges on social identities, the task of a good leader is to identify with that social identity, “rather than assuming absolute authority”, and our leader does this by coming to “understand the values and opinions of [his or her] followers” which, in turn, enables “a productive dialogue with [subordinates] about what the group embodies and stands for and thus how it should act.” (Reicher 1) In this sense, it seems as though it is not necessary for a good leader to possess a fixed set of traits given that “the most desirable traits depend on the nature of the group being led.” (Reicher 2) In other words, what is necessary for an individual to be a strong leader is dependant entirely on the situation.

While “The New Psychology of Leadership” focuses specifically on a leader’s ability to become “one of the gang” it does emphasize the necessity for a very definite shift from “Charisma to Consensus”, from a stock set of “Leadership traits” to a sensitivity for the situational factors necessary for the formation of a strong group identity.

Yet there are many that still believe that leadership is defined by how well an individual demonstrates any number of “traits”. For example, last year, in his short op-ed piece in U.S. News and World Report, Bill George claimed that there are, in fact, five “traits” that identify an “authentic leader”. Those “traits”, according to George, are as follows:

  • Pursuing their purpose with passion.
  • Practicing solid values.
  • Leading with their heart as well as their head.
  • Establishing connected relationships.
  • Demonstrating self-discipline.

Bill George goes on to clarify that “[t]o be effective leaders of people, authentic leaders must first discover the purpose of their leadership. If they don’t, they are at the mercy of their egos and narcissistic impulses… The values of authentic leaders are shaped by their personal beliefs and developed through introspection, consultation with others, and years of experience.” (George 1)

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

(Just For Fun) 10 Ways to Make Your Boss Love You!

I came accross this on Lisa Rosendahl's blog and thought that it was fun and worth a pass-along.

10 Ways to Make Your Boss Love You

I like #8.


Trait-Based Leadership VS. Situation-Based Leadership (Part 1 of 3)

In reaction to "Understanding the Nature of Talent", I have decided to embark on a 3 part adventure.

There must, of course, be a difference between trait-based leadership and situation-based leadership. While the difference between the two may seem, at once, strikingly obvious, a recognition as to which “type” of leadership is the most appropriate and, ultimately, most beneficial for the development of “business” is, in the same moment, less than clear.

History offers us innumerable examples of both trait-based leadership and situation-based leadership. During the industrial revolution, as hoards of former farmers flocked to the cities, we see, really for the first time in our country’s history, an overwhelming demand for strong leadership across nearly every industry. The need for professional “team leaders” was, of course, augmented by high demand for the fast, efficient, as well as quality controlled, production of nearly everything imaginable for the growth of a nation, including war materials. As soldiers returned from the Second World War, it became clear that there was, in fact, a substantial difference between the leadership practices that were employed by the Pattons, Grants and Washingtons (the pseudo-mythical conception of the Born Leader) and the Henry Fords and Rockefellers who had spurred success not so much by infiltrating the hearts and minds of those under them, but by recognizing the significance of various aspects of their own contemporary matrix and capitalizing on them.

Whether the successes of the Henry Fords and the Rockefellers were enough to demystify our view of leadership and transform it from a trait-based to a situation-based conception remains to be seen. Even today, the myth of the Born Leader, is used to explain the successes of our nation’s greatest Presidents, corporate titans and the like. Nevertheless, there seems, in recent years, to have been the beginnings of a “shift” toward the conception of a leader as someone in possession of a number of skills, learned skills, and so, the conception of leadership as something that can be developed in anyone willing to learn.

To Be Continued...

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Nature of Talent

I thought that I should bring our reader's attention to a new, short paper by John H. Fleming, PhD., and Jim Asplund of Gallup, Inc.

The paper:

"Understanding the Nature of Talent: Managers must distinguish what’s innate in their employees (talent) from what can be changed or acquired (knowledge and skills)".

by John H. Fleming, Ph.D., and Jim Asplund
Excerpted from
Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter (Gallup Press, November 2007)

The paper can be found here.

In it, Dr. Fleming and Mr. Asplund seek to draw a distinction and sharp contrast between "forced stack-rankings / purging" and a more reliable system for hiring employees based on a greater understanding of "talents".

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Innovative Talent Management Survey

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Innovation and innovative talent management are crucial to the long-term prosperity of companies. Companies that recognize this, succeed. Companies that don’t… don’t.

So when we are talking about “innovation” we should also be talking about Mr. Burnett. Bill Burnett has spent 25 years building and leading innovation teams both globally and locally. Recently, Bill started the research phase of a new book focusing on “innovation”. As part of that research, a survey has been constructed and aims at measuring (in a general sense) how innovative a particular company is and what that company’s culture is like. In a roundabout way, the survey also approaches the question whether “employees need to have their souls crushed to be more dedicated to the betterment of the company, or [whether] people contribute more ideas if they are treated well?”

This short survey can be found here.
Bill’s Superinnovator Blog can be found here.
Bill's website can be found here.

I encourage you to take this survey. It should get you thinking about your company and its orientation toward innovative talent (as well as provide valuable research data for a new book). I am sure that Bill would be more than willing to talk to you about the survey results upon request. Bill’s blog and website are also veritable treasure chests of information in and around the topic of Innovation.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blog Content Upgrade

1) Soon, our readers can expect to find abstracts and reactions to the newest research in social and organizational psychology focusing on the following topics.
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Workforce Performance
  • Work Satisfaction (and its various factors)
  • Stress Management
  • Career Management
  • Cooperation (organizational)

2) We will begin conducting research surveys on the above topics. Links will be included in the blog for the relevant surveys as these links become available. The results of these surveys will be published on the blog and will also be e-mailed to those who request them.

So, stay tuned...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Speeds and Feeds

Computers are all about "speeds and feeds", right? Sure, but they all have "speeds and feeds" and they are all just about the same. Apple and HP have proven that you don't need to advertise the technical specifications of computers any more.

(This won't b
e a tech article, I promise)

Apple focuses more on looks and HP makes an effort to make the personal computer "Personal again". But inside, both machines run Intel or AMD, they have ram and HDDs. In effect, their guts have become com
moditized. This is why Dell isn't number 1 anymore (though they have changed their marketing strategy to match Mr. Satjiv Chahil's at HP and may soon be back on top).

Before Mr. Chahil arrived at HP, the rules for marketing computers were dictated by executives at Intel and Microsoft (given that the vast majority of computers run on Intel processors and Windows). Mr. Chahil referred to the old marketing technique as simple: display the "speeds and feeds". Then he raised the question of how exactly is HP was supposed to differentiate itself from Dell when both companies offered computers with virtually the same "speeds and feeds"? He asked the executives at Intel and Microsoft and they just looked at him blankly a
nd probably said something like "Intel inside make computer fast" and "Windows make home network easylike".

How do you resist the urge to commoditize your product (Dell claimed that the PC was a commodity!)? For Mr. Chahil, the solution was a simple one: stop advertising a PC as a box of "speeds and feeds" and start advertising it as a Personal Computer. And that is exactly what he did. He began by selling the Personal aspect of PC to his engineers and product developers. The first HP ads that ran under Mr. Chahil had no mention of Windows, Intel or any of the computers technical specifications. Instead, they were beautifully landscaped and featured flowers.

If he could not c
onvince his own employees that the PC was not yet a commodity, how could he convince the consumer market? It required a lot of ingenuity to take a step back and say, "wait a second, the computer is still special". I think that when your business grows to the size and the importance that Dell and HP have grown to, you have a hard time taking that step back because all you can see is the other guy's numbers. What you don't see is that most "ordinary" people don't know what computer to buy because they all seem so similar. That's the brilliance in Mr. Chahil and his ability to motivate his company around that vision as quickly as he did. It is also testament to his intimate understanding of employee relations.

So, consider this: when the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts laid out his plan to increase the size of the student body by 15%, he didn't run out and snatch up more highly experienced, qualified professors (speeds and feeds), he went and hired a new head groundskeeper.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

WPM Software Industry Worth $2.6 Billion?

By 2012, the workforce-performance-management software services industry will reach nearly $2.6 billion according to an IDC report entitled Worldwide Workforce Performance Management Forecast 2008-2012.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about “economic downturn”, “slowdowns”, and the unemployment rate. At the same time, the IDC is forecasting somewhat rapid growth for software services that provide workforce-performance-management solutions.

This can be explained easily enough: HR executives are hedging their bets that a software solution is a cheaper solution than a human solution (i.e. a consultant or a new hire), and (working in the workforce-performance-management software services industry) I am inclined to agree.

Lisa Rowan, the IDC’s HR and Talent-management services program director says that “Despite a potential business downturn, employee retention will continue to be a key concern for HR executives in 2008, given the very real demographic shifts occurring in the workforce” and that “[e]mployers will be seeking ways to both automate and integrate talent functions, with the goal of identifying and retaining top performers. Performance management is a linchpin in this process”.

On a small scale, might such services (as implemented in, say, a paper company) be a first step in the direction of better fostering a relationship between Connectivity and Productivity?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What’s wrong with the "Formal Interview"? Part 1

A guy walks into an interview at a major accounting firm, slightly under dressed, and a little late. He says to his interviewer that he is pleased to be there but has just come from an interview at a rival firm where he had been offered a job. He says he would still like to take part in the interview process, but just thought that his interviewer should know, from the start, that he had already accepted the position. Just to be fair.

The interviewer asks, “then why are you here?”. He replies that, though he has already accepted the job, he had done so more from panic and excitement over the “package” he had been offered than from any real affinity with the company and its practices. He goes on to say that he had driven home (overcome with excitement) with the intention of calling in and canceling the interview but that his instincts had gotten the better of him and he figured he should come in anyway. He then apologizes, ostensibly for being late and for seeming frazzled.

The inexperienced interviewer ventures to ask what firm they were talking about and the whole thing devolves into a discussion of this man’s relative utility in the eyes of some other interviewer. It doesn’t last long, but long enough.

After positive informality, the formal interview begins.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Connectivity and Productivity

I recently read an interesting report in The Economist that really got me thinking about something that many HR executives are coming to see as a problem: how do we foster a more portable, “always on”, virtual type of working style for our employees while, at the same time, retaining the kind of cohesiveness and sense of control that made the last century so unbelievably productive?

The argument has always been that as technology grows more sophisticated (and perhaps sophisticated isn’t the right word), we grow more productive, we break free of “Malthusian equilibrium” and so, from a very modern historical prospective, we are liberated from the arduous nature of “labor”. And, to a certain extent, we’ve really seen this kind of evolution.

Computers have changed everything, right? Well so have cellular phones, fax machines and the internet. The necessity of the vast cubical farms that make Dilbert cartoons so funny, from a technical standpoint, really isn’t there anymore.

But there is still that practical standpoint. Technically, we could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing away with the vast majority of our office space, and sending our employees home with their “terminals” and getting them all a Blackberry and an HP C1340 All-in-one printer. Done. We might even save enough to pay a percentage of their rent or mortgage and upgrade their health coverage.

But will they work?

My guess, along with virtually everyone else’s, is that, no, they will not work. So if we are going to actually make use of our new gizmos in the work place, we need to find some way to reconcile the more recent advances in mobile technology, bandwidth, and mobile computing with the stationary, “conventional” (and this is perhaps the focus for change), work arrangement; to knit the two together with some rather unconventional Human Resources Management.

We all know how they are doing it at Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. But how do we do it at the insurance company, the consultancy, the paper distributor?

Some Valuable Resources

We have added some valuable resources to the right hand column of the blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blog Launch

We're pretty excited here at HR-Meter to launch this blog.

Like any industry, Human Resources (Human Capital) management is an ever evolving practice that can only benefit from an ongoing and open dialogue with both the internal forces that guide its evolution and the external forces that it exists for-the-sake-of.

This blog has come into existence for the express purpose of furthering the development of best practice solutions to human capital related issues as these issues continue to evolve, crop up, as well as disappear all together.

This form will, at times, be broad, seemingly missing the point or carrying itself far beyond what is typically considered a natural or customary topic of conversation for the human resources manager or consultant.

Nevertheless, we would consider such an exercise a failure if our dialogue were to simply remain within the "acceptable", predetermined confines typical for what is commonly understood to be "Human Resource Management".