Friday, April 27, 2012

Communicate or Suffer the Consequences

So, do you think your organization needs some improved communication? Don’t we all, right? Hopefully we are not as bad off as these folks….

In a session today at the Oklahoma HR State Conference, a few of the topics of conversation left my jaw on the floor. When speaker, Dr. Nate Regier, asked the audience for some examples of poor communication in their organizations, you won’t believe the amounts of money that people throw at problems without understanding the root of the problem. Band-aid solutions can be very costly and not helpful at all.

Story # 1, one of my favorites, a city government organization while attempting to be open to new ideas heard a suggestion about going to a 4 day work week and then jumped on it and implemented it before investigating what impact it would have. The result… workers who were now forced into a 10 hour day 4 day a week scenario struggled to find daycare that would meet their needs. The fact that services which had been available to customers were no longer available on Fridays, with little to no notice to the customer. Trash pick up was disrupted because no one worked that day. Oh, and payroll… who wants to still get paid? Well, they were always paid every other Friday and now they are closed on Fridays. Isn’t that something that should have been communicated with payroll BEFORE it was approved? You would think so, right? But the payroll department found out when it was announced to all other staff… you can imagine there were a lot of complaints and frustration surrounding this sudden change.

Story # 2, back in 1996 a great idea was discussed in the manufacturing industry with one local Oklahoma company, getting away from manual time punch cards and moving to a hand print bio-metric time keeping system. So, without much further discussion, some folks in charge went ahead and bought a nice $125,000 time keeping system. Unfortunately, they forgot to discuss this with the front line folks and even with those handling payroll and time tracking. As it turned out, that system would not integrate and did not work with their other systems. So, it was never implemented and ended up being the equivalent of a really pricey paperweight. Yikes!

Story # 3, much like story # 2, another Oklahoma company spent OVER $1 million on a new talent management and evaluation system, which was never implemented due to poor communication and lack of support within the organization.

Is this just an Oklahoma problem? NO. I am confident that if you ask (and folks are honest) there are stories like this all over the country. Not every story has the impact of hundreds of thousands in financial loss, but the important lesson here is that whether big or small your organization can suffer when open communication is not a part of your culture.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Leaders Build Great Places to Work OK HR Session

How Leaders Build Great Places to Work Session at OK HR

Managers, do you want higher productivity and profitability? Do you want better customer satisfaction and lower staff turnover??? Wait for it…. Wait for it… You can get all of that by TREATING YOUR PEOPLE BETTER! Your employees can make or break you! Trust, Respect & Dignity need to be the language spoken by managers.

Glad to hear another HR professional that is passionate about HR! Always good to start a session with a few laughs, well done Kevin Kennemer… your audience was engaged!

Dogs can sense the energy in others, and HR pros need to learn that skill. We need to be able to gauge the climate of the workplace.

A question all managers must ask, do your employees TRUST you? Studies have shown that less than 40% of employees believe in or trust senior management. When employees trust their leaders, they are less resistant to change. That is important for managers to understand.

Kevin says, we hire folks for the knowledge in their heads and the skills of their hands, but the key to loyal and motivated employees is engaging the heart of the employee! You get the total person and a 100% from the employee when their heart is in it.

CRT in Virginia gets it. They know that Happy Employees=Great Work and Great Work=Happy Clients. This is obvious and true, but when managers are stuck in the day to day grind and not thinking about the big picture, they miss this obvious truth. A fear-based management philosophy has no place in business!

An important message for ALL workers, HR and Managers included, you need to give 100% when you are at work, but you also need to give 100% when you are at home with your families. Don’t allow yourself to look back with regret down the road because of missed opportunities with your kids and family because you spent too much time at work and missed your kids growing up.

People cannot separate the heart from the body, so managers need to understand that. Leaders want to work in a great workplace, so why aren’t they striving to CREATE a great workplace for their staff. When you spend most of your waking hours at work, you have to realize that stress at work affects you at home too.

On Sunday afternoon, you tend to mentally clock in at work when you start thinking about Monday and what you have to do Monday. This can lead to the Sunday Blues… but if you have a great workplace, that does not have to be a dreaded thought. Places like Google get it, but you don’t have to have a fortune to make your job a great place to work. It all starts with manages that CARE and who put their HEART in it! How do you think QuikTrip in Tulsa made it on the Oklahoma-Based companies’ Best Places to Work list? Seriously!? It is a gas station… it is not the J-O-B that is so awesome… it is the environment that was created by GREAT LEADERS with heart who care about their employees!!! Competitive pay is important, but that is not enough to keep people happy. What is more important is how you treat people!

To build trust, you start by sharing information, even if it is bad news and even if you don’t have all of the answers yet. Building trust starts with communication. You have to be willing to answer tough questions and be willing to be open and vulnerable. It is okay to not have ALL of the answers. Make sure you deliver on your promises! If you don’t think you can make something happen, DO NOT MAKE THAT COMMITMENT!

People want to be recognized and appreciated. That is the EASIEST way to show people you care… TELL THEM! Yes, you can show them through bonuses or gifts, but a well place “Good Job” costs nothing and is well received. So do NOT hold back your praise and appreciation!

Managers need to be mentors and leaders, not BOSSES! When managers show a sincere interest in their employees, they have started the process of earning trust.

Did you miss this awesome session? Kevin said you can check out the presentation slide show later at

I'm Baaaaaack!!!

So, I have learned that MICRO-blogging is more my thing.  I can find the time to tweet 140 characters with frequency from the convenience of my phone anywhere and anytiume, but sitting down long enough to actually put all the random thoughts in my head down on my screen and into my blog... well that takes a certain amount of planning and time that I find elusive and difficult.  HOWEVER... it is OK HR time again, and I just have to share some of the great things going on here.  So, you'll see some blogs coming this way momentarily... in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Recipe for an Engaged Workforce

Employee engagement is like that thing that kids have which we all wish we could bottle up and sell to make our millions. It’s that unexplainable energy and drive that is evident in their behavior. How do I connect children’s energy and employee engagement in my brain you may be wondering? Well, wonder no more, I’ll tell you. I am always amazed at how my children can spend 5 hours running around a zoo and still have the energy to go play at the park and play for a few more hours when they get home. I wish I could bottle that energy up and sell it to the world.

I have come across employees in my years in HR that have a similar energy in the workplace. You wonder how they can do X for 8 hours and still be smiling and full of life at the end of the day. Maybe they are in sales and despite 100 rejections, they keep their game face on and keep smiling and do their best on every customer interaction every time which leads to the next 100 sales. How can they stay so positive? Or for a person working in a labor intensive or physically or mentally demanding job, how do they still do their best all day and even in the proverbial 11th hour?

Here is my theory, observation and subsequent recipe for an engaged employee… Start with good leadership, throw in a dash of continued support and encouragement, whisk away all negative feedback and pour in positive reinforcement, and combine that with a person who is both willing to do the job and qualified to do it. This is your recipe for an engaged and happy workforce. Granted, some employees will defy logic and be happy and engaged even with the worst manager and the worst working conditions, and I wish I knew how to find more of those folks. However, we can help employees to be engaged and thriving in the workforce with my recipe.

I know it sounds easy enough, but how do you get all those ingredients to work together? Training your managers to lead and not micro-manage is an important first step. I highly recommend that every manager read ‘Whale Done!” by Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, & Jim Ballard. It is a great book about the power of positive reinforcement in relationships. It’s a short and easy read with some great insights. Positive reinforcement is an important tool to help employees feel empowered and encouraged to do the right things at work without the shame and resentment that is often brought about from negative reinforcement.

No matter how much positive reinforcement you provide an employee, if they are not qualified or trained to do a job, they are not likely to succeed or at least not to thrive. It is important to make sure that you have the right employee in the right job. To be fully engaged at work, an employee needs to be in a position that they have the ability to thrive in. If they struggle to understand core concepts and what is expected, they are not likely to really be tuned in and using their strengths to make improvements to efficiencies and to tackle tough assignments.

Is your workforce engaged and doing their best? If so, great! You are doing something right! If not, start by working with your staff to ensure they are getting the support and encouragement they need from management to tackle the challenges they face every day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I-9s, part 2

So, yes, it has been a while since I broached the subject of I-9s and the need for employers to complete an internal audit BEFORE the immigration office comes knocking on your door.  Delayed yes, but forgotten NO.  I wanted to make sure to provide a few more helpful tips for your audit. 

Resources are a vital key to help you know exactly what is expected for the I-9, and there are two very helpful resources that every HR person should save in their internet favorites... which was just updated 5/14/2011 and

These two resources can answer a lot of common questions about the I-9 and give you all the tools you need to get the form right or to correct your I-9s during an internal audit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

For those curious minds...

I've been in the HR field for about 10 years now (and I wouldn't trade it for any other profession), but I sometimes wonder how much easier life was for hiring managers before the government started imposing more and more regulations like the I-9 requirement for example.

Just out of curiousity I did some research on the history of I-9s (thank you WikiPedia, and learned that the U.S. government began requiring the use of I-9 forms November 6th, 1986 following Congress' passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. As you know, employees fill out the form to prove they are legally eligible to work in the United States.

For those curious souls among you that did not work with I-9s way back when... here is a peak at an I-9 form from 1987... (yes, I know this serves no purpose other than to satisfy one's curiosity... but in case you are interested... take a peek.) I will blog about more important, relevant and timely I-9 issues throughout the coming weeks, stay tuned!