Human Resources Today

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Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)


Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)

When you left for work this morning, you probably grabbed a computer bag, a coffee, maybe even a lunch sack. Even if you work down the hall, you likely have a routine to start your work day. But whether you're walking in to your home office or one at company headquarters, there's one thing you can't forget. Yourself.

Whether we like or not, employees bring their whole selves to work. 

We bring our hobbies (my sweet potato casserole won first place in The Ritz-Carlton Thanksgiving cook-off one year), our relationships (ever had a co-worker go through a messy divorce?) and our values. I once had a friend who received a job offer from a company with strong religious ties and she debated heavily whether to take the job. There's a reason we call it human resources.


Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Why HR is Important to Your Business


Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Why HR is Important to Your Business

When thinking about "business," what comes to mind first is finance, selling goods and services, advertising...Human Resources is not necessarily at the top of the list. Yet it's a necessary function to keep a business running because no matter what, there are people involved in a business. And not only is it necessary, it's important. Below are some thoughtful pieces around why HR is important to your business. 

1) What Organizations Need Now From Human Resources from Forbes

"The job of Human Resources today is to make people and organizations grow, yet it has only marginally evolved since its inception around the end of the nineteenth century. Starting as 'Personnel,' to protect women and girls in industrial environments, it gradually morphed into other realms including employee hiring, firing, attendance, and compensation. Motivation, organizational behavior, and selection assessments were added to the mix in the 1960s and ’70s. Over the last decade or so, the title of H.R. Business Partner – essentially a business-focused H.R. Manager role – was introduced with little impact."


Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: New Trends in Human Resources


Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: New Trends in Human Resources

Human Resources is all around us. It's more than just benefits and personnel issues too, and the field has earned a seat at the table in recent years. After all, once the recession hit, the world realized how important jobs really are to a functioning and thriving economy. As the HR function has grown, here are some new trends and thinking in the space. 

1) Why It's A 'Glorious Time' To Be in HR from Forbes

"Last month employers in the U.S. added 288,000 jobs. It marked the best five month stretch of job creation since 2008 and the U.S. economy has now officially recovered from the job losses of the last great recession. Of course this is great news for everyone. But there’s one tech industry in particular that particularly benefits when more people are working. Those are the companies that make human resources (HR) software."



Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Best Reads for Recruiters

There's a whole lot of content out there for recruiters. Some good, some not so good. If you're looking for some of the best reads for recruiters, we've sifted through recent content that's out there and highlighted some of our favorites below. And please share anything you have come across in recent months in the comments below. 1) Recruiting: Darwinism or Creationism? from Recruiting Blogs

"Baby I Was Born This Way: Uh, no you weren’t. You were in a really good job that required either A. Good sales and client development skills B. Good research and/or organizational skills, or C. a love for making money.  Nobody grows up wanting to be a recruiter. We happen to luck into to it, and for some of us (the lucky ones?) it becomes the found career path."



Why Hiring the Best Can Make Your Company Fail

I once had a very successful startup founder say to me, “I don’t get it. I hired all of the smartest people I could find. And they all hate each other now.” There’s a clear path to startup success: killer idea, strong funding, high growth, impressive valuation. But many startup founders get to that point and finally turn around and look at the company they’ve built with disappointment. The culture’s not there. Teamwork’s sorely lacking. And debates are getting more heated and more personal.

Your problem is that you’ve hired too many good people.

Founders often hire to one principle: get me the best. They want the programmer or developer with incredibly mad skills. The ones who are sought after by bigger, more established startups. The ones who are so good at what they do, founders let everything else slide.

There’s a risky proposition to hiring more of my post over on Tech Cocktail.


This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A human resources consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.




Why Start-Ups Matter to HR

Last week, my colleague Rajiv wrote about why start-ups need to care about HR.  Newsflash--that sentiment goes both ways. HR needs to care about entrepreneurs too. If you're in HR, you've heard of SHRM--the Society for Human Resource Management. You might even be a member. While I'm certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), I've let my long-time SHRM membership lapse even though my home office is only a few blocks from SHRM. Here's why--I'm an entrepreneur. My company, exaqueo, is in the business of talent. And yet I still decided the value from SHRM wasn't worth it for me personally. Or anyone on my team.  We're in the business of helping start-ups and high-growth companies solve the talent problems that impede their growth.  They need advice. They need HR. They need help. And right now, SHRM isn't the answer.

As I prepared to write this post, I turned to my colleagues in the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only membership organization comprised of hundreds of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. I asked if they struggle with HR issues.  "Who doesn't?" one answered. "Talent is everything," said another.  When I walked around the entrepreneurial event Day of Fosterly, a few weeks ago, I asked if the founders and entrepreneurs had heard of SHRM. Few had. And those that did weren't members. Fellow members in my DC Tech Facebook group were mixed on whether they'd heard of SHRM, but all saw HR as hugely important to their business growth.

It doesn't surprise me.

This morning's rotating flash on the SHRM page touts the conference and a webcast on HR departments.  The emails I keep getting throw the carrot of a tote bag if I join. I'm an entrepreneur. I don't have time for a weeklong conference. I don't have an HR department. And I certainly don't want or need a tote bag (NPR, I'm talking to you ,too.)

But, it does scare me.

In HR and recruiting we've become a content nation of boring. We cater to the middle man, the average HR gal. We talk about the same companies over and over. We rely on lists and rankings that mean nothing beyond a fluffy press release. We write the same articles over and over (with the same advice). And we do all this without regard to our audience -- small company, large company, hourly, managerial, tech, union -- it doesn't seem to matter.

The most popular articles on SHRM will make any entrepreneur's eyes glaze over. Today's "most popular" list included HSA, pension, e-Verify, FMLA...most entrepreneurs don't care or want to care about these things. It's up to us as HR professionals make them care in a way that matters to them--money, risk, talent, growth. A Q&A on social media policy? Entrepreneurs don't have time for that. They don't even have or need policies.  Content needs to cater, to be specific to this audience.

They are HR's future customers.

Entrepreneurs need to care about HR and we need to both make them care and show them we can actually help them. I did find a few entrepreneurs getting value from topics like training and employee relations with SHRM:  "I like HR people who like to do lots of training and education. So they get a good resources from SHRM," said one founder. Yes! Many start-ups hire novice or neophyte professionals who want to learn HR and can do it on the go as the start-up grows. But they have to be drawn in.

One entrepreneur shared her perspective on SHRM this way: "Keep in mind, they tend to take the most conservative stance on HR matters so it may or may not be relevant to start-up issues." This is the perception in the marketplace among entrepreneurs who do know SHRM.

HR organizations like SHRM need to think more deeply about the future of the profession and not just coast along appealing to vanilla audiences. There's a place to support entrepreneurs and their work style. Content channels? Sub groups? Communities? Places to show the value of HR to entrepreneurs so they don't ruin their businesses over talent issues.  Believe me--this is more common than you think. (A client recently told me: "I don't understand how I ended up with a group of employees who are incredibly smart but all hate each other.")


Don't you want to be relevant to organizations in the early stage of the organizational life-cycle? If you don't, you should. Ask me how. I'm just down the street...I'll even buy you a Misha's. In the meantime, our little boutique consultancy will continue our mission to build cultures, employer brands and talent start-up at a time.


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QUIPS #3: What Your Employer Brand is Desperately Missing

QUIPS = QUIck Problem Solving*. Quick ways to begin to address and solve common talent challenges when resources to tackle the challenge holistically or over time aren't an option. Here is QUIPS #3: What Your Employer Brand is Desperately Missing. You know your organization. You know the politics, the business, the industry, the challenges. And you know the people. At least you think you do. Especially if you work in HR. But you don't. You may have a pulse on their happiness or engagement, but do you know who they really are? If you don't, then you can't build or execute a real employer brand. So what do you desperately need?

Research. Real, detailed, holistic research.

I'm not talking your typical engagement survey. That's just a measure of satisfaction and productivity.  And according to Gallup, we're all in big trouble when it comes to engagement anyway.  Stop asking employees if they have a best friend at work. Start asking who they are. Then use the results to understand the composition of your workforce: the actual people who are doing the work. That's the heart and soul of your employer brand.

And yet almost NO companies do this. They create employer brands based on assumptions or what creative agencies pitch. They focus on best practices instead of what makes their organization unique. They package it up and call it an employer brand. It isn't.  No real brand can be created without consumer research. And in your case, your consumers are employees and candidates.

Consumer marketers know research is essential but expensive. However, the results can be mindblowing--and have multiple purposes. But here are four ways you can get started:

1) Create a new knowledge base 

Categorize  and ask for employee information in a way you never dreamed of. Go beyond the basic demographics your HRIS captures and brainstorm--what would you want to know about our employees if you could know anything?  No one has 9-to-5 employees anymore. You have real people. So what about them as people would be helpful to brand development and HR decision-making? Think about the impact data on their commuting habits. hobbies, social media use, family structure and personal interests could have.

2) Hold employee focus groups

The classic marketing tactic, when done right, focus groups are powerful. Don't think about developing or evolving your brand without them. Make sure they are moderated by a trained facilitator, are representative of your workforce and are planned well.  They have to have a purpose and scripted questions that allow you to probe for deeper feelings, emotions and reasoning that you can't get from a simple engagement survey. They answer the "why" to all the data you've already gathered.

3) Use orientation wisely

Wow. A group of new hires all in one place at one time? Don't ignore this opportunity for feedback. I don't mean simple feedback on the hiring process. I mean detailed feedback on who these new hires are and how they feel. What did they do when they got their job offer? (Jump for joy or stress about the low starting salary). What are they most excited about in their new role? Most fearful? This is the kind of valuable data you can use.

4) Completely rethink your  surveys

Sure, there's validated research that says it's valuable to ask employees if they have a best friend at work. But what if all they're doing is commiserating together?  You don't know if you don't ask. Follow those questions up with questions that get at the deep detail--why does having a best friend matter? And what do they talk about? How often do they talk during the day and where?  THAT's the kind of data that you can use to develop a brand. It gives you the essence of your brand.

You wouldn't market a peanut butter without tasting it, understanding what it's made of and how it's different from other peanut butters. Don't market yourself as an employer without doing that research first.


*Speaking and consulting with HR professionals, I often hear how hard it is to take best practices and actually implement them. The grand solutions shared at conferences and in whitepapers often come from companies with big staffs, big budgets and a supportive and forward-thinking HR team.  What if that’s not you?  QUIPS = QUIck Problem Solving. These are quick ways to begin to address and solve common talent challenges. We give you simple, easy ways to address the problem in the absence of time, staff and money. Previous QUIPS include:

  • QUIPS #1: quick ways to address the candidate experience problem.
  • QUIPS #2: why brand ambassadors are good for business.

Have a problem you need to solve but don't have the resources? Let us know what problem you want us to tackle in our next QUIPS.


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10 Tips for a True Expert's Personal Brand

This blog post is co-written with the super-smart Pete Radloff, recruiter, talent leader and all-around nice guy. The internet. For all its beauty and brawn, it’s like candy to a kid.  There’s always room for more. Unless you’re managing a personal brand, meaning, you’re calling yourself an expert and purport to be the “industry’s leading…” or the “foremost expert on….” The field in which we work, human resources, has it’s share of experts—from recruiting to Gen Y to organizational design.  But for every expert, there’s an online personal brand and many of them are painfully obvious.

It may be a lost cause for those floating in the ego clouds but if you’re looking to make a career as a subject matter expert (or if you are one and you’re willing to listen for a wee second), here are ten tips to brand yourself as an expert while keeping it real. And bearable.

1) Let your experience speak for itself.

As an expert, you don’t need to continually remind everyone with every post, promotion and page on your Web site, that you’re the expert. Headlines and promotional materials may be a necessary evil, but let the work speak for itself. Share a client list. Blog regularly. Provide feedback and testimonials from clients that matter. Your experience and expertise isn’t about what you say it is.  It’s what your reputation says it is.  Self-promotion has a tipping point and humility can be a beautiful thing.

2) Show that you’ve worked in the corporate trenches.

Expertise is earned best through experience.  And while consultants get great, often long-term, experience from client relationships, there’s no substitute for having been a client yourself at one time. To be an expert is to say “I’ve been in your shoes.”  There’s credibility and understanding to having managed a Fortune 500’s budget or gone through an RFP or vendor selection from the inside. Relationships are built on common understanding and the "I've been there before" is a great place to start.

3) Don’t spam - have a target audience have concise useful content.

It’s not to say don’t market. But a surefire way to make sure that your audience tunes you out quickly is to focus only the “Look at ME” factor. We’re in a society constantly inundated with this offer or that new shiny toy.  Break from the herd and offer clear content that is rich, focused, and stirs debate among the readers or followers that you are targeting.  Aside from promoting yourself, and marketing your brand and services, you also have to provide a value-add to the audience. Always ask yourself “what can they take away from the content I’m delivering right now?”

4) Speak on topics you have real experience with, not just pure opining.

Looking at the profiles of “gurus” on LinkedIn, and their bios on their websites, there are repeated patterns in many of the profiles – little to no experience in the field that they are allegedly “experts” in. There are pedigreed educational experiences, and then once off into entrepreneur-hood – an expert is born.  While there’s almost always a segment of the experts that have tenure in the field that they opine about, the law of averages doesn’t allow for them all to be experts. Your credibility is, in the long run, ultimately based on the wisdom you can share from deep, genuine experience and research into your topic.

5) Don’t assume you know everything about said, expert topic.

Even if you’re the go-to guy (or gal) in a particular niche, you have a perspective based on your experiences, your education and your age. Not only do you not know everything, but you’re not in a place to predict every trend either.  Pay attention to up and comers in your field or industry and publicly highlight what you learn from them. It shows that you respect the full range of thought and debate any area of expertise needs to stay vibrant and energized.

6) Stop with the “thought leader” crap.

“Thought leader” – say it aloud. These two words are pure marketing gold. Gold plated that is. It’s an incredibly overused term, and usually misappropriated in its use. The definition of thought leader is a “person who is recognized for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights”. This is a fine definition, but it explicitly says "innovative ideas." And much of what is out there is far from innovative, but rather recycled and repackaged as new. Only truly innovative, unique ideas can make you a thought leader. (And we have to be able to come up with a better catchphrase or label for it, right?)

7) Don’t let your life become your brand.

Social media has allowed experts to become more personable, sharing more insight into their personal lives and interests. But your life can’t become or overtake your expertise.  If it does, you’re not an expert in your area of expertise. You’re an expert in your personal life. And we're not in the market for that. If you decide to open up all of your thought streams to your public, do so carefully.  Then take a count. We want to know who you are at your core, but when your wisdom starts being outweighed by Tweets about your pet peeves and Facebook posts about your unhygienic neighbor, your credibility sinks. Fast. There’s no doubt that social media means a professional and personal profile is often merged. But you’re managing a brand here and authenticity isn't digestible when you're sharing everything that comes to mind.

8) Don't throw others under the bus that you "compete" with and don’t attack others that disagree with you - your side is only 1 half.

The internet means the world is much smaller now.  With that comes responsibility for the brand owner. You’ll always have supporters and detractors. Not everyone will see your ideas as right, some will be flat out competitors, and others may even call you out publicly. You must be willing to engage all parties professionally and with mutual respect.  It’s evident to an audience when you are in attack mode, as opposed to when you are in competitive, but substantive debate. Part of being a leader is respecting the ideas of others, even if not always agreeing with them.

9) Don’t be untouchable.

Now that you're big and branded, find new talent to mentor. When you start getting dozens of calls for informational interviews, you've hit the big-time. Just remember you too were once unknown and someone helped you. Pay it forward and offer a talented up and comer a chance to guest blog on your site or join you as a guest at a big conference.  Share something you learned from someone much greener and younger than you and answer as many emails and tweets as you can to stay connected.

10) Age often equals wisdom.

You may be rich and a expert in your own right in your 20s, but respect that some learning only comes with time (and gray hair). There are certainly outliers, those who are wildly successful and experienced early. However, the vast majority of people need to have an array of experiences both good and bad over a long period of time and have navigated many different situations to truly be considered an expert. Take time and be patient. Immerse yourself in as much of your industry as you can. Have an open-minded approach. Know what you don’t know. You've got plenty of time to learn it and plenty of time to be the expert.

So, are we experts with perfect personal brands?

We’re not professing to be perfect.  But from where we sit, we see hundreds of experts' brands just by reading, blogging, working and traveling. And all we want you to do is help you take a fresh look in at your own. The foundation for your brand is your credibility. Credibility built through the efforts that you have made to immerse yourself in your field, industry, the experience you have gained, and the continual ability to listen.

Keep your brand lean and let it lead itself. If you find yourself having to constantly work at your brand, then you’re not doing enough of the real work that gets you to be an expert.