SOCIAL FOR HR – L&D

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR HR – BLOG SERIES

#3: LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT

Networking is super easy across many social media platforms. The trick is to get in there and get involved! Many people social “watch” for a while before feeling comfortable enough to join in. I’m a classic example of this, initially joining twitter to follow the America’s Cup because the feeds were better than any others I could find, it was a full year later before I started to watch and then engage from an HR perspective – but following hashtags, joining in group charts and niche interest groups are all a great way to extend your networks and therefore your L&D opportunities.

Self-directed learning via social networking is a great way to upskill and increase your own knowledge, be it through chats with others, interest groups getting together online or in real life and / or enrolment in MOOC’s (Massive open online Courses) or in fact via blogs…

I think we all know what blogs are by now – but the hardest thing I found was keeping them all straight – without a million extra email alerts ending up in my inbox every day. There are some great blog readers out there that collect and collate your chosen blogs into categories, by date for later reading – I use Feedly, but Google Reader is another great option. This essentially creates your own specifically selected content feed.

With the number of blogs now days I would recommend taking a little extra time to research the background of new bloggers you follow to qualify their expertise.

Mentoring is made all the more accessible via social…my last mentor I met via a twitter chat and despite the fact that he was the Head of OD for a university in Scotland, we worked together for over a year utilising social for our communication and other tools such as facetime and google docs to share work, challenges and get feedback and direction. And just recently a former mentor of mine who had relocated to another country has been back in touch via social, is back in NZ and we’re due to meet up!

This all leads to pointing out how social gives us access to thought leaders – Dr Harold Hillman, an award winning author and expert in the People Professions and I connected over social and have connected to where I recently invited him to speak on authentic leadership through change to a group of HR and Recruitment professionals at a breakfast event. And it’s been fantastic for me to meet and work with someone I’ve long admired and looked up to “in real life!” (Hashtag #IRL!)

Performance Reviews as Coaching Conversations?

On the 11th of June I hosted a twitter chat for #NZLead, as part of a month long focus on performance. You can read the preview and background for that chat here. This post is a recap of that chat:

As discussed in the preview for this twitter chat I see value in giving feedback. And I see value in discussing progress, development and future career paths. So the proposition was implementing an on-going, regular coaching conversation between employees and managers encompassing feedback on performance, discussions on progress, clear expectations of the role requirements, future development plans and initiatives. No surprises, real time conversations that are simple, straightforward and achieved with far less blood, sweat and tears.

The general consensus was undoubtedly that the PDR process needs to change. Some had tried similar methods to suggested coaching conversations in the form of simplifying the process, retraining managers in implementation and others agreed coaching conversations worked well with a lot of staff, but it maybe wasn’t a one size fits all problem / solution. By equipping managers with the skills to conduct coaching conversations some had seen great success, though an education piece was needed for staff and management to get meaningful buy in. There was also the feeling that there are managers who prefer tick boxes and straightforward forms to the perceived ambiguity of the coaching conversation, but also that’s it’s the role of HR to change these situations and expectations.

A substantial communication and education (why and WIIFM) piece would be required in the roll out of any new process within an organisation to achieve success. A transition state or ‘baby steps’ approach to any significant change may make the adjustment more easily accepted by employees. And it’s a cliché, but true – role modelling from the top down, ensuring senior leaders in the organisation walk the walk and showcase the new framework with their direct reports.

Whilst no pitfalls of making this change were identified, it is acknowledged again that managers need the skillset to lead meaningful conversations, ask questions and provide honest, constructive feedback. There was also the recognition that if not done well the conversations would be about as useful as poorly executed PDR’s.

To remain relevant and grow with the changing world of work it seems inevitable that traditional PDR processes as we know them need to change. Laborious and cumbersome in today’s ever evolving VUCA world where the likes of agile methodology are becoming more and more prominent, they simply no longer fit in a modern and developing workplace. Coaching conversations seem like a good alternative moving forward, provided the proper ground work is done with both employees and management alike to equip them for the transformation. Once achieved the potential for coaching to provide framework for more meaningful work conversations in relation to providing constructive feedback to employees and a forum for on-going development is immense.

If you’re interested in joining in on the #NZLead chats you can do so using the twitter hashtag on Thursday’s at 7pm NZ, 8am UK, 5pm Melbourne Sydney. Or you can check out more about what #NZLead is all about on the website.

The Bully Show

Bullying in the workplace has been a hot topic of conversation in the workplace and in the news in NZ this week following this incident. Thousands of people around the world including some seriously high profile celebrities (the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lorde) watched and have offered everything from opinions to condolences for both parties.

And so why is this incident so different from the likes of Simon Cowell who was also renowned for his harsh tongue at times? Or is it different? In this instance I think the incident is more of a personal attack, which I think is more what you could describe Simons’ incidences as.

So what constitutes bullying? The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment attempts to describe it here, along with case studies from employment law; concluding that it is unwanted and unwarranted behaviour that a person finds offensive, intimidating or humiliating and is repeated so as to have a detrimental effect upon a person’s dignity, safety, and well-being. It could also be something that someone repeatedly does or says to gain power and dominance over another, including any action or implied action, such as threats, intended to cause fear and distress.

What does this mean for employers?

  • Treat all matters seriously and act promptly when a bullying issue is brought to your attention.
  • Ensure there is no victimisation and that both parties are made aware of the support available to them.
  • Remain neutral throughout the process and ensure all parties are treated equally and courteously, free of any bias.
  • Communicate & Document. Ensure all facts, dates, meetings and outcomes are accurately documented and communicated to both parties, maintaining confidentiality at all times.

 
Employees, how can you deal with the situation?

  • Document the facts; keep records of incidences noting time, place, circumstances, witnesses, actions and effects.
  • Have a conversation; ensure you speak up, tell the right person, detail the facts and be careful about the language used (remembering a one off incident is not considered bullying)
  • Consequences; get a commitment from the organisation/bully that the behaviour will change and what the consequences will be of this not happening. Stay optimistic that things will change.
  • Seek professional help; if you are still struggling with the effects of the bullying be sure to talk to a professional counsellor or similar to ensure you properly work through the situation personally.

For both Employers and Employees it’s important to address the situation to ensure the safety and continued productivity of all affected, and to ensure proper help and advice is sought for a satisfactory resolution. The far reaching effects of bullying can be huge – don’t let it become a show stopper!

#NZLead – Twitter Chat Preview

Career mapping for HR, Recruitment, OD, L&D & ER

As you may or may not be aware #NZLead has some pretty big things planned for 2015 and into the future, all aimed at the professional and personal development of our community. You can check out the planned calendar of events here.

To help folk navigate through the various twitter chats, google+ hangouts, events, unconference and resourses available and to aid in each persons’ professional development in the ‘people sphere’ we’re creating a career mapping / planning tool to categorise the #NZLead offerings.

Starting with the basics as per the table (link here), we’re aiming to develop this into a useable graphic based tool aligned with everything #NZLead does – more on how it will work later!

For now we’re asking for your help in terms of experience, career path and insight.

1.      Can you see any obvious gaps, ommissions or irregularities in the table below? And / or do you have any suggestions for alteration?
2.      What path has your career taken to date?
3.      Have you jumped between, skipped past or across HR specialisations?
4.      What other areas of business do you most frequently collaborate with and why? Eg: Marketing
5.      Are there instances where roles would work above or below current experience levels?
6.      How do you see these career paths evolving in the future?

>>> #NZLead Twitter Chat Thursday 12 March, 2015 @ 7pm NZT <<<

***Thanks to Angela Atkins and her best-selling book Employment Bites (http://www.elephanttraining.co.nz/EmpBites.html) which was a useful start to putting together the table.

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace?!

No this post isn’t about weddings or marriage, but nobody’s perfect right? Least of all me. There have been moments in the past, and I’m thinking workplace here as outside of that could achieve a seriously long list where I’ve both put things off and done things wrong. Prime example of both would be aged 18, when the New Zealand legal alcohol consumption age limit was reduced from 21 to 18 on a Wednesday night and I was in my first job. Over excited by being able to legally drink in pubs and clubs my friends and I took to town. So over excited we were that we put off heading home until 5:30am, at which point my best friend and I who happened to work together at the time, concluded the best option was to get changed and head straight to work under the illusion that a blue Powerade would be all we needed to see ourselves right for the day. Not the best decision we’ve ever made.

The owner of the company found the whole thing hilarious and had a ball laughing at the pair of us; our direct manager however didn’t quite see things that way and even called my mother in to the office to discuss the situation, the working relationship was understandably strained and soured from that point on. Neither of these are model examples of how the situation should or could have been dealt with.

My point in divulging this misspent story of my past is that time and again I see managers who either chose not to deal with performance issues with staff or are ill-equipped to appropriately deal with the situation. The early addressing of staffing issues whether performance or behaviour based can ensure a much more satisfactory outcome for all parties.

Regular WIPs (Work In Progress) and/or coaching sessions with staff are essential for managers to keep on the pulse of their staff, gauging how staff are progressing and identifying where they may not be meeting performance and development expectations. They are also the perfect opportunity to give feedback to staff on where they may not be achieving key result areas. Similarly these sessions are also ideal for addressing behavioural issues such as repeated lateness or attitude problems. Catching issues early usually enables both parties to make amendments and adjustments for a swift resolution.

The flip side, leaving poor performance or behavioural issues with staff and allowing them to continue to a point where many managers want to terminate the employee’s employment reflects badly on all parties. Employees are often unaware of the problem at this point as this is the way they have always done things and are entrenched in bad habits, managers are at the end of their tether and want a fast resolution to the situation, other staff members are dismayed as they are often picking up the slack from said employee and there are bad precedents set and inequalities among employees affecting engagement and culture in the organisation. At this point situations become long winded and process needs to be adhered to to properly address the situation, meaning it sometimes takes months to get a resolution and they are rarely satisfactory to all parties.

As HR we need to encourage open communication between ourselves and people managers within the organisation and ensure either that they are equipped to deal with staffing situation or that if not, they consult with us on them. Have regular catch ups with them about their staff and their teams, make yourself available and keep abreast of staffing situations. Better still get out of HR and onto the shop floor where possible. We need to ensure people performance and behaviours are addressed early and that managers feel able to come to us for help and advice.

I probably should have entitled this post “The Sooner the Better” as it’s a more accurate description as something can always be done and it is possible in many instances to get a positive result, however much easier if done straight away. Though, whilst dramatic “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” probably creates more urgency!

Get On Your Bike!

I’ve never been one for cycling, more of a walker / runner type myself. Even as a kid – I learnt to ride and even obtained a badge for it from school aged 11, but growing up where I did on Auckland’s North Shore there’s very few if any even mildly flat areas anywhere near where our house was. Not living far from there now I still have a serious uphill battle to get anywhere.

But these summer holidays I decided it was time to take the training wheels off Miss Four’s bike. And in doing so bought bikes for the other half and I to ride along with her. My reasoning for this was threefold; a fun form of exercise for the three of us as Miss Four can ride a lot further than she can walk, a way for us to spend more time together as a family unit and thirdly so Miss Four could watch and learn from us once the training wheels came off.

It struck me as we were riding around Auckland’s waterfront together recently the analogy between this and running a team. Teams run best when they are in alignment, working together cohesively, pushing each other to go harder, faster, further than ever before.   Teams with a culture of collaboration and innovation, riding in sync will achieve much greater productivity through increased intrinsic motivation.

Putting time and effort into relationships within teams, working to build trust and open forums for communication where individuals are working towards a common goal are essential elements for success in teams.  Much like us on our bike rides, taking stock now and then and checking to ensure all are on the same path – or at least that their paths are in alignment, and that all are free to express their thoughts.

Creating a coaching culture within teams whereby members feel empowered to remove their training wheels, watching and learning – developing themselves through growth in others will further develop trust among group members. This in turn ensures individuals carry their own weight as well as supporting that of others when required.

Working as a team also ensures you can support each other when the likes of Miss Four has a spill, or the other half gets speed wobbles, and doing it together keeps it light hearted, relaxed and fun.

I can’t wait for my next ride. Get on your bike!

HR blonde on Rugby Tour?

Yep you read it right, this extrovert HR blonde went on tour, rugby tour. This took the form of removing me from my natural habitat in Auckland’s North Shore and my local haunts of the central city, from shoe stores and gossips with the girls over bubbles and dropping me in windy Wellington for a bloke’s weekend of footy.

The All Blacks played South Africa; anticipation built for this game from the other half since he bought the tickets in January. Customised AB’s jerseys, TV and priceless collector’s items; attendance of more than half of the Rugby World Cup matches whilst here in NZ, and reporting on it for the nation’s largest newspaper, season tickets at Eden Park going back three generations…to say he’s fanatical is an understatement. To be fair I’m to be regularly seen by his side at Eden Park and Miss Four has already attended her first All Blacks test – albeit dressed head to toe in pink! It’s not really my thing, but there’s something quite amazing about watching a nation come together to support their team, the atmosphere at the games is incredible.

And how does a nation come together?
·         With a vision so strong it’s become a passion,
·         With backing and advocacy from the top down over years and generations of followers,
·         With a continuously honed and refined strategy
·         And near flawless execution from the team in the spotlight

The players, current, future and past are legends; aspirational characters, icons we all look up to and believe in. The coaches and management team are revered the world over for their skill, knowledge and ability to continually deliver outstanding results.

Now scale this back, scale it down if you like. If organisations’ took a leaf out of the All Black’s book and created a workplace with a unified vision, a clear strategy and the tools to execute that smoothly under leadership providing direction, coaching and development where would they be? Top of their game? None of this is new and none of it is rocket science, simply another metaphor, another reminder of getting the basics right.  

Crouch, pause, set, engage!

Ten Action points from the #hrgcnz

Almost two weeks on from the fantastic HR Game Changer Conference I’ve had more time to reflect and revise on my thoughts during and post conference. What I’ve come up with here are my ten action points. 

Strangely, I’d been thinking about this post over the weekend and prioritising my action points and how to achieve them, then yesterday I received a letter from the team at Elephant Training and HR – asking me to do almost exactly that! Their letter reminded conference attendees of how Jason Judkins, CEO of Yealands, gave all employees a self addressed letter and asked them to fill in their goals at the beginning of the year. These were then sealed and opened at the Christmas party where they were asked to explain how they had gone about achieving their goals and received a $200 bonus. The results were exceptional, both personally and professionally.
So Elephant created a letter to each of us to capture our goals and actions post conference, with the intention that we bring them along to open at next years’ conference and collectively celebrate our successes and achievements. They framed the goals as actions to transform HR in my business, and actions to transform the HR profession. 

I’ve framed mine a little differently here as my focus has been on the ideas, wins, changes and initiatives developed during conference that I could takeaway and use in my business to transform the way we do things and as HR add more value to the business. Some have been instantly actionable and are relatively small changes, others will take some time to implement and require greater effort and dedication, but here are my top ten, in no particular order:

  • Instigate walking meetings and stand ups; movement stimulates.
  • Whilst treadmill working stations may be the dream, a great start would be non-formal and/or moving work stations promoting collaboration and collective / flexible working environments.
  • Use phones to record and share company stories.
  • Boost and promote the use of Yammer for internal communications; utilise more than one platform. Drive staff use of and interaction with 
  • Strategy on a page; simplify all communications, processes and documentation.
  • Use more visuals; in training, communications, recruitment…and so on.
  • Raise the profile of culture and embed into business strategy. Change culture along the way.
  • K.I.S. = In everything ask Keep? Improve? Stop / Start / Simplify?
  • Deliver, deliver, deliver.
  • Keep top of mind “What’s in it for them?”.

changing the hr game

I was fortunate enough to attend the #hrgcnz last week, and I can’t speak highly enough of my experience. I’ve come away excited by the new ideas, concepts and thoughts, so much so that it’s taken me almost a week including two days in an isolated Kaipara Harbour bach to unravel my thoughts and takeaways. I have developed an extended network of like-minded people, some new to me others I’d previously only known via social media; I have validated and benchmarked my own thinking through shared ideas and was more than a little star struck by the calibre of speakers we heard from. The conference itself was exceptionally well run by the team at Elephant HR & Training; providing a range of learning solutions and forums from speakers through facilitation and group work.

It’s thought to be a world first that as we were closing off the NZ conference each day, there was a UK contingent kicking off the beginning of their day. Simultaneous conferences, running concurrently – both with the aim of facing the future of HR, and changing the path as we know it. And both with group members tweeting and sharing the conference content in real time. Sharing so much in fact, that in NZ the hashtag #hrgcnz, was trending in the number two spot, vying for attention against the election and the Joan Rivers tragedy.

The conference concluded with the announcement of a new HR Institute for NZ – CHRI; the Chartered Human Resources Institute. Limited details at this point as to what it means for HR in NZ, but if the conference is anything to go by, I for one am excited to see what comes next.

My main takeaways from the conference are summarised under the three headings below:

 Change the game
To be game changing you must first seek to fully understand the game you’re in, from an industry, company and team perspective. Use technology such as the likes of social media for internal communications, building team culture, development of staff and recruitment; also as an avenue for leaders and CEO’s to connect with those on the shop floor. Create environments for staff to experiment and advocate right practice, forgetting best practice. Stop doing what you don’t need to and instead link up with what the business is trying to achieve and work to add value through collaboration. Hold yourself accountable, constantly ask why of yourself, others and procedures. Stop worrying about minimising risk and instead look to maximising potential. Get rid of anything that doesn’t add value or change the game.

“Celebrate when it changes something, not because you build it” Fiona Michel, NZ Police

Blaze your own trail
Take opportunities, grow, evolve, reinvent yourself and your organisational practices – embrace and drive change. Continuously look forward and focus on developing yourself, challenge and disrupt to create and enable transformation. Lead, don’t serve. Stop worrying about not being at the top table or otherwise, deliver, deliver, deliver and the results will follow. Spend time outside HR, get out of your comfort zone and establish a fundamental knowledge of the business values, goals and strategy. Think like a business leader. Seek innovation, get over yourself and stop naval gazing.

“Become infamous, not irrelevant” – Jan Bibby, Vodafone

Make people smile
Bring in fun; find ways to introduce fun through low and zero cost means to engage employees and create employee champions. Ask staff what rewards matter to them, and similarly in all dealings ask yourself what’s in it for them, and focus on delivering this. Showcase great experiences and results, after all culture drives performance. Encourage diversity and work to break down segmentations. Communication is key, so find new and innovative ways for HR and leaders to stay in touch with the people in the business.

“Make people’s lives better” – Nigel Latta

work; without regret

For a while now I’ve contemplated the cause and effect, or reasons behind employee disengagement to the point of being performance managed out. At what stage and why does an employee go from being engaged and productive, enthusiastically contributing to the workplace to actively working against it?

In my experience very few employees arrive at an organisation with a negative outlook or intention. Admittedly it happens and I have a whole blog post on that to publish at some point. But in the most part employees begin much like we all did when starting school – you remember; full of awe and wonder and anticipation of the things you will achieve there. Usually you’ve beaten out the competition for the role, it’s something you’ve worked and strived towards. Then you start full of promise and all wide eyed as you take it in and work to understand and grasp the new role and organisation.

From there we go through the usual motions, interacting with workmates, growing and learning until comfortable in the role and the organisation, for most the settling in period to feeling really comfortable is anywhere from three months to a year depending on all the elements involved.

From there assuming all staff are treated equal in terms of opportunities from induction, through training and development, reward and recognition, where do things go wrong? From a company perspective as I say, I assume all staff are treated equal; which leads me to two possible reasons for the change in the employee.

First up, the manager. So often I’ve heard “people leave managers, not companies”. And in many cases I think this is undoubtedly what happens. Many people find themselves in management positions because they were the high achievers in their particular jobs, not because they are good people mangers or have experience in these areas. Many companies promote staff into these positions without the proper training and coaching to really be effective in the position. Like I say they may know the role inside out but do they know people? Can they relate to, work with, develop, coach, inspire, discipline and lead others? Some have natural abilities in these areas, others need to be taught, and they’ll need help along the way. Managers have the power, position and influence to make or break their staff, and this should be used wisely. Personalities should not come in to play and staff should be treated fairly and without bias at all times. Managers should actively engage with their staff and ensure they support, develop and progress them where appropriate.  Employees should feel their manager “has their back”; that they can have an open dialogue with their manager, on a regular basis, are encouraged into new opportunities and given chances to grow and work autonomously with support available as required.  All of this is to avoid the situation of a staff member either leaving of their own accord or resulting in a performance management situation. Which could result from any number of reasons or situations from disconnect through, difference of opinion or view, lack of communication and more.

The other major reason I see for this sort of situation is the employee themselves. And this opens up a whole host of possibilities also. In the early stages did they take up the help, advice and learning of the induction? From there have they made the most of the training and development opportunities offered? Have they actively sought to grow in the role? Connect with their manager, other staff and departments? Or are they all talk and little action? So often I see and hear of staff complaining about the lack of training or development opportunities, but it’s these same staff that either don’t put their hand up at all for training offered, or when they do, they don’t turn up – or worse turn up and are disruptive and dismissive resulting in a loss of learning for others. So what is the reason for this? And why are they asking for specific training, then when the opportunity arises not taking it? And from there how do they end up in performance management situations? At what point did they switch from the enthusiastic new starter to a wary, actively disengaged employee? Was the culture fit wrong? The employee / manager relationship not the right fit or properly regarded by either party? Whatever the reason, I’m adamant that employees as much, if not more than managers need to take responsibility for their own development and progression. If you can’t motivate yourself, and be responsible for taking your own opportunities and directing the course of your career, where, how or why would you be entitled to think anyone else should do it for you?

I wonder if in either of these two instances they experience regret? I hope not. Regrets are not something I have a lot of time for, being of the mind-set that you should embrace every opportunity, situation, person or otherwise with open arms. Sure there may be times when this doesn’t work out in your favour – but at least you tried, and don’t live with regret. And in either case – the manager or the employee, I’m adamant you drive the results of your efforts. If you are a manager and aren’t being entirely fair, objective, encouraging or otherwise – change it, don’t regret it. Turn the employee, the relationship or situation around now, before it even has the chance to become a regret. If you’re the employee – same advice. Seize the day, take control of your own future; take every training opportunity offered, network, stay focused, be positive – after all you drive you at the end of the day. And I don’t know who said it first – but don’t live, or work with regret.