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Showing posts from 2015

Four Lessons of Change

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In a LinkedIn post the other day, consultant Jeffrey Deckman wrote: "The only way to build a better company is to invest in building a more capable workforce."  To which I said, Amen! Here are four things to think about if you are planning to strengthen your organization in 2016. First a true story. I was the Training Manager supporting the R&D unit in NJ of a global pharma-chemicals company based in Germany. The business unit head from Frankfurt had flown to NJ for a management meeting and, to my great surprise, asked to see me. In a meeting that lasted only a few seconds, he shook my hand and said, “Please help them to change.” He was talking about my client group, a community of research scientists and technicians. The change he was referring to was the need to become more customer focused. The customers, the business units in North Carolina and Texas, had grown fed up with the lack of commercially viable new product ideas from the NJ R&D unit. Over a number of ye…

Caution to Today's Young Managers

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I was in conversation with a 25 year old freshly-minted manager. The new manager was beaming with pride and excitement about his job with a company in the mid-Atlantic region. When I asked him about the job and what he does, he said with all sincerity,  “And now I have people under me. Now I give the orders. And they have to listen to me for a change.” I nearly choked. Here was a fresh-faced young person, only out of college a few short years, who has already internalized the wrong image of what a manager does. Look at the worn-out paradigm that is reflected in the words he uttered with such joy: Under me – The old concept of manager is that of Boss where the starting point is fear. The manager has the power. And the manager distrusts people. As a result, he must control them, keep them down and under his thumb. With the workers “under” him, the Boss holds the power and “wields the stick” of authority to run the gang. Give orders – In the old concept, managers decide what needs to be …

The Limits of Change

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You have been trying hard for the past three years to help one of your key leaders to improve his performance in a very pivotal role in your organization. You have given him several doses of specific feedback, sent him to external seminars, hired a coach, provided him with a very capable assistant, and even assigned a mentor. Unfortunately, after all this effort, the employee is still underwhelming you and others with his performance. The hapless employee is well aware that you are dissatisfied. He knows that he needs to change. He understands the feedback. He wants to do better. He has tried and tried. But at the end of the day, he is still fumbling the same old things as before. And you are still fuming with disappointment. After so much effort and investment, what else can You do? At this point, you may be torn between the following two choices: Let the employee go – You’ve done everything, to effect a change, but to no avail. Maybe it’s time to cut your losses? Move the employee – …

A Seat At the Table

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For decades, many in the field of Human Resources have been seeking the proverbial “seat at the table,” a place in the esteem of those in the C-suite and participation in the strategic decision making process of the organization. Has anyone ever asked:  If you had a seat at the table, what would you do with it? To me, the answer is quite clear: HR needs to add value. But what does that oft-used phrase, added value, really mean?  The key to grasping what “added value” means is to recognize that it is always in the eyes of the customer. So, as many (such as David Ulrich) have said, HR has to re-think itself, indeed must transform itself.  Here are some questions to start the HR transformation: * Who are HR’s customers? * What do they want from HR? * What does “value” mean to them? To learn more about adding value, HR would do well to study marketing.  Marketing blogger Eric Tsai offers eight ideas for creating brand value. His first tip is: Stay on top of your customer’s needs. Tsai al…

Moving the Organization to A Coaching Culture

Much is being written these days about culture in organizations...What is culture? Can you change it?  How do you change the culture? In my view, since the culture is the people, then you certainly can change it. However, it really helps if you know What the change is and Why it would be a good thing for the organization (and its customers) to make the change. In a Harvard Business Review piece, titled, “Why HR Really Does Add Value,” Rubbermaid CEO Brian Hults had this to say about HR: "In order to add significant value to a business, HR must be able to support and enable the execution of strategy through building organizational capability. This is a role that cannot be automated, shared as a service, offshored or outsourced. It comes from an intimate knowledge of a business’s strategy and the existing capabilities of the organization. The great advantage that HR has in this area is that, ultimately, all strategy is executed by people – people who need to be supported, trained a…

HR and OD - 15 Year Check-In

The relationship between HR and OD (the original field devoted to organizational change) has long (over 30 years) been an interest of mine.
For the past 15 years of blogging, I have written about their relationship several times, especially one post in 2005 (Why HR and OD do not get along) and another in 2010 (What does the future hold for HR and OD).

Since we are again at a five year mark, let's check in and see how HR and OD are doing.

Where do things stand today?

Both HR and OD have continued to evolve.

HR is incredibly differentiated. People in Benefits, for example, are practically in their own field now with the dramatic changes going on. The area of Employment Law has continued to mushroom such that many in leader level HR roles are attorneys now.
Talent Management has taken hold as the new paradigm that links the HR processes together. And Automation has caught on in HR especially in self-service and in talent acquisition.

And the professionalism standards in HR have con…