The “DELIGHT” – FUL path to a great HR technology solution provider business and reputation.

Almost two years ago I came across an article in the NY Magazine – Intelligencer column – titled “DELIGHT” – WHAT SILICON VALLEY’S FAVORITE WORD SAYS ABOUT TECH PRIORITIES”. It stuck with me as I was looking to write about HR technology vendor behaviors as potential differentiators. The column was of interest because it involved semantics, marketing and organizational behavior concerns. The columnist Kevin Roose (on August 10 2014) presented his case for the importance of, and proliferation of the use of the word “delight” – especially from an entrepreneurs point of view (and verbiage), as it self describes any number of efforts to win over new customers. In his report, Mr Roose, goes on to say: “Sit in any high-end coffee shop in San Francisco and you’ll see start-up founders pitching their delightful wares. “Delight” and “delightful” have become all-purpose marketing words in the tech world, trotted out to describe anything even marginally surprising or well made, in the hopes that even uttering the word will loosen the purse strings of investors and customers.” The use of the word “delight” has been pervasive in all industries. Especially used by those trying to describe their approach in business development, marketing and their overall approach in making a significant inroad in penetrating any clients thought process leading to a positive action. That action can be the adaption of a new product, a new software capability, a new business relationship/partnership, indeed, any new anything at all. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has called Twitter ads “a delightful experience.” Sheryl Sandberg has vowed to show Facebook users “something … that really delights you.” Apple a while ago) employed a new corporate motto: “Simplify, perfect, delight.” From the sound of it, you’d think these were executives at Mattel’s toy factory, not mobile developers or software developers in Mountain View, California. When did the titans of technology start talking like kindergarten teachers? Even the old-line economy has gotten in on the action—when Frito-Lay introduced a new line of Cracker Jack in April of 2014, its press release promised “new flavors that will continue to delight our consumers.” The heaviest use of “delight” seems to be concentrated within the consumer start-up world, among those who believe that good design can help them stand out from the competition. “The world is pretty bored with being able to accomplish tasks efficiently,” Rishi Mandal, the co-founder of urban-discovery app Sosh, (as he told Mr. Roose). So what does this discussion have to do with HR technology? Well I am trying to make the point that in the selling of any kind of HR technology the secret is in the ability to ‘engineer a smile’ in other words, to “delight” the prospect. As we should all grasp, a delighted prospect most likely becomes a customer and hopefully one that remains delighted. If not, there are a whole new set of problems to deal with – (a topic for another blog). To this writer, as an HR technologist – industry observer – it makes me wonder how to, in a meaningful way, emphasize the need for any vendor to embrace the concept of “DELIGHT”ing a prospect/client – aka the “customer” with the objective of a building a mutually rewarding (and profitable!) relationship. One that deepens and lasts many years. To do so requires a good many conscious and effective actions that depend on thoughtful marketing, use of media, and salesmanship all aimed at building trust and even building a sense of “humanized” partnership. In effect I am seeking the answer to “how do you accomplish the necessary tasks involved with turning an interested organization into a solid and reference-able client/customer at the same time as always striving to “delight” them?. This is not typically easy when trying to sell a software application such as HRM – as opposed to a really “cool” gadget or app. Creating “smiles” is an important and achievable goal, and it does require mindfulness at many levels within the HR Tech vendor organization. Could the dissection of the word delight make a buzzword meaningful? Lets try to see if it could. Buzzwords inevitably stray from their original meaning, and even techies who traffic in “delight” will admit that the word has gotten diluted. The word can feel trendy and overused, and can certainly get an eye-roll. But the concept is ever strong and a proven methodology to win over new business and clients. So allow me to introduce the word DELIGHT and take it apart letter-by-letter using my own definitions for each letter, thus expanding the underlying concepts and power of doing things that “Delight”. In effect I am suggesting that keeping...

CLOUT GAINING ACTION ITEMS FOR HR EXECUTIVES AND WHY HR TECHNOLOGY MUST BE IN PLACE!!

Here are 7 major issues* and action items facing HR Executives today – and ALL of them cannot be accomplished without HR Technology of some sort…. (*from many sources including LinkedIn discussion groups/postings) Recruiting and retaining knowledge workers – attracting the new workforce Leveraging HR technology to gain strategic “CLOUT” and senior level influence Obtaining a “Total Compensation” quantification and using it to retain and recruit seasoned executive staff and newer generation workers Aligning the HR function with overall company business strategies Implementing business process improvements utilizing workflows that incorporate employee and manager self service over the web Outsourcing what is not in HR’s core competencies and that which makes economic sense Incorporating on-boarding and employee engagement programs – built and utilized even prior to the first day on the job. *******************************************************************************************************   1.            Recruiting and retaining Knowledge Workers – especially the last 2 Generations – Millennial’s and Gen X The workforce is the one component that competitors cannot easily duplicate quickly. Recruiting and Talent management are the two areas of most interest by HR executives. Taking advantage of the Boomer workforce – creating flexible job schedules, telecommute, part time positions, and the ability to be a mentor will provide strong benefits for retaining not seeking to replace, the Aging Boomer workforce. Have a website – employee and manager portal that incorporates and delivers such functionality as: Employee and Manager Self Service, Performance Reviews, Appraisals, 360 degree feedback, team interactions (twitterlike), team relate-ability, template based workflows, email triggered by events, etc, that is intuitive and common to at least 2 workforce Generations. Take care in making sure that any delivered HR related functionality must be able to be accessed by any device. 2.              Leveraging HR Technology and related systems to provide Strategic, value added “information” to the Board of Directors”, move from “Data Management” to “Information Craftsmanship Use the power of technology to generate metrics and dashboards to provide forecasts and other models of strategic importance to the C-level executives, especially the CHRO, and potentially the Board of Directors. Provide information not data: seek to build or take advantage of top tier HRMS vendors who have already built, dashboards of workforce metrics. Just start with 10 or so, and gauge the reception. Chose metrics that make sense for your industry, and that would seemingly add value by leading to actionable initiatives spearheaded by HR. Consider your organization’s willingness to embrace “Predictive Analytics” from your HR functions. Go at a considered pace in formulating and distributing your findings. Make sure your underlying data and assumptions are accurate.   3.     Obtaining a “Total Compensation” quantification and using it in a retainment strategy “Employers are giving up rigid wage scales in favor of flexible compensation. They are learning to live with high turnover and abolishing seniority-based pay” – BusinessWeek Magazine, The Wild New Workforce, December 2005. HR Technology and systems must be able to produce an accurate picture of total compensation for each of the organization’s employees. Boomers and aging workforce care less about base salary than all the other characteristics of the total compensation – time off, benefits coverage, flexible work schedule etc. 4.   Aligning the HR function with overall corporate business strategies The traditional HR function has often been perceived by the organization it supports as both paternalistic and obsessed with legal compliance and bureaucratic trivia; the unfortunate result has been, at times, a strained relationship between HR and the rest of the organization. The new HR must change and become the enabling force that helps the organization realize its business goals and objectives. HR must be proactive in its ability to provide the Board of Directors of the organization the Information (not data) they need to strategically guide the organization. Always think “VALUE” showing how the end result of any HR initiative adds VALUE and impacts the business in a positive way. HR must remove itself from the “Silo” view of HR activities, and must understand the “company” – its plus and minuses, its direction, its competitors, etc.  5.   Implementing business process improvements that incorporate employee and manager self-service. Today’s HR Technology applications provide templates for best practice workflows for many life cycle events, including email triggers, alerts and notifications with built in approval processing. Most, if not all, HRMS solutions include workflow, some standard metrics on a template dashboard, built in ESS/MSS etc. If using a selected HRMS provider – seek to use what they       Examples of Opportunities for Cost Savings: Information Week Magazine provides the statistics that the cost of routine HR transactions typically falls from as much as $17 to just $2.40 when self-service technology is employed. The self service...

“E Pluribus Unum” a motto that can work for HR and HR technology! …. really.

During this polarizing, exasperating, entertaining and just crazy political cycle for the Republican and Democratic nominations, I seem to pay more attention and even look forward to reading the op-ed pieces in the NY Times. Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni are among my favorites. Also Thomas L Friedman who most know as the author of some far reaching best sellers about our global environment and workforce, particularly “The World is Flat”. Recently (NY Times, Feb 17, 2016), Mr. Friedman had an interesting op-ed piece entitled “Who Are We?” which was triggered by his amazement and dismay about our current election cycle. He notes that he: “finds the current election bizarre for many reasons, but none more than this: If I were given a blank sheet of paper and told to write down Americas’ three greatest sources of strength, they would be “a culture of entrepreneurship,” “an ethic of pluralism” and the “quality of our governing institutions” And yet I look at the campaign so far and I hear leading candidates trashing all of them.” Friedman goes on to discuss Donald Trump – with his issue banning all Muslims – as showing no pluralism, and Bernie Sanders for his unworkable and contrary to US history view of socialist governing, and Friedman finds fault with Ted Cruz ‘s slashing and hateful ranting against established government institutions and ideals. Friedman ends his opinion piece with the following, and this is what made me think about HR and HR Technology. “American didn’t become the richest country in the world by practicing socialism, or the strongest country by denigrating its governing institutions, or the most talent filled country by stoking fear of immigrants. It got here via the motto “E Pluribus Unum” – Out of Many, One”. He ends his column by saying: “Our forefathers so cherished that motto they didn’t put it on a hat. They put it on coins and then on the dollar bill. For a guy with so many of those, Trump should have noticed by now.” No matter your political leanings, I highly recommend reading his column. But, now allow me – as I seem to do recently – to take this concept into my sphere of (shall we say) influence – that of HR and the HR technology. The concept of “Out of many – one” – can lead to a number of actionable practices on the part of HR executives, HRMS project teams and the HRMS software providers themselves. Here are a few concepts to keep in mind for these groups – based on the vital American motto: For Human Resource professionals at all levels: Out of MANY databases or master files – there should be Out of MANY separate and distinct department heads, each with their own objectives and goals – there should be ONE overriding goal and strategy that they must be in alignment with – that of their organizations’. Out of MANY (most likely) static and ad-hoc reports – there should be at least ONE that is deemed effective and provides meaningful and actionable information in support of the strategic goals of the entity. Out of the MANY needs within your organization – prioritize and pick ONE that will deliver VALUE to your business – and get that specific need addressed, fixed, enhanced and/or resolved – by the many technology tools that have the ability to do so. For an HRMS project team – doing a HRMS software evaluation and selection or for any project team evaluating a third party provider: Out of MANY self-interests, goals and objectives among individual team members and “end users” – seek to identify ONE common goal with agreed to objectives (deliverables and timeframes) and then get it done. Out of the MANY HRMS solution providers (software vendors and consultants) – lean towards selecting the ONE that give you the comfort level of being in a business partnership – together having effective collaboration methods and mutual respect. And finally, for the HRMS solution provider: Out of the MANY pre-configured and delivered best practices, workflow and functionality – make sure to deliver the ONE that can be readily seen by those seeking a solution – that will add value, fix a convoluted process, and provide efficiencies that can be documented. Out of MANY issues that your current client or current prospect organization documents and/or verbalizes – focus your attention and response on the ONE that will result in your client/prospect organization’s seeing the quickest and most value added solution, the one which will, with proven metrics, alleviate the largest point of pain. If we believe in, and keep in mind “E Pluribus Unum” then...

DOES THIS LOOK LIKE HR AT YOUR COMPANY? – A CAVEMAN MENTALITY

In my humble opinion, many companies don’t appreciate, know, utilize or understand what their Human Resources function can do if given the right support, direction, tools, underlying technology and the correct mindset. We all can agree and recognize the burden of regulations, legislation, policies and procedures put on the administrative responsibilities that HR is typically charged with accomplishing. It will not go away, and yes, someone has to do it. More importantly, most companies have some kind of HR technology – either specific modules that focus on a few key functions such as Recruitment and Talent Management, or more comprehensive HRMS/HRIS or even HCMS. And yet, some of these companies still have entrenched procedures and policies that might bring a nod of self-recognition to the cartoon shown here. Another frequent situation is organizations who are seeking new or upgraded HR technology in support of specific functions or a general replacement of an older HRIS, seek solutions based on what they are currently doing. They know how to drag a box to move things through the sand. But they are myopic, of a singular vision and do not seek to see new potential pathways or use new or available tools. This will lead to the same result – shown above. The answer, visualize what CAN be done. Not what has to be done. Take advantage of the delivered and well thought out workflows provided by the HRMS software. Take advantage of the vendors’ knowledge of best practices and workflows. Look at the tools that you will have, or already have that are being underutilized. Insist that the end result of any new implementation, or of any new program using technology provides actionable value. And that Value can be shown, proven and provides a new path for progress. There can be, and will be, metrics to make your point. After metrics, workforce analytics come to the forefront, to gain insight from the metrics. If HR can find and prove the first few instances of value, then its reputation, visibility and importance will continue to grow. Well beyond being needed to do administration and recordkeeping. This can only happen if you visualize and stretch the capabilities within your existing HRMS or seek out the improved solutions that are provided by many of the HRMS providers, yes, as some sales person would say, with “out of the box” functionality – getting HR out of their cave and into the world around them. Marc Feb 22,...

“Big Talk” gets results in “Modern Love” – why not use it for HR Technology initiatives?

Your friendly HR technologist (me) needs to get a life – I decided. Everything I read recently generates some kind of connection to my life in HR Tech. Even the regular Sunday NY Times – Style Section column – “modern love”. Yes, I read it. Why not? So, recently the column was written by a middle age man (Tim Boomer) – could be a fake name? – newly re-entering the dating scene and lamenting about the difficulty he has with “small talk”. “After my trip, I was eating steak at a Boston bar, still mourning that the woman I thought I would marry, Alejandra, had broken up with me. I’d met her five years earlier, and she was, in every way imaginable, an inspiration to me. She was the woman who taught me about love. Next to me at the bar was a couple on their first date. I could tell because their conversation reminded me of those awkward exchanges you have with co-workers’ spouses at Christmas parties. They opened with a discussion about their commutes to the bar. They both lived within a 10-minute bus ride, and they managed to stretch out this topic for 30 minutes. Next up, the weather: In Boston it rains sometimes, and they had both noticed this. An hour in, they turned to the really deep stuff. One was a teacher, and the other knew a teacher. How could they be destined for anything other than true love? O.K., so I may have been directing some of my brokenhearted anger at them, but all I could think was that I wanted no part of this game. If being single meant having to partake in this kind of conversation, I’d rather pass. How could I go from the deep connection I had with Alejandra to discussing bus schedules and weather patterns?” He continues: “With this in mind, I decided to approach my re-entry to dating with a no-small-talk policy. Not that I would insist we talk only about heartfelt subjects; ideally, there would also be plenty of flirtatious joking and witty banter. I simply wanted to eliminate the dull droning on about facts and figures — whether it’s snowing or raining, how cold it is, what we do for work, how long it takes to get to work, where we went to school — all those things that we think we have to talk about with someone new but that tell us little about who the person really is. Why can’t we replace small talk with big talk and ask each other profound questions right from the start? Replace mindless chatter about commuting times with a conversation about our weightiest beliefs and most potent fears? Questions that reveal who we are and where we want to go?” Admittedly, it seems to me that this approach is not always mutually desired by the interacting parties. A common complaint according to the author: “You can’t ask “Big Questions until you know the answers to the small ones, you need to know the facts to know where to dig deeper.” All this angst, got me thinking. Let me try to translate this concept into my sphere of influence: that of the need for HR technology support to make HR a strategic, value-added business partner in an organization and the efforts of HRMS software providers to help a company do so. (And to make a sale). I think in our industry there are typically four groups of people that require a mindfulness of THE BIG TALK. And, at the same time, they must also conduct the appropriate level of “small talk” for building a business partner relationship. In my analogy, “small talk” is defined as lots of chatter, less meaningful findings, conversations of little consequence – except for establishing an early common ground. Small talk therefore, in of itself, will most likely miss any underlying issues and will certainly not uncover any important decision drivers that might be in play that are the driving force behind a company’s stated initiatives. The four – what I call – “Big Talk Seekers” and their objectives are the following: 1 – The CEO, CFO, and CIO 2 – the Senior Leadership of HR – the CHRO or the SVP and whoever is the Executive Sponsor of a project effort to improve a company’s use of HR technology in any shape, manner or form. 3 – The HR Technology Evaluation Team 4 – The HR software provider – the vendor of a potential new HRMS. Here then are the “BIG TALK” subjects that must be openly stated, documented, communicated and understood by all appropriate stakeholders for each...