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...

“LIGHT BEAM RIDERS” ALL – EINSTEIN’S GEDANKENEXPERIMENTE” AND ITS IMPACT ON THE ARTISTRY OF HR AND HR TECHNOLOGY. A YEAREND ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND SHOUT OUT….

The 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was celebrated in print this past October. Many articles described its impact on our Universe in general and in the world of physics in particular. One such article by Walter Isaacson in the NYT (October 30, 2015) caught my eye. I had already known that Mr. Isaacson authored a very well received biography of Einstein, in fact a NYTimes Best Seller. So his comments were worthy of a read. As so many things make me somehow make the leap from a news item or opinion piece on some general topic to my world of HR and HRT, Isaacson’s comments were thought provoking, especially as it gives me a chance for some yearend shout outs. In his opinion piece titled “The Light Beam Rider” Isaacson mentions the visualized “thought experiments that were the navigation lights guiding Einstein to his brilliant creation”. It seems that young Albert ran away from his school in Germany, which he hated because it emphasized rote learning rather than visual imagination, and enrolled in a Swiss village school based on the educational philosophy that encouraged students to visualize concepts. While there, Einstein tried to picture what it would be like to travel so fast that you caught up with a light beam. If he rode alongside, he later wrote, “I should observe such a beam of light as an electromagnetic field at rest”. In other words the wave would seem stationary. But this was not possible according to the science of those times. It eventually led to Einstein’s “psychic tension” – which was eventually resolve by… his, well, “daydreaming”. Isaacson goes on to say that Einstein “relished what he called “GEDANKENEXPERIMENTE” ideas that twirled around in his head rather than in a laboratory. What teachers called “daydreaming” if you’re Einstein, you get to call them “Gedankenexperimente”. The overreaching thought in Isaacson’s opinion piece is that creativity is based on imagination. In my opinion Imagination arises from an inquisitive mind, a thirst for knowledge, a decision to push boundaries and a propensity to think “out of the box”, yes “perchance to dream”. (Shakespeare – Hamlet). Where the daydreaming leads to a sudden inspiration – a sudden burst of light – a sudden “getting it”. As 2015 ends, I wanted to write and recognize some people who, in my humble opinion, have made or contributed to making a difference in my world of HR in general and HR Technology more specifically. Thus for the sake of a yearend list – here then are my list of 10 “Dreamers” or “Critical Thinkers” who have pushed the boundaries of HR and HRT, and who have themselves surely daydreamed of solutions, practices and visions to assist all of us in our HR/HRT space. All furthering the importance of the role of HR and it use of technology in many forms, globally. As colleagues, some of these people you will recognize, others maybe not. But by reading a bit about them, you can clearly see their deservedness in being called “daydreamers” and how their actions have led to some very impressive – even imposing results and deliverables. I have known all of them, some personally, some by reputation, some for many, many years, others for just a few months. In 2015 I have had reason to consider them in some way. I think that in the year ahead it will be interesting to see where their dreams might take all of us. Alphabetically, Josh Bersin I met Josh Bersin many years ago when we both did some work with HR.com – (see – Debbie McGrath later in this piece). Josh is now the Principle/Founder of Bersin by Deloitte. He is a well known and effective thought leader /speaker in his expertise as the leading provider of research based information, benchmarking and advisory consulting services focusing on Talent Management, Leadership and Strategic HR. In 2015, I had the opportunity to listen to Josh at Ceridian’s Dayforce HCM Insights Annual Conference. His keynote presentation about his research findings led him to highlight his “BOLD” vision for HR leadership. Bersin has a strong belief that today’s times require a “bold HR”. He explained: “BOLD” means : “B”= Build an irresistible organization; “O” = Own the leadership agenda; “L” Leverage your employees; and “D” = Demand data. Clearly Josh Bersin is acting on his desire to educate all of us about what his research is unveiling. In 2015 I had not heard a clearer presentation of such a strong call to action. Dave Duffield Certainly the most well known on my list and a brand himself, I have known Dave from...

A HOLLYWOOD “SPOTLIGHT” ON HR TECHNOLOGY? – IF ONLY.

I recently had the opportunity to see the newly released movie “Spotlight”. It is the true story of how the Boston Globe newspaper uncovered the massive scandal of child molestations and coverup within the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston The movie “Spotlight” takes its name from the name of the independent group of 4 investigative reporters – working autonomously within the Globe. In existence since the 1970s, this group can spend months on a single story, which they choose amongst themselves. They seek big picture issues – outside of normal news cycles. In the late 1990’s they found one. Or one found them. Their coverage and the resultant exposure resulted in the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002 and sent shockwaves around the world reaching the Vatican. The “Spotlight” group found that there was a systemic cover up by senior church officials who knew about the charges of molestations and who, rather than confronting the problem and try to stop it, they condoned the acts and chose to re-assign or transfer the culprit priests from Parish to Parish within the Archdiocese. Under the direction of the newly hired editor-in-chief, the Spotlight group was told to broaden their case and shift their focus from one Priest named by a victim – to finding out about the existence of the anticipated many more priests and instances of cover-ups. Finding hardcopy “Annual Directories” – listing every priest in Boston and that person’s status, they began a line-by-line review of each year’s Directory. Using the names of the known suspected priests they found that their status was listed in the Annual Directory as “inactive” with a reasons as either “on leave”, “sick”, “transferred”, or “emergency response”. The Hollywood film showed a series of scenes showing each of the 4 members going thru the Directories and building a list. The team developed a database (looked to be a chart – maybe in excel – in the movie) to track all the assignment’s of the Clergy. The database identified 102 priests who were place on “sick leave” or otherwise removed from parish assignments in the early to mid 1990. They had 6 weeks to identify and corroborate their findings – before the Editor-in-Chief would allow the results to be printed in the newspaper. While watching I realized – “If Only…….” If the Archdiocese of Massachusetts had electronic files – or even any kind of “personnel record keeping – or even an HRIS, and IF the Globe was granted access to them (highly unlikely), or IF the Boston Globe had anything reassembling an ad-hoc report writer under any kind of HR technology – this multi-week exercise (as shown in the movie) would have been a simple task. With basic data entry, the Spotlight team would be able to generate reports of the status of any priest over any timeframe. Either way. What took weeks could have been accomplished in mere days – or within minutes after data input was complete. Certainly an “if only“ musing on my part. Their data analysis led them to confirm the individual Priests and gain further corroboration from lawyers and others sources that convinced the Editor-in-Chief to release into print the lead article in Boston Globe’s edition on January 6, 2002. Cardinal Law, the head of the Boston Archdiocese resigned his position in December of that same year. Thus, IF an HRIS/HCM/HRMS software application – a delivered Master file, with status codes, effective dates and with an un-adorned ad hoc report writer/search capability had been on hand and available, then it is reasonable to suggest that the “spotlight” on these despicable men would have shined much sooner. An HR Technology – IF ONLY there was one in place – might have shared a few rays of the spotlight, in support of an already brilliant true story of investigative reporting – and a fabulous movie as well. Look for it at “Oscar Awards” time. Happy Holidays to all my colleagues in HR and HR Technology Marc December 8,...

New HCM software functionality uses “behavioral science” to help build Teams and avoid conflicts!

Hi there. Every so often as a (I am told) keen observer of our HCM community – of users and vendors alike, I come across something new and different. Recently, attending Ceridian Dayforce’s HCM “Insights” Conference, I did just that. I saw a piece of new functionality soon to be integrated into a delivered HRT provider’s’ functional capabilities that was very different and unique. This new functionality deemed “Relate-ability” is the first concrete and soon to be delivered attempt by any comprehensive HCM vendor that can considered as having its origin in the realm of “Behavioral Science”. The application tracks an individual’s interpersonal skills and abilities focusing on the inter relationships, interactions and communication styles among colleagues on teams. The application was gained by Ceridian’s Dayforce HCM via their acquisition of RelatedMatters, Inc,. It provides the capability to enter data gained via direct responses to questionnaires and scenarios by participants which result in scores showing how individuals are prone to relate to other individuals and team members. The underlying principle is that the essence of any human relationship is based on building trust and transparencies through communications and actions. The application’s solution allows managers (or any user) the ability to assess the current mood and communications styles of an specific employee. The responses enable colleagues to see the communications style and engagement levels exhibited by their teammates. With this knowledge an individual can learn and adjust their own communications style to achieve a more productive conversation for task collaboration, problem solving and conflict resolution. With proper utilization the behavior- based science aspects build into the functionality have a direct bearing on the performance of any organization’s teams. In today’s global environment, teams may undertake tasks in a virtual world. As such, they attempt to collaborate across the globe, with differing time zones, cultures, language usage and interpretation, personal beliefs, etc. All these factors merge to affect the performance of a “virtual team”, one that it’s members do not physically interact, except via audio /video conferences – usually at a scheduled time. Until now , the input of interpersonal “cues” were not considered, especially by any known (to me) software in the HCM marketplace. The addition of the “relate-ability” factor seems new and unique. One-off applications such as “DISC”, “Social Styles” and “Team Styles” have captured similar direct input for years. However, Ceridian’s attempt to digitize a level of personality traits and interpersonal styles has not been successfully attempted by a HCM vendor up to now. Within the application individual team members can, at any time, “check – in” (twitter like) and indicate how they are feeling about their team, their team mates and their work on the team, even to the extent they feel “stress’. Similar to “DISC” the “Relate-Ability” application tracks and identifies the four communications styles and their personality traits as: “Director” – driven by a need for authority and control, “Encourager”: seeking excitement and fun, “Facilitator”: looking for Harmony and Security, and, “Tracker”: concerned about underlying understandings and details. Teams must have a good mix of these personality types. The application relies upon the fact that “relate-ability” is determined by people’s core convictions such as ambition, belief, compassion and discipline. Everyone possesses each of these convictions in different strengths. They are hard wired into our personality and rarely change dramatically. The alignment of core convictions is an important factor that builds an employee’s feeling of “engagement“ . “When relate-ability is made fundamental to Human Capital Management, HR is able to have an immediate impact on the business,” says David Ossip, Ceridian Dayforce’s CEO. Ossip goes on to say “beginning with the recruiting process, organizations can measure candidate compatibility with their team and hiring manager. Teams can be built and balanced to take advantage of employees’ complementary strengths and styles to improve team performance.” Recruiting managers can use this Behavior – based scale to measure candidate relate – ability to understand what the candidate’s likely fit will be with both the hiring manager as well as the team they are being hired on to. This can give the managers a strong indication of what strengths the employee will bring to the team. It can also indicate in which groups an employee might be most effective with a broader team. Furthermore, relate-ability can dramatically improve the performance management process. An evaluating manager, armed with relate-ability knowledge, can understand how to best deliver feedback to their employees. For example – do they value direct feedback? Do they desire praise and recognition? Do they prefer an emotional tone or an appeal to reason? Answering these questions in advance of a performance review can dramatically impact...

THE BOMB SHELTER THAT IS HR TECHNOLOGY

  The cover of the latest issue of the Harvard Business Review (July/August 2015) shows an image of a bomb, with the title – “It’s Time to Blow Up HR and Build Something New”. It is getting lots of notice – especially to us in the field – in one way or another. The article reminds me of the very famous “Why we hate HR” article in Fast Company magazine, August 2005. Both articles have attention getting titles, both addressing the similar issues of the viability of the HR function and presenting, at least in the Fast Company article a rather sarcastic (yet true) depiction of the people who have chosen HR as a career – back 10 years ago. Both articles providing guidance and commentary on the things HR must do to be considered a valuable function within any organization. The HBR article has prompted Pamela Harding – who serves as the CHRO of “the worlds largest independent operator of Linkedin Groups – OnLine Media – to pose the question to the largest HR membership group on Linkedin – Linked:HR. She states that the core of these articles is that HR must be “data driven” and proceed with “datafication”. Many member responses (as of now, nearly 100) are interesting and enlightening as to what people perceive of HR and what is needing to be done to it, or with it. The majority agree that something needs to be done. HR needs to be reconfigured, re-focuses and. well, re – everything. As you can see from my post’s title – HR has the tools to do any and ALL of the many suggestions and dictates provided by the authors in HBR and the Linked;HR members. Our key tool, and the one that most protects and preserves the viability of HR’s vast functional responsibilities – is here and now, that of effective and proven HR Technology. Today’s comprehensive HRMS, HRIS, HCMS – by any acronym – as delivered – gives inspired managers and leadership all that they can ask for. HR technology truly serves as our “BOMB SHELTER”, preventing us from being considered a bombing target (so to speak). Let me make my case by summarizing the first of the 3 articles that comprise the cover story of the Harvard Business Review issue. It is entitled “Why We Love to Hate HR… and What HR Can Do About It” by Peter Cappelli (Professor of Management at the Wharton School, Author). I found this article to be the most specific about the role HR used to play (historically) and now should play in the day to day operations within any effective organization. Capelli states that complaints against HR, are not new and have a cyclical quality. (yes, we have seen that – 10 years ago with the Hate HR article in FastCompany). He goes on to state that “complaints are driven largely by the business context”. According to the author (and much related research) when companies are struggling with labor issues, HR is seen as a valued leadership partner. When things are smoother all around, managers wonder what the function is doing for them. Capelli states that now is “a moment of enormous opportunity for HR leaders to separate the valuable from the worthless and secure huge payoffs for their organizations”. The author outlines some basic but powerful steps they can take: Set the agenda. CEOs are rarely experts on workplace issues, so the HR team can show them what they should care about—such as layoffs, recruiting, flexible work arrangements, and performance management—and why. Most of this data is maintained in an HRMS, historically, current and able to be projected into the future. Focus on the here and now. This means continually identifying new challenges and designing tools to meet them. Acquire business knowledge. HR needs first-rate analytic minds to help companies make sense of all their employee data. Workforce Analytics are a strong component of today’s top tier HRMS applications. HR has to gain this knowledge. Highlight financial benefits. HR departments don’t usually calculate ROI for their programs, but quantifying costs and benefits turns talent decisions into business decisions. Metrics related to costs of programs and other variables are often included in delivered templates of dashboards – for graphical display and “drill down” analysis. Walk away from time wasters. Often programs lack impact unless top executives lead them, transforming the culture. Otherwise HR is just a booster for initiatives it can neither enforce nor measure. As an independent HR Technology consultant, helping my clients evaluate and select HRMS software applications from among many great vendor providers, I strongly believe that HR remains critical and vital...

THE MACHINES ARE COMING! – WHO CARES? CERTAINLY NOT HR!

THE MACHINES ARE COMING! – WHO CARES?  CERTAINLY NOT HR!

A few week ago, the NY Times (April 19, 2015) in an editorial column called “The Machines are Coming” (see the above picture, used to lead in and grab the reader – (and it did) – in which much was discussed concerning the fact that machines are indeed getting smarter. And they are replacing not just low wage jobs, but many, many “professional” positions. It seems that the machines in question can today process regular spoken language and not only recognize human faces, but also read their expressions. They can classify personality types, and have started being able to carry out conversations with appropriate emotional tenor. According to the author, Prof. Zeynep Tufekci – who is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who’s in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. In applications around the world, software is being used to predict whether people are lying, how they feel and whom they’ll vote for. To crack these cognitive and emotional puzzles, computers needed not only sophisticated, efficient algorithms, but also vast amounts of human-generated data, which can now be easily harvested from our digitized world. The results are dazzling. Most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. The author goes on to say that “computers / software do not just replace humans in the workplace. They shift the balance of power even more in favor of employers. Our normal response to technological innovation that threatens jobs is to encourage workers to acquire more skills, or to trust that the nuances of the human mind or human attention will always be superior in crucial ways. But when machines of this capacity enter the equation, employers have even more leverage, and our standard response is not sufficient for the looming crisis”. Furthermore, Prof Tufekci states that in many cases “Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans. Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency”. So technology is being used in many workplaces to reduce the power of humans, and employers’ dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Many technological developments contribute to this shift in power: advanced diagnostic systems that can do medical or legal analysis; the ability to outsource labor to the lowest-paid workers, and the measurement of employee tasks down to the minute in order to optimize worker performance and schedules. In the 1980s, the Harvard social scientist Shoshana Zuboff examined how some workplaces used technology to “automate” — take power away from the employee — while others used technology differently, to “informate” — to empower people. So, this is all very interesting, but what does it mean for my colleagues in Human Resources and especially in HR Technology? Well I think it is good news. Especially the “Informate” concept itself. You would think that with all this human like capabilities, HR people would be scared silly that their function will be outsourced to a machine! I think not. HR and HRT folks have already had the privilege and the ability to leverage technology and still be a vital voice within any corporation. That privilege has been brought to us by the works of our HRMS software provider community. This talk about Machines taking over actually is all good news.   There should be no fear in the HR and HR tech world. We are used to new capabilities and we as a group know the impact of both “Automate” and “Informate” in the workplace. This added publicity might even create a more accepting mindset to change – which is vital when implementing any new HRMS capability. So, THE MACHINES (ACTUALLY THE SOFTWARE) HAS ALREADY ARRIVED, AND IT IS GOOD FOR HUMAN RESOURCES. The top tier HRMS software providers have already built web based – roles and rules applications covering most of the functions within any robust Human Capital, or HR function in any Corporation – anywhere in the world. Today’s HR technology, HRIS, HCMS (however they are abbreviated), gives those of us involved in identifying, delivering HR/Payroll/Benefits solutions all the opportunity we need NOW and for at least 5 years into the future (in my opinion), for...