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Our People are our Greatest Asset!
How many times have we heard employers say, “Our people are out greatest asset?” Then, they allow managers to treat employees badly, fail to consistently apply policies fairly, allow wage disparities between males and females, and don’t take the time to invest in their people through training and career development. In addition, these employers are often stingy when it comes to benefits.
Now, I grant you that there are many very good employers in the business world, but at some point in our careers, we will most likely work for someone who just doesn’t get it. By the time, they do “get it”, it’s too late to turn the company around, or the union is knocking on their door. In this global economy, if an employer wants to maintain the competitive edge, he had better capitalize on the “human capital” advantage. It is only through hiring the right people, investing in their professional and career development, treating them fairly, and involving them in strategic planning that we succeed in a virtual, volatile, and uncertain global economy.
What is strategic HR Planning? It is understanding the organization’s long-term goals and objectives and how the Human Resources Department can contribute the most toward the achievement of those goals and objectives through careful analysis and planning. Generally, strategic planning occcurs at the senior level while implementation is handled at the lower levels of the organization.
For example, let’s suppose the organization’s long-term goal was to open a plant in another state. In order to help achieve that goal, the senior level HR person would engage in the following activities; a) identify the staffing needs for both the new plant and the current plant in the order in which each position would come on board, b) identify who would be transferring from the current plant to the new plant and who would replace them. At this time, a replacement chart would have to be created as well as a manning table for the new plant. c) Conduct a “needs assessment” to identify training needs at both plants and the time frame in which it would be needed. d) Review the current succession plan to identify those who might be good candidates for leadership positions and are ready to progress within the organization. e) conduct wage and salary surveys in the state where the new plant is located in order to determine competitive wages and benefits. f) Calculate the cost and budget for each activity. And so on….. Get the picture? All of these activities are aligned with the organizational goals and objectives. This is called strategic planning.
If you don’t quite know how to begin, start by having a conversation with your boss. Ask how your HR Department can contribute strategically to the organization? Build relationships with other department heads so that you can brain storm with each other. Engage in activities that add value. Otherwise, HR is simply overhead. Organizations aren’t wasting time and resources on useless overhead. Get it?
FLSA-Employment Classification Lawsuits
Employment Classification lawsuits are on the rise. Because litigation can be very costly to businesses, now would be a great time for the HR Department to review positions to ensure they are correctly classified as exempt or nonexempt. You can type FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act into your search engine to pull up the information and requirements. Remember, to be classified as exempt, an employee must meet the requirements of one of the six exempt categories and earn the minimum salary of $455 per week with no improper deductions taken. Begin with an up-to-date thoroughly written job description for each position in your organization. Focus on “Primary” duties. If the majority of the day is spent on duties that would be considered “exempt”, then the job should be classified as such.
If you receive a complaint or audit by the Department of Labor, be prepared to show three years worth of payroll information; hours worked, regular and over time hours, as well as pay rates for all three years and job descriptions for all three years. It is a time consuming process at best. Engaging in a thorough review now may save you both time, money and resources later.
What Makes a Good Leader?
I’ve thought about this question many times during my career and the answer is quite simple; a good leader is someone who can produce results or get things done. It doesn’t really matter how they do it, as long as it complies with the values set forth in the Company’s mission statement. It just matters that they can get it done.
When I pose this question to my audience during my seminars, I get many answers. When I pose it to my students, I get a lot of different definitions. The definition I like best is the one I came across while studying for my Masters Degree in Strategic Leadership. I can’t remember where I read it, but here it is; “A great leader is someone who can inspire and motivate a group of people to achieve organizational goals and objectives.”
With all this said, what kind of leader does your organization have? You can learn a lot about leadership by observing your leader’s actions and how he motivates others. How is your company performing? Meaning; are you profitable or unprofitable? Take mental notes and try to mimic the actions you observe that get results. Most good leaders use words sparingly and can summarize what they want you to do in a few good sentences. They listen a lot and use what they learn to motivate others. Good Leaders challenge people to think and ask questions, grow their skills, and to become problems solvers. They are good visionaries. They can assess opportunities and threats to their organization and form a business plan to address threats and take advantage of opportunities. Think about your own leader. Learn from him or her. You’ll gain valuable skills which will help you achieve results.
HR Strategies for Todays Workplace
In today’s workplace, there are many HR issues pertaining to the current trends which include; downsizing, restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions, outsourcing, social issues, and social media. Following are ten HR strategies that will directly impact your bottom line or add real value. They include:
1. Review benefit and compensation plans to ensure they are accomplishing what they should be accomplishing (i.e. attracting and retaining valuable employees, competitive with others in the industry, benefits still being utilized, compensation being administered correctly according to your policies, etc.).
2. Cut unnecessary programs and concentrate on streamlining the remaining programs by making them more cost effective.
3. Cross train employees to learn new skills.
4. Coach and motivate employees to maintain morale.
5. Recognize employees who maintain positive attitudes, achieve results; critical thinkers. Try low cost methods of recognition. Do it frequently and make it sincere.
6. Learn how to use HR Metrics to evaluate and monitor programs for efficiency. These include turnover cost, absenteeism, evaluating the hiring process to identify yields in different areas, cost-benefit analysis, break-even analysis, and so forth.
7. Work with local community colleges who often provide FREE training.
8. Outsource some areas of HR and focus your efforts on planning in areas where your expertise will be better utilized. Don’t forget to “vet” Third Parties carefully before signing a contract. After all, if your company is having financial problems, maybe they are as well. Ask for references.
9. Restructure instead of laying off. For example, try compressed work weeks, job sharing, transfers, reduced hours, freezing wages, etc.)
10. Encourage all managers to make a “business case” for any new proposals for projects and programs. This means they will have to show the program will pay for itself or add real value to the Company.
Good luck and don’t forget to maintain a “Positive” attitude! It goes a long way in today’s workplace.
How Does Your Organization Handle Tough Times?
During the last couple of years, I have heard, read, or witnessed several accounts of Managers who put their companies at risk simply by the way they have handled layoffs or restructuring efforts due to downsizing or M & A. For example; I remember reading about a surgical nurse who was called out of surgery by the HR Manager only to receive a layoff notice. What was that HR Manager thinking?
During these difficult economic times, it is critical that HR issues be handled properly, legally and compassionately. Just remember, when it comes to laying off folks, it is the manner in which you handle it that may prevent future lawsuits. In addition, how you handle situations will either weaken your company’s “good will” or build “goodwill” in the communities in which you operate. Word gets around quickly. My advise is to make sure that all the appropriate individuals within the organization review the RIF plan to ensure it meets all legal, ethical and socially responsible obligations. After all, when the economy improves and you are financially on your feet again, you will need that “goodwill” in the community to recruit valuable employees. Isn’t it worth doing it right?
Empower Yourself-Part 5 Final
Empower yourself through specific workplace behaviors. There is a whole list of behaviors, both positive and negative, that impact our careers. Some behaviors can help you obtain a coveted position, some will get you fired, overlooked or demoted. Learn the positive ones well. They are; professionalism, positive attitude, sharing credit with others on your team or giving credit to others when it is due, volunteering to help others, learning the business and building personal credibility, showing loyalty to the company and to co-workers, learning to disagree professionally. There are many other behaviors that help you succeed, but gossiping, spreading rumors, being “catty “or sarcastic, and “blowing your stack” aren’t among them. Don’t even go there if you’re serious about a career.
My advice to anyone is to build a strong work ethic. We all like time off, but if you want a long and lasting career, you must be willing to put in some time. That doesn’t mean 16 hour days and every weekend at the office. It means you must understand how to prioritize work, organize your workspace, utilize all resources available, learn to delegate and manage your time wisely. It means listening to instructions, asking good questions, asking for help when needed, and producing results. That is the bottom line for any successful person. Your ability to produce results by performing your work well is what gets you noticed. Expertise will never go out of style!
To summarize, empowering ourselves mean we must become an expert in whatever it is we choose to do. We become an expert through education, mentoring and by becoming a business partner. We gain personal credibility through our knowledge of the job and the business, financial management and our professionalism. In other words, we can get things done. Think about it and I hope you will “Empower Yourself” to succeed.
Empower Yourself To Succeed-Part 4
Sorry, my life has been so hectic, I had to let my blog slide for a while. To continue on the subject of Empowerment, this week’s blog is part 4 in the series. I am going to focus on how you can empower yourself by becoming a “business partner” with others in your Company. Again, empowerment means to “grant” or “give” an individual the authority to make decisions. It all goes to “personal credibility.” Remember, your boss is mentally assessing your abilities and asking himself if you can achieve the results he needs. You can only get results, if you partner with others and get them to assist and support your efforts. How do you become a Business Partner? By engaging in the following actions:
1. Learn the business plan – You start by asking; What are our long-term plans for the Company? How can my Department help achieve the organizational goals and objectives? Then, you align your department and individual employee goals with the Company’s goals.
2. Gain support from other managers – You begin by obtaining a basic understanding of what each department does and how they are integrated, how they each contribute to the organization’s strategic goals, this information helps you become more effective in planning and making contributions yourself. Ask other Managers what keeps them up at night? Then, you can assist in finding solutions that make a huge impact. This builds credibility. You will also learn why Department Managers request specific information.
3. Education – You can educate yourself on your industry through relationships with co-workers and Department Heads and mentors, reading industry publications, and actively listening in department or management meetings and asking good questions.
Becoming a business partner takes some time, but if you don’t take the time, you will not get noticed. In a tough economy, executive management are looking for those who can get the kind of things done that directly impact their bottom line. Business partners won’t have to worry about standing in the unemployment line.
Empower Yourself To Succeed-Part 3
This week I am focusing on “Financial Knowledge” which impacts personal credibility and leads to empowerment.
Financial knowledge. Take a course in Financial Management if your education didn’t include it. Learn to read the Company’s financial statements if you are privy to that information. A company’s financial statements reflect organizational performance. You will learn how to make contributions that impact the organization’s bottom line. Learn to make a “business case” for proposals or programs. This is what gets you noticed.
To become more financially independent, take the following steps; 1) Learn to manage debt by paying off high interest loans and credit cards first. Do not use multiple cards. Use one card and pay it off each month if possible. 2) Seek the help of a financial advisor to assist you in evaluating your assets, debts and life goals. An experienced financial advisor can help you every step of the way no matter what your age. 3) Take advantage of your employer sponsored 401(k) plan. If you do not, you are leaving FREE money on the table. 4) Take advantage of a flexible spending account for medical and childcare expenses. Since this is a pre-tax benefit, you forfeit tax savings when you don’t participate for out of pocket expenses you will have to pay anyway. 5) Discipline yourself to put aside money each month in a savings account. Studies show if you put aside $5,000 when you are 21 years old and never add another penny, you will have earned $150,000 by retirement age.
We empower ourselves when we are financially independent. We are better able to see the bigger picture; both personally and professionally. Personal credibility comes from being able to produce results. When companies promote employees, they look at the “whole” individual; which includes self-confidence, results (performance), leadership abilities and professional image. When you are financially independent, your self-esteem and confidence is high and your whole professional image is improved. This is true empowerment.
Stay tuned for Part 4.
Empower Yourself to Succeed-Part II
This week’s blog is Week 2 in a series pertaining to “Empowerment”. If you are following my blog, you know that previously, I identified six areas in which an individual can gain personal credibility. They were; education, mentoring, financial knowledge, becoming a business partner with the organization, identifying and engaging in specific positive workplace behaviors that contribute to personal credibility, and work ethic.
Today, I am focusing on “mentoring” and how it can help you gain personal credibility.
Mentoring. Identify someone in the Company, or in your personal life that you admire, respect and trust, and ask if they will mentor you for a few hours each month? This can take place in the office, during lunch, on the golf course, tennis court, or any other place that is appropriate and agreeable to both parties. Discuss your career and personal goals and ask for advice on how to advance yourself both personally and professionally. Be open minded enough to consider each idea or suggestion. The suggestion might even be a professional make over such as hair, clothing, makeup, business etiquette, etc. This is your professional image we are talking about. Be open to constructive criticism. Ask your mentor to help you identify areas in which you are weak. Study competency models for jobs that interest you the most in the organization. This helps you assess yourself and develop a plan to address any weaknesses. Mentoring works! Give it a try.
Stay tuned for Part III.
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact us by phone or by email.