HR Getting Some Respect? What!?

I just read an article from the Birmingham Business Journal.  For those of you who don’t know I do live in the HR capital of the world, Birmingham, Alabama.  If you don’t believe Bham is the HR capital of the world, just ask Kris Dunn or any of the folks at Fistful Of Talent.

The BBJ stated that HR Managers are one of  Birmingham’s 25 Best Careers For High Pay & Job Growth.  That bears repeating… The BBJ stated that HR Managers are one of Birmingham’s 25 BEST Careers for HIGH PAY & Job Growth.

This is on a list that includes execs and doctors.  Also included are Marketing Managers and PR Managers.  This has huge, positive implications for the HR profession.  HR + Marketing = corporate awesomeness.

When I started in HR, very optimistic and excited about the new career path, HR pros told me repeatedly, “girl, I hope you didn’t take this gig for the money”.  And really in many ways I did not. But that was the vibe from the HR unbelievers.

Although I have no empirical proof — here are some things I’d like to believe from this article:

  • HR is becoming more important to execs than they once believed
  • The 4 disciplines of HR (recruiting, training, benefits/comp, employee relations) are too specialized for other departments to inherit anymore
  • Global growth and speed of business is creating a greater need for HR support than every before.  Gone are the days individual department managers have the time to handle the HR stuff
  • Engagement is still the new black and is being looked upon as an organizational differential.  Even though bloggers are tired of writing or reading about engagement, CEOs are just now getting the drift

Last but not least – I really do hope it is true that HR pros are envisioning a new future for their roles.  For if they don’t believe they are worthy of being credible in the corporate arena, no one else will.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does – Research on Poor Performers

OK — Poor performers aren’t really stupid in the true sense.  But it does make for a catchy title. 

Harvard Business Review released an article about the mindset of poor performers.  From an academic standpoint, research shows that poor performers tend to overestimate how fabulous they are.  

That is so simple.  Man, I feel stupid to have not looked at the mindset of poor performers in an altruistic light.  In a lot of cases some poor performers may simply be hardwired in perceiving themselves as great performers.  Could that be a medical thing, a learned trait, an ego issue? Who knows, but compelling findings. 

As an HR pro, any time a manager comes to me with a corrective coaching issue I ask them, “are they aware of the issue”?  Some say yes, some say no, and usually I am just happy  the manager wants to let them know even if through “formal” coaching.  

But what about the manager who wants to fire someone with no warning?  Who had no conversations with the employee about a continuous behavior/skill problem but is simply to fed up to deal with it.  Who when asked “did you discuss the issue with your employee” states “yes!  Too many times to count!”.  Whom, upon further investigation actually did not discuss with the employee in any clear way. Aren’t they poor performers too by shunning their managerial duties?  Could they also fit in this research group who believes they are more competent than they really are?

And the cycle continues.  

HR pros may want to look at coaching all of these individuals from the mindset  some may simply be hardwired differently.  That most people want to do well but may need a little more attention. For our job is to help correct and improve when is reasonable.  Isn’t that why we got into this gig?



Zappo’s Eliminates Job Titles, But To Err Is Human

I just read an article in Entrepreneur that stated Zappos, the Dali Lama of corporate zen (engagement, radical org shifts, etc.) is feng shui – ing it.  They are to eliminate all job titles. To do this they are implementing a web-based software called GlassFrog.  

Their new org structure is called a Holocracy.  Hierarchy will be replaced by job circles that are task/ project based.  Everyone in the circle has equal voice. No red tape, no politics, no hierarchy, total transparency, no ego. 

Nice concept if it weren’t for the human condition. 

I’ve yet to see a group of folks, especially in a work environment, eliminate any of those things totally.  Why?  Humans like to prove we are better than others.  Check out Jonah Berger’s book Contagious.  Studies show people are extremely motivated by doing better than peers. 

Ego is part of genetics.  I’m not sure circles will eliminate that. 

Alpha’s typically emerge in any group.  When I was in elementary school someone always emerged as Han Solo.  

Politics is synonymous with corporations.  And church.  And theatre.  And sports.  Competition for time, to be heard, to have influence,  to have your idea chosen, and your agenda propelled means ending up on the right side of the decision maker. 

It will be very interesting to follow this experiment.  I hope it works.  In the least here are some best practices from Holocracy that could work in any organizational structure. 

  • have real time meetings
  • focus on next-steps
  • don’t focus on over analysis
  • create ground rules for interactions
  • know who owns what
  • metrics matter.  How will you measure success?

More to come on this I am sure.