Cost Center Value: Moving from Compliance-Based HR to Commitment-Based HR

Apr 24, 2014 Posted by

HR, like finance and marketing, are overhead departments — we don’t bring anything into the company monetarily, but we are an expense. And, as such, we’re often the first to go when cost savings are required.

So what is the value of a cost center? What it is and what it should be are often two different things. Value is, of course, determined by the customer. The customer asks, “Do I need this product or service and am I willing to pay the price to have it?” That’s a pretty simple question when the customer makes the buying choice.

In overhead departments however, leadership generally doesn’t have the ability (or nerve) to fire the HR department even if they think HR programs are time consuming or not adding value. In my experience, they complain, refuse to comply and do a really nice job damaging the reputation of the department. Until, that is, their budgets are pinched and overhead is an easy cut — for them.

Adding Value to HR

So how do we make our overhead department truly add value? I think there is a way, but it means moving from compliance-based HR to commitment-based HR.  We have to develop products and services that add value, sell the value to our customers, deliver on expectations and build trusting relationships with our customers.

So often we start with the solution, not the problem. We need performance management! Okay, that’s probably true. So HR develops a new performance management program, presents a slide showing the benefits, a little about the process, and begins training and implementation. The first review period rolls around, and the managers are screaming because HR has added hours of busy work to their already overloaded plates.

Let’s look at this as if we had to sell our program to the organization, explain the cost, and compete with other products.

First, what is the value to the customers? Retention of talent and improved performance? These can become empty concepts unless the customer is the one to identify the need.

Try this instead: assemble the leadership and help them visualize the kind of employer that they want to be. Take them back in time to their own significant experiences as employees. How did they learn? Why did they stay with an employer? Why did they leave an employer? What do they want their employees to say about them?

Build a Leadership Team Around Your Vision

Now you’ve got a vision — and the leadership team built the vision themselves.

Now ask them what they are willing to do to create that environment. Are they willing to spend time with the employees? What is the purpose of that time? Learning? Development? How much time does it take to do that?

Now you know their tolerance. And you can push them a bit — do you really think that an employee can grow and learn from just one hour with their manager each year?

You are slowly shifting the product from an HR requirement to a leadership goal. Like any good salesperson, spend time with the managers reminding them of the value proposition they themselves set. And listen to their feedback — chances are there are ways to be responsive to help them do better work.

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Open Offices May Not Be That Cool After All

Apr 23, 2014 Posted by

With so many workers in transit these days, it seems everywhere there is a work station there is no longer a personal office space. Shared work spaces abound in cities as folks opt to telecommute and even office hubs have embraced the open system as an architectural norm. With all the hype around the open office, though, is there any merit to the positivity behind it?

Not necessarily, says Cornerstone OnDemand’s Charles Coy. While nearly 70 percent of U.S. offices currently employ an open office structure and the media has championed its cause as a great catalyst for collaboration, data shows it could be harmful for productivity and privacy. Here are three open office myths debunked:

  1. Noise Boosts Creativity: Not exactly, says Coy. According to research, “ambient noise can actually increase stress levels and can activate other stress-related health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For companies that dedicate themselves to a holistic culture, this may be reason enough to rethink open design.”
  2. Open Office Means Collaboration: Personal space is more important than most think. Scientific American reports that a private area that workers can call their own actually enhances productivity and overall job satisfaction.
  3. Conversation Happens More Often in an Open Environment: “Research shows that these out-in-the-open conversations actually tend to be superficial and less meaningful because everyone is listening,” says Coy. “If you want to have a private meeting, you now have to seek a safe spot to have the conversation.”

Are open offices something you think are beneficial to your company culture? Comment below.

Read more at Cornerstone OnDemand

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7 Step Resume Review: What Recruiters Really Look For

Apr 21, 2014 Posted by

I actually admire people who have figured out a way to monetize services to the unemployed. Perhaps the most common service offered in this field is professional resume writing. These services promise that, for anywhere between 400 and 800 dollars, a professional resume writer will not only critique your resume, but also work with you to create a resume guaranteed to “break through the clutter” by using better verbs to craft the “story of your career”.

Since there seems to be an interesting amount of conspiracy around how recruiters read resumes (and professional resume writers have, apparently, cracked the code), I want to add to the body of knowledge — and potentially save candidates some money in the process.canstockphoto16686320.jpg

Here’s how recruiters read resumes — yes, we actually read resumes. There’s a method to our madness: overstaffed, overworked, we’ve developed a short-hand to get through that resume. It involves a few simple steps.

How Recruiters Read Resumes: The 7 Step Process

  1. Recruiter tears off cover letter (or, more likely, doesn’t bother opening the attachment): Since most resumes lead with an objective statement (which are always subjective, in a nice bit of irony), we can only handle so much generic doublespeak in one sitting. Recruiters also don’t normally read objective statements, because the objective is pretty apparent when you send in a resume…to get a job. Everything else is window dressing.
  2. Recruiter looks at the candidate’s mailing address: If it’s going to require relocation or there’s any chance the commute is going to come up during salary negotiation, then it’s on to the next candidate. Many resumes do indicate that the person will pay out of pocket to relocate and interview, which raises an immediate red flag: why? We have enough desperation in our lives already. We’re recruiters, for heaven’s sake. This rule, of course, only applies to applicants, not passive candidates. If you’re a top talent with a niche skill set, we’ll relocate you from Zanzibar if that’s what it takes.
  3. Recruiter looks at company name: If we, in our infinite wisdom of all companies, do not recognize the company you currently work for or recently worked for, we will move on, because there’s so much truth that branding is everything. You’re only as good as your last company. Conversely, if the company has been in the news as either an acquisition target or a source of corporate scandal, on to the next resume (assuming the recruiter reads anything but resumes, which most do not).
  4. The candidate’s most recent title must be in the same ballpark as the job for which they are being considered: There are some notable exceptions: candidates coming from the financial services industry, for instance, where we well know that interns are assistant vice presidents, or consulting, where the titles are intentionally vague (analyst, associate, etc.) and flat so that everyone can be billed out at the same exorbitant rate. Traditionally, though, if you’re a marketing manager applying for a marketing manager job, then we’re still reading. If you’re looking for a step up, well, best of luck to you, because we promote from within, which will later be transformed into a selling point when offered a lateral move. If you’re looking to gain experience and aren’t title conscious, and are willing to lop off silly corporate constructs such as the word “senior” or “executive” from your title for a clearly better opportunity, you are the ideal candidate.
  5. Are you experienced? Here’s a rule of thumb. Refer back to the job description. Take the number of years of experience and add two (postings are a lot like dating in reverse). If the job’s looking for five years, the recruiter is looking for seven; 10 years means 12, and so on, until you hit the 20-year mark, whereby it’s onto the next resume because you’re overqualified.
  6. Education check: Recruiters assign a baseline value of zero for a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline. Add one point for a Master’s, add two points for an M.B.A. (2.5 if it’s from a top-25 program), and subtract one point for a PhD. You’re probably either too smart to function here, or you’ve come crawling back from the Ivory Tower with a foiled plan B and the debt to prove it. Subtract the term “viable candidate” if secondary education has come from an institution whose admissions criteria involve clicking through pop-up ads or calling an 800 number on the side of the bus.

Average time for these steps for an experienced corporate recruiter: 15 to 20 seconds. If you pass this initial scan, maybe then we’ll drill down past the keywords — unless you’re so impressive you’re out of our price range.

Bonus: Alternatively, if you have a funny name, or if there’s obvious irony (a “lean executive” at Krispy Kreme, for instance, or the recent Monster headline, “Desperate Single Mom Willing To Do Anything”) or mention your work as a runway model or professional athlete, prepare to have your resume circulated to the entire talent acquisition department.

The Internet of Things and the Jobs Dilemma

Apr 18, 2014 Posted by

Take a deep breath. Just because a computer can win Jeopardy! or drive a car, doesn’t mean the rise of the robots is around the corner and everyone will be out of a job in 10 years. Historically, this has happened before. Take a look at the Industrial Revolution. The invention of the steam engine […]

Why Companies Should Hire Slow and Fire Fast

Apr 17, 2014 Posted by

In most cases, we actually hire fast and fire slow — the opposite of what we should do. Let me share a real example: a client’s business was expanding and they needed to fill a critical operations role. In their minds, they needed the role filled yesterday. Because they had built accurate performance qualification summaries (they […]