does this look good on me?

I (like many folks) have been trying to simplify my life in the new year by getting rid of all the things I no longer need/want/use. It’s not as easy as it sounds because I tend towards being sentimental (remember the summer I got this shirt?) and a bit of a pack rat (you never know when I might fit in that again). I’m in no danger of being on “Hoarders” but probably need to intentionally go through my stuff with a critical eye a bit more often.

I suspect many HR departments function in a similar way. Each year we add a few more programs or processes or policies that make complete sense at the time, but after several years we end up with a mish mash collection of offerings that don’t really go together, support each other, of fit well any more. Sure, they’re still a good thought or worthwhile effort, but they’ve become dated, frayed, or a little too – how to put this delicately? – snug. Yesterday’s fashions move to the back but still stick around. Old policies and documents linger on the intranet. Formerly exciting programs have become a bit moth eaten. We hang onto them because we have them, not because we need them or because they still make sense. Does it make sense to got through our old HR stuff with a critical eye a bit more often?

In my quest for a less crowed closet, I came across a bit of great advice. I wish I could remember who said it, but basically the question we should be asking ourselves when going through our clothes is: Does it look great on me? That sounds obvious, but the question I tend to ask myself is: Might I wear this someday? The intention is similar, but the questions are actually very different. Different questions that yield very different results.

Do we do the same in HR? Should we hold every program, process, and policy under the harsh and ruthless light of: Does this fully support the culture we are creating, help people work better, support better decisions, or truly improve the employee experience? Not “might it”, “could it”, “should it”, or “did it used to”. Does it. Does it do that right now?

Is your HR closest getting too cluttered?

Your thoughts?

diagnosis of organization and human resources (doh!)

Normally, if you want to find out what your company could do better you need to hire big dollar consultants who will come in and talk to the employees you’ve been ignoring conduct an extensive analysis and provide you with a lengthy report complete with graphs describing what you need to do different.

But that’s expensive and time consuming. So, in today’s post, I’m piloting the  Diagnosis of Organization and Human resources (DOH!). This diagnostic tool will analyze your organization and highlight five areas that are, ahem, “opportunities for improvement”. Given the beta nature of this tool, it’s not 100% accurate yet, but I think you’ll find it remarkably close. Give it a minute to run and this diagnostic will provide you with a customized summary specific to your organization.

(It’s working, give it time… give it time…)

If you put your ear up to the screen you can hear the computering electrons working their magic in the background. [it sounds like: whirr whirr whirr]

(Give it time… give it time…)

Done! Scroll down for your customized summary analysis.

Customized Summary Analysis Results of Your Organization:

Your organization fails at: can optimize performance by focusing on:

1. Communication. Seriously, does anyone in your company talk to anyone else? Between the silos, walls, moats, and fiefdoms how do you get anything accomplished? Communicate occasionally and you’ll be amazed at the improvements. No, your passive aggressive emails that cc the everyone in the company do not count as “communication”. Back away from the keyboard and pick up the phone. Better yet, go talk to people face to face.

2. Customer Service. Consider the possibility that not blatantly offending the customer isn’t the same as providing great service. Even being better at customer service than your competition isn’t really enough because that isn’t really a high bar to beat. Try this: make a list of the five companies you will go out of your way to do business with. It’s probably less than half a dozen. Why is the list so short? Because while many companies can do inoffensive, vanilla-bland customer service, very, very few can do great customer service. Remember: better than bad doesn’t equal good.

3. Innovation. Yes, your company wants to be known as innovative, but your company punishes risk taking, frowns on anything different, and dogmatically enforces the status quo. “Innovation” is left to the seasoned senior managers who know how things ought to be done.

4. Diversity. Your organization treats diversity as a compliance issue instead of a way to benefit from many, many perspectives and ideas. Oh, and the lack of diversity is killing your “innovation” efforts.

5. Leadership. Your managers try hard and mean well, but most of them have never been taught how to lead. While there are a few standouts, many have trouble holding people accountable, a few (and you know who they are) are on a power trip, and the rest are doing ok, but just ok. “Sink or swim” is not a development strategy and flavor of the month training doesn’t teach anyone anything but cynicism. Your managers deserve better.

Bonus: As a thank you for trying out this diagnostic tool, we’re including an extra area of opportunity:

6. Hiring. Companies live or die on the quality of their employees and your hiring process is haphazard, misunderstood by some, ignored by others, and ineffective even on the best of days.


Analysis Summary:

Face it, your organization is in rough shape. The only thing keeping the doors open is that your competition has the exact same their own growth opportunities. The good news is that most of your challenges are very fixable: Improve your hiring process, focus on developing your current and future leaders, hire people who look and think differently (and listen to them), make customer service a top priority, and communicate to keep everyone connected and prevent isolation.

Yes, I’m in a smart aleck mood this morning. Although I make this stuff sound obviously simple, I know it’s not easy. There’s a reason many/most companies face these challenges. There is also a great advantage that goes to the companies that get it figured out.

Your thoughts?

innovation leads to failure leads to innovation

People tell you that you should be creative and innovate to get ahead of the competition. What they don’t tell you is that creativity and innovation lead to failure. That’s right failure.

Whenever we try something different it is probably not going to work, particularly the first (few) times. It will fail. True innovation comes from learning from that failure and tweaking and experimenting and playing with it until it works.

When developing training programs, the bulk of the work is done in the back office. But the magic happens in front of a group of participants. I rarely have an insight on how to improve wording or flow when sitting at my desk. Some of my biggest breakthroughs have been from failing in the field – forgetting what I was going to say, getting ahead of myself and presenting the sequence out of order, or getting a question that I didn’t anticipate. Getting it wrong, recovering, and seeing how it can be even better leads to huge gains.

Thomas Leonard, considered by many to be the father of personal coaching, used to intentionally overload systems and processes to see what would break first. Then he’d correct that and overload it again. This allowed him to quickly understand what worked, what didn’t, and to create airtight processes.

In the mid 1980’s Suzuki developed a groundbreaking sportbike – the GSX-R. To make the engine lighter than many thought was possible, the engineers would shave weight from a part, test, and shave more weight until it failed. Doing this over and over with each component taught them the lightest reliable weight each part could be.

The problem is that we usually try something new and when it doesn’t work we deem it failure and give up. But each failure holds a lesson that we can use for improvement.

If we’re willing to learn.