Month: July 2017

HR With An Attitude

HR Studio_Interview_Ep35 (002)

Here is the content from a recent Podcast I did on the “HR Podcast” series. TO hear it in its entirety click here.

Can HR Transform to Truly Impact Business Success?
The profession of Human Resources has evolved over the last 30 years from an administrative function to one focused on positively impacting the bottom line results of organizations. While still required to ensure compliance with regulations and regulatory agencies, the function is focused now on building organizational competencies necessary to compete and win in today’s very competitive and rapidly changing global marketplace.
Truth be told, the evolution of HR is still in progress. Many organizations are at the very beginning in trying to make the transition, while others are at the forefront and making some good headway. But there are many critics that don’t actually believe HR will ever be able to make that transformational shift at all. Mark Fogel is one of those people, and he has a very clear opinion of the topic and some very important and meaningful advice for HR professionals today.
Mark is a former CHRO and CMO, a successful entrepreneur, a writer, and a notable speaker. He has many awards to his name including SHRM’s 2007 Human Capital Leader and SHRM’s 2009 Innovation Award winner. He is currently the leader of the retained search and consulting practice for Signium in New York City. Signium is a top 25 global search and consulting firm.

Key Learnings From This Episode
 State of HR Today. Mark believes HR’s transformation from administrative to an HR Business Partner is like having a GPS, and you have several ways you can go. There are the strategic folks and then there are the tactical people who are taking the side streets and are getting caught up in the street lights at every block. It is a tale of two cities. There are some players out there who are ‘getting it’ and they move the profession/function forward, and then there are a lot of people who are stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels. Mark feels we should get more people rallied around doing what needs to be done to keep the profession fresh, vibrant and important to the business.

HR with an attitude. Mark has espoused an HR posture for success, which is ‘HR with an attitude’. What does that mean and how did Mark arrive at that kind of stance as an HR professional? Attitude means a lot of things to a lot of people. When you are asked to describe a ‘New Yorker’, the first things people think of are ‘sassiness’ and ‘having an attitude’. To Mark, attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down. It sounds relatively simple, but it is difficult when you have people all day long pressing you to move their agenda instead of doing what is best for your business and your people.

Applying “HR with an attitude” to his career. Over the first half of his career, Mark took the slow path, listening to others, trying to do the right thing, and being methodical. One day he realized that if you stand by your convictions and push forward, push away the naysayers, and do what you believe in as long as you know it is right, everything else works out, and it has – and that is when his career took off.

Mark spent the first 14 years of his career working in retail, part of it in operations and then part of it Human Resources, even though people told him he could not make the jump. He wanted to get out of retail, and people told him that although he was HR Retail, he would never get out and work in HR for other companies or industries, but he did.

People would continually give him advice, but he soon came to realize that ‘advice is cheap’. You need to believe in yourself.

What does Mark see as the critical behaviors necessary for success as an HR professional? Data analytics has become a major part of everything we do, and not just in HR. It has become critical to be able to ‘back up’ with credibility. To take a step forward, many businesses are doing predictive analytics – not just saying ‘this is what happened in the past’, but actually saying ‘we can make decisions on the future using this data’ – capturing data and using it in a way that helps you move forward. We need to stop measuring things that don’t add value anymore. HR has to catch up to the times, and right now, it is a runaway freight train. Utilizing data, synthesizing it down to actionable plans, and taking action on those will lead to success.

It is critical for HR professionals to move to a true organizational development mindset. It is easy to do compliance, onboarding, benefits administration, basic compensation, and to administer reviews. It is much more difficult to engage people and to get them to use a feedback culture – to really understand what makes their people tick and keep their people happy. Engagement was the rage a few years ago, but we need to get beyond engagement. Engagement is something that should happen every day.

Is HR going to be able to make the transformation? Mark believes ‘yes’ but that it is a tale of two cities. Some organizations are making it already, and not just the large companies who are getting a lot of press. There are many small and mid-size companies that ‘get it’ and have become extremely agile and optical. The ability to be flexible and to not get locked into an old mindset – those businesses have jumped the river, and they are on the other side. Most want to make the jump, but they either have not or they are struggling with it.
Recommended Reading and References From this Episode
fistful of talentRecruiting DailyThe SHRM Blog


Should you put yourself on the line if there is no clear payback?


Many of you know that my career has been peppered with controversy. Challenging CEO’s, controversial business decisions, and skirting the line of business ethics with rogue C-Suite members.

Recently I have been dealing with both Macro and Micro issues at Adelphi, where I have been teaching as an Adjunct since 2011. To be clear, I love my part-time job. There is nothing better professionally then playing a part in shaping our next generation of HR and Business executives. This is not a position that is about the dollars. It is a position about giving back to the next generation.

I have been successful in my university teaching endeavors. First at Fashion Institute of Technology in the late 1990’s and most recently at Adelphi where I also happen to be a graduate school alum.

Adjuncts are a rare bread as they typically do not have PhD’s and often are treated no better than disposable contractors, yet they approach the college classroom with energy and passion. I would like to think this is different at Adelphi where we have some of the best, brightest and most caring Adjuncts in the education world. In the business school we went over a decade before I was awarded the teaching excellence award and then one of my adjunct colleagues followed the next year. Clearly our adjuncts standout in the classroom. We also help students with references, referrals, resumes, internships and even occasionally interviews. We also bring real life business into the classroom, I have yet to see a PhD program that can match the value of the real world in a business class….

So for the past 6 months I have been dealing with adversity and by  Adelphi’s administrations own admission been poorly treated in relation to the hiring process for a full-time lecturer role in the business school. I am not alone as my colleagues have faced a similar fate. Some believe that it is even being done purposely. The business school hides behind accreditation #’s and the belief that rookie Phd’s know better and teach better then senior executives with decades of real business experiences.  If you were spending a $150 grand or more on an education wouldnt you want the best education possible regardless of a diploma in a back office?

I have been outspoken about it, confronting the President, Provost, Associate Provost business school Dean, HR, and even pulled the union into the conversation. When I approached our President who broadcasts open office hours for a chat, I was rebuffed twice and pushed to the Provost who politely pushed it further down hill. When I approached our business school Dean I was met with teflon and my call outs were not even investigated. Only after months of emails and contacts did anyone even take my conversation seriously. I was made to feel like the criminal in an assault case…How sad…

Unfortunately after 6 months, the outcome was not optimal. No one took responsibility till recently when the Associate Provost admitted “we fucked up”. HR remained silent, knowing I knew the drill better than they did.

So after 6 months and a couple of Mia culpa’s I am left empty, admittedly poorly treated after a series of incompetent actions.

It’s a strange feeling being on the opposite side of this discussion. In my past life running HR functions I spent significant time cleaning up this type of mess.

So I have several options, including a pretty clear legal runway as well as my personnel connections to major writers at three of the country’s most prestigious newspapers (on-line and print). Even if they don’t pen the articles they can afford me access to Op Ed pages. For those who don’t read Newsday on Long Island, there was a recent editorial on Adjuncts. Oh, and before I forgot to mention it, I write on-line for two of the largest HR social media sites in the country. So I also have the option of writing an editorial myself. In fact I just did, however with minimal reach. My other options are much further and deeper in reach and reputation management….So I have options to stir shit up or take it a step further.

But I don’t want drama, I just want the right actions to be taken and for administration to own their actions…I still love to teach and students shouldn’t be hurt by the poor decisions and actions of their school’s administrators….

So if this was you, would you push the “red button”? Or would you bite your lip?


Decisions, Decisions…..