Human resources

HR With An Attitude

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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


Sour Grapes Make The Best “Whine”


Yes, my spelling is correct…. Whine or bitching. That is what I was afraid my informative emails and conversations would be viewed as recently.

For those who follow me on Social Media you know that I made the Administration at Adelphi aware of the poor employee treatment of several Business Department Adjunct Professors this past school year (myself included). You can click here to catch up on the discussion.

Another 4 weeks has passed and I did meet with the university’s Provost as mentioned in my previous rant. To be fair it went well, he listened and did  all that I expected including the mia culpa for the President, who in her own words was just too busy to meet with me. The spin was that she wanted to provide me adequate time for a full conversation and did not want to short change me.

Well I still haven’t heard a thing, not a single email, follow up phone call or anything even close. The semester is ending. Several of my colleagues are now taking the conversation to another level. It’s getting serious, the union is involved, there is talk of taking this public and even exploring a union just for the Adjuncts.

My position on Union’s is that I am not a fan and have sat on the opposite side of the table thru the back half of my career. Never could I have imagined shifting positions, but I am seriously doing so. I still believe when management is open, honest and cares about its employees that we don’t need to evoke the “U” word.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a silver lining or a positive resolution in the near term. I suspect this will get at the very least interesting the next few weeks….

I will be back to share outcomes over the summer (if there are any)….

Damn what a great HR case study and I am on the inside of it for a change.

Have a great week…no more whining…..

SHRM Behind the Scenes, An Interview with Mary Kaylor and the Blog Squad

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Inquiring minds wanted a peak behind the scenes of SHRM and their Social Media for the SHRM Annual conference, which will be held June 18 – 21 in New Orleans.

Mary Kaylor is the manager of public affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management. She is the managing editor of the SHRM Blog and the creator and producer of #Nextchat, a leading global Twitter chat on HR trends. Her career in HR and communications spans from recruiting to technology management to external affairs and public relations. She is an HR Technology Conference Insiders blogger. You can find her on Twitter at @SHRMKaylor.

Mary tell us who you are and what you do:

 HR has a story and every day is a new chapter. As Manager of Public Affairs for SHRM, it’s my job to help tell that story and to communicate to external audiences SHRM’s role in supporting, educating and advancing the HR profession.

As creator and producer of the weekly #Nextchat conversations and as the managing editor of the SHRM blog, I watch top trends and deliver content that will assist HR in building a stronger workforce and a better workplace.

You have been involved with SHRM for a while (since 2007), how did that all start, and what attracted you to SHRM?

 Before arriving at SHRM, I worked in a technology role and managed the call center systems and workforce management software for a large telecom provider in Virginia. I joined SHRM in 2005 as Manager of Member Contacts where I supervised a team of contact center reps and contributed my background in technology to serve as a subject matter expert on a committee tasked with selecting a new call management technology for SHRM. In 2007 I accepted an offer to join the External Affairs team as Manager of Public Affairs. I now influence communications in an entirely different way — and love it.

Earlier in my career I did some recruiting for a brief period at a boutique agency that specialized in sourcing executive-level HR professionals for Fortune 100 companies. I recall running into the SHRM name several times while in that role and was amazed – and impressed — that HR had such a large organization supporting it. It must have been fate that I eventually landed a job at an organization that I had always admired from afar.

 Let’s talk about the “blog Squad”, what is your primary goal for them to accomplish?

The SHRM Blog squad started with five members in 2010 and has grown to 40 this year.  The primary goal of the blog squad is to increase engagement with attendees while connecting millions of HR professionals from around the world through blog posts, tweets, photos and video — on every social media platform.

Through activities such as the Social Solutions preconference seminar, The Smart Stage and several pop-up micro-sessions, the bloggers will deliver real-time solutions to the many challenges that HR faces in the new world of work.

The SHRM annual conference is the largest and most valuable event for HR professionals for education, recertification or networking, and the “SHRM Blog Squad” helps to communicate that value — and the amazing experience — to the entire world.

How big a part does social media (tweeting, blogging, etc.), have in the lead up to the conference as well as the conference itself? What portion (%) of the attendees do you reach and are they following Next Chat, blogs, twitter, etc…..?

Social media plays a huge role in promoting engagement before and during – and even after –the conference. The pre-conference Q & A blog posts and #Nextchats with speakers and vendors help build awareness for the excellent content and provide “know before you go” advice for first time attendees. Frequent updates via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the SHRM Conference Community assist with communication efforts and promote greater attendee networking.

Visits to the SHRM blog always spike before and during the conference, as do tweets and retweets on the #SHRM17 hashtag. Engagement numbers have increased steadily over the past few years. The SHRM annual conference hashtag has trended on Twitter since 2013 and that is always exciting to see. The HR profession has embraced social media – especially for networking – and it’s great to see their enthusiasm and the increase in adoption rates.

 Do you have a subject/topic that you think is a burning issue for HR practitioners this yr. at the conference (example A.I. in recruiting – artificial intelligence, dehumanizing of the workplace, etc.)?

Yes, yes and yes. Every topic is on fire for HR. I think it’s important for HR professionals to know as much about every new trend as possible. From talent acquisition to compliance to technology, each topic affects the others — and all impact the profession – and the expanded scope of knowledge will increase your value and effectiveness.

What keeps you up at night?

The excitement that accompanies thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow…. about what new topic or trend I’m going to feature on a future #Nextchat. I love that I can produce a virtual opportunity for micro learning that connects HR professionals in the trenches and that provides a platform to share ideas. I love bringing people together and helping them to learn and get ahead in their careers, and my job allows me to do that.

What advice would you offer a first-time attendee?

I recommend attending the conference orientation session on Sunday morning. You’ll get valuable tips to help chart your course, meet other “newbies” and find new friends.

Try to “clear your desk” and leave your job behind as much as possible, so you can focus all your attention on the education and networking opportunities, and not miss a beat. Do everything you can while there – the expo hall, meet to eat, the Tuesday night show. Explore the SHRM Store. You will meet so many amazing HR professionals and build networks that will last a lifetime.

Also, select one session that you would normally NOT attend – and attend it.  Find an expo vendor that you would normally not approach and visit them. You’ll be surprised at what you will learn and how it will affect your experience.

Finally, please stop by the Bloggers Lounge (Room 240) and say hello.  I can’t wait to meet you.

Thanks Mary, all of us blogging for SHRM appreciate all that you do. we can’t wait to see you in New Orleans




The Answer Is Sometimes Down the Hall


One of my first published pieces in an HR magazine was on the topic of internal capabilities being right down the hall. Published in World at Work’s WorkSpan in March of 2008 as a First person editorial. I had stated; “when did business forget that the people who know best work within its own four walls?”

Now I want to revisit the topic, but instead of “consulting” on a project, I want to talk about hiring for open positions. The same rules apply. Before looking to the outside to fill positions you should look inside first.

Recently I had my own personal experience with being snubbed for an internal role at Adelphi University where I teach one or two classes a semester in the business school.

As many of you know I have been an adjunct there for several yrs. I love the classroom and more importantly the students. I am refered to as the “HR guy” by administration and some of the faculty. If I could have a do over in life, I would have worked towards a PHD years ago, and I would be teaching full time right now…

In 2012 I was recognized for HR innovation by HR Executive Magazine, when I “Traded Places” with Professor Hyland, a well respected HR professor at the University. She worked her sabbatical in my HR group at Marcum.  I taught one of her classes in the MBA program. You can read the article here.

In 2013 I was awarded the University’s Teaching Excellence award for my innovation in the classroom. I was the first Business School professor to be recognized for this prestigious award in over a decade.

I often help my students navigate the real world of work. Whether it be job search and interview coaching, letters of recommendation, networking to HR folks, or mentoring on a myriad of life/work issues.

And the icing on the cake is I regularly receive some of the highest student ratings year after year in the Business school.

So, one might think when I applied for not one but two different full time roles in the Business school this past year I would at least be considered.

Well not only was I not considered, I never was asked to interview, I never received an email, a phone call, or a courtesy conversation by the Dean or the HR department. Not even a “Dear John” rejection letter . Zero communication…..

Now with all my years leading HR functions across multiple industries, I can say personally that I would never allow this to happen to an internal applicant. Putting aside policy and protocol, you just don’t treat an employee this way, even if they are not the most qualified or the best choice.

You show them decency and respect. You act ethically and humanly by communicating with them. If they fall short in an area they can work on you make sure they get positive feedback and some direction for the future. You turn a disappointment into a positive feedback opportunity. You close the loop.

But I received none of that. So, I did what many would like to do but few would do. I pushed my concern and dismay up the ladder. And here is the biggest learning from the whole experience. The Business School Dean knew nothing about my situation and when confronted tried to pass it off to others on his team. The President of the University also took a flyer on meeting with me and “Punted” the situation to the Acting Provost. She said she was just too busy and thanked me for all I do for the University.  I didnt even bother approaching HR at the university as it plays only an administrative role of posting jobs and work flowing resumes. They probably don’t even know there is an issue. This all happened over an 11-week time frame this winter and early spring. As of the time of my hitting the Publish button, this is still unresolved….


I am meeting with the Provost shortly (this week) and am sure to receive the proverbial mia culpa without anyone taking responsibility or action. The sad part of this story is I am not the only Adjunct faculty member in the business school to be treated improperly or passed over for open roles this past year. Just the bravest or maybe dumbest to actually say something and try to evoke a response and some feedback.

When I ran Customer Service and E-commerce, along with HR at Leviton a few years ago, we used to get a customer complaint on rare occasions over our product or tech support. We always responded quickly and with keen interest to make the customer feel they were heard and to do our best to resolve the situation. We prided ourselves on this. It was part of our culture and maybe part of the DNA of each of our employees. They understood the value of listening to customers and treating them right. Many organizations view their employees as customers and treat them in a similar matter. Unfortunately in this instance there was no employee centered action.

So, what can we learn from my personal experience?

Let’s start with some basics. Internal candidates should be parsed or filtered from external candidates. If your organization isn’t doing this, stop reading this now and take some action. If you have a different view point please feel free to comment.

We all know our internal employees are known quantities and regardless of whether they are the best choice, you should provide a level of dignity and respect. You should also close the loop with at minimum some type of dialogue.

I have been monitoring Gallup Data on employee engagement for years and it continues to be poor here in the United States. The majority of employees are not engaged or disengaged. Recent Gallup data is 70% not engaged. That is a scary number and one you should take note of. Turnover is still an issue that all organizations continue to struggle with.

If your employees had similar experiences to mine, how do you think they would feel when treated poorly.

We all know the answer.

Now some might say this is sour grapes and maybe in some way it is. But it is also a cautionary tale and one that unfortunately happened to me. One that all of us should learn from.

Unfortunately in the end Organizations prefer to look to the outside as if the folks down the hall are incompetent. That is a sad commentary on our society. We can do something about it if we choose. We can find better ways to treat people…

Anybody with me???


It’s Official I am an #SHRM17 Blogger

I am not only presenting at #SHRM17 in New Orleans this June, I am writing as a blogger team contributor too!

How did that happen you might ask? Well it was a no brainer. After speaking 4 of the last 6 years and watching the Social Media coverage grow, I said why not. I already write for 2 of the premier sites for Talent Executives, Fistful of Talent and Recruiting Daily (on their Recruiting Tools site) and I cover the HR world on a regular basis.  So covering the conference and more specifically some of the interesting topics and speakers seemed like a natural next step.

Let me be transparent, I have never done an actual interview before except for my “Selfie Interview” done right here a few weeks ago, so this will be a learning curve experience. I have reached out to some of the best bloggers in the HR space to get there take and advice before hitting the “publish” button.

So be on the lookout as I post a couple of preconference interviews in the next few weeks. And you can follow me on twitter at @HC3  for my most up to date quips too..

Have a great day!!!