Friday, October 17, 2008

HR Interview:- Applicant Brings Parents to the Interview: What Do You Do?

If someone brings his or her parents to the job interview, what should you do? "Take it as a sign (a negative one)," advises Bryan D. LeMoine, an attorney with Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus PC, St Louis, MO.

Speaking at BLR's Illinois Employment Law Update (October 1-3, 2008), LeMoine was asked the question by one of the attendees. He said that there is nothing in federal or state law that in any way would protect an applicant's right to bring someone to a job interview. Another audience member said someone had brought along her husband, prompting her to ask, "Do I get both of you for the price of one?"

In a more serious vein, LeMoine said there could even be concerns about having inappropriate people in the workplace. "You don't know anything about parents, or spouses, or anybody else that an applicant brings along. At least you have the resume or application of the applicant," he said. Employers are totally within their rights in restricting who comes onto the premises, let alone into the interview.

Hiring, Soup to Nuts

Attorney LeMoine was joined by his colleague, Elizabeth T. Gross, Esq., presenting a workshop, "Hiring, Soup to Nuts." Some other highlights:

  • Biggest Risk Is Outside HR. Most HR managers understand what they may and may not ask in job interviews, but the hiring managers have far less knowledge. A big part of HR's job has to be to provide training and management.

  • Job-Relatedness Key In Sensitive Areas. There are sensitive areas in hiring, such as arrest and conviction records. The key is job relatedness. For example, fraud would be important for a bank teller, but vehicular homicide might not be. A bank can ask about the former, but should steer clear of the latter.

  • Accommodation Isn't Changing Job Duties. LeMoine and Gross talked about a case their firm is handling regarding an employee suffering from ALS. The employer got in trouble when it "accommodated" by removing some job duties. The employee is arguing they should have helped her do the job.

  • ADA Amendments Are Significant. The ADA amendments of 2008, which take effect January 1, 2009, will change many of the rules.

  • Interview Questions Should Be Appropriate. Inappropriate interview questions continue to trip up employers. LeMoine and Gross advised HR managers to prepare written scripts for their interviews for any high-risk questions that are truly job related--and to educate their people on avoiding those that are not job related. For example, place and length of residence may be job related. Questions about birthplace, naturalization, baptismal certificate, etc. are not.

  • Don't Write Notes On Resumes Or Application Forms. Many interviewers take notes on their copies of resumes or application forms, which are then discarded. Their absence could lead to a negative inference.
By Bob Brady

HR Interview:- Presidential Debate as Job Interview

Could your company's recruiters learn a thing or two from CBS' Bob Schieffer? Watching the presidential debates, the last of which will be hosted by Schieffer Wednesday night, may be an eye-opener for executive recruiters. "For those of us in the business of finding, evaluating, and recommending leaders for top-level positions, we'll be watching the debate with our non-partisan, leadership assessment hats on, asking ourselves, 'How well-prepared is John McCain or Barack Obama to assume the CEO of the United States position?'" says John Salveson, a principal with Salveson Stetson Group. "Politics and cameras aside, there are certain fundamental skills and attributes a leader must demonstrate in an interview like this. We'll be on the lookout for them." Here are some things you need to pay attention to whether choosing the next executive at your company or the next world leader:

• The Candidate's Capability to Do the Job. What experiences, skills, knowledge, and background would Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama bring to the position of president? A strong job candidate will offer specific examples of accomplishments, not vague statements of promise.

• The Candidate's Leadership Style. How does he lead, how does he comport himself, and what is his chemistry like with others? Does he have an inclusive style, or does he make decisions in isolation? Consider his track record in past hires and how he utilized that talent.

• Salveson Stetson Says a Job Candidate for Any Executive-Level Position — Including The White House —Needs to Possess these Six Qualities:

1) Ability to Inspire People. Can the candidate articulate his vision and get others charged up about it?

2) Ability to Select, Find, and Attract the Right Team to Implement his Vision. Remember, Salveson advises, great leaders typically aren't masters of all but rather have the ability to bring together a diverse team to make things happen.

3) Strong Relationship Manager. How well does the candidate build coalitions—especially across diverse groups? "There will be many competing interests and many people who don't like you," says Salveson. "How a president goes about building a team in that type of environment will be critical to his administration's success over time."

4) Crisis Management Skills. What is the candidate's management style during a crisis versus under normal conditions? "You don't want a leader who panics under pressure," says Salveson, "nor do you want one who is slow to react in a crisis."
5) Integrity. "Lying in an interview is immediate grounds for disqualification in a job interview," says Salveson. "A candidate with integrity will speak truthfully and not manipulate facts to make himself look better."

6) Articulation of Why He Wants the Job. A good interviewer will be on the lookout for a candidate who can explain clearly why they want the job. "The desire for power is rarely a good reason to hire someone," says Salveson. "Listen carefully, instead, for the core reasons a candidate desires the job. There's usually a higher motive at play for candidates seeking public office. Be sure they can articulate that before you 'hire' them for the presidency."

Thanks to Inside Training Newsletter

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

HR Safety:- Carbon Monoxide: Legal, Training, and Management Issues

Legal Issues

Yesterday we provided 10 tips for limiting carbon monoxide (CO) exposure in your workplace. Today we turn to the legal, management, and training issues surrounding CO exposure.

The permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 50 parts per million (ppm) of air, or 55 milligrams per cubic meter (mgm3) of air, averaged over an 8-hour work shift (TWA). The American Industrial Hygiene Association recommends a TWA of 25 ppm, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says a level of 1,200 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health.

Training Issues

Workers need to be trained to recognize CO hazards and prevent exposures. Safety Audit Checklists recommends:

-- Make Sure Employees Understand the Hazards. They must realize that even though they can't detect its presence, at sufficiently high concentrations, CO can kill them—and that those levels can build up in a very short time.

-- Teach them to Recognize the Symptoms of Exposure. Employees should understand that CO exposure symptoms can be much like those of the flu or other ailments in the early stages.

-- Remind them to Make Sure their Work Areas are Adequately Vented. Adequate ventilation is usually the best protection against overexposure to carbon monoxide.

-- Encourage them to Report Potentially Hazardous Conditions. Tell your employees to report all symptoms of exposure so that CO levels in the area can be checked and problems can be swiftly corrected.

-- Establish Emergency Procedures. When a CO leak is detected, the area should be immediately evacuated while trained personnel, equipped with protective clothing and supplied air respirators, handle the problem.

-- Require Employees Who Work With Liquid CO to Take Special Precautions. Employees who work with liquid CO should be trained to avoid exposure by treating it as they would any other hazardous chemical.

Management Issues

As we pointed out yesterday, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent or minimize CO exposure in the workplace. Those recommended by Safety Audit Checklists include:

-- Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors In Areas of Likely Exposure. Although CO is invisible and odorless, various sensors can detect and measure its presence in the air and alert workers when levels are dangerous.

-- Make Sure Your Heating System and Other Fuel-burning Equipment are Properly Maintained. To help ensure that fuels burn properly, heating systems and other fuel-burning equipment need regular, thorough maintenance.

-- Check Ventilation Systems. Good ventilation is the key to preventing dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. In potentially hazardous work areas where windows or doors are closed or too far away, you should use general and local exhaust ventilation to keep CO at safe levels.

-- Check CO Cylinders Regularly. CO cylinders should be stored properly in areas equipped with a detector alarm. Cylinders should also be checked regularly for leaks.

-- Make Sure Employees Take Special Care With Vehicles Used Indoors. Vehicles are a major source of CO hazards. Employees need to take special care when operating fuel-burning vehicles such as forklifts indoors or in such enclosed spaces as a truck trailer or a dead-end aisle.

-- Provide Employees With Supplied Air Respirators When Necessary. When ventilation alone can't afford workers sufficient protection from CO hazards, employees should be provided with supplied air respirators.

-- Make Sure Employees Are Equipped With Other Required PPE. Employees who work with liquid CO also need protection against skin and eye contact. They should, therefore, be provided with impervious clothing, gloves, splash-proof goggles, and face shields.

Thanks to BLR

HR Benefits/Talent Management:- Linking Employee Benefits To Talent Management

Most companies treat benefits as a cost of doing business. They should see them instead as a competitive weapon.


As the bill for US health care mounts, companies struggle to reconcile their need to offset the rising cost of employee benefits with the desire to attract and retain the best talent. Some engage in an arms race of sorts, blindly matching or beating the benefits offered by competitors and spending billions of dollars in the process. Yet these benefits often fail to reflect either the preferences of employees or corporate objectives.

A few companies, however, are changing the game. Emerging best practices are reducing the cost of benefits by 10 to 20 percent a year, keeping employee satisfaction steady—or better—and linking these expenditures more tightly to corporate objectives, particularly investments in talent to gain competitive advantage. Such investments are increasingly important to the profitable growth of the world's most successful companies: from 1995 to 2005, profits per employee jumped to $83,000, from $35,000, and the number of employees more than doubled.1 Benefits represent a major part of that outlay: US companies spend more than $2 trillion on them each year, but though the cost of health care in particular is on the rise, companies aren't scrutinizing benefits as closely as they do other investments.

Benefits are much more than just a cost of doing business, even though many executives don't understand that. In many companies, the chief financial officer hands down a cost goal for benefits each year, and then the HR department works to meet it. In the end, business unit leaders get stuck with increasingly expensive benefits without understanding what they get in return.

We advocate a much more active approach: employers should tailor their investment in benefits to the preferences of their employees, as some leading companies do already. The same sophisticated market research tools companies now use to launch products and services ought to be used to define employee "customer" segments. Benefits packages should then be tailored and marketed to them accordingly. This approach, balanced with return-on-investment (ROI) objectives and rolled out over several years, will help companies meet their increasingly vital need to offer knowledge workers higher rewards while minimizing the cost of employing a large frontline workforce.

Treating Employees As Customers

When buzz about a potential change in benefits makes its way through employee networks, they often respond with anxiety and consternation. Companies should approach them with the same caution that consumers get, using market research to understand the workforce, segment it, and gauge its responses to potential changes. When a company tinkers with benefits, it should "brand" the adjustments with themes that research shows are important to employees. Then it should aim those themes at relevant employee segments and actively address the concerns of people who will dislike the changes, while also emphasizing the positive ones that other segments will applaud.

These efforts should take the form of a marketing campaign, similar to what the company would use to launch a new product, that emphasizes aspects of change employees will value. E-mail, the Web, mailers, and company newsletters ought to explain, in simple language, the nature of the changes, their rationale, and the improvements they will bring. Such communications should also directly address things that certain segments of the workforce may dislike, balancing these changes with the positive ones dictated by the preferences of the majority. A benefits "hotline" (on the telephone, the Web, or both) lets employees ask questions and voice concerns. This important tool helps the company to get real-time reactions and to identify and lubricate squeaky wheels.

Such an approach is particularly important in union environments. One heavily unionized manufacturer, for example, is marketing its benefits with the theme "empowering you to better manage your health" through new nurse hotlines and increased preventive-care coverage. Its marketing campaign appeals to that large segment of employees who value broad health care services above all other benefits. When negotiating with unionized locations, the company's leadership, understanding that the largest segment of union members values higher take-home pay more than rich benefits packages, emphasizes the point that soaring benefits costs make it harder to raise wages.

These principles can be applied in nonunion environments as well. A major transportation company, for example, launched an effort to save more than $100 million a year, in part by cutting its annual spending on benefits by 10 to 15 percent. One element of its plans—a dramatic cut in retirement benefits—stood to upset employees greatly. Research into their attitudes showed that although this move was extremely unpopular, the more they knew about the overall package, the more satisfied with it they were. Furthermore, the research revealed that most of them didn't realize the richness and breadth of the benefits offered. The company used these insights to plan a broad campaign to educate the nonunion workforce on the virtues of the package. It also added several low-cost benefits, which allowed it to cut others, to save money overall, and to minimize employee dissatisfaction.

A benefits package should be marketed not only internally but also externally. Well-handled benefits changes can help a company that has a large presence in a community to strengthen (or establish) a position as an employer of choice. Handled poorly, such changes can enrage local activists and legislators.

Benefits through the ROI Lens

Companies should see benefits as an investment in their employees, with the aim of motivating the workforce to realize and even exceed their objectives. Those that redefine benefits in this way, instead of treating them as a cost of doing business, stand to gain a significant competitive advantage in attracting, motivating, and retaining the best talent.

An effective benefits strategy engages the chief executive officer, the top team, and, in some cases, the board in an effort to identify the ROI objectives of benefits spending. These objectives vary by company but typically include elements such as the productivity and well-being of employees, talent management, community perceptions, union relations, and costs.

Demonstrating a strict cause-and-effect relationship between the investment in benefits and the return is difficult at best and often impossible: many variables are involved, and the payoff lags behind the expenditure. But developing some kind of quantifiable estimate of the ROI of benefits is much better than no estimate whatsoever—the current standard in most companies, according to a recent survey of employers.2

Such metrics and goals can, for example, help companies to assess the general effectiveness of their investments in benefits over several years. Employee satisfaction is measurable through annual surveys. Likewise, management can define targets for productivity (for instance, health-related absence days per employee) and for retention (say, the turnover of important employee groups).

Like metrics for benefits, benchmarking may have to be rethought. One major industrial company's approach to benchmarking, for example, was raising its costs, lowering the growth of wages for its unionized employees, and making them less satisfied to boot—even though it actually offered above-market benefits. Recognizing the problem, the company's executives established a clearer objective for its investments in benefits: supporting and rewarding efficiency. They also engaged the union's leaders in a dialogue centering on the fact that the company's total compensation was a relatively stable share of its profits and that over time, the mix between salaries and wages, on the one hand, and benefits, on the other, was shifting toward the latter. The union's leadership had previously understood neither this game's zero-sum nature nor the linkage to corporate profitability. Through these discussions, the union got a better sense of the company's constraints and objectives, of the preferences of its members, and of the failure of past negotiations to obtain the best result for the union, its members, and the company alike. Now the discourse revolves around these factors, with advantages for all parties—lower costs, better labor relations, and higher productivity.

Productivity also turned out to be the problem when another company, this one with both consumer and industrial offerings, reviewed its benefits. Executives noticed that the ongoing salary it gave employees with short-term disabilities seemed to make some of the beneficiaries less motivated to return to work and therefore reduced productivity. Research also showed that when the company cut back its prescription drug benefit, it made its workforce not only less satisfied but also less productive: the remaining weak prescription benefit discouraged employees with chronic conditions from diligently complying with their drug regimens and thus led to complications and absences down the road. By eliminating less valued benefits, such as the disability payments, and focusing on worthwhile ones, such as prescription benefits, the company stood to improve its employees' satisfaction significantly while also cutting its costs.

A Multiyear View

Armed with this kind of useful information, companies can formulate clear objectives for their benefits, predict which their employees will probably want, and develop a multiyear plan to implement a strategy. Most companies, by contrast, follow a piecemeal yearly "keep up with the Joneses" approach that has the effect of shifting compensation from the more flexible salary and wages to the less flexible benefits, and as a result it is harder for employers to reward individual employees for their performance differentially. In view of the increasing importance of attracting and retaining top talent, this issue should get much more attention than it has.

The precise multiyear strategy will depend on a company's priorities, as well as its financial situation, relationship with employees, and reputation among prospective hires. Given the annual open-enrollment cycle for health care benefits, such a plan typically covers three years and rolls out changes incrementally in each of them. Full, annual run-rate savings are usually realized by the end of the second year.

A staged, multiyear approach can be desirable for other reasons as well. One major packaged-goods company, for example, was about to introduce a benefits plan that placed more responsibility—both financial and decision making—on its employees. The company realized that the changes were likely to upset them, because research showed that they were risk averse and poorly educated about health care. It therefore decided to phase in the changes, so that employees would have time to learn more. The first stage of the process involved relatively small changes, such as the introduction of plans with a higher deductible and of financial incentives to increase their attractiveness. As employees become more comfortable making their own health care decisions, the company believes, it will be able to roll out more substantial changes, such as health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts.

By James Kalamas, Paul D. Mango, and Drew Ungerman / McKinsey Quarterly

HR Retention:- Knowledge Retention Rises as Boomers Retire

By now everyone knows there's a war for talent going on, and many companies are struggling to come up with front-end recruiting strategies in the midst of the current economic turmoil. But there is a related back-end problem many companies have not come to grips with: As baby boomers continue to retire, how will organizations retain their knowledge and pass it on to the new guard?

"What happens to all that great tacit knowledge that's in the heads of those workers? And when it walks out the door, are we going to be losing all that great knowledge?" said Kevin Oakes, CEO of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). "It's a big issue right now with a lot of companies, particularly in some old-line industries where they've had a workforce that's been around for 25, 30, 35 years. In the companies that I'm talking with, it's something that they're not exactly sure how to tackle right now."

To help organizations figure out how best to address this issue, i4cp created a new program called the Knowledge Retention Accelerator, which seeks to establish best practices in this area. Oakes said he hopes the program will open members' eyes to different ways they can tackle this problem.

There are several key ways companies might address it.

"The right solution might be a phased retirement program [where] an employee gradually reduces their hours and workload so you can more effectively manage that knowledge transfer," he said.

"Another way is to allow alumni networks for ex-employees to interact regularly with current employees [or to set up] mentoring and coaching programs and an apprentice model, where a retiring worker can take their potential successor under their wing and help with that knowledge transfer," Oakes said.

The Knowledge Retention Accelerator program will progress in three main steps: First, i4cp will conduct a general overview of the participating organizations; second, it will engage in benchmarking and assessment; and third, it will undertake strategy development.

"[Then] we move from that third step into a second phase of the whole program, which we call council participation," Oakes said. "It's an ongoing group that will share what they've learned with others, as well as share within the group, what's working [and] what's not working, so we have continuous feedback with the participants."

This collaboration is key for organizations with limited time and resources, as Oakes said it helps them understand what other methods are out there and prevents them from reinventing the wheel.

By Agatha Gilmore

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

HR ROI:- Seven Ways to Increase Employee ROI

It's no secret that the economy isn't exactly booming right now. More people may be looking for work, but that doesn't mean that they are the right people for your company. Instead of viewing employees as expendable, businesses should focus on getting the best return possible on the workforce they already have.

Employee retention is a very big issue and it always will be, regardless of the state of the economy. After all, the key to long-term growth and productivity is a workforce that's familiar with your company and in sync with its goals. A workplace should excite and motivate employees, so they'll want to stay around. And that means creating an environment that challenges people and helps them grow not just as employees, but as people.

Here are some ways organizations can foster the kind of growth-oriented workplace that will survive and thrive, even during a downturn:

  • Forget Monetary Incentives: Focus On Relationships. Even if you can offer them, fat salaries and bonuses, more vacation time, and other perks will not increase employee loyalty. Instead, they tend to tie people to your company in the same manner that one trains a dog to stay in the yard—until, the people across the street offer a bigger, juicier bone. Creating a culture in which good relationships are valued gives employees a profound and rewarding reason to come to work every day. Only through relationships can people change and grow...and personal growth is a requirement for survival in our increasingly complex world.

  • Help Employees Find their "Familiars." What is a familiar? Simply put, it's an emotional state we return to again and again. It is a feeling that holds tremendous power over our choices, relationships, and careers. Rooted in our families and our upbringing, the familiar is a feeling that we unconsciously reproduce, sometimes to our benefit, but often to our detriment. For instance, the eldest child of a large family might have grown up having to subrogate her needs to the needs of the younger children. Perhaps she was told she was selfish for asking for things for herself. It is no mystery that as an adult she is frustrated at work and has trouble communicating her needs to her boss. Her familiar—the feeling that she doesn't really deserve to ask for anything—is reproduced in her work environment, where she is unable to assert herself. You can help your employees tremendously by learning about familiars and encouraging them to identify—and subsequently diminish—their own.

  • Seek Employee Input. A big part of creating a growth-oriented workplace is to constantly question your employees. "Did you notice what you did there?" "Why do you think you said that?" "I noticed that when your position was challenged in the meeting, you didn't defend it—why do you think you backed down?" Creating a "question culture" will help employees identify their familiars. It will raise performance expectations throughout the company. It will train employees to think carefully about how they do their jobs and ensure that they have sound reasons for every decision they make.

  • Encourage Conflict and Confrontation. Yes, you read that right. Conflict and confrontation are rarely pleasant, but they are the very definition of teamwork. They are also necessary to create growth relationships. The purpose of the workplace is not to make everyone happy—it is to grow people to their maximum potential. The enormous popularity of consensus decision making/negotiation, participatory management, and self-directed work teams is a sign of our unhealthy quest for comfort above all.

  • Provide Honest, Caring Feedback. Keep the lines of communication open by continually telling your employees how they are doing. A relationship without honest feedback is a "mutual toleration society." Unconditional acceptance—in both personal and professional relationships—is actually a form of abandonment, because it robs the other party of the most important catalysts for growth and change. (Hence the reason the feedback is labeled "caring").

  • Practice the Art of Self-Disclosure. Feedback cuts both ways; you want your employees to provide it to you as well. One way to do so is through self-disclosure. If you want to turn a stagnant employee relationship into a growth-oriented one—or start a new relationship out on the right foot—share your feelings first. This is a big risk because you don't know how the other person will respond; you must be prepared to deal with any type of reaction you receive. But it's a risk worth taking because you can learn a lot from your employees. Self-disclose often and you'll model the kind of relationships you want to encourage in your company.

  • Form An Accountability Group. Many people fear receiving or giving feedback because they don't want to show weakness or cause discomfort to someone else. Put them in the right setting, however, and they may be willing to become involved. In an accountability group people give and receive feedback, create action plans based on that feedback, and hold group members accountable for implementing their plans. I have found accountability groups to be amazingly effective in helping clients overcome debilitating work and personal problems. Done correctly, they can lead individuals and organizations to transform themselves from the inside out.

I am certain that the actions detailed here will increase your company's productivity. People who are personally and professionally fulfilled make better employees—it's that simple. But the big reason to implement these strategies has more to do with tomorrow than today. Creating a work environment rich with opportunities for self-discovery is an investment in the future of your company. Begin now, and when the economy rebounds, your employees won't leave you for greener pastures. Why would they? Your organization will be meeting needs far more compelling than a weekly paycheck.

By Morrie Shechtman / AMA

HR Leadership:- Four Leadership Qualities

For all the leadership training workshops, very few people can confidently explain how they take charge, engage others and develop their leadership skills.

"Why should anyone be led by you?" It's a great question, as well as the title of an excellent September–October 2000 Harvard Business Review article coauthored by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones.  It's worth summarizing here.

Four Qualities

To be inspirational, leaders need four essential qualities besides vision and energy:

1.    They Selectively Show Their Weaknesses. By exposing some vulnerability, exceptional leaders reveal their approachability and humanity.

2.    They Rely Heavily On Intuition To Gauge The Appropriate Timing And Course Of Their Actions. Their ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them determine when and how to act.

3.    They Manage Employees With "Tough Empathy.Inspirational leaders empathize passionately—yet realistically—with people, and they care intensely about the work employees do.

4.    They Reveal Their Differences. Effective leaders capitalize on what's unique about themselves..

The focus here is not on financial results per se, but on how leaders capture the hearts, minds and energy of those who report to them.

Great results are hard to obtain without these qualities. That's why we will focus on each of these qualities in the next four leadership postings.

By Coach John G. Agno

HR Soft Skills: The Rise of Soft Skills—A Paradigm Shift Worthy of Copernicus

In the 16th century, the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus discovered that the earth revolves around the sun. With this simple observation, Copernicus created a heresy and a "revolution." The dethronement of the earth from the center of the universe called for the rethinking of almost every religious and scientific "truth" mankind had relied upon for the past 5000 years. This was no ordinary paradigm shift, it was a paradigm shift on a grand scale.
Paradigms are simply agreed-upon models of the way things appear to work. But as the Copernican revolution demonstrates, they are not immutable and they are not eternal. Paradigm shifts occur whenever our understanding of the world conflicts so dramatically with our experience of the world that the old model stops serving any useful purpose. Action based on the accepted model no longer produces the desired or expected results.
The business world is experiencing such a shift today. Not because some Ivy League economics professor proclaimed a fundamental error in our concept of business dynamics, but because business dynamics themselves have evolved beyond the model that gave rise to them 200 years ago. The forces behind this evolution—the shift to a global economy, the impact of new technologies, the power of the consumer, the transition from the Industrial Age into the Knowledge Era, and the changes in the expectations and demands of the work force—have combined to dethrone past truths about organization, leadership, and business strategy. To paraphrase Peter Drucker: "The certainties of the past are no longer sufficient to inform the policies of the future."
The model on which all businesses have structured themselves since the industrial revolution derives from the laws of Newtonian physics. Its defining characteristic is its resemblance to a machine, and its longevity can be explained by the simple fact that up to about 30 years ago, the model worked. Then with the waning of the Industrial Age and the advent of the new global economy it stopped working. Predictions started going awry. Results fell short of expectations. All kinds of practical problems surfaced that could not be resolved by referral back to the old model.
At about the same time, corresponding anomalies were starting to surface in physics. The predictability of Newtonian science no longer dovetailed with new discoveries. The universe was not so orderly after all; chaos, it soon became evident, was an integral part of its makeup. "For the first time in 300 years," Fritjof Capra wrote in The Turning Point, "physicists faced a serious challenge to their ability to understand the universe…The new physics necessitated profound changes in concepts of space, time, matter, object, and cause and effect; and because these concepts are so fundamental to our way of experiencing the world, their transformation came as a great shock."
Today's business leaders are experiencing a similar shock as the old business model breaks down. But while the universe will go on running regardless of how physicists react to its newly discovered dynamics, businesses will not. "Many scientists," Thomas Kuhn wrote, "remain emotionally attached to theories that have long since been disproved. Ignoring overwhelming evidence, they will go to their graves stubbornly clinging to their limited but familiar points of view." Business leaders who follow that example will see their companies arrive at the graveyard long before they do.
In our business and government enterprises, we are only just beginning to comprehend what it means to move from a purely objective perspective to one that includes the intangible, subjective, emotional aspects of business. For example, "quality" was conceived as an objective, statistical concept—allowing only so many flaws per 1,000 or 1,000,000, and so on. Today, that thinking is being challenged by people like Charles Hampton Turner, a professor at the London Business School, who says: "There is no escaping the fact that a product or service can be no better, no more sensitive, esthetic or intelligent than are the relationships and communication of those who create the product or provide the service."
If we follow Dr. Turner's statement to its obvious conclusion, quality moves from a purely statistical concept to an emotional issue. Rather than focusing on the numbers, companies should be looking at relationships between customers and employees and between employers and employees. When those relationships are based in integrity and respect and are grounded in positive emotion, quality naturally follows. The effectiveness and efficiency of an organization—its innovation, productivity, and quality—depend more and more on the strength of the relationships and the emotional attachments of its people.
Because the world of science was thought to be a material world, it ignored the existence of consciousness—of subjective experience, of values. When we extended the concept of duality to our organizations and management, we focused on quantifiable data and observable behavior and excluded or discounted the "nonmeasurable" dimensions of consciousness, emotion, relationships and creativity.
The separation of mind from matter has cost organizations their ability to engage and profit from the most potent, if invisible, gifts their employees have to offer. Only recently are organizations beginning to understand that the intangibles—employees' attitude, intuition, ideas, creativity, energy, and engagement—are exactly what they need most to succeed in the future.
In other words, the "soft" side of business is moving from a "nice to have" management component to an organizational core competence. Now that's a paradigm shift!
By Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. / AMA

HR Safety:- 10 Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is a common industrial hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of natural gas and any other material containing carbon, such as gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood. Because it is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and nonirritating, workers can be poisoned without warning. Here are 10 tips for safeguarding your workforce.

CO poisoning—and even death—can happen very quickly. You may have read about the four people found dead on a houseboat in Illinois last week, and carbon monoxide has been confirmed as the cause of death.

The reason CO can be lethal is that it displaces oxygen in the blood, depriving the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen. Large amounts of CO can overcome a worker in minutes, causing the employee to lose consciousness and suffocate. Even if an employee recovers, acute poisoning may result in permanent damage.

Sources of CO Poisoning

One of the most common sources of industrial CO poisoning is the fuel-driven forklift. The risk of CO poisoning is especially high when gas- or propane-powered forklifts are used inside enclosed spaces, such as tractor trailers, refrigerated storage areas, and other nonventilated spaces. Even with ventilation, the situation can still be hazardous, since poisoning can occur even at low CO concentrations.

Other sources of workplace CO poisoning include:

-- Cars or trucks left idling in enclosed spaces, such as a garage,
-- Portable fuel-burning power tools, such as concrete saws and
chainsaws used in confined or poorly ventilated spaces,
-- Generators used indoors,
-- Poorly vented or malfunctioning heaters, furnaces, and ovens, and
-- Power washers, insulation blowers, and compressors used in enclosed areas.

The risk of CO exposure is heightened during cold winter months when doors, windows, and other sources of natural ventilation may be closed.

How to Minimize the Risks

Here are 10 simple tactics for reducing the risk of CO exposures in work areas under your supervision:

01. Identify potential sources of CO exposure and monitor employee exposure.

02. Make sure ventilation systems are working properly to remove CO.

03. Maintain CO-producing equipment in good working condition.

04. Consider switching from gasoline-powered equipment to equipment powered by electricity, batteries, or compressed air for situations where there is a high risk of CO poisoning.

05. Prohibit the use of fuel-powered engines or tools in poorly ventilated areas.

06. Install CO monitors with audible alarms in areas where CO might be formed.

07. Test air regularly in areas where CO may be present, especially confined spaces.

08. Require employees to use a full facepiece pressure-demand self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or a combination full facepiece pressure-demand supplied-air respirator with auxiliary self-contained air supply in areas with high CO concentrations. Have them use respirators with appropriate canisters for short periods under certain circumstances where CO levels are not exceedingly high.

09. Provide training to educate workers about sources and conditions that may result in CO poisoning, preventive measures, symptoms of exposures, and first aid for CO poisoning.

10. Instruct employees to report ventilation or other problems that could result in CO exposure.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

It's important to ensure that your workers are aware of the signs of CO poisoning. Besides tightness across the chest, early symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, or nausea. (Note that early symptoms could be mistaken for signs of other illness, such as a cold, flu, or food poisoning.) During prolonged or high exposures, symptoms may worsen and include vomiting, confusion, and collapse in addition to loss of consciousness and muscle weakness.

First Aid for Exposure

When CO poisoning is suspected, prompt action can save a life:
-- Immediately move the victim to fresh air in an open area.
-- Call emergency medical assistance.
-- Administer oxygen if the victim is breathing.
-- Administer CPR if the victim is not breathing.

Employees can be exposed to fatal levels of CO in a rescue attempt. Rescuers should be skilled at performing recovery operations and in using equipment.

Thanks to BLR

HR Work Styles: HR--Balancing Four Generations' Baggage

Every employee brings "generational baggage," and today's HR manager has to carry four generations' baggage at once, says Giselle Kovary.

Kovary, a consultant at n-gen People Performance Inc., specializes in helping companies "get, keep, and grow" four generations of workers simultaneously.

In her well-attended session at the recent SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, she defined the four generations as:

Traditionalists: Born 1922-1945 (63-86 years old)
Their goal is to build a legacy.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (44-62 years old)
Their goal is to put their stamp on things.

Gen Xers: Born 1965-1980 (28-43 years old)
Their goal is to maintain independence.

Gen Ys: Born 1981-2000 (8-27 years old)
Their goal is to find work and create a life that has meaning.

Relationship with the Organization and Authority

Traditionalists, Kovary says, were hard-working, willing to sacrifice, and above all, loyal to the organization.

Boomers came along with big changes they wanted to bring to the workplace, but there were the Traditionalists running things, so Boomers had to be content with changing from within.

But the Boomers saw how the organization let the Traditionalists down. "That's not going to happen to me," they say, and so their loyalty tends to be more toward the team.

Gen X's loyalties are for the boss, because their boss is the gatekeeper for learning new skills. Xers are in the "sweet spot," says Kovary. They've been living under the Traditionalists and Boomers for 20 years. What they want to say is, "Will you please just get out of the way?" They also have up to 20 years' experience and, as the Traditionalists and Boomers retire, workforce pressures mean Xers can negotiate and demand.

Meanwhile, Gen Y loyalties are to their colleagues. They think of all employees as peers. They may say to their manager, "Why don't you do it?" They are likely to ignore the corporate food chain, and want to talk directly to the VP.

Gen Ys' parents wanted them to have a voice in family matters; be part of family decisions; and now those young people bring those expectations to the workplace. Ys want their opinions solicited, listened to, and acted upon. (Boomers often tell her, Kovary says, "Well, yes, that's how I raised my kids, but that's not who I want to work with me.")

Ys also move and travel in packs. And even when not together, they are in constant communication.

Ys expect all their co-worker friends to receive equal treatment. They are used to playing soccer and everyone gets a trophy. And since they cannot fail, Ys expect second chances. "I failed to meet my sales target? I want a do-over." And if they are top ranked, they will lobby in favor of their lower-ranked teammates.

Here Come the Helicopter Parents

And then, says Kovary, don't be surprised if Ys' "helicopter parents" want to be involved in the application/interview process. (A quick show of hands of the hundreds of HR managers in attendance showed that most have gotten calls from parents.)

Ys can do outstanding work, says Kovary, but if they aren't fulfilled, they'll just leave. "Time to go; no biggie." They have many options—or at least they believe they do.

Competency Revolution

Beware of an important change that is occurring with competency, says Kovary. For older generations, competency was held by the more experienced people, but now, in many fields, competency—especially technical competency—is with the least experienced, the Ys.

Work Styles of the Generations

Traditionalists worked in a linear fashion, following the rules, says Kovary. Boomers went along with the rules and the structure: "These are the 10 steps that we need to take." Xers challenge the steps. They suggest, "How about steps 3 through 7 and then 9?" Ys say, "Let's make it faster and better through technology." They want to upgrade every 3 months to 6 months, just as they do with their personal technology.

Thanks to BLR

HR Loyalty:- Employee Loyalty

You'd never consider hiring an illiterate person to work as a journalist, a technophobe to work in IT, or a hypochondriac to work in a medical centre.  Yet so many people get promoted to management positions without the one core characteristic that determines managerial success - a love of people.  And therein rests one of the biggest causes of staff disloyalty:  managers who don't lead from the heart.


The same principle plays out in the harshest heartbreak of all – cheating.  If we look at the top reasons why husbands cheat on their wives or vice versa, we'll see that each one of these is also a major reason why employees cease being loyal to their bosses.


Lack of Attention:  Neglected partners are more likely to be unfaithful.  Similarly, if you don't spend enough time with your employees, whether it's via coaching, caring, communicating, or consulting, they'll feel unloved and the result will be a resignation.


Getting Even:  Some people cheat because they want revenge.  To get loyalty, you first have to give it.  The majority of staff turnover is precipitated by some kind of shock which acts as the last straw that finally causes an employee to just give up.


Unsatisfied Needs:  A partner can be swayed to stray if something essential is missing from the relationship, such as intimacy.  As a manager, failure to identify and meet your employees' needs, whatever they might be, will lead to disengagement which is a precursor to turnover.


Loss of Interest:  Infidelity can occur when the cheater is unhappy with changes in their partner, such as an altered physique or attitude.  At work, if change occurs and you haven't taken the time to get your employees' buy-in, they'll move on to an employer who bothers to make an effort.


Incorrect Fit:  Sometimes two people just aren't meant to be together.  Likewise, there are some employees who simply aren't suited to be in your team.  There's a cultural incongruence which should have been picked up during your recruitment process.


I'm not defending cheaters.  But what I am saying is that the more you understand the reasons why people cheat, the easier it is to create a relationship that's less likely to end in a break-up.  Ditto at work.  The more you understand the real reasons why your employees resign, the less likely they'll be to break away from your organisation.


By James Adonis




Did You Know?


Only 25% of employees feel that their companies have any loyalty towards them and yet 56% of employees feel loyal towards their employers in return.

Source: Randstad



"The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith." ~~~ Confucius

Sunday, October 12, 2008

HR Business:- How Hard Should You Work?

For years, there's been a drum-beat on the internet and among coaches that we should work less and make more. The theory is that by being smarter and more efficient, we should make more sales, and have more profit for every hour we work.

I like the theory. I'm not sure it's that simple.

The reality is that the those who work hardest often seem to make the most money. Beyond that, it seems to me that the world actually prefers LOW prices, and that Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) did alright by lowering prices and making a bit LESS on each individual sale.

Now, obviously, we all want to be efficient, and we all think we're just a bit smarter than our competitors. We are all looking for an "edge" to get ahead, and I suspect that will never change. But I also think there is an obvious edge we tend to over-look.

Customers actually like businesses that go the extra mile! They prefer companies that answer their phone. They do business with people who give superior service, and who seem to care about customer satisfaction - actually, I like companies that refuse to "satisfy" me and seem determined to AMAZE me! And all of that requires hard, hard work.

Here's an old "law" of business: focus on the life-time value of a fanatically loyal customer. Focus on the value of a customer who sees him- or herself as your partner, rather than as just a "shopper." When your customers refuse to deal with anyone but you, your fortune is assured. How hard should you work? About that hard.
By Dr Philip E. Humbert

HR Motivanational:- Reserves Make Life Easy

The recent turmoil in our financial markets has reminded many of us that in times of trouble, "cash is king." Many years ago, one of my mentors, Thomas Leonard, tried to teach me this using the phrase that, "Reserves make everything easy."

Thomas' focus was that even the most difficult things in life are "easy" if we are prepared. I've known two people who have attempted to climb Mt Everest and both say even that extreme challenge is straight-forward and "easily tackled" with good preparation.

The famous football coach, Vince Lombardi, used to say that it wasn't the "will to win" that created championship teams--everyone wants to win!--it was "the will to prepare to win" that made all the difference.

I'm convinced that both Thomas Leonard and Vince Lombardi knew what they were talking about. Thomas preferred the term "reserves." I suspect partly that was because he liked being distinctive and "having reserves" resonates differently than copying the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared." But both are sound advice.

Thomas talked about having "reserves" in every area of life. I still laugh when I think of him lecturing me on having extra boxes of tissue in the house and insisting I change the oil in my car before it was due. Obviously, he didn't care about tissue or oil changes. His point was that life gets very, very hard (stressful, chaotic, hurried) when we feel squeezed by circumstances. Never do anything at the last minute! Allow time. Schedule in advance. Maintain plenty of "reserve."

Life will inevitably throw problems our way. This week my wireless router quit and our network died. By connecting my computer directly to the modem I could continue working, but far more helpful was my long-standing relationship with our "computer guy." One phone call and on Thursday we were back in business. A problem? Sure. Annoying? Of course. But easily handled and life goes on. That's what Thomas wanted me to "get" about reserves.

Here are a few areas where I recommend you maintain extra reserves:

1. Personal finances. Whether it's $50 in your wallet or a family savings account for the emergencies that will eventually happen (car repairs, unscheduled travel), maintain some "extra." Many people use credit cards for these unplanned expenses, but I prefer knowing cash is on my side.

2. Daily Schedule. Most of us live hectic lives and the thought of "extra time" seems "impossible." But it's not impossible. Schedule time for yourself. Schedule time to meditate, take a walk or a bath, read a book or write in your journal. If unplanned events demand extra time you have it, but most days you get a nice "treat" just for you!

3. Everyday Consumables. Reduce the "hassle factor" in life! From extra food in the cupboard to toilet paper in the closet or a stash of office supplies, make sure you never "have to" run an unscheduled errand. Plan ahead. Buy in bulk. You don't need a garage full of stuff, but interrupting your day to chase one or two items is incredibly expensive! Don't do it. Maintain reserves.

4. Personal Relationships. Relationships require maintenance. Put some "extra" into your friendships. Extra time. Extra thought. When appropriate send cards, notes, flowers, or have a cup of coffee, go for a walk, watch a movie, play tennis. Quality relationships don't just happen. They must be built. Maintain generous, loving reserves in your most important relationships.

We seem to be entering tough economic times. So prepare. Take care of yourself. The temptation is to run faster and work harder, but don't fall into that trap! In tough times you want to be sharp, alert and quick. Stay focused. Keep your edge. Maintain your reserves! It makes life easier and gives you the resources to seize opportunity when it comes your way.
By Philip Humbert

HR Safety:- A REAL Workplace Pain in the Neck

Today our Safety Training Tips looks at one of the more common, but often overlooked, workplace woes: Neck injuries.

The Most Common Workplace Neck Injuries are Neck Spasms.
Neck spasms are contractions of the muscles in your neck. The contractions make your muscles tight and that results in pain. The main culprits of work-related neck spasms are poor posture, improper lifting, and physical stress on neck muscles (for example, from working all day on a computer).

Neck injuries are a pain in the neck not only for injured workers, but also for you. That's because these injuries often take time to heal, and while they do, employees might be out of work or unable to perform some of their usual duties. So the best strategy for dealing with neck injuries on the job is to prevent them.

Train Employees to Stand Correctly. Explain these simple rules for a standing posture that will help prevent neck injuries and pain:

-- Keep your shoulders relaxed and in line with your ears.
-- Maintain the natural curves of your spine—the neck, the mid-back, and the lower back. (Suggest they stand sideways before a full-length mirror to identify the natural curves.)
-- Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart and distribute your weight evenly over both feet.
-- Keep your knees slightly flexed and your hips centered over your knees.

You can also show employees how to check their posture by having them stand with their backs against a wall. If their posture is correct, their upper back and buttocks should be touching the wall. Then have them slide a hand along the wall behind their lower back (just above the waist). The palm of the hand should be flat against the wall and the top of the hand should be almost but not quite touching the lower back.

Teach them how to sit properly, too. If employees sit for long hours at a workstation, they need to learn how to sit right to avoid neck injuries. Train them to:
-- Sit up straight and avoid slouching, hunching over their work, or leaning forward in their chair.
-- Keep their head centered over their shoulders, not tilted forward or backward, or tilted to one side.
-- Keep their shoulders down and relaxed, not tensed, while they work.
-- Keep their feet flat on the floor or resting on a footstool.

If employees work on a computer, the monitor should be adjusted so that their eyes are aligned with a point 2 to 3 inches below the top of the screen. And remind employees not to cradle the phone between their shoulder and ear. Doing that all day can lead to painful neck problems.

Talk about relieving muscle stress. Remind employees to take periodic short work breaks to relax neck muscles and tendons. Some simple stretching exercises can relieve built-up tension and help prevent neck injuries. For example, gently and slowly:

-- Nod the head and tuck chin into neck; then lift head back to normal position.
-- Turn the head from side to side, going as far as is comfortable.
-- Tilt the head from one shoulder to the other.

Each exercise should be repeated several times.

Emphasize safe lifting. Many neck injuries can be traced to improper lifting. That means your workers need to use good body mechanics every time they lift. When workers lift, they should:

-- Face the load with feet shoulder-width apart.
-- Keep heels down and turn feet slightly out.
-- Squat by bending at the hips and knees.
-- Use leg and stomach muscles to power the lift-not back muscles.
-- Maintain the back's natural curves as they lift by keeping their head up.

Why It Matters...

-- Neck strain injuries are common in the workplace and can result in big medical bills and lots of lost workdays.
-- These injuries often take time to heal, while they do, even if injured employees can make it in to work, they might not be able to perform all their regular duties.
-- Most neck strain injuries are preventable if employees understand good body mechanics (especially posture and lifting) and take simple precautions.

By Safety Daily Advisor

HR Organized:- Diminishing the Paper Pileup

Whether it is the mail being delivered to your door, paperwork brought home from school and work, medical forms, magazines, receipts and more, paper piles continue to grow on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to lessen that pileup of paper and keep it manageable before it gets the better of you.

1. Include it in your schedule and set aside a certain amount of time each day to process paperwork. Open and sort mail on a daily basis. Immediately recycle anything you do not need. Keep and handle all important documents in one designated area. Divide the papers into main categories of action whether it is to Read, Pay, File or simply Do.

2. Make decisions when it comes to your paperwork. Do not put papers into a big pile and say you will deal with it later. Decide to do something with it now and take action, whether it is to read it, pay it, file it, do it or toss it.

3. Computers have not lessened the amount of paper clutter. In fact, in many cases, they have increased it. People are printing out a lot of things that do not have to be printed. If it is not critical, do not print it out. That information will more than likely still be online to reference again.

4. Use a binder system, such as the Get Organized Now! Easy Organizer. This organizer holds all the important information you need to keep on hand in one handy location. Binders are a great way to organize many types of paperwork that you regularly need to reference. Tabs and sheet protectors are just two of the items used in conjunction with binders that help to organize all your information making it easy to locate.

5. Create a message taking system. Instead of having scraps of paper and Post-it notes all over the place, use a spiral notebook for posting messages. Even if you do scribble a note or number somewhere else, you can transfer it directly to the notebook.

6. Check with the IRS, as well as your accountant and attorney, to find out how long to keep certain documents. Before you put the documents into storage, mark them with an expiration date, if they have one. There are some documents you do need to keep permanently, like deeds for one. When you go through your files in the future to purge documents, you can then toss the documents that have expired.

7. Evaluate your current magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Consider keeping only the subscriptions that you read on a regular basis. Donate old magazines to senior centers, shelters or doctors offices after you have read them. Keep in mind that more and more magazines these days carry many of their articles, if not the whole issue, online.
Thanks to Get Organized Now.