Diversity vs. Inclusion

Worked with a team last week to brainstorm policies that promote inclusion. The discussion went in an unexpected (but very interesting) direction. But the question we first dealt with was the difference between inclusion and diversity.

Diversity is generally seen as compliance with US requirements along the lines of Affirmative Action Planning, or about making sure you recruit and hire people of different backgrounds and ethnicity.

Inclusion, as we discussed it, is more about making sure all those disparate and “diverse” individuals are turned into a truly blended workforce, and are able to work together as a unit. On a macro scale, it is about everyone understanding the direction of the company and how each business unit contributes. At a more micro level, its about how each individual plays a role in getting there.

How does your organization define diversity and/or inclusion? Are you making progress on both fronts, or do regulatory requirements alone drive your actions?

What Makes a Good LSS Belt Candidate?

I’m working this morning with a potential candidate to assess fit and likelihood of success.  Traits I’m hoping to find…

Action oriented
Comfortable with responsibility
Comfort with numbers (I’m not as concerned about their specific statistical ability.  We can teach that if they have the mindset.)
Desire to learn
Willingness to change how you look at the world (I guess that’s flexibility, but on another level.)

Let’s Shake the Tree

With the new year approaching, what better time to start challenging the status quo, questioning our collective assumptions and looking for a better way to do, well, everything?
So I’m looking to this small (but growing!) cadre of like-minded HR visionaries to start shaking the HR tree and see what comes flying out.  Let’s change the world together.
Here’s one of mine from last week.  In working with a team of recruiters and HR pros, we ended up debating recruiting methods, specifically the offer process.  (Who makes the offer?  Do you allow negotiations?  Who is authorized to do so, and how much?)  At one point, we came around to incentive pay for sales professionals.
I challenged the team as to why we pay commission.  Isn’t it our desire to hold onto our best, and attract the best that we don’t already have?  How do we differentiate ourselves?  I submit that a compensation plan based on a strong base pay with a smaller incentive peice at the top end (and maybe structure more around MBOs than sales dollars) would provide a more stable income and security than a “traditional” approach of most (or all) commission based pay.  Your best people will be driven to succeed regardless of the pay plan (though it is, of course, a factor).  If you can give someone some financial security in these times and they respond by being less invested in their (and your) success, that’s probably the wrong person to have on the team.
This was met, of course, with some eye rolling, some chuckles, and several “But everyone pays on commission!” statements.  And maybe it’s not the right approach, now or ever.  But that’s ok.  I’m more interested in asking the question than knowing the answer.
So, who else is shaking the tree out there, and what’s falling out?

The Fallacy of Lean and Economic Downturns

I’ve seen a lot of people who are concerned for their jobs, who have lost their jobs or who know their jobs are going away.

Recently I had a discussion regarding my team’s function in the organization, and that we are secure because of the climate. When things go south, that’s when you really need your Lean leaders to help right the ship and bring savings home to maintain profitability.

I call shenanigans on that line of thought.

We need our Lean leaders to be the most engaged when times are at their best! We need to be out front, leading the discussions when people are least interested in listening.

No business I have encountered has ever said, “Nah, we don’t need that $50,000. Go ahead and throw it in the trash.” At least, not ones that stay around long.

While we can use this opportunity to “reset” our perspective and drive Lean thinking, we need to do so just as hard in the good times. When we don’t, we end up in times, well, like these.

What would your companies position be today if you increased OI 5% a year over the last 10 years? Or just reduced waste by 25% Think you would be better positioned in the market?

Open letter to a young HR professional

Get out. Get out now.

Get out of the HR world for a while. Go run a function, manage a line, balance a P&L.

Got your degree in HR? Then you really need to go.

Getting an HR degree? Think about changing your major. Non-HR degrees enter HR all the time. Very few HR degrees go elsewhere. And take some statistics classes while you’re at it. They are more important for the future of HR than you might think.

Don’t be a career HR drone. Go see the world. Deal with the issues first hand. Understand business, leadership, employee problems, and what happens when people don’t play nicely with each other.

Then come back. We’ll need you.

The Two Deadly Words

The two most dangerous words I’ve heard in the office….

“We’re done!”

It is said in a positive way. The Kaizen event week has ended! We cleared out our unused supplies for the 5S program! We finished our training class on managing employees! We’re done!

We all know the truth, right? You’re never done. Not if you are worth having around. And if you ever think you are really really done, then you just aren’t paying attention.

Who Needs Generalists?

As I start to pull apart the traditional idea of an HR department, the question I’m struggling with now is: What does a generalist do? Implement programs and policies someone else has written? Oversee the implementation of the work someone else does?

Now, I’m not naïve enough to think there isn’t work that needs to be done on the front lines, but does the traditional structure still make sense? My vote is no. Here’s why.

First, technology has spread to the point we should be much, much faster in performing routine tasks. We should be able to flatten the HR structure and handle tasks between local HR coordinators and area HR managers.

Second, employees are technically savvy enough to help themselves with most of these tasks. Even the ones we think aren’t. We just have to provide a method for them to do so. Think self service, think transparent, think direct line of sight to what is important.

Third, most rules surrounding services are archaic at best. We need simple, flexible programs that don’t require a day of training to effectively use.

Fourth, we have line managers who are divorced from HR work because they can be, and are tied up with fat to day operations. Some of that, though, is driven by the lack of well trained, engaged employees. And studies consistently show that an employees relationship with their manager is a strong indicator of engagement and correlated to retention and performance. Imagine if managers had the knowledge, tools and time to be the defacto HR rep for their team. Think that might help?

I can see a day when you are either a specialist (which we will need, thanks to the complexity of compliance requirements, SOX, training needs for emerging workforces, etc.) or an area HR manager that deals with a larger organization. Employee services, at the administrative level, are either handled in a self-service method by the employee or with their manager. The HR team has minimal administrative work, and instead works on training the line managers to be ready to handle employee needs or working on more strategic tasks.

When I talk to young HR professionals and they ask for career advice, I usually start with telling them to spend some time outside of HR if possible. Then, if they want back in, get really well versed in training, talent management or compensation. I think the rest is best outsourced or pushed down to the self-service level.

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