HR for Neophytes

Posted on October 15, 2013 by in Human Resources, Planning, Strategy

Human Resources

Peter Cappelli’s article in HBR really resonated with me. You can read the full article HERE, or read my notes on the article below…


Stale practices. Many talent management practices developed in the post-World War II era targeted problems that no longer exist or that cannot be solved in the same ways they once were.  The activities below are still carried out at many companies but it’s time they were abandoned.

  1. Traditional succession planning.  This is intended to identify the right person to fulfill a given job years in the future.  That means you need to be able to predict with some certainty what that job will look like years hence – which in turn means being able to predict business demands – and to know which person would perform best in the role if a job changes or the person you’ve chosen leaves or fails along the way, the success plan doesn’t work.  The time and energy that went into it are wasted and the employee who did not get the job he or she was expecting, may be annoyed, as employees who were tapped for advancement, a failed succession plan can be worse than no plan at all.
  2.  High potential programs. These were designed to quickly move post war college graduates with new skills in running manufacturing operations into the leadership ranks, because at the time, few executives had college degrees.  It’s not clear why companies still run these programs.  Like succession plans, high potential program require that you predict who will succeed in a different, bigger job in the future.  But most companies have a poor track record when it comes to assessing potential, so right people don’t always end up in the programs.
  3.  Work force planning. Many HR departments create detailed estimates of their future talent needs. But if you are uncertain about where your business will be and what kind of turnover you’ll experience, no work force plan will be right. As with succession plans, a failed work force plan wastes the time and energy spent creating it.  It can also lock you into a path that is difficult to change.
  4.  At forward results, we are a team of collaborative experts who have been trained to help companies with growth planning to set the stage for a successful business transition.  Each step of the plan will be outlined, coordinated and executed by a professional who has an expertise in their given field.  Our goal and objective is to assist companies write a successful plan and bypass the errors that were just identified in this article that resulted in the post World War II era.


Maximizing Your Potential

Posted on May 24, 2013 by in Blog, Human Resources, Strategy

The book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath opens with a story about Rudy Ruettiger who attended Notre Dame.  After working diligently to make the Notre Dame Football team, he was able to make one play in the last game of his senior season.  He spent thousands of hours, and put great effort into this one single event.  The author offers an interesting perspective as he writes,

The inspirational nature of this story actually masks a significant problem.  Overcoming deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture.  Our books, movies, and folklore are filled with stories of the underdog who beats one in a million odds.  And this leads us to celebrate those who triumph over their lack of natural ability even more than we recognize those who capitalize on their innate talents. As a result, millions of people see these heroes as being the epitome of the American dream, and set their sights on conquering major challenges.  Unfortunately, this is taking the path of most resistance.

He further discusses Michael Jordan and his ability to play basketball.  However, he states, “even the legendary Michael Jordan, who embodied the power of raw talent on the basketball court, did not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf, or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.” 

Furthermore, Rath talks about our culture, and how we attempt to coach our children to work most diligently on the areas of their weaknesses.  The author states, “in every culture we have studied, the overwhelming majority of parents (77% in the United States) think that a student’s lowest grades deserve the most time and attention.  Parents and teachers reward excellence with apathy, instead of investing more time in the areas where a child has the most potential for greatness.”

He further talks about a great sales person who attempted to become the sales manager without the natural tools to do so.  She could have earned a much better living and been more successful simply by continuing to build upon the outstanding sales talent she already had.  Rath laments the natural talents of many individuals that go unutilized in most organizational hierarchies due to our culture’s misconceptions about success.

The author concludes, “When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our actual talents, extraordinary room for growth exists. So a revision to the ‘you-can-be-anything-you-want-to-be’ maxim might be more accurate: you cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”

Finding your Strengths

Posted on May 17, 2013 by in Blog, Human Resources, Strategy

The book Strengths Finder Two by Tom Rath, is a great resource to help you identify strengths that you should capitalize on as opposed to spending all your time working on your weaknesses.  Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?  Chances are you don’t.  All too often, our natural talents go untapped from the cradle to the cubicle.  We devote more time to fixing our shortcomings than to developing our strengths. 

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, Strengths Finder, and the 2001 management book, Now Discover Your Strengths.  The book spent more than five years on the best seller list, and ignited a global conversation on how Strengths Finder helped millions to discover their top five talents. 

In Strengths Finder Two, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of his popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. While you can read this book in one sitting, you’ll use it as a reference for decades.  Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this new book and accompanying website will change the way you look at yourself and the world around you forever.  Great read.

Human Capital Risk

Posted on January 16, 2013 by in Blog, Human Resources, Planning

When you go to sell your business, you have to be prepared.  Buyers will look at all aspects of your business–including your workforce.  This short article by Rose Stabler summarizes the importance of having a strong team in place when looking to sell your business. 

Human Capital Risk and the Impact on Business Value

Takeaway: A stable, skilled, quality workforce is one of the top value drivers that contributes to the purchase price of a business.

When a business for sale is being evaluated by a prospective buyer as a possible candidate for purchase, the quality of the human element will be considered. The staff is a major component and the backbone of any successful business operation.

Any aspect that reduces risk in the continuity of the business under new ownership adds value. A stable, skilled, quality workforce is one of the top value drivers that contributes to the purchase price of a business for sale.

It is important, therefore, that you, as the business owner, keep your key employees, they are your business. Buyers look for situations where management and / or key employees want to stay for the long term. The quality of the workforce, including experience, expertise and depth of knowledge will be considered. An in-place team that can provide continuity and assist in the growth of the business under new ownership is a valuable asset. If a company’s success is reliant on capable, well-trained employees – not the owner – it means the business will not be negatively impacted under new ownership.

The Forward Results team is equipped with professionals to help you minimize risk in this area.  To read the rest of Stabler’s article and to view her questions to assess the human capital risk in your business, click here.

Leadership Development

Posted on January 4, 2013 by in Blog, Human Resources

Which Approach is Right for Us  and How Do We Begin?

by Angie Martin

I’m a leader, she’s a leader, and wouldn’t you like to be a leader too?

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”; I agree. Although leadership development has been going on for years, more recently there has been a heightened awareness that the key to organizational success is built on the bases of strategic alignment—who knew? Although that sounds like a duh moment, I’ve found that not all leaders are as aware of this fact as one may think, mainly because most people in roles of leadership are not leaders at all. Most of them are individuals with the potential to be leaders who have not yet been equipped with tools to be great and effective leaders. Having leaders with potential is great, but how does an organization capitalize on that potential and prepare its leaders for great opportunities as the organization grows? Additionally, where does the design and creation start for an effective leadership development program and how do you justify it to obtain financial support from the organization’s chief contributors or those that bless the budget?

We all know that financial resources can play a significant factor in the design and execution of a full leadership development program, but not everyone has the budget to construct lavish enrichment programs where well-known motivational speakers come to speak or train attendees with curriculum based on specific leadership competencies. Besides all of this, who is to say those things will work for your organization in terms of alignment with your mission and, most importantly, your culture. That’s when the beauty of leadership development comes in.  It’s yours to create and own. A company can set up a program that is low cost and low maintenance or one that is highly staffed, robust and costly. When building a program that is right for your organization, there are just a few key things to focus on, and having financial resources is the least of them.

First, consider your organization’s mission and vision. What capabilities are available as a result of where the organization wants to go? Discovering this will start a framework for what competencies need to be strengthened. Second, what platform will the information be delivered through and how? Is the organization a more tech savvy group or are they more of an I-use-technology-’cause-I-have-to group? Knowing this will allow you to determine if you can use social media technology to send out and engage participants through the use of podcasts, webinars, interactive simulations and/or assessments. By knowing your audience, you will ensure they are engaged at a level they understand and thus increase the probability of follow through and effective learning.

The most important thing to remember when considering a leadership development program is to keep it simple and effective. Follow the 70-20-10 base rule. Seventy percent of your program should be self-directed through hands on interactive project involvement.  Twenty percent should be through networking, relationship building, asking questions, and obtaining feedback.  The final ten percent is where formal training comes in. Yes, folks, only ten percent should really involve hard costs; the rest of the program can be built using internal resources and searching the internet. The internet has a great deal of cost-effective leadership development program ideas.  One doesn’t have to have a lot of money to run an effective program, just good ideas and innovation.

Remember that starting a leadership development program doesn’t have to be complex. Consider your organization and the gaps that need to be filled to create and inspire better leaders. Examine the audience and find out what is comfortable for them, what will keep them engaged. Lastly use internal resources and consider simple things like starting a book club. There are books associated with almost every competency you can think of including Trust, Conflict, Collaboration, Communication, and Change.  Someone from the participant group should be the leader and if there is an additional resource, they can be the project planner. Put together assessment worksheets to examine discussions after a podcast. Simple mentor programs can be formed.  Pair together participants with an executive to create an on -the-job dialogue with someone in a leadership position the participant aspires to. Like I’ve always been told, keep it simple…you know the rest.

*Angie Martin is an HR Consultant with ProvisHR with a background in Talent Management and Workforce Solutions.


Tips to Relieve Workplace Stress

Posted on December 18, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

For millions of Americans, the workplace is a major source of stress in their lives.  Stress is a primary contributor of unproductive behavior.  It’s unrealistic to think you can control everything at work, but you can have some control on how you react to work stressors, and how they ultimately affect your health.  The holidays are around the corner, which often times places additional stress on individuals.  Following are a few tips to help tackle workplace stress:

  • Take mini breaks – if you have been sitting for more than two hours, get up and move around.  If you are able to get outside, enjoy the fresh air!
  • Get control of your schedule – Try not to have meetings scheduled back to back to allow you time to refresh before the next one.
  • Learn to say “no” – When other people’s expectations get too high, say “no” – know your limits!
  • Be positive!  Positive attitudes are contagious!
  • Driving to and from work, listen to something enjoyable and motivating.
  • Leave the office or your desk for lunch – a change in atmosphere can be refreshing.
  • Use your time off benefits – everyone needs a break from the demands of work.
  • Stretch!  Sit straight in your chair and raise your arms up and interlock your fingers.  Inhale and exhale deeply while stretching.

The goal of managing stress at work is not to get rid of it, but to get control of how it affects you.


Managers and Time Management

Posted on December 11, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources, Strategy

Who’s got the Monkey, by William Oncken, Jr. and Donald L. Wass, was originally written and published in the November/December 1974 issue of the Harvard Business Review.  This has been one of Harvard Business Review’s best-selling reprints, proving that the content is valuable and timeless. 

It is an excellent article related to delegation of authority and subordinates delegating up to their manager.  The manager can no longer get his job completed and does not have discretionary time for himself and his family.  The author’s recommendation at the end of the article to “get control over the timing and content of what you do” is appropriate advice for managing time. 

The first change to make is for the manager to enlarge his or her discretionary time, eliminating time imposed by subordinates.  The second is for the manager to use a portion of this new-found discretionary time to see to it that each subordinate actually has the initiative and applies it.  The third is for the manager to use another portion of the increased discretionary time to get and keep control of the timing and content of both boss-imposed and system-imposed time. 

All these steps will increase the manager’s leverage and enable the value of each hour spent in managing management time to multiply without their logical limit.  A manager can be overloaded with employee demands if he allows the employees to transfer their problems up the line.  The result for employees is boss-imposed time and decreased discretionary time.  This is a great article; I encourage you to read the whole thing.

A Quick Fix to Improve Your Bottom Line

Posted on November 6, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

Financial loss due to Unemployment Compensation (UC) can be completely avoidable and, if addressed, a quick win for a company’s bottom line.

Not all former employees who file for Unemployment Compensation are actually qualified to receive it.  In these cases, it is worthwhile to appeal Unemployment Claims that are undeserved:

General Eligibility Requirements state that the former employee was:

1. Involuntarily terminated through no fault of own, and

2. Willing and able to work full-time.

Former employees who file UC claims are generally ineligible if even one of the following is applicable:

• Too ill to work

• No means of transportation

• Unwilling to forfeit retirement benefits

• Let go for cause (generally misconduct, poor performance, or policy violation)

• Voluntarily leaves (or reduces work hours)

So, maybe you knew this already–and you have already appealed to UC claims accordingly, but you still end up losing the appeal. Why does this happen?

Here are a few reasons companies lose money to UC claims and some suggested quick-fix remedies:


Missing separation information Establish clear accountability and communicate throughout company: 1. Identify specific focal point to handle unemployment claims, including:

  • responding to states’ requests for separation information,
  • appealing UC claims where appropriate,
  • attending follow-up hearings scheduled by the state (usually conducted via phone)

2. Communicate above across company,

3. Communicate to managers that they are responsible for submitting separation information for their direct reports to the UC claims focal point promptly (at the time of separation).

Not responding by the state’s required deadline upon notification of UC claim.  (Each state has a different response time requirement.) 
Not responding at all to the state’s request for separation information 
Company representative specifically requests no further appeal (on behalf of company) Establish and communicate the circumstances where this is justified 
Employers miss scheduled hearings after filing initial appeal—by default, the company loses The state schedules the hearing–if focal point is unavailable to attend, find an appropriate backup! 
Insufficient Documentation to justify an appeal, (e.g., no proof of misconduct, poor performance, policy violation)  Hold managers accountable for and maintaining any/all documentation related to the separation (e.g., emails, conversation notes/dates, performance improvement plans, etc.) 

Amy Rozelle Williams, M.S.