The most important career lesson I ever learned was to understand the business.
There seems to be a lot of back and forth about HR being business professionals/or not being business professionals. In my opinion the easiest way to win this discussion is to make sure you understand the business you support-not just the people portion, but the whole picture.
How does your company make money? What are the products/services your company provides? How do they provide it? Like really, how? What other areas do your HR policies or actions impact and how.
From where I sit, you can make better decisions about the HR support you provide when you understand the business. Looking beyond your schedule and how quickly (or slowly) you choose to respond or how much information you decide you want to share can move your department forward.
People (managers especially) choose to not value HR when you choose to ignore the bigger business picture and only do things the way you want to do things. When HR isn’t valued it’s hard to see them as business professionals.
In 2019 don’t just try to teach the business HR, let HR learn the business.
In 2018 I committed to one thing for my career that took far more energy than I had planned. I decided that I needed to stop accepting lower fees for my side work than my male counterparts. I don’t mean accept less than males who do speaking and writing, I mean stop accepting less than males who do speaking and writing in the same arena I do who have comparable experience, knowledge, exposure, etc as me.
Y’all… this was hard. Sometimes it meant saying no to opportunities I really wanted to take and sometimes it meant pressing on with difficult negotiation conversations. Sometimes the first offer was sufficient, plenty of people let me set my own rate, and sometimes I still failed at negotiating the right price and accepted way lower payment than I should have.
I know I’m not the only one up against this. I’ve worked on this for my day job and overlooked the much needed negotiations for my “side gigs.” 2018 was the first time I had enough confidence to start the conversation to earn better pay for my side gigs so I started it.
What is glaringly obvious to me now is so many organizations still do not have a solid compensation strategy. I don’t know how far away we are from more folks getting this right, but I sure hope we can collectively step our game up this year.
I mean this as HR professionals with a voice in our organizations. I also mean this as HR professionals planning conferences for our profession. I know its tough. I’m helping plan a conference with a limited budget, so limited that one of the speakers we really wanted quoted me a price larger than the entire speaker budget that’s set aside to pay multiple speakers. Multiple speakers people!! We can’t do much this go around, but we can do something and I intend for that something to be as fair as possible.
Together, lets agree to start somewhere. Find a way to get the revenue or the sponsorship’s. Talk about a number your team is comfortable with, and don’t pay someone twice as much as you pay someone else for no good reason. Reach out to other people who have planned conferences and ask advice. Use your resources.
I’ll get better at negotiating my rate properly. You’ll get better at a solid compensation strategy. We will all get better at something this year.
Friends, secure your bag in 2019. If I can help, let me know.
This is a story about a time I when I had a great idea.
The year was two thousand and seven. I was all of 21 years old and very ambitious. I had been working my first “grown up” job for a year now and had been exceeding all expectations. I had learned so much in that time, but I knew I needed to find ways to manage my time better and increase efficiency.
I was the youngest person working in the office at the time with three other ladies. Two of which were older than my parents, but not quite old enough to be my grandparents and one was probably close to my parents age. The two older ladies worked upstairs while me and the younger of the other three worked downstairs. Her and I saw a lot of people every day coming in to fill out these lengthy paper applications. Her and I were the first round of interviews, screening them to see if they were good enough candidates to send upstairs (as I type this, I realize that process was also ridiculous). We handled the drug screens, scheduling, applicant flow, filing, answering phones, etc. The other two ladies handled payroll, delivering checks, extra screening, meetings and one of them did sales. All of that to explain that they weren’t always up close witnesses to the dated process of the paper applications and how long it took.
Process at the time: take paper application, interview candidate, send candidate upstairs for further interview, make candidate an offer, drug screen candidate, on-board candidate, enter new hire information into our system. YEAH, we took their info from their application and entered it into the system so we could pay them. They wrote out all of their info and then someone would take that info and manually key it into the system. Manually. key. it. in.
YALL… one day I was playing around and found out that the software we used to enter applicant data in and administer payroll was in fact a fairly sophisticated ATS! IT COULD TAKE ONLINE APPLICATIONS… We had this product we were paying for that could take applications and here we were handing out all these dadgum paper applications like it was 1982. YALL… I started crunching some numbers, because even in my early days I knew data was the way to make your case. How much were we spending ordering these paper applications, shipping the paper applications to our office, and then stapling all of the separate sheets together? How much time did it take an applicant on average to fill this massive thing out, how much time did it take to file it, how much time did it take to enter it in once we hired them, etc.? How much would it cost to set up 4-6 computers in the office for applicants to use to fill out the online version of this application? THE. NUMBERS. SPOKE. FOR. THEMSELVES.
As you can tell from this typed out blog post about a story from over 10 years ago, I was EXCITED! I had everything I needed to make a case for why we needed to change our process immediately and I couldn’t wait to tell somebody. I remember telling the ladies who worked upstairs about this idea and how simple it would be for me to set it up for us. I talked about streamlining the process, saving time, $$, I hit all the key factors BUT those two ladies only heard “you’re inefficient, I can do it better, I’m replacing you.”
I didn’t know what to do with that. I was floored because that’s not what I was saying at all. I wasn’t sure where that was coming from and I didn’t know how to dispute it. I let it go. When given the chance to run another office for the same company I eventually implemented all the upgrades I wanted to do in my office. When my office became the biggest billing office in the company, other offices were instructed to do what I was doing. It wasn’t about replacing anyone, it was about improving our efficiency and service. I didn’t know how to refine my message back then or have a conversation with peers who were afraid I viewed them as a non-factor and replaceable. I could have done a much better job of pitching my idea, my mistake was not taking the time to understand that I might need to.
Learn how to talk to people of all levels. Approach issues with the other persons perspective in mind. When all else fails, shut up and listen.
Like most of the #SHRM18 attendees and bloggers I have a lot of thoughts to share with you all from the sessions I attended, but one has constantly been running through my mind since Wednesday.
What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?
This question came from Pamela Meyer during her session Agility Shift: People Practices, Models and Metrics to Create a More Agile, Competitive Organization. I have a lot of great takeaways from this session. I’ve always been a fan of the agile approach and talk about it with candidates often. I don’t get to talk about it with professionals on the business side so this session was FANTASTIC for me, BUT I want to focus on this 48 hour thing right now.
What if you only had 48 hours to respond to the biggest opportunity of your lifetime?
Carrying on with the theme of the session you should absolutely apply this to your organization. What if your company had 48 hours to respond to a Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Information (RFI) or whatever is specific to your industry, and it was the biggest business opportunity your company has ever seen? Is your team ready? Do you have the right approach? Do you know your resources? How much time would you and your team waste on unnecessary steps? Do you know anything about the customer? So. Many. Questions.
I took this a step further though and applied it specifically to me. As I grow my writing and speaking opportunities, would I be ready to respond to the biggest opportunity I’ve had if I only had 48 hours? I don’t even have a clear and concise portfolio, brand, presence, etc. Would I be ready to respond to the job opportunity of a lifetime in 48 hours? My resume hasn’t been updated in years.
Am I ready to respond to anything in 48 hours? As you go through your week I want you to think about this question and really decide what you can cut out to be ready! I’ll do the same and in the mean time I’m going to order (and read) Pamela’s book so I can better prepare my organization and myself for responding to that opportunity within 48 hours. I’m smart enough for this, I just need the right approach and I’m willing to bet the same thing goes for you.
On our AL SHRM Hill visit this past week one of our topics we chose to discuss with our Congressmen/women and Senators was Tax Reform. Naturally, we threw in our own opinions on the topic as the day went on and I was disgusted when someone brought up that he couldn’t find any employees because everyone would rather stay on their “entitlements” than work for min wage, 8, 9, or $10/hr. This guy works for a temp service and considering that’s the majority of my background I couldn’t help but size him and his service up as a less than par “temp service”. I’m being judgemental and very cross in my summary, but I think that temp services would rather project that answer to their clients, network, employees and apparently congressmen than take some responsibility for this issue.
I’ll tell you one of my clients in my previous job started the majority of their temps at minimum wage. We were often greeted with sighs and grunts when trying to fill their positions because of the pay. And yes, a lot of times they said it would interfere with their food stamps/unemployment/cma/etc. So we had to start thinking outside of the box. I happen to believe that when “You know better, you do better” and took a shot at informing applicants. Communicating clearly where they could start with this position and where they could end with this position. What the pros and cons were for the programs they were depending on and the pros and cons for taking a position that may interfere with some of these programs. It was more time-consuming on the front end, but gave us far better results in our hiring process, eliminated walk offs and reduced turnover. There were still candidates that turned the positions down, but there were far more that accepted the positions and were able to maximize the opportunity to ultimately better themselves. Why so often do we underestimate the power of communication? #SPEAKUP
The mindset has to change, not just in the temp world, but in HR as a whole. On the hiring project I’m working on now I’ve recently had to send out almost 500 emails to candidates that we have not chosen for a position. I made a case to my employer that when people respond to those emails that we answer their questions. When they want to know why they weren’t chosen, we tell them. As HR we need to capture that opportunity to enhance the candidate pool in our own community. Sometimes people are making mistakes that they don’t even know are mistakes #KnowBetterDoBetter. Of course you still have the ones that will be angry or out to get you and you have to decide what you can pour your efforts into, but I don’t believe HR is only valuable to its current workforce, I believe HR is valuable to its past/present/future workforce and that means we have to offer advice and coaching to people who don’t work within our organization now.
Where are you missing communication? How is your HR team enhancing your community?