Participation Trophies at Work

Found this post while cleaning up my drafts and decided to publish it. I wrote this almost two years ago, yet didn’t need to change a thing.  

I have yet to meet a millennial that enjoys being called a millennial. I often hear from my fellow generation that they are often called out in meetings for probably being too young to understand a reference, or too young to remember such and such event or some other ridiculous comment. When there’s only one or two young folks in the meeting room out of twenty, this can be very uncomfortable and slightly embarrassing. We are often talked to like we are responsible for an entire generation of people, for example “your generation is lazy because you all received participation ribbons.” or “you have never lived without technology and that’s ruining you all.” I usually listen with a nice warming smile, but I’m screaming at you in my head. I don’t want to take responsibility for how my generation turned out (mostly because your generation raised us)!

I don’t understand the uproar over the participation ribbon phenomenon because we didn’t give them to ourselves. This particular topic is one that will send any boomer or gen xer into an uproar even though it can be linked directly back to them. Going back to the time we were all running around a soccer field as tots to now. Why up until now? Because they are still handing out participation ribbons. That problem employee that you wish had a better attitude, you aren’t correcting it and you’re still signing a paycheck for that person every week. That entitled employee that thinks he knows everything isn’t being counseled by you because you don’t feel like dealing with him, but you’ll sign his paycheck every week. That employee that’s late every single day isn’t getting written up because you don’t have the time to sit down with her, but you still sign her paycheck every week. That employee who is only grasping half of her job isn’t receiving any further training because you can’t deal with her millennial attitude, but you can still sign her paycheck every week.

We don’t live in a perfect world so the stereotypes will always exist. The next generation to enter the workforce will endure their hazing that every previous generation has endured in years before them. They will listen to the snarky comments and smile when being called out for being to young (or incompetent) to understand what every one is talking about. We can’t get rid of the stereotypes overnight, but what we can do is try to fix the problem instead of contribute to it. If you don’t like what your “millennials” are doing, then talk to them about it. Stop going to seminars (led by people who are not millennials) about how to work with millennials and how to talk to them and just treat them like human beings. I can tell you right now how to talk to millennials:

Step 1) Find a millennial

Step 2) Open mouth

Step 3) Say words

Bam! Easy enough? And you saved a couple hundred bucks. We are not super secret, hard to understand human beings. We are employees who come to work just like you do and need guidance and feedback sometimes. We are the future of your organization and we will be responsible for the generations after us, just like you should feel responsible for us. We will carry on the legacy of our chosen fields and the organizations that we work for. You will one day pass the torch on to our generation and we hope you can do so with words of wisdom and encouragement instead of crappy remarks about how we conduct ourselves. We aren’t all the same and we know that everyone in your generation isn’t the same.

Here’s what I really want to know: What are you doing at work to address your “millennial problems?” Are you still complaining about participation trophies, but letting your workforce go rewarded for poor performance?

#SHRM17 Interview with Heather Kinzie

YOU GUYS, #SHRM17 IS ALMOST HERE!!! I’m so excited! I love having the opportunity to see some of my HR Friends from across the globe, learn new things, and meet new people. I spend a lot of time going through the sessions listed and deciding which sessions are relevant to where I am in my career or current problems I’m trying to solve as well as which sessions might stretch my capabilities or prepare me for a future problem I’ll face as I work to progress in my career. I’m also always interested in who is presenting each session and I imagine you all are too! I love that the blog squad gets to spend time interviewing a few speakers before conference gets here so that you all have an opportunity to learn a little about them before you build your schedule. I recently spent some time with Heather Kinzie discussing her presentation she will be doing at #SHRM17 titled Out of the Office: The Rise of the Remote Worker.

Before I get into the discussion about her presentation, let me tell you a little about heather kinzieHeather from my perspective. I first met Heather at a national SHRM conference several years ago. We were both part of the blog team for the conference and it was my first time attending a national conference. Heather turned out to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I remember attending a session with her and Joan Ginsberg, who was also on the team, and just being amazed at how the three of us could sit in the same session and learn something new together even though we were all at different levels of our careers. Heather became a great contact in my HR network and a friend I keep in touch with year round. It was only last year when I had a chance to hear her present for the first time. I knew Heather was smart, I knew Heather was passionate about what she does, I knew Heather was well-spoken so I wasn’t surprised when she presented an awesome presentation on the Smart Stage at #SHRM16. At some point I stopped watching her and started watching the audience. Everyone was engaged and paying attention. People were smiling and nodding along. People were enjoying her presentation. To be fair, I think she could give a presentation about beef jerky and we would still enjoy listening to her present.

One of the other things I do at national conference is look for speakers for my local chapter and our state conference so when I saw how engaged the audience was I knew my local chapter needed to hear from her. She did not disappoint! In fact, this year she did 3 sessions for our local chapter in one day. We started with an executive level breakfast, then our normal monthly luncheon, and an evening meeting with our student chapters. The after meeting survey results raved about Heather, her presentation style, and her topics! Having her spend the day with our chapter was a great investment for our local HR community.

Now, her topic for SHRM. My first question to Heather was “why this topic?” I need to admit that I saw it and kind of stopped and made a squish face at it… I’ve been known to use this phrase often “It’s 2017, everyone is providing flexibility for professionals.” This is usually in response to any one of my HR pals that are thinking they may want to find a new job, but they enjoy the flexibility their current one provides. Turns out, I’m wrong… a lot of places still aren’t offering this flexible “work from wherever you need to occasionally” type of flexibility. If you had the same response, stay tuned because she’s going to spell it out for me/us.

Q: Why this Topic?

A: Well, being based out of Alaska I think if we can’t get it right, who can? We have a lot of businesses that have employees across the country and that requires some flexibility. Secondly, we’ve noticed a huge rise in what I like to call “intermittent remote workers” because it has been added to the employee value proposition required of a global economy. If commerce can happen globally why can’t the workforce happen globally?

Q: Since I naively thought everyone offered this already, I’m curious what your thoughts are on what is holding some organizations back from rolling out some form of remote work?

A: There is a myth that its hard to do or should only be reserved for special situations. I want to bust those myths and show how it prepares the business for success. I should clarify, just because it’s not difficult, doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are factors to explore and consider and some times there is a plausible business case to not have remote work options for employees. There are legitimate obstacles to consider from network security to ability to handle meetings. There are good reasons to shy away from it, but not stay away from it.

Q: A kind of expected question, what is the number one reason you hear from organizations that don’t have remote work in place already?

A: What I see often as a consultant is organizations shying away from flexibility because of trust. I say to that, if you don’t trust your workforce, why are they there? If you are afraid your employees are stealing from you, there is a bigger problem to solve.

Q: Okay, remember when Mayer took over at Yahoo and then pulled all the remote workers back into a physical office? Do you think the media coverage of that ‘mess’ and how employees responded may have hindered HR professionals consideration of remote work?

A: I think its important to make sure we are trying to solve the right problem. I can’t recall an article that really dug into the real issue of why she chose to do it, rather talking about the shock to the employees and culture change that was happening because of it. Was the remote workforce the problem or was it a leadership problem? Were they being managed properly? We must avoid headlines when we are working in our organizations and identify the failure so we can provide the right solution.

Q: I don’t want to giveaway your presentation so I want to switch gears on you. What are you most excited about for this years conference?

A: I’m excited to be in New Orleans, it will be my first time in New Orleans! I’m super excited to see HCJ… I’ve had a crush on him since 1995, maybe you saw the movie copycat?

Q: Never saw it. Where can people find you to connect- online and in person at #SHRM17?

A: One place you’ll be able to find me at the conference is the bloggers lounge! Please stop by, I’d love to meet all of you! I’m honored to have represented SHRM for years on the blog team. You can find me on twitter @HeatherKinzie and on LinkedIn (I don’t think I’m the only Heather Kinzie on LI, but surely the only cool one!!). Folks can also find some of my work at thestrivegroup.com or any of The Strive Group social media sites!

Attendees, you all can hear more about what Heather has to say on Wednesday June 21st at 11:30 a.m. Conference happens so fast and I can understand the exhaustion some of us experience by Wednesday, but you will not regret going to hear Heather elaborate on The Rise of the Remote Worker! It sounds like she will be tying in many aspects for us to consider as we look at remote work as an option or improve the way we are using remote workers.

See you all in #NOLA soon!!

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That time I lied to the whole world

I am SO sorry! I owe the internets an apology… I lied to you!! I told the whole world that registration for #ALSHRM16 closed on May 3rd and it DID NOT!!! Registration is set to close May 11th-I promise I’m telling the truth this time! So far over 400 HR professionals have registered for this conference. All with the anticipation of great content and lots of re-certification credits.

im sorry the force was weak with me

I also have another confession. Tim Sackett won’t be there after all. Not because he was kicked off the schedule (I know some of you were thinking that), but for legit reasons beyond everyone’s control. While we will miss Tim greatly-he is our favorite recruiter after all, we are SUPER pumped that Laurie Ruettimann will be taking his place!

ALSHRM16BANNER

So to recap, this conference is going to be killer. You’re going to walk away with 10.25 re-cert credits for both of your HR certifications, meet some awesome HR pros from across the state, hear from some of the industry’s best speakers, and upgrade your super hero powers. The evening of day one there will be time to network so we can all get together and plan something fun to do in Birmingham while we are there and there’s going to be some pretty sweet giveaways at the end of the conference. If you haven’t registered yet, now is your chance! Be sure to tell all of your friends too! http://bit.ly/1Q3JDPL

birmingham

See you in Birmingham on May 17th!!!!

You don’t have to get coffee

We are in the middle of my second favorite season at work-college recruiting! A successful college recruiting season is vital to my most favorite season at work-summer, for our summer intern program. We have a stellar intern program for technical talent and it’s insanely tough to get into. One of the selling points that we beat to death comes down to “you don’t have to get coffee.” What we really mean is our interns don’t get handed petty tasks to keep them busy for 10-12 weeks and shadow technical subject matter experts. Instead they get handed real work to perform right along side our SMEs. There is obviously economical value in our interns applying the skills they have acquired to our backlog, but is there economical value in having them get coffee?

coffee run

I don’t mean that our technical interns should run out every morning to pick up the gangs coffee order for morning SCRUM, but maybe other lower level tasks. I recently read what Daniela Pierre Bravo had to say about being an intern for Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe and she starts off with the first time she met Mika. Her first question and first order had to do with fetching coffee. I laughed this off as soon as I read it, because again I sell “You don’t have to get coffee.” The story focused on why getting her coffee right was so important and why it helped Daniela be successful in other things. It basically boiled down to this (which I think is brilliant):

“Whatever industry you enter, your first few roles will be to support others. In order to do that, it is imperative to take cues about the needs and preferences of others, because at the end of the day, if you are there in an entry level position, whatever the industry is, you are there to make the jobs of those above you easier. That is what gives you added value and helps you excel at your role.”

I realize we are still talking about coffee, but she uses this example to illustrate how she recognized the importance of each task assigned. Nothing was assigned for fun, everything had a purpose. I think this is difficult for educated entry level folks to grasp. We think when we go from high school to college we are working hard in a different way to skip some of these entry level tasks that aren’t as fun or are harder to attach to the bigger picture. A lot of times when a task doesn’t make us feel good we tend to devalue that task and find a way to not do it. Daniela flips us a nice reminder that we all have to make our way and that understanding the little tasks will lead to us being entrusted with bigger tasks.

Now I’m going to switch to more general terms. What expectations are you allowing your entry level people to set for your organization? College isn’t replacing entry-level experience, it’s preparing students for entry-level positions in a more competitive hiring market. It’s bringing new hires in  your door that have a foundation of knowledge. That’s a good thing, but they have to do some lower level work to appreciate the bigger picture. I’ve never seen an employee that didn’t work hard at the smaller lower level tasks excel in a higher level position. I’m sure it’s happened, but I’m also sure it’s not the norm. Do your employees a favor, develop them. If you don’t expect them to do tasks that need to be done just because they don’t want to do them, you are not setting them up for success anywhere else. And those employees, like Daniela, who just get it- duplicate them. Whatever you do, don’t punish those employees by giving them work that their peers don’t want to do and then rate them the same come performance review time.

Get your own coffee? 

Before I close this one out I want to clarify a very important reason our interns don’t have to get coffee is because we all get our own coffee. One of my favorite stories I heard an engineer tell (with lots of enthusiasm) on a college recruiting trip to a student was how he gets his coffee from the same coffee pot that one of the co-founders of our company gets his from and how much he appreciates that kind of access to the top technical talent we have on staff!

 

 

HR Technology

Applicant. Tracking. Systems. Why do you need them and which one is for you? This is actually a hard concept for some pros to wrap theirtechnology head around. I myself didn’t even know what an ATS was until I had been using one for about five years. I didn’t know that’s what it was called, in fact no one used it when they hired me except to report hours for payroll. Literally, they would take paper time cards and figure them up and key them into a function of the ATS that communicated the information to another program. Sounds ridiculous right? So my former employer had bought this fancy system and no one was using it for its true purpose. They also hadn’t activated it through the website to capture applications, they were still peddling paper applications (this was only about eight years ago).

Where I currently work actually built their own applicant tracking system. You would think that was super bad ass because we are a highly technical company… it’s not. I was excited at first because this means you own it, you edit it, you tailor it how you want. The major downfalls: someone on our payroll has to make edits we want, it doesn’t communicate with Costpoint or Outlook or our educational assistance function, EDP function, etc. and it just plain doesn’t do what us recruiters need it to do.  I’ve been mumbling about needing an ATS since about my fourth day on the job here.

Last year at #SHRM13 I spent some time on the overwhelming vendor floor. At first look it was miles of sales people shoving the latest and greatest tool in your face, but once you get to a useful vendor and pocket a few awesome giveaways, you start to relax. It’s nice to be able to  compare vendors side by side and really evaluate where you are going to get the most bang for your buck. I spent some time with a couple of HRIS vendors that really rocked my socks, but I think my favorite was Halogen Software. What’s really sweet nowadays is that big players like Halogen are not just an ATS, they are every technological tool you need in one place. I chatted with a rep at the conference and had a few follow-up calls with the most amazing rep ever, Nancy!

Nancy let me ask a ton of questions to truly understand their product line and explore different scenarios to meet different needs. She also walked me through a demo or two! My favorite thing that Halogen can string together for a client, above the basic needs of applicant tracking system, is what they call the eAppraisal Professional Services. Most software tools are going to have this extra as an option these days, but Halogen is adamant that you should implement only what you need and they are willing to file that down with you. This function includes employee appraisals and project reviews, goal alignment and management, on boarding forms and task management capabilities, performance based development planning and other neat things to follow-up on these tasks faster than before! Their systems connect the HR function of talent management with the managers function of talent management and facilitates a one stop shop to weave every piece of it together. Their customer service really is amazing (straight from their site):

From award-winning products to stellar support and services, we’re raising the bar on what you can expect from a talent management vendor. In fact, being ranked No. 1 in customer satisfaction means you can expect more from us.

Companies that have grown from small business to mid-size and have their sights set on being a mega size business tend to find themselves caught up in a pile of processes and a bunch of neat tools that don’t get the job done all the way. When you’re shopping for the right tools you need to keep in mind that these tools don’t replace HR or any of your HR functions they facilitate a faster track to implement all of your HR/talent management functions. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend connecting with Nancynwilkinson@halogensoftware.com or 1-866-311-5007) and letting her help you assess your needs and better understand the right custom suite for you and your organization.  If nothing else, mosey around their website and pick up white papers on HR metrics, retaining talent, managing employee goals and more! You can also pick up some great insight from any of their talented blog contributors.