Are you struggling to be happy at work?

In 1942 Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, was taken to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.  Three years later, when his camp was liberated, his pregnant wife and parents had already been killed by the Nazis. He survived and in 1946 went on to write the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“.  In this great book, Frankl writes:

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

What Frankl knew was that you can’t make happiness out of something outside yourself.  Riding the Waverunner doesn’t make you happy. You decide to be happy while doing that activity, but you could as easily decide to be angry or sad while doing this activity (although Daniel Tosh would disagree!).  Frankl also wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I get asked frequently by HR Pros about how they can make their employees or workplace happier.  I want to tell them about Frankl’s research and what he learned in the concentration camps.  I want to tell them that you can’t make your employees happy.  They have to decide they want to be happy, first. But, I don’t, people don’t want to hear the truth.

Coming up with ‘things’ isn’t going to make your employees happy. You might provide free lunch, which some will really like, but it also might make someone struggling with their weight, very depressed.  You might give extra time off and most of your employees will love it, but those who define themselves by their work will find this a burden.

Ultimately, I think people tend to swing a certain way on the emotional scale.  Some are usually happier than others.  Some relish in being angry or depressed, it’s their comfort zone.  They don’t know how to be any other way.  Instead of working to ‘make’ people happy, spend your time selecting happy people to come work for you.

In the middle of a concentration camp, the most horrific experiences imaginable, Frankl witnessed people who made the decision to be happy. Maybe they were happy to have one more day on earth. Maybe they were happy because, like Frankl, they discovered that the Nazis could take everything from them except their mind.

Provide the best work environment that you can.  Continue to try and make it better with the resources you have.  Give meaning to the work and the things you do.  Every organization has this, no matter what you do at your company.  Don’t pursue happiness, it’s a fleeting emotion that is impossible to maintain.  Pursue being the best organization you can be.  It doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not.  Just be ‘you’, and find others that like ‘you.’

Thank You!

As you go off on your Thanksgiving Holiday – Thank you! Thank you for reading my thoughts. Thank you for your support over the years. Thank you to all those who send me personal notes on how a post impacts you. Thank you to all those who send me personal notes about my grammar errors.

In a year that has been so hard on all of us, thank you for your friendship. Have a great holiday!

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!

It’s 2020 and I’m Re-certifying with @SHRM. Want to know why?

In 2001 I got my SPHR certification for the first time. I started my first real HR Manager job and the CHRO wanted to make sure every single HR person on our team had either a PHR or SPHR. I did an eight-week group study course with fellow HR pros studying for the test and I was lucky that my company had also purchased a SHRM study kit.

I remember leaving that test thinking, “I have no idea if I failed or passed! And, boy, I only know a fraction of what I thought I knew in HR!” This was after studying for two months straight and putting legitimate hours in on the study kit.

I passed and vowed to never have to take that test again!

It’s 2020 and SHRM just sent me a reminder that my SHRM-SCP is up for renewal. For years I carried both the HRCI-SPHR and the SHRM-SCP. Again, I figured I did all the education to keep them up, I’ll just carry both.

Why am I re-certifying for the SHRM-SCP? 

  1. If you’re in HR, SHRM is the world-recognized leader in HR. So, having a certification from SHRM carries career weight.
  2. 99% of Leaders of organizations who care about someone having an HR certification have always believed it was a SHRM certification, even though for most of that time HRCI was the actual certifying body. Now, SHRM has its own HR certification, and quite frankly, it’s as good as the HRCI one, and in some cases better.
  3. I don’t see any other association in the world doing as much as SHRM does to advance the practice of HR. Because of that, I foresee them being the leader in the HR space for a long time.
  4. When I speak to actual SHRM card-carrying members, they are very satisfied with the association and they are very happy with the education and support they are getting.
  5. It’s a cost-effective way to stay on top of changes in HR and show those who care that I’m staying on top of my profession, probably better than most people are.

Let’s be honest, I’ve reached a point in my career where the SHRM-SCP certification isn’t needed for me personally. I don’t have to re-certify and I’ll have a job tomorrow and at any time in the future. But, I’m choosing to anyway because I did the work!

I developed content for webinars and presented it to my peers in HR and TA. I sat and watched peers in HR and TA present at conferences and on webinars and I learned things I didn’t know. I read books and listened to podcasts, and consumed tons of HR-related material so I was staying up on all the changes in the HR field.

Maybe it’s PTSD from taking that test once, but I’m re-certifying because I never want to have to take it again. I’m re-certifying because having my SHRM-SCP makes me feel special and accomplished. It sets me apart in the field of HR, and I won’t apologize for that, I passed the test and did the work.

Me re-certifying isn’t about taking a stance for or against something. This is about me and my professional development. I encourage every single professional to find ways to continue your professional, functional development long after you have “gotten the job”. Getting the job is just the start, not the end!

(FYI – for those thinking somehow SHRM is paying me for this post. They aren’t. But as always I welcome anyone to pay me for anything if they are so inclined! I’m an equal opportunity check casher.) 

Why Don’t We Make HR Simple? (hint: we might possibly have deep psychological issues!)

Have you ever wondered why HR Departments continue to make complex processes?  In reality, all of us want things simple.  But, when you look at our organizations they are filled with complexity.  It seems like the more we try to make things simple, the more complex they get.  You know what?  It’s you – it’s not everyone else.  You are making things complex, and you’re doing this because it makes you feel good.

From Harvard Business Review:

“There are several deep psychological reasons why stopping activities are so hard to do in organizations. First, while people complain about being too busy, they also take a certain amount of satisfaction and pride in being needed at all hours of the day and night. In other words, being busy is a status symbol. In fact, a few years ago we asked senior managers in a research organization — all of whom were complaining about being too busy — to voluntarily give up one or two of their committee assignments. Nobody took the bait because being on numerous committees was a source of prestige.

Managers also hesitate to stop things because they don’t want to admit that they are doing low-value or unnecessary work. Particularly at a time of layoffs, high unemployment, and a focus on cost reduction, managers want to believe (and convince others) that what they are doing is absolutely critical and can’t possibly be stopped. So while it’s somewhat easier to identify unnecessary activities that others are doing, it’s risky to volunteer that my own activities aren’t adding value. After all, if I stop doing them, then what would I do?”

That’s the bad news.  You have deep psychological issues.  Your spouse already knew that about you.

The good news is, you can stop it!  How?  Reward people for eliminating worthless work.  Right now we reward people who are working 70 hours per week and always busy and we tell people “Wow! Look at Tim he’s a rock star – always here, always working!”  Then someone in your group goes, “Yeah, but Tim is an idiot, I could do his job in 20 hours per week, if…”  We don’t reward the 20-hour guy, we reward the guy working 70 hours, even if he doesn’t have to.

Somewhere in our society – the ‘working smarter’ analogy got lost or turned into ‘work smarter and longer’.  The reality is most people don’t have the ability to work smarter, so they just work longer and make everything they do look ‘Really’ important!   You just thought of someone in your organization, when you read that, didn’t you!?  We all have them – you can now officially call them ‘psychos’ – since they do actually have “deep psychological” reasons for doing what they’re doing – Harvard said so!

I love simple.  I love simple HR.  I love simple recruiting.  I hate HR and Talent Pros that make things complex, because I know they have ‘deep psychological’ issues!  Please go make things simple today!

Tomorrow I’m Talking for 9 Minutes! Check it Out! #InnovateWork #FindGreatness

My buddy, Chris Bailey, from the Cayman Islands called me and said, “Hey, I’m helping out with this HR thing called InnovateWork. Will you come on the event and do a talk?” I ask, “How long?” He says, “9 minutes.” I say, “9 minutes! I can definitely talk for 9 minutes!”

The event is Tuesday, November 10th at 1 pm ET. You can register here, the entire event takes like an hour or so – besides my 9-minute talk, you can also see Chris, our friend William Tincup, Simmone L. Bowe from the Bahamas, and Dr. Cassida Jones Johnson from Jamaica

Also, hosting the event are some more friends, Julie Turney, Bill Banham, Rob Catalano (Bill and Rob co-Founded InnovateWork).

What will I be talking about for 9 minutes? 

Great question, but I have a way that I think we can discover who is great in your organization! Yep, in 9 minutes I’m going to teach every single person on the webcast how they can discover who is great in your organization No technology needed. I’m not selling anything. Well, I’m selling you a great idea and an exercise that your leadership teams will love!

In 9 minutes I’m going to actually walk you through the exercise that you can then take back to your own organization and use! It’s simple but powerful, I’ve literally done this in organizations and had people crying!

Come check it out! It’s an hour or so out of your week, and I guarantee you it will be worth it!

REGISTER HERE! 

If You Pay Women More They’ll Work Harder Than Men! (It’s Science!)

A new study out from Harvard (so you know it’s legit and sh*t!) on what is the real payoff on paying employees more. It the age-old question, right? We can’t find great talent, so we say, “well, if we paid more we could find more talent”. Not quite “great talent” but more talent.

But, that really isn’t even the question this is answering. This is about what about our own employees and if we paid them more, would they work harder?

So, will employees work harder for more money? 

The study looked at mass retail and warehouse workers and found that a $1 increase in pay would on average, overall employees, give back the company $1,10 in extra productivity. Not great, but in very big organizations, an extra $.10 per hour in productivity could be significant, but there were other findings I found more fascinating:

1. Women, on average, will actually work harder for more pay than men! 

2. It’s super hard to pre-select those employees, or candidates, who will actually be more productive with the additional pay.

In fact, “women’s productivity responds more and their turnover responds less to wage changes than men’s, which can lead to occupational pay gaps”. Meaning, less pay doesn’t have the same impact on women as it does men. Men are more likely to turnover when they feel they aren’t being compensated fairly.

The other side of this study that is fascinating from a compensation perspective is something we all kind of know, but never like to admit to – we actually kind of suck at selection and determining who will be a great performer from a poor performer. Interviews, especially in no-skill, low-skill jobs, are basically worthless.

You might have a better chance of being a pay leader and only hiring women. At least you’ll give yourself a better chance the ladies will work harder for that money!

I think what this really speaks to is class pay for performance. Our need to make sure we are paying those employees, who perform the best, more than those employees who do not perform the best. We struggle with this. “Well, Tim, they are all classified “Warehouse Associates 1″ if we paid them differently there would be chaos!”

I get it. It’s not easy, but being great is never easy. Do you really think what you are doing now is really working great?

I think we have the ability in retail, dining, warehouse, manufacturing, do compensation testing where we try some of these philosophies and ideas. What would happen if we developed great productivity measures, and then we really compensated our best performers more. Not twenty-five cents more, but significantly more than their peers who are average or below average on those same metrics?

Might you have some turnover of weaker players? Yep. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, most likely not, if you’re prepared with a funnel of potential new hires. Becoming great at HR is about challenging what we are doing now, so we can become better than we are for the future.

Now, go take care of those ladies who are working harder than your dudes!

Does Your Average Employee Tenure Matter? (New Data!)

I keep getting told by folks who tend to know way more than me that employees ‘today’ don’t care about staying at a company long term. “Tim you just don’t get it, the younger workforce just wants to spend one to three years at a job than leave for something new and different.” You’re right! I don’t get it.

BLS recently released survey data showing that the average employee tenure is sitting around 4.1 years.  Which speaks to my smart friends who love to keep replacing talent. I still don’t buy this fact as meaning people don’t want long term employment with one organization.

Here’s what I know about high tenured individuals:

1. People who stay long term with a company tend to make more money over their careers.

2. People who stay long term with a company tend to reach the highest level of promotion.

3. People who tend to stay long term with a company tend to have higher career satisfaction.

I don’t have a survey on this. I have twenty years of working in the trenches of HR and witnessing this firsthand. The new CEO hire from outside the company gets all the press, but it actually rarely happens. Most companies promote from within because they have trust in the performance of a long-term, dedicated employee, over an unknown from the outside. Most organizations pick the known over the unknown.

I still believe tenure matters a great deal to the leadership of most organizations.  I believe that a younger workforce still wants to find a great company where they can build a career, but we keep telling them that is unrealistic in today’s world.

Career ADHD is something we’ve made up to help us explain to our executives why we can no longer retain our employees.  Retention is hard work. It has a real, lasting impact on the health and well-being of a company. There are real academic studies that show the organizations with the highest tenure, outperform those organizations with lower tenure.  (here, here, and here)

Employee tenure is important and it matters a great deal to the success of your organization. If you’re telling yourself and your leadership that it doesn’t, that it’s just ‘kids’ today, we can’t do anything about it, you’re doing your organization a disservice. You can do something about it. Employee retention, at all levels, should be the number 1, 2, and 3 top priorities of your HR shop.

OMG! Did you guys hear what Kris did!?! #Yikes!

Gawd! We love gossip!

I’m personally on five text groups, a few Messenger groups, a couple of IG groups, and a number of email chains that all act like some strange modern version of a watercooler in the breakroom at work. Or the back smoke break patio at the office. Pick your pleasure.

Cultural anthropology sees gossip as an informal way of enforcing group norms. It is effective in small groups. But gossip is not the search for truth. It is a search for approval by attacking the perceived flaws of others…As a social enforcement mechanism, gossip does not scale. Large societies need other enforcement mechanisms: government, religion, written codes.”

Think about how gossip can help organizations perform better.

If I’m new to a department, gossip quickly lets me know the group norms that are expected and tolerated. If I want to be viewed as a good performer I will follow the group norms and gossip is the vehicle for letting me know what those norms will be.

If I’m a “good” gossip, I skilled at finding and sharing information amongst my team they find valuable, I’ll quickly increase my status within the department. I have to be careful as lies and false gossip can quickly bring me down in status.

The problem with gossip, historically, is in didn’t scale well. I might have some juicy gossip but how am I going to effectively share that across an entire organization? But, now with social media, the internet, smartphones, email, Teams/Slack, Zoom, etc., we can easily spread gossip, both good and bad.

So, why am I talking about gossip? 

I will tell you leaders and HR spend more time trying to stop gossip within the organization than almost anything. I’m wondering if we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. What if we used gossip to drive great engagement? What would that look like?

The key to great gossip is “we” all want to be in on a secret. 

We want gossip that we believe almost no one else has. To use gossip to enforce organizational norms (gossip at scale) we can’t just go out and start launching secrets into the world. There has to be a plan!

The problem with trying to lead with gossip is it can lead to chaos. If we believe the social/group norm is to communicate via gossip, that is a very fine line to try and navigate successfully, knowing it’s hard to know what gossip to believe or not believe.

I think we can use the psychology behind our desire for gossip, though, to drive some great outcomes within our organizations.

What happens if you’re in a small meeting, let’s say, five people. The CEO is one of those people and she has something amazing to tell everyone, BUT, the four of us will have to keep this secret. We can’t tell anyone!

We all leave the meeting. I’ve got my #1 right-hand person on my team. I’ve got to pull them in, this is too important, this has too big of an impact on our department not to let my #1 know! So, I trust them (like the CEO trusted me) to not tell anyone else. What happens?

  1. They are over the moon that I trusted them enough to bring them in on the secret. (High Engagement – High Loyalty)
  2. I put myself in a really bad position if the CEO finds out.
  3. I start working with the CEO to let us work on a comms plan to let others know that need to know. (basically to cover my ass for already letting the secret out into the wild!)

Welcome to Organizational Behavior 101, kids!

Every leader has “gossip”. Stuff they know that their team doesn’t know. Some of that is secret. Some of that is just stuff they found about before everyone else, for an undetermined amount of time.

I find that leaders who can use the positive “safe” gossip for informing their team tend to have extremely high team engagement. “Hey, team, we need to pull it in close for a five-minute huddle, I’ve got something really important I need to share with you. But, first, you have to understand, this is NOT public information! We can’t allow this to be shared.”

I just wrote that, and I’m sitting here wanting to know what comes next! Gossip is a powerful tool, that can just as easily make your career as break your career!

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure the group norms we allow are ones where the good gossip, the sharing of information that helps us all increase our knowledge and power are encouraged, while the bad gossip is shut down immediately. All gossip is not bad, but it’s all-powerful in terms of possible outcomes.

 

Should You Tell An Employee You Consider Them High-Potential? #HiPo

The Wall Street Journal had an article saying that only 28% of companies tell their employees what they are ranked in terms of future potential (i.e., High Potential, Low, etc.).  From the article:

According to a report released Monday by consulting firm Towers Watson, just 68% of companies formally identify high-potential employees, and only 28% actually tell the employees they’ve been labeled as such. The survey was based on a study of 316 companies across North America.

“This is really a missed opportunity,” says Laurie Bienstock, co-author of the report. “You need to wonder how [organizations] are fostering the development of these high-potentials if they’re not informing them.”

Don’t you just wonder!?

Let me tell you a little HR secret Laurie, employers don’t need to tell Hi-Po’s they are Hi-Po’s because Hi-Po’s already know they are Hi-Po’s, that’s one reason they are Hi-Po’s they have great self-awareness.   What employers need to do with Hi-Po’s is the following:

1. Pay them.  Above the market, above average and low potentials within the same workgroups and make sure they know it.

2. Challenge them.  Lead positions on projects, putting them in positions to communicate to senior leadership and shine, getting them into the organizational “circle of trust”.

3. Treat them differently.  Yep, that’s right HR Pros – treat your Hi-Po’s differently than you treat your Low-Po’s – they expect, they want it, they’ll appreciate it.  It will tick off your Low-Po’s, and that’s a good thing – you need your Low-Po’s to be uncomfortable – you’re in charge of making your organization’s talent better, not running a charity event.

The other fact from the article that only 68% formally identify employee potential is surprising to me – and not that it’s low – that number seems high to me.  Hi-Po, No-Po, Low-Po, etc. is a big HR shop game that is a luxury for most organizations.  Is it critical for successful succession planning? Yes.  It is also something that takes a ton of organizational resources to accomplish and maintain.  Once you get that data, you then have to do something with it and keep doing it.  That usually means the development of an entire group within HR, depending on how big your organization is.  So, 68% seems like an inflated number – I’m guessing the survey was given to only large corporations.

Should you tell an employee what they are ranked?  I have and I would – but it really depends on the culture and engagement of your organization.  The one thing I will tell you is, if you have no plan on what you are going to do with this data, don’t start – it will be a waste of time.  I see so many HR Pros run down this path of determining who their Hi-Po’s are without any idea of what they are going to do next.  It’s like “Hey! We found out Joe and Lynn are our Hi-Po’s! Isn’t that great?!”  No, not really – so, what?  The real work comes after the identification in developing your Hi-Po’s into their next level position and building succession, the real work is not in the identifying.