“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”
~ Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas ~
Client Suzanna Asks: We are building our HR department. We want to make it the star in our company—really there for every need. What professional qualifications should we look for as we augment our human resources section?
Coach Joel Answers: There are several things to look at as you hire HR employees. Of course you want them to be a good fit for you and your company. You have a hard-charging company and so every employee you hire needs to be fully committed.
For your human resources department, you need additional skills.
1. Certification. Certifications give you confidence your new hires will have documented professional qualifications. Degrees and other curriculum give people training and theory on best HR practices.
Still, this is theory only. Most human resources departments also look for those who have interned and gotten hands-on training.
2. Interns. When you hire summer interns, you get a great look at their professional qualifications. More than that, you see the less visible. How do they interact with your current team? Is their personality a fit for your office? Do their ethics and integrity match what you are looking for?
3. People skills. Perhaps more than any other organization in your company, the human resources department interacts with people. A key component of any professional qualification includes skills in interacting with others.
How do they interact with people of different cultures, races, or abilities? Are they able to diffuse frustrations? Can they listen and be that intermediary between worker and company?
4. Testing. When you hire, you’ll be filling specific functions. You want to make sure your payroll person knows how to do payrolls. Your insurance person needs to understand policies, premiums and options.
Your compliance person must understand federal and state laws as well as all the rules and ordinances your company must follow.
You may want to give tests to your prospective hires to make sure their skill level matches your needs. This would be a follow-up to the certification or training they’ve received. Did they understand and process all the skill sets in their training? Your company tests will guarantee it.
5. Technical expertise. Suzanna, your company is focused in IT. The new hires coming through your HR need to have very technical skills. While your HR professionals don’t need to know those skills, they need to speak some “geek.”
In the same way, a hospital HR needs to understand medical jargon. Or an engineering HR needs to know acronyms and skills to be able to assess qualifications.
So you’ll need to discuss with your company managers how much technical expertise they’d like your HR department to have. As you advertise and interview. As you set up mentorships and work on succession planning. How qualified do your people need to be on the technical side?
Suzanne, you are right on target to seek outstanding professionals in your human resources department. This will add value to your company. Be sure to consult with other leaders and managers to really understand how you can best serve them.
Then you will be in a better position to hire people based on their professional qualifications or to train them in-house.
Call to Action:
When you’re ready to improve your human resources department and raise your professional level, contact Joel. He will assist with training, motivation, and clarity of communication.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to improve the professional qualifications in your human resources staff?
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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
~ Nelson Mandela ~
Gayle wanted to move up in her HR job. After careful consideration, Gayle decided to complete her Professional Human Resources Certification. She had been working in HR long enough that she could move forward with certification.
“I really wanted to be more competitive. I know HR can be a tough field,” She said. While the course was not easy and the test challenging, it really lifted her to a new level. She gained knowledge and skills that were exactly what she needed to grow.
She hoped the Professional Human Resources Certification (PHR) –and the initials behind her name–would give her a competitive advantage. It did.
“But I was surprised at all the other ways the training helped me,” Gayle said. “It really made a difference.”
Here are six ways a professional human resources certificate will help your hr career.
- Life-long learner. “You need to be re-certified every three years,” Gayle said, “So people know you are current on the newest best practices in HR.” Gayle feels the program motivates her to keep learning and growing.
- Increased credibility. Those with the HR Certification can put the letters after their name. Immediately, peers, leaders, and prospective employers know this person has reached a standard of ability.
The rating and testing is unbiased and demonstrates absolute knowledge of core skills. “I feel like it gives me credibility,” Gayle says. “I don’t have to toot my own horn. The letters do it for me.”
- Master of core HR principles. The certification courses requires both learning and application in a real world environment. Participants must demonstrate proficiency in key skills. Employers know there’s less need to train new hires who have passed these exams. Their skills sets and understanding of HR has already been validated.”
Because you need both education and practical experience for the test, employers know it’s not just theory,” Gayle said. “You have practiced and applied it, too.”
- Initiative and leadership. “Not everyone takes this step,” Gayle says. “It takes effort and really makes you a leader.” Gayle has also appreciated the professional group she’s become a part of. “Having that connection to other PHR’s and SPHR’s creates a community and a network.”
Only about 130,000 people in 100 countries have mastered these exams. That gives Gayle a leadership position.Respect from peers. “I find that my word seems to carry weight,” Gayle says. Peers know her training and skills. If she declares something as a best practice, her peers don’t question her.
- Confidence. The skills Gayle gained as she studied and prepared for the Professional Human Resources Certificate have been a great benefit. “It’s really given me self-assurance,” Gayle said. “I feel a great deal of confidence in my ability to do my job. And I know that I stand out as I market myself.”
Certification combines education, experience, and an examination to insure knowledge. It acts as a standard and a path to exceptional opportunities. After getting her PHR certificate, Gayle was able to advance her career quickly. She said, “My new boss said that the certification weighted in my favor for getting the promotion,” Gayle said.
Are you wondering if certification is the next step to advance your career? Contact Joel for guidance in your career path.
Talkback: In your experience, how essential are these cognitive traits for successful leadership?
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“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier behind it—you almost don’t have to manage them.”
~ Jack Welch~
Carlos oversees the human resources department for an expanding oil company. As part his goal to educate and improve abilities of HR and the staff to manage human capital, he decided to find and share great articles. “I wanted a resource that would be of value for our employees and managers,” Carlos said.
“I wanted our people to understand that they could have more control over their advancement,” Carlos said. “It’s not just HR that controls talent management, leaders and workers have a say, too.”
Carlos researched talent management articles for human resources he could draw on for information to share. “Often I’ll ask the writer of a great article if I can repost it for my people,” Carlos said. “I know it’s unethical to just lift it from the web without permission.” Even without permission, however, it is acceptable to quote excerpts and provide a link back to the original article.
Great talent management articles can offer education and value nearly equivalent to semesters of coursework. Carlos looked for articles with depth and vision.
Ten Ways to Keep Your Star Employees is a great example of the best kind of article for his managers. “It fit right in with both empowering employees and managing talent, Carlos said. “Look at some of the points it covers!”
- Empowering employees use their own gifts.
- Discovering tasks your top talent loves to do.
- Focusing on what workers are doing right in feedback and less on what’s wrong.
- Communicating effectively so each person- management and staff- understand the task, the company policies, and what’s expected.
- Helping your employees work smarter, not harder.
- Offering quality of life enhancements—even when the tough economy doesn’t let you pay them more.
- Letting employees focus more on what they enjoy.
- Looking for advancement opportunities for your employees and helping them find those openings within the company for themselves.
- Coaching and mentoring as a way to increase skills, value to the company, and chances for advancement.
Carlos also found cost effective ways to improve employee morale with this article: How Managers Can Improve Their Workplaces for Employees. The article covered the value of:
- Keeping lines of communication open so employees feel their comments matter.
- Adjusting work schedules with flex-time and other ways to keep talent that might otherwise leave the workforce.
- Recognizing accomplishments—which have been show to add satisfaction to workers.
- Developing programs and plans for workers to increase their skill levels. This increases the talent pool and makes the job of human resources easier.
“As I looked at talent management articles, some were particularly appropriate from a human resources perspective,” Carlos said. “3 Reasons to Invest in Leadership Development added to my understanding of the value of outside coaching in ways I hadn’t considered.” It said:
- Coaching and training is cheaper than bringing on new recruits. The cost of training them and bringing them up to speed is much higher than training or coaching current employees.
- Outside coaching relieves a burden on managers and allows managers to focus on their company job. Plus, you have an expert trainer teaching your employees, instead of a manager whose skills lie in a different direction.
- Talent development benefits both the company and the employees. The company creates a succession plan of rising leaders and keeps proprietary information within the company. Staff knows they are valued and appropriately challenged.
“I found great value in reading talent management articles to help me with my company’s human resources,” Carlos said. “It also gave me insights into breaking news and new ways of using traditional strategies.” Carlos likes the fast learning that comes from articles and plans to continue mining top articles for more valuable information to help him retain his company’s top talent.
Talkback: Have you read a great article? Let us know so we can all enjoy it.
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“I set as the goal the maximum capacity that people have. I settle for no less. I make myself a relentless architect of the possibilities of human beings.”
~ Benjamin Zander ~
Randy knows his company’s HR operation is in need of a makeover. The combination of the down economy, government regulations, new technologies and recruiting challenges has overwhelmed people with paper-pushing and record-keeping. Randy wants to shift the company’s focus from a “personnel department” where staff is giving attention to individual career salary for human capital management.
As company president, Randy assumes ultimate responsibility for all departmental outcomes. But he knows that his people will support what they help create, so he wants his managers to be involved in designing a new HR direction. After a two-hour brainstorming session, they come up with three action items:
- Adopt an asset focus
- Reward results
- Expect continuous improvement
1. Adopt an asset focus. A company that operates with a human capital management philosophy believes that its people are just as much an asset as its buildings, its inventory or its cash in the bank. The career salary for people needs to be equal to the value being provided.
“We can quantify peoples’ value,” Randy tells his staff. “And we can increase that value by making the right kind of investment in them. But how do we do that?”
Truly treating employees like assets involves a new and different mindset for many corporations. Often, especially in a down economy, people are viewed as liabilities. Both philosophically and in actual accounting, they are treated as costs, an overhead item that can be reduced or eliminated for short term gain.
Instead of the traditional belt-tightening when the going gets tough, now is the time to increase investment in our people,Randy decides. That means recruiting top talent with the same analysis and intensity the company would put into buying a new piece of equipment. It also means setting up a comprehensive people development program that includes management training, career coaching, and a comprehensive succession plan that provides upward mobility and salary increases for those who want a real future with the company. His focus is on human capital management in which career satisfaction and salary are priorities for employees.
2. Reward results. Overall compensation, including salary, benefits, and intangibles, is important, but it must be based on results. And the corporate culture should be set up so that the best rewards go to those who achieve the most impressive results. Along the way, of course, the company should also reward exceptional effort with praise and encouragement, even in cases where the goal or expected outcome didn’t happen. Each department manager will be responsible for evaluation and rewards, based on holding employees accountable for achieving specific business objectives, coming up with new ideas, and contributing to the company’s long-range plans.
3. Expect continuous improvement. Randy sees this strategy as a long term change, and long term means continuous improvement throughout the company.
The principle of continuous improvement originated with Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the management guru who helped the Japanese rebuild after World War II. Rather than making radical, high profile changes in company operations, Dr. Deming adopted the Japanese concept of kaizen, meaning “good change.” Kaizen says that each employee responsible for making small but consistent changes to his or her own operation. Over time, those small, incremental changes contribute directly to the company’s bottom line results.
Kaizen is based on five key principles: teamwork, personal discipline, improving morale, using quality circles, and making suggestions for improvement. Randy and his C-level managers base their human capital management strategy on implementing these principles. They provide monetary rewards, and they treat people as tangible assets by providing coaching and training that lead to career advancement opportunities.
The moral of the story, Randy says: “Invest in your people, just as you would any other tangible asset, and your ROI will go straight to the bottom line.”
If you would like to turn your people into tangible assets, Joel can show you how to do that. Contact him today.
Talkback: Are you seeing your people as assets or liabilities? Share your experience here.
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“The biggest tragedy in America is not the waste of natural resources, though this is tragic. The biggest tragedy is the waste of human resources.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~
Patrick is facing a major challenge. As the HR director of a mid-sized manufacturing company, the recession has hit him hard. Attrition is high and hard to rein in. Management is pressuring him to make some major policy changes in the way the company manages and retains talent. But he doesn’t even know where to start.
According to estimates, the service sector is witnessing an attrition rate of 40 per cent, pharmaceuticals about 30-35 per cent and manufacturing more than 20 per cent.
Do you identify with Patrick’s dilemma? How is your company dealing with the recession? Are you compromising on talent? Do you have enough leaders to fuel future growth?
After some research into best practices being implemented by other companies, Patrick developed a three-point strategy to discuss with his CEO:
• Generate recruiting excitement
• Emphasize accountability and rewards
• Create a supportive workplace
1. Generate recruiting excitement. Attracting and retaining key talent takes creativity. In an economic downturn, too many companies are focused on putting out fires and struggling to stay afloat. Instead of buying into the struggle, Patrick focused his energy on rebranding the company’s image by revamping its attitude. He instituted company-wide “conversations” with both internal managers and outside advisors and coaches. He asked his C-level managers to commit to a policy of transparency, sharing openly about where the company stood and where it was headed. Soon people were talking about the company’s possibilities rather than its problems. They were telling their friends that the company was a great place to work.
2. Emphasize accountability and rewards. People need a reasonable level of autonomy and responsibility in order to feel challenged. And with autonomy comes accountability, which leads to rewards. Patrick knew that monetary rewards would be slim in the still-recovering economy so he asked a team of employees to come up with a list of non-monetary rewards. Their recommendations included more public recognition for ideas and accomplishments, as well as small incentives such as extra vacation days and gift certificates to local restaurants.
3. Create a supportive workplace. Patrick recommended that the company focus intensely on creating a work-life balance culture. After agreeing on core working hours, employees were encouraged to set their own schedules. He set aside space in the building for quiet rooms where employees could read, meditate, or even nap during breaks. He set up a cafeteria-style training and development program where employees could choose from a variety of online courses, off-site seminars, and in-house trainings. He set up a quarterly all-hands meeting that featured motivational speakers on a variety of topics.
A study published in CMA Management indicates a strong correlation between the valuing of human capital and creating shareholder value, both short and long term. Over a five-year period, the study showed total return to shareholders was nearly twice as much for high-valuing companies (103%) as for low-valuing companies (53%). What’s it worth to you? Lower turnover, higher productivity and results that show on the bottom line.
If you would like to discuss possibilities for valuing human capital in your company, contact Joel today for some suggestions.
Talkback: Have you tried shifting your company’s internal culture in a way that worked? Share your experiences here.
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