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Reading Piles!

E-mails, magazines, books, etc.  We all have too much to read - but great intentions.  We put things in piles - with great hope of reaching the bottom some day.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I read HR Magazine (SHRM's publication) in 5 minute increments - usually waiting for an appointment (the benefits of being chronically early).  The January 2011 magazine's cover story is titled, 11 Initiatives for 2011.  You can read this at your leisure; I decided that the 11 initiatives needed to be listed for all to more easily see (no need to dig out the magazine until you have more time). Just like the occasional book report I commonly send out (see our website for these reports - under the Clients tab in Recommended Reading), I have reduced each of the 11 points to a sentence or two.  I hope you find these points of value. 1.  Look at succession planning and talent acquisition.
  • Regardless of the unemployment level (9.0% overall; currently at 4.2% for people 25 and older with a 4-year degree or higher), your best employees are getting restless and are getting calls from people like us (retained search firms).  This said, most companies have not planned effectively for succession.  Boards and senior management are nervous - and need to make this a priority.
2.  Lift pay freezes and restore 401(k) matches incrementally.
  • The majority of employers have lifted freezes and restored matches.  While we are still in uncertain economic times, there is a need and opportunity to reward people for their hard work and dedication.
3.  Invest in top managers and critical jobs.
  • High-potential and top-performing employees need to know they are special - or someone on the outside will make them feel even more special.
4.  Prepare for legal minefields.
  • While the magazine points to potential union (organizing, etc.) activities, the larger point seems to be that many employees are dissatisfied and frustrated.  This leads to potential action (turnover, increasing lawsuits due to unresolved frustration, etc.).
5.  Resolve to be an effective consigliere (definition:  counselor or adviser).
  • HR is commonly sitting on information that could be used to make the organization a better place.  Sometimes, those difficult conversations can be the most positively impactful.
6.  Enhance transparency in support of ethics.
  • With social media the way it is today, creating an open forum for management and employees to honestly and publicly discuss issues impacting the company has proven to increase engagement (through trust, etc.).  If employees can't find a safe and honest place to have an open dialogue within the company, there are multiple sites where they can have a monologue about what is on their minds.
7.  Rebuild trust and boost morale.
  • Engagement again comes up in this strategy.  This 'recent' recession has been hard on people; look at engagement prior to the downturn; look at it now.  Address what has driven the decrease (each organization will have a different answer here - listen carefully).
8.  Look at innovative approaches.
  • There are many strategies and tactics companies can take to re-engage employees and capture the extra energy that exists.  Most cost little.  Catch people doing something right - and tell them.  Communicate.  Be visible as a manager and leader.  Create mentoring programs (or reverse mentoring programs).   Reinstate lunch-and-learns - put on by your own internal experts.
9.  Find a mix of non-monetary rewards.
  • Take the time to actually find out what your employees truly value.  (Research shows a disconnect between what employers offer employees and what senior executives say their direct reports actually value.)
10.  Focus on core business.
  • David Ulrich, well-renowned author and professor at the University of Michigan, talks about building a culture that mirrors customer expectations.  Make sure your training and reward structure (including the performance management process) both focus on your true business strategy.
11.  Learn from the past but question assumptions.
  • Marketing and finance always model and analyze data.  HR should be doing the same thing.  Pre-think new ideas and directions.  Get used to looking at research and analyzing data.