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    Monday
    Jan212019

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 354 - Sharing Kindness Inside and Outside the Workplace

    HR Happy Hour 354 - Sharing Kindness Inside and Outside the Workplace

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guest: Anne Donovan, US People Experience Leader, PwC

    Listen to the show HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve was joined by Anne Donovan, US People Experience Leader at PwC to talk about their 'Share Kindness' initiative, a global program to help people share acts of kindness inside and outside the workplace. The Share Kindess program is simple - it encourages both the people at PwC, as well as all of us, to share a simple act of kindness with someone, and then share what they did at the 'Share Kindness' site - https://www.pwc.com/us/sharekindness. It's that simple, but it's also turning into something really powerful - folks at PwC are sharing their stories of buying a stranger's coffee, helping carry groceries to the car for an elderly person, or even just letting a fellow driver merge into traffic in front of you. 

    There's some really interesting things happening with the Share Kindness program - obviously encouraging people to be kind to each other is great, but it also serves as an element of PwC's overall employee wellbeing approach - being kind makes us feel good too. And as Anne really clearly stated on the show, her job is to look after something simple and important - the answer to 'How does it feel to work here?' question that all employees think about, especially in this historically competitive labor market.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a really fun conversation - please do visit the Share Kindness site - https://www.pwc.com/us/sharekindness to get involved.

    Subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show wherever you get your podcasts.

    Wednesday
    Jan162019

    CHART OF THE DAY: Four out of five say that company culture needs to change

    Quick take for a waiting for the snow to come Wednesday. I wanted to share one data point from the Katzenbach Center Global Culture Survey 2018, a broad look at organizational culture and leadership.

    Here is the survey's lead chart and the one that shows that despite us telling each other that 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast' for literally 30 years, there apparently is still much that organizations and leaders need to do in the culture wars. Data first, then some FREE commentary from me after the chart:

    Some quick thoughts...

    1. The 'Culture eats' brigade would have us all think that well, culture does actually influence and drive business success to a larger degree than corporate strategy or even organizational talent. If so, then why do four our of five respondents claim that their culture needs to evolve and change in the next three to five years? While most of us probably agree that business strategy has to change, often fairly frequently, to respond to changing market conditions, it does seem kind of startling to see that 80% of people surveyed feel the same about culture. Is culture as malleable as strategy? Does it need to change as frequently as every 3 - 5 years, about the average tenure of talent at many organizations?

    2. I still maintain that the 'Culture eats' folks ignore the importance of strategy and the need for culture and strategy to be more connected and aligned. The culture survey states this plainly - "But for the influence of culture to translate into real business results, culture, strategy and operations must be aligned." And again, I'd add to this the importance to have people, the right people with both the right skills and attitudes to be aligned with both culture and strategy.

    3. Like many other workplace challenges, there is a difference of opinion and viewpoints about organizations culture between leadership and the rank and file employees. According to the Katzenbach survey, 63% of leaders feel their company culture is consistent with how people actually act in the organization, while only 41% of employees agree to that statement. Leaders at all levels need to really dig in to better understand how the organization's culture really manifests, shapes, and influences how work gets done in the organization. Culture is not what leaders talk about, it's what they do, what they reward, what they punish, and if/how the employees in the organization follow or don't follow these cues.

    I feel like we have been talking about organizational culture for ages, and I suspect the conversation will not end any time soon. Good for the workplace blogger types I guess!

    Have a great day!

    Monday
    Jan142019

    More information is not always better information, or leads to better decisions

    Quick update for a busy, cold Monday in the Northeast. Over the weekend while enjoying my typical evening of NBA League Pass and catching up on some reading, I ran into this excellent piece on the Behavioural Investment blog titled 'Can More Information Lead to Worse Investment Decisions.'

    In the piece, author Joe Wiggins references a research study titled 'Effects of Amount of Information on Judgement Accuracy and Confidence' that was published in 2008 in the academic journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, (I trust you are all up to date on your stack of these journals). Long, (really long) story short, the researchers found that having more information available that was meant to help subject make decisions had interesting and counter-intuitive effects. Essentially, more information did not increase the quality of decision making in a significant way, while at the same time increasing the subject's level of confidence in their decisions, which as we just noted, did not in fact get any better.

    Here's a simple chart from one of the experiments showing what happened to decision quality and subject confidence when more information and data about the decision was made available to subjects. 

    The data above shows how subjects in the study had to forecast a winner for a number of college football games based on sets of anonymised statistical information about the teams  The information came in blocks of 6 (so for the first trial of predictions the participant had 6 pieces of data) and after each subsequent trial of predictions they were given another block of information, up to 5 blocks (or 30 data points in total), and had to update their predictions.  Participants were asked to predict both the winner and their confidence in their judgement between 50% and 100%. The aim of the experiment was to understand how increased information impacted both accuracy and confidence in their decisions/predictions.

    Joe at Behavioural Investment sums up the results of the experiment really well:

    The contrasting impact of the additional information is stark – the accuracy of decision making is flat, decisions were little better with 30 statistics than just 6, however, participant confidence that they could select the winner increased materially and consistently.  When we come into possession of more, seemingly relevant, information our belief that we are making the right decision can be emboldened even if there is no justification for this shift in confidence levels.

    A really important reminder and a kind of a warning for any of us, say in HR in 2019, who are increasingly seeking to and are more able to gather more and more data and information to use and apply in HR and talent decision making. If more information does not always, (or maybe ever), lead to better decisions, then we need to be really much more careful how we plan to gather, process, and apply data for decision making. 

    The most basic takeaway from this kind of study is that we probably need to spend much more time thinking about what data and information is meaningful or predictive towards making a decision, rather than increasing our efforts to simply gather more and more data, from all the possible available sources, under the probably false impression that more = better.

    There are plenty of reasons why we are inclined to gather more data is we can - we might not know what information is actually relevant, so we look to simply collect data, we want to show we did a lot of research before taking a decision, or we want to be more comfortable with our decision if it is supported by more data. 

    But I think it's best to start small with our data sets we apply to decisions, take time to test if the data we already possess is meaningful and predictive before chasing more data for its own sake.

    Ok, that's it, I'm out - have a great week!

    Thursday
    Jan102019

    Stack Ranking is somehow still a thing in Corporate America

    This week over on CNBC.com a pretty major piece dropped on the workplace culture at Facebook, for years one of America's Top/Best/Greatest places to work, but after a really tough 2018 on a number of fronts, has seen both its market value and its employee morale decline.

    There is a ton of detail in the report, but one of the primary contributing factors that led CNBC to describe the workplace culture as 'cult-like', was the company's approach to managing employee performance. Two specific performance management practices were called out for having potentially negative or detrimental impacts on culture and engagement.

    The first practice is Facebook's requirement that employees solicit 5 peers at the company to provide feedback on their performance two times a year. This feedback can be given to the employee or to the employee's manager and is kept confidential and importantly, cannot be questioned or challenged. Critics of the process claimed it leads to employees having to make sure they buddy up to a number of colleagues in order to ensure positive feedback only is given, and serves to hide or ignore negative feedback or even just honest and open dialogue.

    But the second, and probably more important performance management practice in place at the company is a familiar one - the now infamous 'Stack Ranking' of GE and Microsoft fame. Under Facebook's Stack Ranking process, employees are placed (after a lengthy talent calibration exercise), into one of 7 performance categories, with semi-strict percentage quotas and limits for each category being enforced by management.

    For example, the top category or highest grade is given to fewer than 5% of employees, while a grade of 'Exceeds' is said to not to exceed about 35% of staff. The CNBC piece cites several anonymous former Facebook employees who indicated that they felt like they had to invent or stress overly negative feedback and comments for employees in order to avoid having too many of their teams in a given performance category - a common problem with just about all Stack Ranking systems.

    While in some circumstances and companies (heavy, sales driven ones for example), Stack Ranking can and does work fairly well in setting expectations and managing employee performance. But in complex, creative, technical companies like Facebook, the practice almost always leads to infighting, politics, favor trading, and ultimately, unhappy teams. GE and Microsoft both eventually shifted away from Stack Ranking, it will be interesting to see if this piece and other problems at Facebook will lead them to do the same.

    Really interesting stuff and a fascinating look at how a fundamental HR/Talent Management practice is impacting a major organization. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    Have a great day!

    Wednesday
    Jan092019

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 353 - Transforming the Employee Experience with HR Technology

    HR Happy Hour 353 - Transforming the Employee Experience with HR Technology

    Hosts:Steve Boese, Trish McFarlane

    Guests: Patrick Smith, Elias Medina, Arizona Federal Credit Union

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and Trish were joined by Patrick Smith and Elias Medina of the Arizona Federal Credit Union to talk HR Transformation and the role of modern HR Technology in that transformation. At the Arizona Federal Credit Union, the organization strives to give their members the most technologically advanced products, and the HR organization knew they needed to transform to deliver to their employees and candidates the same kinds of advanced, user-centric HR technology tools they have come to expect. Patrick and Elias shared how this HR and HR tech transformations have made significant impact in recruiting, benefits, payroll and more and how these technologies are driving both modern user experiences as well as improved service delivery and process improvement.  This is a great story of how modern HR technologies can drive change and improve outcomes at a small/midsize organization and how HR leaders at these organizations can lead their organizations forward. 

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a fun and interesting show, thanks so much to Patrick and Elias for sharing the Arizona Federal Credit Union story - "I no longer fear open enrollment" was probably one of the best moments in HR Happy Hour Show history!

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour.'