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    Entries in HR (373)

    Monday
    Jun242013

    The bumpy road from HR to the CEO chair

    If you are an HR leader that aspires to move up and potentially out of HR one day to sit in the CEO, COO, or some other 'C' chair that doesn't end with 'HRO', then you really should take a few minutes to read this piece on Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled - "Mary Barra, the Contender: GM's Next CEO May Not Be a 'Car Guy'", about current General Motors Chief Product Officer, (and potential future CEO), Mary Barra.

    Ms. Barra has come up through the ranks in a long (33 year) career at the auto manufacturer to hold an incredibly powerful and high-profile position - as the GM leader of the $15B vehicle development operations group, she sits in a position where the success or failure of the entire company rests pretty squarely on her and her team's ability to deliver. This is the kind of role that is the logical 'last step' before assuming the CEO chair, where if she were to make it there would be distinctive for a few reasons. One, Ms. Barra would be the first female CEO at any of the US-based auto makers, and two; she would be one of the highest profile CEOs that had a prior stop as the Head of HR along the way.

    That is fantastic, right? The former CHRO becoming the head of Product, then CEO? What could be a better path. Well, it may not be that simple.

    More on Ms. Barra's time in HR and what it may mean to her prospects as future GM CEO from the BW piece:

    Barra’s most high-profile moment came in 2009 after then-CEO Fritz Henderson put her in the HR role to help groom a new generation of leaders as the company worked to come out of bankruptcy. She allowed employees to wear jeans. “Our dress code policy is ‘dress appropriately,’ ” she announced in a memo. Barra had been attacking GM’s bureaucracy, slashing the number of required HR reports by 90 percent and shrinking the company’s employee policy manual by 80 percent. But loosening the dress code drew a flood of calls and e-mails from employees asking if they could, in fact, wear jeans. One manager was upset about the image this might send to company visitors. “So you’re telling me I can trust you to give you a company car and to have you responsible for tens of millions of dollars,” Barra responded, “but I can’t trust you to dress appropriately?”

    The anecdote reveals quite a lot I think about Ms. Barra and the lingering perceptions of HR as a corporate function. It seems like she was doing 'good' HR - slashing rules, working to empower employees and managers, and encouraging people to think and act independently. But even that kind of 'good' HR (along with all her other accomplishments as an engineer and product leader), might not be enough to elevate her over and past the typical 'car guy' model that GM and the like have always had for their highest execs.

    One more shot from BW:

    When (current CEO Daniel) Akerson appointed Barra senior vice president of global product development in 2011, though, she had just spent a year and a half as GM’s head of HR, which did not sit well with the car guys in the company and around Detroit.

    “She had a difficult time getting credibility because she was in HR before, even though she is an engineer,” says Rebecca Lindland, an industry consultant. “It’s sexism, and I think it’s the HR title.” Her vanilla style probably didn’t help, either. Bob Lutz, the swashbuckling former Marine pilot and legendary car executive, used to fly his own helicopter to work.

    The path to the CEO chair at a massive company like GM is a tricky one, but there are a few rules of thumb that are typically followed. The person would have deep industry experience. Would have a demonstrated career progression and documented success. They would have lots of contacts and allies. And they would have served in leadership roles in more that one discipline - some operations, some sales, some finance, maybe marketing - you get the idea.

    On the surface, it seems Ms. Barra possesses all these qualities, and indeed, one day she may well become the CEO of GM. But if she does not, I wonder if she and others will look back on the (fairly brief) stint as the Head of HR as a mistake. 

    I wonder if she will think that having to spend more than five minutes talking about the gosh darn DRESS CODE as something that tainted her just a little, and reinforced the traditional thinking of HR as the 'rules police' and any head of HR, no matter how enlightened and progressive, as not really a true business leader.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether a former 'HR lady' can become one of world's most powerful 'Car guys'.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    May312013

    #HRHappyHour 164 PODCAST - 'The 8 Man Rotation Takes on Rutgers'

    HR Happy Hour 164 - 'The 8 Man Rotation Takes on Rutgers'

    This week in what can only be called a very special HR Happy Hour, the entire 8 Man Rotation crew - Kris DunnTim SackettLance HaunMatt 'akaBruno' Stollak, and Steve Boese take a deep dive into the Rutgers University hiring, firing, and public relations disasters of recent months.

    From an abusive men's basketball coach, to internal university and state government politics, to a high-profile new hire that may have some skeletons in her closet - the series of stories that have emerged from the banks of the old Raritan have provided almost a perfect series of case studies on the intersection of sports and HR.

    An no one is better equipped to talk sports, HR, and what it means for the HR and Talent pro than the 8 Man Rotation crew. So check out the podcast as our team breaks down the Rutgers situation and offers some insights about what it means for your shop.

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, using the widget player below, and of course on iTunes or Stitcher radio (for you smartphone types), just search the podcast area for 'HR Happy Hour'.

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    Thanks to KD, Tim, Lance, and Matt for jumping in to the conversation on very short notice.

     

    NOTE:

    Finally, for listeners of the show a quick reminder. For the next little while anyway, co-host Trish McFarlane and I will be doing the HR Happy Hour Shows more as a traditional podcast - recorded in advance, perhaps a little shorter than the live shows were, and hopefully posted to the site every other week. With our schedules and lots of travel on the horizon this year, doing the shows 'live' on Thursday nights has become increasingly challenging. Trish and I hope that by changing how the shows are produced it will allow us the opportunity to continue doing the show/podcast in a way that will work with our schedules as well as our future guests.

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday
    May242013

    #HRHappyHour 163 PODCAST - 'Bullying and the Workplace'

    This week the HR Happy Hour Show/Podcast is back with a fresh episode recorded earlier this week -'Bullying and the Workplace' with guest Jennifer Hancock. Jennifer is the author of The Bully Vaccine, and a frequent speaker and expert on the increasingly important issue of bullying - both in and out of the workplace. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter as well -@jenthehumanist).

    You can listen to the show on the show page here, using the widget player below, and of course on iTunes - just search the podcasts area for 'HR Happy Hour'.

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    It was a fascinating conversation with Jennifer - bullying has become such an area of focus for parents, schools, and certainly even leaders and HR professionals in the workplace. You'd never guess just how prevalent bullying behaviors have become.

    Jennifer shared ideas on how to define and identify bullying, insights behind the root causes of these behaviors, and some specific and relevant ideas about how the victims of bullying can deal with bullies.

    Chances are someone you know, maybe even your own child, or a colleague at work is facing these kinds of challenges. Or you are an HR professional that has to make sure your workplace is free from these behaviors. Either way I think you will find some great ideas and tips for how to address these situations from the show.

    It was an interesting and enlightening conversation, and I hope you will find it valuable as well.

    Also, in June and July Jennifer is offering a 6-hour course titled 'Workplace Bullying for HR Professionals' and you can learn more about that program here.

    Thanks to Jennifer for a great conversation. 

    NOTE:

    Finally, for listeners of the show a quick reminder. For the next little while anyway, co-host Trish McFarlane and I will be doing the HR Happy Hour Shows more as a traditional podcast - recorded in advance, perhaps a little shorter than the live shows were, and hopefully posted to the site every other week. With our schedules and lots of travel on the horizon this year, doing the shows 'live' on Thursday nights has become increasingly challenging. Trish and I hope that by changing how the shows are produced it will allow us the opportunity to continue doing the show/podcast in a way that will work with our schedules as well as our future guests.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jan162013

    Things your employees don't care about

    Admission up front - this (brief) piece is a straight up rip-off homage to a post by Pete Warden titled 'Things users don't care about'. You should click over and check out Pete's list, from a technology service provider perspective, of things that a solution's users don't care about.  In case you don't click over to the post, here are just a few of these nuggets of insight on things users don't care about:

    How long you spent on it.

    How hard it was to implement.

    How amazing the next version will be.

    What you think they should be interested in.

    Whose fault the problems are.

    Fantastic stuff. And if you look across these examples, and several of the others Pete provides, it is pretty easy to discern the common themes. Namely, that users, customers, or employees from an HR service provider perspective, generally don't care about your problems. In IT it might be buggyDon't care. software, a difficult to manage supplier, or a lack of budget to procure new hardware or software. In sales it could be an inflexible pricing structure or an inability to promise a delivery.  And of course there are a million 'HR' problems that, mostly, your employees simply don't care about.

    Government immigration rules making it hard to get visas for the three foreign engineers?

    Don't care.

    Recruiting system doesn't talk to the Payroll system making your team do double entry of data?

    Don't care.

    The list of 'mandatory' job requirements for the open position I'm trying to fill is so long, it's making it impossible for you to deliver a deep slate of candidates?

    Don't care.

    (I admit at least on that last one, your hiring manager should care, but that doesn't mean she does.)

    Sure, in a perfect world and in an high-functioning, collaborative, 'Best Places to Work' kind of environment your problems as an internal service provider would actually resonate with your customers and employees. But most of us don't work in places like that.

    Even in really great organizations, IT or Legal or Auditing or HR are still often simply looked at as the necessary evils of doing business. The 'users' or customers might, and often probably do care about the needed outcomes you deliver, but not one bit about the myriad of struggles, travails, and long hours you have to spend to deliver those outcomes.

    It's the outcomes that matter, not what had to be overcome along the way. Within reason of course. Don't decide to go all Lance Armstrong on us.

    But truly, it's a Honey Badger world when you are overhead. And Honey Badger, as we all know, simply don't care. (link to the video you have seen a thousand times, but it remains NSFW).

    Thursday
    Jan032013

    #HRHappyHour LIVE Tonight - 'Happy HR New Year'

    So are you back at it as we start 2013?

    The holidays are over and you are (hopefully) back to work, back to dealing with all the drama, intrigue, and mystery of life in the modern workplace?

    That description sort of makes work seem like a made for Lifetime original movie. Which would probably be more fun I suppose than real work.

    Well my friends, as you start your 2013 HR and Talent journey, you are not alone. The HR Happy Hour Show is back with you as well, with our first live show of 2013, tonight, Thursday January 3rd at 8:00PM ET.

    You can listen to the show live tonight at 8:00PM on the show page here - on the listener line 646-378-1086, or on the widget player below. Also, you can participate on the show backchannel on Twitter - hashtag #HRHappyHour.

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    And, if for some reason you miss the show live, you can always catch the replay on the show page, or on iTunes - just search the podcasts section for 'HR Happy Hour.'

    Joining us to talk the about the upcoming year in HR will be long time friend of the show and HR executive Trish McFarlane.  We will be taking your calls about:

    The biggest HR and Talent Management challenges you see for 2013

    The buzzwords from 2012 that need to go away, and which ones really have legs, (I am looking right at you 'employee engagement').

    What trends in HR and consumer technology might have the biggest impact on the workplace?

    What industry events and conferences do you have on your calendar for 2013?

    How do you plan to keep yourself educated, up to date, and challenged in 2013 - especially if you've been in HR for a long time?

    These questions and more will be answered on the next episode of the HR Happy Hour Show - LIVE tonight at 8:00PM.

    I hope you can join us tonight, else risk a disastrous 2013....