Engineer Success Up Front-Include HR

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International   10/4/2011

Takeaways: It’s important to include HR in the planning process to engineer success up front. Doing so makes it possible for them to address the people issues when it comes time to implement the key strategies. Many HR professionals have to learn to be strategic thinkers. They are trained to be tactical and thought of only as need in the tactical implementation process.

Frequently when organizations work on their strategic plan, they forget to include Human Resources (HR) early in the process. Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because HR is considered unimportant until it’s time to implement the plan. The challenge with that is if they haven’t been involved up front during the planning creation, there may be some critical issues that weren’t addressed early on that now need to be considered.Book Author 2

Another reason may be that HR people generally aren’t or haven’t been strategic thinkers. A friend and colleague, Timi Gleason, wrote a book about how to be a strategic thinker, called Coach as Strategic Partner: a Survival Guide for Leaders and Their HR Business Partners.

In it she shares her personal stories of learning to be a strategic thinker in a Fortune 200 company when she was thrust into a position as the head of HR – with no background or training in that field.

Apparently, this has been a common theme among many HR professionals who have found themselves in that position not through pre-planned training, but by accident. Thus, learning to think at a higher and broader level did not come naturally to many who were focused on the daily tasks of learning the HR function. This may be why at the executive level in many organizations, HR is not considered a member of the planning team, but rather part of the implementation team later on.

This needs to change

HR must be present at the table early on to represent the employees who will actually “do” the implementation of the plan. This is part of “engineering success up front” by including every detail up front of how the plan will be communicated and executed when the time comes. The organization may find it needs to make changes in facilities and workplace environments, for example, that only the HR executive would think about.

In her book, Timi mentions, “A big mistake that we make as leaders and strategic partners is when we don’t share the end game with our employees and colleagues. In our own inability to articulate our vision and needs, we expect smart people to be able to read our minds, and most of the time they can’t. It is in this exact moment that we have the opportunity to help each other. “

That is what’s happening when HR is left out of the loop at the onset of the planning process.
To order her book click here.

It’s Hard to be the Boss and a Coach Too

By Jeri T Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International    8-8-2011

Takeaways: Sometimes, it’s hard to be the boss. There are certain things a boss should never say. You can’t share everything, even with family and friends. It can cause confusion or jeopardize your reputation in your staff’s eyes.

Sometimes it’s hard to be the boss. The axiom “It’s Hard to be the bosslonely at the top” is often very true. As the boss, there may be things you are privy to that you might want to share with your staff, but you know you shouldn’t or can’t.  You have to walk the fine line of being friendly and supportive as a mentor and coach, without being too chummy. In the case of a small business owner or entrepreneur, this can be challenging, especially if your co-workers are family and friends.

So what do you share and how much?

Best practices show that the more your staff understands about the business – including the revenue and expenses – the more likely they are to feel that they have a role to play in its success. “People support what they help create” is a key premise we share with our clients.  It helps them take ownership of the actions they are responsible for executing. But how much is enough?

In privately held companies frequently the actual revenue and expense numbers aren’t shared, just percentages in the form of graphs. This at least lets the staff understand how their department is performing this year vs. last year or last month, and whether or not revenues and expenses are up or down. It’s up to you, the boss, or financial manager, to explain how they can make adjustments individually and within departments to help improve the bottom line.

Beyond that, other things you should not share with your employees include:

  • Never share how much each person is making – it’s no one’s business except that of the employee and the boss, and legally needs to be kept confidential between the boss and the employee anyway.
  • Don’t share anything really personal about your life and family – your employees are not your friends and confidants; they work with and for you. It’s necessary to maintain a fine line between being friendly and being the boss. Crossing that line jeopardizes your reputation as a leader in your staff’s eyes and can cause confusion among employees who begin to feel everyone’s on equal turf and there is no ultimate decision-maker. The higher you go in an organization, the lonelier it gets, because as a boss you have access to more confidential information that often can’t or shouldn’t be shared with all your staff equally.
  • Never share anything told to you in confidence by one employee with any others. To do so destroys trust, is disrespectful of that trust, and ruins your ability to mentor and coach your staff.
  • Don’t spread rumors about other staff members, other departments, or even your competitors. It’s your job to set the example of a wise and considerate leader. Your employees look up to you. While it might be tempting to feed the rumor mill, especially if the tidbit is about a colleague or competitor you personally don’t respect, it demeans your reputation, not only in the eyes of your employees, but that of your other colleagues.
  • Don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t want to see in print or on the internet. That’s always a good rule of thumb not only for you, the boss, but for your staff as well. Once it’s out there, it’s very difficult to make it disappear, especially from the internet.