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Friday, September 28, 2012

HR Business Partner Experience

The 5th in a series about Strategic Human Resources Management:

In last weeks readings and discussions we talked alot about the difference between the title HR Manager and HR Business Partner. While I have been both and sometimes the responsiblities where similar regardless of the title, I learned a great deal about how to transition and maintain the business partner concept within the HR department.

Approximately five years into my HR career, I worked or a financial services organization that was acquired by a much larger more active parent organization in the industry. The new owners lead us through a major cultural change that tool is from a clan or parentalistic organization to one that was highly organized and run by numerous policies that were very transparent an accessible to employees. One of the major pendulum shifts was salary administration. We went from not having a explicit stated strategy to a salary schedule which was reviewed at least every three years.

Once we made it through the transition having conducted hundreds of training courses on complement Mangement, Salary Administration, performance management and more it was time to evaluate our plan for accomplishing all the objectives of the organization. This included staffing plans and job analysis. At that point we were set up like most traditional HR departments with functional areas such as payroll, training, recruiting, compensation, employee relations, policy & procedures and had a reception area for candidates and employees. My role at the time was manager of three departments including the receptionist which were compensation, recruiting, and policy and procedures. I believe I had nine direct reports which included a HR Assistant, two recruiters, compensation analyst, job evaluation specialist and two policy specialists and a couple more positions for which I don't recall the titles.

Our HR Director at the time had been reading some business books including the balanced scorecard and decided to try a reorganization to the business partnership model. Unfortunately at the time we would be experiencing a layoff not just in our department but throughout the organization to the extent that 175 positions were affected. I lost over half of my own department including my own position as HR Manager. Honestly, the whole department lost their jobs and had to reapply for the open "new" HR positions under the new structure.

What we were left with was two business partners that reported to the HR Director with a support team that did all the work for the business partners which ultimately where for the client departments. The team consisted of an HR Analyst, HR Specialist and an HR Assistant. The two business partners essential split the company in half each having responsibility for approximately 700 employees. For example, as I recall my clients were Marketing, Customer Service, Legal, and several business units with titles specific to the industry.

We worked just like I do today as an external consultant only we were internal consultants that provided advice, counsel and when appropriate project work that they did not have the skill sets to do on their own. The client service department was implementing a brand new windows based service Managment software that replaced an old DOS based program. I assisted them with staffing plans based on the new job design and skills required. The Marketing department needed a compensation study conducted to market adjust their positions. The HR Analyst did the research and I presented the information with recommendations to the client department.

So essential were were the departments business partner working together to accomplish the objectives through others. This worked well for the company until I left to get some HR experience in the manufacturing field. Although I have heard that over the years they have bounced back and forth between functional and business partner format a couple of times. Unfortunately the organization is planning a complete closure over the next couple of years. For as much ad we plan the economy and competition continually affect the overall success, failure of an organization as well as leadership.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strategic HRM In Action

The 4th in a series about Strategic Human Resources Management:

This week we are covering a couple different topics that are highly interesting to me which are Strategic HRM in Action and International HRM.  I am definitely hoping to see and hear both of these topics live at next week’s SHRM (the organization) annual Strategy Conference.  Here are a few of the case studies which I believe will hit on the “in action” aspect of this week’s readings.
Track: Case Studies

Workplace Application: Using the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as a case study, you will learn how they positioned HR as a leader in the organization and are using HR metrics to impact their culture.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 | 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM EDT

Workplace Application: Learn lessons from the best hospitality and service organizations on how to create and sustain a client-centric HR department that meets the needs and earns the respect of line managers.
Thursday, October 4, 2012 | 10:45 AM - 12:15 PM EDT

Workplace Application: Using two biomedical device companies as a case study, you will learn how to achieve breakthrough performance in your own organization by driving greater HR and business alignment.
Thursday, October 4, 2012 | 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT

Workplace Application: This session will help you create a plan for successful co-ownership of a strategic approach to flexibility between HR, line leaders and employees in your organization through various case studies.
Friday, October 5, 2012 | 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM EDT

Workplace Application: Through a case study approach, this session will demonstrate how analytics can be applied to maximize talent management as well as how to turn analytics into practical initiatives.
Friday, October 5, 2012 | 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM EDT

However, in the readings this week I noted a few exceptional comments from the various “in action” stories written in the Armstrong Handbook.  First, in story about Loamshire Council the CEO is quoted as saying “we don’t have a single document which says ‘this is Loamshire Council corporate strategy’. What we do have are three processes which run in parallel and together representing the corporate strategy.”  That supports last week’s discussions that the HR Plan vertically fit with the Business Plan.  It should not be separate and apart, it should work together side by side just like two matching shoes.  You can’t have one without the other or you will walk lopsided.  Second, profitability and training go hand in hand.  The Director of Finance at Megastores said “we’re highly profitable, but in turn we invest an awful lot in our people.  We spend a lot of money on the training and development of people throughout the organization.  It’s probably one of our key differentiators”. I bet that is true.  It also probably gives them employer of choice recognition in the communities they serve.  Their recruiting budget is most likely minimal if they invest that much in their people.  I once had an employer that vowed to spend 30 hours a year on employee development.  That was one company I did not want to leave as a result.  Unfortunately, due to the economy they ended up downsizing eventually but I always remember the importance they put on this aspect of their strategic plan.  They are still thriving today even though they had some tough times. 
Overall, I think learning from other organizations success and failures is ultimately one of the best ways to learn about such a complex and ever-changing process.  Just when you have your strategic plans in place the economy, competition, technology, or something changes which sends you back to the drawing board.  I think the best plan is to not give up and be flexible.  There is a lot to be said about strategic perseverance.
I am looking forward to sharing what I learn next week in Palm Springs.  Here is a glimpse at my schedule so be sure to follow me @DonnaRogersHR for live tweets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement And Why It Matters

the following is a Guest Post by Kyle Lagunas

Tucker Robeson, CEO of CDL Helpers, says, “You need to wake up to the fact that if you’re not engaging your employees, you’re hurting them--and your company.”

Although Gallup estimated in 2004 that disengaged workers were costing U.S. businesses a staggering $300 billion a year in productivity losses, engagement is one issue that often goes unaddressed. The reason, I suspect, is that there’s a lack of consensus on what the term “engagement” really means.

For many business leaders, “engagement” is just a buzzword. And before you can tackle engagement, you have to understand what it’s all about--what it is, what it isn’t, and why it matters.

What It Is

Employee engagement is a critical indicator of how successful a business is--and the sustainability of that success. At its heart, employee engagement is about motivation. You can’t “buy” engagement. In fact, when you require a certain standard of service, studies show that motivation can’t be limited to monetary compensation.

To bolster engagement, foster a sense of meaning to an employee’s work, and allow the employee to craft the job to his/her capabilities, strengths, and likes, as much as possible.

What It Isn’t

Engagement isn’t strictly a company culture issue--it’s also an operational issue. It requires an adjustment in how leaders communicate with employees. Engagement should be addressed as a strategic initiative at the upper levels of management, and a tactical issue at the lower ones--and the CEO has to lead off. How you announce important business objectives, how you measure success, how you show appreciation--everything needs to strengthen your employees’ connection with the organization and their work.

Furthermore, employee engagement isn’t an HR initiative. Although HR is often tasked with spearheading projects to boost engagement, Every person in a management role is responsible for driving engagement, especially the CEO.

Why Employee Engagement Matters

Employee engagement has direct, demonstrable impacts on productivity and performance that translate to financial results. When employees are not engaged, they generally aren't paying attention to their work, and tend to be apathetic about their jobs.

Conversely, companies with engaged employees are reaping significant financial rewards. The Global Workforce Study found that companies with engaged employees “had operating margins almost three times those of organizations with a largely disengaged workforce.” That point alone makes engagement a strategic issue worthy of executives’ attention.

Admittedly, engagement isn’t easy--and cannot be sustained over time without careful attention to very specific elements in the work environment. But with so much on the line, can companies really afford to ignore it?

About the Author: As the HR Analyst at, Kyle Lagunas reports on important trends, best practices, and technology in human resources and talent management.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Who's Made a Difference Using Strategic HRM?

The 3rd in a series about Strategic Human Resources Management:

I have been in HR long enough to remember the years when no one in the field (at least around me) was talking about Strategic HRM, to everyone talking about having a "seat at the table" so they can be Strategic, to now actually seeing that it has and can make a difference when companies set their mind to it!  So yes Strategic HRM is not just a theory, it is a reality.  How you may ask?  I know I have for years wondered the answer to that very question especially before I started consulting because I was never employed by an organization I felt was practicing Strategic HRM or even knew what it was.  Well, first, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, the HR pro in charge must make sure they are doing HR basics correctly or top management will not even consider them capable.  Second, you must have top management's full support and it is best if they actually own the initiative.  And third, you must know what your doing!

A best practice in any business initiative that I learned in college (way before my HR career) is to benchmark other companies who are already doing it and doing it well.  Therefore, I thought I would take a moment to document what I know about some of these companies and perhaps start a running list with comments from others who would like to add their company to the list as a example for others to learn from.  Who knows this might turn out to be a popular "Top 25, 50, or 100 in Strategic HRM" list one day! I can only hope!

Initially, I will just list the companies here and by all means this is not an all inclusive list.  This is a list compiled from the various publications and books I have read about this topic.  I am sure there are many organizations that are not getting the recognition they deserve.  When and if time permits, I will add details.  For now, having the organizations name can help target your own research as you move your organization towards improved results through Strategic HRM practices. 

  1. Aegon
  2. Aetna Corp.
  3. Air Products & Chemicals, Inc.
  4. Anheuser-Busch
  5. B&Q
  6. Black and Decker
  7. Capital One
  8. Charles Schwab
  9. Children's Hospital Boston
  10. Colgate-Palmolive
  11. Continental Airlines
  12. Corning Incorporated
  13. Dell
  14. Delta Airlines
  15. Dow Chemical
  16. Egg
  17. EMC Corporation
  18. GlaxoSmithKline
  19. GM
  20. Hallmark
  21. Hewlett-Packard
  22. IBM
  23. Intel
  24. JetBlue Airlines
  25. Kellogg
  26. Kodak
  27. Lands' End
  28. Liverpool Virtual University
  29. McDonald's
  30. Mercantile Bank
  31. Microsoft
  32. MicroStrategy
  33. New York Yankees
  34. NG Baily Ltd.
  35. Nordstrom
  36. PepsiCo
  37. Phelps Dodge
  39. Southwest Airlines
  40. Sprint PCS
  41. St. Peter's Health Care
  42. Telcoms Company
  43. Toyota
  44. United Airlines
  45. UPS
  46. Wells Fargo
  47. Yahoo 
In my Organizational Behavior class students have to choose a "Best Employer" awardee to research.  It will be interesting as I compare lists to see who is on both.  My guess is you can't be a Best Employer without doing something right from a Strategic HRM standpoint. Learn more about what I am learning regarding this topic as I continue this series through December and I hope to see you at this years SHRM (the association) Strategy conference in Palm Springs, California October 3-5.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Calling All Strategic HR Mgt Contributors

The 2nd in a series about Strategic Human Resources Management:

This is the second in a series of posts related to the Strategic Human Resources Management course I am teaching here at the University of Illinois Springfield.  This is a shout out to all those I have researched and the students will be researching who are considered by others as contributors to the field.  In addition, it is my way of asking for advice, information, and suggestion on who else might be out there that I have yet to run across. Since the names will be researched and papers will be written on each of them individually to learn more about the field and what contributions have been made, I am specifically searching out those who have published or speak regularly about the topic.  So if you have a moment please comment with any insight you may have and/or share this blog post with others you think may be helpful.  In the meantime, here is our first stab at a shout out for Strategic HRM contributors:

1.       Angel Baron
2.       Bill Conaty
3.       Dave Lurich, 
4.       Ed Lawler, 
5.       Ed Schein, 
6.       Farhad Analoui
7.       George Dreher
8.       Gerry Lake, 
9.       Greg Stewart
10.   Jac Fitz-enz, 
11.   Jack Phillips
12.   Jeffrey Mello
13.   John Purcell
14.   Julia Connell
15.   Kenneth Brown
16.   Micheal Armstrong
17.   Micheal Losey, 
18.   Norm Smallwood, 
19.   Peter Boxall
20.   Ralph Christensen
21.   Randall Schuler
22.   Stephen Teo
23.   Susan Jackson
24.   Thomas Dougherty
25.   Wayne Brockbank,

Don't forget about the upcoming SHRM conference specifically covering this topic of Strategy.