Golden nuggets of HR wisdom from #SHRM17

by Anita Bowness | Posted | Leadership

Golden nuggets of HR wisdom from #SHRM17

Last week, many HR pros from around the world descended on New Orleans, Louisiana and NOLA will never be the same. (Kidding.) Actually, what better place for so many people who care about building up others to come together and learn new ways to enhance their efforts. After all, NOLA is no stranger to building people and things back up.

We had a group from Saba who attended the SHRM Annual Conference this year and we asked them to share the best of what they learned with us. So, we got a few golden nuggets we can share with you. If you missed SHRM, you don’t have to miss out. And if you were there, you can use these notes to remind you of the brilliant thoughts that came out of the sessions.

Best practices or best principals?

Kristyn Plunkett and Wayne Baughman, applied social scientists with the U.S. Department of Defense did a session on how to build a high-performance culture while managing poor performers. They made the point that best practices can be a barrier to progress because processes are too slow.

Poor performance happens because the individual lacks knowledge, motivation, resources or because of contextual factors. Knowledge and motivation are tied to the individual. Resources and contextual factors are environmental.

But why don’t managers take action?

  • Time: Because the processes (PIPs) take too long,
  • Skill: They have to get experts involved (e.g., lawyers, counsellors, HR),
  • Will: It’s a distraction from employees that are doing well,
  • Trust: They don’t believe they have organizational support.

That means poor performers skate by. Plunkett and Baughman suggest instead that it’s important to understand the root of the performance problem, create motivation for managers to take action and promote the high-performing behaviors the organization wants. The reason ratings don’t work is because they attempt to make the complex simple. Instead, managers need to apply a standard of judgment and observation, then own the input and outcomes.

The golden nugget? Ignore best practices. They don’t work for every situation. Instead, apply best principles that can drive next steps and outcomes.

Trust is confidence in your relationship with others

High trust is the ultimate accelerator for an organization. It makes sense. Leaders need to trust employees to do their job and that they’re the right expert for the organization in their particular area. Employees need to trust leaders to do what’s best for the organization as they make strategic decisions.

According to Richard Fagerlin, the president of Peak Solutions, trust is having confidence in your relationships with others. And, to be trustworthy, you have to have integrity, competence and compassion. The reasons you don’t trust someone can be traced back to a lack (or perceived lack) of one of these traits. Knowing the source of the gap in trust can help you address the issues.

The golden nugget? Trust is not something you earn; it’s something you give. The idea that trust has to be earned over time and can be lost in an instant indicates we’re keeping a constant tally. If you never choose to give your trust, you might not ever receive it from others. You have to make yourself vulnerable to gain trust.

Multitasking – not such a great idea after all

Okay, so this isn’t exactly news. But people still seem to think multitasking is an effective way to get stuff done. It’s interesting to note that multitasking examples are often multiple tasks people have to juggle, not two disparate activities you can actually do simultaneously, like chewing gum and walking.

Marissa Afton, director and senior consultant at Potential Project, had session attendees do the following exercise:

  1. Time yourself as you write the sentence, “I’m a great multi-tasker.”
  2. Time yourself as you write the numbers 1-20.
  3. Time yourself doing both, but alternate letters/punctuation and numbers.

Here’s what you should get:

I1’2m3 a4 g5r6e7a8t9 m10u11l12t13i14-15t16a17s18k19e20r.

If that makes your brain hurt to look at and read, imagine how it feels to actually do the exercise. Ouch.

The golden nugget? Focus on one thing at a time and you’ll probably have time leftover for an extra coffee break or a walk.

Bonus gems from various sessions at #SHRM17

Like any conference, there are so many excellent sessions to choose from when you’re planning your schedule. So, we thought we’d give you a little taste of the gems the speakers handed out this year.

Teamwork isn’t a virtue. It’s a choice. It also has to be a strategic decision in the organization.

- Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group

Demographic shifts have made workplaces more diverse than ever before. You want lots of individuals contributing to the mix. That includes ensuring that the over 50% of females in the workforce are included. 39 years ago, we had 3 generations in the workforce; today, we have 5 generations. Successful organizations will bring the individuals together and tap into their strengths, background and experience.

- Gary B. Kushner, CBP, president and CEO of Kushner and Company

We spend more time working than we do anything else in our lives. We pick our life partner very carefully, but we spend more time with the people at work. So, you want to make sure it's a place you enjoy. For many the experience of work is demeaning, embarrassing, etc. Even people that have great jobs aren't always happy. But we have the ability to change that. Work should have meaning, be managed with transparency, and give people a voice of how things should be done. You can do the right thing for people and the return on that can be huge for your business.

- Lazlo Bock, former SVP of people operations, Google/Alphabet

The ideal workplace has become part work, part classroom and place to learn, and part place to connect with friends.

- Coretha M. Rishing, CHRO, chairman of SHRM

We hope you enjoy these golden nuggets of goodness we picked up at #SHRM17. Be sure to share your own in the comments!

Performance Management Guidebook

Learn how to build a program your people won’t hate


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Performance Management Guidebook

Learn how to build a program your people won’t hate


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