Sunday, June 26, 2011

How To Learn from Human Resource Data

Current white collar unemployment is at roughly 4.5%; but if you follow the news you would believe it was much worse.  If you are nearing 50 or if you have lost your job then you are sure it is much worse!

Then you read an article that states,
"Mercer, the global HR consulting firm, just released the results of its new What’s Working survey, conducted over the past two quarters among nearly 30,000 workers in 17 countries, including 2,400 workers in the U.S. It found that nearly a third (32 percent ) of American workers are seriously considering leaving their organization at the present time, up sharply from 23 percent in 2005.
As bad as that sounds, another 21 percent of workers say they are not necessarily looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement, meaning that when you combine the two, more than half of all employees (53 percent) are either looking to leave for a new job or have mentally checked out of their old one."
The reality just might be that these employees are bringing the grind of 24/7 cable news to work with them!  The best solution might be just to move the furniture around in the lobby/offices or paint the walls.  Or maybe copy the practices of younger companies and bring in a ping pong table or copy from Google and bring in a couple of lava lamps and set them up in the break room.

A good manager should know when they have to do something to boost morale and sometimes they have to realize that they have to do something to snap everything back in focus.  Sometimes you have to figure out a way to just let employees vent.

If you look at the statistics in the original article you realize that employees are pretty satisfied with their benefits, of course they are dissatisfied with their pay (I would love to meet the people who when asked in a survey are they paid too much, just right, or not enough respond they are paid too much or just right!), then you have the issues in regards to the "intangibles." 

When you see a study that attempts to create a hysteria around "intangibles" then you need to realize that, as an employer, you may be dealing with something you have no control over.  Lets be honest, there really isn't much news today that is positive, hopeful, and or gives one much faith in the future, and of course that is going to reflect negatively toward ones employer and or employment if that is the focus of a survey.

Sometimes all it takes is to alter the routine, doing something spontaneous or unexpected, or just a little act that is personal in nature; sometimes a little craziness makes everyone all the more sane.


The Business Physician said...

Reading this excellent article reminds me of two things and raises at least one interesting point.

First the interesting point: Regarding "A good manager should know when they have to do something to boost morale and sometimes they have to realize that they have to do something to snap everything back in focus". I think what this calls for is Leadership as distinct from plain old Management. Or, at the very least, Management has to also be Leadership.

It seems to me, from my own experience, that many people nowadays are promoted to the level of having management responsibility in spite of being devoid of any leadership awareness, skills or even basic capabilities in this arena. People do not want to be "told" what to do or when to do it; they will, on the other hand, respond to doing things when inspired by leadership.

As to the first of the two things mentioned above: Recently, Brad Feld wrote an excellent opinion blog entitled "Does Your VP of HR Report To Your CEO?" in which he makes the case for "The VP of People" to be part of the executive team and report to the CEO which would facilitate managing and developing Culture, Mission Awareness as well as having other benefits that would address some of the issues raised in this "How To Learn from Human Resource Data" blog.

The second thing is that this also reminds me of my first lecture with Peter Drucker in which he was addressing the issues of Motivation by saying, in effect, that while literally millions of words have been written about motivation down through the ages yet motivation is still a relatively little understood capability for most management and businesses.

Frankly, all of the above notwithstanding, I firmly believe that the single most important element in any situation to have a successful outcome comes down to having competent Leadership.

Is it not ironic, therefore, that Leadership is possibly the most important skill and capability that we do not even acknowledge, let alone address, in any of our current MBA programs as far as I'm aware. That's just one reason that so many retired military personnel most often make the best recruits if they also have the relevant transferable business knowledge and skills.

Carl said...

Leadership is organic, its organic in an organization and in individuals; it grows from within management on the other hand is a process, its mechanical, and it is normally implemented from the top down.

Of course when thinking about leaders we all think about folks like Gen. Macarthur or Gen Patton, but actually Gen. Eisenhower was the true leader....or even Gen Bradley.

On one hand we have organizations today, small firms, start ups, and the whole Web 2.0 phenom that claims to be organized laterally, which is just another way of saying "teams" but the reality there is not one situation where people working together do not organically develop a hierarchy.

I was asked a few years ago if leadership could be taught all I could answer at the time is that we can teach people to recognize leadership and to acknowledge it but the reality is that the best we can achieve is to teach people to understand how to intergrate leadership into an established management structure.

That doesn't mean that ones managers are the leaders. Which can work in smaller is really hard to get people to understand that sometimes leadership means that you find yourself telling a subordinate "you are in charge on this one...." Or getting people to realize that sometimes management is not about being out in front, as most of us view leadership, but it actually is being a safety net so that employees are encouraged, to climb out on a limb, to take risks knowing that "you have their back" as the current jargon goes...

I do believe that the idea of "careerism" or the focus on building a career as an individual is detrimental to developing leadership and that might be why leadership is tough to teach to MBA candidates....