I’m doing really well at the saddest goal I’ve ever set. This year, after an honest assessment of where my time was going and a realization that I was consistently overcommiting myself, I faced facts and stopped doing some things. Chief among them was that I stopped going for coffee with people just because they asked me to.
When I joined Actionable at the beginning of this year I had never worked remotely, aside from the odd day over the years when I worked from home to spare my colleagues from a particularly vicious cold. I’d worked in organizations with remote workers, and had handled plenty of HR challenges and questions related to those arrangements, but I’d never experienced it first hand. Joining a fully remote, distributed organization was daunting: it meant that I needed to figure out how to work remotely for myself, while also understanding the particular needs of a remote and distributed team.
There’s been quite a lot of dialogue in recent years about the ‘Skills Gap’, and the ‘War for Talent’, most of which is a lamentation about the finite proportion of in-demand, skilled workers that our organizations are playing tug-of-war over. If and why this gap persists is a subject of some controversy, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about a different, and undoubtedly real skills gap, one that HR and business leaders should be truly worried about. Rather than existing at the narrow pinnacle of the workforce ‘pyramid’, it’s found below, eroding its crumbling base. Read more
Your initial, gut reaction when you read the word below has the potential to tell me a lot about you, and possibly a lot about the organization you work for. Ready?
What happened when you read it? Did you think about snacks, agendas, white boards, decisions? Or did your eyelid start twitching as you imagined grueling hours spent under fluorescent lights, listening to other people drone on during meandering conversations about things that are largely irrelevant to you?
For the majority of my professional life I have been firmly in the second camp, viewing most meetings as some kind of uniquely cruel psychological experiment. But recently I’ve been rethinking my long-held enmity towards meetings- surely such a uniform loathing of all meetings can’t be rational, right? And so I’ve given some thought to meetings – their use, their meaning, and how I can increase my tolerance for them. Read more
Organizational culture: obsessed over, misunderstood, oversimplified, and scapegoated.
“We need to change our culture”, “That place has such a toxic culture”, “Our culture wouldn’t allow for that” “The real problem is our culture”…
Sound familiar? Whether you’ve heard it at your own organization, or come across a similar premise in one of the many fervent cultural calls-to-action online, it’s clear to me that these days culture is on the operating table. Underlying all these arguments is a sense of urgency, and a belief that culture can and should be engineered, shaped, and managed:
Mold it, control it, strengthen it, change it, or it will change you! Your efforts will mean the difference between culture as organization-limiting obstacle, and culture as critical competitive advantage!
But the sloppy and imprecise way we talk about ‘culture’ also effects our thinking and speech about changing culture, so that we find ourselves awash in popular discourse that basically equates organizational culture change with switching the wallpaper in your house: a real pain in the ass, but nothing that you and a few friends couldn’t get done over a long weekend. Read more
I really enjoyed this recent Forbes article “Don’t Just Bash HR. Help it Succeed.” In it, Ron Ashkenas talks about the transition that HR is going through, and the fundamental shift in some organizations’ thinking about where many HR accountabilities should reside. Here’s a quote from the article:
“So HR’s evolution…does not just concern changing HR. It’s also about helping managers take more accountability for people and culture, and eventually blurring the rigid distinction between ‘HR’ and ‘management’.”
For me, this quote sparked with an idea that’s been rattling around in my head for awhile, based on one of the many things I’ve learned since I entered the non-profit sector a little more than 2 years ago: the concept of capacity-building. Read more
I have a post-it note stuck to the wall behind my desk with these words scrawled across it: “More value than complexity!” I’m not sure where I saw this phrase, and I barely remember writing it on the post-it note, but every day there it is, floating in my peripheral vision. It’s a powerful idea; one that I think should guide our approach to developing and improving HR programs and processes. Too often, processes become overly complicated and bureaucratic, and attempts to improve them may focus on making things easier for the process administrators, rather than employees, managers or candidates.
I am so attracted to this concept- the idea of instilling elegance and logic in processes and programs, that a few years ago I signed up for a course at a local university focused on business process analysis and management, with mixed results.