Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Performance Records Go To Hanger-51

February 12, 2010 7 comments

President Obama wants to computerize and standardize all medical records within the next 5 years.  An ambition some call audacious and others call imperative.  Proponents suggest that Electronic Medical Records (EMR) technologies would, among other things,  ultimately facilitate a higher standard of care to patients.  Essentially, an integrated system would allow a patient to accumulate a comprehensive medical history that could be accessed at a moment’s notice by healthcare professionals wherever and whenever.  Change your primary care physician? Doesn’t matter.  Out of town with a medical emergency? No worries.  Want to give your neurologist a peek at your cardiologist’s notes? Consider it done.  Are there privacy issues? Yep…and others.  But doesn’t it make sense that the people being paid top dollar to manage your health have the complete picture of what works, what doesn’t, what’s strong, what’s not? Sure does to me.

So what if we could do the same thing with employee performance records?  What if we could standardize at least a piece of those records so the data could be transferrable to new employers? Shouldn’t your development continue where it left off at the old employer?  Seems to me that your new boss would like the opportunity to really understand your weaknesses (as opposed to whatever canned answer you gave him/her during your interview.)  Seems that might actually give him/her a chance to address them head-on before they creep up somewhere down the road and hinder everybody’s progress.  It would also give him/her a chance to quickly highlight and truly leverage your strengths.  Tim Sackett and Fistful of Talent had an interesting post the other day about carrying the “hickeys” of workplace transgressions around with you from job to job.  I’m not sure any one has to see your hickey until you’re actually on the job.  And as long as there was some understanding that they couldn’t kick you out for having a hickey (after all, we’ve all had them) then why not just get them out in the open? 

I think about the many years of performance reviews I had with my former employers.  It kind of bums me out that those are just sitting in a box somewhere in a storage room…worthless to anything I’m doing today.  Electronic Performance Records (EPR)…hmmmmmmmm.

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Tuesday in the Trenches: A Groovy Kind of Love

January 19, 2010 9 comments

This week’s #TrenchHR post is from Robin Schooling (@RobinSchooling).  Robin, an SPHR, is VP of Human Resources with a statewide organization in Louisiana and has over 20 years HR management experience in various industries including health care, banking and manufacturing. Robin is a Past President of the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM chapter and serves as Professional Development Coordinator on the Louisiana SHRM State Council, and as VP Membership with ASTD Baton Rouge. She is a board member of the Louisiana Business Leadership Network (LBLN), a non-profit network of businesses which values persons with disabilities as customers and employees. She encourages everyone to cheer for the Saints in the NFC Championship game…..Who Dat!

When I entered the HR profession circa 1988, we wore jackets with huge shoulder pads and acid-washed denim.   SHRM was soon to change its name from ASPA and the word “personnel” was being banished from the nameplates, office directories and (ideally) the vocabulary of folks the world over.  We were working to change the perception of HR from paper-pushing-party-planners to organizational partners. 

We KNEW we had the insight and knowledge to transform our organizations by harnessing the power of people’s capabilities.


Most HR professionals believe that people are amazing, and nowhere is individuality more apparent than when viewed through our eyes.  We see people at their absolute best and their absolute worst; they can be frustrating, maddening, or inspiring.  We laugh with them and we laugh at them.  Gather any group of HR professionals together and invariably we talk “shop.” We don’t talk about 5500’s, FMLA or the latest software conversion – we talk about applicants, employees, managers and executives.  We chuckle and find solace in sharing our observations and reflecting upon the absurdities of human interactions.

Deep down, of course, HR professionals know that what makes people unique is what makes them fascinating.  We enjoy finding out about people’s personal stories, motivations, and their goals and aspirations (or lack thereof).  This, I believe, is what draws many of us to HR – tapping into the strengths of individuals by helping clear obstacles and creating the path for their journeys.

While I don’t want to hand-hold, babysit, or do for employees – I DO want to support them.


But in order to free up our time to support employees and lead them to personal and organizational excellence, we must become better at tackling the un-sexy aspects of the HR function – process improvement to increase quality and reduce costs.   Learning, understanding and applying some basic process improvement techniques can lead to dramatic results at the departmental and organizational levels.

Reflecting back on the low-tech era, my day was filled with laborious HR tasks:   I created a monthly employee newsletter using a typewriter, clip art book, and a glue stick.  I shared a PC with 6 other HR employees (MS-DOS, thank you very much). I made 6 copies of every single Employee Action Form for my co-workers.    When personnel files were destroyed, I typed up Employee Record cards which were stored in a recipe-card box. I planned the picnic.

And since it’s easy to take the path of least resistance, many HR Departments TO THIS DAY utilize 15-20 year old processes.  Just as with any business discipline, we must continuously strive for improvement, efficiency, quality and value.  We must banish phrases such as “we’ve always done it that way” and “we have to do it that way for the auditors” (my personal favorite).  


Continuous improvement can directly lead to HR enhancement in providing value to the organization.  With every HR process that is eliminated, streamlined or re-engineered, we free up time to spend on talent management, employee development and working with other departments to meet organizational goals.

I would rather spend my time brainstorming with the VP of Sales regarding how to grow revenue than making extra copies of the medical insurance invoice in case the auditors want them.

Hey, Brother, You’re Big

October 20, 2009 1 comment

George OrwellIt seems like a lot of organizations are looking to HR to solve this ever so scary issue of social media in the workplace: what if our employees are saying naughty things…what if they’re gossiping…what if they are bad mouthing the company…and what if, my ohh my, they are doing it all on company time?  Who the flip cares?  At the end of the day, how is an employee’s use of social media any different than what people do over lunch or while on a smoke break or after a Manhattan and five beers at a happy hour?  Sure the audience is bigger, but I’m not sure that necessarily means the risk is bigger.  Besides, how do we even know whether all that time spent on the networking sites is counter-productive anyway?  Steve Boese – and he seems like a pretty smart guy – points to an IBM study  that would suggest employees are actually well intentioned in their use of these tools and that some organizational benefit might really come from the interaction…(gasp) say it isn’t so.  Mark Bennett with TalentedApps had a great post about this yesterday.  On the other hand, RobertHalf tells us that based on a recent survey of CIO’s the majority of companies are blocking access to these sites entirely.  Why does this seem so bassackwards to me?  I feel like calling the ACLU

When it’s all said and done, our people are going to find a way to express their views – good or bad.  And they will always use business hours to some extent to do that.  Why are we so worried about that?  They still have to get their jobs done and if you’re worried about letting social media get in the way of their productivity, you got other issues, sister.  Let ‘em talk, let ‘em gossip, let them stir the pot if they want to…and let them do it on company time.  I say stop trying to over-engineer this thing: give them unrestricted access and let this powerful medium evolve.  To me, the benefit far outweighs the cost – and if it doesn’t yet, it will.

I Dunno, Look it up Online

October 15, 2009 Leave a comment

operatorI’ve come across several discussions re: HR’s unwillingness to provide timely responses to routine requests.  We may be better at using technology to put information at our employee’s finger tips, but that doesn’t give us an excuse for not treating them like…well, people.  Do we want to condition our employees to use on-line/self-service/HRIS resources more directly?  Of course.   But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold their hands from time to time.  To some extent this falls under the heading of “you can’t win for trying” – we’re expected to leverage technology on one hand, but then asked to maintain the customer-centric focus on the other.  We’re not the only ones dealing with that dilemma, though.  Just ask your average call center manager.  One thing they’ll tell you for sure: higher user satisfaction scores come from 1) a timely response by a live individual, b) a knowledgeable person on the other end with information at their finger tips, and 3) closed cases – sending the caller off with answers.  Don’t be afraid to tell the employee “hey, you can get that stuff online at_____, but let me get it for you while you’ve got me.”  They are either going to respectfully decline and get the info themselves or they are going to patiently wait while you get it.  Either way, they leave satisfied.  I know, Customer Service 101……or is it?

Punk Rock HR Question: Social Media, Employers, and Passwords

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

So the discussion at Punk Rock HR all seems on point to me – no contest on this one.  The internal debate I’m starting to have, though, is whether or not employers should be restricting access to social media sites at all.  I understand the business case – it certainly can interfere (and I myself can be a big offender).  However, isn’t it becoming a fabric to our environment that’s almost to hard to avoid?  How is access to Twitter really any different from access to Email…especially when it involves the exchange of business relevant information and knowledge sharing?  I hear lots of rumblings from our people re: “freedom.”  I know all bets are off when on company time, but the reality is that the younger generations view social media as an entitlement…no, as a lifeblood.  So no way should employers ask for passwords…I questions whether they should restrict access at all. 

Punk Rock HR Question: Social Media, Employers, and Passwords

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Shouldn’t ‘Paperwork’ be an Obsolete Reference?

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

paperworkI did a quick search on Twitter today re: “HR Paperwork” and a bunch of stuff came up.  Did the same re: “Accounting Paperwork” and “Marketing Paperwork” and “IT Paperwork” and not a whole lot surfaced.  Granted, most of the HR paperwork tweets related to new jobs, onboarding, etc, but it related to paperwork none the less.  It wasn’t unusual either for the tweet to include the word “hate” or “tired” or “dread.”  Why oh why do we insist on so much damn paper in HR…and why is that paperwork often so confusing?  Beyond I9s, W4s, and the other regulated stuff, do we really need everything else?  Why isn’t the entire onboarding process automated?  How many of us still use hardcopy performance assessment forms?  Do you require hardcopy status change requests/leaves, etc?  Why?  Even if you don’t have a robust ERP or HRIS, technology can still be leveraged to help our people get back to what they are paid to do (and it ain’t fillin’ out paperwork).  Just ask yourself, “do we really need this?” or “is there another way to get this?” or “can I at least fill some of this out for them…”