About Me

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United States
I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catering to Adult Learners

In a previous post, I discussed how to utilize an andragogy approach to training. Once again, andragogy is the approach that learning is focused around the learner and requires the learner to be involved. Other factors must also be considered when developing training materials for adult learners. The simplest things can make a dramatic impact. Below are suggestions when designing/facilitating a training session for employees.

  1. Use large font - When interacting with older employees, one must take into consideration that some individuals may distorted vision.
  2. Reiterate any question that an audience member may ask - Some of the participants may be hard of hearing.
  3. Create a comfortable environment - Ensure that the lighting, temperature and personal space are all at appropriate levels.
  4. Provide plenty of breaks - People get bored easily, therefore, allow people to use the bathroom or get food at a variety of breaks.
  5. Stay put during breaks - While the participants may get a break, the facilitator may not. The facilitator should stay in the room to allow learners to approach him/her with any questions or comments. (In other words, bring plenty of water and use the bathroom before training).
  6. Provide handouts - As stated earlier, learners may have difficulty with the vision. Providing them handouts of any presentation will allow them to see the content with ease.
  7. Arrange Chairs in a U or Circle - Using a circle or U format will allow sound to travel around the classroom easier.
  8. Check for clarity - Be sure to ask participants if they understand the topic or if they have any questions. Encourage participants to approach you during breaks if they feel uncomfortable asking in front of the group.
  9. Interactive Activities - To maintain the attention of learners, try to incorporate activities that require working together or moving around the room.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Successful training relies on ______________.

Adults do not learn the same way as children. School systems use a teaching approach called Pedagogy, where learning is organized by a teacher and students are not involved in the decision-making. Andragogy, on the other hand, is a teaching styles that focuses on the learner and the learners hold a responsibility to acquiring the knowledge [In other words, they get what they put in]. For organizational training,it is highly suggested to utilize an andragogy approach. This can be achieved by explaining how the training will benefit them as an employee and how it may assist them on the job. . In addition, the training will ask learners to reflect on their past or current experiences to assist in learning.

Below are some suggestions to assist in creating a andragogy focused training session:

  1. Use a combination of activities that encourage discussion.
  2. Clearly state how the training will help them succeed in their jobs.
  3. Start with ice-breakers or trust-building exercises to encourage open discussion.
  4. Instead of playing the role of a lecturer, be the facilitator. Facilitate discussion among the group and ask questions.
  5. Identify introverted people and encourage them to speak up. (This can be achieved by allowing people to write their ideas/answers before the discussion)
  6. Have the employees set goals [related to the topic] at the end of the training. Be sure that they identify a partner that will help them to achieve these goals.
  7. Arrange tables/chairs in a layout that encourages discussions. The following arrangements are suggested:




Friday, July 23, 2010

Private rooms for employees?

Diversity is crucial to an organization's success but at times, barriers may arise. For instance, a mother may insist that she wants to breast feed her child. It is clear that not all employees would be open to seeing her breast exposed. Other issues may include Muslim employees who need a separate place to worship, transgender employees that require hormone injections and more.

Companies are beginning to realize that they must adapt to these needs in order to attract and retail top talent. A professor once told me about an organization that offered private nursing rooms. I thought it was an ingenious idea that could be taken further. These rooms can be utilized for breast feeding, medical needs (i.e. insulin injections) or private worship. Why should we limit a private space just for mothers when it can be adapted to appeal to other audiences.

The one concern with private rooms is the possibility of employees abusing the rooms (i.e. using illegal drugs, sexual relations, etc.). To overcome these risks, the company provide rooms that will not have locks on the door and instead has signs that can switch from occupied to unoccupied. A lock on the door welcomes deviant behavior and by removing this feature, people will be less likely to abuse the facility. In addition, place the private rooms in a central location where supervisors, human resources or executives can be visible. Employees will feel as though they are at higher risks of getting caught if they are surrounded by important people. In addition, these nearby workers will be able to identify any personnel that may be abusing this privilege.

Cleanliness is also vital for these rooms. Since the rooms can be used for medical conditions, there is a risk of biohazards. To overcome this, employees should be required to sign in and out of the rooms. The rooms should also contain antiseptic wipes and individuals should be expected to wipe down the surfaces upon leaving the room.

By taking these minor precautions, corporations can provide employees with the space they need to do their private tasks. Mothers can comfortable breast-feeding children and Muslim employees can have a place to participate in their private worship. Employees that require injections also have a private space they can use instead of doing their injections on the work floor or in the bathroom in front of others. It is amazing the impact a little private space can make.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The HR Door

Are you currently working in human resources? If so, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. How often do I close my door?
  2. Do I welcome employees to enter my office even if the door is closed?
  3. What are my reasons for closing the door?
  4. What message do I send when I close the door?
They seem like simple questions to us but in reality, a closed/open door can create a powerful message. When a human resources officer leaves his/her door open, employees feel more welcome to visit or approach HR personnel. The open door also increases communication between HR and employees. Employees will have a greater opportunity to develop relationships with the HR personnel because they can walk by and strike up a casual conversation. In addition, a door does not have to be open 100% of the time. Employees are understanding that there are occasions when the door may have to be closed, including: private meetings, phone calls or [obviously] when one is out of the office. From this, an open door ensures the presence of a human resources office in the organization.

Let us evaluate the opposite scenario. A door that is often closed can may send a misleading impression to employees. Employees may feel that (1) HR is too busy for us, (2) HR does not care about us, (3) HR is a forbidden zone, and/or (4) HR is never here. Fear and uncertainty can develop in staff when the door to HR is closed. They are uncertain of what goes on in the office and therefore may be intimidated to report concerns or to ask any questions. It is amazing how a simple action such as opening and closing one's door can create an entirely different culture.

The benefits of an open door are overwhelming and the process is simple. Furthermore, the higher one's position is, the more intimidating he/she is to approach. Opening one's door can assist employees in overcoming this intimidation and foster a culture of open communication and trust.

Think about it... how often is your door closed?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who said outplacement had to be expensive?

In today's rough economic times, corporations have had no choice but to decrease their workforce. This can leave terminated employees with feelings of uncertainty and no guidance in their job search. These individuals may also blame the organization for their termination and speak poorly of the company in the future. This can create hostility towards an organization.

Even if a corporation does not have sufficient funding to provide professional outplacement services, they are a variety of tasks that human resources can offer to assist those who are involuntarily terminated. Some may include:

  • Information on re-entering the Workforce. Composing handbooks that contain information about job searching, resume updating, interviewing tips and more can demonstrate to others that the organization wants to assist them in their job search. Once a booklet is composed, it can be mailed to terminated employees with a letter of support from the VP of Human Resources. Another option is to e-mail a digital copy upon notice of termination.
  • Resume and Cover Letter Proofing. Human Resources can offer to look at the resumes/cover letters of terminated. Depending on the size of the layoffs, this can produce a hefty amount of extra work. Therefore, schedule an hour a day where individuals can come into your office for 15 minute consultations. Inform employees that all appointments are first-come, first-serve. Encourage other HR staff to provide similar services.
  • List Organizations that Offer Career Counseling. Every city has several organizations that offers free career counseling and career placement. Although your company may not have a relationship with these organizations, there is nothing wrong with contacting these organizations and informing them of your lay-offs. They may be willing to come into your office and offer free outplacement or HR can provide terminated employees with a list of these organizations.
  • Offer a Reading List. As HR professionals, we are aware of the latest recruitment and hiring trends. However, this is not common knowledge to the topic. Therefore, providing a list of books about these trends can be extremely helpful. If possible, try to make sure these books are available at the local library or be willing to lend a copy.
Outplacement does not have to be expensive or challenging. Providing some sort of outplacement only reveals benefits, not downfalls. It protects the corporation name from being tainted and maintains a positive image of the organization. Terminated employees feel that the organization is empathetic to the situation and supportive. It can build positive relationships; creating the likelihood that terminated employees may return to the company (depending of the availability of future openings). Finally, the quicker these terminated individuals find jobs, the less unemployment the company has to pay. (but lets face it, we are more concerned about the well-being of people).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Know your assessment tool

Every industrial psychologist sighs when they hear about an employer using Myers Briggs as selection tools. I once got into a huge debate with a stranger over LinkedIn regarding it. The truth is that Myers Briggs has been proven to have little reliability and thus little validity as well. An assessment can be a powerful tool in selection, but the tool itself must be valid and reliable. In addition to the standard validity, the assessment tool should be able to predict success in a position (criterion validity). An assessment that has not proved criterion validity is at risk for adverse impact. If adverse impact occurs, the hiring organization can face legal consequences since validity was not established.

Content validity can also be used to protect an organization. Content validity means that the organization utilized the results of a job analysis to develop the tool. However, content validity alone does not conclude that the assessment is picking a candidate that is most likely to be successful in the position. It merely infers that the assessment is based on the requirements of the job. Therefore, individuals that pass an assessment with that has only shown content validity may only meet the minimum qualifications.

I stand by the belief of criterion validity! An assessment that has proof to have criterion validity can help an organization identify the high performers in a candidate pool. Criterion validity can be identified using one of two methods:

  1. Current employees can take the assessment and then their scores can be correllated to their performance appraisals.
  2. Candidates can be hired based on their assessment scores. After a performance appraisal, their performance scores are correlated with their assessment scores.
I strongly suggest utilizing an individual with a strong psychometric background to conduct these studies.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Employers & Internet Restrictions

Working at the Federal Executive Board, I have experienced the most restrictions with using the internet in the office. Apparently, my office was not as restricted as other U.S. agencies but it was still rather bothersome when I was attempting to conduct research. What does internet restrictions/monitoring communicate to employees? How can organizations with internet restrictions continue to develop strong relationships with personnel?

Let's face it... everyone checks their e-mail at work. If the office computers are restricted, people can easily access their Facebook or e-mail using their blackberries or iPhones. My personal belief is that organizations need to show trust in their employees and therefore, if any restrictions are put on websites, then it should be communicated to employees.

For example, my co-worker and I use to stream music through Pandora while we worked. It was not counterproductive to our work and did not bother anyone. One day, I came in and saw that Pandora would not load. After several days, it still would not load and my co-worker was having the same issue. We eventually realized that it was blocked but we did not know why. Both of us felt betrayed and frustrated since we were not doing anything wrong. As I did more research, I found that Pandora requires a drastic amount of bandwidth and therefore it can slow down the internet speed for the rest of the building. If IT had taken the time to send out a short e-mail stating that Pandora was blocked and why, I imagine that I would have been more understanding.

From this experience, I have learned that communication about restrictions is vital. Many companies are starting to block Facebook and Twitter. It has been suggested that this decrease employee affiliation with the organization. In addition, these social media sites are becoming tools for many organizations. It is clear they are used for recruitment but it can also assist in staying up to date on the competition or communicating with other personnel around the world.

I suggest that organizations that wish to restrict specific internet sites should provide a list of the websites (possibly on paper or intranet) and the reason they have been restricted. Allowing employees to see this informations communicates that there is a valid reason for the restriction and it is not meant to be personal. I advocate that future restrictions should be communicated to all personnel immediately.

I will admit that the internet is a gray area. There are individuals that will surf the internet all day for personal use. Therefore, I do feel a company is within its right to monitor all internet activity (especially if one is using their equipment or internet access).If a company decides to monitor the internet, it is recommended to have all employees sign a waiver. This could explain why monitoring is done, that all information will be visible to the IT department, at what point disciplinary action can be taken, and the warning process. It should also mention a percentage or amount of time that an employee is allowed to use the internet for personal use. Without this formal declaration, an organization has limited power to terminate an employee that uses the internet for personal use. These guidelines assist the staff in understanding the expectations and help the organizations ensure that their resources are not being abused.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dogs in the workplace. WOOF!

I have previously worked for a company that allows owners to bring their dog(s) to work. As an animal lover, this was astonishing to me. More and more companies are allowing owners to bring their dogs to work. PetsMart allows dogs to visit the corporate office once a week. DDB and OMD allow employees to bring their dogs every day of the week. Organizations are beginning to identify that people think of their pets as children.

However, before allowing personnel to bring their dogs to work, important considerations must be taken. Not only should the company take legal precautions but it must also be assured that it matches with the culture. Bringing dogs to work is clearly more prominent on the West Coast as many innovative companies are based there. From my experiences, I have found that companies that encourage innovation and creativity excel by allowing dogs in the work.

However, there are some corporate cultures that would not progress if dogs are allowed in the office. Centralized and structured organizations will not benefit from allowing owners to bring their dogs to work. Since power is often more controlled in these organizations, having a dog at work may in fact weaken the power of higher managers. In addition, organizations that wish to present the company in a professional and conservative manner would not benefit from having dogs in the office as it does not uphold this image.

I personally loved bringing my dog to work and I felt it put my mind at ease. Leaving your pet at home from 9-5 can be heartbreaking and sometimes pet daycare is not an option. For organizations that do allow dogs, clear guidelines must be established and communicated to all employees that wish to bring their pets to work. Paw Rescue (2009) suggests the following:

* Supervise pets closely. Each owner needs to act responsibly. Dogs must be kept on leash, and/or in a closed office or cubicle, or in a crate.

* Post a note at your door indicating that you have a pet in your office. This way, you will avoid unpleasant surprises.

* Owners can put a small folding fence or other sturdy barrier in front of their cubicle door so their pups cannot roam. Also, not all dogs like delivery people, providing another reason to keep dogs on leash.

* Bring chew toys and a water bowl. But do not bring loud squeeky toys and other items that will distract or annoy coworkers.

* Reward your dog frequently for good behavior.

* Be respectful of people with allergies and those who are uncomfortable around dogs.

* Keep the dog quiet, especially during conference calls.

* Avoid taking dogs to company meetings.

* Designate pet-free zones such as conference rooms, restrooms and cafeterias.


(2009, June 28) Dog tip: Taking pets to work. Paw Rescue. Retrieved July 14, 2009, from http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_PetsAtWork.php

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Your interview secret weapon

Throughout my professional career, I have met with many job-seekers. Being part of the job seeking process, I can relate to their agony when they found out that a company has selected another candidate. Although there is no guaranteed way to ensure you get the job, there are a variety of methods that can dramatically increase one's hiring probability. One of my biggest secrets is the Career Portfolio.

A career portfolio is a collection of materials used to show proof of ones past job experience and the quality of work. While it should not include everything one have done at every organization, it should include selections that one are most proud of. Some of the sections one should consider include:

  1. Resume/References
  2. Academic transcripts
  3. Letters of recommendation
  4. Work samples from school
  5. Work samples from previous jobs/internships
A portfolio also demonstrates one's presentation skills. My previous supervisor at the U.S. Federal Executive Board has taught me that perfection is the best impression. Below are some tips that she provided as well as some that I have learned along the way.

  • Spend the extra money on a binder that presents well. I recommend the Avery Frame View Binders.
  • Place your business card in the business card holder.
  • Use tabs to separate work based on what agency it was for (i.e. school, company, etc.) Ensure tabs are visible, readable and the that a viewer can differentiate them.
  • Include a title page with the position title, requisition number, and contact information (also include this information on the front of the binder).
  • Use sheet protectors to separate samples and maintain the quality of your work.
  • Print the job announcement and include it in the binder. It will show the interviewer that the candidate is familiar with the position and also make his/her job easier.
  • PLAN TO LEAVE THE BINDER WITH THE INTERVIEWER. As soon as one enters the interview, he/she should present the binder and inform the interviewer that its theirs to keep.
Making a portfolio can be costly but it will pay off if it secures a job.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sure you have a degree... but you have no job experience!

As you enter college or graduate school, its important to start thinking about your career. Your school will tell you that you don't need to decide your future immediately. They are right. HOWEVER you do need to seek out valuable job experience. In today's job market, employers are valuing experience over an advanced degree. I have personally experienced this and have had multiple recruiters tell me that a M.A. is not equal to two years of experience (like my professors told me). A thesis is great but if you plan to work in corporate america, how does this benefit the organization? They want someone who knows how to do the job and they want references from previous employers, work samples, and other signs to see you that you will quickly fill into this role.

My advice to you is to seek out internships during your time in school. Even if it is unpaid, it is valuable experience that can assist you with your future job search. Many students claim that there are no internships available or that they have applied for internships but were not hired. Do not give up easily. This means that you have to create your own internship. It is simple, I promise.

Non-profit organizations have a limited amount of expenditure available. As a result, they focus their hiring on completing tasks that have to get done. As a result of this necessity, the companies cannot contribute as much time towards other responsibilities. This is where you come in! You can fill this gap but you have to demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the organization's mission. Here is what you do:
  • Contact the organization and emphasize that you want to volunteer. Be ready to tell them how you can contribute to their organization. Often, this requires you be sell yourself.
  • Contact the appropriate individual. Do not contact HR asking for this opportunity as it is likely to be unsuccessful. Instead, contact the head of the department. You can use LinkedIn to get in touch with these individuals (view previous posts for more information).
  • If possible, try to make an appointment to discuss this opportunity in more detail.
  • DO NOT SUGGEST THIS OPPORTUNITY VIA E-MAIL! In most cases, managers will just ignore the message. You need to put them into an opportunity where they have to listen to you. Therefore, it is ideal to call on the phone or meet in person.
  • Explain how it would benefit you (i.e. job experience, reference, learning, etc.).
  • Declare why you are particularly interested in the organization.
  • Finally, do not take it personally if they say no. If you get rejected, just move on to another organization.
Once you get hired, there are several guidelines that I suggest you follow. This will be covered in tomorrow's posting.

Diversity Training and the Design

Diversity training has been a controversial topic in the training industries. It is obvious that as trainers, it is not beneficial to try and change an individual’s beliefs. Instead, we focus on training behavior. For instance, we teach employees that any behavior related to discrimination can be reprehended. However, can the designer or facilitator influence diversity training? In my personal opinion, yes, it can.

If an organization has diversity training, I have often found that the training mainly focuses on protected class that the trainer most identified with. For instance, if an African American is facilitating the course, he/she may present racial discrimination as the main topic. I have seen my preferences in diversity as well. Why does this occur? It is primarily a result of our passion or past experiences. It is not bad to focus on one aspect but a trainer must question if the training provides sufficient information on other protected classes.

There a variety of solutions to assist trainers in overcoming their personal biases. For instance, piloting a training session with your peers can provide significant feedback. The trainer should ask their peers to rate them on how he/she trained on each protected group. Another suggestion is to create a training program in a team setting. It would even more successful includes individuals from diverse backgrounds. Finally, trainers should always ask participants to evaluate the training. There is no need to ask participants about each protected group. Most likely, they will speak up if they felt a certain group did not receive enough attention.

Diversity is always a crucial topic to train on but facilitators encounter problems when they view diversity with specific groups. Diversity is about embracing individual differences. It is not just race and sex but it is also hair color, intelligence, social class, and gender.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

LinkedIn: God's Gift to Jobseekers

Over the past couple of years, I have spent many hours trying to learn everything I can about LinkedIn. I don't consider myself a pro by any means but I am fairly advanced.

However, when conversing with a group of graduate students (all studying industrial/organizational psychology), I learned that many of them had profiles but never utilized it. I was in shock! I assumed that everyone uses LinkedIn. When I informed them on how to utilize LinkedIn, they immediately asked,"do you think you can come to our school and teach us this stuff?" Apparently, their professors never taught them the value of LinkedIn. Tragic!

As a result of this story, I always tell jobseekers to ensure they are using LinkedIn to its full potential. Here are some ways it can be used:

1) Find a contact at your ideal company. If you know what company you want to work for, then search for contacts at that organization. Using the people search (not company search), you can type in the company and department to find someone to contact. When contacting these individuals, be sure to communicate that you want to learn about the company. Do not ask for a referral because they will most likely automatically ignore you. Invite them to meet you for coffee or lunch so you can pick their brain. If they do not live nearby, schedule a telephone conference. If you really want to impress them, compose a handwritten letter. This is your opportunity to network!

2) Advance your cover letter. Hiring managers are often turned off when they read: "To Whom It May Concern"; "Dear Sir or Madam"; or " Dear Hiring Manager". This form of addressing is impersonal and may suggest that a candidate did not do preliminary research. LinkedIn to the rescue! Use LinkedIn to find the name for the specific hiring manager or even the human resources manager/director. This provides you with a name to address and appears more personal to the reader.

3)Reveal yourself to the community. LinkedIn provides thousands of groups that one could join. Many people join these groups but often do not participate (I am just as guilty). Do not just join a group, but become involved with the discussions. You will find that people will start connecting with you because of your knowledge or insight. This is a form of online networking. In addition, these people are getting a glimpse of your education, writing style, and professionalism.

4) Getting a referral using your contacts. After applying (or before) for a job, the first thing you should do is go on LinkedIn to determine if any of your current connections knows a contact at the corporation. Using the "company search" feature, LinkedIn will tell you of any 2nd degree contacts (I have found that 3rd degree connections are useless). Ask your contacts if they would be willing to introduce you to this individual at the hiring company. You can also use the introduction feature. This reduces the workload for your friends as they no longer have to compose a message. They simply click "accept" or "decline". Fair warning: you are only allowed 5 introductions on LinkedIn.

  • If you are out of introductions, create an e-mail that your friend can forward to the individual at the hiring company. It will make the process easier for your friends.
5) Become Searchable. When I google my name, the first thing that comes up is my LinkedIn profile. When I submit my resume, I ensure that my LinkedIn hyperlink is included. This will create your presence on the world wide web. Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to display more information than a resume. Employers will get to see what who has composed recommendations for you.

If you don't have any recommendations from your classmates or coworkers, its time to request them. My philosophy is: send to recieve. If I compose a reccomendation for a friend, I assume they will have no issue composing one for me (unless they think I was the worst employee ever. Although, that never happens). There is no shame in requesting a recommendation either.

In short, get off Facebook and use LinkedIn. The more you use it, the more people you are connected with, the more groups you contribute to, and the more recommendations you have, the more apparent you become on the internet (i.e. your profile will have a better chance of showing up on internet searches) . Don't ask me why. That's just the way it is!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Charismatic Leader: Role Model? or Criminal?

For a leader to be successful, it is clear that he/she must be charismatic. He/she must have the ability to communicate and relate with others around him/her. In addition, he/she should be able to unite everyone on one common goal. However, a charismatic leader is not always the most ethical. For instance, Adolf Hitler was a charismatic leader. He was able to motivate a whole nation to do tragic events. How? He was well liked! He related to the public and appealed to their weaknesses (i.e. wealth and success).

The question one must ponder is: can a charismatic leader hurt a company? If so, how can we prevent it. There are several options to consider:

1) Hire leaders that have a strong sense of ethics. This is no easy task. There are assessment tools that can measure ethical behavior but face validity is questionable. Another option is to use behavioral interviews.

2) Encourage a style of transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is a style where leaders unite leaders by encouraging them to fight towards a common goal. Transformational leadership is unique as it emphasizes that the leader's goal should be towards the common good. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi are just a few examples of transformational leadership. Furthermore, organizations can offer professional coaching focusing on transformational leadership.

3) Hire a leader that is passionate towards reaching the organization's goal.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Subject Matter Experts: HR's Best Resource

When developing any materials (i.e. job descriptions, performance appraisals, selection systems) related to a specific position, it is important to remember to utilize your company's subject matter experts (SMEs). Who is a SME? A SME is someone who has successfully completed a job or is involved in the job process. This can include employees, supervisors, customers or clients.

When using employees as subject matter experts, avoid only including employees that go above and beyond the job. It should include any individual that meets the level of acceptable. If only the high-performers are utilized then it risks the chance that current employees or job candidates may not be able to achieve the established levels of acceptance.

SMEs can be utilized in several capacities. They can be used in a focus group, surveys, or in one-on-one interviews. In my personal opinion, the focus groups are the most cost effective. First of all, it allows the SMEs to bounce ideas off one another and all SMEs are interviewed within one appointment. Focus groups do require specific considerations:
  1. Supervisors should not be included in focus groups with their subordinates. This can foster a climate with intimidation.
  2. A focus group should include a facilitator and a note taker. The facilitator should focus his/her full attention on speaking with the group.
  3. Emphasize and explain the confidentiality of focus.
  4. Encourage open communication and its benefits.
SMEs are often overlooked but they are a valuable tool when creating job specific information. No one understands the position better than the people who perform it. Why not utilize them?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Organizational Fads

(I will write about Subject Matter Experts tomorrow. This topic just came up and I don't want to lose my thunder)

I recently had dinner with a friend that works for an IT company in the Chicago suburbs. In our conversation, he spoke about how his organization is implementing change. Apparently, this organization was using an old GE model. In this model, employees are encouraged to (1) identify a problem, (2) identify solutions, (3) implement solutions and (4) evaluate solutions. This was the main gist of the model. However, my friend said that whenever he tried to solve problems, the chain of command shut him down.

I have heard many stories similar to this. In most cases, CEO's read about a best practice that was implemented by another organization. The CEO's assume,"if it worked for them, it will work for me." The truth is: One size does not fit all.

I define organization fads as a best practice model that many organizations attempt to implement. Many consultants work to overcome these fads. The reason they worked at the original organizations is because it was appropriate for their culture (and it was designed specifically for the company). In addition, the organizations were successful at change management because they continually received support/understanding from employees throughout the process.

If a company chooses to implement a new structure or culture, executives should consider the following questions:

1) What type of culture are we trying to achieve?

2) What is the reason for this change? Do we want to emphasize better customer service, productivity, or creativity?

3) How will the change be communicated throughout the organization? How will we ensure buy-in?

4) Do we need a third party to determine if this change is suitable (i.e. a consultant or OD department)?

5) How are we going to evaluate the effectiveness of a new culture?

These are only a few out of a hundred questions that corporations need to consider. In short, just because one company had success with a new system does not mean that it will guarantee success for another organization.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The importance of job analysis

Although I have a limited amount of job expereince, I have already seen much that worries me about human resources within a company. I can say that my particular worries lie within retail. This is because many of the HR officers in retail stores have no HR background but are people promoted from within the store. I saw this particularly at Neiman Marcus.

Anyways, I have learned that many HR professionals are unaware of the importance of a job analysis. This is an important function of any human resources process. When starting to develop a compensation plan, selection system, or performance appraisal, a job analysis should ALWAYS be conducted. Many HR professionals just assume that a job stays stationary throughout time but one will learn that new responsibilities and new methods change constantly. This is why job analysis is vital. In addition, job analysis assists us in developing these tools because it allows employers to ensure that individuals are being measured based on the job, and not their personalities.

Job analysis can be a length process depending on the size of the organization and the experience of the individual conducting the analysis. However, I personally feel the best way to start a job analysis is to start with observing a job. The information can later be verified using focus groups composed of subject matter experts.

What is a subject matter expert? Find out in the next blog! Future blogs will be about how to conduct a job analysis and other information pertaining to the human capital.