Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

March 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Sorry for the sports cliché, but it fits. There are a lot of distractions in life — now more than ever.  The recession (I’m surprised someone hasn’t come up with a four letter word for it) has everyone distracted. Admit it, you come to work and you’re distracted. You log on to the Internet to check what the stock market is doing. How far has it fallen already today and it’s not even noon?  You check back two or three more times before that final one late in the day to get the closing number.

What’s the company stock price doing today? Is it up or down? What does that mean for those rumored layoffs, not to mention your pension? You’re worried about your job. You’re worried about your retirement account. You’re worried about making your mortgage payment. You’re just plain ol’ worried. Now you’re not only distracted, you’re despondent. Who has time for work? Based on the financial results being reported daily, nobody does. We’re sitting on our collective hands as the economy and our companies crater.

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Categories: Commentary

Bad Economy No Excuse for Not Succeeding

February 20, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Bad news is everywhere. The recession is dominating the headlines. On a daily basis we hear about bailouts, layoffs, and bankruptcies. In light of all the bad news, how are we to react? If there ever was a time when one could step back and just mail it in, this would be it. I mean who can blame you for not making budget this year? In light of what’s going on in the economy, “they” should be happy if we make any money at all. I mean look at the banks and the auto industry. With some of this country’s most respected institutions teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, mere survival should be applauded. Right?

Wrong. True leaders emerge in times of crisis, and I think the current economic environment qualifies as a crisis. It is crucial that you understand and accept that there can be no excuses. Sure, it would be easy to hide behind the recession. You could even reasonably argue that many of the justifications you would come up with to explain your failures and mediocrity would be legitimate. But in order to lead, you must accept the responsibilities of the reality and deal with them. There’s a quote that says, “The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other person finds an excuse.” Are you going to be the one who finds a way or the one with the excuse?

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Categories: Commentary

Money for Nothing

February 20, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

When President Barack Obama signed into law the $787 billion stimulus package on February 17, I couldn’t help but think of the 1985 Grammy award winning song by the English band Dire Straits, “Money for Nothing.”

No, that’s not a political commentary on how the money is being spent. I’m talking about all the corporate executives and state and local politicians who had hoped to grab their share of the pie now are thinking twice. As they look more closely at the consequences of the money grab, they’re finding that some of the terms are not to their liking. Whether it is limits on executive compensation or restrictions on where and how the money can be spent, they’re finding out that you don’t get “money for nothing” even from the federal government. It seems that some of the would-be recipients of the stimulus package were hoping the terms would allow them to fit the description Mark Knopfler penned when he wrote the song along with Sting:

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Categories: Commentary

Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind While Cuting Staff, Budget

February 13, 2009 - by: HR Hero 0 COMMENTS

Talent Management
We’ve talked a lot about job loss. With U.S. companies slashing nearly 600,000 jobs in January, it has been top of mind for most of us.  Here’s the upside in what is an otherwise very dismal situation.  Layoffs can give a company the opportunity to cull its lowest performers, resulting in a leaner, more competitive organization. Those companies with a strong talent management program, who really know who the top performers and key employees are and which positions are most critical to the organization’s future success, will emerge from the recession on top. After losing, let’s say, the bottom 10% from their organization they’ll replace them with top talent that has become available when they begin to hire again. The net effect will be that the firms that have a strong grasp of strategic talent management will emerge from the recession miles ahead of those who don’t. This is HR’s time to shine if they’re up to the task.

Leadership Development
Is leadership development worth fighting for in a down economy? That’s a question human resources professionals and businesses should be asking themselves right now. Often travel and training are the first budget items to get slashed when a company experiences a difficult patch. In fact, a recent study showed that 23% of companies cut their training budget in 2008, with another 18% planning to do so this year. But can a company afford to sacrifice tomorrow’s leaders because of today’s economy? I’d argue strongly that a company must continually invest in its leaders and that the costs associated with not doing so, while often difficult to measure, are too great. One thing to consider might include paring the group of trainees down so that you’re investing the same amount in each future leader, but fewer of them. Another might be to start (or expand if you already have one in place) your internal mentoring program. It can often be much more cost effective to focus on existing leaders within the organization to provide the training.

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Categories: Commentary

Who’s to Blame for Layoffs?

January 30, 2009 - by: HR Hero 6 COMMENTS

I was speaking with a friend recently. He had worked for a large financial services company and had lost his job the day before our conversation. My friend told me that he hadn’t been surprised by the announcement. In fact, he knew it was coming for some time and was just waiting for his “package.”

Business is down more than one-third and the job cuts were inevitable, he told me. What he said next just about knocked me over. The company he worked for was laying off more than 80% of its workforce! 80 percent? Business is down by a third and you lay off 80% of your people? That doesn’t compute. How does the company get two-thirds of the work done with 20% of its employees? How does it continue to serve its customers? Either it was grossly overstaffed, which could have contributed to the company’s downturn, or someone’s overreacting and in doing so is sealing the company’s fate because there is no way it can continue to provide a quality service.

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Categories: Commentary

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