Do you need a uniform policy?

Uniform policies for me fall somewhere in-between the policies I really think you need and the completely useless fear driven policies. I started in the working world within a quick service giant and worked my way through to becoming a Store Manager, so I feel I know first hand the pain and agony implementing this policy. Working with Team Members who are in their teens, constantly telling them to do their top button up, tuck their hair up, wear the right shoes, taking out their piercings was a daily part of the job as was the passive aggression they exuded after you told them no.

At the end of the day, I didn’t really mind if they had multiple ear piercings or blue hair. If they were excellent team players friendly to customers and looked showered and tidy, I was just like, yeah cool – I’ve got better things to do. Then my Operations Manager would come for a site inspection and I would see on my action list “address blah’s appearance, has a visible tattoo”. ehhhhhhhhhh.

I think in the grand scheme of business issues uniform adherence is not something I rate highly, as in it’s not a conversation I have much time for. It’s a simple a conversation I want to exit quickly. I don’t want to sit there discussing how you feel about a specific part of company uniform – just do it, you accepted the job, it’s not exactly a surprise that we have dress standards. If you genuinely have no idea what I mean when I say professional dress I am more than happy to go to google and show you pictures. Every minute we discuss uniforms is a minute I can’t spend on developing tools and systems to help you develop your career or have access to great benefits.

Are you creating a policy because you are too awkward to talk to that one person in that one site….

…..so you have declared WE NEED A POLICY (so you can hand it to them and they will subtly get the hint), that’s what is comes down to. I am struggling to have a human to human conversation so allow me to get my A4 paper to navigate these tough waters. Maybe that the purpose of a policy is to help you have those discussions, but too often we throw down the policy in place of the conversation….

Is it enough to just say “employees are expected to dress professionally and managers may provide feedback on your appearance in line with brand standards”. Should you just have a couple of pictures of role model employees in uniform with a blurb in the handbook.

The more prescriptive you make the policy the more you have to police it. When drafting a policy I would think about your brand and your customers. Who are your customers? Are you high-end or down to earth? Are they going to be offended by an arm tattoo? Would you benefit from company issued compete uniforms? Is blue hair the end of the world? Most of the time people will do the right thing, we spend a lot of time policing the 1% hmmm……..

 

 

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Why are you sharing that with me? A LinkedIn story.

Nothing frustrates me more on that glorious social media hub, than when people share articles / blogs without a comment as to why they shared it.

It’s because I am genuinely interested in why you want to share it with me. I want to know why you decided to make that article part of your online presence. I want to know why you want me to read it. It could be a genuine plug for something you wrote, or maybe it’s something you feel passionate about. Either way, tell me your opinion so that I can engage with your point of view. Even if it’s something as simple as “love this article, really speaks to my point of view on this topic” – magical, something people can engage with.

Now I know it is very popular to use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media presence –  I think they are great. Sometimes you want to share lots of articles in one day then nothing, it’s good to have a tool that moderates the distribution of your content so you don’t become a crazy LinkedIn spammer. However I can tell when you have just put in a whole bunch of articles just “for the shares” because you haven’t got any commentary. Commentary takes time and energy, you need to digest the information and form an opinion. Can’t do that if you are all like “I need to fill my buffer feed!”.

I think that approach works on Twitter because the life span on Twitter is about 18 minutes – so broadcast to your hearts content. LinkedIn posts have about a 24 hour life span so you have a great opportunity to connect with others and make genuine connections. Why are you wasting this opportunity. When people say to me that they don’t know what to post or they are afraid of what a potential employer might say my response is the same – use common sense. If you don’t have common sense then don’t use social media.

Your relationship with social media will change over time. You will find the forums that add the most benefit to you and figure out how often you should engage, the important part is that you do try. Put your ideas into the world, get involved and give it go. Do everyone a favour and add something new into the mix!

More on social media: http://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/bid/206554/are-you-maximizing-the-shelf-life-of-your-social-media 

Image credit: Flikr | Nan Palmero

The Rise of the Learning Ecosystem!

Last week I participated in an awesome Tweet Chat facilitated by @ozlearn, where I got the opportunity to introduce myself to new ideas (and new people) regarding Learning Ecosystems.

What’s a Learning Ecosystem?

Well that’s something that the chat couldn’t really agree on….

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I can’t help but think that a Learning Ecosystem really sums up the discussion at the moment regarding the future of L&D. The move to the facilitating the learning community and not the ownership!

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It appears to be a mix of everything! Creating an environment and system of sharing and collaboration, giving “power to the people” to create their own learning experience.

Is this a new idea?

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Pretty much everything would come to a standstill if we didn’t have a Learning Ecosystem. At its core it’s about sharing knowledge, transferring skills and developing others, formally and informally – that’s not business specific that’s origin of civilisation specific! So the question is not whether it exists, it’s how do we improve it and grow it it’s something amazing within the workplace.

What does it all mean?

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I almost started this sentence with “time to start thinking”. No, what I need is a plan. I am making a plan about how we bring this to life (with a particular interest in retail). I had started this activity a few weeks ago using this gem of an article by Jane Hart as a starting point to map activities. What’s steps are you taking – write a blog and share it with the community !! I’d love to read it, after all sharing is all part of the Learning Ecosystem.

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Special thanks to those mentioned in the post for contributing to my learning journey and to all the awesome participants of the Tweet Chat!

Creativity, stories and surprises – why I dig HR!

People ask me why I like working in HR. They seem to think my days are spent listening to complaints and disciplining people – which is actually a very small part of my role (maybe I’m the exception not the rule?). So I thought for a bit of Monday happiness I’d share my favourite parts of working in HR.

#1. Creating weird names for things.
I reflect fondly on the many times my HR counterparts and I sat around brainstorming the name of the next performance appraisal, what theme the next quarter should have or how we could inject the fun into policies. It’s like unleashing your inner Advertising Guru, only you are not a guru you just hope that some random catchy genius will find you.

#2. I get inspired by cool people
Some humans are just god-damn amazeballs. Some of my highlights include: watching people complete qualifications for the first time; seeing coaching in action; getting to know team members with big ambitions; and witty rhetoric with employees who really live the vision, mission and values. I tip my hat to all of you.

#3. I’m continually surprised 
Whether it be people sharing their funny anecdotes with me, or making epic work faux-pas, the laughs never stop when you are in the know when it comes to people’s lives – such a privilege.

#4. I am get great pleasure and amusement out of HR stereotypes
I adore the way HR is portrayed in mainstream media, it’s glorious! The first time I saw Archer and was introduced to the character of Pam I laughed myself silly. I enjoy a good joke about HR and most of all I enjoy smashing the stereotype.

Happy Monday!

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Learning about learning from DIY projects

When was the last time you truly pushed yourself to learn something new, that didn’t have anything to do with your day job? Mine was yesterday when after much consideration and frustration I decided to build a fly screen for my kitchen. I went through a number of steps to actually get to the end product, including watching videos online, asking the guy at Bunnings to explain it me, deciding how to purchase a hacksaw and then getting home and “contextualising” all the information.

The task was hard at first and it was SLOW GOING as I haphazardly measured the window frame (measure, cut, swear, measure, cut, swear…) but after I while I got into a rhythm and kaboom like magic I had a fly wire. Once I had completed my DIY task of the year, I had the overwhelming urge to celebrate and show off my achievements so y’know I posted to Facebook and gloated to one of my best mates over pizza – glorious.

Why am I telling you this story?

Sometimes we forget what it feels like to learn something new. This is especially true if we are the subject matter expert or facilitate that content all the time. We forget the frustration when trying to apply the learning and the excitement when we master the skill. I think celebration is really important. That’s why in a learning program that I am designing now the “graduation” and “success demonstration” is one of the most important parts – we need to reinforce the good feels to keep that spirit of life long learning alive and bring people on the journey.

So next time you are coaching people to learn something new, remember the small things – remember to celebrate the awesome!

Quick thoughts on the TAE

This week I have been completing my TAE (Certificate IV in Training and Assessment). The mix of students includes mostly technical specialists who will be involved with training others in the workplace. I have had some considerable conflicts with the content and that was to be expected because I have experience and have been exposed to some really great thinkers in the workplace learning space. However most people in that room will not get that experience and as a result will go on to think of themselves as trainers, not facilitators who tell people what they should know, not facilitators for understanding.

One personal opinion of the trainer was that she doesn’t like online learning. Okay I can understand that – and there were nods around the room from people who felt the same. The problem with online learning is that term itself is so broad and online learning has been done poorly in many circumstances! I like online learning in the right circumstance. I have had some awesome MOOC, video tutorial, discussion board and social media platform learning experiences. But that wasn’t explored in this course, it’s outside the scope but we have 1000’s of people completing the qualification each year who don’t understand that online learning is a critical part of the new world of work and ignoring it, saying you don’t believe it works without seeing what good looks like is a massive gap in the skills of our workplace learning facilitators.

The TAE is the baseline qualification for people wanting to be “qualified” in designing and delivering competency based training in Australia because it links to understanding how our Vocational Education and Training system works. So it does have it’s place. But I question whether it really prepares people to truly support an engaging and dynamic learning experience at work, maybe the qualification isn’t about that, but shouldn’t it be part of it?

How should we structure the HR department?

A while back I went for an interview to become a Regional Manager for a large supermarket chain. During the group interview process I sat through an information session about the company and a Q&A.

When I asked who looks after the HR department and that side of things, the senior manager said that HR was a waste of space and an unnecessary business function (oh snap!)

When I asked who deals with those traditional HR items I was told they instilled a Grandfather policy by where you escalated things to your manager’s manager to keep a layer of separation. Any advice regarding policy or legislation was handled by the legal teams and basic admin was completed by payroll. Okay I thought, I get that…

So then I asked about culture, actually I asked something like what events do you celebrate internally and are there cultural milestones that define who you are as a business. I was met with a blank stare and a comment about sometimes people receive birthday cards from their manager and then the conversation was dismissed. Oh.

I asked whether they had a HR business partner to help guide operations in creating HR systems and processes for their teams. More blank stares. I knew then it wasn’t going to work out – if you know me, you will know one of my biggest passions is how we make workplaces more awesome so this role pretty much stomped all over that.

However this interview exposed me to a whole new way of approaching the structure of HR teams which as been swirling in my mind ever since.  Have seen HR set up in a few ways including:

  1. Outsourcing – hire a consultancy to become your HR team and pay for what you use essentially.
  2. Hire everyone – massive HR teams which act as a safety net for managers (and get made redundant in tough times).
  3. Business Partners: Where HR coaches managers how to execute the process, stepping in only if its high risk.
  4. All Admin – the internal team offers no strategic value and external consultants rotate through ‘innovating’ the business.
  5. I don’t need no HR – they totally wing it or build it out all together (as above).

Personally I think the only sustainable methods are to either outsource your HR team or build an internal team of business partners streamlining the admin process. Speaking generally, competent and capable line managers can manage most of the day-to-day things that most large HR teams are dealing with. HR does not need to sit in on every Performance Management meeting or every interview. It’s certainly not my job to sit down with employees I’ve never worked a day in my life with and tell them they need to improve. That’s the manager’s job, but many HR advisors and managers find themselves involved in this stuff.

It’s 100% my job to support managers to make the right decision when it comes to the tough people issues. It’s my job to build systems, processes and provide advice that makes managing people easier.

It’s not my job to manage operational teams explicitly , that’s where we are getting it wrong. HR is spending too much time doing the jobs of managers or doing admin tasks that robots can do.

When I first started my career in HR I was told that the Happy HR Ratio was 1:50 employees and over the past few years I have seen this number stretch out to 1:200+, so you don’t have to be a genius to realise that HR needs to get smarter with how they use their time and where they put their resources.

It’s time to get real and think about the value you offer as a HR professional.