Blog - MConnected Communications

4 Ways to Add Immediate Strategic HR Value

By | Future of HR, HRevolution | No Comments

Since we can all agree that the “Key to Great HR” doesn’t reside with certain certifications or standard learning, what is the key to great HR? How can you deliver immediate strategic value – even in an HR department of one?

4 Ways to Add Immediate Strategic HR Value – Regardless of Where You Sit Within HR


1. Align Yourself with Your Client

It may come as no surprise that the first step to add immediate strategic HR value is to align yourself with your client. But this is NOT the normal setting for HR people. Instead, most HR departments are set-up to have their HR professionals be aligned with their boss, their internal HR team, the company, or their peers.

Being “aligned” with your department is ok, but it’s not strategic.

Instead, you should first be focused on what your client needs and wants, and be a fierce supporter of his or her needs. Essentially, you’ll need to shift your priorities and your “side” within your team. It’s not that you’re going to be against the traditional expectations of rooting for your HR department, but instead, you’re going to approach questions, rollouts, situations, programs, and so on – from the perspective of what your CLIENT needs and wants.

Being “aligned” with your department is ok, but it’s not strategic. #HR Click To Tweet

From experience, it can be uncomfortable at times among your HR team. They may see you as… aloof or as asking too many questions. It’s an unfortunate side effect that is based on the other person’s insecurities – not that you’re doing something wrong.

In fact, being your client’s biggest ally and supporter will only help you grow your career. Because not only will you be able to showcase your awesome HR skills, but you’ll also be showcasing your business savvy and ability to think outside of the HR box.

2. Frame Your Work

The goal of framing your work, is to start making the connection between your HR activities and the company’s annual goals. In a perfect world, your CHRO would already do this for you – but we’re not there yet at most companies. Instead, create the new frame for your own work.

Consider the projects you’re working on or the questions you get, and start making the connection between why it is important you do these things for the company. This is my famous “So What?” question. How can you draw a line from your activity to something that adds to the company’s bottom line – moving the action away from “just being an HR thing” to something that is necessary for the business to thrive?

Learn exactly how to do this here (it’s part of a lesson from Strategic Storytelling for HR).

How can you draw a line from your activity to something that adds to the company’s bottom line?… Click To Tweet

3. Up your Communication Game

Even if you did everything perfectly, if you don’t also up your communication game, you are still likely to fail. Being able to connect and engage with your audience (ahem, communicate), is a critical component in your strategic capabilities.

Think of it this way: if you find the cure to cancer but don’t tell anyone about it, did you accomplish something?

I know, a drastic consideration and HR is usually not that dramatic, but your work does carry significant value to your organization. So if you’re doing all of these amazing things – adding strategic value, making employees happier at work, increasing engagement, and so on – being able to share that work and your findings along the way, is important for the business.

You can start here.

4. Manage Your Calendar Strategically

Yes, we’re stepping into calendar planning – stay with me here. I know that for most of us, accepting every meeting invite, taking calls at all times, keeping our emails open all day, being signed into IM – are all things we MUST DO. It is probably at the point where you aren’t even aware of how damaging it is or how tiring it all can be.

You’re on auto-mode.

Let’s be clear: there is no way to actually BE strategic, THINK strategically or DELIVER strategy if you are buzzing around and on auto-mode.

You have to stop auto-responding to meetings, taking calls at all times, having email and IM open forever and ever – to create the space you need to do strategic work. It’s not going to be easy – but once you start practicing it, it will change your life.

You can't BE strategic, THINK strategically or DELIVER strategy if you're on auto-mode. Click To Tweet

Start by crafting out an hour (ok 30 minutes if you’re really scared) each day ideally (start once a week if daily freaked you out) on your calendar. Block it like you would any other meeting, and during that time, close out email, IM, turn your ringer off, etc., and focus on big rock projects. Spend the time thinking, working on, brainstorming – whatever you need, on a big project that needs more strategic insight. Maybe it’s creating a plan or a SWOT analysis or a way to connect the project with the business.

Whatever it is, that time is sacred.

It’s the time you are going to give your brain a place to THINK. To only be focused on strategy – not the thousands of tactical little things you need to do.

Trust me: your calendar can afford it and your work (and overall happiness in your role) will improve significantly.

The “Key to Great HR”

By | Future of HR | 2 Comments

Admittedly, I’ve become a news junkie over the past year or so. And because of that, I constantly have the news on in the background. A strange side effect of watching cable news is all of the commercials you encounter time and time again. Within any given hour, you’re likely stumble across a few HR-related commercials.

The one that confounds me the most, is the ad SHRM has been running recently (and the series this is a part of). It’s titled: SHRM-CP & SHRM-SCP: The Key to Great HR (click below to watch it).

In the ad, SHRM is trying to tell business leaders and news watchers that in order to have “great HR,” your HR professionals need to be SHRM certified. Which is a larger debate I know, but at its core, it’s a false statement that we can’t keep staying mum about. Read More

HR Transformation? No…

By | Future of HR, HRevolution | One Comment

The last few years or so, HR has been talking about its big “HR Transformation.” Changing how HR does work. Mainly by Centers of Excellence (COEs) that separate different HR functions and specialties into different departments.

I remember first hearing about the COE concept, likely on a CEB webinar presentation, and shortly after every company slowly started radically changing the way they “do HR.” They made significant investments in new HRIS systems (some are already on their second investment in this space); call centers; self-service processing; and so on.

For most companies, the change over was rocky – regardless of how much (or little) change management was involved. At the end of the day, the way employees would interact with HR was drastically changed from how it was the day before the flip was switched.

HR people were ecstatic (I mean, at least the ones who weren’t laid off as part of the process – which were many, by the way) – they would finally be able to deliver “strategic” HR value and stop doing the transactional work. Except… it didn’t change all that much. Read More

What is Your HR Brand?

By | Employee Communications, Future of HR | No Comments

Have you taken the time to discover what your personal HR brand is, or even more important, what your HR department’s brand is? Thinking about “brand,” or what we want to be known for, isn’t something that naturally pops up as a discussion point. We talk around it during performance reviews, we try to gauge it during interviews for new roles, but ultimately, we put our heads down and do the work.

Definition of Brand: a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic

You haven’t taken the time to consider how you’ve positioned yourself within the context of others. Or made a concerted effort to create a winning brand for your HR-self or your HR department. Instead, you’ve likely collected skills, taken on roles with increasing responsibility, maybe found a niche within HR that you thrive in, and kept going. Read More

7 Tips to Revamp Your HR Program Emails Instantly

By | Employee Communications | No Comments

When I was speaking at the Work Life Congress last October, I kept hearing the same thing over and over from every single HR professional I talked to during our round tables… we want to be better communicators, but we don’t know where to start. It was stated with more frustration coupled with the very real time and budget constraints that have been barriers in the past.

How can you use what you already have and create more effective HR communications? How can you revamp last year’s rollout emails, to something more effective without increasing your budget or investing a lot more time?

It can be an overwhelming proposition. Where do you start? How should you focus your efforts? Will what you change have better or (gasp) worse results than last year? Why should I be the one even doing this? And so on…

Even with all of the inherent barriers, you can absolutely create more effective HR communications (yes, I know – we’re probably talking emails for now), by implementing these seven tips. Read More

Our Employees Aren’t Taking Action!

By | Metrics | No Comments

Why aren’t our employees taking action? Why do we have to send a million emails about our annual performance review process, when it happens every year? Why does HR always have to be the bad guys?

Sound familiar?

Remember back in the day, or even just five years ago, when HR would say “do this” and our employees would simply comply? Perhaps it used to be easier to have our employees take action because HR was so feared or so misunderstood, that no one wanted to tick us off. Does that feel like forever ago?

As our workforce and those in charge of our workforce, changes, you’ve probably learned the hard way that your employees have changed as well. And the way they are motivated to take deliberate action, has changed dramatically.

While HR may still be feared and people are jumping out of your way when you’re walking down the halls, those same people have stopped listening to you – and what you want them to do.

In 2010 I headed up a project to get 100% completion of signed employee performance reviews – done by paper for all global employees, all 8,000 of them. One hundred percent! And we achieved it – which didn’t seem like a jaw-dropping goal with our communications plan centering around, sending a total of three emails.

Can you even fathom a goal like this today? Hopefully you won’t still be using paper forms, so perhaps part of the process would be easier, but even so – the amount of effort it would take to get all of your employees, worldwide, to signed and “complete” their performance reviews (and then ensure that it was done), seems insurmountable. How many emails would need to be sent? How else can we “yell” at our employees to get them to take action? And so on Read More

Super Bowl LI – An Employee Engagement Problem?

By | Employee Communications | No Comments

Did the Atlanta Falcons lose the Super Bowl because their employee engagement scores were lower than the New England Patriots? Maybe… but likely not. Their HR team will likely look at these metrics at some point to see if they could have done anything differently to help a better outcome or contribute to the winning outcome, respectively.

But both teams didn’t suffer from an “engagement” problem. They had a communications problem at different points throughout the game.

When we survey for engagement just once a year, we’re looking at things like: are our employees present; want to be there; with “us;” satisfied and happy with the work they do and with their boss; and so on. Survey results, by their very nature, are a moment in time – a reflection of what’s happening right at this moment combined with what had led up to that moment.

When we look at the Falcons, they were all communicating and on the same page during the first three quarters (non-football peeps, stay with me for a minute). They were engaged, present, have a common goal, “in the moment,” and were executing to the best of their abilities. They were as HR would say, highly engaged… and therefore positioned for success.

But in an instant, the tides shifted. With one play, momentum shifted the most highly engaged from one team to the other. And just like that, the Patriots shifted into being highly engaged. You could visibly see it on both sides – the energy, the positivity, the will to win, the camaraderie – it’s how football players show their “employee engagement.” Read More

Future of HR: Employee Communications

By | Employee Communications, Future of HR | No Comments

As we continue this series on the Future of HR, let’s review the second critical skill needed by HR professionals, just like you, to be successful going forward. You can review skill #1 (HR Metrics) here.

As a reminder: the future of HR needs three critical skills to continue the journey from “personnel department” to “getting a seat at the table” to ultimately, being an HR profit center and delivering results to the business. Are you ready to heed the call?

Skill 2: Employee Communications

Current State

“Employee communications” is a fairly new concept. So new, that when I launched my first employee communications department in 2004, the VP, Corporate Communications had absolutely no idea what I would be doing. While official employee communications departments or experts may still be emerging, the idea behind this skill set is nothing new.

At the end of the day, employee communications is all about connecting and engaging effectively with your employees and your people. The misconception is that “employee communications” is only focused on how emails get sent out or how we push messages out to our employees – that’s a small part of effective communications. Read More

Are you ready for the future of HR?

By | Future of HR, Metrics | 2 Comments

Now that we know what HR should leave behind in 2016, how do we start building the capabilities of HR for the future and stop the HR hamster wheel of madness?

Human Resources is a department that is rapidly changing – with opportunities and possibilities beyond imagine, when comparing HR of the past with what is possible in HR’s future. As an HR professional, you sit on the precipice of moving HR into the future – with more opportunity, resources, technology, and skills than ever before. Knowing which ones are most critical in the future of HR landscape will help propel your career further and provide you with a deep sense of meaning and accomplishment in your life.

The future of HR needs three critical skills to continue the journey from “personnel department” to “getting a seat at the table” to ultimately, being an HR profit center and delivering results to the business. Are you ready to heed the call?

Read More

The HR Hamster Wheel

By | Future of HR, Metrics | One Comment

As we start 2017, you’re probably starting off exactly where you left off – with maybe a little more rest and a feeling of rejuvenation… until you hit 3pm and realize your break has been long forgotten. HR doesn’t stop, even when we want it to.

But isn’t it so… exhausting to realize you’ve stepped into the exact same “thing” as you did when you started 2016? It’s like a never-ending hamster wheel – it’s January, time for us to start the Performance Review process… so we can then move into Merit Reviews followed by {enter your next HR program}.

It’s plug-and-play HR. And it’s the standard nowadays, really. Most of our HR leaders have hit “their stride” with providing expected and consistent HR programs and updates, that leaders outside of HR are now accustomed to. It only took us 25 years to get here, but now that we’re here, we’ve officially fallen into our next rut.

And you’ve been swallowed up by the same rut, right alongside your HR department.

Delivering the same HR programs, support, messaging, and updates that you’ve done in the past. Maybe incorporating some lessons from last year. Maybe adding a new channel or option for communication. Maybe to a different audience. But as a whole, your HR work has become stagnant.

Your own HR career and skillset has become stagnant right along with your department.

{GASP} Read More