Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

What Can Human Resources do to Develop a Meaningful Succession Plan?

Change is constant and with many companies lacking the expertise to deal with an evolving business issues such as global competition, changes in technology and the need to reexamine business models are factors that contribute to a very complex work environment.  To meet this challenge organizations will often determine that the best way to plan for their future is to create succession plans for key positions throughout the organization.  By implementing these three succession plan initiatives companies will ensure that there is no interruption in service, innovation or customer support.

Hiring the Right Talent

With unemployment at record lows companies today face a variety of challenges with hiring the right talent for the job at the top of the list.  Companies today not only need to offer a competitive wage, top-tier benefits but they also need to build a strong employer brand that allows their employees to feel proud of where they work.  HR departments as the gate keepers for the talent pool need move as quickly as possible to ensure that the hiring process does not get side-tracked.  Many companies will lose excellent candidates because of a very slow hiring process.  Key to the hiring of staff in key positions is the process of thinking beyond the current job that is being filled.  Do your candidates have strong critical thinking skills, exceptional communication attributes and high ethical standards?  These are the questions HR professionals need to evaluate when considering the candidates qualifications.  Also, the candidates are not only applying for the current position that they are applying for but also for their next job.

Improve the Company’s Bench Strength at the Management Level

Executives today are uneasy about their organizational leaders’ ability to manage unexpected challenges.  There is a lot at stake as new managers already have a high rate of failure in the first 12 months of being promoted to a management role.  These leaders often have a difficult time assessing the demands of business, processing and sharing information in a timely manner and talent management.  Human Resource departments can play a pivotal role in helping these new leaders succeed in their job by offering personalized training programs targeted to their particular needs.  HR can also ensure success by developing learning programs that are skill based, that can be applied immediately and are tied to future business challenges.  As part of the process HR will also need to evaluate the gaps in leadership skills in order to determine where training is needed, necessary and applicable.  The goal for the future should be to enhance strategic and creative thinking throughout the organization so that management can focus on how to better position their company for success and ensure that there is no interruption in the talent pool.

Build a Succession Plan that is Flexible and Targeted

One of the key functions of an HR leader is to hire right, create depth in the organization and secure the company’s success by building a succession plan that is both flexible and targeted.  Succession plans are a tool to create an immediate candidate pool of qualified internal employees when a key employee departs the organization.  Succession plans should initially be developed around the C-suite staff followed by more detailed plans around key managers, supervisors and individual contributors.  The goal of “purview” or key personnel is to ensure that they receive training, developmental tools and mentoring so that they are ready to assume a bigger role when a position is identified.  The criteria for purview employees are that they need to exceed job requirements, have been with the company a minimum of 24 months and have the skills, knowledge and ability to assume a great role in the future.  These employees may be unaware that they have been targeted for development; however, HR should take an active role in their career.

By hiring the right talent from the beginning, developing employees that show promise and building succession plans that encourage internal career development through a formal program, companies will mitigate potential gaps in leadership.

Monday, August 14, 2023

How Can we Communicate More Effectively?

Recently there has been some discussion in social media as to how technology has changed the HR profession with respect to communication.  With the changes in how people work, their role vis-à-vis working remotely, along with the competitive business climate, HR departments are learning that poor communication channels are impacting the bottom line.  As HR professionals we can do three things to improve communication.

Communicate Consistently

Communication is often sporadic with conflicting messages.  While organizations attempt to share information with their employees and want their staff to be given the tools to complete their daily tasks, a lack of consistent communication is hindering their ability to be successful.  Effective communication is very important and employers must invest time and energy into building and establishing clear and consistent methods.  One of the most common communication problems in the workplace and solutions are poorly written documents, policies and procedures or announcements. Poorly written communication pieces will cause confusion, inhibit success and foster frustration amongst the employees.  To correct this challenge HR must always proofread the documents before distributing the final product.  It is also important to have the various stakeholders review and agree with content prior to its release.

Improve Internal Communication

Many companies with internal communications challenges have them because internal communication with employees can often be overlooked or seen as being less important than external communications. By keeping your employees informed from the company’s management team versus external sources (i.e., the media) confusion can be reduced and false information disseminated to the employees can be mitigated.  The easy solution is to over-communicate, do not assume that employees understand the business decisions that are made and always keep employees informed when you have a major announcement to make or have to react to bad news. Whenever possible, tell them before you tell an external audience.

Use Technology in Moderation

Organizations are utilizing internal social networks more extensively. These tools enable the sharing of information and best practices.  E-mails, instant messages, and other communications can be easily forwarded; however, messages are often not reframed for the individual or team to whom the message is directed.  This lack of customization can foster confusion and damage the credibility of the author.  Using technology to communicate is very efficient; however, it does not give the same warm feeling as being connected personally. Technology oriented connections are less meaningful and lack the human need to connect.  Organizations must understand that technology can have damaging effects. An over-reliance on technology can lead to people feeling isolated, and this can lead to challenges at work.  To take advantage of all the benefits that technology in communication offers, it is crucial to ensure that organizations implement policies and guidelines for how technology should be used to communicate.

Using the existing communication channels at your company along with conducting an employee survey to evaluate your communication challenges and successes is an easy way to assess and evaluate your strategy for the future.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Working Through a Challenging Economy?

In order to meet the current demands of an uncertain business environment Human Resources professionals are expected to be a key partner in managing change and assisting the leaders of the company by supporting changes to the organization.  As business partners, Human Resources professionals play an important role by assisting leadership in four key areas:

§   Identify, evaluate and assess the risks and rewards associated with organizational change in order to beflexible and adjust to the changes in the market and business.

§   Evaluate the current talent mix and organizational structure to determine if the current skills that the  employees possess will meet the organization’s needs in the future.

§   Communicate with the employees so that they understand what changes are needed along with explaining the timeframe and the potential outcomes.

§    Determine the success of the changes implemented and evaluate the alignment between the business,   culture and the staff. 

This article discusses these four areas of organizational change which can have a positive impact on the organization and its workforce or if not managed properly can be very detrimental to the organization.

Organizational Change

Successful transformation initiatives begin when the leaders examine the marketplace to determine what changes in their business may result in new challenges for their organization.  These challenges include new technology, new products and/or services, changes in social patterns, shifts in tax policy or demographic re-alignments.  The leaders need to evaluate the risks and rewards associated with the proposed changes to the business model and develop a strategy to adapt to the new realities. 

Current Talent Mix

Successful change takes time, which can be disruptive to the organization.   When the business changes often the current talent mix is not in alignment in order to execute this new strategy.  The Human Resources team needs to be in a position to evaluate the employees’ existing skills to determine if their skills and knowledge will meet the future needs of the organization.  Until the existing staff have the necessary skills the organization will remain vulnerable.  It is important to evaluate the staff and create a performance plan to ensure that all employees have a road map to success.  It is also important that HR holds all people accountable to ensure that these milestones for implementation and business improvement are met.  If done properly the current talent mix will be aligned with the new strategy. 

Communicating to the Employee

Frequently the decisions that are made about the organization are made at the c-suite level with the understanding  the middle management will share the changes with the rank-and-file staff.  Oftentimes, this approach while well intended, is not communicated effectively or is unclear.  Poor communication about why the changes are being implemented and the strategy hinders the successful implementation.  To mitigate poor communication, Human Resources needs to play a key role in coaching and educating the employees and middle managers about what is changing and how it will impact their job.

Determine Employee Engagement

Successful change starts with individuals, and failure will often occur because resistance to change is human nature.  Some managers are very skilled at change management; however, unfortunately, many managers are not adept at facilitating change. The lack of change management skills among managers can make change initiatives difficult to achieve.  Human Resources plays a very important role in determining where change is being embraced and where resistance is occurring.  HR can leverage those areas that are successful throughout the organization and where it is being resisted more resources and tools can be allocated to address these area’s needs.

In conclusion, successfully identifying the rewards and risks association with organization change, evaluating the current talent to determine if the organization can meet the new strategy, communicating the rationale for the changes and evaluating challenges where there are pockets of success and/or resistance will help the Human Resources department manage organization change successfully.

To learn more about the survey process please go to our website at:

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Will there be HR Generalists in the Future?

Recently there has been some discussion in social media as to the future of the HR Generalist role and is this type of position needed today?

Organizations are constantly reviewing whether to centralize their HR professionals or decentralize the Human Resources function.  There are typically three approaches regarding the structure of HR.

Decentralized:  If you have talented individuals that are resourceful, knowledgeable and are skilled in the process of explaining the HR programs and policies then the closer they are to support the business the better it is for the company.  Decentralization is the optimum approach with respect to building a partnership between HR and the business.  It is also the costliest from a budget perspective.

Blended:  If the HR staff lack the depth of experience then the goal is to train these individuals and hire “specialists” that can share their knowledge with the newer employees.  While these employees remain close to the business their lack of skill can often be an impediment to their success.  This structure also takes time to build and commitment from the leadership team is critical to maintaining this type of organizational platform

Centralized:  A centralized structure is a skilled and talented staff that are pro-active, reach out to the business units and provide sound advice from a call-center or centralized corporate office.  This approach is being used by an increasing number of companies that have 500 employees or more.  With employees becoming familiar with the self-service approach to obtain information about pay, benefits, promotions and career paths the need to have an intermediary is becoming less necessary

Today, organizations are looking for cost effective talent to support and partner with the business.  With budgets being scrutinized and HR metrics becoming an even more important part of the performance process the future of the HR Generalist, particularly in larger organizations, is very uncertain.

The future of the HR Generalist in larger companies (employers with 500 employees or more) will ultimately go away and be replaced with experts in a call center or corporate office.  The business units will only have an HR Generalist if they are willing to pay for this personalized support.  In our opinion, the business leader will determine that the HR Generalist is redundant and unnecessary.  Furthermore, the laws are changing rapidly at the state and federal level and with many companies having a global reach the need for “specialists” is even more important in today’s work environment.  The HR Generalist role is often one of sharing information that is provided by the corporate HR function anyway.  The timely sharing of information is critical to meeting the needs of the business and any follow-up action is often delayed as the skills of the HR Generalist are at times not as strong as the specialist.  This requires that the HR Generalist reach out repeatedly to the skilled expert in the corporate office to obtain clarification.  This takes time and costs the organization additional expense.

The future of the HR Generalist in smaller companies (employers with 499 employees or less) is a very different story.  These skilled professionals will continue to be relied upon, typically report to the CEO or COO and have significant influence on the organization.  They will also have between 3 and 5 subordinates who provide specialized services to the company.  Further career opportunities in this area will continue to grow and expand.

To learn more about what is best for your company Human Resource departments are often conducting employee surveys to evaluate department performance, establish year-over-year metrics, review the success or failure of the established programs and policies and finally how to best meet the needs of the organization and staff.  Consider conducting an employee survey to discover what your employees are thinking.

Monday, June 27, 2022

What will HR Professionals Experience in the Future?

HR professionals will face significant changes in their role at over the next several years.  Four changes are in the immediate future for HR leaders. Let us take a look at those areas that will impact Human Resource leaders:

1.  The use of digital data collection will result in the HR department migrating from a labor-intensive area to a specialized function where employee self-service will be the result.   Fewer managerial positions along with support staff will be the end result.  HR leaders will need to do more with less staff; however, the approval to automate and outsource as many functional areas will be encouraged and is an anticipated trend.

2.  HR will play a broader role in supporting the vision of the Board and leaders of the company.  Metrics to evaluate performance, talent management, retention and employee satisfaction and engagement will become a focus of company leaders as they look to leverage their successes and minimize their business challenges.  HR leaders will need to find new ways to evaluate company and talent performance that is numbers driven with less subjectivity.  Increased respect for the profession has resulted in higher expectations for the future.

3.  The use of outsourcing to meet the gaps in staffing will be employed and expanded in roles where on-staff employment was typical.  Addressing the issue of turnover, employee satisfaction, pay-practices and overall employee engagement will play an important role to meet the on-going labor demands of organizations.

4.  HR accountability will result in Human Resources demonstrating through their actions, that employees will be treated fairly and honestly.  Consistent application of the prevailing policies will require that HR conduct a periodic review of the compensation practices to determine that those employees that are exhibiting excellence receive the larger merit increase, auditing the promotional opportunities to ensure that only those employees that are excelling in their jobs are receiving new job opportunities.  Finally, HR will need to confirm that the learning programs offered to the staff are made available to all employees and not only those that are performing at a peak level.

In conclusion, HR professionals today face extraordinary challenges with respect to managing the business and at the same time meeting the needs of their employees.  Human Resources leaders need to take the long-term perspective and adapt to the changes anticipated in the future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What is the Process for Implementing Alternative Work Arrangements?

Some employees worked on-site during the pandemic, some have returned to the office; however, for those still planning their return, developing a strategy is critical to ensure success and the safety of all staff.  All successful programs require planning and a strategy to understand the changes in the workplace. Employers will need to communicate to employees whether they will return to the workplace every workday or have a flexible schedule.  A three-step approach as outlined below will help employers return their staff successfully.

Communicate the Flexible Work Schedule Policy

Following the drafting and approval of a flexible work policy employees will need to be informed as to what will be required of them upon their return.  A policy explaining the employer’s approach with respect to vaccinations, mask-wearing, frequent handwashing, travel precautions and a procedure for informing management of compliance issues will need to documented and then communicated to the employees.  A procedure for rectifying non-compliance should also be explored and shared with the returning employees.  Once approved, the Employee Handbook should be modified to include this new policy so that all team members are aware of the changes.

Obtain Employee Support for the New Work Schedule Policy

Whether returning to in-person work, adopting a hybrid work arrangement or allowing some staff to continue to work remotely, an employer should be able to clearly explain to its workforce the new work schedule policy, the rationale behind the policy and why some employee classifications may have more job flexibility than others.  Explaining the policy clearly will eliminate any misunderstanding or perceptions of favoritism.  Clearly articulating that working remotely is a privilege and if someone is not performing or is needed in the office, either part time or full time a change in the work schedule may be the result.

Check Understanding

While employees across the world have become accustomed to working from home or remotely, company culture and employee collaboration are essential to the success of all businesses.  This means that in many organizations, employees need to be in the workplace at least some of the time to support their colleagues, learn new skills and continue to be engaged.  It is very important that employers be very clear about both the expectations and the consequences for failing to adhere to the policy.  The best practice is to make these expectations consistent for groups of similar employees.  One of the best ways to ensure adherence to the policy is to check in with your employees.  Have regularly scheduled meetings to touch base, identify challenges and offer support.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

What are some Hints from a Survey Expert?

Over the past two years business in the United States has changed dramatically.  We have gone from exceptionally low levels of unemployment to a work environment where 40+ million Americans filed for unemployment insurance only to see a turnaround occur with once again low unemployment and a job market that is exceptionally tight.  Business failures and constant chaos were the rule; however, some semblance of what the new normal is starting to come into focus.

 During this time HR has played a unique role in developing polices to meet this challenge and as a profession we will need to adapt in order to continue to play a strategic role.  One area that will remain a challenge is with so many employees working remotely communication is a concern.  Improving communication and providing feedback through a targeted survey to employees can be and excellent way to guarantee that your work forces remain connected, engaged and productive.  Outlined below are several ideas for you to consider whether a survey is right for you.

Is a Survey Right for Your Organization?

Before you consider conducting a survey verify that your leadership team supports this type of initiative and is open to change.  If you believe you are ready, several ways to market the survey to the executive team to gain their support are as follows:

n  Your organization encourages accountability.

n  Your company is experiencing high turnover.

n  Your company recently completed a merger, acquisition, or divestiture.

n  You want to evaluate the climate of the organization.

n  You are looking to modify or enhance your policies and want to obtain feedback.

n  You believe in pro-active management.

What are Some of the Challenges when Conducting an Employee Survey? 

n  A survey takes time and effort on your part.

n  The company must be willing to act upon the results.

n  Your company culture must be open to change.

n  A survey is an on-going process 

What do You Hope to Gain By Conducting an Employee Survey?

Employee communication, while always a challenge, will need to be further enhanced to make sure that managers are successfully supervising their staff.  A survey will help you:

n  Identify company-wide issues.

n  Create a process that drives change.

n  Be a role model for others to follow.

n  Champion programs and policies that are important to the employees.

n  Encourage a work environment that is supportive and professional.

n  Support engagement based upon the core values of the company.

 How Can HR Implement a Successful Survey?

While the current business challenges are many, human ingenuity and the resourcefulness of the Human Resources professional has not changed.  A successful survey process involves meeting regularly with employees to communicate the company’s policies, procedures, strategy and vision for the future.  At the same time a survey gives the employee's an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback.  You will also be able re-measure your HR programs to ensure employee satisfaction and engagement are being met.  Creating action plans as a framework when changes in strategy are necessary will also hold management accountable.  Taking swift action to implement best practices will also demonstrate HR’s commitment to the long-term success of your organization.

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