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5 Priorities HR Can’t Ignore in 2015

Posted By CEB HR, Thursday, February 26, 2015

How employees get their work done has changed remarkably quickly; unsurprisingly HR needs to change too.


Anyone who works in a global company doesn’t need to be told that their job has changed enormously in the past few years. Even if their job title – and sometimes their job description – remains unscathed, the number of people they work with, the amount of information they use to make decisions, their day-to-day tasks, and the technology they use have all changed quicker than at any time in their careers.


The changing nature of work is one of five trends CEB’s research shows will shape global business in 2015. And, given the function’s role, this shift in how work is accomplished means a lot of change for HR professionals. Heads of HR and their teams should take five steps in particular to help their firm make the most of the new work environment.



  1. Attract and retain “enterprise contributors”: Data from surveys of HR and line managers show that the average company needs to improve employee performance by 27% just to hit the revenue and profitability targets senior managers have set. HR teams should look beyond conventional performance management based on improving individual performance and develop a cadre of “enterprise contributors.”  These are employees who perform well individually and who accomplish tasks by working effectively with and through others.

    In fact, firms with enterprise contributors outperform their peers by 5% and 11% on year-over-year revenue and profit growth, respectively. This means that the average Fortune 500 organization can increase profit by $144 million and revenue by $924 million. HR should not make the mistake of thinking that most employees aren’t ready or willing to be enterprise contributors. They are, but they’re stymied by structure and culture of their firms. Instead of trying to motivate employees to be enterprise contributors, HR should help their firms reconcile four paradoxes at the heart of performance management.

  2. Don’t make yourself appealing to all job candidates, just the good ones: The volume of people applying for jobs has risen by 33% in the past three years but the quality of applicants has not improved at all. In response, many firms launched employment branding campaigns to establish their company as “a great place to work,” and attract higher quality candidates.

    But this strategy – called “branding for appeal” – produces pools of applicants of whom only 28% could be classed as high quality. This is because firms just add yet more to the mass of accessible corporate information. And all these conflicting messages – some of which are false – means that 61% of applicants say they are more skeptical of what employers say about themselves than they were three years ago. Instead, HR teams should take a “branding for influence” approach to attract the best candidates.

    Instead of releasing a(nother) YouTube video full of smiling faces and an uplifting theme tune, savvy firms spend time and money on messages that are relevant to the most important talent segments, and that challenge applicants’ thinking rather than highlight anything good about the company. Those firms that brand for influence almost double the proportion of the applicant pool that can be classed as high quality.

  3. Teach employees how to learn, not just what to learn: Given all of the above, firms must keep improving their learning and development activities. Most employees are now well aware that constant development is essential and think that the learning and development provided at their firm is sufficient: 84% say their “L&D solutions” are satisfying. But despite this, and the estimated $145 billion spent annually on training, fewer than half those investments result in tangible returns. In response to these poor figures, many firms provide more opportunities for development, across more channels, and advocate that employees take responsibility for their development. But it doesn’t work. Nearly three in four line managers report employees with high learning participation lack the right skills, and the extra learning activity creates a lot of waste. Every day, employees waste approximately 11% of their time on unproductive learning.

    Leading firms increase employee awareness of how to learn (not just what to learn) and use technology that helps employees develop learning behaviors, and not just consume content. This approach doubles the number of employees with high learning capabilities, and makes it more likely that employees will be equipped or the new work environment.

  4. Make the HR team more valuable: Even though most senior executives are keen to stress how important their “people are to the business,” HR teams still struggle to provide the necessary support. Less than one-fifth of line managers rate HR as an effective partner.

    Many heads of HR have invested heavily in developing their HR teams to improve this sad statistic but most over invest in improving individuals and don’t do enough to change the organizational culture in which their teams must work. In particular, there are four organizational barriers that prevent HR business partners – those that support the line – from doing their jobs effectively. Remove these and firms can nearly double the number of effective HR business partners they employ.

  5. Don’t mistake high-performing employees for high-potential employees: CEB data show that firms with stronger leaders enjoy twice the revenue and twice the profit growth. Yet a high-potential employee (HiPo) program, which is many firms’ main investment to develop their future leaders, is statistically more likely to fail than succeed.

    Data shows that 50% of HR managers lack confidence in their programs, and a staggering five in six HR managers are dissatisfied with the results. Despite evidence to the contrary, many firms still wrongly assume that a high performer is also a HiPo. In fact, only one-in-seven high performers are HiPos. The reason mistakes are so often made is that there is rarely an objective selection process in place; decisions are rarely backed by any science. Those involved in the HiPo selection process should assess employees based on their ability, aspiration, and engagement with the firm.

CEB is the world’s leading member-based advisory company with a unique view into what matters — and what works — when capitalizing on drivers of business performance. With 30 years of experience working with top companies to share, analyze, and apply proven practices, CEB begins with great outcomes and reverse engineer to help you unlock your full potential. For further information visit:   Originally reprinted with permission in HRWest Magazine January 2015.

Tags:  2015  CEB  HR  HR West  NCHRA  San Francisco  SHRM 

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HR West App - New for 2015!

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 19, 2015
Updated: Thursday, February 19, 2015

We are very excited to introduce the all new HR West App
for iPhone and Android!




Download and use our (free!) new app to view maps, schedules, concurrent sessions, and exhibitor information all in one, convenient place. Registered HR West conference attendees have access to session handouts, the ability to connect with other attendees and a fun, interactive game to play.

Tap the links below if you're on your mobile device, or search for HR West in your 'store.'

Download in App Store

Download in Google Play Store

View Concurrent Sessions
See the full event schedule, room numbers, speaker details, and descriptions.
Tap "Add to Schedule" to bookmark and house in your personalized agenda!

Connect with Attendees
Connect with fellow attendees by exchanging your "digital business cards."
Your new contacts can be viewed within the "My Contacts" section of the app.

Network with Exhibitors
Discover the organizations that made this such a great event!
Simply tap an organization's name to view a description and contact details.

You must be registered for HR West to enjoy full interactive features of the HR West app!

Not registered? Register Today

             Questions? Give us a call 415.291.1992415.291.1992, or email




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Turn That SOUL-CRUSHING Conference into a WIN - How to Get More Out of a Conference

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 12, 2015

By Sue Shellenbarger


You’ve spent days wandering the cavernous halls of a convention center, trapped in windowless rooms, drinking too much coffee and talking yourself hoarse. Does anyone ever emerge from a conference as the organizers intended, feeling recharged with new ideas, contacts and energy?


New York City marketing executive Stefany Stanley does. Among conference organizers she is known as a savvy convention-goer, someone with a strategy for rising above the dreary rounds of networking and breakout sessions. Ms. Stanley says she has gained valuable contacts, ideas and insights from the 15 conferences she has attended in the past five years.


Avoiding time-wasting traps takes planning, self-discipline, skill—and for many, a lot of caffeine. The biggest mistake most conference attendees make is failing to plan ahead, set a personal agenda and report back to colleagues on their results, says David DuBois, president of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, a Dallas trade group.


Ms. Stanley, 26, admits to some apprehension as she prepares for 21/2 days at Content Marketing World. This is a conference in Cleveland focused on using content such as blogs and videos to replace traditional advertising. Her employer, Sandra Arnold Inc., or SAI, a creator and producer of corporate events and exhibits, is spending $3,000 on her trip, including a $2,000 pass to the meeting. Ms. Stanley, SAI’s business development director, hopes to return with new digital-marketing ideas and relationships with potential clients and helpful contacts.


A record 70 million people will attend conferences in the U.S. and Canada this year, with attendance expected to peak next month, industry research shows. The experience can be overwhelming.  Conferences usually last one to four days. Content Marketing World offers 80 breakout sessions, with time to attend only 11. It sprawls over 270,000 square feet of the Cleveland Convention Center. Sessions include “Breakthrough Moments in Content Marketing.” Eight networking sessions are scheduled to allow the 2,600 attendees time to meet.


Along with the usual speeches by celebrities and exhibits, Content Marketing World provides social activities such as “our own music festival” with a Beatles tribute band and “Shooters on the Water,” an after party starting at 10:30 p.m.


No matter what session conference attendees pick, they worry they’re missing a better one. The best networking may be in one session while the best speakers are elsewhere, Ms. Stanley says. She comes in with her schedule highlighted in neon yellow for “must attend” sessions and amber for “maybe.”

“You really have to be on your A game,” she says. “You’re networking and getting all that information, plus giving your pitch and telling people about your company. It’s exhausting.”


She works out to build energy, rising by 6 a.m. to lift weights and run 3 to 5 miles. On the treadmill, she mentally rehearses different versions of her opening pitch to suit different people. To help her resist the free candy and junk food that abound in most exhibit halls, she stuffs granola bars into her shoulder bag.

Ms. Stanley resists the temptation to befriend other new arrivals and travel with one group. “I have to stay focused on my goals, getting new ideas and new contacts,” she says.


She positions herself by the coffee pot for the first networking session; talking about the coffee can be a good icebreaker. She considers introducing herself to another attendee standing alone nearby, but she hesitates, and the opportunity is lost when another attendee approaches the man. Ms. Stanley tells herself. “You’re here to network. One, two, three, go!”


Meeting conference speakers, who tend to be high-level executives, is a key networking opportunity for Ms. Stanley in her search for corporate clients. She is nervous as she waits in line with a dozen others to introduce herself to Katrina Craigwell, global manager of digital marketing at General Electric Co., after Ms. Craigwell’s presentation on a successful digital-marketing campaign. Ms. Stanley plans to take Ms. Craigwell’s ideas, such as promoting GE research with videos on social media, back to her SAI team. She also hopes Ms. Craigwell will put her in touch with colleagues at GE who might be interested in SAI’s services.


Brazilian by birth, Ms. Stanley values Latin cultures’ emphasis on warmth and spontaneity. When her turn finally comes to speak with Ms. Craigwell, she says, “You were wonderful. I felt as if I knew you.” The executive responds with equal warmth and promptly emails Ms. Stanley’s contact information to a colleague.


Later, as she prepares to introduce herself to another speaker, Ms. Stanley gives herself a pep talk: “What’s the worst that can happen? He’ll say no. What’s so awful about that?” Her friendly approach sparks a conversation about how SAI might help his company, and they part with plans for another meeting. Ms. Stanley notes on each business card the follow-up steps she promised to take.


By late afternoon, her energy wanes. She downs her third coffee of the day. Hungry after having only a salad for lunch, she allows herself a bag of Doritos, then heads for the last breakout session of the day. Blocked at the door by a security guard and a sign, “Session Full,” Ms. Stanley talks her way in with a joke. The guard laughs and opens the door.


Ms. Stanley passes up an opening-night pub crawl. Networking with strangers over drinks “has never proven effective for me,” she says. The music festival on the second evening is unusual enough to lure her. She leaves after 45 minutes. “I prefer to go to bed early and be focused on the next day,” she says. Ms. Stanley once slept through a meeting because her cellphone died, she says.


She now arranges a wake-up call from her hotel, in addition to setting the alarm on her smartphone. At a breakout session on the last day, she finds a seat near the front, only to realize that she already knows the information being presented. Usually, she avoids sitting too close to the front so she can see who else is present, and also so she can slip out quietly if necessary. “I picked the wrong seat” this time, she says. On the last day, more than an hour before a closing keynote speech by actor Kevin Spacey, hundreds line up for seats. Ms. Stanley strides past them on her way to a panel discussion. “I’m not going to not network so I can be in the front row for Kevin Spacey,” she says. “You have to keep in mind your goal.”


Later, Ms. Stanley takes stock: She has reaped several good ideas and a grasp of emerging trends such as using journalistic techniques to attract customers on social media and the Web. She collected 20 business cards, initiated promising relationships with four potential clients, and made five “fair-to-good” new contacts. She isn’t done. Many people only took her card or gave her a colleague’s name. But she will follow up with them all.



Sue Shellenbarger is the creator and writer of the The Wall Street Journal's "Work & Family" column. The former chief of the Journal's Chicago news bureau, Ms. Shellenbarger started the column in 1991 to provide the nation's first regular coverage of the growing conflict between work and family and its implications for the workplace and society. Read more about Sue here

This article was originally reprinted in HR West Magazine November 2014 issue by permission of Wall Street Journal, Copyright © 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide. License number 3484300144322.


Register for HR West today - March 2-4, 2015 at the Oakland Convention Center, Oakland, California.
For more information contact, Amy Powers, NCHRA.

Tags:  Annual  Bay Area  California  Coast  Conference  HR  HR West  NCHRA  Oakland  San Francisco  SHRM 

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7 Essential Behaviors for Better Coaching Conversations

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Alan Fine HR West Key Note 2015By Alan FineHR West 2015 Keynote

Coaching drives results. Having spent all my adult life (and half of my teenage years) involved in coaching of one sort or another, I should be more specific: good coaching drives results. When coaching is not done well, you don’t just get the same results, you actually risk getting worse results. There are seven essential behaviors, that in my experience, leaders can do that will allow them to be great coaches.


Today coaching is recognized as the #1 talent management best practice, and is now as regularly practiced in the workplace as it has always been in sports and music. Leaders who consistently implement these seven essential coaching behaviors will begin to have better coaching conversations, and make a meaningful difference in business. In this article, we will define and explore each of these behaviors and show how every leader can become a stronger coach through the implementation of each one.  


The 7 essential coaching behaviors are:

    Effective coaches believe that their “coachees" have untapped greatness within them; their intention is to free up that greatness. There is much research showing that what we believe about the people we coach is a key driver of their performance—it’s often called the Pygmalion Effect.* What a coach pays attention to creates their beliefs and what a coach believes, drives and filters what they pay attention to. These create what are called “self-reinforcing loops”. So if the coach believes their coachee has talent, they are more likely to bring it out and vice versa. It’s a statement of the obvious, but if we don’t believe that our coachee has untapped greatness, why would we waste both their and our time trying to coach them?

    When we comb our hair in the morning, we look in a mirror in order to have an accurate perception of what we are doing. In order to know whether we have an accurate perception of our own thinking and/or behavior, we need a mirror. Great coaches serve as a mirror for the coachee by providing objectivity to help them more accurately observe their own thinking and behavior. They use words and phrases such as, “My perception is…,” or “How it shows up to me is…”. The coachee is then better able to know whether what they think they are doing is what they are actually doing.

    One person’s “noise” is another person’s inspirational music. Art that looks inspirational to one person, looks “blah” to someone else. Cricket arouses the passion of sports fans in countries such as England, India, and Pakistan and bores Americans to death. People act based upon how the world shows up to them, in other words, their beliefs about the world. Great coaches come from a mindset of possibility which helps coachees see the world differently. Coachees can begin to think of options beyond the limitations their beliefs and assumptions have created. The coach brings a set of beliefs and assumptions that allows for a dialogue in which the coachee is able to see more possibilities than before.

    One thing that separates great coaches from other leaders is that great coaches are clear that their role is not to be the “expert” giving answers to the coachee. They recognize that providing solutions (giving advice), however well intended, can have a long-term consequence—it can disable the coachee over the long term. Unintentionally, it can create reliance on the coach’s expertise and a tendency for the coachee to avoid taking ownership and finding solutions. Think of the child whose parents give them the solutions to their math homework! Great coaches see their role as helping the coachee find solutions in a way that they will be able to do it for themselves in the future. In other words their role is not to fish for the coachee, but to teach them how to fish. An important consequence of this is that the coachee gets to experience ownership of both the problem and the solution and therefore gets the acknowledgement for the success, with the coach becoming almost invisible to the outside observer. Great coaches do not take responsibility for solving the coachee’s issues. They take responsibility for freeing up the coachee to take responsibility for solving those issues.

    One of the most important factors in accelerating a person’s learning and therefore their performance is a safe environment. The fastest learning takes place in childhood when we are open to all experiences. What slows down this extraordinary ability— and it’s an ability everyone has—is the internal conversations that go on in our minds, the ones that say, “Don’t screw up,” or “Everyone’s watching,” or “Don’t trust him.” We develop these internal dialogues in response to the threats that life throws at us including, toddlers being shouted at by their moms or dads, being told we’re stupid in school, and being advised we don’t have the talent at work. Once we develop those internal conversations (usually in response to the threats that show up in our lives) learning slows down. Perhaps the biggest single contributor to creating this safe environment is the coach being nonjudgmental about the coachee. The coach may have opinions about what will generate the desired outcomes, but she or he should listen to and observe what the coachee thinks, says, or does without passing judgment about whether it is good or bad, right or wrong. Great coaches create a safe environment for the coachee where the coachee can “look in the mirror” without fear of judgment.

    To me there are four important factors that impact human performance—knowledge, faith, fire, and focus. And while they are each important, the most important one is focus because it drives every thing we do. It’s what separates our good days from our bad days at any level of performance. When we are focused, we do things well, whether it’s solving a problem, having a tough conversation, or playing golf. When we are focused our minds are quiet and undistracted. Focus is the driver of human performance and great coaches help their coachees discover what’s important to focus on and how to sustain that focus over time.

    Effective coaching gets past symptoms and addresses root causes. It will help a coachee become aware of and test the underlying assumptions that drive their view of the world and therefore their behavior. This often results in coaching discussions that go in directions that neither the coach nor the coachee anticipated. Then the coachee becomes more aware of the preferences and biases that are driving their actions. Great coaches are comfortable with the uncertainty that goes with not knowing where the path of a coaching conversation might lead and what the discussion might reveal. There are of course, many more things that great coaches do. But these seven behaviors have stood out to me as being present in all the great coaches I have seen, whether they were sports coaches, music coaches, or leadership coaches. My invitation to you is to think about which of these you might begin implementing to have better conversations, to create more of an impact, and improve your abilities as a leader and as a coach. HR Looking for more on how to be great? Join Alan at HR West® for more strategies. 

*Pygmalion effect (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), or Rosenthal effect, is the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. The effect is named after Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw.


Alan Fine’s Keynote session is sponsored by ScholarSHARE College Savings Plan. He is scheduled to speak on March 2, 2015 from 5 to 6:16p.m.


Register for HR West today!


Don’t forget to join in on our HR Smiles Photo Contest to win complimentary hotel accommodates and more!

Tags:  Annual  Bay Area  California  Coast  Conference  HR  HR West  NCHRA  Oakland  San Francisco  SHRM  West 

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Five Reasons to Choose HR West in 2015!

Posted By Amy S. Powers, Thursday, January 29, 2015
  1. HR West is one-of-a-kind. Big enough to offer national-level education, yet perfectly sized to be a collaborative event focused on the participant.

  2. HR West is about community. You'll make LOCAL connections with peers and experts you can easily meet again.

  3. HR West is an unbeatable value. Other conferences charge their members nearly $1500 for a 3-day event. HR West is competitively priced at $797.

  4. HR West is convenient. Hotel. Parking. Conference. Restaurant. All under one roof!
    Enter our HR Smiles Photo Contest to win free hotel room!

  5. HR West is easily accessible. Located on the BART line, take a few steps, and you're there! Driving? Ample parking onsite.
    Enter our HR Smiles Photo Contest to win free parking!

Now that you know what makes HR West unique (also read the HR West 2015 Brochure), why not register today?

Rates increase on 1/30 so don't delay...


3 Easy Ways to Register!

  1. Register Online
  2. Call NCHRA (415) 291-1992 
  3. Fill Out & Submit Registration Form

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Tags:  Bay Area  California  Coast  Conference  HR  HR West  NCHRA  San Francisco  SHRM  West 

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