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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What I Learned From My Life as an Expat HR Leader in Saudi Arabia

I recently received a note from my good friend Sharlyn Lauby(aka, the HRBartender) in reference to a question that she
received from one of her readers:

How did you prepare for your new human resources role in Saudi Arabia? The country has different cultures, business traditions, and labor laws.

What I realized is that the story behind me making the move from New York City to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia could possibly fill a book [to be announced at a later date].

So, as I thought through my approach to this question, I wanted to capture some of what I learned and what to look for, not only for moving to Saudi Arabia, but with any expat opportunity that might come along.

Expat blogs

While you can find tons of information on any country, the best way forward is through expat blogs. Regardless of the country, somebody took it upon themselves to write about it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leaders Get More Out of People When They Don’t Wear the Crown

“She said to me… ‘you might be president of PepsiCo, you might be on the Board of Directors, but when you enter this house you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother… so leave that damn crown in the garage.’ “

You have to admire the older generation. They will always speak their mind. When I read this, I thought of my parents and how their plain-spoken ability to cut through all the BS and hit the bullseye with their message.

The above statement was from Indra Nooyi’s mother in reaction to her daughter’s election to the Pepsi Board of Directors. The 58-year old Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and mother of two daughters delivered some surprisingly frank and candid insights on work-life balance in an interview with David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic Media Company, at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week.

The anointment: You are now crowned

I have seen more careers than I can count ruined by the constant wearing and acknowledging of the “crown.” One VP, recently promoted, told me that he blocks one of his reports out since HE is the one that has the two initials at the back of his name. And from what I gathered, the direct report was just floating ideas to him. But because he had the “crown,” he was the determinant of all ideas.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Workplace Communications: Yes, Sometimes We Still Need to Talk

I’ve been picking up the phone and calling my most important clients,” he said. “You can’t stop because there’s no email.

This was a quote based on the outage of MS Outlook this past week. The Washington Post headline blared MS Outlook outage brings offices back to the 1980’s.

For the people who were working in corporate, this was an era when there was no email to speak of, and for that matter, no computers. I had an office on Sixth Avenue in New York at that time and all I had was a phone on my desk. That was it.

Afraid of being out of touch?

But I was in sales back then and that was all I needed. I broke every sales record at that time with just a phone. Even today, when I need to get it done and over with, I simply pick up the phone and dial.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting Beyond the Echo Chamber: Selling the Value of HR Outside of HR

“I’m fine, thanks. I’m enjoying in my major. Actually, I love HR. Thanks for your attention. If I need help, I will let you know.”
This note from a student at one of the universities here in the Middle East, someone who is majoring in HR. He reached out to me over LinkedIn, and in my response, I told him if he needs me in any way he should feel free to reach out.
As I was responding to that note, I smiling thought of my upcoming lecture at the University of the Emirates in Dubai where I will be a guest lecturer to the class of students that are working towards their Bachelor of Science in HR. I was invited by the dean, Dr. Singh, who I met on a panel she chaired at a recent conference in Dubai.
I enjoy talking about what we do to the HR audiences, but there is another side that needs to be approached.
Getting out of the echo chamber

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cultivate An ‘Employee First’ Attitude: The New Business Model

“This is the most significant investment we’ve made in our partners since the introduction of Bean Stock.”

I read that statement with interest the other day. Starbucks staff, referred to as “partners,” will now be eligible to receive partial tuition for the first two years and full tuition for the final two years of college.

“We've always known that our partners work hard every day,” Cliff Burrows, president of Starbucks’ Americas region, said in a phone interview. “This is the best way we can serve them.
Check out my latest post at CEO.com

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Leading Change: If It Doesn’t Bring Value, We Shouldn’t be Doing It

“We cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

That quote is from Albert Einstein. That is such a poignant quote when we think of change, new solutions, and how we approach problems.

I figured out a long time ago that it takes the same amount of energy to be negative as to be positive. But, I have also noticed a pattern that when some new idea or new approach comes out, people come out of the woodwork with skepticism.

Give credit for a new approach

Just the other day I read about Zappos restructuring their recruitment process. Almost immediately, all the naysayers came out of the woodwork about how it was not going to work.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“Always Be Closing” and You’ll Find It’s Really “Always Be Helping”

Too many people looking for jobs save their elevator speeches for job fairs and interviews. Remember the first rule of sales: ABC (Always Be Closing). Give your elevator speech to everyone — at family gatherings, in the waiting room of the dentist, at coffee hour at your church or temple. You never know where the next job is coming from.”

That  was from a classic Harvard Business Review article.

This past week I attended Talent in Emerging & Growth Marketsconference being held in Istanbul, Turkey. I was honored to serve as the co-conference chair as well as one of the Day 2 keynote speakers.

The sponsors put forth an amazing array of talented HR professional from around the world. A few of the speakers who were senior level HR representatives who have since become independent consultants. This was precipitated by HQ moves or restructuring, or other things like that.

Every interaction counts


Friday, June 6, 2014

Manager’s Mantra: Walk the Talk, Give Credit, Admit When You Don’t Know

No one thought it was a great idea, especially my boss. They finally gave in because I pushed so hard. Well you know what? It was the best and most popular part of the show. Everyone raved about it, however, I am sitting here incredulous because on the call my boss took credit for it all. I can’t.

That statement came from a Millennial I know who is beyond disgusted with her job. She loves the company but the manager wants all the credit.

I have always said that you learn more from bad managers that you do from the good ones. My response to this woman was to schedule an offline meeting, and the major point of discussion should be work-projects and ownership. At least you are drawing a line in the sand, but do not get your hopes up.

Give credit where credit is due

My view of managing people is that you must enable each of them to grow. I want people to leave a better person than when they were when they first met me. I want them to always keep in mind the positive approach to people and their development.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

There’s No Place in Your Workplace For Bullying Behavior

I heard on the news that a new anti-bullying law had been put in place in a local community. There were the usual skeptics as to how effective it was going to be.
However, I did some digging and found out that 49 states in the U.S. have passed school anti-bullying legislation, the first being Georgia in 1999. I, for one, am all for this message in corralling these so-called bullies. I have always said (somewhat jokingly) that they have not bullied the right person yet. When they do, the line will be drawn.
Better engagement by eliminating bullies