Sunday, December 8, 2013


  I often study how different companies show themselves to public, how they promote themselves to position as top employer brands. Nowadays almost every important company is interested on being a desirable place to work, and this is a step forward. We are committed to create confortable environments with our workplaces, we want our employees to be happy, engaged and proud of working where they are working. As I said, this is something good and brings important value and return to the companies, but sometimes this could end up being only a beautifully tailored cover of underlying communication problems inside teams that lead to unsolved discrepancies, threats and fears. I know, that escalated quickly.

  Hence, a good way of taking a holistic and complete care of the workplace (defined as a place where people work together) is working on your internal cross level and peer communication. This grows horizontality and increases trust. If you really promote a place where anyone from the janitor to the CEO can ask or be asked, you are creating a safe environment where ideas matter. But today I'm not talking on the benefits of feedback, which are widely described everywhere. Today I am stepping on the form of giving and receiving feedback.

  First let me introduce you to the genesis: Socrates. Socrates was a man who embraced dialogue as a form of improvement between his pupils and himself, even when it was hard taking.

"One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him."

  Let me use this way of thinking to state Socrates defined what is the right attitude when receiving feedback: Calmly contained.

The Death of Socrates - Jaques-Louis David / Metropolitan Museum of Art NY

First rule: feedback is a two way road. If you can be a giver you have to be prepared to be a receiver too.

How to receive feedback and what to demand from feedback giver

  Make sure you understand what is all about, ask for directions if necessary, it has to be clear and relevant and you are on your right to ask for further clarification. Don't be sassy, the person who is giving feedback is making an effort for you to improve, you have to appreciate that in the first place.

  Do not respond immediately, do not confront, don't be deffensive. Take your time to take this feedback and if you want to respond later or explain yourself, do it, but what's important here is taking your time to elaborate what has been said to you.

  Respond with empathy. Try to understand where does this come from and who is saying what to you.

  Learn from your worst detractors. Even when you think what has been said to you is a nonsense, irrelevant or something out of point, make the exercise of taking it for evaluation and reflection. Feedback can have multiple purposes, sometimes even mean ones, but there is always a little part of truth in every kind of them, and, as Socrates said, you are the only responsible of learning something from whatever comes to you.

  Thank, even when thanking is hard, tough, breathtaking, mixed with anger... but do it. Express gratitude for the effort of standing by you giving you feedback.

The formation of constructive feedback

  Before giving feedback think why you are giving it, take it into a positive thinking or state of mind. You want to give feedback because you want somebody to improve so you both can have a benefit from this. If you are not thinking in terms of building something together, forget about it, you better save your feedback or even better: think again, because you are not doing it right.

  Align. Talk about what you have in common and why is this important to both of you.

  Feedback has to be immediate, but it has to be well formed. Before giving it think on the suggestion you are giving first.

  Focus, limit your feedback, keep it specific.

  Acclaim the good first, there is always a good side, something well done, extol so you can introduce the suggestion later and ease the way the other person takes it.

  Talk about you, your honest feelings, in which position left you what you are pointing.

Follow Up

  When you give a feedback you commit to this person to build a better something together. If you see improvement you need to return this too. A feedback is not complete without a return, it is a multiple round practice.

  When you introduce feedback in your workplace as common language and do it the right way, you will realize it is the most powerful tool to personal development. From my point of view feedback is the number one practice to work on every team, invest in teaching how to use it effectively and promote its use constantly.

  A good way of doing this is sharing best practices on feedback, save a moment in which teammates share how somebody's feedback has done good to them. Save a moment to thank. Treat feedback as what it is: a gift.

Written listening to "David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything that Happens will Happen Today" album (Rate:8,5/10)

Monday, November 18, 2013


  I love Wikipedia. Excuse this deliberate love demonstration but I have to say, for me this thing is one of the biggest achievements of humanity. I wanted to read Goethe's Prometheus Poem and I found, once again, reasons to love Wikipedia more and more. Check this out, even if you are not interested reading the poem (although it is indeed an amazing poem, specially the last part). Isn't this astonishing?

Prometheus - Theodoor Rombouts / Royal Museum of Fine Arts Brussels
  Even if its not directly related, thinking about guilt, accusation, human striving is always inspiring to think on how corporations have been doing in the past and how they are trying to do today. 

  But this blog is mainly about HR, and I intend to keep things the way they are around here (by now) and that is why today I bring you a model, a typology on the perfect HR Manager. After finishing the book Re-inventing HR by Margaret Butteris these are some of the conclusions I came out from what CEO's and companies need from HR Management nowadays.

1. Structured leadership also in business matters. It is required HR has a wider impact and knowledge on business and specially the operational part of it to be able to adequate and reconcile the executive strategies with the company's specific knowledge management. At the end, provide the tools to help your human assets achieve the goals in a better and faster way.

2. Set up control and measuring strategies and mechanisms which permit measure and monitor the talent and the performance of their employees and this have to be dependent and specific to the role (competency models). Taking control of this patterns allow companies have a better leeway and knowledge on the relative causes of productivity and performance as well as executing as fast as possible compensatory plans (individual or team based development plans, redistribution of human capital...).

3. Promote the creation of company values that encourage a common culture and nexus that arouse a sense of belonging as well as nurture philosophies that cause positive impact attitudes in employees according to the interests of the company (increase productivity). The promotion of this enterprise culture align the individual interests with company interests.

4. Reduce the administrative tasks or even outsource them strategically to focus efforts and budget on the earlier points, which are focused on getting the most value from the specific human capital of the company.

5. Provide strategies, technical expertise and tools to increase flexibility and versatility, deal with ambiguity, conflict and change management... Ultimately to provide a human setting equipped to build a company ready to deal with dynamic and changeable scenarios.

6. Supply updated knowledge in human development, leadership and interpersonal savvy. HR should provide the company with the best practices that could allow a predictive framework on the upcoming endogenous or exogenous challenges.

Written listening to "Butthole Surfers - The Hole Truth... And Nothing Butt" album (Rate:9/10)

Friday, November 8, 2013


How does a messy corporation look like?

- Divergence between areas. There are places where energy and resources are being explicitly wasted.
- There is confusion, every leader, manager, director has its own perspective of what is going on. The culture of rumor has installed and there is little or no information.
- The leadership and the employees are highly reactive, they respond adversely to any new event or occurrence.
- There is neither intention nor purpose and the topics, decisions and actions adrift from one scene to another.

How does a fine-looking corporation look like?

- United. Leaders have learned to debate and solve openly and maturely their conflict and disagreements.
- There is common strategies, objectives and a shared operational procedure.
- Corporation takes the initiative and acts over the competitive setting.
- Employees and leaders actively take part of the corporation and they are fully engaged with the objectives.
- A common purpose sense is shared throughout the company. There is progress.

  So the question is, what do we change in "messy corp" to become "fine-lookin' corp"? First of all, we need to focus on identifying the underlying problems. But don't panic, these use to be quite predictable. Normally there can be identified 5 behaviours that need to be changed: Divergence, Reaction, Apathy, Inactivity and Drift. The leadership need to turn this trends into others.

  Once we know what to do... how do we end up changing things? Here are some proposals to get this trends swapped.

- Turn Divergence into Solidarity: Provide a more consistent understanding of what is the situation for the company, invest resources making sure everyone is in line with the company's point of view.

- Turn Reaction into Initiative: Define a well landed strategy based on specifics. Clarify how the company is expected to achieve goals with the given resources.

- Turn Apathy into Proactivity: Inspire the members of your corporation to embrace the culture of effort and illusion for achieving goals.

- Turn Inactivity into Activity: Mobilize your people to transform their resources into means to achieve the goals. Set the right expectations, reach an agreement and harmonize collectively the objectives.

- Turn Drift into Purpose: Spread the sense of responsibility through managers and employees. Everytime its possible, make them part of the decision making and strategy design so the sense of belonging flourishes among them.

  Important Note: Leadership is not something that one person is, leadership is a process, a social dynamic which is shared in a given context in a given moment. So we should stop talking about leaders as individuals and start talking on situational leadership. To know more on this topic read the super comprehensive Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory.

Written listening to "Mogwai - Kicking a Dead Pig" album (Rate:8,5/10)

Saturday, November 2, 2013


"And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you,
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles its a very, very
Mad world"

Tears for Fears - Mad World

  I was thinking how mad the world turns when we are heading nowhere. Come on... I know it sounds lame but I'll get to a point, I promise :)

  As I was saying, everybody needs a direction to head on and this is something sometimes difficult to manage when you are leading a team. Some of the main responsibilities of a leader towards his teammates is to handle this individual development. But this is easy to say, now, how we can deal with this? First amendment of employee development: Everybody likes to feel special.

1. Assessment: Schedule a calendar in which you need to talk to your reports individually at least once in a month. Managing means having your ear ready to anything that could lead you to a better guidance with your teammates. To get the most productivity on your team you need to approach every member one to one first, make sure they are on the best possible role to help the group.

HR has to provide with specifically designed (together with managers) development plans towards a particular and measurable model of competencies. Define the necessary competencies by task, not only by role (this is a common error, in order to get the most from a team you need to go to specifics). Only then you will be able to identify the bias and develop the tools to face this better.

2. Open Cross-team Re-Recruitment Processes: Why not democratise the progress of your best talent? Make the measurements collective and accessible to all members of a group. Bring back the 360º's. Make a culture on sharing best practices collectively.

I'm not saying anything new if I mention the sense of belonging is probably one of the most important engines of motivation any human being can have. Make all your team a participant of a process, specially when this internal promotion stays inside a particular working team. This will transgress the expected vertical secrecy through your company and will help building community feeling.

3. Founding Trust: As you can read in one of my previous posts, one of the most common causes of leaving the work is for trust between employee and company. When this divorce occurs, oh boy... Friedrick Nietzche said once “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you”

If you re-recruit, if you promote your people instead of finding the resource outside, you will grow instant trust among everybody. But be careful, even though it is not your fav one, you need to base your recruitment process on pure meritocracy. Make objectivity and logic flourish in your company. Promote only the bests, but promote them, look what's inside before looking outside. This will help create a culture of competition and self-improvement.

4. Grow Culture of TalentTop Performers need excitement. They need to feel they are doing the best they can in the best place possible. Use your own talent development to convince others to embrace the culture of performance

5. Be the first to offer: You might not bear in mind that your best employees are being contacted by other companies several times a week. If you offer first the odds are high talent will stay in your company because of inertia.

6. Get out the rut: An employee excitement cycle is short. It's even shorter if this one is a top performer. Your talent behaves like the overexcited infant, once the sugar rush ends the kid crashes anyplace. Take control of this variable, promote the activity. 

  Some parts of this post were inspired by Dr. John Sullivan's (The Michael Jordan of Recruitment) article in TLNT.

Written listening to "Tears for Fears - The Hurting" album (Rate:8,5/10)

Thursday, October 24, 2013


  Here is an article, from some time ago, everyone interested in the HR field must read. Come on. Go ahead, I'll wait.

  Let me choose for you some inspiring soundtrack to ease your read.

  You're done, right? How does it feel to be hated with such conviction? I love this article. Everytime I find someone that works in HR field and should be rewarded with Best Classic Corporate Parasite Of The Year award I deliver this wonderful piece of genuine hate straight to his inbox.

  Check out the following comic strip that proves the same point but with Scott Adam's genius.

  When I started interesting myself on HR field this was the reality to face, lots of accommodated personnel of corporations all around, with no ambition and not a single interest in making themselves useful inside a company in a career wide range of time.

  We have to thank to these HR fathers that built this poor reputation, for letting us new flesh such a virgin playground to start making a real impact and change things for once and for all.

  So once we have stopped whining. How do we start making ourselves, HR Specialists, useful in today's corporations? Well, first of all being experts on getting the most from people.

  I recently read a great report on what CEO's expect from HR heads today. This are some of the ideas I found interesting reading the text and could be used as a guide to start developing ourselves to serve this needs.

1. Get to know how to get more productivity from fewer workforce. Learn group dynamics, how to manage diversity, embrace it and how to get the most from it. Corporations today need to improve their productivity, be creative promoting staff's own creativity to be better and faster.

2. Leaders need to understand how their teams can help organisations to succeed. HR heads can help them with strategies to inspire their teams, coach the leaders on their abilities to lead and inspire better.

3. The Head of HR need to have interpersonal saavy: High emotional intelligence, a superb perceptiveness about people and good communication skills. This is what CEO's expect from the head of HR and this is what the head of HR needs to deliver.

4. Help building a trustworthy and fearless feedback channel throughout the entire organisation, indistinct to the hierarchy. Constructive feedback move things forward. Always. No matter where it comes from.

5. Facilitate, serve as a bridge of clarification for the senior management team and the entire corporation. 

6. Talent Care. "Not only may the head of HR be responsible for recruitment into the team; he or she may also act as troubleshooter or henchman, removing underperforming or recalcitrant individuals, thereby preventing team dysfunction". Touché.

7. Take initiative. Days of the empty headed HR corporate parasites must be left completely over.

Written listening to "Framework - Skeleton" album (Rate:9/10)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


  It is not a coincidence that most infamous mottos in the corporations today is "Our most valuable resource is our people". From some time now there is a real and tangible revolution going on where corporations finally understand the benefits (in terms of financially attractive terms such as productivity) of having happy people in their ranks.

  There is a very interesting article here that I personally highlight one of its 4 reasons why people leave their job in America.

1. Lack of trust of corporation (Not getting the expected promotions)
2. Want to become their own boss (Entrepreneurial initiative)
3. Being recruited by other companies (Today's market is a Jungle)
4. Need more fulfillment (We promote the ambition and this is what we get)

  I want to introduce my brief point with the Lack of Trust in Corporations (it does not mean others are not interesting, but we will be back on then possibly in subsequent posts). 

  The times of the effectiveness of simple punchlines such as "Everybody in America can be the President of the USA" are fortunately over. I believe society has turn now brighter and more skeptical maybe with such marketing based on faith and this, if you ask me, is a good thing. The challenge is now any employee need to see the fact of real career opportunity policies implemented to their corporations. Any employee needs a path, and this path needs to be wicked smart.

  Thus, every system or policy in this area needs to be founded on meritocracy (system based on rewarding the individual achievements) and be careful you use the cases of success with the most appropriate internal communication and marketing.

  Moreover, what today's team leaders need to face with their teammates is exactly this: dealing with expectations and facilitating (even coaching) personal improvement. And the monitoring tools need to be designed by them (who know first-hand their team dynamics) joining the HR Dpt.

  Author Leigh Branham (in its book "The Hidden 7 Reasons Employees Leave") identifies 4 unmet needs (based on a Saratoga Institue Study to 3149 people) in which he identifies: 

1. Lack of Hope

  "Believing that you will be able to grow, develop your skills on the job and through training, and have the
opportunity for advancement or career progress leading to higher earnings."

  - Limited Career Growth or advancement opportunity 16%

2. Lack of Trust

  "Expecting the company and management to deliver on its promises, to be honest and open in all communications with you, to invest in you, to treat you fairly, and to compensate you fairly and on time."

  - Lack of Respect or Support by Supervisor 13%
  - Supervisor's Lack of Leadership Skills 9%
  - Favoritism by Supervisor 4%
  - Poor Senior Leadership 2%
  - Supervisor's Lack of Technical Skills 2%
  - Discrimination 1%
  - Harassment 1%
  - Coworker's Issues 1%

3. Lack of Worth

  "Feeling confident that if you work hard, do your best, demonstrate commitment, and make meaningful contributions, you will be recognized and rewarded accordingly. Feeling worthy also means that you will be shown respect and regarded as a valued asset, not as a cost, to the organisation."

  - Inadequate Compensation 12%
  - Inflexible or Undesirable Working Hours 6%
  - Lack Of Recognition 4%
  - Poor Working Conditions 3%
  - Lack Of Training 3%
  - Inadequate Benefits 1%

4. Lack of Competence

  "Expecting that you will be matched to a job that makes good use of your talents and is challenging,receive the necessary training to perform the job capably, see the end results of your work, and obtain regular feedback on your performance."

  - Boring or Unchallenging Job Duties 11%

  These studies show how it is important to design and provide the leadership teams to cope this concerns on the staff in a daily basis in order to avoid dealing with this issues before it gets too late.

  How can we work this out? Just an idea that immediately comes to my mind is designing a quarterly rating tool for the leadership team, that will consider these threads as part of this performance review meetings. Of course in this encounters both the leader and the direct report need to build together a strategy to get to achieve this goals, not to mention the negotiation that will set the expectations in short-term and according to a realistic perception (who does not want to be the CEO?).

Written listening to "Lou Reed and John Cale - Songs for Drella" album (Rate:7/10)

Friday, October 18, 2013


  Even though everybody today is aware of the marshmallow challenge, I recently saw one of the most interesting TED videos on human productivity I have ever seen conducted by author Tom Wujec.

  For me one of the most interesting key concepts Mr. Wujec underlines in the video is the equation "Specialization Skills+Facilitation Skills=Success". But there is a even a more important thing hidden behind this equation:This two variables not always have to be a mixture of skills that need to be mastered by the same individual. What interests me of this all is how the designation of complementary roles in a team working environment leads collectively to success. In other words, this simple, even goofy, experiment is an example of collective leadership.

  Of course there are other variables such as time or reward pressure that deserve attention while studying this phenomena. However, it is also interesting to think how significant knowing your team's skills as fast as possible can ease the journey of success. 

  Just to end this quick, the main point in this activity is how allocating efficiently the human resource of your team, based on the advantage of the singularity of their individuals, leads to team success.

Written listening to "John Lee Hooker - Free Beer and Chicken" album (Rate:8,5/10)


  Here it goes, this is my first post in this blog. I have created this as a hobby and I have no intention of getting anything from it but criticism, good arguments and interactions with anyone sharing or hating (equally welcome) interests.

  I'm not sure if everybody around here is familiar with Maslow's Self-Actualization Theory. Wikipedia has a good explanation on the whole concept.

  However I am in the side of people with guts explaining their  own personal view on anything. I found specially interesting and entertaining the perspective of Dr.-to-be Zeckeriya Ozsoy and how he disserts on the intrinsic nature of it and the significance of the component of the human spiritual experience (which I share in its foundations) in this article. Although Dr., I have to admit, I found it a little too unfounded (I hope, for the good of the world you left association fallacies before your doctoral dissertation). When I read the following statement...

    "Therefore, as their essence cannot be known or perceived, a hypothetical boundary is needed for them to become known. In order to make Himself known through His Attributes and Names, God Almighty has drawn a hypothetical line before His all-encompassing Attributes and Names. This line is the human [self]."

... one can only think "Wowowowow!!! What were we discussing here, again?". But don't get me wrong fellas, the article is really worth reading, and some interesting ideas that often are omitted or deliberately eliminated (specially in occidental literature) such as the importance and complexity of self-spiritual experience are of tremendous interest.

  I like people on constant thrill on optimising themselves. Maslow defined the self-actualizers as realistic, problem-centered, experience seekers, autonomous, with love of their privacy, with philosophical sense of humor and spontaneous people. As described by himself "the people at full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities". In essence, the idea is I'll humbly try to find some of my own "actualization" writing this blog with the help of every other point of view that's shared in here.

  Anyway, I welcome you Dr. Ozsoy or everybody that comes around and appreciate the comments or constructive feedback, the biggest gift a human being can give to another.

Peace and love.

Written listening to "Diplo & Santogold - Top Ranking" album (Rate:7,5/10)