Tag Archives: Coffee Shop HR

To Inherit or Not to Inherit – That is the Question

I myself am a huge proponent of finding new ways to work smarter. In today’s world, we are continuously looking for ways to improve current processes, or to create new ways for work to be done with more efficiency and higher effectiveness.

When a process feels overly complex, repetitive, or redundant, it usually is- trust your HR instincts!  Processes like these are prime candidates for reinvention. Often when I ask someone the ‘why’ behind what they are doing, their answer is along the lines of “I’m not too sure, that’s how it was done before me”. These are what I like to refer to as ‘inherited processes’. When we first inherit a task, whether it is as a result of starting a new job or you are expanding your work responsibilities, we are much more analytical and curious about our work. Once we zoom in on our day to day work we stop questioning the why and focus more on the how and what, loosing that fresh perspective. Try your best to keep this viewpoint well after the honeymoon is over!

Tools can be created that are effective but not efficient, managing to measure or assist the process they were designed to help with but at a cost of time or money greater than the original process- that’s not a good tool! Perhaps the tool is overly complex, tedious, or is simply seen as a make-work activity. It’s like the old adages ‘It’s only a good deal if you need it’ referring to purchasing items on sale for the sake of getting a deal, or, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. These little sayings can be applied to many situations in life, including making processes at work better.

I’m sure we all have been the victim of inheriting a common problem that many small HR shops have: multiple spreadsheets to track very similar metrics- needing to update one sheet, taking that information and entering it into another sheet and so on… This process is common yet leaves ample room for human error, often feels repetitive and is easily solved. For example, the change or elimination of some of these redundant spreadsheets would save a world of time and error but nobody thought to change the process…it was inherited, learned and acted upon- no questions asked.

I challenge you to not shy away from an opportunity to revamp a process you inherited, or comment below and share an experience of your own. Try to look outside the box for alternative methods and to challenge the ‘why’ behind some of the processes you encounter that strike you as improvable. Remember, the fresh perspective you have when you enter a company fades quickly, and when we don’t ask questions or make suggestions right away we often loose these opportunities to improve. Don’t be afraid to think big picture even with the smallest of tasks; value your time and take in to account the opportunity cost not being as efficient and effective as you could!

How Can HR Clearly Communicate that Workplace Bullying is Unacceptable?

The recent and tragic event of Amanda Todd’s suicide brings to light the profound impact bullying can have on a person’s life. Unfortunately, even as we become adults and working professionals there are still instances where people feel bullied and threatened. I believe we all have a role to play to ensure that our workplaces are safe spaces where we are comfortable being ourselves and feel accepted for who we are.

Human Resources also has an important role in setting clear policies that articulate that workplace bullying is unacceptable and has strict consequences. This policy should be a part of any HR guidelines/hand outs for new employees and should be built into any workplace orientation. I strongly believe that the clearest and most effective way to communicate that workplace bullying is unacceptable is to ensure that any reported cases of bullying are taken seriously, looked into and handled immediately. It is also important to build awareness in the organization of this policy, through posters, bulletins, potentially a spot in the internal newsletter, etc. By actively communicating to employees that this is an established policy that will be implemented when necessary, HR will help to foster understanding and a level of comfort among employees with the policy. I also believe it can be helpful to offer occasional workshops or seminars about workplace bullying generally and how to prevent it.

Ultimately we all need to be aware of how we behave in the office and ensure we are being respectful of our colleagues. In addition, if we witness workplace bullying the onus is on us to speak up, and/or go to HR and report the incident. Workplace bullying can be mitigated but it takes the active participation of both HR and all employees.

Coffee Shop HR: Join the Discussion from the Beginning

Today will be a historic one in the United States as either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is elected President. Since Barack Obama has been instrumental in changing so much in the US since the beginning of his Presidency in 2008, and since the Nation is such a powerful one, so much could change if Republican Mitt Romney is elected tonight.

What won’t change is that tomorrow you’ll have to go to work. And all day, you’ll encounter people who are already at work: bus drivers, sales clerks, teachers, and countless others.

Undoubtedly you’ll encounter unemployed people too. You likely have no idea whether the person standing beside you is employed, and really, I have no idea whether you’re employed yourself.

HR is something that most people only think about when they’re when they’re in trouble or looking for a change:

I’m scheduled to work 12 days in a row. Can they do that?

They laid off everyone but the four of us. The problem now is they’re giving us jobs that pay less than what we’re making now!

What do you mean, I have to apply for unemployment insurance for my Maternity Leave? Aren’t they going to keep paying me my full salary?

Human Resources policies and practices affect each working person’s life every day, and yet it’s only a point of discussion when major changes are forced upon us.

This is why I’ve built this blog: to encourage you to think about and question HR issues that may not even affect you today, but more likely will affect you in the future. When discussing employee issues at work, I hear time and again, ‘they don’t know what they don’t know.’ While this is certainly true, it’s no excuse for naiveté.

My goal for Coffee Shop HR is to bring thoughtful writers from around the world to discuss HR issues.  No matter what your profession or career aspirations, HR issues affect your work environment, well being, and your salary.
 
Currently Coffee Shop HR has three writers on board: Bonnie Milne, PhD in Dubai, Michelle Yao in Toronto, and myself in Vancouver.
 

Every 3rd Monday of the month, this site will host a Coffee Shop HR World Cafe.

A World Cafe involves gathering a group of people into a room with the purpose of discussing a shared issue.  Participants are broken into groups of tables, and each table discusses some aspect of the general issue.  As an online World Cafe, each writer will respond to the same topic each month, allowing readers to really compare the different perspectives which exist.

Our first Coffee Shop HR World Cafe will be held on Monday Nov 19, 2012.  The topic of discussion is ‘How can HR clearly communicate that bullying is unacceptable?

I’m happy to connect with anyone who is interested in contributing to Coffee Shop HR.  If you are interested in volunteering as a writer, contributing as a visual artist (including photographs or illustration) or submitting video posts, please feel free to contact me at coffeeshophr@yahoo.com.

Cheers!  And if you’re an American, please get out there and vote!

Geraldine Sangalang