Story Telling for HR

Me Storytelling

It was an honour for me to present at the Elephant HR Inspiration Day in Auckland recently on the value of Storytelling for HR. Who tells stories, how they tell them, what they say and what the impact is!

Whether you are building a business case, coaching Managers or employees or offering a solution to a challenge, story telling can help you get the results you need to move forward.

Building your own narratives can have a lasting effect on your businesses bottom line and reinforce everything you do.



Effective Strategy for Upgrades

If the conditions are right – your strategy and planning has manifested clearly defined actions – you can comfortably transition and make changes that bring about innovation. The strength is in the planning at each and every level.

Every Leader has a story to tell

Every Leader has a story to tell. Through a leaders stories we come to understand the unique contribution they have made to those around them.

Every Leader needs to communicate a purpose that comes with unwavering dedication and inspiration to influence followers to achieve a mission. All followers must be leaders in their own right with belief and trust in the mission.

There are many definitions of Leadership, many accepted theories, many personal traits – one size does not fit all. There are leaders with specific knowledge or skills, values that support the follower and the wider circle of influence supporting the mission.

The acceptance of a Good Leader is subjective to the environment in which they seek to lead.

In my role I am privileged to meet outstanding Leaders everyday and through my work I see the results that have been achieved – I will be writing about some of them in future blog posts. At the end of the day it’s the results that measure the Leader. This is why all good Leaders go through periods of transformation and company transformation. By challenging the process, people, the environment a leader can facilitate change towards her mission. We all need a game plan!

Game Plans change! So good Leaders are always willing to change tactics, swap players, and ensure the team understands the play. Change brings conflict and this is great through debate the common goal is realised. The Team needs empowerment to speak freely and act on the overarching purpose – the Leader can’t achieve anything on her own!

Through it all the excellent Leader acknowledges the contribution of others with honest open communication. By the process of accountability, recognition and her actions she refines the model in which the organisation will achieve its mission.

Sounds easy? It’s not. That is why good leaders are worth their weight in gold! If we listen to the stories of Leaders we admire we can understand the journey and know that fairy tale endings really are the result of many short stories that together build the path to success.

How is your story looking? What Chapter are you up to? I think I will try defining Leadership in 5 years time and see how much my thoughts have changed.

Innovation and Improvement using your HRIS

This week I presented at our User group on the topic of Innovation and Improvement. The idea was to introduce the concept of thinking about how our customers use our system. As a long established company many of our customers have been using our products successfully for many years but its important to start rethinking our Payroll/HR Service model and understanding more about how we can improve our delivery to our business.  I have been flooded with emails following the presentation and I look forward to seeing what exciting changes our customers implement over the coming months.

We gained some insight into how using a Manager/Employee Self service had progressed over the years and how this makes us transparent in the workplace. Something that was innovative 10 years ago may not be delivering the information it needs to today. Organisations are constantly changing and evolving and so we need to stay on the ball and roll out new initiatives regularly. If you are following the same checklists and processes you were 10 years ago you could be in trouble.

Factors that inhibit us from innovation and improvement are fairly common across the customer base and lots of heads nodded to the constraints we face when trying to be more innovative in our roles. Our environment may not be receptive to change, resource, time and budget are a reality for most of us everyday. This means that we need to start thinking outside the square so that we can lay the foundation for making change with creativity.

We talked about the new dimensions in our organisations, increasing complexity that changes often. Company restructures, acquisitions, merges, staff turnover, changes in leadership and direction which affect our delivery of information and functionality. Staff turnover can sometimes be a good thing as it brings new ideas and skill-sets into an organisation and it can be fantastic having a fresh look at structure and processes that may have existed for a long time. We talked about how small changes can make a huge difference to employees work and how we can help employees and managers succeed by providing information that supports them when they need it.

Changing how we deliver requires trained functional/technical specialists on our teams with specific skill-sets and competencies to support continual creation, application and delivery of innovative improvements. Its a choice to be innovative and improve. Some time was spent discussing Project planning, analysis, design, and delivery along with focus areas for success. Are we making work easier for our organisations?

I talked about the good innovation work happening in:

  • Fisher & Paykel Healthcare – using our product for HR Management in 28 countries and projects in the pipeline
  • Marley NZ – extensive use of self-service with a focus on training administration and deployment of information to assist Managers
  • Tauranga City Council – realising the benefit of a dedicated HRIS administrator, integration, user driven customisation to deliver information and tools to the business.
  • IAG NZ – a center of continuous improvement initiatives and their strong focus on innovation through networking groups, benchmarking and delivery of initiatives to the organisation.

My partner in crime was Janine Cooksley from Westpac who presented on Understanding the Interplay between HR and Payroll. Janine talked about what the “Team” want to achieve, what tools were available, and some of the intiatives that have been a success. One of the key messages was:

“The HR/Payroll team do not own the data. We are custodians, we nurture it, we ensure it is accurate”

Westpac talked about how the team is recognized as a true business partner – the use of the HRIS, access and security guidelines and all with no hidden agendas.The importance of every role supporting the other and information being deployed out to the business to help every employee be a success. When you create functionality in the system you can change mindsets. How the whole team has a vision of delivery and it has opened up new opportunities to reinforce HR/Payroll as a true business partner.

Our presentation was a success! it stimulated discussion, facilitated new thinking and had everyone chattering about what they do and learning from each other!

Some of the feedback :

“Thanks for this”

“Lisa can you join us for a strategy meeting next week?”

“It was great to hear what others were doing how they were using there HRIS, Thanks”

“Thank you very much Lisa. We were taking notes.. so this will be great. I started to play around with what I remembered when I got back. Going over these types of things can inspire you to re-visit and Janine’s presentation also got me thinking about other things so a good session all round” 

Leadership – well actually #lead1201

As I reflected on writing this post it occurred to me that I have seen our Amanda grow incredibly this year! Now maybe I only became aware of a remarkable spirit by listening and paying attention to a story.

I know Amanda through my participation in HRINZ. We volunteer our time and follow our passion and enjoyment of HR. Yes people can love HR. It brings its challenges and with it comes learning and then one day you get an ah ha moment and conventional framework becomes history as you begin to breath and live your own new ideas. Great leaders bring a team together with a common goal.

To me this is Leadership – when we live with such excitement and belief in something new we are no longer a participant we are a Leader. Leaders inspire others and trust in growth nothing is impossible and everything is worth listening to. A vision is created and with it comes communication for a vision to take life.

When a vision takes life it becomes a catalyst for change. People see possibility and hope, its real, its possible – we could just pull this off. Calculated risks are easier to take, work isn’t a chore, the chance of success rises with faith that this is worth it. Because great Leaders inspire people to work on success and enjoy being part of a Champion Team. The extra mile doesn’t seem so far away.

So when I saw the wonderful work Amanda was doing in the field of Leadership, I couldn’t wait to take part. My first week has been challenging with work commitments but I really look forward to the coming weeks and exploring my ideas as a Leader. Its wonderful to have time to think and reflect on a topic dear to my heart Leadership – well actually #lead1201 from innovative New Zealand!

What HR can learn from Gymnastics

Gymnasts work hard! They train to learn new skills continually, some skills come naturally and some come with lots of physical and mental challenges. You aren’t judged for how you train you are only judged for executing the skill. Gymnasts want their skills to be judged accurately and fairly.

Skills can be executed with technique and mastery or they can performed poorly. Gymnasts who strive for perfection and technique want this to be acknowledged and recognized. A somersault is somersault right? Gymnasts with awesome technique want to be separated in marks from those with poor execution even if they all land on two feet.  

Gymnasts who perform with artistry, power and timing would like to know they stand out for doing so. There is a huge difference between those who perform the skill and those that execute it superbly with excellence. Gymnasts want to be recognized for excellence!

The judging system gives instant feedback. This can be rewarding, frustrating and teaches many life lessons. The gymnast needs their coach to represent them, tell them why, improve their skills, push them back up the hill and in some cases watch their back and demand fairness. The gymnast wants their coaches support when times are good and on those bad days.

Team medals mean combining all the individual efforts into one. Gymnasts work hard to be on the team and they need to feel valued and their contribution counts. In high pressure situations the culture and dynamics of the team will improve consistency and performance. The gymnast needs the support and encouragement of their team.

The gymnast requires mental and physical strength and simply showing up and going through the motions isn’t enough either at competition or in training. The gymnast relies on continual coaching, feedback, praise, acknowledgement, progressive development, structured planning, a safe and supportive environment. The gymnast needs the right leadership and environment.

The gymnast and the coach needs a gym with the appropriate equipment and technology to support development and training. If the right equipment isn’t available it will slow or stunt the ability develop. If the best equipment and technology is available it will give the gymnast and coach a clear advantage and a higher ratio of success. The gymnast needs a physical environment with all the right tools and technology to develop and learn.  

The gymnast wants to be happy, have fun and turn their passion into success!

The key points are:

  • Environment, equipment, technology
  • Leadership and quality training
  • Team support and encouragement
  • Recognition for excellence
  • Appraisals where technique and skill stand out
  • Fair and accurate Judging

Without these gymnasts have no chance at having fun, being happy or achieving success and it isn’t dissimilar in the business of HR and Talent Management is it?

Using Technology to improve HR service delivery

There has been much talk this year of the difference between HR Management/Administration and HR Strategy. I will be delving into this area in more detail in future blog posts. For many busy HR folk there simply isn’t time, budget or resource to focus on improving delivery to the team and the business.How many excuses do you use? However put simply if you are not delivering the necessary data and information to the business to support strategic and functional KPI’s you are failing your company.

Within your systems is a wealth of data – this data is valuable we all know that but it isn’t any good if you are not automating and distributing it. This data could be exactly the information your line managers need to make business decisions and improvements that make the difference between profit or loss this quarter. So if it sounds so easy why is it so hard to achieve? What are some simple steps that you can take to start moving up the HR Ladder from transactional to strategic service delivery?

1. Determine what you do well and build on it. Acknowledge your strengths it’s the foundation of your delivery success.

2. Determine what needs improvement within the team, for employees and managers. Look for solutions to business issues.Accepting the reality of where you are without judgement is fundamental to moving forward.

3. Optimise your current technology if you are on a budget, visit companies using your software that do it well, talk to your vendor about functionality you want to use smarter. If you don’t have a savvy HR Systems Administrator/Manager get one!

4. Never underestimate the value of technology training. Ongoing continuous development and training is the real key to delivering excellent service to the business. Be accountable for how you use your systems!

5. What are some simple changes that can be rolled out quickly. An easy place to start is to think about the use of scheduled reports, workflow tools, diary reminders and notifications. A revamp of your self service and the functionality it offers is always worth looking into.

6. Develop a plan for delivery and ongoing delivery initiatives. Stick with it!

Once you get a reputation for enabling strategy through effective use of technology and supporting business goals with real information that makes a positive impact you will begin to see more positive results – your HR Team will be proud and happy to contribute to highly visible HR delivery and take ownership of patterns of success.

Employees and Managers are your customers and it should be your top priority to brand your HR Service Centre!

What is the cost to your employee engagement, satisfaction, retention, productivity and your business if you dont deliver faster, smarter, consistently?