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April 2016

Frederickson Pribula Li

The Five HR Mistakes That Way Too Many of You Are Making Today

A Letter from Valerie:

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback on my piece last month about Diversity. This month, I’d like to share some wisdom based on things I’ve gleaned from my daily conversations with the CEOs at small to mid-size companies and the best human resources executives in the business. These thoughts are about how to view the overall HR function, how to organize it, and what to avoid. When you’re looking at how to organize the overall HR function, it’s best to figure out what stage your company is in according to Adizes’ Corporate Lifecycles, and then use a standard HR model—because, usually, what’s working well for others will work for you too. (If you’d like one of Frederickson Pribula Li’s guides to modifying HR’s offerings for different stages of the corporate lifecycle, or our recent research on the best ways for startups to organize People Operations, just shoot us an email at marketing@fplpartners.com.) And on the flip-side, what hasn’t worked for others likely won’t work for you either, which brings me to the following list.

1) Completely separating TA from HR
A large portion of our high-growth startups are really frustrated by how difficult it is for them to hire, so they often try having their recruiters report into someone other than their (probably) junior HR leader, like their President or CEO. I’ve even seen CEOs literally move their engineering recruiters’ desks into the CEO’s office and personally manage (or micro-manage) them 12-to-14 hours a day. But there are problems with having TA report to someone other than HR. For starters, breaking up the employee lifecycle means that it’s … well, broken. Metrics will be inconsistent, onboarding and bonus programs will be a mess, and no one will be able to get their hands around a holistic way of treating employees. Companies who have TA and HR reporting up separately usually end up with an inferior HR leader, because no good one will hang around for long if they’ve got the responsibility but not the authority or budget. So you wind up with a senior TA leader but a second-class HR manager with a Director or even CPO title. And the TA leaders are very happy to report high up, but usually don’t have the gravitas to report into a CEO and end up disappointing their boss and getting fired or quitting, leaving the CEO as the only person in the company who knows how TA is run.

2) Misuse of HR Analytics
Hiring and promotion data is very accessible—but you can have all the data in the world and still not know how to use it to take action. I still find that no one beats Dr. Jac Fitz-enz, the pioneer of human capital analytics, in simplifying what data you need to make better decisions. If you can’t get to one of his in-person presentations before he retires, then you definitely should try to read his books. More than 60% of companies are investing in big data and analytics in their HR departments, but only 14% have done any statistical analysis of employee data at all. According to Josh Bersin, the founder of the HR consultancy Bersin by Deloitte, “HR teams are not very analytical in their thinking yet, which is holding them back from doing more data-driven decision making." To give you a simple example, recruiting data that is good to have includes this short list from Dr. Fitz-enz: To figure out what specific activities help you hire, promote, and retain top performers, track the following cradle-to-grave talent acquisition touch points: Internal referral or externally sourced? How many people interviewed the candidate? Was there specific screening criteria beyond tech skills and how was the candidate rated? How often does the employee’s manager conduct one-on-ones? Does the employee have an internal mentor? How often does the employee get helpful feedback? How often has the candidate been given training and development opportunities? How often has the candidate been given promotions and raises since hired? If you track these for a period of time, you’ll see a pattern and know what actions to take. Simple.

3) Assigning everyone HRBPs
Giving every department head a Human Resources Business Partner is as silly as giving all Palo Alto 16-year-olds a Tesla—not only is it a waste of money, but it’s also inevitable that they’ll end up in a wreck. Not every Director of Engineering or Vice President of User Experience needs an HR business partner. How about instead assigning them a good HR Analyst—someone who knows their way around a spreadsheet, communicates well, and can provide them the information they need to make good business decisions? It’s often unclear what experience and background is needed to take on BP responsibilities, and internal clients are just as confused. We did some HRBP searches for one high-flyer tech company and, at the kickoff, met all the internal clients, the folks running Revenue, Engineering, and UI. When we asked them what they liked so much about their current HRBPs, every one of them said a version of “I love her! She helps me hire and fire people and keeps track of their bonuses, and always returns my emails.” Um, excuse me, but that is what I’d call a good HR Rep, not a Business Partner. And I often see that HRBPs end up having too much power, while good specialists like Compensation Analysts or Recruiters don’t have enough. A real HRBP is an internal strategy consultant who discovers and diagnoses problems, recommends solutions, and manages those. Only executives who need strategic help and have the time for it should be given an HRBP.

4) Waiting too long to put in Bonus Plans
If our clients who are still working off of base-plus-equity would hurry up and put in a good cash performance incentive plan, a.k.a. good old-fashioned cash bonuses, they might see employee performance increase by as much as 44%, and voluntary turnover (people quitting) decrease by 66%. I, myself, am a Founder and CEO so I truly understand why you might think that everyone has the same motivation to be on the job as you do. But that’s an immature way of viewing your team. No one will ever have the same kind of allegiance to the company that you do, just like no one will ever love your children as much. That’s why people call their companies their babies. Let’s put aside our emotions and, from a purely practical state of mind, pay our employees in a way that will boost their performance and retention.

5) Using Culture as an excuse to hire a Homogenous Workforce
I’ve seen Martha Stewart recipes with less precision than the kinds of candidates who would fit through the screen used by some employers and, honestly, it’s not a whole lot better today than it was when I worked for a Fortune 200 manufacturing company based out of Toledo, Ohio, back in 1986—and boy were they ever a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic lot. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their 40-year-old white male executives coined the phrase “cultural fit”. I remember when they demoted their VP of Marketing because he (God forbid) got a divorce. Right cultural fit can justify biased hiring and does you a disservice. And, which are you doing: basing culture around your personnel or personnel around your culture?

Please take a peek at our new website when you have a chance, and make sure that you check out all the current People, HR, Talent, and Diversity searches we’re doing. More articles and events to come.

Take care,

sig

Current Executive Searches

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HR Consultant & Contractor's Corner

Our hottest global HR contracting and consulting assignments include:

Our hottest global HR contracting and consulting assignments include:
  • Providing Venture Capital and Private Equity Talent Partners with HR executive search, HR advisory, and compensation consulting expertise for their portfolio companies
  • Executive leadership mentoring and on-call support for CEO’s, CFO’s and HR managers at start-up companies in tech hubs that include San Francisco, San Mateo, Mountain View (Silicon Valley), Seattle, Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, Boise, Washington DC, London, Berlin and Singapore
  • HR assessment for multiple startups ready to shore up their infrastructure before taking their businesses through a high growth stage or IPO
  • Coaching executive teams through strategic planning for their leadership development function including succession planning and creating career development paths and retention plans for high potentials
  • Interim Head of HR assignments with pre-IPO companies in software analytics, digital advertising, big data, biotech, and cloud-based service companies
  • HR advising for several European and Asian headquartered companies interested in relocating their global headquarters or building regional headquarters in San Francisco/Silicon Valley
  • Comprehensive review of compensation programs for post-IPO tech companies, including benchmarking and redesigning of short and long-term incentive plans
  • Customized, high-touch outplacement projects for pre-IPO and mid-sized companies in the midst of restructuring or integrating acquisitions

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HR Events

GO Impact Conference – Bersin by Deloitte
April 25-28 – Hollywood, FL

GO HR Star Conference
July 13 – San Francisco, CA

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Spotlight on...

HR Business Partners. (see current searches above) In the past few years, the People function has outgrown its role as the administrative arm of the corporate ecosystem to become a strategic business ally with a seat at the table. In the next couple weeks, we’ll be releasing a deck on the rise and evolution of the HR business partner and recent trends, so stay tuned. Share your insights and thoughts with us on Linkedin and Twitter.
@fplpartners
#hrbusinesspartner
Also, check out Valerie's recent Quote of the Day in the Wall Street Journal!
Wall Street Journal - quote of the day

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About FPL Partners

Frederickson Pribula Li (FPL Partners) is the top global HR and strategic People Operations executive search and consulting firm in Silicon Valley. Founded in 1995 and headquartered in Menlo Park, our mission is to help our client’s succeed by elevating their people functions. Our HR executive search and consulting capabilities stretch worldwide with global hubs in San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Seattle, Paris and Hong Kong. Clients range from startups to the Fortune 100 across diverse industries.

Outplacement Practice

Re–evaluating your outplacement vendors? Require a higher utilization rate for your outplacement dollar? Need higher touch services and consistency across all markets? Since 1995, FPL Partners is the outplacement firm of choice for sophisticated corporate buyers. Join the numerous Fortune 500 employers and small firms who have selected us over their previous vendor and are now enjoying the best of both worlds: each employee well taken care of, and consistency in every city.

Price shopping or need to customize a program? Contact our Corporate Outplacement Team at 650-614-0220 or email them at outplacement@fplpartners.com for more information on our outplacement services.

HR Consulting Practice

With the dramatic increase of global technology outsourcing and the continued geographic dispersion of corporate teams, the need for international human resources strategy, design, and project implementation has increased. Our global team of HR consultants has the specialized skills and breadth of expertise to develop and lead your initiatives—saving you time, money, and resources. We can manage the international recruiting function, help you hire key local managers or an entire startup team in an overseas market, and establish HR systems for global expansion.

Why clients choose FPL Partners:
  • Results-driven, value-oriented. To keep your HR programs in line with your corporate direction, we provide HR strategy, cost-effective HR infrastructure, and pragmatic HR advice across all critical areas of human resource management.
  • Any size, any stage. We draw upon years of experience with startups, midsize firms and large global enterprises to guide our clients strategically through any stage of growth.
  • Work smarter, not harder. In survey after survey, CEO's say the number-one issue keeping them up at night is "people problems." We help you solve them so that you can get back to focusing on your business.
  • Contact our HR Consulting Team at 650.614.0220 or email them at consulting@fplpartners.com for more information on our HR consulting services
HR Executive Search Practice

Why clients choose FPL Partners as their human resources-specialized executive search firm:

  • Prompt results. The average time from start of search to presentation of the winning HR candidate is 21 days. 50% of HR searches are completed in less than 45 days.
  • Superior results. More than 95% of HR executives placed by FPL Partners are still with their companies five years following placement.
  • High client satisfaction. More than 90% of the firm's work is either repeat business or from referrals. A number of clients have been with FPL Partners for more than a decade.

You get:

  • Access to the best global human resources executive talent available through extensive networks built upon long–term relationships with U.S. and global executives
  • Customized HR executive search solutions that fit your goals, budget and timeline
  • Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition
  • Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition

Contact our human resources executive search team at 650.614.0220 or email us at executivesearch@fplpartners.com to learn how your organization can reap the benefits FPL Partners can deliver: Improved performance and greater success through your most valuable asset—your people.

Diversity Statement

FPL Partners welcomes and encourages all diversity candidates to contact us directly. We highly value the diversity of our FPL Partners team, placement of diverse executives into our client companies and our diverse clients, candidates, and supplier partnerships. We want to help swing the pendulum the other way.

About Our Newsletter

The FPL Partners newsletter, "FPL Partners In the Know," and FPL Partners Executive Search Update are the intellectual property of Frederickson Pribula Li. They are a free resource to business professionals. To subscribe to this newsletter, email newsletter@fplpartners.com.

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