On Nov. 1, 2018, about 450 people from manufacturing, education, the public sector, and other organizations at the intersection of workforce matters and the manufacturing industry met in Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio Manufacturers’ Workforce Summit 2018.Read More
I’m Ben Baran. I think, I write, I speak. I believe our world gets better through better organizations and better leaders, allowing us to flourish as we pursue a meaningful existence.
Get my FREE ebook! Just use the form on the right side of this page (or click here). In the book, The Navy's 11, I break down the U.S. Navy's 11 Leadership Principles and provide practical guidance for both civilian and military leaders everywhere. I'm sure you'll find it both thought-provoking and useful. Enjoy!
The future of human resources (HR) lies at the intersection of strategy, data analytics, design thinking, and a new set of practices and mindsets ushered in by the world of agile methods and organizational agility writ large.
And the time is ripe for HR professionals to have the bandwidth necessary to devote themselves to such matters. Numerous HR services—particularly those that are more compliance and administrative in nature—have been prime candidates for outsourcing for years. Automation, furthermore, has the potential to eliminate or reduce further many repetitive HR tasks.
In the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, Peter Cappelli and Anna Tavis outline a number of ways in which HR is adopting agile principles. In their article, “HR Goes Agile,” Cappelli and Tavis highlight how HR practices are beginning to trend away from the old approaches governed by rules and plans. Taking cues from agile, they contend, HR is increasingly moving toward a feedback-driven approach characterized by simplicity and speed.
Here are some highlightsRead More
Exciting changes in the world of human resources (HR) abound. As noted by Stephen Barley (University of California Santa Barbara), Beth Bechky, and Frances Milliken (both of New York University) in their recent article in Academy of Management Discoveries,
“Few people would deny that the nature of work and employment has changed over the last four decades, not only in the United States but in many countries worldwide. Moreover, the nature of work is likely to continue to change as we move further into the 21st century.”
Such changes make HR work continually dynamic, with evolving practices with regard to new technologies, the increasing prevalence of contingent workers, and more. Barley and his coauthors also mention the rise of artificial intelligence and the rise of project-based work as fundamental shifts that will influence careers and even how people think about themselves in relation to their organizations and society.
These changes alone are enough to keep HR leaders and other executives up at night.
Yet I wonderRead More
Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to engage with hundreds of people from around the world as part of a webcast titled, "What Everyone in HR Needs to Know About Change." The Human Capital Institute (HCI) hosted the webcast, and afterward, HCI gave me the recorded version so that I could share it with people who weren't able to join the live presentation.
Here it is--enjoy.Read More
Models for planning and executing organizational change abound—for example, Kotter’s eight steps, among many others. These models are helpful in highlighting many of the critical aspects of organizational change, and I highly recommend immersing yourself in them.
That being said, I find that such models often deal more with planned organizational change than with unplanned or continuous organizational change.
And in an increasingly turbulent world, it’s important for human resources (HR) professionals and the HR function overall toRead More
Most executives with whom I interact get it—they know that the culture of their organization must be aligned with what it needs to accomplish in order to compete and win. They understand that without the underlying values, norms and routines that encourage productive behavior, their organizations will fail to execute their strategy.
But then comes the simple-yet-tough question, how do you change your organization’s culture? For example, if you need to become more innovative yet your culture is overly risk averse, what do you do?
It may sound counterintuitive, butRead More
I spend a fair amount of time around the human resources (HR) profession. Sometimes, that’s in the form of consulting and problem-solving alongside HR leaders; other times it’s through research or teaching graduate students. I’m also an HR officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and I maintain my HR certifications like thousands of other HR people.
But I’m often critical of HR. That’s not at all because I think HR people aren’t doing good work; rather, I think every profession should be critical of itself in an attempt to improve continually and stay relevant. We should all be on the lookout for how we can get better at what we do and how we do it.
In particular for HR, I see two areas in which HR could improve substantially.Read More
My fascination with the military—and the U.S. Navy, in particular—started before I was 10 years old. And during the decade between then and when I was commissioned as an officer in 2002, I acquired a whole set of ideas about what actually being in the Navy would be like.
These ideas came from books, movies, stories from veterans and myriad other information sources around me.
Some of those ideas turned out to be accurate; others weren’t. For example, most of what you experience on a day-to-day basis in the U.S. Navy—especially if you’re a ship driver like I was—bears little to no resemblance to Maverick’s job as a fighter pilot in the 1986 movie Top Gun.
But other patterns of behavior such as respect for rank structure, commitment to teammates, and aspects of selfless leadership that I’d learned about turned out to beRead More
I watched in horror as the supervisor attempted to explain how it wasn’t “that bad.” “You really are doing a good job, and this piece of paper isn’t everything.”
The guy to whom he was speaking wasn’t buying it.
The supervisor was holding a feedback session with this technician as part of his annual performance review. I was—fortunately, for me—only aRead More
"It was exciting. I was looking for a new job, and I started having conversations with an executive at a successful company. We talked about how the organization was growing, and that led to discussions about how I might fit into their workforce.
"Given my experience and unique background, he said that I could start out by learning the business for a while. Then, I’d be quickly promoted into a senior-level role in which I’d be able to use my expertise.
"It sounded like a wonderful opportunity, so I uprooted my life and my family, moved to the city where the company is located and started work."
This was how a conversation I had recently with a friend began. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while, so we spent time catching up. This particular friend has a very interesting background and a track record of success in tough jobs. Naturally, I was curious to hear more about how his recent job transition was going.
He went on.Read More
It’s easy to fall into patterns and comfortable routines.
Some of those are great. Take, for example, dental hygiene. Or strength training.
But if our routines too often keep us around the same people, we run the risk of stagnating. It’s even worse if we’re isolated—or insulated, depending on how you look at it—from other ideas.
That’s one reason why I enjoy professional conferences. Even if you’re around people in a similar area of expertise or interest, you’ll learn a great deal from their different perspectives and experiences.
Last week, I spent a few days at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Anaheim, Calif. And in between all of theRead More
In four weeks from today, I’ll be enjoying the company of thousands of organizational psychologists at this year’s annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Anaheim, Calif. This is a fun-loving crowd. It’s probably also one of the few crowds in which you’ll find passionate debates about topics such as psychometrics, leadership assessments or classical test theory.
At last year’s conference, in fact, a structured debate took place on the topic of performance appraisals. Yes, you read that correctly.Read More
In a recent post and in some of my research, I’ve been exploring the role that human resources (HR) plays in organizational change. This includes both HR as a function and HR professionals themselves as they get involved (either proactively or reactively) in change efforts.
And there’s one key aspect of organizational change that I think is helpful for HR people to consider.Read More
Is human resources (HR) the organizational function that must lead when dealing with organizational change?
Or is managing change a fundamental leadership competency that a wide array of people from every function should have or develop? If that’s the case, should HR professionals themselves try to be change agents?
What works best in organizations that are dealing with a particularly turbulent business environment?
These are a few of the questions that I had the pleasure of discussing last week in a lively conversation in Cincinnati withRead More
One increasingly common trend is, well, trend reports. Professional organizations, research firms and consultancies frequently publish what they see as the latest developments or top predictions for the future. Depending on the source, these trend reports can be thought-provoking and insightful.
At the very least, I find it interesting to see what various leaders see on the horizon.
Recently, threeRead More
Positive thinking is sometimes overrated. In fact, too much positive thinking can be disastrous. While optimism can help people and organizations bounce back from tough times, when allowed to dominate the psyche during good times, it can blind us to the possibility of what could go wrong.
It’s important, periodically, to think creatively about potential doom.Read More
During a recent conversation I had with a senior executive, I brought up some of my efforts to promote strategic thinking and using data to guide decision-making among human resources (HR) professionals. She nodded in agreement, but then she interrupted.
“You know, there’s one thing I hate about our HR department,” she said. “They think like gate keepers, when they should be thinking like service providers.”
She went on to describe howRead More
In the American television comedy series "The Office," the hostility between Michael Scott, regional manager of the mythical paper company Dunder Mifflin’s branch in Scranton, Pa., and Toby Flenderson, the branch’s human resources director, is a recurring theme.
During one particularly humorous scene, Michael learns suddenly that Toby—who had left the office previously—has returned.
Michael’s reaction?Read More
It’s about supply and demand, human-resource style. Remember when the unemployment rate in the United States was less than 5%? According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, that describes about five of the past 10 years. That also describes times when employers spent much of their energy on recruiting talent, or wooing top performers to apply for jobs.But times have changed. The unemployment rate now sits at 8.9%, which means employers everywhere are coping with huge numbers of job applicants for a small number of job openings. Recruiting is still important, and valid selection is always important. In a labor market flush with talent, however, figuring out whom to hire from the crowd is all the more crucial—and tricky.
So what really has changed?Read More