Monday, February 28, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Running a business is like running a marathon...

A few weeks ago now, an amazing entrepreneur and mentor here in Calgary wrote a blog post making the analogy that chess and business are very similar.  Very succinctly, Cameron talks about 3 lessons he has learned about business from the game of chess.  You can find the full blog post here:

That said, I'm doing some of my own learning lately and have easily made the analogy that running a marathon is very much like running a business.  Here are some important lessons I'm learning along the way:

1.) Deciding that you will sign up and run a marathon tomorrow, without any planning (and/or training) to do so will ultimately end up in a great big fail.  Similarly, the guy that decides today that he will quit his job and tomorrow start a business probably shouldn't expect too much in terms of success either.  A solid plan for both successfully running a marathon and successfully running a business needs to be devised before diving head first into the activity.  Sticking to that plan will help you to optimize your success.

2.) When training for the marathon, I have found that my plan occassionally needs a tweak here and there. If I noticed that my legs were giving out a bit during my long run, it's imperative to address the issue immediately so that I am able to continue on my journey to 26.2 miles.  The same goes with running a business - a plan is essential, but if it's not working or if there is another direction one needs to go in, you must address it, not sometime or some day, but as soon as you recognize there may be an issue. 

3.) Prioritization is equally important in both training for a marathon and running a business.  Life can get in the way of a well orchestrated plan.  If you can only get to one type of run in your weekly training schedule, it's essential to get your long run in (this sentiment is echoed by elite marathon runner Josh Cox in this youtube video  Similiarly, in business, the activities that are going to produce the greatest results sales/revenue/growth wise are the areas you need to focus on most.  In other words, by focusing on the key drivers of the business will ensure the business prospers.  If I decided to just blog all day, rather than pick up the phone to return a call to a potential client, I'm not doing the business any justice.  The blog is secondary to the primary sales call.

Speaking of which...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Confession Time...Recruiters Beware

In August I launched Elevated HR Solutions as it is today (a reactive, outsourced approach to human resources for small to medium sized businesses) but during that time I've been applying to jobs in the Human Resources field for 2 reasons:

1.) I needed an ego boost to see if I could get the job (am as I good as I think I am? ;)
2.) Everything I know has been self-taught in a lot of ways (I faked it till I made it) and wanted to learn what  big corporations did in the interview process that would be different than mine

So here's the confession:  After 11 resumes sent out, 9 phone interviews, 7 in-person interviews resulted in 5 job offers.  Boo-yah!  And I never intended to take one of them! (Pssst - that's the confession!)

The Worst Interview:  I'd love to tell you who it was with but I think that may just be mean spirited. I didn't get the job offer either, so it could also be seen as me retaliating (which I'm not - I swear!)  After the walk through the back-office, which seemed eerily like a walk-of-shame (employees not smiling, not wanting to make eye contact, no personal possessions on any desk) I had already made the decision this was not a place I wanted to work...ever.  As I sat down in front of two women doing the interview, who also could not hold eye contact with me,  I knew I too, was written off immediately.  And then the scoring began for each of my answers. Since they weren't looking at me, I could also glance at their sheets and see they were scoring me on a scale of 1 to 5.  And for each question I gave, I saw my score.  And while I did okay on some questions, I had to laugh at the situation.  All I could think was, "Note to self: This is how NOT to do an interview."  The funniest part was the email rejection letter I received had the wrong name in it.  Dear Sasha... We regret to inform you that...Classy.

The Best Job Interview: Admittedly, it was exactly the type of organization I could see myself working at, so it was easy to be enthusiastic and do the research before hand.  They were also super bummed that I turned them down and almost felt duped when they found out the truth (I felt I had to tell them at the end!)  A couple of things came out of it for me: I got to be interviewed by potential clients (in other words, department heads as well as employees outside of the HR department), they asked me to put a presentation together about myself and my style (rather than them asking canned questions and me firing out canned answers), they took me for a tour prior to my presentation and had me speak to several others that weren't involved in the presentation, and finally at the end when I asked if there were any questions, I could tell they had done their research on ME! They had actually read my twitter account, my blog and checked out my LinkedIn page. It felt great knowing they were investing themselves in the process as much as I was investing myself into theirs.

It's good to know that great organizations exist out there - and that there are those company's that are committed to the recruitment process.  I've said it before and I'll say it again (and I'm sure I got this quote from some one else) - you take years before you decide to make a decision on a potential spouse, why would you rush the recruitment decision when you will be spending 40 hours+ a week with this person?  Be creative with your approach to hiring - especially if fit is what is most important.  Get the community involved in the hiring approach and your results will be worth it in the end.

By the way - I couldn't convince the company that outsourcing was the way to go...but I did make a good impression on the manager and she still calls me occassionally to see what I would do in certain situations.  Because I feel like I owe them something, I never hesitate to answer!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Who says Compensation Can't Be Easy?

Who says compensation can't be easy? Pretty much every book you pick up on the topic - that's who.  Twenty-seven chapters later (and a background as an HR Professional)  I'm just as lost as the next guy.  And like most people - if you can't get it from a book, the next logical step is probably to hire a consultant. Look at all that potential compensation walking out the door!

However, I'm convinced that it's possible to make it simple and easy to follow and have been successful in doing so for my clients.  Considering there isn't a whole lot of help out there on the topic I figure now it's time to publish a resource that small business owners and entrepreneurs can pick up and implement - and not drown in a myriad of details.

Simply put, I'm writing the book and even have a publisher on side...that is IF I can prove I can do the above!  In other words - concept accepted but now I have to actually do something about it!

So I'm looking for the opinions from small business owners and entrepreneurs as well as HR professionals who work in organizations with 3 employees and beyond, in any industry, in any province or state.  All I need is a simple survey to be filled out that will most likely take 20 minutes of your time.  Quotes may be used in the book, ideas will definitely be used, and most importantly - the book will be targeted towards the feedback from the survey to help the intended audience of managers and HR professionals alike.  The end result - employers who have employees who understand how and why they get paid what they do (and therefore, that much more engaged!)

Do you have time to fill out a survey? If so, email me at to let me know you're interested.

Here is the link to the survey:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Selecting an HRO

So here you are: You've grown your organization to a pretty good size, where it's evident you could use some help when it comes to the administration and support of your employees.  You are officially presented with 2 choices - hire an HR manager/advisor and officially proclaim an HR department OR bring on an Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO). 

Here are some things to keep in mind if bringing on an HR Manager/Department:

1.) Someone on staff now has intimate details of your employees: From salary to performance to possible terminations.  You need to trust this person implicitly and they need to know how to temper internal relationships and friendships.  Conversations may happen and information that shouldn't be shared often is.

2.) Your overhead suddenly goes up exponentially with a full-time salary on board.  While they are providing operational efficiencies, it's a hard one to quantify in real numbers.  Plus, they get vacation and benefits and training on TOP of their base salary.

3.) When an HR manager recommends programs, they usually do so based on their own wants and experiences. As an employee it's pretty hard to not be biased.  I remember really pushing for a maternity top up program and a Health Spending Account...and I had all the back-up in the world that supported my claims too!

All of this goes away when you bring on a Human Resource Outsourcer (HRO).  However, it wouldn't be right if I didn't say to take precautions with them as well.  Here is a list of questions you should ask when looking at an HRO:

1.) How hands-on do you want to be / can you be?

2.) Do you have options or are you a “one-sized fits all” solution center?

3.) Do you provide the basics or can you help with implementation?

4.) Do you want to be purely strategic or purely administrative?

5.) Do you offer solutions for employee questions as well as management support?

6.) Do you provide reports and statistics that will help with budget and planning seasons?

7.) Do you offer an employee benefits solution?

8.) Do you have a payroll solution?

The answers should be in alignment with what you need and what you want.  It's tough to know what you don't know - but a good HRO will be able to walk you through how to determine what you need, recommend how it can be done and of course, do it all at your pace.

And yes - I'm an HRO with clients all over Western Canada!  I support employers with 3 to 125 employees.  On top of it - I love what I do!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Social Media Policy Anyone?

UPDATE: Read Gowlings opinion on the latest Facebook Termination:

"So, this whole social media thing isn't going away is it?" 

I smiled at the question and shook my head softly.  A potential client and I just sat down to a coffee when he noticed an individual with their lap top open next to him, clearly engaging in a Twitter conversation and flipping back and forth to Facebook.  "No sir, it definitely is not."

"Did you see our Facebook page?" he asked.  "Of course I did. I wanted to learn as much as I could about you and your company."  "Really?" he laughed, "Would you believe I haven't even seen our Facebook page?" I was slightly taken aback, "Really? Why not?" "Because I thought the whole thing was kind of stupid."  I smiled.  This again, was not the first time I had heard this story.

"Who's writing your material for you?" I asked. "A couple of the employees came to me with the idea. I said I wanted nothing to do with it, but they could do whatever,"  he said. I sat back, and must have had a concerned look on my face. "I take it that's probably not a good idea?" he asked.  "Well - it's not that you have to be involved, but these people are speaking on your behalf. Are you sure their thoughts are consistent with yours? Facebook and Twitter are pretty powerful tools if used right.  Your employees could also completely wreck your brand if you don't set out the right parameters."

"So you're saying I should be more involved?"

"I think so, yes.  At the very least, perhaps draw up a social media policy and give your employees parameters to work within.  Once they know the rules, you are protecting not only them but your company and hopefully your brand.  The policies don't need to be super strict and I have an easy way of sorting out what's best for you and your company.  The policy doesn't need to stay static - it can be a living document.  I just think we need to do what's right for you and your company right now."

Does your company have a social media policy? If's your chance to build one...for FREE!
FEBRUARY SPECIAL:  I'm a Valentine's Day sucker (even though it's about as commercial of a holiday as one can possibly get) and as such, I'm offering a Valentine's Day Special:  The Development of a Social Media Policy for any small to medium sized businesses in the month of February (completely customized to your management style and type of company).  The best part: It's FREE!

Even if you aren't engaging in an actual strategy for your company, your employees are. This is a simple way for you to protect your company, protect your brand and protect your employees.  Email me at for more information!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Elevated HR Solutions: Video Resumes Are Here!

Yup - it's official - I have finally received my first video resume!

Verdict:  I LOVE the idea of it.  It certainly got my attention (similar to how a heavy stock paper resume that comes to me in the mail still gets me every time!)   However, I don't really know very much about the person, so the 5 minute intro wasn't used as well as it could have.  But interestingly enough I'm still thinking about much so that I'm writing about him.  So whether or not it was good or bad, right now I want to find out more and that's exactly what a job seeker should aim to do!

Perhaps the trend continues or perhaps it will take a while to catch on.  I think the key learning out of this for me is this: Job seekers - definitely dare to be different! A foot in the door is better than the door slammed in your face! The best places to work are still tough to get into - if you're the best person for the organization, make it known!