GlobalHRU blog

Rules of HR by Lance J. Richards

Posted by Aki Kakko on Jan 2, 2017 8:37:20 PM

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Lance J. Richards, a Director of Human Resources at Town of Avon: "For me, the future of HR is in the hands of some very very sharp young professionals, I am grateful for that."

My advice to emerging HR tech companies… get someone on board who speaks (and understands) HR on your team. I’ve been stunned at how many times I’ve seen products, or heard pitches, from really bright tech folks … who are solving a problem we solved in 1989 with a 3×5 card. “Oh, but Lance, we’re using dual-port, tuned instanciated instances of XTML, dialled in to a proprietary Doofenschmirtz algorithm!” Please. Before you sell me HR tech, understand HR; understand what I do for a living as a CHRO, and what my company and my CEO need for us to be successful. Then, and ONLY then, will I be interested in your Doofenschmirtz algorithm.

I am interested in the outrageous lack of connection and interaction between the educational (K-16) infrastructure and businesses/enterprises. The end consumer of education isn’t the kid or the faculty senate, it’s the employer. Both education and business seem to either ignore this, or are oblivious. We’ve got to fix this.

I’m also concerned about HR’s lack of interest and timidity in the early identification of extremism or radicalization in the workplace. This isn’t a religious thing … radicalization occurs in environmental issues, political issues, gender issues and more. We’ve got to pay attention and get engaged.

I do not care about meaningless metrics. I still talk to HR people who are focused on MTTF and CPH, and it drives me crazy. As a profession, we’ve got to improve our understanding of the difference between measuring activity and measuring results. The HR functions out there that don’t/can’t understand this will fail.

I go to HR events because they are the best places to connect with people, learn new things, get tuned up on emerging technologies and trends, and hear what others are thinking. I love listening to speakers; as the saying goes, you can learn something from anybody.

I invented a very cool selection protocol for expatriates that generated zero assignment failures in an 18-month period. I might have accidentally invented RPO in 2000 when I brought an outside firm in to handle US recruitment for the telecom company where I was Director of Global HR. I don’t think anyone had outsourced core staffing before, but I did!

The next generation at work will be absolutely hellish if we don’t start to adapt our workplaces. The supply/demand equation for talent is way upside down. We’ve got the Gen Zs coming in at an alarming velocity, and too many companies are expecting the Gen Zs to adapt to a 1980s’ workplace. Not going to happen. We (as employers) are going to need talent … far, far more than talent is going to need us. We’ve got to understand this, not fight it.

I am Mister Carpaccio. Drop me in any city in the world and I’m going to seek out local Italian restaurants in search of carpaccio. If I’m in Southeast Asia though, I’m still in search of the perfect satay vendor at a Hawkers’ market … call it a quest!

I was the first person inside Kelly Corporate to travel to Jakarta. Not sure why, but no one outside of regional management had ever made the trip. I was delighted to meet our team there, and explain that we weren’t afraid of Jakarta … really!

I am not good at bullshitting answers. That is why I have no future in politics. I try to be as polite and as professional as I can, but ultimately I am pretty direct.

I am bullish on HR tech because I go to HRTech in Vegas or Chicago, or I hit HRTechTank sessions … and I’m stunned at the evolution of the tech which supports HR. You have to know that I cut my HR teeth sitting on a floor in a personnel file room, alphabetizing file folders. Some of the most outrageously bright people are working on tech that can truly transform what HR does; not just pushing transactional stuff off the table, but helping us to be better at the strategic levels. I didn’t see that coming ten years ago but it’s here now.

For me, the future of HR is in the hands of some very, very sharp young professionals, and I’m grateful for that. The next gen of HR leadership will have to be both savvy advisors to CXOs, but also fluent in the tech that supports them and their decisions. Our ability to link the full employee lifecycle together, with AI and semantic overlays, will be the holy grail of HR. I’ve monkeyed around with some different models, but I haven’t seen it all pulled together yet. But, I know it’s coming.

HR is all about knowing the business as well as you know HR. If you are an expert at HR, but don’t understand your business, you’re toast.

The most important thing I learned at Kelly is the value of a brand. I was at Kelly for 11+ years in three very cool roles. Kelly dates back to 1946 and it has an intensely embedded brand in the markets it serves. I learned that a brand can open doors, define expectations, outweigh competitors and influence both client leaders as well as candidates.

I dislike intra-airline connections at Heathrow, the TGI Fridays at Moscow SVO, the business class lounges at Jakarta CGK, the price of a glass of wine in Oslo, our former landlord in Singapore, and the arrivals area of Cairo CAI at 1am. Slushy snow … I dislike that too. Oh, and HR people who can’t explain how their business makes money … that’s not a dislike, actually – it pisses me off.

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