The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

The HR Topics Blog with Lori Kleiman

Top Talent: How Do You Keep ‘Em?

First identify your top talent, then keep them!The task of retaining top talent is the responsibility of all team members. When creating a plan for retention of employees, step one is identify your top talent. The truth is, you don’t want everyone to stay. What you want are those team members that understand where you are going and what needs to be done to get there.  Without asking you a million questions and creating drama!

Employees who fit into the top talent category are not necessarily the people who have been around the longest, or have a relationship with the customer you think you can’t live without. They are the people who have the work ethic and institutional knowledge that would put your organization at a disadvantage if you lost them. Top talent are the people you want on your team in twenty years and in whom you are willing to invest the time and resources to get them where they need to be to serve the organization for the future.

All organizations should identify top talent as approximately 2-3% of the employee population. These are not necessarily people in management today, but the team members that you are counting on driving the business forward 20 years from today. They may never become management, but are still a critical component of your success. Remember, too many chiefs can be a problem – consider top talent across the organization by engaging those that will follow with precise and committed engagement.

I consider employees who are top talent to exhibit the following characteristics day in and day out:

  • Ambition
  • Performance
  • Engagement
  • Behavior
  • Potential
  • Talent

It is essential to actively engage your top talent and ensure you are providing opportunities for advancement, connection to the mission of the organization, and support for their personal growth and development. You don’t want a situation where you spend three years grooming top talent, only to find they have gone to your competitor because they offer better health insurance.  A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine provides 10 tips for retaining top talent.

In our toolkit, HR Hacks, we provide a worksheet that helps you identify the employees you would put into this important category. Be deliberate about your top talent, identify them, engage them and allow them to help you grow the organization so everyone can benefit.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

Big Ideas and New Tools Gained at SHRM National!

The national HR conference was held 3 weeks ago in New Orleans. Over 15,000 professionals attended, and I was glad to see that once again small organizations were represented in force. There were a number of hot topics, and lessons learned on the exhibit floor. Since many of community are not able to attend, I am taking space this week to share some of my “hot topics” from the event.  I spoke twice, but these are lessons I learned as an attendee.

Future of HR was a common theme for many of the presentations. HR is going through an evolution, and the professionals in the field need to get on board.  As I discuss in my first book, if you don’t own the strategy and goals of your organization, HR may not be the place for you. Both the business leader and HR need to agree to this – or it may be time to Fire HR Now!

HR must play offense. The skill sets needed for the future in many discussions are disruption and innovation. HR can’t be reactive to events as they occur. We have to get out of our comfort zone in payroll and benefits and get to a place of learning and continuous improvement.  If there is risk – take a chance… Mistakes should be seen as a learning opportunity for our organizations, and ourselves.

Continuous learning was also a constant theme. HR people must learn the business, as well as their constant need to stay up on HR compliance and best practices. I also advocate for HR professionals to get involved in the community and industry. Find places to learn new things, as well as new ways to do old things.

Don’t say there is no budget. We invest in our retirement, you may have to invest in yourself as well! Have you considered HR Certification? Think about joining our class starting soon!

Compliance – well, no shortage of conversations there! Most notably, the Dept. of Labor has a budget for additional labor focused solely on compliance. Need a copy of our HR Assessment – click here! Here are just some of the hot topics that were brought up at sessions:

  • New Secretary of Labor and what that will mean for us – thinking is “not so bad.”
  • The overtime laws – will they go forward or not?
  • Marijuana laws – where will they pop up next and what do you do about it?
  • Gender – states and local communities are now requiring a 3rd gender
  • Paid time off – requirements at a federal level
  • Changes to the OSHA law – now they can only go back 6 months!

A highlight was a keynote presentation by Patrick Lencioni, the author of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. He broke teamwork down to people being humble, hungry and smart. Add those up, put them together and you’ve got a great team! He also had a great recruiting tip: Stop interviewing in the office. Get candidates out, see how they act in the real world, treat staff etc. That will tell you more then any interview ever could.

It was 3 packed days, so these are only a few tips I wanted to be sure and share. Let me know if you have specific questions, or want to know more.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

Mentoring Matters

formal mentoring programs are effective methods for developing leaders.The recently published article on Women in Leadership provided a compelling argument for mentorship. We know from research that formal mentoring programs are effective methods for developing leaders. They reinforce corporate values and provide development opportunities that are aligned with the needs of the organization. As I participated in the data evaluation, it because clear to me that HR needs to be more formal in the support of mentoring programs.

The report was clear that most organizations do not have formal mentoring programs. If formal programs do not exist, employees can only fill the gap by creating their own informal networks and resources. This may work for some individuals, but does little to drive organizational success. Employees looking for their own mentor or advisory group will be focused on what is best for their own development and career growth, whether it is inside or outside of your organization.

The data from this study supports other data gathered by DDI. Its report Women as Mentors: Does She or Doesn’t She shows that 63% of women never had a formal mentor. And it found that only 56% of organizations offered a formal mentoring program as a development opportunity.

A mentor relationship is a win-win for the mentor and mentee. Through scheduled connection and quick “hey, can I ask you something” conversations, both parties learn. The mentee gets an experienced view of a situation, including how to navigate the internal political climate of the organization.  At the same time, the mentor learns what employees struggle with internally, and how the new workforce looks at situations. Idea can come from these dialogs that are taken to the boardroom and impact organizational value.

Resources are available that allow organizations of all size to embrace the value of mentorship. In a small organization, make connections with other companies that may have a similar employee population or product. Make connections in your industry – and allow mentors/mentees to connect via skype.  Personal meeting can occur at annual conferences.  In larger organizations, a formal program should be established that will provide training and expectations for both parties. To learn more about mentorship, The National Center for Mentoring has a number of resources to get started.

I was pleased to be on the team with and DDI analyzing the data and creating the new report about Women in Leadership.  To hear a webinar on the full report June 22 – register here – completely free!

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

The Ceiling That Just Won’t Crack

Is there a crack in the glass ceiling?In a new and DDI survey, participants were asked to comment on both the current presence of women in leadership as well as the programs their organizations offered for high-potential team members. I was part of the team asked to analyze the data and comment on what was happening in the real world.  The data came from HR professionals throughout the world, and the consensus was clear – there are still significant lack of women in leadership positions.

This is supported by an article in Forbes stating that corporations understand the importance of diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, the survey indicated there is a great deal of talk at the top – but little action. HR continues to be responsible for diversity in the advancement of employees, but with all they have on their plate, is that really a realistic expectation.

The report provided a number of key findings:

  • HR professionals report that few CEOs make gender diversity a priority or mandate.
  • There’s no major crack in today’s glass ceiling.
  • Smaller organizations tend to have larger portions of women leaders.
  • Few organizations accelerate the development of women.
  • HR is primarily responsible for these initiatives but typically lacks influence in holding executives accountable.
  • Corporate culture prescribes behavior.
  • The perceived importance of making gender diversity a priority differs by industry.

But it’s not all bad news.  A study by Equilar shows that in 2016 women did hold 21.6% of board positions. Women are certainly advancing, but not at the rate that we might expect given the conversations on the topics. And why does this matter? Because diversity at all levels is proven to make better decisions and allow for multiple viewpoints to be considered.

It is clear from the research that women must be the ones to take control of their own future. Don’t wait to be invited to the table, stand up and be noticed! Chart your career path, and take actions witch will give you the influence and reach you need to move into leadership!

To hear the full overview and get your own copy of the report, click here to register for a FREE June 22 webinar reviewing the findings.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

Gauging HR’s Strategic Role: Survey shows progress, but more can be done

What can HR do to make more progress as a strategic partner working side by side with top-level management?That elusive “seat at the table” human resources professionals have been craving for years is now a reality in some circles but still a challenge in others. A recent study by Business and Legal Resources shows that HR professionals responding to a recent survey are not making the progress we might have hoped. So, what can HR do to make more progress as a strategic partner working side by side with top-level management?

The “2016 Strategic HR/HR Metrics Survey” from BLR referenced above gathered responses from 843 participants representing an array of industries, business types, organizational sizes, and locations. Among other things, the survey asked HR professionals about their strategic influence within their organizations and about their priorities for 2017. The survey results show that 42.8 percent of those surveyed say that they have “an influential seat within the inner circle.” Another 27 percent say they have a “major role outside the inner circle.”  Those numbers are in contrast to the 23.7 percent of respondents who say they have only a minor role and 5 percent reporting they have “no role” in determining strategy.

The survey also explored how HR professionals think they are perceived by management. Survey results show that 35.1 percent of the respondents believe they are viewed as “a strategic partner,” and an additional 29.5 percent believe they are seen as a “credible business partner.” Other participants were more pessimistic, with 30.8 percent saying they are viewed as a “provider of administrative functions” and 2.2 percent as “not really needed” or “unnecessary/window dressing.”

Getting in the Driver’s Seat

Especially when organizations are growing, HR and senior management need to be on the same page. Growth centers on the organization’s people, and that’s where human resources professionals come in.  Without HR in the driver’s seat, growth efforts can fall flat. People are the backbone of every business. If you don’t think so, look at your annual budget. Generally, over 50 percent of expenses have to do with employees – including the rent to house them, benefits to keep them happy, and insurance products to meet your compliance obligations. Someone has to be watching out for these things.  HR Hacks, the most recent publication from HR Topics has a tool to calculate the impact of employees on your bottom line.  Click here to learn more!

Human Resources professionals must stop waiting for an invitation to join the leadership conversation. Take control of your career and step up to the plate. HR professionals should create visibility so that they are in front of new, effective initiatives. It just doesn’t make sense to wait in the shadows while leadership is trying to implement something that doesn’t make sense for your team.

Finding the Starting Point

When planning a growth strategy, organizations need to keep employees in mind and recognize that needs change. Every part of the HR equation changes with growth – from recruiting talent, compensation philosophy, training and development, and even HR technologies.  HR should be the one watching all of that as an organization grows.

So where do HR professionals begin? The starting point is to form informal alliances with your leadership team.  Forging alliances will help HR gain authority by being trusted, influential, and credible.  Lori’s 3rd book, Taking Your SEAT at the Table provides steps and templates to help HR get involved now.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

SMART Goals: You Can’t Get There Without a Map!

SMART goals are great for HR pros to use to help employees produce results.

When we wake up in the morning, we have a plan of what we need to accomplish. It comes from a larger picture of knowing what you need to do, or the expectations others may have of us. Without that knowledge, we’re just going through the motions and not adding value.

I recently attended a program on goal setting, and realized that what I think is common business language, is not all that common at all. The tried and true format for setting goals with employees is still on point today. Human Resource professionals refer to setting SMART goals. In doing so, a manager and employee determine what the outcomes of successful performance will look like, and how any employee is expected to get there.

There are five steps to effective goal setting which create the SMART acronym:

Specific – Clearly state WHAT is to be accomplished and for whom. Don’t talk about better communication, identify e-mails to be clearly written, presentations to be concise, etc.

Measurable – How will the end results be measured? Use quantitative measures of cost, quality or time whenever possible. All subjectivity should be eliminated from successful completion. The employee should know whether she met the goal long before a manager tells her.

Action-oriented – Emphasize the need to take a specific action to achieve desired results. Be clear on what steps in the process may be required, including training or deliverables.

Realistic – Ask the employee to stretch his current abilities, but ensure the goal is within reach and will not be so difficult to attain that it becomes frustrating. Often this requires “mini-goals” to be completed before the large, long-term goal can be realized.

Time – When is the goal expected to be achieved? Never go more than a year out. Shorter, smaller goals provide success points that maintain employee engagement. Be sure that annual planning includes deadlines throughout the year. Having all goals due at the same time can allow for poor time management on the part of employees.

Goals are the foundation of any forward-thinking organization. To be effective, the employee should have control and accountability for the success or failure of attaining the goal. The manager should feel confident that by providing an objective measurable goal, the next performance alignment meeting will produce results.

HR Hacks contains a SMART goal template that will help you think through all the elements when creating goals with your employees.
Click here to learn more about HR Hacks and purchase your copy today!

Who Wants to Be Managed, Anyway?

We all talk about performance management in human resources; however, the question being asked today … Is performance yours to manage?We all talk about performance management in human resources; however, the question being asked today … is performance yours to manage? You need employees who are effective and engaged. As adults, we hope our employees will take responsibility for that on the job. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Productivity and alignment are two of the most important processes at your organization. When feedback is provided effectively, employees will see the link between what they do and what you need to be successful. They will understand what needs to be done, and how it impacts the whole organization. Lori does training on this vary topic, to see a FREE webinar on the subject – click here.

Studies indicate that the employee in the workforce today does not want their performance managed, but they are craving feedback. Employee feedback has a very real place in your organization.  It will impact:

  • Employee’s performance aligned with your goals
  • Meeting the very real obligations you have for compliance
  • Engaging your employees so they are excited about your organization
  • Planning for the future of the employee and the organization
  • Supporting your employees desire to do a great job
  • Ensure that the activities of employees are aligned with your strategic objectives

The focus today has moved toward frequent conversational feedback sessions and a limited reliance on formal documentation. Harvard Business Review published this article two years ago talking about the changes in performance management. Ideally, a monthly sit-down with manager and employee will serve your organization well. While it can seem overwhelming to meet with employees monthly, quarterly is generally workable for most managers and will still provide an acceptable level of engagement with your team. If you decide on quarterly, at least have an informal “Hi, how are you” with your team members monthly!

Consider your current performance review program and update to meet the needs of your team, and the trends for effective management we see in 2017.

HR Hacks contains ideas around performance management that will help you think through all the elements of the positions you need to fill.
Click here to learn more about HR Hacks and purchase your copy today!

Employee Retention: You Picked ‘Em, Now Keep ‘Em!

Retaining top talent starts on the first day of work. Consider engaging your new hires even earlier, before they start work, with a welcome phone call from their manager or peer. Properly introducing and assimilating new employees into your organization will have a positive impact on their performance and engagement for years to come.

In HR Hacks,we identify five main objectives of new employee orientation. Each aspect is critical. It has to be a planned process; orientation doesn’t have to be completed during their first few hours on the job. Think about the activities and action steps below as touch points to be developed over the first 60 days of employment.

Employee retention starts on day one.

New hire orientation does not have to fall on the shoulders of a manager or human resources. Pieces of the process can be assigned to various members of your team to allow for interactions and introductions. This is a great way to engage other members of the team and be sure everyone is feeling included in the process.

Spreading the activities out during the first few months will allow you to check in and be sure your new hire is assimilating into the organization. Use this opportunity to be certain they have received the training and resources they need to do a great job.  Allow the new hire to use these meetings as an avenue for conversation about issues and skills they may be struggling with.

Keeping an open, ongoing dialogue is a great connection for managers to include with all their direct reports. The interaction should not stop after 90 days. Keep talking (and most of all listening!), and you will have a workforce that supports your long-term goals.

Lori Kleiman is an HR expert who presents to business people and groups. Click here to see a video of Lori in action. If you’d like to have Lori keynote one of her HR presentations at your upcoming event, click here, or email Lori directly at!

Job Board, Newspaper, Employment Office, Social Media… Oh MY!

Here are 5 opportunities you can use to find the best people for any job in your organization!When considering a marketing plan for your business you look at a variety of placements. You know by now it’s not enough to get a booth at a trade show; you need to advertise, have a sales staff, and internal customer service to support your messaging. It’s no different with recruiting.

There are multiple ways to find a new team member, so many, in fact, you it may be overwhelming. In this article there are some interesting ideas from others in business.

During internal training I conduct in organizations, we talk about working on the candidate pipeline as a never ending “to do.” There are common areas managers should be familiar with and interact with on a regular basis. When we train managers to fill the candidate pipeline, we discuss 5 opportunities to uncover top talent.

  • Social Media – The most common formal recruiting today is done through social media and the Internet. Popular job posting sites include Indeed, LinkedIn, Monster, and Career Builder.  Craigslist can also be a good source of candidates for hourly and entry-level positions.
  • Internal candidates – You are not required to consider current employees for an opening or post positions you may have available. However, moving a current employee to a new role can be a very effective way to provide growth and retain top talent.  Filling a critical position with someone whose character and skills you are familiar with is often advantageous to the continuity of your business.
  • Educational institutions – Long term connections with local colleges, universities and trade schools can be a huge help in filling open positons quickly. Become familiar with programs that directly train in the positions that are open most frequently, and get to know the professors and program chair.  Have them identify top students and offer internships and tours to introduce them to your organization.
  • Networking – You can’t tell enough people about your openings. It is proven over and over that people only refer those that they are proud to recommend.  Generally, employees that come through your network will be proven before they even walk through the door.

The placement of your marketing efforts should be specific to the industry, position, and other criteria that define the ideal candidate. For instance, you would not advertise for a new CFO the same way you would look for a manufacturing employee. Be thoughtful and public in the way you search for team members and stress of your next open position will be minimized!

Lori works with organizations to help managers and HR professionals gain these skills, as well as develop systems and programs that work within your unique organization. Visit our website to learn more!

You Can’t Hire Top Talent If You Don’t Know What You Need

Top talent is valuable. Ready to make a change? Step back, and make sure you know what the organization really needs.

An employee comes in and tells you she’s leaving… or worse yet, someone just doesn’t show up one day. So you hit Craig’s List, and let all your friends and business associates know you need to hire someone now. Not so fast! An opening on your team gives management the perfect opportunity to step back and evaluate what the organization really needs moving forward. Don’t focus on the perfect or ideal list of what you want. Think about what you really need for the future.

When a team member leaves, evaluate the workload and options you may have to get the work done. This may be an opportunity to change things up for your current team, or utilize resources that
may not have been available in the past. Have you considered:

  • the impact technology may have had on the position. You may be able to get portions of the function done more quickly with great accuracy by implementing a new technology.
  • interest of others that may already be cross-trained. Now is the time to let others shine! It may not be a promotion, but in small organizations, employees appreciate being trusted with something new. In larger organizations, change can provide engagement that retains your top talent.
  • how this position fits with the rest of the department. Is now the time to move positions around to change up your management team? Possibly one manager is well suited to manage a larger team, while another is aligned better with a non-personnel leadership role.
  • ability for this to be a part time, flexible or remote work position. Does this function need to be done in house, 40 hours, every day? You will open up a larger pool of labor if you allow for the possibility of flexible work.
  • possibility of outsourcing. Sometimes jobs are best completed by those with deep expertise in a specific area. You don’t have to outsource a full function, but outsourcing tasks within a job will allow the others item on this list to be explored.

Take the time to assess the position and the needs of the organization to determine what the next step should be. Give thought to aspects such as new skills required, use of technology, and interaction with customers. Start with a thorough analysis of the job as it is today.

HR Hacks contains a job assessment template that will help you think through all the elements of the positions you need to fill. Click here to learn more about HR Hacks and purchase
your copy today!
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This was my first HR position, and as a HR Department of One, I had no idea where to turn for information. Along came the mastermind group who has helped me learn how to get the resources I need, present ideas to our leadership team managing my maternity leave! I am looking forward to the 2017 group, and will even participate while on leave!
Sharron G.


HR Topics
Phone: 847.917.0053


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