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The HR Topics Blog with Lori Kleiman

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!

The Board and Leadership Is Suddenly Interested in HR

What should you do when the Board wants to know more about Human Resources, and wants you to make a presentation at their next meeting?The Board or executive team has an interest in knowing more about Human Resources, and wants you to make a presentation at their next meeting. It’s up to you to determine the content, and to present within a 15-minute time frame. EY has a very comprehensive study looking at the importance of these issues.

Some HR leaders decide to present information to their Board about the HR function and how it is contributing to the bottom line of the organization. Others decide to present insight about the human capital within the organization and how HR is managing the performance and productivity of employees. However, what if you considered a presentation of information that is most pertinent to a governance board, and that is how HR is actively managing critical risk factors associated with the overall success of the company.

When an HR leader presents itself as part of the risk management operations, the Board hears a more innovative message that has a direct impact upon their oversight responsibilities. This type of presentation shifts from “interesting to know” to “critical to know”, and wakes up any Board member that would otherwise tend to day dream through the HR item on the Board’s agenda.

Here are some pointers for a Risk Management presentation to leadership and boards:

  1. Communicate your understanding of those roles that are the most critical to the Company’s success, and how is HR ensuring that great hires are brought into those roles, how indispensable performers remain engaged, committed, and loyal, and how contingency planning is in place in the event of a resignation, termination, or a role change (i.e., promotion).
  2. Speak about the way that HR related expenses (e.g., compensation, benefits, technologies) are being managed against the targeted bottom line and at the same contributing to high levels of employee engagement, productivity, and retention. What new initiatives have been launched and how are they working to support the balance of expense management and profitable growth.
  3. Know that leadership and boards like data to back up information that is shared, so metrics such as cost per hire, revenue per employee, absenteeism rates, turnover and tenure trends, benefit and salary costs, and worker’s compensation expenses are all risk management items that are of interest to a Board member and leaders.

Make sure you don’t over promise but offer to demonstrate HR’s contributions with facts, trends, and benchmarks. Have your data available, but watch the audience! They are not always interested in a data dump. If you are a trusted advisor to leadership, they often want to know what you see and recommend, and trust you have the data that supports those facts.

Be sure to align your presentation with not only risk factors but also the company’s long term strategies. Showing how HR factors influence profitable growth, expanded market share, or mission achievement will ensure that the leadership is listening.

… Oh, and make sure the President supports and, in fact, has pride in your presentation. If all goes well, you’ll be invited back to the Board room on a regular basis.

These ideas are covered in Lori’s 3rd book – Taking your SEAT at the table – click here to order your copy today!

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!

Working Together: 4 Steps to Great Mastermind Groups

Mastermind groups can be a tremendous asset to your organization.Mastermind groups create connections that people need in the workplace today. Once reserved for executives through popular programs such as YPO, Vistage and Conference Executive Board, Masterminds are now available for most professions at a variety of levels of management. Groups exist for those with a common role, such as CFO and HR Director, or within organizations to give high potential or management a safe place to gather and process business issues.

By definition, a Mastermind group is a meeting where a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support exist in a group setting to sharpen skills. The group normally has a goal of helping members achieve success. Groups often have a facilitator, but can be run by the members. They key to an effective group is that it is a confidential and safe place to discuss issues and process ideas before implementation.

My mastermind group is focused on HR professionals. I also facilitate a group for the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. This group is open to members of the association to address their issues. Internal corporate groups are very effective. Whether your group is for a similarly situated group of professionals, or an internal corporate focus, the steps to success are the same.

The four critical steps to starting your group are:

Membership – Who should be in the group? What is the goal for the group, and the person organizing it? It is critical that the members are screened. A great group needs a combination of leaders and those that are more reserved. All members should have the desire to bring issues to the group, and have the authority to implement changes.

Logistics – While the best interaction occurs face to face, groups are very effective via web platform. The web has the advantage of allowing participants to join without concern for physical location. is an effective platform that participation via video, which provides a personal connection. Using any effective platform, you can manage a speaker with slides, participants desire to talk and have conversations in a chat section without interrupting.

Setting up the group – Formal rules and processes are essential. Most importantly is the creation of a group confidentiality agreement. There should be structure to introductions and how issues will be processed. Even the decision of who can join and when should be agreed upon. Members must understand their accountability to group meetings and other members. Finally, we agree to honesty and respect of others and the group in general.

Let’s meet! – All meetings should follow the same structure. Generally, starting with member updates is effective. Then move into an educational component that is scheduled in advance. The meeting should allow plenty of time for members to discuss their issues, that is generally one of the major reasons for participation. Groups may have other components, in my groups we end with HR updates and access to data for example.

Groups should exist to create bridges, connect members and identify resources. With long term connections, members will add value to their function and ensure new work based initiatives are the best they can be to drive long term results. If you would like training in running mastermind groups, visit The Success Alliance at

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!

Recruitment: How Do I Find the Right People?

Recruitment of top talent is an important issue for small business owners as it’s critical to the success of any operation. The full process of recruiting is time consuming and can be fraught with errors. Organizations that do not possess a full-time HR resource find that the time required to identify and engage a new team member can be overwhelming. When there is a single team member responsible for the HR function, recruiting can become a priority leaving other business critical activities to fall to the side. Juggling phone screens, interviews and reference checks can take time away from other critical HR functions. Regardless of who is responsible, recruiting is a lot of work when done properly.

How should it be done?

Consider the recruiting process flow below. Each of these steps is critical to successful recruiting. Skipping just one can mean you miss talent in the marketplace, or worse yet hire a bad fit and need to start all over!

Each of these steps is critical to successful recruitment.

What’s the big deal?

I once heard from a manager that it was no big deal – he could train a new hire in an hour or two, and if it didn’t work out he’d just take someone else. That may be well and good for him, but how about all the time to get the person hired, and then removed from payroll, benefits, and general admin. Not to mention the time for HR to bring an employee in, and then deal with the separation, including unemployment. We’ve created a great turnover evaluation tool in HR Hacks and you will quickly find –  it IS a big deal!

So how do I fit this in with everything else?

Recruiting takes time, that’s for sure – but getting it right the first time is a lot easier than having to do it all over again. Go through all the steps, and be confident that the person you select will be a great fit for the position, and your organization. Then…retain them! Show employees you care, give them honest feedback and allow them to be part of the team. The best tool in your recruiting toolkit is actually retention of the current team – so you don’t have to recruit at all!

Lori’s new book HR Hacks provides updated, ongoing training opportunities for all our members!

Lori also has discount codes for Thrive and Recruitcon – Email her for more info on these upcoming events, and we can help you save 20%!

Employee Handbook: To Have or Not to Have?

The employee handbook is a crucial tool in your office. What should you include?Policies can both help and hinder an organization. Once policies are documented, the organization will be obligated to follow the procedures outlined and benefits specified. Some owners feel that having an employee handbook will take away their flexibility to make changes for the organization. This is not always the case. A well written employee handbook is a roadmap that provides your team with guidelines by which to operate. The handbook ensures that all department managers treat their employees the same way, and gives confidence to leadership that the culture of the organization is being maintained through policy.

Creating the policies

When you write or review a policy, be sure to leave enough flexibility for situational decision making in the future. It is essential to use terms such as “generally,” “often,” and “may,” rather than more concrete terms such as “will,” “always,” and “required.” There are situations that arise in the employment relationship that require rules to be “bent” for the circumstances. This should be the exception, but when modification is given to an employee for a valid business reason, it is certainly acceptable. Your handbook makes certain that decisions made regarding employees’ questions and requests are based on objective criteria.

What to include?

There are many policies that are essential to every employee handbook. Among the most critical policies to include are:

  • At-will employment
  • Anti-harassment and discrimination
  • Computer systems, social media and email use
  • Pay practices
  • Confidentiality of company property, medical information and employee data

There are many thoughts on creating an employee handbook.  Some managers want to document everything and include processes and procedures for all business interactions. Others feel that having a handbook will limit their ability to be flexible and make changes to the employment relationship as the needs change.  We recommend somewhere in the middle.

The Small Business Association has a good article on policies that should be included in a handbook.

The handbook should not include processes, forms or other “how to” steps. The idea of the employee handbook is to paint a picture of the employment relationship as it exists for all. You should have a handbook to provide guidelines to new hires and ensure that all managers are operating under the same principals. At the same time – the language must be flexible enough to provide decision making at a given point in time.

We already have a handbook – Now what?

If you currently have a handbook, use the checklist in HR Hacks as a guide to see what might be missing and what could be improved. You can also check out a list from SHRM on updates that are recommended. Your handbook should be reviewed by your leadership team annually to ensure the stated topics are still appropriate for your operations. Consider legal review as well to verify compliance.

The handbook should be reviewed annually to ensure consistency and an accurate reflection of current policy and process. It is easier to change and adapt your handbook as you expand, rather than start a handbook when you have 50 employees and multiple operating rules within various departments.

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!

Training in Human Resources

HR is ever changing – and the only way to stay on top of it is to engage in training events. It does take time and money, but the information gained can make dramatic changes in your organization quickly, and with far less expense than engaging an attorney when things go wrong!

How do I decide which to do?

The first thing to consider is live or recorded training – and don’t discount the importance of reading and staying on top of current changes that way. It is essential to align yourself with an email service that will send you frequent updates that are easy to scan and determine what is useful to your organization or not. Live conferences will require travel, but have the added benefit of networking and informal problem solving with other attendees. There is also live training conducted over Internet these days – such as our test prep and mastermind programs. Check out how cool it can be to interact with other HR professionals from the comfort of your home or office! Webinars have the added convenience that you can not only do them from a convenient location, but most are offered recorded, allowing you to watch when you want.

What are good HR conferences and webinars?

Some of the more popular training opportunities include a combination of these activities.

Email Blasts – look for a law firm in your state with a great Employment law practice and be sure to join SHRM for a great email service.

Webinar services – Two that I think are especially relevant to the audience and provide a great deal of bang for the buck are Business Management Daily and BLR. Both have multiple levels of membership and allow you to join one off webinars, or purchase programs for the full year.

Live Conferences – SHRM annual conference is the flagship event, and every state has their own SHRM conference on a smaller scale, as well. I also find the conferences presented by BLR to be excellent. Come see me at Recruitcon and Thrive in Las Vegas in May or SHRM in June!

What’s this all gonna cost me?

Ideally, an annual training budget for a team member charged with HR responsibility should be in the range of $1,500 to $3,000 annually. This would allow the novice HR administrator to attend a few entry level programs, and your more experienced HR professional to attend one or two annual conferences to stay on top of industry best practices. If that seems out of reach, there are generally programs conducted by employment law firms in your area at no charge that should be attended annually.

Lori’s new book HR Hacks provides updated, ongoing training opportunities for all our members!

Lori also has discount codes for Thrive and Recruitcon – Email her for more info on these upcoming events, and we can help you save 20%!

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