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#SHRM18 Speaker Bobby Zaepfel: Dragging records into the 21st century

When you think about record-keeping in HR, what does it typically bring to mind?

If you’re like a lot of long-time practitioners, it probably means a dark, dusty room filled with file cabinets or shelving, file folders filled to bursting with documents that track the course of an employee’s employment and benefits. It may be orderly, it may be messy, but it’s probably on paper.

Bobby Zaepfel wants you to start thinking different about record keeping.

I had an opportunity to talk to Bobby as he prepares for his 2018 SHRM National Conference session Once Upon a Time There Was a Mountain of Paper, on Tuesday, June 19 at 7:00 AM. Don’t let the early time scare you off – it promises to be a great session! Bobby is the University Records Officer in charge of the records program all of James Madison University.  With a focus on process improvement, strategic goals, and vision, Bobby works closely with HR staff and campus leadership to facilitate and collaborate all areas of the records program at the university.

And Bobby is an electronics record-keeping evangelist.

As a member of the #SHRM18 Blog Squad, I get to interview speakers and help spread the word about their session, and I personally selected Bobby’s session on record-keeping because it seemed like a topic that, on the surface, doesn’t sound sexy, but is hitting HR departments hard as organizations look to modernize and cut down on their facilities footprints.bobby-zaepfel

Bobby explains, “This is a hot button topic – it tends to be deprioritized until it CAN’T be deprioritized anymore.  A lot of organizations find themselves in a ‘gotta move NOW’ situation and don’t make plans for the future.” The trick, Bobby continues, is to be strategic about how you will move forward with electronic record-keeping. Buying a system isn’t enough. Like all HR tech, you need to have a plan first.

When I asked Bobby what advice he would give to an HR department about to embark on the path to electronics record-keeping, he said, “Approach it with a heavy emphasis on workflows. A lot of the (record-keeping) systems out there are very specific about what they can and can’t do. Draw a concept map out before you dive into the pond – what are the workflows? Who needs access? Etc.”

When mapping out the requirements for a record-keeping system, it’s this last point that some HR departments forget. Bobby gave me an overview of a records-conversion project James Madison University is about to embark on (moving from an “online file cabinet” to an record-keeping system), and when they started reviewing who needed access, it was clear that the needs went far beyond HR’s records. Student records, transcripts, applications, accounting – all needed to be accessed across the university. This requirement – and the careful planning that preceded it – led them to a solution that was tailor made for higher education.

I enjoyed my conversation with Bobby Zaepfel. He’s funny, engaging, and tells a great story. His first career was in broadcasting, and you can hear the roots of that past in the way he approaches his content. His first experience with the SHRM National Conference was last year in New Orleans – guess whose session was during the tornado warning? Thankfully, it all worked out!

When I shared I live in Colorado, Bobby was quick to proclaim his love for Red Rocks Amphitheater (as well he should) and shared that he was a bit of a Dead Head before settling down. He’s the proud father of three boys – twin 6-yr-olds and a 4-yr-old.

As our conversation wrapped up, I asked Bobby if there was anything else he wanted me to share with the readers. “SHRM is a wealth of resources – if you go on their site, you can find information on pretty much any topic,” he said. “This is so incredibly helpful for smaller HR departments, folks new to the industry, and true generalists who have to handle everything on their own.”

Well said, Bobby.

 

Join Bobby Zaepfel for his session at 2018 SHRM National Conference: Once Upon a Time There Was a Mountain of Paper, Tuesday, June 19, 7:00 AM

 

 
 

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Leaders know their business (Yes, even HR)

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I work in the world of Human Resources. I think it gives me an interesting perspective on how people interact in the workplace, so I write a blog about it. Write what you know, they always say.

I typically focus on leadership (being led and doing the leading) because I think that relationship has some of the greatest influence on the success or failure of a business plan. No matter how great your business strategy is, if you can’t get people to work together well, you’re doomed.

Every once in awhile, I do like to focus back on my HR-centric world. Partially because it’s what I really know, but also because I think it’s useful for leaders and employees to get a glimpse into what happens in HR. Sometimes it’s good to look behind the curtain. From time to time, I also focus on HR because I’m perplexed and a bit miffed at what employees of all walks think HR should and shouldn’t do.

This is one of those posts.Head in Hands

I was speaking at a local HR event recently, and got to talking to one of the attendees. Turns out, he wasn’t really “true” HR, he was the head of operations; and in his organization, HR fell under his purview. So, to his credit, he felt like he should learn more about HR. Good for him.I like when people try to learn a little bit about the groups who report to them.

He asked what I do and where I work, and because of that, we started talking about the water crisis in Flint, MI. He didn’t really know what was going on, so I gave him an overview of the issues, why it’s a scary thing, where things may have broken down, and what we were doing in OUR community to educate our customers about our process and assure that we had the right measures in place to ensure Flint doesn’t happen here.

He was gobsmacked.

Seriously. He was shocked that I knew about my industry, knew what was going on across the country, and knew how my organization was responding to the situation,  both internally and externally.

I said, “But it’s my job to know my business.” And he said, “But…you’re in HR.”

Sigh.

Listen. I am a leader. You are a leader. As leaders, WE ARE REQUIRED TO KNOW OUR BUSINESS. You wouldn’t have that reaction to a marketing manager, would you? You wouldn’t be all shocked that an operations manager knew the business, right? So why be surprised when HR approaches it the same way.

HR leaders, Operations leaders, Sales leaders – we all have the same role, just in different functions. We should have the same expectations placed on us regarding our industry, our business, our customer base, our trends, our threats…all of it. Yes, we have unique expertise, but we apply that expertise to the same organization.

So the next time an HR leader wants to sit in on your staff meeting, don’t freak out. Recognize the action for what it is – a desire to learn more about the business so they can help you be successful.

It’s our job.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in General Rant about Leading

 

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Measuring What Matters (the missing piece)

Leaders:

If you know what a KPI is, give yourself a pat on the back. If you have a balanced scorecard, a visual management system, a dashboard, or some other way to track said KPIs, even better. With all this talk of Big Data and ROI and other data-loving phrases, you probably feel like a big damn deal. Bully for you.

Now – what if I were to go to your team and ask, what are your KPIs? Would they be able to answer?

Could they point to the balanced scorecard and confidently explain what it means? Can they describe how the data is trending? Tie their day-to-day work to the metrics?

If the answer to those questions is NO, then you are failing to measure what truly matters.

Business has fallen in love with metrics and scorecards and trends and graphs. Analysts are the new rock stars, the secret weapon of a strategic plan. Throw in the ability to build a visual tool, and that analyst becomes The One (like Neo, or Eddie Murphy in that awful movie with the bald kid). Executives want to see pictures, a snapshot, a cross-section of what’s going on in the business. It needs to look cool, to look smart. [Think I’m exaggerating? Look at how much infographics have exploded recently. You can argue chicken or egg – but leaders want them.]

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Unfortunately, these metrics often fail to make a meaningful connection to the people who actually do the work. They report numbers because they have to in order to make the pretty graphs, but then they turn back to their “real work” and don’t think about what the data is telling them. They are just trying to keep the work moving and ensure they meet their deadlines.

That’s where the leader comes in.

If the metrics truly matter, you will talk about them. Every day. Every team meeting. Every project launch. Every project wrap up.

If the numbers tell you a story about the business, share that story with your employees. Why the numbers are important. What they tell us about our impact on the business, the customers, the employees.

We leaders pretend like it’s the employees fault they don’t know what the metrics are. For goodness’ sake, we posted them on the shared drive!  What more do those darn employees want?!

Employees want – nay, need – context. And employees want – nay, need – their leaders to be the primary voice to provide that context. Supposedly leaders know what their employees do and the day-to-day reality of their world. Who better to be able to provide that line of sight from the work to the metric? Who better to explain why these metrics are helping the business improve? Who better to motivate employees to reach the target state?

At some point, you will notice that the metrics are not moving, or are moving in the wrong direction, or don’t seem to tell the right story. So what happens then?

That’s where the employees come in.

Your employees can help you understand whether your metrics are telling you what you really need to know about the business. They will share whether they think the KPIs make sense, and whether the targets are realistic…or even important. Your employees are the conduit through which the metrics come to life.

So the next time you start pontificating on the importance of your scorecard, think about the last time you looked at it with your team. If it’s been too long, stop pontificating and start communicating.

THAT’S what matters.

Metrics are for doing, not for staring. Never measure just because you can. Measure to learn. Measure to fix.

– Stijn Debrouwere

 

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Clarity

 

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