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Bulletproof Talent

On February 6, 2012, in HR Scoop, HR Trends, HRExaminer, Reviews, by John Sumser

Four magic words. One great big promise. One ocean of previously unmet expectations.

 

Accountability vs Engagement in HR

Here’s a phrase you don’t hear me utter frequently. Refreshing Approach To HR.

Four magic words. One great big promise. One ocean of previously unmet expectations.

When Jason Lauritsen sent me a note about his new venture. I immediately set up a phone call to learn more. Lauritsen is the innovative trainer who blew me away last year with his approach to “Hacking HR” (delivered fluidly with his comrade in crime at TalentAnarchy, Joe Gerstandt). “Hacking HR” is a recipe for launching lots of small focused innovations rather than trying to boil the ocean.

If there was a Hacking HR club, Lars Schmidt and Chris Hoyt would be high ranking senior members. The practice of initiating innovation by lighting small fires is their art.

Lauritsen has partnered with Cy Wakeman to launch Bulletproof Talent. The company wants to ‘restore sanity to your workplace’. With rhetoric that echoes Paddy Chayefsky in Network, the company promises nothing less than refocusing HR away from the victims and on to the producers.

They want to foment a revolution in which HR focuses its attention on the people who create value. “It’s time to stop treating people as if everyone in the company were equals,” says Cy Wakeman. Some people power the ship and some are ballast.

The former therapist noticed, after being promoted into a head of HR job, that many HR Departments encourage the kinds of co-dependent behavior she was helping people to get over in therapy.

“Accountability is the key to great companies,” is her mantra.

Cy is a great debunker of HR Mythology. Here are some samples:

  • Open Door Policy: “The practice actually limits the growth potential of employees who utilize the option and exhausts the leaders who practice it.” (FastCompany)
  • Fighting Reality: You’re arguing with reality if you are judging your current situation in terms of right and wrong. (FastCompany)
  • Performance Management doesn’t work: Most managers teach their employees learned helplessness. Learned Helplessness afflicts the mindsets of employees who have come to believe that they are truly at the mercy of external circumstances. These employees begin to believe that there is little they can do to impact the outcomes of their actions, company processes, or succeed in the face of decisions into which they didn’t get to provide input. (Forbes)
  • Engagement: It doesn’t produce results and creates a bizarre sense of entitlement.

You can find much more if you google her work on FastCompany and Forbes.

So, there’s the core team. A brilliant analyst of the State of the Art in HR and a genius solution developer. Actually, I’m not sure which is which.

If all they did was throw stones and recommend approaches to innovation, it would be a silly business. Cy is particularly vocal about ‘eating her own dog food’. “Our message about personal accountability begins with the way we do business,” she reminds me. “We diagnose, train and measure.”

At the heart of BulletproofTalent is a survey instrument that pairs a proven engagement analysis with a personal accountability measure. According to Wakeman, “We find no correlation between engagement scores and productivity. What you want to do is focus engagement activities on the real producers and away from the organizational deadweight. Our tool gives a clear assessment of where the strengths and weaknesses are in the organization.”

Here’s the sort of training that they deliver as they help their clients refocus HR on to the things that matter and away from the chunks of drama that suck manager’s time:

Take a gander at the BulletProof Talent Channel if you want to get charged up about this stuff.

So, why is this so refreshing? Jason and Cy are building a company that is focused on business outcomes, not internal HR Metrics. They are killing sacred cows while reestablishing common sense. If you look back at last week’s dialog about HR Standards, you should note that business results and accountability do not appear on the certification exams.

 

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