With a library of books under his belt and a new one hot off the presses, I had the pleasure of selecting Paul Falcone as another #SHRM16 presenter to interview as we gear up for the conference. Paul is not only an established author, but also an HR executive who truly understands talent management, leadership, the hiring process and so much more. We recently discussed his new book and upcoming presentation.
Personally, I enjoy tackling and unpacking tough topics that HR pros face. We all know that the world of talent management isn’t always warm and fuzzy. When I saw that Paul’s book addresses applicable offensive and defensive strategies for managers, I wanted to hear more. Leaders must know how to address issues head-on and build ways to avoid landmines that can negatively impact workplace culture.
The countdown to the conference is on…See you all soon!
Why are you focusing on the newly hired in your new book, “75 Ways for Managers to Hire, Develop, and Keep Great Employees”?
The new book is designed to fill a niche that’s critical to most companies’ growth: it’s meant to become a “must read” for all newly hired and newly minted supervisors in your organization.
First, it’s filled with leadership offense and defense practices that help leaders manage their day-to-day workplace. From hiring right to motivating and developing staff and, when necessary, managing out poor performers, it teaches readers how to lead, communicate, and build effective teams.
But more than just leadership offense and defense strategies, though, it’s about workplace wisdom. The subtitle was going to be “What all senior HR executives wished their front-line managers knew about effective leadership,” but with the new title so detailed and so long, there wasn’t much of a need for a subtitle!
I broke down the content according to the arc of effective employee relations — from interviewing/hiring, to verbal and written communication, to inspirational leadership. Of course, I also included lots of info on leadership defensive practices and avoiding workplace landmines that can sometimes await the unsuspecting supervisor.
[My previous books] were all niche-specific, and I wanted to write a book that could be read across the employee lifecycle spectrum.
Why do you need offense and defense strategies for hiring and developing employees?
I’ve written about effective leadership, communication, and team building for SHRM's HR Magazine over the years, probably to the tune of 70+ articles. Leaders know what to do—they just don’t know how to do it. For example, the hardest part of launching a tough discussion with an employee is starting it. Leaders are uncomfortable, and as the saying goes, the path of least resistance is avoidance. That typically shows itself in the workplace in the form of grade inflation on annual performance reviews, failure to hold people accountable, and perceptions of unfairness (which, if they impact protected employees, become the foundation for discrimination claims).
Leaders have to know how to do the tricky stuff — mediate employee disputes, address uncomfortable issues that fly below the radar, and at times, convince long-term employees that it may be in their best interests to resign (especially when there’s little if any progressive discipline on file).
This book walks them through those uncomfortable types of workplace quagmires so they’re not going it alone. For example, reinventing the staff meeting, engaging in “stay interviews,” and handling employee resignations properly so that wounds can heal and people can get on with their lives are all critical components of day-in, day-out leadership.
And while I don’t expect every manager to agree with me on every point or address it the way I suggest, this gives them a starting point: a dart board to hash out their ideas for driving employee morale and engagement, or addressing substandard performance and conduct issues. Combine that with the legal theory and historical background that created our current-day system, and you’ll hopefully have a book with interesting and compelling stories.
What are you going to speak about specifically at the conference?
I’m doing a repeat performance of an evergreen topic that I’ve presented before: “Mastering Progressive Discipline and Structuring Employee Terminations.” It’s based on my bestselling 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems: A Guide to Progressive Discipline and Termination. It was co-published by the American Management Association and SHRM. It’s a fun topic with broad appeal—not just for employee relations specialists, but for HR generalists who are responsible for employee relations and don’t have much experience in that space.
What do you want people to take away from your session?
Like everything else, corrective action documentation should invite employees to self-rehabilitate, to assume responsibility for any perception problems that may be plaguing them, and for reinventing their working relationship with their supervisor and peers.
Far from being a punishment tool, it’s an action that’s meant to reinvigorate the working relationship and turn people around so they can appreciate what they have and look for a fresh start. On the other hand, when employees fail to improve, they in essence terminate themselves by violating the terms of the corrective action that they agreed to. In those cases, there’s little drama, there’s no judgment, and there’s an opportunity to support people through the termination process so they can heal and move forward with their careers on as healthy a note as possible.
What do you love most about the SHRM conference?
Having so many of my peers, both domestically and internationally, all in one place makes you realize we’re not in this alone and we all share many of the same challenges—regardless of company size, industry, or even national border.
Having so much talent in one place is exciting, and knowing that the top trainers and authors lead those sessions makes it a great opportunity to learn from the best. I always enjoy attending sessions, but presenting is the highlight of my year. I’ve been speaking at SHRM since 1997, and having the new book release coming out at the same time is wonderful timing.
Where can people find your book?
I’m excited that it should be hitting bookstores and Amazon next week! You can visit my Amazon author page as well as Barnes & Noble and other sites (for example, SHRM’s online bookstore as well as the AMA’s). My website is http://www.PaulFalconeHR.com, and attendees and readers can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (@PaulFalconeHR).
For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit www.annual.shrm.org.