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HRLitehouse: Human Resource Management

Reward Systems - Book Summary

By Dennis Published: May 30, 2009

Steve Kerr, former chief learning officer for General Electric and Goldman Sachs, has written a short book on Reward Systems: Does Yours Measure Up? The book is in the Harvard Business Press Memo to the CEO series. However, any employee at any level can learn valuable lessons from the enjoyable book.

I find a lot of short, popular books like this -- it clocks in at less than 136 pages -- are relatively short on content. Many can be summarized in a couple of pages or paragraphs. But not this book by Steve Kerr. Kerr has had a long career in acadame and industry; he is also an excellent story teller. As a result, the book provides a wealth of information on what goes wrong, and what can go right, with reward and compensation systems.

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A Personal Goodbye to Dr. Paul Lam

By Dennis Published: May 28, 2009

The Akron community and the University of Akron lost an oustanding Dean and faculty member when Paul Lam passed away this week. I have written before in this blog about my work with Paul on STEM projects at the University of Akron. We were just in the process of completing work on a three year grant investigating a STEM grant aimed at increasing participation among middle school students. On a personal level, I will miss Paul a great deal. He was an oustanding professional and a great person to spend time with whether discussing soccer, golf, or academics. Or eating.

Paul's obituary appears here and I want to reproduce it here in full as a way of honoring my friend.

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Test Preparation Programs and the SAT

By Dennis Published: May 22, 2009

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal questions the value of test preparation programs for standardized educational tests.

I am a common sense kind of guy, who likes to nutshell. I believe you can reduce the literature on coaching programs for standardized educational test taking to the following:

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Public Sector HR Certification

By Dennis Published: May 20, 2009

If you are interested in public sector hr certification, IPMA-HR offers professional certification designed specifically for public sector human resources professional.IPMA-HR offers two certification designations:

IPMA-Certified Professional (IPMA-CP) for HR "generalists."

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Academic Time to Hire

By Dennis Published: May 19, 2009

When I start thinking about the issue of time-to-hire, I contrast two very different approaches. The two approaches are the 1) corporate - we need someone yesterday approach and the 2) academic - it takes us a year to fill a position approach.

So, I thought I would reflect on the academic approach. The very people who do writing and research on hr - somehow we now take more than a year to hire someone and bring them into the organization. And sometimes even longer than a year. Now I realize, that is partially because the offer and acceptance is sometimes made 6 - 9 months ahead of time, but it still often takes us a long time between posting and offer. Why? I have no idea, which is why I guess I am ruminating on this particular issue. Why does it take academics so long to recruit and select faculty? Any ideas? Should it take us so long?

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Wellness Programs at the Cleveland Metroparks

By Dennis Published: May 16, 2009

A reminder on an upcoming presentation from the local IPMA-HR group. David Duane, Associate Director of Human Resources at Cleveland Metroparks, will present "Cleveland Metroparks Wellness Initiative." Cleveland Metroparks recently won the "Wellness at Work" Award from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The meeting will be Tuesday, May 19th at 11:30am at the Cleveland Metroparks CanalWay Visitor Center in the Ohio and Erie Reservation.

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Upcoming Training and Experience Seminar

By Dennis Published: May 12, 2009

As part of the 73nd Annual IPMA-HR Central Region Training Conference, being held in Cleveland in June, IPMA will put on a Training and Experience Seminar. This seminar will be held on Sunday, June 7, from 8:30 a.m. 4:00 p.m. It explores how measures of training and experience can be used to assess the qualifications of job applicants.  Advantages and disadvantages of various T&E formats are discussed, as are the theoretical and practical principles related to T&E development, administration and scoring.  Current research that supports the use of T&E evaluation as a hiring tool is also presented. For more information please visit the Central Region website at or the IPMA-HR website at or call IPMA-HR at 703-549-7100.

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MAPAC Conference in Harrisburg, PA

By Dennis Published: May 12, 2009

The Spring 2009 Mid-Atlantic Personnel Assessment Consortium (MAPAC) Conference is being held in Harrisburg, PA on May 13, 14 and 15. If you are in the neighborhood, there will be a number of great presentations, including a number dealing with legal issues. Further information is available on the MAPAC webpage.

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Handling the Flu

By Dennis Published: May 7, 2009

Organizations should have in place guidelines or procedures for handling emergencies and other unusual events. My guess would be many companies have added such procedure to their HR manuals, and then again, many have not. The recent concern over a flu pandemic has generated concern over how to handle HR issues that arise in such a situation. The State of Oregon has put together a very helpful short Q&A that can be found here.

One of the more intriguing questions concerns the supervisors role. Can management or a supervisor send an employee home who appears to exhibit influenza type symptoms? One would hope the answer would be yes. But to me, this implies that supervisors have adequate training in recognizing and handling such situations, and act in a consistent manner. As with any kind of personnel action, organizations should provide sufficient training to their supervisors, otherwise it is likely there will be problems and perceptions of unfairness.

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Book Review: Helping

By Dennis Published: May 6, 2009

Almost all of us have encountered the confusing situation where we offer someone help, but our offer of help is refused. Edgar Schein has written a new book entitled "Helping: How to offer, give and receive help," which is available from Berrett/Kohler or online bookstores. The book analyzes the difference between effective and ineffective help across a whole range of human situations. In simple language, Schein explains why it is that help is refused. For example, it could be due to communication problems or the status differentials that helping creates. Schein's points are illustrated with numerous examples.

Edgar Schein is widely known for his seminal academic work on organizational development and corporate culture. However, this book is written for a general audience. His book should be helpful to anyone interested in the psychology of change and helping others. Given how ingrained helping is in our daily lives, it can really be though of as guide to living. I highly recommend his book. It should be mandatory reading for psychology graduate programs, organizational development professionals, and supervisors and leaders.

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NEO HR Powerhouse 2

By Dennis Published: May 1, 2009

Last week I mentioned the concentration of human resource consulting firms in the Northeast Ohio area. I think this wealth of knowledge and experience is a strength that should be built upon in bringing about a renaissance in the NEO area. Therefore, I would like to mention another firm, again headed up by a University of Akron alumni, and that is Linda Brown LLC, in Chardon, OH. Linda has a rich background in human resources and aims to help organizations achieve their strategic goals through the best use of their people at all levels of the organization. She works in the areas of leadership coaching and development, career coaching, performance management, team development, employee opinion surveys, and organizational strategy development. In addition to a website, Linda offers a very informative newsletter. In her most recent newsletter, she covers the ROI of inveseting in people.

A side note for those looking for employment in human resources. Rather than posting jobs in the blog, I have decided to set up and publish them in a special Facebook page. So if you look for me on Facebook, I will add you and then you can join the job group.

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