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Trust in Your Team

October 21, 2014

Dan AhrensIt’s day 2 in Vegas for Technology Services World, so of course I woke up at 4:38… I think I’ll go to the gym while you enjoy this excellent guest blog by Dan Ahrens. Dan has been with Kronos and in the cloud for almost 3 years and is a manager responsible for customer relationship management. His team provides customer advocacy and ensures cloud customer satisfaction. Prior to coming to Kronos, Dan was on both sides of the table as both the guy buying and the guy selling software systems and support services. 

By Dan Ahrens

I had the privilege last week to attend the Kronos Global Sales Kick Off held this year in Atlanta, GA. While every Kronos event is fresh, exciting and invigorates me to push further to exceed previous bests, the keynote speaker this year motivated and challenged me more than anyone I could previously recall.

Erik TimeErik Weihenmayer spoke to our group of over 1,000 for an hour with no notes, teleprompter, PowerPoint slides or other visible assistance. Now for most of us, even those moderately comfortable with public speaking, this is more than we would choose to tackle, but this was not by choice. Erik is blind. He proceeded to amaze us with truly astonishing stories of accomplishment. Erik has climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest. Stop there. That alone is a feat completed by probably less than 1 in a million people. Ok, let’s continue. Erik has also climbed to the summit of the tallest mountain on all seven continents. Wow! As if that wasn’t enough, he has climbed rock faces that require an elite level of physical and technical ability, like Yosemite’s 3,000+ ft El Capitan (look it up, it will give you chills) and a number of other difficult ascents that would give even the most sure footed adventurer a nasty case of vertigo. Erik’s not done. Most recently he kayaked the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon which has some of the most treacherous, unpredictable, and deadly rapids in the world. Just in case you forgot, let me remind you: Erik is blind.

Erik explained to us how we can transform adversity into an opportunity for growth and greatness, and he pulled from his experiences to make an emotional connection and hopefully – light a spark of transformation in us. One of the things he credited with allowing him to achieve the seemingly impossible was trust. He didn’t just jump in a kayak and start paddling downstream on the Colorado; he had a trusted advisor and river guide that was paddling in a kayak behind him, talking to him via a specially designed waterproof headset to help him navigate the dangerous eddies, hidden rocks and other perils. On his climbs, he had trusted team mates who helped him compensate for a lack of sight by providing necessary details, instilling confidence, and keeping him pointed in the right direction. Even fellow climbers with perfect vision rely on experienced guides, like Everest’s Sherpas, to set the best way ahead.

How many times in life do we feel like we are blind? Not literally blind, but faced with a number of choices and no clear way forward. We find ourselves desperately seeking the ability to see beyond the fog, with a vision that allows one path to shine forth as the best. This is when we often turn to our team; our trusted advisors that we have chosen to help us navigate uncertain waters.

bm010710When it comes to workforce management (you knew I’d eventually have to steer it this way, right) many organizations feel blinded by the challenges and myriad of options ahead of them. Technology is moving faster than ever, presenting options never before conceived and all with potential for hidden dangers. Some get analysis paralysis and opt for the “safe” option of staying put, “camping out” with paper timekeeping practices or outdated information systems. At Kronos, we encourage employers everywhere to reach ahead, but that takes trust. Our sales team (and all the amazing folks that support them) helps organizations make sense of the options, guide them to solutions that make the most sense. Our services teams provide assurance and leadership, like seasoned Sherpas, guiding our customers through a successful implementation, while helping them avoid potential pitfalls that could keep them from reaching the summit of “go-live.” Our technical support and cloud professionals are ever present and available (they wear headsets, just not waterproof ones) to advise and guide through the changing waters of long-term ownership of the system, always doing their best to navigate customers on the path with least risk.

Erik couldn’t have done the great things he has achieved (and will achieve) without a team he can trust. Similarly, our customers need a Kronos team of people they can trust. So the next time a customer needs guidance taking the next step, or a fellow Kronite could use help with a challenge ahead of them, or someone in our personal lives is seeking guidance on a difficult decision, be there for them – guide, advise, lead, inform, encourage, motivate. Erik Weihenmayer is a shining example of what can be accomplished when we embrace the concept of trust and team.

They say it’s your birthday…

October 20, 2014

IMG_20141020_085424It is my birthday today, and I’m on my way to Vegas, baby! Well, actually I’m stuck celebrating at Gate 20 after missing my 8:40 flight… Not an ideal start to the anniversary of my birth, but least there’s free Wi-Fi. Today is my annual Fall pilgrimage to Technology Services World where this old dog hopes to learn… Well, you know. Given my services marketing responsibility to fill the lead funnel, plus my passion for the social form, here are some sessions I’m looking forward to:

  • Driving Profitability through Customer Analytics
  • Transform Your Company to Humanize the New Customer Journey
  • Performance Support: Driving Your Customers’ Consumption and Success and Your Revenue
  • Providing Expert Level Services: The Informatica SEAL Team
  • Leveraging Online Learning Communities to Drive Expand Selling
  • Redefine Your Customers’ Online User Experience: Design and Deliver a Simplified, Relevant, and Social
  • Customer Success through Consumption Analytics
  • Setting a Foundation for Social Support SuccessSocial Media: Your Enterprise Customers Are Talking about You – Are You Listening?

I guess I’m looking forward to all of them… If I ever get there.

Don’t rhetorically ask “what are the chances” to a data geek

October 17, 2014

757With Sales Kickoff and another “cloud experience” shrinking in my rear view mirror, I met (Work)Joyce and Lisa Pratt for a taxi to the airport. The night before (actually I don’t remember when it was…) I learned about Lisa’s dislike of air travel and her tendency to uh, get a little queasy in coach. Oh, and then I discovered we were on the same flight home. I said, “that’s cool, as long as you’re not sitting behind me.”

The taxi ride was uneventful with one exception. The service. The staff at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and the crew at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport are friendly and accommodating. I guess that’s the “Southern Hospitality” thing. After leaving Joyce for her USAir flight, and arriving at Delta check-in, Lisa noticed I was in 39C. “I’m right behind you,” she said from right behind me… Duh, no kidding. What she meant was that the potentially projectile puker was sitting directly behind me for the 2 hour and forty minute flight… Nice. “Jeez,” I muttered meekly. I was sitting in a bio-hazard hot-zone. “What are the chances of that?” Now here’s where things get weird. My query was rhetorical, but “Ms. Data” took it literally and fired up the Cray between her ears. I was fine with the “Wow, man… It must be like a million to one,” but no, stat geek needed to know the number. Considerations and calculations commenced while I tried to ignore it by playing with my phone. “We have to exclude first-class because Kronos would never pay for that.” “Uh-huh…” Lisa’s processor was humming… I asked her to send me an email on the findings so I could blog about it. Here’s what I got…

“We were in a Boeing 757. There were 26 rows in economy cabin each with 6 seats for a total of 156 coach seats. Of which I could have been in any except the one assigned to you, so I had a 1 in 155 chance (or a 0.6% probability) of having the seat directly behind you.:-) Lucky you!”

Wow. 0.6%. Except it’s wrong. 21 of the seats in coach are “comfort” seats, and they cost extra. As do the 12 seats in 2 exit rows. So we must deduct those 25 from the 156 coach seats, and then one more for my seat, leaving a 1 in 130 chance (or a 0.76923% probability) of Nauseous Nelly sitting directly behind me.

Now I don’t know what the chances were of her actually ralphing, but she didn’t, so yeah, lucky me.

“Share the Road” for Kronos project success

October 16, 2014

TomHeadShotMy plan to showcase customers, partners, and employees that actually solve workforce management problems every day is slowly pulling in guest posts like a death star tractor beam. Here’s the latest. Tom Wolf is a Support Engineer on our Kronos Global Support team where  for the past eight years, he’s supported Workforce Central customers in the shadowy alleys of data where our suite intersects customer infrastructure and enterprise systems. Tom also has a pretty nice commute to work that doesn’t involve any dark alleys.

share the roadBy Tom Wolf

I check our family calendar. No activities before school. No commitments after school. That gives me the extra time I need. I check the weather. 30% chance of rain – worth the risk. Morning temps in the 40s going to the 60s for the afternoon. I put on an extra Dayglo jacket and full-finger gloves and stuff my work clothes in the saddle bag. I glance out the window. The morning sun limns the top of the fiery maples while the street still lies in bluish shadow below. The trip home will see the same effect as the days of bicycle commuting grow short with the earlier sunset. But the end of DST is still a few weeks away. For now, I will enjoy a ride in the crisp air of New England’s most colorful season.

My commute begins on a rail trail bike path, safely separated from the busy streets. The intensifying sunlight creates a beautiful distraction as it reflects an impressionist painting of reds and oranges along the edge of Heart Pond. The only traffic is squirrels and chipmunks darting across the path or, occasionally, a family of wild turkey or deer. Oh, and dog walkers and other bikers. But in the morning I mostly have the trail to myself, the quiet disturbed only by spinning sprockets and whooshing wind.

As I approach the town center, I become more alert and steel myself for more defensive riding among the potholed shoulders and distracted drivers. That beautiful light on the pond is now morning glare that blinds both me and surrounding drivers. Luckily, the cars are mostly stopped or crawling through the busy intersections, which greatly reduces the danger of collision with a fast moving steel box that outweighs me 15 times or more. I can’t help but feel a little smug as I ride the shoulder, passing one car after another — a traffic rule where bikes have an advantage. I still stop at intersections, wait for green lights, signal my turns and, in general, respect the steel boxes that share the road.

I arrive at work slightly winded but energized by the beauty and sense of accomplishment I have already experienced today. I have done much more than commute to work. I have exercised and saved money on gas and reduced my carbon footprint.

This is the time in the blog where I spin this experience into a message about Kronos implementation services (so Leo will publish it). An implementation project starts out like my commute with some planning and anticipation about the beautiful vision of what this project will accomplish. The early part is fresh and exciting as that vision starts to become real. But, things get busy and rough as the new project merges with existing business practices. You “share the road” by respecting the existing practices while crafting a better solution and not getting stuck in the status quo. When all is done, you look back and measure your results and realize that you accomplished more than you had originally set out to do.

In my case I get to do it all again on the way home.

If it’s Wednesday, it’s Pratt Statistics Day!

October 15, 2014

I’m at our Global Sales Kick Off, so I think it’s Wednesday. These meetings are a blur, and through the time smear, I’m glad I have another guest post cued up from data-queen Lisa Pratt. This is Lisa’s 4th guest post on wicked big data, and while she goes there again today, she also publicly comes clean about her sugar addiction. Thank you for your courage, Lisa.

By Lisa Pratt
sugar-addictionI have a sweet tooth. Lots of people like sweets and consume too much sugar, so I didn’t think my sugar issue was any worse than “average”. I am an analytical person both by nature and by career choice, so I decided to do some hypothesis testing and was shocked by what I learned.

For a period of several months, I had been keeping a food diary on myfitnesspal.com. In addition to calories, it tracks sodium, carbs, protein, and sugar relative to a daily target. So, fortuitously, I had data available. Not surprisingly, I was over the sugar allotment every day. I thought it was because I eat several pieces of fresh fruit per day. So, I subtracted the sugar from fruit, veggies, and other naturally occurring sources such as milk, and calculated the % of my daily caloric intake that came from added sugar, assuming I would be fine. Apparently, 25 – 30% added sugar is NOT ok. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends 5% of calories from added sugar as a goal and the average American consumes 15% of calories from added sugar. I consume double the added sugar of the average American and 5 to 6 times the recommended amount! Clearly, without the pre-disposition to measure, I would not have uncovered the magnitude of my sugar intake problem and put a plan in place to manage it before it impacted my life and health.

I bring this up to highlight the power and usefulness of measurement and the golden nuggets that can be uncovered with data that you may already have. There is almost always plenty of data available, even if it is imperfect or collected for another purpose. Organizations are often sitting on a gold mine of operational data that could be used to spot trends, uncover potential dangers, or identify areas for higher revenues or lower costs – but is instead only used for regular reporting. Reporting is useful for tracking what is already known and deemed to be important to the successful running of the business. Companies that can proactively analyze their wealth of data assets to bring opportunities and issues to light that they didn’t previously know about are the ones that will have a competitive advantage.

One of the most untapped areas ripe to benefit from Big Data and Analytics is Workforce Management. Workers are the lynchpin of making any company run smoothly. Finding the right equilibrium of workers, skills, and schedules can have a huge impact on profitability. Static reporting can not uncover staffing anomalies and are often available too late. Mining workforce data using more sophisticated tools, such as Workforce Analytics, allows managers to customize the view into current data so they can plan better up front and make quicker adjustments when problems arise. The efficiencies gained go straight to the bottom line.

As organizations evolve to be more numbers driven, the ones that have an appetite for trusting data rather than waiting for their intuition to kick in will be steps ahead of their competitors. What data does your company collect that can start you on a more analytical approach to optimizing your workforce? What analysis can you do with it to make better decisions?

Kicking Off Kronos New Year

October 13, 2014

FY15 GSKOI’m at our Global Sales Kick Off in warm Atlanta this week, and the still shrouded theme for us this year involves three of the third letter in our alphabet… Can you guess any of them? No? Not one? Huh… Anyway, I’ll have them hot off the presses whenever that is.

IMG_20141013_145005

Kay and Kim from our Upgrade Central Team

A sales kickoff meeting is a time to connect, collaborate, commiserate, consume, congratulate, and in some cases convince… Congratulate each other on a great year, then convince ourselves we can hit our arrows pointing up goals for the new year.

IMG_20141013_111955

Joy from Services Engineering simplifying process

Last night I connected with old friends, and met new ones. This morning was consumption of yummy PowerPoint slides and a lunch collaboration with two old pals on how we can help our customers get more from their investments in Kronos Workforce HR and Payroll. There’s great energy and a lot of smart people here. I heard several speak this morning. And people are funny. There are lots of laughs and smiling faces, even before cocktail hour.

Right now there’s a Women’s Leadership Forum I wasn’t invited to, so I’m making my way to the gym to work off last night’s consumption and commiseration.

Instant Karma’s (Not) Going To Get You (a Raise)

October 10, 2014

good karmaI believe in karma. I do. This Wikipedia line sums it up for me:

“Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.”

So while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella probably isn’t enjoying the taste of the shoe leather he put in his mouth yesterday, when he says he was “inarticulate” making his point, I believe him. Mr. Nadella was speaking at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing when he uttered to the mostly women in attendance, “It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise.” He went on to say that women who don’t ask for a raise have a sort of karmic superpower, and “It’s good karma. It will come back.”

Cue the crickets…

When you consider the definition of karma above, it can be interpreted as, “just do a good job and your efforts will be rewarded.” I agree with that, too, except it’s pretty rare that any employee is approached by their manager with the message, “hey, you’re doing a great job. Here’s more money.” So then, the issue is the same for men and women, right? Uh, well, no. Even if the numbers reported in this article are true, at best, women are paid only 91% of their male peers. It seems the 77 cents number bandied about isn’t quite that bad when adjustments for things like age, experience, occupation, and industry are made.

Oh, and then there’s the perception of “assertive” women by some. If that’s the attitude of the management in your company, find a new company. Given the overall downward pressure on wages, it’s better to make sure you’re paid what the job is worth when you walk in the door, and no less. If you feel you’re underpaid for the value you provide, ask for a raise and have some numbers to make your case. If your employer rejects your request, then take your talents to South Beach in the form of another company that values them fairly. It’ll be their loss. As a matter of fact, check out Kronos

Karma’s a b… Well, it can be bad, too.

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