Co-op Spotlight: Disrupting HR for a Better Workplace with Andee Harris

While studying psychology at the University of Michigan, Andee Harris altered her focus from individuals to organizations. For more than 20 years, she’s made a career of disrupting traditional HR practices. From performance reviews to payroll,   technology and even millennials are improving the way we work. Harris caught up with us to share seven ways we can improve the workplace and what being a part of the Chicago Ideas Co-op has meant.

1. Be more like Uber.

I started my career doing large implementations which allowed people to track and manage employee data, benefits and payroll information online and getting rid of the whole paper process. After that, I continued to look at new ways to reinvent and disrupt human resources, almost like the way Uber disrupts how we think about taxis. I try to think about that all the time, but from an HR perspective.

2. Rethink performance reviews.

The annual process to track and measure performance is very cumbersome and driven by lots of different competency models. We’ve overcomplicated it. In large organizations you have multiple people rating different people so it’s really hard to get a read on the true rating of that person. By using technology and algorithms, we’re able to make ratings more about you than about the person you’re rating.”

3. Give real-time feedback.

If you think about what keeps employees engaged, it is constant feedback and giving feedback near work that they’re actually working on that week and not giving feedback three months after a project.”

4. Create tools for teams.

HR tools are have been built for the organization level but everything is done in teams now. So prioritizing tools that are really about keeping the team leader engaged and help them manage their teams is something I’m really focused on.

5. Strengthen the strengths.

If you play to your employees’ strengths you actually get better results. If you’re a boss or manager people think it’s your job to make employees better at the things that they’re not good at. When my son shows me his report card, it’s human nature to focus on the B’s not the A’s instead of saying, ‘Wow! You’re getting an A in math, let’s enroll you in more math.’ Studies show if you focus on what someone’s good at, they’ll get better and better at it. If you focus on weaknesses, they can get competent but they’ll never excel.”

6. Embrace the millennials.

They bring the idea of continuous feedback. When you’re managing people, it’s a good thing to give them continuous coaching and feedback instead of an annual review. Millennials are demanding to have more of that attention and I think in the end that’s going to build more high-performing teams.”

7. Even when they’re disloyal.

The fact that millennials aren’t as loyal to the workplaces is a good thing because it causes more places to think about how to be better to their employees. They build stronger relationships with their employees because they know they can leave.”

What has the Co-op meant to Andee Harris?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Chicago Ideas Week where you can hear people speak from all different sectors of life like art, music and technology. Joining the Co-op  has allowed me to broaden my horizons and meet people who are making Chicago an incredible community– leaders in the arts and education, two areas that are near and dear to my heart.”

*Applications to join the Chicago Ideas Co-op in 2016 are now open. Learn more about the program or submit your appliction here.

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