Six learnings from EOS® to help improve your HR systems

HR Professionals
HR Professionals

EOS®, or the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, made famous by Michigander Gino Wickman and his groundbreaking book Traction, is a system of business practices that can help organizations run more efficiently and effectively. A shout out to our integrator and coach Richard Price, and all of the other awesome integrators, coaches, and implementers out there like Kelly O’Donnell, Marisa Smith, Cara Ehinger, Mike Kotsis, Kevin Suboski, Scott Patchin, Jeremy Lopatin, Catherine Juon and others.

As an HR consultant who focuses on smaller organizations, many of my clients also run on EOS®. Thus, I wanted to write a blog that would highlight some key ways to use EOS® to guide HR processes to maximize the impact with your team. 

Here are six tips to maximize impact.

1. Clear accountability - It is imperative that within an organization there are clear roles and responsibilities, and that everyone knows who is responsible for what.

EOS® stresses having only one person responsible for a given area. I have always agreed with the saying that if multiple people are in charge of something, no one is in charge. Sometimes, with startups, a founder might be in charge of multiple areas, and as the company grows, additional hires take on those responsibilities. Initially, the founder was wearing three hats, but after the first two key hires, was able to delegate two of those hats. Thus, making sure that your job descriptions are up to date and reflect the responsibilities/tasks/activities is key. Sharing job descriptions throughout the organization is a great check and balance.

2. Core values - EOS® has great tools to help you develop core values which all of your people should hold dear. However, don’t stop there. 

Infuse these values into your HR systems. For instance, your core values should be listed on your website in your careers area. Your interview questions should include asking for examples that show the candidate using those core values. Your performance review process should include employees self evaluating themselves on the core values. Your promotions should be based on exemplifying the core values. People that are good performers, but don’t subscribe to your values should be moved out of the organization, as painful as that is. Your internal communications strategy should include recognizing people each week for demonstrating your core values.

3. Performance and activity alignment - I have seen many organizations where there is confusion about who is supposed to do what by when. Or, there might be a huge list of initiatives that overwhelm the staff. 

EOS® provides great tools for short term “to dos” and 90 day “rocks”. These tools help focus employees on the most important areas of the business, and create very clear expectations. This approach can work at the organization, team or individual level. I have members of my own team that will use this approach during their manager 1x1s, and it is a great way to avoid confusion about priorities and due dates

4. Trust and teamwork - All organizations have conflict. Successful organizations manage the conflict in a productive way by embracing it and using healthy debate to overcome obstacles and to evaluate opportunities. 

Sharing your ideas, and being open to feedback requires vulnerability, and is hard. If there is an absence of trust and teamwork, being vulnerable can become impossible. Instead, people will become protective of their areas, passive aggressiveness can set in, and the culture will become toxic. EOS® has a variety of tools and techniques to help build trust within the leadership team, which is critical for organizational success. Taking time to do team building, leadership assessments and debriefing with your team to improve self awareness and team awareness is worth every penny - especially with remote and hybrid work environments.

5. HR policies and rules - EOS® is a fan of fewer rules, but favors consistency. This is a great approach to take when updating your employee handbook and/or policy manual.

Transparency around your expectations is half the battle. In my experience, having a thoughtfully laid out compensation philosophy and employee handbook where people can manage their expectations is helpful at minimizing organizational angst about compensation increases, time off, etc. But, you want to be mindful about trying to micromanage too many things and then be guilty of not applying those extra or unnecessary rules to everyone.

6. Right people in the right seat - I’m sure that you have heard other analogies like this, such as “Getting the right people on the bus, and then getting them into the right seat.” 

In my work, I am often coming across organizations that are guilty of not following this. People are over-promoted, friends are hired that don’t have the right skills, performance problems aren’t addressed - and the list goes on. Please be intentional when it comes to building and nurturing your team. Make sure that everyone has the skills and desire to do the job that you have carefully and fully defined for them. If not, make the appropriate change. And, be creative - if you have a great-fit person that needs to move to a part-time role, you can split the role into two and create a job-share. Now, it’s the right person(s) for the right (smaller) seats.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my HR spin on EOS®. It is an amazing way to transform your business, and I encourage you to reach out to an EOS® consultant for a free introductory session - it can transform how you operate your organization.


About The Author: Amy Cell
Amy Cell

Amy Cell is a renowned and passionate pioneer in HR and Talent initiatives. She also leads an innovative consulting firm that specializes in recruiting and HR services for startups, small businesses, and municipalities.

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