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5 Leadership Lessons HR Can Learn from American History

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Here at Paycom we love green, but on the heels of the 4th of July, we thought it would be appropriate to stay with the Red, White and Blue. The story of how we earned our freedom is a vast and important one, and is still relateable, especially in the office. Here are five specific leadership examples that translate well the HR department and your organization as a whole.

The below article was originally posted on February 24, 2017 under the title 5 Leadership Lessons From Crossing the Delaware

Several years ago in a meeting, we were asked to share the name of the best leadership book we’d read in the past year. My colleagues suggested books by Maxwell, Gladwell and Collins, yet my mind went directly to the historical account of General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in 1776, depicted in “To Try Men’s Souls” by Newt Gingrich.

You may remember the story from high school history class. In December 1776 during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army was demoralized and on the run. Christmas night, while camped along the Delaware River, Washington realized that their only chance to win – or even to survive – was to attack the British at Trenton.

Register today for the July 11, 2017 webinar: 5 Leadership Lesson HR Can Learn from American History 

It wasn’t evident at the time of course, but historians now consider the events of that evening and the next morning as the turning point of the Revolutionary War. As we study Washington’s decision-making during these extraordinary circumstances, five leadership lessons emerge.

1. Heroes Exist in the Unlikeliest of Places

Henry Knox served as Washington’s chief artillery officer, and before the war, Knox managed a bookstore.

According the Washington, Knox’s efforts made the attack on Trenton possible. As a devastating blizzard engulfed the area late on Christmas night, the river seemed impassable. Knox coordinated efforts to load the army’s few remaining artillery pieces onto the creaky flatboats and to navigate the ice-choked river. Once across, it was his leadership that allowed men to transport heavy machinery up and down the icy hills in the midst of an historic blizzard.

Washington later said he was stunned by Knox’s confidence and impressed by the routine, matter-of-fact way Knox explained his plan. He had horses drag artillery pieces up frozen hills in the middle of a snowstorm, in the dark, using malnourished and barefoot soldiers, yet Knox made it seem like an ordinary, routine event.

Like eagles, leaders don’t flock together. You most often find them one at a time, and sometimes a bookseller helps you win a war.

2. Hold Steady in the Face of the “But Sirs”

Once Washington made his decision to cross the Delaware and attack, he never wavered. As soon as the order was disseminated through the ranks, leaders were hit with a barrage of “but sirs.”

• “But sir, the river is filled with ice.”
• “But sir, these boats weren’t designed to transport cannons.”
• “But sir, my men haven’t eaten in three days, they won’t survive the march.”
• “But sir, the British are well-rested and well-fed, what chance do we have in battle?”

But sir, but sir, but sir. As a leader, how often do you deal with resistance to a tough decision? Washington responded by increasing the level of communication so that everyone had better understanding of his decisions, as illustrated in this brief aside to his officers:

“If we do not win soon, there will be no army left. When there is no army left, the rebellion will be over. When the rebellion is over, we will all be hung. Therefore we have little to lose.”

3. Frequently Communicating Vision is a Necessity

Washington didn’t say it just once, he repeated himself over and over, up and down the line of soldiers. The vision: Cross the river, move the artillery and cross Jacob’s Creek. In twelve hours.

Did everyone agree with his plan? Hardly. Did they execute the mission? Definitely.

While the United States of America is more than two centuries old, lessons still can be learned from its Founding Fathers. To learn more, register today for the July 11, 2017 webinar: 5 Leadership Lesson HR Can Learn from American History 

4. Be Visible

A Continental soldier’s diary recounts that for every mile he covered, General Washington probably covered twelve. Riding back and forth, checking on the front line, then crossing the creek to check on the men at the back of the line, then back to the front again. The soldiers knew their leader was invested and that he was fighting right by their side.

A good rule-of-thumb for leaders: the tougher the mission, the higher the visibility.

5. Leaders Aren’t Called to Do Their Best

Washington knew this leadership secret better than anyone. He knew that most of his men’s enlistments expired in a week and that he was outmanned and outgunned. He knew that their only chance of survival was to attack and win at Trenton. Everything else was irrelevant.

It didn’t matter that the river was filled with ice, or that half his men had no shoes and hadn’t eaten in days. The boat boarding passcode that night was “Victory or Death.” This is what Washington believed and it was how he led his army. He knew that as leaders, we are not called to do our best – we are called to do what is required.

Washington’s army went on to win the battle at Trenton, and to win again at Princeton. The momentum of those wins turned the war in their favor, eventually leading to American independence fifteen years later. And I believe the momentum truly began with the perseverance of one man, directing his forces to victory through a blinding snowstorm.

Nearly two hundred fifty years later, General Washington’s leadership lessons are as valuable today as they were that snowy night on the banks of the Delaware River.


Jim Quillen

by Jim Quillen


Author Bio: As director of tax at Paycom, Jim Quillen is responsible for ensuring payments and returns are filed timely and accurately, and for eliminating tax issues with the potential to negatively impact clients. Quillen, a CPA by training, has worked in many fields during his career, including finance, auditing, recruiting, sales, business development and software implementation. Prior to his current role, Quillen has served Paycom as the director of business intelligence, director of new client implementation and director of recruiting.

Job titles

Jawbs: Sharks’ Similarities to Job Titles

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Just like you and me, sharks have their own set of personality traits, and these attributes have set both species apart as apex predators. In honor of one of the greatest weeks featuring our misconstrued finned friends from the sea, TV’s Shark Week, let’s discuss the parallels shared between sharks and job titles of corporate America.

Something’s in the water … and it’s creating a feeding frenzy among your top talent.

Great White Shark | CEO

Two of the most popular figures within their respective domains, the great white and CEO are highly visible. Much of how people judge a company comes from the public perception of its CEO. The same is true for great white sharks, especially after the iconic 1975 movie, Jaws. Since Steven Spielberg’s beloved thriller, public perception was that every shark is a man-eating killer, just like the film’s shark antagonist.

Aside from the public spotlight, the two are active leaders within their defined areas. The great white is one of the most active sharks and can exceed 20 feet in length and weigh over two tons! CEOs are actively running their company and, many times, play the largest role in their organization. They make critical strategic decisions to place the company on its chartered course toward growth, profitability and transparency.

People are fascinated and intrigued by CEOs, just as they are the great white. There’s a reason the great white starred in Jaws, just as the CEO is the star in corporate America.

Bull Shark | CFO

Adaptability and strategy are the name of the game for CFOs. They face enormous pressures while protecting vital financial assets of the company, aligning business and finance strategies, and growing the business. Their adaptability is tested as they hold the key to financial solvency throughout their organization.

Like the bull shark’s ability to survive in both freshwater and saltwater environments, CFOs must be well-versed in many critical elements of the business, from finance to production to human capital management. With so much at stake tied to their performance, you can forgive them for possessing a little of the bull shark’s territorial nature.

Nurse Shark | HR

Similar to the roles of an HR professional, the nurse shark plays a vital role in its delicate marine ecosystem. The nurse shark is seen patrolling the reef floor where it cleans and preys on crustaceans and other marine life that otherwise would overpopulate the ocean. HR professionals often are seen cleaning up and maintaining employee documents and government compliance records regarding OSHA, FMLA, ACA and the list goes on and on.

In many offices, it is typical for HR professionals to be the voice of the organization; they are social beings who plan holiday parties while also administering benefits and welcoming new hires. Nurse sharks hang out in large groups, sometimes of 40 or more. They gather to help their fellow nurse shark, just as HR is there to aid their fellow employees.

Hammerhead Shark | Recruiting

The hammerhead shark is the recruiter of the open waters. Hammerheads are very social and take their job – hunting – very seriously.

Hammerheads are unique, as their eyes are set on the outer edges of their wide heads, allowing them a vertical, 360-degree view. This, coupled with their keen sense of smell, allows them to easily find prey.

Recruiters, too, possess a 360-degree view of not only their organizational needs, but also talent that exists outside of its walls. Recruiters use a number of media to source for candidates, including job boards and social media sites, but they also must rely on a strong applicant tracking system that filters the right guy or gal for the job.

Mako Shark | Sales

If you are in sales or ever have been contacted by a sales rep, you know it is all about being aggressive and timely. Many people say that the best sales reps are those who possess a “hunter’s mentality.” This means they are excited to catch the “big fish” and they do so with endless preparation, drive and mental fortitude. Like the fastest of the shark species, sales reps, too, are quick to strike up a conversation and must move promptly when closing a deal.

Makos are incredibly agile and have been recorded at speeds of 40-plus mph. Like sales reps, makos can cover a lot of territory; they have been known to venture as far as 1,300 miles in a little over a month.

Sharks in the Workplace

Sharks and business professionals are not so different. Both share a number of characteristics that help make them successful at life, whether on land or at sea. These varied species of sharks have unique traits that complement each other in much the same way as humans’ corporate structure.

This article was originally published  July 7, 2015 on the Paycom blog. 

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Posted in Blog, Featured, HR Management, Leadership, Talent Acquisition


Author Bio: A writer, speaker and business leader, Jason has been the communications pulse for a number of organizations, including Paycom where he is the director of public relations and corporate communications. A featured writer on human capital management technology, leadership and the Affordable Care Act, Jason launched Paycom’s blog, webinar platform and social media channels, helping empower organizations around the nation. Jason is attuned to the needs of businesses and helped develop a tool to aid organizations in their pursuit to comply with the ACA; one of the largest changes in healthcare the country has seen. While working in athletics for ESPN and FoxSports, Jason learned the importance of hard work and branding. In his free time he enjoys adventuring with his family, reading and exploring new areas to strengthen his business acumen.

Open positions

Why Its So Difficult to Fill Your Open Positions

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If you feel like it’s getting more and more challenging to find qualified employees to fill your positions, you’re right. New evidence from the Deutsche Bank indicates that the length of time a vacancy lays open has increased overall since 2010. Open positions are increasingly difficult to fill due to several trends within the current labor market. However, there are several actions you can take as a business leader to improve your ability to hire and retain a quality workforce.

Finding and keeping the top-talent your business needs is about to get tougher.

Open Positions Are Staying Vacant Longer

Currently, according to economist Torsten Sløk with the Deutsche Bank, positions are open on average 31 days before being filled. That’s significantly higher than the 24-day average in prerecession 2007, which was the longest span positions stayed vacant since 2001. Job vacancies were filled in about 15 days in 2009, and the length of time it has taken to fill open positions has increased steadily in the eight years since.

Many Business Struggle to Find and Keep Qualified Workers

What does this mean for business leaders? That finding the right worker has become increasingly challenging. The Federal Reserve’s recently released Beige Book notes tightening in labor markets nationwide.

In Pennsylvania, for example, “staffing contacts reported spending more time and money on recruiting labor and refilling positions after the initial hire quit, sometimes after just a few days.”

Additionally, the Federal Reserve’s contacts across the nation and in a variety of industries reported that hiring was limited because there were not enough qualified workers available.

Labor Trends Influencing This Challenge

Some of the reasons cited by the Beige Book included job hopping and a disconnect between companies and job candidates on compensation. Federal Reserve contacts noted “rising wage pressures” in both high- and low-skilled positions. Some also mentioned that the costs of benefits and variable pay were increasing.

Another possible reason employers struggle to find the right people to fill their positions is a growing gap between the skills needed in the workplace and the skills that are available among the workforce. In fact, according to SHRM, we are currently facing “the most acute talent shortage since the Great Recession.”

What It Means For You

It’s now more important than ever to retain your star employees, and attract candidates like them. Having competitive compensation and a culture that appeals to the job seeker can give you an edge in this job market. Consider implementing more in-depth, on-the-job training to address the skills gap, and ensure that you have efficient hiring processes in place to eliminate any wasted time, money and energy.

If you’d like to learn more about current labor trends and what they mean for your business, you can find a wealth of information in our on-demand webinar on current labor trends.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Talent Acquisition

Jeff York

by Jeff York


Author Bio: Jeff York, Paycom’s chief sales officer, has more than three decades of sales experience and has held a variety of sales management positions; prior to joining Paycom In 2007, York spent 12 years with a legacy payroll provider, where he held a variety of sales management positions including vice president of sales for the major accounts division. York, a Texas Tech University graduate, also holds an MBA from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.

IRS Continues to Enforce Affordable Care Act

IRS Continues to Enforce Affordable Care Act

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The IRS recently released an information letter indicating that the IRS continues to enforce the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Dated June 30, Letter 2017-0010 was sent to a member of Congress who reached out to the IRS at the request of a constituent, a tax-exempt entity concerned it may owe an employer shared responsibility payment (ESRP) because it did not comply with the ACA rules on offering health insurance to its employees, for both financial and religious reasons.

The letter first provides a brief summary of the circumstances that might lead to a large employer owing an ESRP, and notes that there is no provision in the ACA that provides for the waiver of an ESRP.

The letter then addresses the effect of the president’s Jan. 20 executive order on the enforcement of the ACA. Titled “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal,” the order directed federal agencies to exercise discretion permitted to them by law to reduce potential burdens imposed by the ACA.

However, it did not change the health care law. The legislative provisions of the ACA are still in force until changed by Congress; therefore, taxpayers remain required to follow the law and pay what they may owe.

For more information on the executive order and the current tax filing season, visit https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/aca-information-center-for-tax-professionals.

What This Means for Employers

Since Congress has not yet passed a bill that would repeal the ACA, and Republicans have struggled to draft a bill that would receive majority support, employers should use caution and plan to comply with the law’s requirements unless and until the ACA is repealed and any new law’s provisions actually go into effect. Continued compliance may be required for a transition period, following passage of an ACA repeal bill, depending on the language of that legislation.

 

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Posted in ACA, Blog, Featured

Erin Maxwell

by Erin Maxwell


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Erin Maxwell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, focusing on health and employee benefits laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. She previously served as assistant general counsel at Asset Servicing Group in Oklahoma City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of work, Maxwell enjoys politics, historical mysteries and spending time with her family.

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