Cornell’s New Programs Equip Managers and HR Leaders to Build an Aware Organizational Culture

Participants learn critical strategies for creating a supportive and engaging workplace

As today’s headlines prove, an inclusive work environment is not just a nice-to-have, it can make or break a company. Engaged employees, a diverse workforce, and an inclusive climate provide organizations with a competitive advantage. Recognizing the need for companies to understand the complex dynamics underlying diversity challenges and opportunities within their organizations, Cornell has now announced the launch of two new online Diversity and Inclusion certificate programs.

Available 100% online through eCornell, learners can choose from a program designed expressly for HR professionals and a track for managers in any part of the organization. The programs teach learners critical strategies to help their teams increase employee engagement, counter unconscious bias, and build a more inclusive work environment.

“An organization is only as good as its culture—and every manager and HR leader is responsible for culture,” said Cornell ILR professor Lisa H. Nishii, who authored the program. “It goes without saying that organizations today must move beyond mere compliance and focus on constructing a work culture that promotes inclusion. The problem is, despite the ubiquity of the term inclusion, its definition and implementation often remain murky. This set of courses is designed to train workplace professionals to decode unconscious bias and how it affects employees, and to design work practices and norms that more effectively leverage the potential among all employees.”

Learners enrolled in the certificate programs can help make their organization a more inclusive and engaging place to work by understanding the perceptual, institutional, and psychological processes that impact the ways people interact with each other. Courses include:

  • Improving Engagement
  • Counteracting Unconscious Bias
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Practice
  • Fostering an Inclusive Climate

Upon successful completion of all four courses, learners earn a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University’s ILR School.

Want to Build High-Performing Relationships at Work? Try This.

Building collaborative work relationships with colleagues and avoiding threats to project collaboration are issues that every employee today must deal with.

To address the real-life challenges that people face in today’s diverse and often global – or even virtual – workplaces, eCornell’s Chris Wofford was joined by Dr. Michele Williams, a scholar at Cornell University’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution as well as a Faculty Fellow at the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Network. Their wide-ranging discussion is part of our ongoing Women in Leadership WebCast series.

Wofford: Michelle, thanks for joining us. I’d like to start with the results of some poll questions we posed to our audience. Here’s the first one: “Do fear, stress, or anger play a part in the erosion of trust at your organization?” The overwhelming response was ‘yes’, which is probably not much of a surprise.

Williams: No, it’s not. But what I think is really important in today’s society is that there’s so much economic pressure, a lot of mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and so on, so fear, stress, and anger have become almost a daily part of work. Figuring out how we build and maintain trust when emotions are starting to be just a common part of our work experience is a real challenge.

Wofford: I’ve got another one here I think will be interesting to look at, which is, “Do you believe that lack of trust in your organization is an issue that needs to be addressed?” Again, probably no surprise that 100 percent of the responses say “yes”.

Williams: This is a widespread issue. If we look more broadly, the erosion of trust in our institutions and politicians and government parallels what’s going on within organizations.

I would argue that trust is really the key to collaborative relationships because it really increases things that are essential to collaboration, like information sharing, helping behavior, responsiveness,and flexibility.

If something goes wrong every time you work with a contractor, for instance, you have to renegotiate the contract. That’s extremely costly. If you trust them, you can respond in a more responsible way that allows you to work around whatever problems arise.

Trust also decreases the need to monitor everyone. If you have to watch everything your team member does, it’s going to really slow down the project.

Wofford: Ok, trust is important. I think that’s something we would all agree on. But what is trust, really?

Williams: Everyone has almost their own definition, including academics, economists and
organizational people, and all of them tend to vary a little bit. But what we’re going to talk about here is psychological trust.

Whenever you collaborate with someone, if they don’t do their part, it can really harm you. When you rely on someone there really is a risk of opportunism or revenge. But you take this risk, not as a huge leap of faith but based on the expectation that others will be helpful or at least not harmful.

This belief that others have benevolent integrity and confidence is really the basis of trust; the trustworthiness you perceive in your colleagues. Do they have the ability to carry out the tasks or write the report or analyze the numbers? Do they follow through on what they say? That’s really what we’re talking about when we’re talking about building trust.

Wofford: Going back to our opening question, how does trust deteriorate?

Williams: Fear and stress can undermine rational cooperation. Time and time again, research studies show that people will punish others even at a cost to themselves if they believe they’ve been treated unfairly.

Tough economic times and layoffs make people fear that others are not going to be able to cooperate and are just trying to protect themselves. Fear can also cause employees to avoid one another and it’s very hard to get work done when people are avoiding you.

When it comes to anger, it can really cause vengeful behavior and override understanding and forgiveness. Everybody makes mistakes, but if people aren’t given a second chance, it often ends up undermining your project without giving them the chance to either explain what happened or to rebuild the trust.

Wofford: How do our different personalities and personal assumptions play into issues of workplace trust? I mean, we’re all individuals right?

Williams: I teach a course in intergroup dialogue and part of the foundation of that course is trust and how you give people the benefit of the doubt when talking about issues that are controversial. Can we have a discussion with people who have different assumptions and can we do it in a way that moves things forward rather than placing blame?

Wofford: Isn’t a lot of that just making people feel comfortable?

Williams: Exactly, and honesty is what brings about those high-quality connections that really facilitate work.

I want to talk a little bit about emotional work. Everyone’s probably had a colleague who’s had a bad day and you’ve tried to cheer them up. That’s what emotional work is. It’s when you try to change your own emotion or someone else’s emotion. Emotional work is really key to building trust in settings where there may be high emotions.

If you are all working really hard to get something done, there’s a lot of stress and tension. If team members are able to help each other manage that, they’re able to maintain that trust at a higher level.

Wofford: So we have to manage emotions in addition to doing our work? How does this play out in a real-world setting?

Williams: Emotional work has two fundamental foundations. One is emotional influence. Can you make the other person feel differently than they’re feeling now in a way that will help them work and continue their relationship with you and with a project? Can you see the situation from the other person’s point of view so that you can figure out the best strategy for interacting?

So how do you do that? There are several different things you can do. One is to alter the situation. Managers often do this if they have a negative feedback report to give to an employee. Instead of calling them into the conference room or the manager’s office, they might instead take them out to lunch and make it a more informal situation.

Another way is to alter the other person’s interpretation of events. You know, projects often fail and that can be crushing. But being able to reframe that into a message of “failures only lead to success” is very effective. Get them to think about it in a different way. Those types of interpretations help people go forward and build and maintain trust.

You can also change the environment. Go play racquetball, go out for a drink – that’s probably not a long-term solution but it works in the short term.

Another approach is that sometimes people say, “Suck it up, just keep going and move on.”

Wofford: Is this emotional work the responsibility of HR, of leadership, or of all of us?

Williams: This is definitely something that leaders do and something that people expect of their leaders. But it’s also something that people do within a team. You need to support each other.

If you don’t notice how other people are feeling, there’s not as much the manager can do about it. Team members have a huge impact because they’re with that person every day, so they’re in the position of being able to reframe a failure or a challenge in a way that makes people go forward.

I think that this is important at all levels of the organization. HR certainly has a critical role to play, including in what type of training they can provide so that people start to understand these behaviors.

Wofford: I want to turn back to our audience for a moment and ask them to weigh in on this poll question: When you feel anxious, stressed or angry, what would you like your team members and managers to do? We have some options: one, use humor to distract you; two, listen to your story; three, help you think more positively; and four, give you advice.

The answers are now in and I don’t know if you’ll be surprised by this, Michele, but the most popular answer was two, to simply listen.

Williams: Listening is critical. I think that a lot of times people jump in with advice when they haven’t understood the situation because they haven’t taken the time to really listen to the person. They’re only half listening and then they start offering solutions. So listening is extremely powerful and it shows that you care and are trustworthy.

Wofford: Not everyone is willing to share their feelings though. How do you find out that your team members are angry or stressed if they don’t come out and say it? How do you anticipate it?

Williams: You’re right that people won’t always tell you, so you might have to look for clues. It may be that you have a team member who used to always go to lunch. If they stop going out to lunch with you, that’s a clue that something’s probably up.

A lot of this is about the proactive process of imagining other people’s thoughts or feelings from their point of view. This is important not only in terms of emotional influence but also just in terms of communication. Communication scholars have looked at perspective-taking and it turns out that when you take someone else’s perspective, you adjust what you say to their knowledge level and to their experience. You frame things in a way so that they actually understand what you’re saying better. It also helps you feel closer to people once you’ve taken their perspective and this in turn makes you care more about their outcomes. It’s a very powerful process if people engage in it.

You know, there is this myth that people are simply trustworthy or not and all you have to do is watch your colleagues and see how they behave and you can figure out if they’re trustworthy or not. But in reality, trustworthiness is something that’s negotiated. Both sides have expectations for trustworthiness and you have to talk about them to figure out where to meet in the middle.

Wofford: So we know that perspective-taking and managing other people’s emotions and emotional influence are important, but how do we get there? How do we get to a place where we’re doing that regularly?

Williams: I would just say practice, practice, practice. Perspective-taking is critical because perspective-taking decreases when people are under stress, under time pressures or when they’re trying to multitask. And of course, this is exactly when it’s most needed.

On a personal level, get feedback. Solicit feedback from individuals about how well they think you understand their perspective. Ask people, what are the situations in which I’m at my best?
Think about those types of situations so that you can build on those strengths.

And finally, practice generative listening. Generative listening goes beyond active listening. So you are listening – you’re not texting while they’re talking to you – but more than that, you’re also affirming their perspective.

You don’t have to agree with someone to affirm that you’ve heard, what they’re saying, and what assumptions they are moving forward from.

Wofford: What are the takeaways you hope people get from our talk here today?

Williams: Building high-performing, collaborative work relationships requires effort, perspective-taking, emotional work, and threat reduction. It’s an interpersonal process that’s ongoing. You don’t do it once and stop.

In today’s global workplace, effective work relationships are key to promotions, project success, and a company’s profitability. Some of the concepts we’ve talked about today can help you build and maintain the trust you’ll need within your team or organization.

Wofford: Michelle, this has been fantastic. Thank you for joining me.


Want to hear more? This interview is based on Michele Williams’ live eCornell WebSeries event, Building High-Performing Relationships at Work: What Leaders, Followers and Team Members Need to KnowSubscribe now to gain access to a recording of this event and other Human Resources topics. 

Cornell University Brings Strategic Perspective to Pay, Rewards with New Compensation Studies Certificate

— New ILR program at eCornell goes beyond tactics to design unique plans that drive results —

A surprising number of today’s organizations still struggle to get compensation plans right. Pay-based performance incentives are used in 90 percent of U.S. companies, yet recent reports find that most plans don’t deliver, or deliver the wrong results. Now, through eCornell, Cornell University’s globally renowned ILR School is offering an online Compensation Studies certificate that provides professionals and organizations with the strategic framework needed to rethink total compensation plans, motivate employees, and drive performance.

The Compensation Studies certificate builds on the ILR School’s more than 70 years of leadership in delivering research-based professional education. Since 2010, ILR has worked with eCornell to rapidly expand into online learning, offering five online Human Resources certificates, and launching Cornell University’s first blended master’s degree program—an Executive Master of Human Resources Management that combines innovative online coursework with rigorous on-campus sessions.

“Our new Compensation Studies certificate program is a strong addition to ILR’s growing portfolio of online education offerings. It expands access to the school’s deep expertise in human resources management,” said Linda Barrington, Executive Director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell’s ILR School and co-author of the new certificate program, along with instructing faculty member Stephanie Thomas, Ph.D. and Kevin Hallock, Ph.D., the Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean and Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professor of Economics and Human Resource Studies.

The Compensation Studies certificate is comprised of four courses that can be completed over two months. Students undertake a comprehensive, performance-based approach to compensation—aligning compensation to organizational goals, creating fair and profitable employee incentives, and probing the impact of plans on performance, profits, and people. Courses draw upon authoritative research shaping global pay-for-performance strategies, and include interactive tools and guidance on using a research-based compensation model, addressing cultural considerations, and defining employee populations by talent and role to optimize return on performance pay.

Cornell’s new certificate program is especially relevant for entry- to intermediate-level HR or compensation professionals, and for small business leaders seeking to structure and realign compensation with business strategy.


About Cornell University’s ILR School

Cornell University’s ILR School is the leading college of applied social sciences focusing on work, employment, and labor policy issues and practices of national and international significance. Offering undergraduate and graduate education as well as career-long learning for professionals, the ILR School advances the world of work through teaching, research and outreach, disseminating leading-edge knowledge to solve human problems, manage and resolve conflict, establish best practices in the workplace, and inform government policy.

About eCornell
As Cornell University’s online learning platform, eCornell delivers online professional certificate courses to individuals and organizations around the world. Courses are personally developed by Cornell faculty with expertise in a wide range of topics, including hospitality, management, marketing, human resources and leadership. Students learn in an interactive, small cohort format to gain skills they can immediately apply in their organizations, ultimately earning a professional certificate from Cornell University. eCornell has offered online learning courses and certificate programs for 15 years to over 130,000 students at more than 2,000 companies.

Cornell University Launches New Online Human Resources Certificate for Working Professionals

Cornell University has launched a new online Human Resources Certificate. The nine-course online program covers the foundational core competencies of human resources and features engaging content and interaction with expert instructors and peers.  Designed for working professionals, it is 100% online with a flexible asynchronous format that can be completed in as little as five months.

The program was developed by faculty at Cornell University’s ILR School and is available online through eCornell.  The courses cover fundamental topics crucial for a career in HR, including managing employee performance, total rewards compensation, labor relations, staffing decisions, engagement, training, development, coaching, countering bias, and internal consulting. Students who successfully complete the online program will receive a Human Resources Certificate from Cornell University.

“Whether you’re a generalist, specialist or new to the world of human resources, this Human Resources Certificate gives you the foundation needed for a successful career by providing ways for you to align your HR department to your organization’s goals,” said Associate Professor John Hausknecht. “We’re proud to make this online certificate program available to professionals around the world.”

This certificate launch is the latest addition to an extensive portfolio from the ILR School, including a recently launched fully blended Executive Master of HR Management program. Together since 2010, the ILR School and eCornell have worked with over 20,000 online students in over 180 countries throughout the world.

“The new Human Resources Certificate is based on the leading research, teaching, and outreach that are the hallmarks of our school’s mission of advancing the world of work,” states Kevin Hallock, the Kenneth F. Kahn Dean and the Joseph R. Rich Professor of Economics and Human Resources Studies at the ILR School.

The new Human Resources Certificate program includes lectures from 10 faculty members, input from numerous practitioners in the field, and a range of activities designed to translate concepts and best practices to application on the job.

“With the addition of the new Human Resources Certificate, Cornell continues to build on nearly 15 years of experience with online certificate programs,” said eCornell’s CEO and Associate Vice Provost of Online Learning for Cornell, Paul Krause. “We’re excited to offer such an engaging and high-quality online learning experience that combines instruction from Cornell’s world-renowned faculty and deep interaction with peers and experts.”

For more details on how to enroll, visit


About Cornell University ILR School 

The ILR School at Cornell University offers the most comprehensive portfolio of professional and academic programs focused on work and the workplace, conducting research and delivering instruction in labor studies, human resources, compensation, employment law, conflict resolution and disability studies ( ILR prepares leaders who are at the forefront of advancing the world of work, informing policy and improving working lives in New York state, the nation and across the globe.

About eCornell | Cornell University

As Cornell University’s online learning subsidiary, eCornell provides many of the world’s leading organizations with online professional development in the areas of finance, healthcare, hospitality, human resources, leadership, management, and marketing. eCornell has delivered flexible, engaging, and immediately applicable learning experiences crafted by Cornell University faculty to over 90,000 students in more than 200 countries.

For more information, visit

Driving Organizational Success Through Workforce Analytics

The use of analytics is changing the way HR professionals assess performance and position their organizations to succeed. Interest has grown considerably in recent years, as workforce analytics can reveal deep insights that help improve retention, efficiency, and productivity.

Cornell University’s John Hausknecht, HR Studies Professor at the ILR School, discusses the latest developments in this space, highlighting what leading companies are doing to strengthen the impact and reach of workforce analytics, including how “big data” will shape the field in years to come. The Q&A section is especially informative in this webinar.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How organizations are using HR data and measurement systems to influence overall strategy.
  • Which HR metrics are helping companies achieve strategic goals.
  • How to take results of data collection to develop a data-driven action plan.

Learn to think strategically about workforce analytics and capture the attention of senior leadership by making more informed, evidence-based decisions—decisions that have lasting impact beyond the HR department and throughout your organization.

Introducing our new HR Certificate

We are pleased to announced the launch of a new online Human Resources Management Certificate, developed by faculty at Cornell University’s ILR School. The nine-course program covers the foundational core competencies of human resources and features engaging content and interaction with expert instructors and peers. Like all eCornell certificates, it was designed with working professionals in mind as it is taken 100% online.

“The new Human Resources Management Certificate is based on the leading research, teaching, and outreach that are the hallmarks of our school’s mission of advancing the world of work,” states Kevin Hallock, the Kenneth F. Kahn Dean and the Joseph R. Rich Professor of Economics and Human Resource Studies at the ILR School.

The online HR courses cover topics crucial for a career in human resources, including employee performance management, total rewards compensation, labor relations, staffing decisions, employee engagement, training and development, coaching, countering bias, and internal consulting. Students who successfully complete the online program will receive a Human Resources Certificate from Cornell University.

“Whether you’re an HR generalist, specialist or new to the world of human resources, this Human Resources Management Certificate gives you the foundation needed for a successful career by providing ways for you to align your HR department to your organization’s goals,” said Associate Professor John Hausknecht. “We’re proud to make this online certificate program available to professionals around the world.”

The new Human Resources Management Certificate program includes lectures from 10 faculty members, input from numerous practitioners in the field, and a range of activities designed to translate concepts and best practices to application on the job.

Want to learn more? Go here or download our printable information sheet.

Hiring? Make Sure Your STARs are Aligned

Learn how to utilize the STAR interview method to create optimal behavioral interview questions and minimize risk when hiring new candidates.

Use the STAR interview method to create optimal behavioral interview questions.

When it comes to hiring, making predictions about candidates is crucial.

Ineffective interviewing techniques lead to poor predictions and can result in high employee turnover and more resources spent searching for new candidates.

To minimize this risk, many human resources professionals rely on the STAR interview method.

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. The STAR technique is designed to gather relevant information about job candidates to better predict future performance based on past behavior.

By asking behavioral interview questions, HR professionals and hiring managers can better assess the candidate’s ability and compatibility with a company’s culture. The STAR interview highlights the candidate’s actions and takeaways from his or her professional and/or academic experiences.Read More

Transcending Generational Differences in the Workplace

We’re at a unique moment in history; we now have three generations working side by side in the workforce.
Companies are facing challenges managing different work ethics, communication styles, values, approaches to teamwork, work-life balance expectations and relationships to authority.

In this fast-paced session, Carrie Shearer, eCornell faculty instructor and veteran HR strategist, demonstrates how HR professionals can transcend generational differences in the workplace:

  • Bridge the gaps among employees and help them avoid conflict.
  • Understand why each generation thinks and acts the way it does and then develop strategies to resolve the conflicts between generations.
  • Increase productivity in a generationally diverse workplace.

Carrie Shearer’s career has spanned nearly forty years and covered all areas of HR, with particular focus in compensation and global strategic issues. During her twenty years with Caltex Petroleum Company, she oversaw HR operations in 97 countries, developing HR curricula and course materials for developing HR practitioners.

At her consulting firm, Carrie Shearer & Associates, she offers expertise on strategic HR, international HR and leveraging a cross-cultural workforce. Carrie is a novelist, a frequent contributor to the HR track of, was on the advisory board of Woman Abroad Magazine, and is a sought-after speaker at international HR conferences.

eCornell offers four online certificate programs for human resources professionals, with the Advanced Certificate in Strategic HR being perhaps most relevant to today’s presentation. Whether you are new to HR, an accomplished HR practitioner, or an HR leader or business partner, there is sure to be a Cornell professional certificate that fits your career objectives.

How To Build an HR Strategy That Is Ethical, Mission-Driven and Gets Results

Ethics and workplace culture are at the heart of any successful business strategy. An organization’s ability to execute its mission and vision is directly proportional to the health of its culture and strength of its ethical values in action.

Today, more and more companies are looking to HR to bridge what may seem like an impossible divide: to align the high-level ideals behind mission and vision with tangible business results.

Susan Alevas, President, Alevas Consulting Group and eCornell Faculty Instructor, discusses how HR can bridge the divide and provide a winning strategy for senior leaders, HR professionals and managers at all levels. You’ll also learn:

  • How to develop and preserve a culture that supports the business strategy through ethics in action.
  • Several key steps your organization can take to strengthen its culture and boost its ability to execute its business objectives.
  • How to avoid common mistakes HR professionals make in this arena.

Susan F. Alevas, Esq. is president of the Alevas Consulting Group, an engaging management/training consultant and a principled private attorney licensed to practice law in the states of New York and Florida. Her previous management career included leadership in human resources and labor relations in both the private and public sectors.

Ms. Alevas is also an adjunct instructor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and teaches a variety of in-person and online courses in human resources, law and management-development topics and programs.

Human Resources’ New Role as Leader, Organizational Strategist

In this short, one-minute video, Cornell Professor Chris Collins discusses the kind of training that human resources professionals need to become organizational leaders and growth strategists.

In short, Prof. Collins says that today’s human resources leaders should be prepared to:

  • make high-level, data-driven organizational decisions.
  • play a prominent role in the formation and execution of broader company strategy.
  • foster diversity and inclusion programs to build a competitive talent profile.
  • encourage company growth through talent management, employee engagement and recruitment policy.

If you’re interested in becoming an HR leader and organizational strategist, check out eCornell’s Advanced Certificate in Strategic HR Management.