How to Maximize Engagement in Today’s Workforce

WhatMillennialsWantFromWorkMillennials have been burdened with a reputation as spoiled, lazy and entitled, but the reality behind the stereotype is far richer and more complex. Who are Millennials, what do they really want, and what can you do about it? Based on fieldwork and survey data from global research, What Millennials Want from Work paints a comprehensive, scientifically accurate picture of what really motivates Millennials around the world. Learn how to engage Millennials by improving workplace flexibility, because Millennials don’t separate life and work; providing adequate support and feedback, because Millennials like to learn and grow; coaching, not micromanaging, because Millennials value autonomy; designing competitive salary structures, because Millennials know what’s up; and providing opportunities to contribute to society, because Millennials care about doing good. In this essential book, Jennifer J. Deal and Alec Levenson explain who Millennials really are, and offer practical advice to help those who manage, lead, and work with Millennials, to improve teamwork, increase productivity, strengthen organizational culture and build a robust talent pipeline.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• Common misconceptions and realities about Millennials in the workplace.
• How Millennials can be both entitled and hardworking.
• The economic and social conditions that motivate and challenge Millennials at work.
• Practical tips for attracting, engaging and retaining Millennials.
• Important trends to help organizations plan for the future.

Getting the Right People in the Right Seats

In his mega-seller Good to Great, Jim Collins famously talked about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. In Misplaced Talent, human-resources consultant Joe Ungemah offers HR practitioners a thorough overview of the tools, techniques and frameworks required to achieve this important goal.

According to Ungemah, most of these tools and techniques have not changed dramatically. “What has changed,” he writes, “is the desire and ability for organizations to question the return on investment that their people practices have on improved business efficiency, staff engagement and performance.” In other words, through the new capability to accumulate vast amounts of data, organizational leaders can determine quite accurately whether the right people are in the right seats.

This puts the pressure on the HR staff and HR consultants, who are not only tasked with hiring employees who bring in the required skills, capabilities and temperament for the jobs but also with developing employees to achieve their greatest potential. The ultimate goal, writes Ungemah, is a strong employment relationship, and requires leaders to make the right HR decisions related to recruitment, responsibility assignments, staff recognition and discipline, if required, among other considerations.

The Person-Environment Fit

The first step in achieving the optimal employer relationship is to set the right criteria for the talent the organization wants to attract.

Once that criterion is set, the organization must then develop the right strategies and tactics to attract the right talent. For Ungemah, that means developing a clearcut employer-value proposition (EVP), which is then conveyed to potential candidates through an effective employer brand. Based on quantitative and qualitative data drawn in large part from interviews with current employees, the EVP details the employer promise related to a positive employment experience. The employment brand must reflect those promises through a credible, aspirational and consistent message.

As important as job criteria and employer brand are to the process, the rubber really hits the road when the new employees are hired. Specifically, Ungemah writes, human resources must immediately work to develop an employment relationship that reflects a high person-environment fit. The person-environment fit is, in essence, the technical term for “right people in the right seats.”

A high person-environment fit is achieved if, according to Ungemah, the organization has effectively applied the knowledge, skills and ability of the employees to accomplish the job tasks; the organization fulfills the tangible and intangible needs of its employees; and employees feel that the work they do is coordinated and is contributing to a common purpose.

Ungemah explores the tools and techniques required to achieve each of these three tenets of high person-environment fit. For example, organizations will use a variety of ability tests, interviews and job simulations to assess the capabilities of their employees, and thus be able to apply their knowledge, skills and ability effectively.

Fulfilling the needs of employees is accomplished through psychometric tests that help identify the personality characteristics, motivators and values of the organization’s employees. Ungemah warns, however, that organizations must not misuse the results from psychometrics. The last element of the person-environment fit reflects the feeling that the employees and the organization are moving in the same direction. To achieve this feeling, Ungemah writes, organizations and their employees must engage in a psychological contract, which is carefully built through the time, effort and resources that the organization invests in developing the employee.

Ungemah is the opposite of Jim Collins, who has sold millions of books by building metaphors and simple yet poignant concepts that, he argues, lead to broad business success. Misplaced Talent, in contrast, is a review of human-resources tools and techniques that, for the most part, are not new or revolutionary. However, Ungemah, supported by real-world examples from the many expert practitioners he interviewed, has written a valuable manual that helps leaders transform the flash of a Collins metaphor into workplace reality.

For more reviews, sign up for our monthly Executive Book Alert newsletter!

 

 

A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest

A VALUABLE TOOL FOR EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

When a valued employee suddenly and unexpectedly gives his or her notice, managers and supervisors will want to know why. Often, they will seek the answer in the “exit interview,” the standard meeting between outgoing employees and their bosses. The concept of exit interviews raises an obvious question: Would it not be better to find out why valued employees may want to leave before they turn in their resignation letters?

Consultant Richard Finnegan agrees and offers a solution: the “stay” interview. In his book The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest, Finnegan lays out the process for regular face-to-face meetings during which managers can pre-emptively uncover problems and concerns and resolve them.

Questions and Probes

The goal of the stay interview, and one that differentiates it from performance reviews or personal-development meetings, is for the employee to set the agenda, not the manager. This does not mean that the manager should not prepare for the meeting. On the contrary, managers should prepare as much as possible, Finnegan writes. For example, he suggests that before the meeting managers prepare two lists: an “important to them” list and a “my beliefs” list. The “important to them” list is an effort to anticipate (and thus be prepared to respond to) all the issues and concerns that the employee might have. “Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that if something is important to you, then it must be important to everybody,” warns Finnegan. “Conducting effective stay interviews requires putting your needs on the sidelines and focusing entirely on those of your employees.” The “my beliefs” list must follow this rule. It is a list of solutions or suggestions that managers believe should be offered (if the employee does not ask for them first) because they believe the employee will benefit from them.

The next step is to prepare the questions for the interview that will, in essence, help the employee set the agenda — that is, keep the meeting focused on his or her needs and not the needs of the manager. Finnegan offers five key questions to use in the interviews:

When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?

What are you learning here?

Why do you stay here?

When was the last time you thought about leaving our team? What prompted it?

What can I do to make your experience at work better for you?

These questions are the opening to the conversations. Each question, Finnegan emphasizes, must be followed up with what he calls “probes”: questions designed to dig deep into the reasoning of the employee’s responses. Effective probing will reveal the core emotions, concerns or challenges at the heart of the first responses to the questions.

Four Essential Skills

Probing, according to Finnegan, is one of the four essential skills required to make stay interviews work. Listening and taking notes are also essential skills, but it may be the fourth skill that Finnegan highlights that may be the most challenging to managers: supporting the employee without throwing the company under the bus. It’s easy in such situations to commiserate with the employee about the unfairness of the situation. In the long run, however, an employee is not going to stay engaged in a company in which even middle managers agree that the executives don’t know what they’re doing. Managers, Finnegan writes, should respond by expressing to employees their trust in top management — a trust that must be sincere. If managers have their own doubts about the company, they are not in a good position to work with employees on engagement.

Finnegan’s comprehensive guide, which covers all the facets of stay interviews, including developing stay plans and avoiding interview traps, does not gloss over the challenge of keeping the best and brightest in the company. In The Stay Interview, he introduces a valuable employee engagement tool that is realistic and practical but requires a conscientious effort from both parties.

Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change

learningtosucceed2

Learning to Succeed

Your company may be profitable today, with a solid product, plenty of buyers and healthy pricing. If so, congratulations –– it’s an enviable position. Now throw out everything you’re planning to do to stay competitive. Your future survival means keeping pace with a world in flux, as expanding global markets, shorter and unpredictable business cycles and increased ROI pressures reshape industries and erode market share for even the most venerable companies. “Cheaper, bigger, faster and newer” are the imperatives driving organizations, no matter how thinly spread their people and resources.

So how can your organization stay ahead of competitors ready to spring from any corner of the globe? Learning to Succeed provides a deceptively simple yet effective solution: Become a dynamic learning organization that actively embraces learning across the ranks, from the executive offices to the mailroom.

Expanding on Peter M. Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, corporate learning expert Jason Wingard draws from hundreds of interviews with senior executives, surveys and questionnaires with division heads and business unit managers, and personal observations at companies big and small to show that corporate learning is not just an “intangible” hit-or-miss pursuit. It’s a critical shift achieved through careful implementation –– and the most reliable solution for anticipating change, shifting gears and thriving in our fast-paced world.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• The pressures and opportunities of the global marketplace.

• How to supply a Continuous Integration of Learning and Strategy model.

• How to create a culture of excellence that attracts and retains top talent and nurtures manager effectiveness.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

People Are Not Widgets

“Your people are not your greatest asset. They’re not yours, and they’re not assets.”

Rodd Wagner

In his book Widgets, Wagner refers to the many terms used to codify people for business purposes, like “full-time equivalents,” “headcount,” “talent,” “human capital,” “overhead,” “inventory,” or “aprons.”

“Once people are seen as widgets – as “human resources” – it’s much easier to apply to them the kinds of Operationspeak that should be reserved for raw materials. They are “downsized,” attributed,” “onboarded,” “blended,” “change-managed,” “diversity-trained,” “e-taught,” “force-ranked,” “matrixed,” “requisitioned,” or “made redundant.”

Wagner and his researchers developed the 12 new rules of engagement to counteract this dehumanizing influence:

  1. Get inside their heads
  2. Make them fearless
  3. Make money a non-issue
  4. Help them thrive
  5. Be cool
  6. Be boldly transparent
  7. Don’t kill the meaning
  8. See their future
  9. Magnify their success
  10. Unite them
  11. Let them lead
  12. Take it to extremes

To learn more about how these new rules of engagement work in business, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Rodd Wagner called Managing Employees As If They’re Real People. Wagner provides a guide to better understanding human nature on the job and to understanding each of the New Rules that emerged from the team’s extensive research. It’s a guide for ferreting out and fixing all the ways your company treats its people like widgets.

Process versus the People

Today’s guest blogger is Linda Sharkey, author of Optimizing Talent. Dr. Sharkey is an HR Executive and Business Strategist with experience coaching and developing leaders and teams in Fortune 10 companies.

Is your Performance Evaluation System Helping or Getting in the Way of a Talent Rich Culture

Process versus the People

Are your year-end performance discussions more painful than they are worth and would most of your managers prefer to throw the system out?  Are you doing them merely to comply with legal requirements or to decide who gets paid what?  If so you are missing the mark on a very powerful system that can build your brand as a talent based culture and market leader.

We need to consider some key human resource systems to make sure that they are aligned with the culture you are creating and not working against it.

As we researched performance management systems in over 500 Fortune 1000 companies and talked with HR leaders in over 60 of them we discovered that the process was often more important than the outcome.  Checking the box once a year to make sure the employee and manager had at least one performance discussion seemed to be the prevailing outcome achieved.  Others focused on compensation alignment.  Few focused on creating a system where employees and their managers truly had a dialogue that actually helped employees understand how they could continue to grow and improve.  To quote several senior HR leaders “we are highly tactical in our approach and we don’t really use it to drive alignment to our culture and to our overall business strategy”.

Getting it Right

Here are ten proven steps that everyone can use to support a talent rich culture.

  1. Be crystal clear on the purpose of your performance management system.  What is the people philosophy that you are trying to promote through this system?
  2. Ensure that the system aligns with your values.   Make sure that these values are discussed so that everyone understands that what you do is as important as how you do it.
  3. Create a working profile of what the values look like in action.  State the values in terms of behaviors that everyone can recognize.  This way everyone in the organization understands the standard of the” best”.
  4. Train all you leaders and managers to recognize great behavior, assess talent and provide specific and actionable feedback.
  5. Teach managers and leaders how to effectively coach.  Agree on a coaching model and consistently apply it throughout the organization.
  6. Create peer coaching circles to help teams support each other in learning new skills and “grooving” new behaviors.  These circles enable employees to learn to ask each other for help when they need it and share suggestions and ideas.
  7. Create a simple form for year-end performance reviews that is 1 page – no more than 2 if you must.  Include specific business achievements, behaviors demonstrated, career goals and aspirations and finally what the employee needs to do to continue to grow in their current role or prepare for the next role.
  8. Don’t just reward for business outcomes; reward for expected behaviors as well.
  9. Measure and track the impact your system is having on the desired culture.  Examine your employee engagement scores to ensure feedback and coaching is happening through the year and measure your alignment to your culture so that you don’t lose sight of keeping your values on track.
  10. Link all your talent and performance discussions together to make sure you are sending consistent messages in the talent discussions as well as in performance calibration discussions.
  11. Communicate, communicate and communicate more about the impact of an effective system and how it is building a great place for shareholder value, customer loyalty and employee engagement!

If you follow these ten steps you will build a system that becomes part of your DNA, where people and leaders regularly help each other to succeed through effective feedback and coaching.  This was you will be providing performance feedback through the year and the end of the year “pain” goes away!  Try it you might like it.

You can hear more from Linda sharkey about optimizing talent at our Soundview Live webinar on May 7th: What Every Leader Needs to Know to Sustain the Ultimate Workforce.

Making a Career Among Multiple Generations

The time in which we live is unique in that this is the first time that four generations are working side-by-side in the workplace: the Traditionalists (born before 1945), the Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964), Gen X (born 1965-1980), and the Millennials (born 1981-2001). This is due in part to increased longevity and in part to people not wanting or being able to afford to retire.

Haydn Shaw, in his book Sticking Points, describes the 12 sticking points between the generations that must be worked through in order for inter-generational cooperation to take place:

Communication                                 Loyalty

Decision Making                               Meetings

Dress Code                                       Policies

Feedback                                          Respect

Fun at Work                                      Training

Knowledge Transfer                          Work Ethic

As younger workers seek to advance in their careers, they will need to learn how to work with those of older generations, and those at the top of companies will be more and more dependent on these younger workers for their success.

This coming week we have the pleasure of hosting two Soundview Live webinars relating to these issues. The first How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career with Debra Benton, and then How to Get 4 Generations Working Together with Haydn Shaw.

How to Climb Your Way to the Next Level of Your Career

In this Soundview Live webinar, Debra Benton gives you the insight and tools to make subtle changes in your presentation, attitude, and leadership style that will dramatically increase your leadership effectiveness – and, consequently, help you enjoy work and life.

How to Get 4 Generations Working Together

At this Soundview Live webinar, Haydn Shaw shows you how to help the different generations at work or home stick together instead of come apart, and will help you move beyond these sticking points and get productive again.

Both of these conversations will be helpful for anyone seeking to move up in their career. So please plan to join us on June 17th and 19th and invite your colleagues as well.

Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers

THE DECODED COMPANY

Using Big Data in Human Resources

What if companies knew as much about their employees as they knew about their customers? That is the provocative question at the heart of The Decoded Company — a book written by a group of entrepreneurs connected to a technology-driven health care marketing agency called Klick Health. Klick Health CEO Leerom Segal and his co-authors are great believers in the potential of big data — the myriad of information that is quietly and continuously collected from you as you go about your business as a consumer. Surprisingly, while companies have near-unanimously embraced the use of big data technology for their customers, very few attempt to find out more about their employees.

Three Principles

Using their own experiences as leaders of a fast-growing technology company, the authors describe in their book three fundamental principles for decoding your organization — that is, truly understanding in real time the individual skills, motivations and successes of employees, recognizing the challenges they face, and supporting each individual or groups of individuals as needed.

  • Principle 1: Technology as a Coach and a Trainer. According to the authors, most organizations use technology as a referee rather than as a coach. Technology allows companies to monitor what employees are doing and to whistle the fouls when they fall behind or fail. In decoded companies, technology is a      trainer and coach — preparing employees for the game (to continue the metaphor), then watching from the sidelines and jumping in to coach as      needed. One coaching idea proposed by the authors is the hiring of a “concierge” — someone who might use some of the traditional HR tools, such as career counseling or performance reviews, but whose one and only goal is to design a customized solution for each employee that helps them perform and grow. Technology as a trainer, the authors explain, means using “data and systems to watch blind spots, identify teachable moments, and proactively intervene with just-in-time training.”

 

  • Principle 2: Informed Intuition. The second principle is that technology does not replace but rather augments the intuition of leaders born from their      experience and knowledge, thus allowing them to make better decisions. The      capture of ambient data — ongoing information about what employees are doing or saying — is vital. (One example of the creation of ambient data is your Facebook activity. Facebook tracks with whom you communicate on their site, how often, from where and through which method, such as posting or chat message. This ambient data determines which Facebook friends end up on your newsfeed.) After analyzing a combination of ambient data and selected self-reported data, such as performance self-evaluations or monthly results, managers in decoded companies use their intuition to seek solutions to employee challenges. Bank of America discovered that the performance of call-center employees improved based on whom they talked to  during overlapping lunches. The bank thus decided to create more opportunities for employee conversations by changing a policy that had restricted overlapping breaks.

 

  • Principle 3: Engineered Ecosystems. The third principle is to use data to set up the culture and the environment that enables employees to work at their highest levels. Engineered ecosystems are both data-driven and talent-centric. For example, the authors describe how Google — which, as the company that tested 41 shades of blue for one of its toolbars, is notoriously data-driven — launched a major initiative to identify the most important traits for its managers. The results seemed at first less than earth-shattering: The eight identified traits included not micromanaging, expressing interest in employees’ success, having a vision and a strategy, and having the technical skills to advise the team. The data, however, not only identified the traits but also ranked their importance, and this is where Google’s leaders uncovered a truth about its culture that was contrary to everything they believed: technical expertise, once thought to be the keystone of a great Google manager, is the least important trait that a manager can have. Everything else comes first.

While Segal and his co-authors use Google and numerous other companies in a variety of industries as examples, it is their own success at Klick Healthcare that make The Decoded Company an authoritative, balanced and real-world exploration of the human resources potential of big data.

Who Needs an Office These Days?

REMOTE

Office Not Required

How am I going to know my employees are really working? Won’t those in the office be jealous? What if I need an answer now? These are just some of the excuses that opponents of remote work advance as they resist what Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson argue is the most effective and promising way to manage people. Fried and Hansson should know: As co-founders of software company 37Signals, they have 36 partners spread around the world serving millions of users. In their new book, Remote, they clearly advance the advantages of a virtual workforce while forcefully responding to those who can’t let go of the traditional office.

Are They Really Working?

For many leaders and business owners afraid of remote work, the main objection is that workers will “slack off” if not supervised. According to the authors, this fear reveals a much bigger problem. Specifically, it reveals that the manager sees him- or herself as not much more than a babysitter – which does not portend well for the organization. To put it bluntly, if managers act like babysitters, employees will respond in kind, the authors write. “People have an amazing ability to live down to low expectations. If you run your ship with the conviction that everyone’s a slacker, your employees will put all their ingenuity into proving you right. If you view those who work under you as capable adults who will push themselves to excel even when you’re not breathing down their necks, they’ll delight you in return.”

In fact, as the authors argue in a later chapter, managing remote employees increases the focus of the employee’s performance on the actual work for which he or she is responsible. Performance measurement in traditional work environments can be diverted by factors that don’t involve the true productivity of the employee. Did the employee arrive at 9:00 or 9:30 a.m.? Is he wearing appropriate attire for the office? These are not the questions that managers of remote employees ask. Instead, they are focused on the employee’s work results: Did he finish the report on time? Is her sales team improving their closing ratios? Remote work doesn’t enable slacking off – you can’t disguise lack of productivity; but it does refocus the manager’s attention on what’s important.

Some Trade-offs

The authors aren’t starry-eyed zealots about remote work, nor are they academics examining the virtual workplace as a theoretical construct. They recognize the advantages and potential of remote work but also recognize that there can be some trade-offs. Sometimes it’s nice to talk to your manager in person or sit in a room with your colleagues brainstorming on the next big idea.

Discipline is a big commitment, more than you realize. And interruptions are going to happen – it’s hard to say no to your child showing you the “A” on his homework.

But with technology and the right management – for example, holding weekly virtual meetings where people can give an informal report on their week – the tradeoffs can be mitigated, and the full benefits of virtual work can be enjoyed by employees and organizations alike.

Of course, there will always be some bosses who steadfastly believe remote employees means total loss of control. In such cases, the employee looking for virtual work employment has but one choice: to look elsewhere. In the end, it’s the company that loses.

Emotions in the Workplace

We’ve all heard the news stories about the employee or former employee who, in a fit of anger, shoots up the workplace, killing or wounding those they used to work with. While this is not a common occurrence, the damage caused by emotions in the workplace is. The tensions and dysfunction directly affect the bottom line of the company.

Dr. Vali Hawkins Mitchell cautions C-Suite Executives and Line Managers that ignoring the impact of employee emotions in the workplace is a recipe for disaster. Dr. Mitchell’s important work in the rising field of Emotional Continuity Management (ECM) clearly outlines how emotionally-charged situations, when mismanaged or unaddressed, can have a calculable, direct impact on the fiscal bottom line. She also offers clear steps for a company to take to train all employees for dealing with emotions in an appropriate and effective way.

We have invited Dr. Mitchell to join our Soundview Live webinar on December 3rd to provide guidance in dealing with the inevitable emotions that occur when people work in close quarters over an extended period of time. If you would like to avoid this kind of disaster in your workplace, then please join us for this important event.

As always, Soundview subscribers attend for free, and for all others the cost is just $49 for a full hour of analysis and advice on this important topic. Please register today for The Cost of Emotions in the Workplace.