Work in Asia's data age
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Work in Asia's data age

The steady advance of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies has been reshaping work and jobs for the past decade. Well before covid-19, robust debates were underway about the future of work and what potential scenarios for employment might emerge. Based on a combination of survey-based market research and in-depth executive interviews, this report explores how businesses are leveraging AI capabilities to reshape their organizations and operations. It is sponsored by Cornerstone, and the views expressed within are those of MIT Technology Review Insights, which is editorially independent.

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Work in Asia's data age
백서

Work in Asia's data age

The steady advance of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies has been reshaping work and jobs for the past decade. Well before covid-19, robust debates were underway about the future of work and what potential scenarios for employment might emerge. Based on a combination of survey-based market research and in-depth executive interviews, this report explores how businesses are leveraging AI capabilities to reshape their organizations and operations. It is sponsored by Cornerstone, and the views expressed within are those of MIT Technology Review Insights, which is editorially independent.

Cartoon Coffee Break: WFH Reflections
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Cartoon Coffee Break: WFH Reflections

Editor's Note:This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. There’s been a rise in remote work over the past few years, and for good reason. Attracted to the flexibility that comes with working from home, many employees now do their jobs from the comfort of their living room, a coworking space or even a coffee shop. But the remote work lifestyle can be difficult to adjust to for employees and employers alike. How can you empower your remote workforce to be productive and feel connected to their colleagues despite the physical distance? Read up on how your HR department can give employees the support they need to succeed. Header photo: Creative Commons

Creativity in the Workplace: Working Towards Mindfitness
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Creativity in the Workplace: Working Towards Mindfitness

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty - Erich Fromm Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and she was also the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice in two scientific fields. One great bit of advice she wisely shared was to be less curious about people and more curious about ideas. This makes a great deal of sense especially as we now live in an Idea Economy where organizations operate in a highly competitive global environment. A big part of business success is about taking great ideas and turning them into reality faster than the competition. Fresh thinking, creativity and innovation fuel business success and deliver the all-important competitive advantage. So, what is creativity in the workplace? Creativity is about unleashing the potential of your mind to conceive new ideas. It is characterized by your ability to perceive the world in a different way and to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena so that you can generate better outcomes. Creativity is a useful tool for solving problems or exploring new and innovative ways of doing things. It is about seeking out new opportunities, to produce original ideas, and apply imagination and inventiveness. One of the key benefits of creativity in the workplace is that it fuels innovation, which is essential against the backdrop of globalization, migration, technological advancements and climate change issues. We now have the added impact of a global pandemic that is wreaking unprecedented disruption and chaos.The need to constantly review how we do things is essential. Explore new opportunities Innovation is an imperative to maintain our quality of life in these changing circumstances. Always doing things in the same way will only produce the same outcomes, which may not be relevant or useful. We are living in an age where fostering creativity and innovation will help us to overcome the challenges we currently face and, in turn, support our ability to not only survive but to thrive. Great leaders understand the power of creativity as a tool to unleash fresh thinking and explore new opportunities and solutions to complex problems. How to increase creativity Great leaders of the future will know how to creatively build an open culture for the exchange of ideas and collaboration. In my work with teams across industries and culture, I have found that empowered leaders have the ability to really set the tone for creative explorations. This leads to innovation, fresh thinking and even some unexpected solutions. These are my top three tips for fostering creativity in the workplace: 1. Build creative networks Encouraging collaboration in the creative process through building a creative network is so important. Working in isolation can stifle creativity and having a network each individual can reach out to and bounce ideas off is really stimulating, especially with remote working becoming more the norm. Build a network of empowered creative minds and your team will break through the status quo and drive innovation with enthusiasm. 2. Identify barriers to creativity To ensure that your team has the time and space to be creative, you will need to remove any barrier. If the barrier is time, mark off time in everyone’s calendar to collaborate on something fresh. If space is a barrier, open a new shared folder for ideas or start a chat chain where people can share ideas. Engage with your team to identify any barriers from their perspective and ask them to explore and suggest solutions. You don’t always need to have all the answers. 3. Support employee wellbeing The best neurochemical cocktail for most creative work is a high level of both serotonin and dopamine. This combination of neurotransmitters will help your team feel calm, creative and energized. It is important to reduce stress as it produces the hormone cortisol, which can counteract the creativity-boosting effects of serotonin. Encourage and support this wellbeing within your team with a combination of stress management, healthy eating, drinking water, sleeping well and exercising. Failing is part of the creative process Something else that is really important to remember is that failure is part of the creative process and provides one of the most powerful ways for your team to learn and grow. As Thomas Edison once said, “I failed my way to success”. If you punish honest mistakes within your team, then you will most certainty inhibit future creative potential. Set an example by viewing mistakes as learning opportunities and see them as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. Cultivate a team narrative that says, “We don’t fail, we learn and that is all part of the creative process”. This is how great leaders can best support their teams to be truly empowered, creative and innovative. If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play - John Cleese For more Mindfit resources, check out free sample courses from Cornerstone’s Original Learning Series, Empowering Minds with Liggy Webb. Read about Liggy Webb's "Mindfit" model, or take a closer look at the first three elements in the model, a Resilient Mind, a Curious Mind and a Flexible Mind. Finally, keep an eye out for the next element of Liggy Webb's Mindfit model: A Kind Mind!

A Day in the Life of a Diversity Manager
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A Day in the Life of a Diversity Manager

The need for more diversity in Silicon Valley is no secret — recent demographic reports from large companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter show large gaps in both gender and ethnicity. Fortunately, companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce, hiring HR managers, program leads and recruiters with the specific task of increasing inclusion initiatives. “A wealth of research shows that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse teams," says Carissa Romero, a partner at Paradigm, a startup that helps companies implement diversity initiatives. "They make better decisions and solve problems more effectively. Focusing on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace isn't just the right thing to do; it's also a smart business decision." To learn more about the rise of diversity-focused roles, we spoke with three individuals who have committed their careers to inclusion. Here they discuss their everyday challenges, current initiatives and best advice for other companies dedicated to increasing diversity. Carissa Romero Title: Partner at Paradigm, a startup that helps companies implement diversity initiatives How did you get involved with diversity and inclusion? I was attracted to Paradigm because they were drawing on a wealth of research in social psychology to help companies design diversity and inclusion strategies. I believe that I can make an impact on an issue that's both personal to me — I am a Puerto Rican woman — and that I'm deeply passionate about. What's the most challenging part about your job? One big challenge that we see many companies face is their reliance on referral hiring. Because companies' workforces are often homogeneous, if they don't find other ways to source candidates, it's going to be hard for companies to create more diverse teams. What current diversity initiative or past project are you most excited about? Inclusion Labs is a partnership with Paradigm and Pinterest that will allow us to conduct workforce research to identify and better understand barriers to diversity, test new strategies for addressing these barriers, and share publicly as much information as we can about what we're learning. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? A successful diversity and inclusion initiative is one that is data-driven, draws on what we know from social science research and is context-specific. Tina Sandford Title: Managing Director of International Field Delivery at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) How did you get involved with diversity and inclusion? Last June, we ran an inclusion and diversity survey, held focus groups and did a series of interviews. I've had the wonderful opportunity to lead this initiative. What's the most challenging part about your job? Balancing the demand and drive of those who want to get things done quickly versus those who are more conservative. We want to go slow in order to go fast; to do this, we have to be thoughtful and recognize that everyone has a different point of view. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? In a general sense, ask: What are you trying to achieve and how does that relate to your organization and employee base? It's not one-size-fits-all. What is your best piece of advice for companies trying to improve diversity? Keep an open mind and realize that everyone has a different perspective and values that drive where they come from. Melanie Goldstein Title: Diversity and Inclusion Product Manager at Kanjoya, a start-up specializing in emotion-based intuitive analytics What's the most challenging part about your job? Through our technology, I am constantly faced with the reality that unconscious bias is not a myth; rather, it exists everywhere, is culturally ingrained and can impact people's careers. What current diversity initiative or past project are you most excited about? We help clients understand precisely where and how bias is manifesting in their organizations. Armed with metrics for unconscious bias, our clients can convince even the most ardent skeptics that there is a problem, take data-driven action and make diversity an organization-wide commitment. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? Successful diversity initiatives have to be data-driven and led by a commitment to transparency. The ability to track and measure progress over time is also crucial. What is your best piece of advice for companies trying to improve diversity? It's imperative to address the entire employee lifecycle. To make lasting diversity improvements requires a continuous process of iteration and experimentation. Photo: Creative Commons

A Day in the Life of an Employee Experience Manager and Specialist
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A Day in the Life of an Employee Experience Manager and Specialist

The war for talent has companies of all sizes focused on creating compelling employee experiences that will not only help them attract top talent, but also prevent current star performers from exploring outside opportunities. As the idea of "employee experience" design has evolved, it's become focused on much more than access to great perks and a fun work environment. A recent study on workplace happiness by staffing firm Robert Half found that job satisfaction is most influenced by having a sense of empowerment, feeling appreciated and being able to do meaningful and interesting work. Many employers are hiring dedicated "employee experience" managers to ensure they can meet these expectations. We recently interviewed three such specialists to learn more about this emerging and challenging profession. Here's what they had to say: Kayla Rena, Culture and Employee Experience Manager at ParTech, Inc. (PAR) How did you get involved with employee experience management? I started at PAR about five years ago as a technical writer. I fell into my current role not long after I became the chair of PAR's employee-run culture committee. Our vice president of HR noticed that other companies had dedicated resources to improving culture and the employee experience and thought it was time for PAR to do this, too. I said I'd love to have that role and listed all the reasons I thought I'd be good at it. And here I am today! What is the most challenging part of your job? Initially, it was defining the kind of culture we wanted. The trick now is to "walk the talk" and to live the core values we have defined every day—otherwise, they're just words. Another major challenge is creating a consistent employee experience for our people, at all levels of the company and in locations across the globe, centered on having respectful and trusting relationships with team members and management. That is probably one of the most challenging things I've ever had to do in my career. What's your best piece of advice for other companies trying to improve their work environment? Top leadership must be totally bought into changing the culture for the better. Without that alignment at the top, it's very hard to make long-lasting, meaningful change. Change is hard, and it doesn't happen overnight. I recommend starting with small changes or focusing on areas where you know you can move the needle a bit and then build on that. Josh Blumenfeld, Employee Experience Expert at Espresa, Inc. How did you get involved with employee experience? I have a customer service and relationship management background, so I've always been very people-focused in my career. One reason I wanted to join Espresa is its mission, which is empowering companies to do more for their people. My role is primarily external-facing. I work with employee experience specialists, HR leaders, administrative staff and others to help them develop programs for building a better culture and employee experience at their companies. What current experience, initiative or project are you most excited about? Our company developed a platform that helps employers manage their on-site programs, events, team-building exercises and more to ensure those efforts are having the desired impact. One new initiative I'm excited about is a rewards and recognition program that helps companies acknowledge employee milestones, like work anniversaries or workplace achievements. Employees can choose rewards that are meaningful to them. What is the most challenging part of your job? Educating other employee experience specialists about the value of using technology to help them build and manage their programs. Employee experience is an emerging space, and many organizations have only recently started using tools like HR analytics. Another challenge—which I think most employee experience professionals face—is helping financial decision-makers understand the business benefits of investing in these types of programs and tools. Rebecca Webb, Employee Experience Specialist at Specialty's Café and Bakery What current experience initiative or project are you most excited about? Our company was recently acquired, and the new owners and leaders are motivated to build a culture that is not only customer-focused but also employee-focused. My manager and I recently finished analyzing our first company-wide employee feedback survey. I'm now creating a report to communicate the survey results, and explain what initiatives our department is working on and when. It's exciting because showing employees that you are listening to them. Making changes based on their feedback is crucial for significantly improving employee experience and engagement. I plan to share feedback reports consistently as we implement changes. What is the most challenging part of your job? My job is exhilarating, incredibly rewarding and always interesting. But it can be challenging not to take on too many things at once. When you first start in this position, you need to learn quickly what to prioritize based on the needs of multiple company stakeholders. Having patience, objectivity and the ability to build relationships, and consensus, with people throughout the company are useful qualities for this position. What's your best piece of advice for other companies trying to improve their work environment? Your team members are your most valuable assets. Ask for their feedback regularly and let them know how you intend to apply their feedback. Also, encourage and empower employees to lead and reward their efforts. If they fail, challenge them to try again. And when implementing any initiative or program, be sure to consider the potential impact of those changes on the company and its customers. Photo: Creative Commons

A Day in the Life of a Health Care Industry Compliance Manager
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A Day in the Life of a Health Care Industry Compliance Manager

Karen Shell watched intently when the Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings in January for the next U.S. attorney general, a decision that could dramatically impact her day-to-day work. As the director of compliance for National Seating and Mobility (NSM), her interest in these hearings might not be clear at first, but Shell says a shakeup in the Department of Justice's philosophy and focus could seriously affect business. Monitoring changes in legislation and regulation is just one aspect of her complex role at NSM, a Tennessee-based company that designs one-of-a-kind mobility solutions like manual and power wheelchairs for disabled individuals and their families.“It's impossible to follow the rules if you don't know what they are and how they change," says Shell. “Plus, being unaware of a requirement isn't an acceptable defense." With plenty of important eyes watching, including the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG), Shell sees herself and her counterparts in compliance as revenue protectors. At NSM, the compliance team has its own space on the company' organizational chart, a wholly separate department from legal and human resources with direct, unfiltered access to the board of directors. According to Shell, it's important that the compliance officer maintain independence, so decisions can be made without competing agendas and influences. A typical workday for Shell involves creating policies, procedures and compliance training, identifying risks and auditing performance as well as serving as a confidential contact for all employees and leadership. We caught up with Shell to take a closer look at her unique experience as a compliance officer. Health care is a particularly difficult industry from a compliance perspective. What challenges have you experienced while building your career in this field over the past two decades? The major challenge has been keeping up with a constantly changing legislative and regulatory environment, along with changing technology and patient expectations. An additional challenge is presenting compliance as something more than just a necessary cost or a check box. My goal is to ensure that senior leadership knows we're here to support our greater corporate mission, not to hinder it. You mentioned changing technology. How does tech contribute to your daily efforts in compliance? Technology is an increasingly important part of our compliance program because we maintain client records and file claims electronically and we communicate with our clients and their medical professionals electronically as well. We have to be careful to keep that information secure, while meeting HIPAA and HITECH regulations. The benefit of electronic records is that we can use technology to put checks in place to help prevent false claims or more easily audit claims to identify non-compliance and improvement opportunities. We also use technology to train and inform employees. We can keep our compliance messaging fresh and make sure that compliance resources, like the compliance manual, are always current and easily available online. There's not an area of our business that isn't affected by technology, so we have to be sure we maintain compliance on that front, too. Why should business executives focus on cultivating a strong compliance program that doesn't feel like an afterthought for legal or HR teams? All companies, and definitely those in health care, operate in a complicated regulatory environment. A strong, proactive compliance program is needed to mitigate risks and to make certain the company stays within the guardrails while innovating and moving the mission forward. While a compliance department doesn't generate revenue, it's important that management understands that we're here to protect the business. The cost of operating a compliance program is far less than the extensive fines and penalties that companies might incur for violating laws and regulations. It's also important to recognize the value in having a certified professional lead the program. For example, I maintain my Health Care Compliance certification through the Health Care Compliance Association, which was established in 1996 to help navigate and translate the complex regulatory requirements. Can you share some examples of particular compliance challenges that you frequently face? How do you overcome those hurdles? Our Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs) work directly with clients with disabilities. They provide mobility with very restricted reimbursement processes from insurance companies, Medicare and other payers. Because not every item we provide is a covered item, it's sometimes difficult for ATPs to understand why we can't just give our clients things for free when they're clearly in need. As much as we'd love to help, the wheelchair industry has an unfortunate history of fraud and abuse, so we have to be especially careful about maintaining compliance with the False Claims Act, beneficiary inducement and anti-kickback statutes. This can be frustrating, so it's important that I communicate not just what we can and can't do, but also why we have to do it a certain way. I explain that my job isn't to help them get around something, but to do whatever I can to help them through it. The ability to communicate how and why regulations apply to how we do business is important at every level. Everyone from the field employees to the board of directors should understand it. Is that why you created a training manual, a code of conduct and compliance manual for each layer of staff at NSM? Yes. It's important to provide employees at every level with an explanation of the laws and regulations that apply to what they do every day. Our training program helps them understand what they need to do to minimize the risk of non-compliance so that we can continue to provide great care for our clients for many years to come. Our Compliance Manual is a detailed tool to use for guidance, while the Code of Conduct outlines the behaviors we expect and the consequences for not meeting those expectations. Establishing very clear guidelines with open lines of communication for employees at every level is crucial. It's also the part of my job that I find especially rewarding. I enjoy being able to communicate with everyone, from the executives to part-time employees, and developing a level of trust so that anyone feels comfortable coming to me with questions or concerns. For more on healthcare compliance management, visit https://hr.cornerstoneondemand.com/compliance-healthcare-li Photo: Creative Commons

Dear ReWorker: What Belongs In the Employee Handbook?
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Dear ReWorker: What Belongs In the Employee Handbook?

Dear ReWorker: Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
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Dear ReWorker: Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Dear ReWorker: I Haven't Had a Raise in Five Years
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Dear ReWorker: I Haven't Had a Raise in Five Years

Dear ReWorker, My husband has been working for the same company for over 25 years. None of the employees, including my husband, have received a raise in the last five years. The owner of the company keeps telling the workers the company isn't making any money; however, the employees have watched this same owner drive up in a brand new pickup truck, towing a brand new boat that he boasted about paying for with cash. This is the same owner who continually questions the morale of the company. What can my husband do in this situation? And, what type of advice would you have for this employer? Sincerely, Getting Impatient __________________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Getting Impatient, Your husband should brush up his resume, find a new job and quit. In that order. An owner that hasn't offered a raise in five years, complains about a lack of money while showing off his expensive purchases and can't see that his actions are causing low morale isn't likely to change. Now, of course, I should ask if your husband has asked for a raise in the past five years. If he hasn't, he should ask. The exception to this is if your husband is at the top of the pay scale for his profession and wouldn't be able to make more money anywhere else. Salaries should be based on market rates, and if you're already at the top of the market, you aren't going anywhere. The owner of this business sees himself as doing a favor to the employees—isn't it great that I gave you a job out of the goodness of my heart? Now, I'm all for small business owners, and I understand that they take risks, but they aren't doing it out of "goodness." They do it because it's the best way to be profitable. Your husband's boss wouldn't have his new truck and new boat without his employees. Yes, he provides them with jobs, but they help his company prosper. It might be scary to go out and look for a new job—after all, he's been there 25 years, and the devil you know is often better than the devil you don't. But, most companies are happy to have good workers and want to reward them. Looking won't cost him anything and if he doesn't find anything better, he should stay. As for advice for the owner—he's not writing me, but I'm always happy to give advice. I'd tell the owner to make sure to give his employees raises—there's little doubt that salaries should have been bumped up at least for cost of living over the past five years. The second thing I'd tell him to do is have his finances evaluated by a professional. Now, maybe he has a wife who paid for the new truck and boat and the business is struggling, but if he is paying for that with money the business earns, he needs an expert to take a look at his books. Why? By not investing in his employees, he's not investing in his business. Your husband probably isn't the only person considering leaving after being treated like that. Turnover is incredibly expensive—probably more expensive than his fancy new boat. It's not going to be so cheap to replace someone with 25 years of experience. Overall, he's making bad decisions based on short-term pleasure, and that's going to come back to bite him. Your ReWorker, Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Creative Commons

Dear ReWorker: The New General Manager Is Cleaning House
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Dear ReWorker: The New General Manager Is Cleaning House

Dear ReWorker, I am a manager in a retail business and have been there for over six years. Recently, a new general manager took over, and she seems to be cleaning house and hiring her own team. I have found out that a supervisor (we'll call him John) that reports directly to me is being asked to step down and he does not want to. The GM targeted him because he said he wanted to leave retail and was looking elsewhere. His replacement is coming from within our district, and she is a "favorite" of my district manager. I feel this is just an ill attempt to promote her and find an easy spot for her. John has had no performance documentation or any write ups for performance. He is actually very good at his job and isn't disengaged. Can my managers and company do this? It's also important to note that I don't believe that my corporate HR knows the real actions behind this internal promotion and that someone is being pushed out to make it happen. Sincerely, Concerned Manager __________________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Concerned Manager, Short answer: Yes. They can do this. The only way it would be "no" in this case is if the new general manager targeted John because he was male and she prefers women. The question you didn't ask, but the one I will answer anyway, is should the general manager do this? The answer to that is more complicated. It is extremely common for new managers to bring in their own people. They've worked with them before, they know this person will bring good results, there's no time lost building relationships, and it's just more fun. But, it may or may not be good. If the previous general manager had a completely different personality and built up the staff around her personality or leadership style, it can be difficult to get people to change. If the new general manager got her job precisely because her boss wanted big changes, this can be the fastest way to do so. However, I think you should wait and see in most situations. Find out who will work well with you and who won't, then make decisions. Lots of companies don't allow a wholesale changing of leadership when a new big boss comes to town. In the specific case of John, though, he told people he wanted to leave. He told them he was actively job hunting. If you're the new general manager, and you have a supervisor who doesn't want to be there, no matter how effective he is at his job, and you have an employee you know to be great who earned a promotion and just needs a spot to open up, it makes a lot of sense to promote the person who wants to be there and let go of the person who doesn't want to be there . Lesson is this: Don't tell people you don't like your job and are looking to move on unless you're 100 percent sure they'll support you until you do leave. Your ReWorker, Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Creative Commons

Digital Leadership: engaging employees, communication, & the long-term lessons to take with you
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Digital Leadership: engaging employees, communication, & the long-term lessons to take with you

We are facing unprecedented times. Between an economic downturn, massive furloughs, and fear for the health and safety of our communities, employees are feeling more uncertain than ever. Times of crisis and rapid change requires strong and effective leaders who are critical for setting direction, driving continuity, and motivating the broader organization. But, what does effective digital leadership look like? Join Jim Batz, Cornerstones Senior Manager of Learning and Development to learn: -The importance of instilling a strong digital company culture -The essential soft skills you need to be an effective leader -What Cornerstone is doing to effectively manage and engage a remote workforce Regardless of when things get back to “normal”, we know it will be a new normal. The digital transformation that takes place now will reap benefits today and long into the future.

Don't Be Afraid to Say, 'You're Fired'
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Don't Be Afraid to Say, 'You're Fired'

When people get promoted into a management role, the going phrase is that you now have "hire and fire" power. Almost everyone enjoys using his or her hire power — it's great to build your own team and see each individual employee grow. But fire power? Unless you're a cold-hearted person, you generally don't enjoy using your fire power — ever. But should you? If you think the answer is "no," consider the hiring and firing operations of the federal government for a moment — you're more likely to die than to be fired in a government job. Then, think about the level of service provided by most government organizations: Do you want to run your business with the efficiency of a DMV? Then don't fire anyone. But if you want to be better than that, you need to be willing to let people go when it's warranted. When "Fired" Is the Right Choice This doesn't mean you should just start firing people whenever you feel like it. So, when should you let someone go? Here are three of the most common reasons to warrant a fire: 1) The employee is a toxic person: A toxic employee may be a skilled high-performer, but is also someone who causes problems right and left. This person makes the whole office miserable. Your best employees don't want to work with a bully and will move on. Do you want to replace your good (and kind) employees when they quit? In addition to the bully, you may have a gossiper, a harasser or a generalized jerk. You don't need these people in your office if they impact company culture and workplace relationships, no matter how good they are at the technical side of the job. 2) The employee is a poor performer: Everyone needs training time. But, if that time has long since passed and your employee still performs below his peers, firing should be considered. How much time and money are you losing because your employee can't do his job properly? How much time are your other employees spending fixing his mistakes? Perfection isn't a standard that any boss should require and mistakes will aways be made — no matter how great you are at your job — but, if you have someone who consistently under performs after considerable coaching and mentoring, it's time to let that person go. 3) The employee lacks the skill set you need: If someone lacks the skills to do the job and the skills are not something that you can provide through training — or you've given ample training and the employee simply can't grasp the topic — it's time to let her go. This is often the most difficult fire for a manager to make, especially if the employee is a great teammate. If you're in this situation, you should let the person go, but it shouldn't be a standard "firing." It should be classified as a layoff, which means you're eliminating the position that she was doing and replacing it with a different job description. Offer help in the job hunt, give a great reference and a fair severance package. The Right Way to Fire People When you decide that you need to let someone go, make sure that you do it properly. The most important thing you need is documentation. For instance, if you want to fire someone for poor performance, but you've never documented anything about the person's need to improve, you shouldn't fire him or her. Likewise, you can't fire someone for being a bully if you've never documented a problem. Most importantly, if you do fire someone, communicate the reason to your remaining staff as honestly as you can. Some managers are afraid that if they fire someone, the rest of the staff will be fearful that they're next. This is only the case if you're not clear about why the employee was let go. Firing someone is never an easy thing to do (and rightfully so), but the best managers understand that it's an important skill set to have if you want to maintain a positive and productive workplace. You will have the opportunity to hire new people with the right attitude, performance and skills for your department, and the end result will be better performance all around. Photo: Shutterstock

Employee Handbooks: Out With the Old, In With ... What Exactly?
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Employee Handbooks: Out With the Old, In With ... What Exactly?

The employee handbook: every company has one, yet most employees never lay eyes on it after they get out of new-hire orientation. And who could blame them? "Today's employee handbook feels so antiquated," says Michael Molina, chief human resources officer at San Diego-based Vistage International, a membership organization that provides executive coaching to CEOs of small and mid-size companies around the world. "Let's face it," Molina says. "An employee handbook, you pick it up on day one and you put it down unless you have a question." Small wonder, then, why innovation-focused companies such as Netflix and Zappos have experimented with more compelling handbook alternatives -- such as colorful, engaging slide presentations that showcase the company’s values, vibe and culture and downplay rules and policies, reference them in other documents or leave them out altogether. San Francisco-based Zaarly, a startup that supports a network of local merchants in selling their crafts (think Etsy for service and merchandise) has taken the concept a step further: Listed in the "Rules for Work" section of its of new employee "handbook" is a provocative mandate: "We do not have these." Most companies may not go to the extreme that Zaarly has, but the traditional employee handbook that lays out employees rules and regulations certainly deserves a makeover. In an effort to recruit fresh-faced talent and create an engaged work environment, businesses are hoping that focusing on the good stuff (core values, perks, cool culture) will make the not-so-fun stuff (regulations, rules, fine-print) obsolete.  As Molina explains, "In general they are far less detailed and serve as an advertisement for new employees." But is that enough? Is there a happy medium to strike for companies that want to impress new hires with humor and personality, but also recognize the value of clear policy information on issues ranging from "WFH" (working from home -- a hot topic again) to social media policy to discrimination and fraud?  The "no rules" concept may not be for every company, or even most companies, but it doesn't mean existing policies can't be rethought. As Molina explains, some companies are adopting a two-pronged strategy: pairing a more compliance-heavy handbook with another focused on company culture. "You can have a great work culture and still have an employee handbook about ethical standards and computer usage standards, with great responses from employees," Molina says. So what does a successful two-pronged approach look like? Here are a few helpful rules of thumb: Describe the Real Culture of the Company -- Not One You Imagine "The handbook needs to be representative of the daily experience," Molina says. "You don't want to walk into a culture where everyone looks like a drone. When future hires walk in the door, they immediately get a sense of who you are as a company. You can tell them whatever you want in the handbook, but an employee smells the actual experience out very quickly. You have to be able to articulate that within a week or a month of what that environment is going to be like." He's right: According to data collected by The Wynhurst Group, 22 percent of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment. If new hires feel lost, they need more than a presentation or a pithy page to understand their new work environment. The culture of the place comes out if you'd like it to or not, just by being there. Don't Sweep the Important Stuff Under the Rug A truly no-rule environment can't exist in today’s workplace. Policy and procedure help protect both the employer and the employee -- and they shouldn't be ignored. There is room for people to be hurt and also skirt responsibility if rules are not set in place. No matter how old or experienced your employees are, lack of clear-cut rules can backfire. In fact, most ethical problems arise when employees have an out or an excuse, says Chris MacDonald, professor of ethical leadership at Ryerson College in Canada. With no rules, the "I didn't know" excuse can run rampant. "I think it's a gimmick to say you don't have a handbook," Molina says. "You can't operate without practices and policies and laws. So if a company wants to position itself properly, it has to set two things in place: something that tackles the culture and something that highlights the management practices followed. There are rules that you have to have in a company and they should be available to the employee. That being said, you must insure that the rules are representative of the daily experience in the workplace." Stick to Substance -- Not Slapstick It's important to attract and retain talent -- but even more important to stay genuine. Employees can see through the diatribe of a slick but substance-lacking handbook like Zaarly's. After all, the substance is what will hold the entire endeavor together. Yes, Zaarly throws around some fun and shocking phrases -- "You may speak to, call, email or have a meeting with anyone. Even if it's your first day. Even if you don't know their name. Even if they have a mustache," the handbook reads. But the piece also contradicts itself: calling for face-to-face communication as a tantamount practice while also encouraging employees to work from home or blast Skrillex if it makes them more productive. Furthermore it offers some tasteless jabs as other companies: "If you want to coast, we recommend you apply for a job at Craigslist." "I don't think a handbook replaces what you do day in and day out," Molina says. "I want new hires to feel as though they're coming to a place that is engaging and where the culture fits the company's values through the spirit of the right leadership and right energy. If whatever tool we use reflects that, then I think we've been successful."

Employers, It's Time to Let Go of the Unemployment Stigma
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Employers, It's Time to Let Go of the Unemployment Stigma

Those of us in HR don't like to admit it, but companies don't afford the same level of consideration to unemployed candidates or candidates with employment gaps as they do to working applicants. Sometimes, companies even prefer to recruit passive candidates that haven't applied for a job in the hope of attracting them. I guess we just love the thrill of the chase. Shame on us. What's more, even if we do show unemployed candidates' resumes to hiring managers, how many of us actually try to justify why great candidates find themselves out of a job? Do we argue with decision makers who claim that if the candidate was any good, she or he would already be employed? That stereotype holds no merit at a time when mergers and acquisitions are driving excellent workers to the unemployment line. In 2010, as part of the American Jobs Act, the federal government exempted employers from paying the 6.2 percent social security tax on wages paid to previously unemployed workers that they hired, and offered a $1,000 tax credit for every employee that they retained for a minimum of one year. While employers were eligible for this deal, I did the reverse of what employers traditionally do—I actively searched for unemployed candidates. And guess what? None of them were less competent than workers that left their other jobs to come on board. In fact, evidence for this is more than anecdotal. In its 2014 advocacy guide for employers, Deloitte cited a study that found “virtually no difference between the performance of those who had not held a job within the past five years, and those who had." The Benefits of Hiring Qualified Unemployed Candidates Now that the tax break has expired, there are still a number of advantages to hiring qualified unemployed candidates. For one, hiring managers have noted that this cohort had higher rates of retention than those who hadn't experienced the hardship of being out of a job, and Deloitte's guide confirms this. Companies who hire unemployed candidates “experience a more reliable and loyal workforce, as well as higher retention rates," it states. Lower recruitment costs are another benefit, because employers can source qualified candidates without paying premium recruiter fees when hiring someone who is unemployed. According to Deloitte's guide, hiring unemployed individuals also reduces hiring time by 50 to 70 percent since they're available immediately. And, because these workers are often experienced, there's a 50 to 70 percent reduction in time spent getting them up to speed as well. But a bias as deeply engrained as the one against unemployed job candidates is difficult to overcome. For example, LinkedIn experts have long advised candidates against stating that they're “actively seeking new opportunities" in their profile headlines because it signals their unemployed status. Nevertheless, a movement directed at overcoming the anti-unemployment bias is gaining traction. Together with two colleagues, we invented a hashtag, ONO (Open to New Opportunities), to make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to source, qualify and hire unemployed candidates whose value proposition might be exactly what your company needs. Look out for it, and take a closer look at unemployed candidates! Photo: Twenty20

An Employee's Guide to Successful 1:1 Meetings with Your Manager
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An Employee's Guide to Successful 1:1 Meetings with Your Manager

This will sound incredibly obvious but one-on-one meetings involve two people. This means that organizations need to spend equal time coaching both meeting participants. Now, it only makes sense to talk about how employees can make the most of the meeting. The one-on-one meeting isn't the same as a performance review meeting. Yes, the discussion will include performance, but the meeting is really about feedback. Employees want regular feedback - both positive and negative. It's not a millennial thing or a Generation Z thing. Everyone likes knowing they're doing the right things. And if an employee isn't doing something well, they want to know before it becomes a disciplinary issue or affects their performance review. Regardless of how often your company does performance reviews, no one wants to be surprised during their performance review. That said, one-on-one meetings are only as good as the conversation. That's why organizations need to provide employees with some training and guidance on their role during one-on-one meetings. Having a meeting where a manager just tells an employee stuff isn't productive. Employees need to come to the conversation prepared. Employees share responsibility in one-on-one meetings Organizations that encourage one-on-one meetings shouldn't put all the responsibility on managers to make them happen. Employees share the responsibility. It's true that when it comes to scheduling, employees are sometimes at a disadvantage because a manager will typically schedule the meeting. But there are a couple of things that employees can do to make sure the one-on-one is a top priority. Work with your manager to establish a schedule for your 1:1 meeting (e.g. every second Tuesday at 2 p.m.). If your manager is reluctant to do that... Bring your calendar to each meeting. At the end of a meeting, always suggest scheduling the next meeting. If that doesn't work... Wait a couple of weeks and ask for the meeting. An employee can pop into their manager's office and say, "Hey isn't it time for our 1:1? I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to put it on my calendar." Once the meeting is scheduled, employees need to dedicate time to preparing for the meeting. At a minimum, employees should spend some time thinking about their performance. Here are two questions to consider: What have you done well? Hold yourself accountable and answer this question first. It can be tempting to think about the negative. Don't sell yourself short. There are plenty of positive things to recall. What could you have done differently? Please note: This question didn't say wrong. There's a reason for that. There are plenty of times when we accomplish something, but it could have been done in a better way. Employees should be prepared to have specific responses and examples to both questions. It shows you spent time thinking about it. And it's possible that an employee will remember something their manager either wasn't aware of or had forgotten about. Preparation also means thinking about questions to ask during the meeting. These questions typically involve what's happening inside the organization or company goals. If the manager doesn't bring up company projects, it's okay to ask them if there any new projects you should know about. Employees might also want to provide their manager with an update on goals. Which goals are on track? Which goals might need revisiting? If a goal is off track, come prepared to discuss why, what it will take to get it on track, and whether the goal needs to be changed or scrapped. If your recommendation is to eliminate a goal, come to the meeting prepared to present another goal. It's possible you won't need it but come prepared anyway. Employees should give the company feedback So far, the focus of the one-on-one meeting has been on the employee's performance, goals, etc. The focus of the meeting will continue to be on the employee, but the conversation is going to shift. Employees should be prepared to offer valuable feedback to the company. Make suggestions on actions the company can take to improve. Tell your manager what support you need from them to accomplish your goals. Just like employees, managers want to hear feedback about their performance. Employees should consider using some of their meeting time to tell their manager what they do well. In addition, think about telling your manager the things that the company does well. All feedback isn't negative and sharing positive feedback with a manager tells them which behaviors to continue. Before ending the meeting, both the manager and employee should recap what they plan to do before their next meeting. Discuss where any notes from the meeting will be located - so both individuals have access to the information. A technology solution is the perfect place for this! One-on-one meetings are a shared responsibility Many organizations already train and coach managers on how to conduct a one-on-one meeting. Organizations should make the investment and do the same for employees. After all, they're one-half of the 1:1 meeting and need to take responsibility for their side of the conversation. Employee performance will improve when they're able to properly prepare and participate in the meeting. Â

Flat-Structure Organizations: Realistic or Impossible?
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Flat-Structure Organizations: Realistic or Impossible?

What's one surefire way to get an innovative and exciting new project sidelined? In one word: bureaucracy. Too much managerial overhead can slow down productivity and discourage creativity. To combat this, companies like tech company GitHub, gaming software developer Valve and W.L. Gore, the company that created Gore-Tex, have adopted a "flat" organizational structure that has very few (if any) middle managers or formal job titles. Rather than relying on a hierarchy of managers, these companies aim to give employees the ability to organize themselves around projects that need to get done. However, writes Klint Finley, contributor to Wired Enterprise, while a good idea in theory, "Critics say flat organizations can conceal power structures and shield individuals from accountability." In 1972, Jo Freeman, feminist scholar, speaker and author, wrote in her essay, The Tyranny of Structurelessness, “There is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion.” And recently, GitHub has been under fire from a former employee for these very issues, begging the question: is a flat structure a realistic option for businesses or do they just sound nice in theory? According to Dr. Richard Ronay, a professor at Columbia Business School and author of The Path to Glory Is Paved With Hierarchy, a company must choose the management style that best fits its goals and the personalities of its leaders. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a flat organizational structure. Invisible Power Structures One of the issues with flat non-hierarchical groups that Freeman points out is that most of the time there are power structures at work, they are just invisible, and therefore aren't held accountable for their actions. Writes Finley, "Companies like GitHub and Valve are not necessarily 'structureless.' They have a top layer of management responsible for the big decisions." However, as former Valve employee Jeri Ellswort  told the Grey Area podcast, "Valve was a lot like high school." Said Ellswort , “There are popular kids that have acquired power in the company. Then there’s the trouble makers, and everyone in between.” The Right Fit A common way that flat structured organizations ensure that work always gets done without direct supervision is through hiring people who “fit the culture,” writes Finley. While company culture is important, regardless of the organizational structure, it can sometimes deter diversity in hiring. It's important to balance culture fit with bringing in people who have a fresh perspective.  Food for Thought While Finley points out that good and bad management can be found at any company, whether the organizational structure is hierarchical or flat, the recent comments from former employees of companies like GitHub and Valve show that company structures are extremely complex. H/T Wired Enterprise Â

At The Heart Of An Adaptable Organization Is Employee Well-Being
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At The Heart Of An Adaptable Organization Is Employee Well-Being

This article was originally published on Forbes.com, under Jeff Miller’s Forbes Human Resources Council column. Employee burnout hit an all-time high in 2020. I know I felt it. Toward the end of last year, I felt like that meme of the cat hanging onto a branch. It wasn’t unusual for me to work weekends and long weekdays. I’ve never been this worn-out — and I’ve been what you might call a workaholic for much of my career. This year, we need to be better about fighting burnout, even as many of the same things that made last year so challenging persist. And it needs to start at the manager level. As we're working to build more adaptable, flexible organizations, much of that work comes back to ensuring managers are not just managing tasks, but managing people — and fostering their learning, growth and success. After a year as tiresome and demanding as 2020, the importance of managers in supporting employees’ engagement and well-being has only increased. The challenge is that managers themselves have been just as burned out as their employees, making it harder for them to coach and support their teams. Doing better starts with this awareness: My exhaustion doesn’t just affect me and my health; it affects my team as well. From there, managers can focus their energy on making work better for employees by eliminating work friction, identifying and reducing the frequency of unproductive meetings and making the most out of individual check-ins. Implementing these three changes will have a ripple effect. Because employees will be less burned out, they will have more time and energy to focus on more meaningful, strategic work that will advance their personal growth — and the goals of the organizations. 1. Reduce Work Friction As managers, our job is to make it easy for employees to do their job and ensure they have the time, resources and capabilities to perform well. Otherwise, they confront work friction. Misaligned project goals, overwhelmed teams and rigid or outdated work processes are common causes of work friction. And according to a recent Gartner report, the amount of time employees spend trying to get around work friction generates about 3.1 million wasted hours annually. I realized this problem in my team recently, after asking for feedback. Overwhelmingly, their responses told me that I wasn’t doing enough to control the work coming in from other departments or leaders. I hadn’t been filtering these requests or adjusting their workloads accordingly. To reduce work friction, work with employees to outline their roles, answering questions like, “What are the deliverables, and who is owning them?” or “What is the timeline here, and is it realistic?” Don’t assume that employees have answers to these questions or that they have the time necessary to complete these projects. And always make sure to leave employees room to ask questions. Urge them to give you feedback as well. In my experience, the best managers ask their employees for feedback as often as they deliver it to their employees. 2. Be More Intentional About Meetings Since the pandemic, the number of meetings has increased, meaning there’s even less time to tackle projects. In one small 2020 survey, about 78% of employees said their meeting schedule is always or sometimes out of control and that upper management or their direct manager is responsible for creating crazy meeting schedules. In 2021, think about reframing meetings and their purpose for your team. Meetings should be used to brainstorm ideas, gather other team members’ perspectives to help make decisions or reflect on completed projects to learn how they can be improved in the future. If not used for one of these three purposes, a meeting could be replaced with an email. 3. Do More With Employees Check-Ins One meeting that managers should always keep on their calendars is check-ins with their teams. But here, the same rules apply: If you and the individual are simply using the meeting to deliver status updates on ongoing projects, that can be handled in an email. Instead, use this time to check in with your employees about higher-level issues and questions, like their feelings on ongoing projects and personal well-being. The uncertainty and stress of the past 10 months have put many employees in survival mode — a depletive mental state that makes it harder to think logically. In this headspace, employees will complete tasks just to check them off their to-do lists without considering why they are doing them, how they could be done better or even what they like about the work. But by asking them to answer these questions in one-on-one meetings, managers can help coax employees out of survival mode. Use these meetings to check in on employees’ mental and emotional health as well. I have a technique for this called “check up from the neck up” that I developed when teaching middle school. It involves asking my employees (or then, students) questions like “Where’s your head?” or “Are you OK?” This will bring employees’ attention back to these needs and provide managers with the information necessary to optimize their management style around any current struggles. A 2021 With Less Burnout Although 2020 is behind us, 2021 will likely contain many of the same challenges — meaning that, for many people, it will at times be overwhelming and stressful. If employees aren’t taking time to reset, that can negatively affect their focus, productivity and job performance. It’s a tragic, recurring spiral. In 2021, we need to break this habit, and managers hold the key to unlocking a new way of working. They need to help employees find a better balance between work and life and develop ways to manage their workload. Then, by reducing burnout, managers can ensure employees have more time and energy for more meaningful projects that contribute to their personal growth as well as the organization’s, such as improving individuals’ responsiveness to change so they can become better at managing disruption and help build a more adaptable, flexible organization. Want to learn more from Cornerstone CLO Jeff Miller? Read his thoughts on what companies stand to gain from infusing more positivity into their workplaces in the year ahead.Â

Helping Employees Find a Productive State of Mind
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Helping Employees Find a Productive State of Mind

Self-control drives workers to file that report, make a sales call or finish the meeting agenda, yet managers largely fail to consider its impact on worker productivity. They fret about meeting performance goals or building a product, but they ignore the motivating factors that individual employees need to deliver results. “In our own lives self-control is a big problem — yet it is largely absent from high-level discussions about worker productivity,” Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard, writes in the New York Times. In a recent study, Mullainathan and his colleagues set out to understand workers’ self-control on the job. They studied data entry workers in India. These employees were already well motivated in their jobs: they received 2 rupees for every 100 fields of data they entered. The researchers gave the workers the option to set a target for their work. If they entered 5,000 data fields, they would maintain the same pay rate, but if they failed to meet the goal, their pay rate would be halved to 1 rupee per 100 fields. Surprisingly many employees chose the target, saying it helped them stay productive. The option didn’t offer a better pay rate — in fact it made it possible for them to earn less, if they didn’t meet the target — but it helped them work harder, thus earning more. Mullainathan suggests that these workers craved a self-control mechanism to keep them productive. They’re looking at productivity as a state of mind, he says. A Call for New Measurement While data entry is a relatively easy task to measure, productivity in the knowledge economy generally lacks concrete metrics. For example, does extra time on a customer service call mean that an employee is being less productive? Or is she adding value by building stronger relationships with customers? A worker who responds to hundreds of emails all day long might feel productive, but the value of that work likely is less impactful than actually doing research or writing a report, for instance. “In general, organizations have not truly come to grips with how to think about productivity in a knowledge economy, let alone how best to manage it,” Jordan Cohen, a productivity expert with PA Consulting Group, tells Knowledge at Wharton. Managers don’t think twice about interrupting employees for an urgent request or to call an impromptu meeting, yet we know the growing amount of workplace disruptions adversely affects workplace productivity. In a study published in the Journal of Stress Management, employees who experienced frequent interruptions reported 9 percent higher rates of exhaustion; and it takes more than 25 minutes, on average, to resume a task after being interrupted, the Wall Street Journal reports. If managers think deeply about what individual productivity means, and how their actions play a role in it, they'll likely make decisions that won't set employees back. “How a company defines productivity will determine what infrastructure they build to measure and manage it,” Cohen says. “If they don’t really question the traditional assumptions around productivity, they end up with an industrial-era notion — simply that ‘more output with less input’ is better.” In other words, managers today need more subjective criteria for determining productivity. For lawyers, that might mean tracking how often others cite their briefs. For engineers, it’s not how many lines of code they produce, but the quality of the solution that the code creates. Once managers understand establish a semblance of measurement behind productivity, they’ll be better equipped to help those employees feel a sense of self-control.  h/t: New York Times

Hiring for Ethics and Integrity: 4 Tactics That Work
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Hiring for Ethics and Integrity: 4 Tactics That Work

Every company’s got at least one: that overly competitive, sour, power-hungry -- you fill in the blank -- employee that walks around with a rain cloud over his head, infecting every conversation he joins and inciting feelings of isolation, discouragement or doubt among his coworkers. It only takes a few such toxic personalities to infect company morale and, ultimately, the bottom line. Recruiters and HR managers face a daunting task when wading through the pile of resumes lying on their desks, in search of terrific talent and great character. So how do you spot these telltale signs of toxicity in the short span of a job interview and zero-in on important intangibles like character, honesty, ethics and integrity? We asked Anna Maravelas, author of “How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress” and a motivational speaker recognized for her ability to transform negative cultures into climates of respect and pride. From prisons to the financial sector, every industry has its share of jerks. And Maravelas should know -- she’s worked with many of them. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as she found many of her favorite hiring tactics in the companies she encountered. Here are four that top her list. Surprise them with an ethical scenario Every job candidate has practiced the tried-and-true interview questions aimed at drawing out weaknesses or negative qualities. Today’s job candidates know how to turn a negative into a positive: “I’m just too hard working, too motivated, too detail-oriented…” they may say. But what about throwing in a question from left field that catches the interviewee off guard entirely? The CEO of a predominant design and building company Maravelas had worked with stuck out in her mind for a unique interviewing tactic. The CEO would interview candidates directly, starting off with warm, getting-to-know-you conversation. A bit into the interview, the CEO would then ask, “If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little white lie to help us out?” “If the candidate said yes,” Maravelas explains, “the offer evaporated. You really have to have a lot of integrity to say no.” Listen to how they praise - or blame - themselves and others Companies built on a culture of collaboration rely on team players to achieve their goals, so working effectively as a team and bringing a fraternal attitude to the table is essential. Thus, an effective way to tell if a prospective employee fits the team profile is to see where they give credit and place blame. “Ask candidates to talk about a time when they achieved something they were really proud of,” Maravelas says. “How much credit did they give others?” Is the candidate constantly saying “I, I, I” or referring to collective achievements she accomplished as part of a team? Does she refer to a great mentor or a close relationship with her boss as a contributor to her success, or is she constantly patting herself on the back? An alternative way to gauge this quality, Maravelas suggests, is to ask candidates about a time when they really tried their hardest, yet failed, and listen to how they assess their own responsibility in that failure. Tap into referrals from your best employees Current employees can be great resource in the hiring process, and their opinions should factor significantly into a hiring decision. After all, they’ll be the ones working with the new employee. One of Maravelas’ favorite companies relies heavily on the referrals of current employees who have been with the company for several years, tapping solid veterans to actively recruit prospects from their circle of friends and professional contacts. “If they have integrity and are known for their kindness and compassion, their friends probably are, too,” Maravelas says. “They probably don’t hang out with fakes." Trust your gut We’re often so focused on the person we’re interviewing, we may not be tuned into our own physiological reaction to them. Sitting back and asking ourselves how another person is affecting us is a valuable tactic for interviewers. If a candidate makes you feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease, he’ll probably make his co-workers feel that same way. We may not consciously identify negative qualities right away, but we often subconsciously pinpoint an off-feeling that comes in the form of an awkward moment or the feeling of being manipulated. When hiring for integrity and character, the best bet is to go with your instinct. We gravitate towards those who make us feel good, and that quality will likely be reflected in the larger work environment. Adds Maravelas: “Really pay attention to how you feel when you’re interviewing someone else.” For useful resources on building talent pipelines and developing your 21st-century recruiting strategy, check our our recruiting lookbook.

How 2020 Accelerated Bringing Humanity to Business Leadership
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How 2020 Accelerated Bringing Humanity to Business Leadership

“I, like most people on this planet, have found [2020] to be an extremely taxing year,” Cornerstone’s Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer Heidi Spirgi shared with HR thought leader Laurie Ruettimann on a recent episode of the Punk Rock HR podcast. Spirgi and Ruettimann connected over video chat (so 2020) for Ruettimann’s popular HR industry-focused podcast to discuss how a year of intense change continues to put pressure on HR and on people leaders to rethink everything. The two shared some tips, including: Leaders Need to Be Authentic and Vulnerable Spirgi pointed out that while the inherent stress and uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic is virtually universal, it’s also extremely individualized. Every person who has been impacted by COVID-19 has their own unique experience with the virus—and everyone’s life has been in some way altered because of it. And that includes changes to work life. According to Spirgi, leaders must be among the first to acknowledge that lines between employees’ personal and professional lives are blurring, things are tough for everyone and everything is different than it was even months ago. Constant change of 2020 has accelerated the need for adaptive leadership, which requires leaders to cultivate self-awareness, express vulnerability and empathy and to listen and respond to the needs of their people. “Leaders need to tell the entire organization and their teams that they, too, are suffering—that they, too, are struggling,” said Spirgi. “It’s important for them to share that their world is incredibly messy; just like their employees.” Ruettimann agreed and noted that leaders are among the people still getting used to remote working and connecting with direct reports, clients, customers and other colleagues in new, or potentially exhausting ways. Don’t Let Zoom Fatigue Rule Your Work Life Spirgi shared with Ruettimann that even though she’s worked remotely for the last 15 years, 2020 proved (over and over, again) that Zoom fatigue is real. The constant pressure to jump on a video chat can impact employee engagement and productivity. Ruettimann added that things are different signing on to Zoom (or the video conferencing platform of your choice) in the physical sense, too—with some logging on from a couch or kitchen table instead of a boardroom or office nook. In order to combat employee fatigue and burnout, Spirgi recommends leadership teams encourage alternatives to video, including: going for walks during non-video calls, turning cameras off when not presenting and generally feeling comfortable declining a coworker meeting invitation—unless it's crucial to the outcome of a project or task. Blocking your calendar for life outside of work is important. And that goes for leaders, too. “Pre-Covid, pre-remote working, we did make [turning your camera on] mandatory during Zoom meetings because those meetings were fewer and farther between,” said Spirgi. “Being able to see people you work with is an important way to engage remotely—but the rate at which we hop on Zoom these days requires new rules.” Keep Making Everyday Work Life More Human Over the course of 2020, millions of people were also challenged with how to balance work life and home life: whether that meant typing with one hand while holding a toddler, conducting two Zoom meetings at once without crashing the WiFi and finding new ways to break up a day with activities like walks or meditation. In the process, Spirgi and Ruettimann noted, employees introduced coworkers (intentionally or not) to their personal lives. And as a result, people normalized incorporating very human elements into the work day, from exercising to cooking to walking the dog or putting a child down for a nap. This integration of humanity into business leadership is a positive development forged during a turbulent year. But, according to Spirgi, there’s plenty more work to be done among HR and business leaders in order to thoughtfully reverse engineer the best elements of remote work and bring them back to offices if/or when they reopen. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership or talent management heading into 2021, Spirgi said it’s clear “people just need to trust and connect and understand each other—and have visibility into the human side of us; not just the work side.” To learn more about Heidi and Laurie’s conversation on how leaders can help make the work experience more human, check out the full podcast conversation on PunkRock HR. Looking for leadership development resources? Inspire new ways of working with TED courses As a longtime Cornerstone partner and popular provider among learning teams, TED has taken its bold, innovative ideas and made them more actionable than ever before for work. Learn more and access sample courses on business-critical skills and topics by visiting the Cornerstone + TED Collections page.

How to Create Job Titles That Entice Modern Workers
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How to Create Job Titles That Entice Modern Workers

There are few things more deflating for employees than getting a perplexed look from their parent after they tell them about their cool new job. In the digital era, many professionals face the uphill challenge of helping their parents—or really any member of an older generation—understand the nature of their work. Of course, it doesn't help that many modern workers, especially those employed at tech firms and startups, have rather unusual job titles. But giving workers creative job titles (or letting them choose their own) isn't a just a fun new trend—it's a strategic recruitment approach. In a recent survey by Pearl Meyer, a compensation consulting firm, 40 percent of companies said they use titles to attract prospective employees, up from 31 percent in 2009. Rebecca Toman, vice president of the firm's survey business unit, told The Wall Street Journal that titles offer employers a way to show workers how they “can have an impact or make a difference." And in today's dynamic and innovative workplaces, nobody wants to be assigned a bland and dimensionless title that doesn't describe what they really do or that limits their potential. Below, we've compiled a list of a few unusual job titles, what they mean and why they are so attractive to candidates. Not only do the titles fit under LinkedIn's list of 20 top emerging jobs, but they also have these three things in common: These jobs are critical to the business; they can be challenging, but also rewarding; and perhaps most importantly, they require highly talented professionals to execute them. Let these inspire the next job description you write: Office Happiness Advocate Translation: I help my company build positive and lasting relationships with its employees by coming up with creative ways to engage them online and offline. The appeal: Who doesn't want to be known for making people happy? But this feel-good title has a real business purpose, too: No company can thrive if its employees aren't happy. "Workplace happiness isn't about behavior change, though that can be part of it. More pivotal are the leaders of happy companies, who we've found are better at infusing positive energy into their work and teams," says Dede Henley, founder of Henley Leadership Group. Data Wrangler Translation: I use complex software programs to make data more useful for my company to analyze and use in business decision-making. The appeal: Working with data is tough. Making it understandable to non-data people? Even more so. This title makes the person who wrestles and tames data sound legendary. "Companies like to play 'dress up,'" Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella told Business Insider. "By wearing the clothes, adopting the lingo, and mimicking the behavior of companies they want to be like, they hope to have some of the magic rub off on them." Developer Evangelist Translation: I work with technical and nontechnical people inside and outside of my organization to create new software products and bring them to market successfully. The appeal: An evangelist's role is to help people see the light. And convincing diverse stakeholders to buy into ambitious software projects takes a special person. "Evangelism creates a human connection to technology way beyond typical content marketing means because there's a face and a name relaying the story, expressing the opinion, and ultimately influencing a decision," enterprise technology evangelist Theo Priestly explains. Growth Hacker Translation: I develop and test new ideas for using technology in marketing, sales, product development, and other areas of the business to help my company reach more customers and generate revenue. The appeal: Originally coined by Sean Ellis back in 2010 when he was tasked with hiring new kinds of marketers at Dropbox, this title evokes a vision of a vast field of fertile, untilled soil. "I didn't want to get résumés from traditional marketing people," he explained back in 2015. "By calling it something else, you could say 'these are the important things.'" People Partner Translation: I make sure that our company has the right programs and processes to help all of our employees be happy and effective at work, and to make the best use of our talent. The appeal: Companies need help retaining their talent. And workers need to know their employer is invested in their success. Enter the people partner, who ensures that people are always a business priority. "Unique titles help create a positive environment for employees, but [leaders] should be true to their company culture when crafting new names for positions or departments," advises Michael Heinrich, founder of Oh My Green, an office food supplier. Pro Tip: Focus on Tasks—Not Title Next time you're looking to fill an open position, consider this before sharing a job title and description: The translations above focus on each role's purpose and responsibilities, not its title. Keeping things simple, and avoiding acronyms and jargon, can also help you get candidates excited. And when it comes to making sure your employees' parents understand what they do, invite them to bring their parents to work. Encourage employees to demonstrate firsthand what they do, give parents an office tour, introduce them to colleagues and take them to lunch. Whether you wrangle data or hack for growth, they'll want to see the impact you're having on your company and your teams. Photo: Creative Commons

How to Develop and Hire Leaders That People Want to Follow
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How to Develop and Hire Leaders That People Want to Follow

Some people are born leaders—naturally charismatic and able to attract and motivate followers to high achievement—seemingly without effort. But most are made. Such is the case with Scott Miller, who I recently interviewed for the Disrupt Yourself podcast. Miller oversees a thought leadership practice at consulting firm FranklinCovey and is the author of Management Mess to Leadership Success, an insider’s guide to the hard effort required to become a leader that people admire. He offers many insights into that journey, often gleaned from his own experience, that can help HR professionals make better-informed decisions when hiring, promoting and training leaders and improving leadership within their companies. Here are a few of them: You Don’t Always Need an Expert Miller started his career with the Disney Development Company; after four years, he was “invited to leave”—in essence, told he wasn’t a great fit. At that point, he realized that career disruptions were going to be inevitable, so he figured: Why not proactively explore new responsibilities and positions? He moved onto FranklinCovey, where he has since spent more than two decades, regularly changing roles every few years. In that time, he’s come to realize that there are jobs that require a specialist and others where a generalist is ideal. Leadership capacity is fostered in wide-ranging situations and experiences, and differs from domain expertise, he says. So when hiring or promoting a leader, don’t default to the top individual performer, he advises. Be open to considering those individuals with unconventional career paths and the generalists that demonstrate breadth rather than depth. They may bring skills and insights to the table that you never considered. Top Performers Aren’t Necessarily Good Leaders Miller was promoted to sales leader because he was the top salesperson. The team he led was made up of his former peers, many of whom had more experience than he did. But he quickly found that the bravado and competitive zeal that made him a great salesperson did not translate well to leadership. “I still liked the limelight. I wanted to win. I wanted to save the day,” he says. “And that’s fundamental learning: When you become a leader of people, you have to metaphorically turn that spotlight off of you and onto them.” This focus on group success requires humility, which is one of the most important qualities to look for in a leader, he says. That’s not to say you can’t still be confident—in fact, humility comes from confidence. But those who are arrogant and stuck on their individual strengths (and likely trying to mold everyone into their own image) will have a hard time succeeding. Instead, leaders need to figure out how to work with each individual to get them to perform to the best of their abilities. Everyone Needs to Learn How to Lead In fact, Miller says, many of his strongest natural qualities—like his bravado—needed to be jettisoned right away, while other skills—including maturity and selflessness—needed to be instantly put in play when he took over the sales team. But it didn’t and doesn’t work that way. Though an individual may have been an exceptional sole contributor for some time, when moving into a leadership role, they need training, mentoring and oversight if the transition is to be a smooth one. “Too often, people are lured into leadership roles, not led,” he says. Fortunately, today’s companies have greater access to management-focused training courses and systems and would be wise to provide those leadership resources to employees (most of whom want to grow professionally). Soft Skills Should Top Your List of Leadership Must-Haves Great leaders aren’t just great talkers—they’re also talented listeners. Frankly, they know when to shut up, Miller explains. In connection with humility, sincerely interested listening and empathy for others are people skills that HR professionals should seek to identify in employees under consideration for leadership advancement or during the vetting process for outside hires. Qualities like being a fantastic question-asker enable leaders to get to the root of a problem more quickly. True Leaders Are Happy to Let Others Shine Beloved leaders are not intimidated by smart, capable people. “I thought my job was to be the most educated, the most creative, the wisest, the decision maker, the know-it-all,” he says. ”[But] my job was to be the genius maker in the room.“ Genuine leaders are not afraid of being eclipsed by somebody else’s talent and are happy to allow subordinates to move beyond them. They Also View Failures as Learning Opportunities Finally, Miller summarized the qualities of his own best bosses. They “believed in me more than I believed in myself,” he says. They were patient, supportive, made a long-term investment in him and didn’t hesitate to have conversations that required courage and boldness. These leaders gave him permission to be himself and make mistakes. There is this adage that people are every company’s most valuable asset. But that’s not true. It’s actually the relationships between people, he explains. People don’t quit leaders who care about them. An HR organization that fosters the development of good leadership—leaders who leverage these interpersonal skills he describes to build meaningful relationships—creates a culture that not only attracts but retains great talent.   Â

How to Develop Leaders in Real-Time
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How to Develop Leaders in Real-Time

With a growing appreciation for the ‘70’ part of the 70/20/10 model, many organizations are promoting experience-based activities for leadership development. As a result, leaders at all levels are benefitting from special projects, greater visibility and stretch assignments to support their growth. Yet many organizations are only now beginning to realize that on-the-job learning doesn’t have to consist solely of specially orchestrated undertakings. Real work – the mundane activities and responsibilities that leaders routinely take on – has the potential to deliver developmental results as well. Not just learning by doing It’s not as easy as delegating an assignment and expecting that growth will follow. Effective talent development professionals understand that simply doing does not necessarily translate to learning. Mindless, rote, mechanical activity is just that: activity. It likely accomplishes something… just not learning. However, add attention to the mix, and suddenly that same activity can inspire powerful personal insights, a visceral appreciation of a best practice and significant behavior change. Better yet, the attention that can inspire this kind of learning comes in many forms. Attention to intention For everything you do, even routine tasks, ask yourself: what’s my goal? What’s the outcome I’m hoping for? What message am I sending with my actions? Is that the right one? When you pay close attention to your intentions, tasks become insightful and educational. Here’s an example: Delia is a call center director who is struggling to help Arman, a supervisor who reports to her, develop better team building skills. She’s sent him to EQ (emotional intelligence) training and has asked him to read a few books; but his employees continue to report a punitive and fear-based culture within the group. So, Delia took a different approach. She met with Arman and asked him to identify a few upcoming interactions he planned to have with his team. They discussed the importance of his responses. He determined the emotional or affective outcomes he wanted to achieve and set some intentions for his own behavior and actions that could contribute to those outcomes. With an action plan in place (and the right amount of motivation), he was able to approach his employees more purposefully and with greater intentionality… and learn in real-time from the different reactions and results he generated. TIP: pay attention to your intentions; let routine tasks be your teacher. Don’t overlook the lessons to be learned behind your actions and the results they brought about.  Attention to feedback Actively seek out feedback and pay attention when you get it. Talk to your colleagues and ask them direct questions about your skills and knowledge. Let those around you offer comments or suggestions. After all, they’re the ones you work with day in and day out. Consider this: Tanya is a manager for a small healthcare organization. There’s little formal leadership development available to her; but she’s not going to let that get in the way of becoming a better manager. So, she identified two specific opportunities for her professional improvement - communication and recognition of others - and actively sought out informal feedback during interactions with others. After making an assignment or sharing an organizational change with employees, she’d ask: How clear is that? What could I do to share information more effectively with you? During one-on-one meetings with her staff, she would ask: How appreciated do you feel for the contributions you make? What are you proud of that I’ve not recognized? With each response, she was able to adjust or enhance her approach and continuously improve her leadership capacity in real time. TIP: Seek out feedback. Pay attention to what those around you tell you, think about what they said to build on your skills and learning.  Attention to reflection When you invest the time and effort to reflect on your day’s tasks, you’ll find there’s actually a lot to learn. With reflection, you might realize there’s a better way to manage your time, or speak with one of your reports or report on your numbers. Think about this example: Manny is a senior vice president in a financial services firm with many director-level direct reports. Given his large span of control, Manny has found that he can make the most of his limited time with others by instilling a reflection/learning discipline. He asks the directors to spend a minimum of one hour each week extracting leadership lessons from their experiences. They can be significant or small; the key is to dedicate time thinking about it – because the lessons can’t sink in without the benefit of time and reflection. Some of Manny’s direct reports engage in private journaling. Others have started blogs that they share within the organization. Others create short videos. This way, each person leverages their day-in and day-out experiences for real-time leadership learning. TIP: Try journaling, blogging or setting aside time to reflect on your experiences. Talk it out to uncover lessons learned that improve you as a leader. In each example, the calculus of leadership development is Consistent Activity (daily actions and responsibilities that naturally play out in a leader’s life) + Attention (being aware of such things as intentions, feedback and reflection) = Real-Time Learning. So, no budget for leadership development? No sophisticated training programs? No time? No problem! Growth is available right within any leader’s job – if we give it a little attention. As corporate ladders fade into the past, career agility becomes the new secret to success! Use this quiz to determine your career agility quotient and get practical next steps for developing a growth mindset.

HR Analytics Is About Asking the Right Questions
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HR Analytics Is About Asking the Right Questions

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the world's greatest computer was asked for an answer to the ultimate question of “Life, the universe and everything." After millions of years of number crunching, the computer majestically proclaimed the answer to be… 42. It was not the edifying conclusion the audience had been waiting millennia for, but, as the great computer pointed out, that was because they had asked the wrong question: “Life, the Universe and Everything" just wasn't specific enough. It's a fitting lesson for HR people beginning their workforce analytics journey: ask the right questions. The accuracy of the data, the quality of the analytics, the figures you come up with — everything is irrelevant if you're not asking the right questions. Think About the Bigger Picture One of the problems with the type of questions HR professionals typically ask is the narrow focus — the question will address an HR concern, without considering how it impacts the business as a whole. So, while it may be useful to keep an eye on absence, diversity or engagement metrics, this transactional information will likely not get your CEO's pulse racing. What executives want to know is how these metrics affect productivity or profitability; they want to know whether there are particular areas of the business where these rates are higher, and why. Above all, they want information and insight into what changes they need to make to change future outcomes, not data about what happened in the past. But Get Specific While you need the put your questions in the context of larger business goals, you also need to be detailed about the question itself. If your analytics questions are as vague as “Life, the universe and everything," then the answers will be vague too. It will simply be a fishing trip – you might be lucky and catch something tasty or you might come up with nothing. So what is the right question? Clearly, that will vary between companies, but the key is for the question to be plugged directly into the matrix of the business. HR can't work in a vacuum, it needs to understand where the business pain points are, to appreciate both the outside market pressures and the inside forces impacting its line managers and leaders. HR is not short on data — though some areas may fall short on quality — so, you should be able to dig up some interesting revelations with this sweeping approach. Make a Group Effort HR doesn't need to work alone on developing the right questions. By working directly with other business leaders, you can work out the answers together in order to make a real difference in business performance. For example, if you have an issue with high staff turnover, then look beyond the figures to find out why people are leaving. Is there a particular division or location where churn rates are higher? Can you talk to those managers? Or perhaps churn rates are higher among women than men? Look through the exit interview data, and take stock of the gender ratio in management. Is there a high churn rate in an area of business that requires highly prized, in-depth knowledge of the business? It's possible that the people in this department don't understand how much they are valued at the company. Asking the right question is a great start on the quest for business insight. But whatever the outcome of the analysis, it's also vital that HR maintains and presents the information in a business-friendly and business-relevant manner. Photo: Creative Commons

ICYMI: Here’s What Workers Need Most From Their Leaders Right Now
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ICYMI: Here’s What Workers Need Most From Their Leaders Right Now

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation and, as with any company crisis, employees are looking to their leaders for support, compassion and reassurance. One major roadblock: there isn’t a clear road ahead. To help executives navigate these turbulent times and comfort their workforce, Accenture recently shared a study exploring what workers need most from leaders right now. Below are some of its key findings:  Build Trust With Your Employees Employee needs fall into three basic categories: physical, mental and relational. By addressing these in the following order, executives will be better positioned to earn their trust: First, fulfill employees’ physical needs by delivering transparent company updates that provide operational guidance and empowering staff to do what’s necessary to protect their health and well-being. Then, address their mental requirements, allowing them to adapt their work schedules to fit personal ones in this new reality. Lastly, meet their relational ones by making sure employees feel connected to each other and to their workplace. Reiterate Your Company’s Purpose and Values In this era of quarantines and social distancing, everyone is longing for connection. Reminding your workforce of what a company stands for can help to give them a sense of belonging. Get Organized and Stay Informed In any crisis, it’s important to immediately develop a company-wide solution and plan of action (in this case, it will likely require multiple meetings to address new developments). When carrying out these plans, assign different roles to every member of your leadership team so every aspect of your business is covered. Throughout the plan’s implementation, gather employee feedback from all areas of the organization. Use the information gathered from across the organization to inform management decisions and workforce engagement. Bring Compassionate and Caring Leaders to the Forefront Workforces will remember executives who took an active role in responding to a crisis. Be sure leaders that step up have what it takes to be empathetic and team-oriented. This way, when the emergency subsides, they’ll have an even greater appreciation for—and loyalty to—those who fought for them throughout the period of intense disruption. Invest in Remote Work Capabilities Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Accenture workforce research showed that less than one-third of all workers were able to make full use of their technology to effectively do their job. This crisis revealed who had already invested in these initiatives, and who did not. If your organization falls into the latter group, now is the time to act. Since we’re still not sure how long this crisis will last, it’s imperative to accelerate your company’s digital initiatives now. Communicate a Story, Not Data Points During times of confusion and uncertainty, people generally don’t take comfort in data. Instead, impart meaning—and relief—with stories and analogies that hit close to home. Aim to help employees better understand executive decisions and workforce circumstances. Don’t Let Your Future Growth Strategies Stagnate It may sound difficult, or like you’re ignoring what’s urgent, but try to make time to focus on getting your organization ready for the future. Even dedicating two hours every day will keep your organization healthy and your workforce hopeful for what lies ahead. Â

Introducing HR Labs, a Podcast From Cornerstone OnDemand
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Introducing HR Labs, a Podcast From Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone is proud to introduce HR Labs, a brand new podcast that tells the stories of leaders who have seen the importance of employee development firsthand. Hosted by our very own Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Heidi Spirgi, HR Labs will be a four-part series featuring executives who have mastered the art and science of development, despite challenging odds. Find it on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. On the very first episode of HR Labs, we’re telling Melissa Forte’s story. Melissa is currently the manager of talent and organizational development at SiteOne Landscape Supply. She joined the company about a year after it had broken away from its parent company, John Deere, and spun out on its own, going public in June 2016. Before SiteOne, Melissa spent 13 years at Rubbermaid, where she led talent development. Coming to SiteOne when she did was an exciting challenge—without a legacy brand to build off of, Melissa helped the growing company create a unified culture by leaning heavily on development. With no learning and development foundation to inherit from John Deere and a growth model based primarily on acquisition, SiteOne faced a major talent challenge. Not only did it have to define and establish a cohesive culture, it also had to find ways to retain the employees that came on board from various organizations. For Melissa, the answer to SiteOne’s challenges came in the form of gamified development. Enjoy this episode of HR Labs below. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/hr-labs/id1482283780

Looking for Talent? You Can Find it in the Blue Ocean
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Looking for Talent? You Can Find it in the Blue Ocean

Brace yourself. The talent war didn’t go away due to the pandemic. It heated it up. COVID-19 didn’t ease the skills shortage. It exacerbated it. As Warren Buffet once said, “only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Well, the pandemic tide rolled out, and based on conversations with hundreds of business owners the last few months, a lot of organizations are standing naked. One small business owner shared that, in 2019, he felt lucky if his company received 50 applicants from Indeed and 1 or 2 of them were qualified. This May, he posted a job and had 1300 applicants in less than 24 hours. He pulled the listing. His company simply wasn’t equipped to handle recruitment and screening in a high unemployment market. So, what does that mean for HR and recruiting teams? It might be time to rethink your hiring strategy—and reflect on whether the challenges you’re facing today are a result of COVID-19, or more foundational problems that have been there all along. “New Normal,” Same Challenges I first thought the small business owner’s story was an outlier but, surprisingly, I keep hearing it over and over. “We have 500 job openings and can’t get enough qualified applicants to fill a fraction of them.” Yes, you heard me right: record high unemployment and jobs remaining unfilled. In the case of the small business owner, the position was a sales job. It pays well and doesn’t require superpowers to do the work. What’s the problem? Employment brand really matters. Following a quick search of company reviews, I discovered this company consistently is rated in the low to mid 2s (out of 10). The pandemic didn’t fix bad management and bad culture.  COVID-19 also didn’t miraculously give workers new skills. In fact, the sudden need for work-from-home skills made the need for effective upskilling and reskilling programs all the more plain. Managing the family calendar was a walk in the park compared with juggling the boss, teams, clients and kids without ever leaving the house. Many workers used to have IT on speed dial. Now each remote worker is an amateur IT professional. Reserving a meeting room down the hall for your client appointment required little, if any, skill. Today, it’s an enormous challenge to lead, present, sell and participate in video meetings. Taking a New Tact: Blue Ocean Strategy All this labor market disruption creates a lot of noise and chaos. Reimagining and reinventing require a fresh approach. Fortunately, you don’t need to recreate the wheel to succeed. You can simply apply the principles of Red and Blue Ocean Strategy, created by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne. Red oceans in HR refer to the conventional approach to recruiting labor. Fishing for talent in the red ocean views the labor pool as highly specialized and defined by years of experience and education. It relies on compensation and benefits to bait candidates. The competition is consequently fierce based on a limited resource mindset, which turns the ocean red. Hence, the term ‘red ocean.’ Alternatively, the ‘blue ocean’ encourages you to leave the competition behind and pursue an uncontested market. In other words, employers looking for talent don’t fish in the same pond as everyone else. Here are some opportunities available to business and HR leaders using blue ocean strategy: 1. NIMBY Recruitment. “Going to work” will certainly return (in some fashion), but working remotely is here to stay. That means that the labor pool for many jobs and industries is expanding from local to global. Commuting distance, public transportation, and relocation hurdles are disappearing. Economic recovery efforts are destined to be unequally distributed. What the shift means for HR and talent recruitment: A lot of very talented people live outside your red ocean. Accordingly, “fish” wherever the talent you need already is. Some very talented people can’t or don’t want to relocate. The blue ocean opens access to other remote communities too—disabled, minorities, and disadvantaged—who might not otherwise have access or the means to commute. Remote work makes it easier for employees to pick up extra hours and attract people who need part-time work but don’t live in your backyard. 2. Attract Candidates with Blue Ocean Perks. A May working paper by Erik Brynjolfsson reports that half of the people employed before the pandemic are now working remotely. Pre-COVID-19, the figure was about 15%. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found it was only 5.3%!) With all these employees working from home, perks like ping-pong tables, employee lounges, cafeterias, free coffee and snacks aren’t so attractive. So, what “blue ocean” perks might attract top talent? Consider helping employees work from home effectively and efficiently. Many remote employees still don’t have working computers, webcams, headsets, printers or fast internet connections. Figure out what kind of equipment and internet access they need—and get it to them. Help them replace their stand-up ironing board “desk” with an allowance for a functional desk and comfortable chair. Fraying these costs will help attract remote talent. 3. Think Experience, Not Technology. Historically, HR purchased technology to automate existing systems and processes—often at the expense of candidate and employee experience. And that technology, in turn, codified consistency and perpetuated red ocean hiring. In many cases, HR technology became a barrier, closing off opportunity and vision, separating HR from job seekers. Friction-filled, technology-dependent processes were used to test the resilience of job seekers to jump the barrier, using a playbook more aligned with competing for an appearance on “Survivor” than applying for a job. Blue ocean HR leaders will make the technology “disappear” by focusing on value creation instead of the technology itself. At one time, offering an online application was a competitive advantage. Today, the process is all FCDD-up (filled with frustration, confusion, disappointment, and distraction.) Fix it! Use technology that allows you to identify qualified candidates quickly—and without them submitting pages of non-essential information. Use chatbots, video, text, or automated responses to engage quickly and often. The same is true for using technology to new skill your existing workforce: use tools that deliver learning in the flow of work (say, as an employee is preparing for that daunting presentation?) to help recruit from within—as well as externally. It’s time to start fishing for talent in the blue ocean. Blue oceans introduce unbound opportunity, unexplored and untainted by competition.Â

Organizational Change is Constant: Here's How to Get Good At It
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Organizational Change is Constant: Here's How to Get Good At It

This article was originally published under Jeff Miller's column “The Science of Workplace Motivation" on Inc.com. The pace of change in business today is accelerating—fueled in large part by the disruption that new technologies bring. And research from McKinsey shows that companies are struggling to keep up. For leaders, that means taking a closer look at the way you manage change from start to finish. Whether the change comes in the form of a new software system, a merger or acquisition, or even just a small shift in process, how can you ensure your approach will lead to business success? In my experience, the challenge is often that leadership doesn't see the change process all the way through. I've written recently about Ann Salerno's six stages of change, and how effectively leading your team through the first four stages (loss, anger, doubt, discovery) will help everyone become productive again. But stopping there is a mistake. Stages five and six, "understanding" and "integration," require leadership to reflect on the change process. By spending time to track outcomes and debrief, the entire organization will be better equipped to transition smoothly when change happens again (and again). Start by Tracking the Impact At Cornerstone, we recently launched a new worldwide manager training program. Where before the training had been more individualized, this new format emphasized group discussion among new managers. We organized trainees together into online cohorts (kind of like chatrooms), creating communities for them to share insights, ask questions and respond to topics provided by a facilitator. Once we had successfully implemented the new program, we entered stage five of the change process: understanding. In stage five, you can be pragmatic about change and start to understand its impact. That means gathering as a leadership team to discuss the short term and long term features of the change. For our team, one short term feature was using our product differently. In the long term, we were facilitating cross-cultural discussions around management. Make sure this discussion about features happens out loud—verbalization allows you to avoid assumptions--as an individual or even by the group as a whole. And use specific terms: "Did this new manager system accomplish our goals?" is too open-ended. Instead, asking, "Did we implement a system that will connect managers across offices?" helped ensure we were all having the same conversation. Celebrate Your Team This part is simple: Recognize the individuals involved in the change process for what they accomplished. Change is tough for most people; getting to stage five successfully is a major feat. It doesn't have to be a party, just an acknowledgment that their hard work didn't go unnoticed. It's an easy step that will mean a lot to your employees. Hold a Thoughtful Debrief Stage six of the change process is an opportunity to look back and debrief. It's best not to debrief with the entire company because voices will get lost. Instead, identify the people who might represent those voices and invite them to participate. For our debrief meeting, we gathered the team that implemented the cohort system. From there, review the goals you set at the beginning of the process and ask: Did we get the outcomes we wanted? What can we do better next time? What were the unanticipated outcomes? For example, we hadn't anticipated how quickly managers would make themselves vulnerable in these cohort discussions—and achieve some honest, positive communication as a result. Finally, encourage people to be introspective, too: What did I learn about myself through this change? What did I learn about others and how they handle change? The person on our team who led this change had never done anything like it before. In the debrief, he talked about how the experience had showed him it's okay to ask for help—and he'd get help if he asked for it. His confidence rose as a result of that debrief process. The next time he faces a change, he might be more open to it. Psychologists call this resilience: a person's ability to adapt well to difficult events that change their lives. By seeing these final stages of the change process through, you'll start to build resilience not only in individuals, but make it part of your company's DNA—and over time, you'll avoid the paralysis and upheaval change can often bring about in favor of efficiency and productivity. Photo: Creative Commons

Peer Feedback: 6 Tips for Successful Crowdsourcing
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Peer Feedback: 6 Tips for Successful Crowdsourcing

As companies replace corporate hierarchies with flatter reporting structures, they're also decentralizing power in the performance review process by gathering feedback from colleagues and not just top executives. Crowdsourcing feedback and providing it on a continual basis, rather than in one lump package at the end of the year, allows employees to improve their work and receive recognition throughout the year. Better yet, employees favor reviews with feedback from their peers. Four in five employees think an accurate review requires a combination of input from managers as well as colleagues, according to the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker study. “The arrival of the crowdsourced performance review is a welcome paradigm shift in the human resources industry,” says Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce. “An innovative, more complete system for providing team members with accurate, consistent feedback creates happier employees and more productive work environments.” Why Peer Feedback Is Successful Whether peer feedback stands on its own or as part of a 360-degree review, including employees in the recognition and feedback process creates a positive workplace environment. When all employees are asked to contribute praise and constructive criticism about their colleagues, it builds a culture of open feedback and supports collaboration, notes Karen Caruso. Crowdsourced evaluations also create a community of accountability where employees can make sure that employees are working on areas they need to improve, adds Caruso. "The first time I ever had a peer review I got the most valuable feedback I've ever received in an evaluation process," says Tim Sackett, president of staffing firm HRU Technical Resources and blogger at The Tim Sackett Project. "It was a punch to the stomach, but it made me focus and change more than anything I ever had in a corporate setting." A manager often doesn't see how an employee works on all of his projects and how he interacts with different teams, so having employees fill in the gaps, especially around an employee's collaborative and interpersonal skills, gives a complete picture of employee performance. Ninety percent of HR professionals say peer feedback is more accurate than manager feedback, according to the Employee Recognition Survey by Globoforce and SHRM. While the annual performance review still exists, companies are gradually incorporating colleague feedback into employee evaluations. According to the Employee Recognition Survey by Globoforce and SHRM, 85 percent of companies are currently using or would consider using peer social recognition, and 78 percent say crowdsourced recognition would be helpful to integrate into formal performance reviews. Advice from Experts: 6 Tips for Crowdsourcing Reviews Integrating employee feedback into performance reviews isn’t as easy as sending out an email saying, “We want to hear from you.” It requires a detailed strategy with the ability to respond effectively to employee feedback on the process itself. Here are some tips from experts about how to do it right. Outline the process. Joe Shaheen, managing principal of Human Alliance, a Washington, DC human resources consulting firm, suggests addressing these questions: "Who will be reviewing who?" and, "What type of feedback will employees be asked to give?" Clarity from the outset should be the priority. Identify characteristics of top performers. Is it more important for employees to hone their technical skills, be quick learners, excel under pressure or have collaborative spirit? Based on the priorities, encourage employees to frame feedback around what’s important, suggests Shaheen. Give continuous feedback. End-of-the-year reviews are helpful to show the progress of an employee and to provide a holistic picture, but it’s best to reward successes and address areas of improvement when it’s timely and relevant. Continuous feedback can come in many different forms, whether informal recognition/badging or as part of a more formal performance management process. Provide flexibility. Having structure and defining the purpose of peer-to-peer feedback is a must, but it won’t be successful without giving employees some freedom to provide feedback in a way that suits them, adds Shaheen. Make it a routine. Panay suggests building peer feedback into team meetings. For example, at the beginning of meetings LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner asks employees to share one personal victory and one professional achievement from the previous week. Starting meetings on a positive note and talking about the little things highlights the power of small wins, notes Panay. Keep managerial reviews. Crowdsourcing feedback is great for the many reasons already discussed, but it shouldn’t be the only source of performance evaluation. Think of peer-to-peer reviews as a supplement rather than a replacement, Mosley tells Inc. Employees want to provide feedback to their colleagues and their colleagues want to hear it. When the workplace revolves around the employee experience, integrating crowdsourced feedback into performance reviews can produce meaningful ways to motivate and engage employees in the long term.

PROFILE OF THE MONTH: Andrea Sennett
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PROFILE OF THE MONTH: Andrea Sennett

It is becoming a great tradition to tell the stories of some of our amazing team members in the blogs under the umbrella “Profile of the month”. We kicked off with Sarah Spence, sharing with you all her incredible successes within the business. After that we had Gary Evans who spoke up about gender balance and how he manages modern challenges as a team manager. And now, I am delighted to introduce you to Andrea Sennett, Senior Content Partner Manager, EMEA, who has been part of the Cornerstone family since 2013. Hope you enjoy this conversation between Andrea and myself. I’m responsible for… acquiring new partners in the content ecosystem and ongoing management of our Content ecosystem in EMEA. I got here… thanks to Gary Evans! He used to be my client in the olden days when I was at Thomson NETg and he was at Direct Line (20 years ago!). He pinged me an email on LinkedIn pretty much 7 years ago and you know the rest! My typical day… it’s so diverse. I can be talking to potential new partners, handling pricing negotiations with our partner network, speaking to internal teams about what we offer, working with Content Operations’ to get partners ready for sale or presenting to clients! Not one day is the same as the next and that’s what I love about it! My most memorable moment… shaking Princess Diana’s hand as she opened a hospice when I was 11 years old and went to see her with school. Closely followed by sitting less than 5 meters way from Bill Clinton at a charitable dinner. The worst and best part of the job… honestly, I adore my role here. As naff as it sounds… I am going to say the worst part is having to use Salesforce! Clearly the best part to me are the people. Pretty much everyone I work with internally and externally are simply awesome. My funniest/worst and best trait… my dislike of bad manners 😊 and I am not afraid to tell someone when they have been rude! My best trait is tenacity and willing to have a voice. Watching Adam Grant I realised why I am so very often underestimated… I am a ‘Disagreeable Giver’ and proud to be one! How come you’re so good at giving presentations? I know what I don’t want to listen to, and I try not to put others through it!! People buy from people and even though I am not in direct sales that fact has always stuck in my mind. I work to understand my audience and aspire to never read a deck, only have it as a background filler! I like to tell a story. Why do you think W@C is an important network? I was told early in my career: “You need to realise life isn’t fair”… My response, “It doesn’t mean I can’t aspire for fairness!”. At the time, that moment taught me that speaking out like that was actually a career limiting move for me! Fairness in my mind comes from the heart of everything in life, not just being female. To have a network like W@C that I can be part of to channel that voice and progression towards fairness gives us a collective voice and helps us to be heard. If you want to join the Cornerstone family, check out our careers page and apply for your dream job today!

The ReWork Bookshelf: 8 Must-Reads from Author Carol Anderson
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The ReWork Bookshelf: 8 Must-Reads from Author Carol Anderson

Editor's Note: What are our writers and experts reading? In this series, ReWork contributors share their“must-read" recommendations for HR professionals and business leaders. I read lots of business books, but anyone who has followed my writing knows I'm not terribly fond of popular business books; they simplify things too much. When organizations try to follow these books' recipes, they fail because they don't understand the underlying human concepts of organizational behavior. So, my reading list contains books that discuss original research into organizational behavior, specifically dealing with concepts most important to HR leaders: consulting, leadership and teams. Check out the first half of the list to find books that are easy to read and digest, and provide good information that is immediately useful and a little outside the norm for HR practitioners. Skip down to number five if you are looking for the most powerful—but more complex—books I have ever read. 1) Flawless Consulting by Peter Block Everyone is a consultant at some point, HR even more so. Block's chapter on dealing with resistance is powerful both in recognizing what resistance looks like, and then offering a simple method to diffuse it. 2) Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy by Amy Edmundson I started following Dr. Edmundson, a professor at Harvard Business School, when I was studying the concept of psychological safety and why smart people don't speak up even in a crisis. This single concept—psychological safety—gives HR practitioners a practical background in team behavior, and in turning problems into learning opportunities. 3) The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers by Gillian Tett Gillian Tett is an anthropologist turned business journalist who uses her study of culture to help organizations bust silos and improve performance. HR can and should be a connector. This book provides research-based arguments for why silos are counter-productive. 4) Repurposing HR: From a Cost Center to a Business Accelerator by Carol Anderson Full disclosure, this is my own book. I got tired of books about HR competencies that didn't provide practical “how to" advice for becoming strategic, so I wrote one. This book is helpful to HR teams that want to break down barriers, think collectively and add significant value to their organizations. As I mentioned earlier, the second half of this list contains the most powerful books I have read. They aren't necessarily easy to read and digest, but they are so worth the time. These books help put into perspective the challenges and hopes of human resource development. 5) Organizational Culture and Leadership by Edgar Schein MIT professor Schein is the father of organizational culture. Culture is a hot topic today, and this provides outstanding insight, grounded in research. 6) Organization Change by Warner Burke One of the most comprehensive and common sense models of organizational change. As an HR practitioner, I was frustrated by the number of external vendors that sell "change processes"—from Six Sigma to technology implementation to quality improvement. Their processes were good, but often not aligned with existing HR processes such as performance management. If you want to compete with the various “change agents" that tell organizations how to “change" (and you should) you have to understand change at its deepest level. 7) Leadership and the New Science by Meg Wheatley Wheatley describes how complex systems like organizations must be allowed to develop, rather than be controlled. The book offers solid ideas about how effective leaders can and should let go. I hope you find these helpful. I would love to hear stories about what you read and how it helped you. You can reach me at carol@andersonperformancepartners.com. Header photo: Twenty20

So What Does Hiring Look Like Now?
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So What Does Hiring Look Like Now?

Despite the staggering increase in layoffs over the past couple of months, some companies are still hiring. Amazon, for example, has hired more than 100,000 employees in four weeks and has plans to hire 75,000 more. In addition to increased demand for essential workers, like warehouse employees, pharmacy and grocery store workers and healthcare providers, there are several other industries adding to their ranks, from video conferencing and cybersecurity companies to video streaming and online gaming providers. But how, exactly, are businesses going about hiring when people can’t come in for interviews? Even those who aren’t currently hiring—but hope to a few weeks or months from now—will need to rethink the process. Here are the steps several companies are taking, as well as a few important reminders to consider. 1) Prioritizing Video for Interviews We conduct face-to-face interviews because that’s how we’ve always done it, but today’s technology gives us options. For many, working from home has become the new normal—even late-night talk show hosts are broadcasting from their living rooms (albeit with professionals pulling everything together). So trust in your ability to successfully conduct a remote interview via Zoom or other video conferencing platform. Don’t make the mistake that the Alignable CEO is making: refusing to hire until he can meet candidates in-person because of worries around cultural fit. You can assess cultural fit by asking insightful questions about past experiences as well as hypothetical workplace situations. It’s also helpful to explain how your office or site operates and how this role adds to the team or mission—then see if candidates respond with thoughtful follow-up questions. You should also be sure to have them meet the team virtually so that everyone gains a sense of who they’d be working with. Remember that a good cultural fit does not mean you’ll be best friends with this person. It means they will thrive in your work environment. Obviously, making an offer without meeting in real life isn’t ideal, but you won’t lose out on a top candidate because you chose to wait things out indefinitely.   2) Hiring Quickly If you’re offering essential services, you may need to hire quickly. Traditional methods, with multiple rounds of interviews and drawn-out processes, might simply take too long under the current circumstances. As a result, it’s worth reviewing your applicant path and removing any unnecessary layers for the time-being. Some companies are also turning to apps that allow candidates to record answers to interview questions so that managers can evaluate people more quickly. Those who genuinely need to expedite the process may want to explore implementing a more radical method: hiring on a first-applied, first-hired basis. This probably won’t be the right fit for many companies (as it tends to be limited to fairly entry-level employment), but The Body Shop reduced monthly turnover by 60 percent after it introduced the concept. So it’s worth looking into, especially if you’re having trouble hiring. If you need tech talent, you likely can’t afford to wait until governors give the green light for businesses to resume normal operations. (Not with Netflix, Facebook, Apple and Google hiring aggressively, anyway.) Luckily, as I mentioned before, you can source, screen and interview remotely. In fact, many of these jobs may end up being permanently remote positions. Challenging as it may be, you shouldn’t wait for the dust to settle—especially if you’re competing against the big players. 3) Embracing Virtual Onboarding It’s not just getting an offer letter out there. It’s having a plan in place to get people up and running (likely from home) on Day One. The good news is that you can conduct all parts of the onboarding process—even reviewing documents—through video conferencing. (To make this possible, the government has temporarily suspended the requirement for in-person I9 verification.) But remember, it still may be awkward. The first few days of any new job are challenging and can be a bit strange. Now, imagine starting from your living room. Not to mention potentially having kids as coworkers (while trying to make a good impression with your real ones). Make sure your new hires know you’ll be there to support them throughout the process. If you normally take new employees out to lunch on their first day, send them a gift card for takeout at a local restaurant. It’s the best you can do for now—and it’s a small gesture that shows you care. 4) Setting Proper Expectations You’ll need to set two levels of expectation for new hires: “crazy” time and “normal” time. During “crazy” time (which, yep, this is), you should clearly answer questions like: Is it perfectly acceptable to hold a baby while on a video conference call? Do employees need to work from 8:30 to 5 or is it okay to work around family/personal schedules? In other words, give new hires an idea of the sort of flexibility they can expect when they start—and how policies in place now might shift once employees start returning to the workplace. You probably won’t have an exact idea of what that looks like (none of us do!), but were there certain expectations in the “before times” that will likely resume down the road? Do your best to let your new hires know now so they’re not caught off-guard later. It may take a long time for things to return to “normal,” whatever that is. Don’t put off hiring if you need to increase headcount. It can be done—even during a pandemic.

Talent Management Strategies for Agencies in Turbulent Times
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Talent Management Strategies for Agencies in Turbulent Times

As agencies face unprecedented hurdles in todays world, employee needs are the top priority for HR and L&D leaders. With the right resources in place, government agencies can continue to provide consistent and transparent communication and uninterrupted employee development and onboarding—further strengthening the agency. Join us for a conversation with representatives from Collier County, FL Human Resources, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. We will discuss how they have overcome obstacles in their employee onboarding and development to deliver highly effective talent management strategies during turbulent times. Youll learn how two distinct agencies have overcome obstacles such as: -Training different compositions of their workforce with varying degrees of technological capabilities; -Labor and employee relations concerns; -Rate of required change; and, -Positioning technology as an enabler and not a barrier. During this conversation, we will highlight lessons learned that you may be able to apply in your agency to help cover these or similar obstacles you face.

TED Talk Tuesday: 3 Lessons on Leadership Development
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TED Talk Tuesday: 3 Lessons on Leadership Development

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Stanley McChrystal is a four-star general and former commander of the U.S. and International forces in Afghanistan. His leadership over the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is credited with the capture of Saddam Hussein. After 9/11, McChrystal faced entirely new challenges as a leader. He spent six years serving in Afghanistan, but the forces he oversaw were deployed in multiple locations. He had to find new ways of building trust with his teams without the ability to "put a hand on a shoulder." In his TED Talk, McChrystal discusses some of the lessons he learned about being an effective leader from the military. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk: "Leaders can let you fail and not let you be a failure." McChrystal explains that one day the company he commanded failed terribly at a simulated "dawn attack" drill. When he and his company had finished with the evaluation, he headed towards his battalion commander to apologize for the performance. Instead, his commander commended him on a job well done. "In one sentence he lifted me and put me back on my feet," McChrystal says. The moment taught him that good leaders give their teams the encouragement they need to continue forward after adversity and disappointment. Building a culture where failure is accepted allows everyone to learn from their mistakes and improve performance the next time around. "[As a leader], you're building a sense of shared purpose." In his post-9/11 service in Afghanistan, McChrystal saw a shift in the diversity of the teams he was leading. The age difference was the most striking to him. McChrystal was reminded that these differences in experiences, while valuable, made it even more crucial for his teams to operate under a "shared purpose and shared consciousness." "How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven't done what the people they're leading are doing?" Along with new faces, the technology and tools McChrystal used in the field had changed by the time he was a commander. "Suddenly, the things we grew up doing weren't what the force was doing anymore," he says. It created what McChrystal calls an "inversion of expertise." This is a common challenge that leaders face. The people they lead know more about the work and systems they're using than the managers themselves. These changes forced McChrystal to be transparent and listen to his teams. He allowed himself to be reverse mentored from those who ranked below him to evolve as the most efficient leader possible. Photo: TED

TED Talk Tuesday: Anyone Can Be a Leader
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TED Talk Tuesday: Anyone Can Be a Leader

This is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Everyone is a leader in someone's eyes, says leadership expert and educator Drew Dudley. Although leaders are often made out to be extraordinary figures with unique skills that inspire and guide others to greatness, Dudley believes that moments of true leadership can happen in seemingly mundane situations. Dudley calls these pivotal times “lollipop moments," named after an interaction he had in college with a new student. While she nervously waited in line for new student materials during orientation, Dudley, who was promoting an on-campus organization, handed a stranger a lollipop to give her. Dudley forgot this ever happened, until the woman approached him years later and told him that he changed her life. Not only did his small gesture make her feel at ease in a new environment, but she also began dating the stranger Dudley commandeered to give her candy, and eventually went on to marry him. These types of exchanges happen every day in the workplace as well, Dudley says. In his TED Talk, he explains why instead of looking for perfect opportunities to make a difference, leaders should embrace small moments that can create big changes. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. “We have made leadership about something that is beyond us." It's natural to idolize prominent leaders and strive to emulate them, but anyone can lead, Dudley says. Employees see their managers and supervisors as leaders, and while they're certainly in positions to offer guidance, employees can inspire each other as well, regardless of their roles at the company. Leadership isn't exclusive to certain individuals—all employees should strive to be leaders not only during pivotal moments, but during everyday interactions with their colleagues, Dudley says. You never know when a pep talk from a fellow worker can give someone the courage to ask for a raise or learn a crucial new skill. “We take moments where we truly are a leader and we don't let ourselves take credit for it." Often, great leaders lead and inspire without knowing it, Dudley says. On the rare occasion that leaders get to hear about the impact they've had on someone, they should accept the credit. It's important to understand that ordinary individuals have the capacity to influence others—this is something to value, not fear, according to Dudley. For employees, the notion of giving and receiving credit and gratitude ties back to the importance of feedback. Humans crave feedback and thrive on it—that's why Dudley says it's important to tell people when something they did or said made a difference, and it's equally important to internalize that feedback, especially in the workplace. “We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments." Life is full of little moments that add up to meaningful life changes, Dudley points out. To him, giving a fellow student a lollipop was forgettable, but to the recipient, it was a turning point. This goes to show, he explains, that leadership is all about perspective. Perhaps not everyone is a leader in the traditional sense—not everyone becomes a CEO of a company, for example. But, that doesn't mean that an entry-level employee doesn't have the potential to inspire her team during a tough time. Anyone can lead at any given moment, Dudley says, sometimes without even realizing it. Photo: TED

TED Talk Tuesday: Happiness Is the Secret to Success
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TED Talk Tuesday: Happiness Is the Secret to Success

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Shawn Achor, CEO of consulting firm Good Think and best-selling author, is one of the world's leading experts on happiness and success. In his TED talk, Achor reveals our backward understanding of how to achieve happiness, based on his research in the field of positive psychology. (Hint: Success doesn't lead to happiness — it's the other way around.) As we prepare for Thanksgiving, a holiday defined by gratitude, Achor's lessons on positivity and practicing appreciation for the present will serve business leaders and employees well at both the office and home. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. "If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average." Achor shares that one of the principles of academic research — whether it's economics, education, medicine, business or psychology — is to eliminate the outliers (in a statistically valid way, of course). In most research, the goal is to focus on the "average": How fast does the average child learn to read? How many Advil pills should the average person take? Positive psychology, on the other hand, proposes that if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average. Instead of eliminating the outliers, Achor is interesting in studying the outliers to discover why certain people exist outside of the curve — intellectually, athletically, musically, emotionally, etc. By studying the outliers, Achor believes we can glean information about how to improve the average. "We need to reverse the formula for happiness and success." What has Achor discovered by studying the outliers? It's not reality that shapes us, but our perception that shapes our reality. Studies show that the external factors of your life can only predict 10 percent of your long-term happiness; whereas how you perceive the world can predict 90 percent. Why is this? Every time we get a good grade, job or award, our brain changes our definition of success to better grades, a better job or a better award. Success is elusive, as Achor explains, which makes achieving happiness from our successes elusive, too: "If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there." The key to happiness is not changing external factors, but changing the way we process external factors. "You can train your brain to be able to become more positive." According to Achor, if we can find a way to become more positive in the present, our brains will experience a "happiness advantage." A positive brain is 31 percent more productive than a negative, neutral or stressed brain, and our energy, intelligence and creativity levels all rise when we're in a positive mindset. In other words, happiness actually leads to greater success. But can you actually increase your positivity? Yes, Achor says, adding that in just a two-minute span of time over 21 days in a row, you can rewire your brain to work more optimistically and successfully. For example, by writing three new things you are grateful for every day for 21 days, your brain will begin to retain a pattern of scanning the world for the positive instead of the negative. Other tactics Achor has studied include journaling about positive experiences, meditation and writing thank-you notes. By reversing the formula for happiness and success, Achor says, we can not only increase individual happiness, but also create ripples of positivity and productivity throughout organizations. Photo: Creative Commons

TED Talk Tuesday: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?
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TED Talk Tuesday: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work?

This is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, uses unusual experiments to understand what motivates humans to act in certain, seemingly irrational, ways. For example, at work, are individuals more motivated by recognition than they are by money? And at what point does a lack of recognition make even the promise of financial reward no longer worth it? These are just a few of the questions that Ariely works to answer. In his TED talk, Ariely highlights how his experiments on performance recognition help demonstrate that as humans beings, we want to be valued, not just paid. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. "When we think about how people work, the naive intuition we have is that people are like rats in a maze—that all people care about is money." If people are truly motivated by money, "Why does anyone climb mountains?" asks Ariely. It requires time, hard work and it's downright dangerous. This suggests people get satisfaction and meaning from the challenge of completing a task successfully, especially when it's a difficult one. It's easy to get caught up trying to make employees 'happy' by providing monetary rewards. Instead, take some time to find out what truly motivates them—whether it's completing a challenging assignment, engaging with coworkers and clients or being recognized for their work. By incorporating these things into their day-to-day work, you will not only make them happy but inspire them to do their best work. "Eliminating motivation seems to be incredibly easy, and if we don't think about it carefully, we might overdo it." In one of Ariely's experiments, participants were asked to keep repeating a worksheet that was either acknowledged, ignored or shredded for increasingly smaller monetary rewards, until they no longer wanted to participate. Unsurprisingly, those people whose work was being ignored or shredded stopped participating much earlier than those who got a simple look of affirmation from the supervisor. Ariely's conclusion? Even a little recognition can be motivational, but its absence can be paralyzing. This couldn't be truer in a work environment—employees thrive on feedback and acknowledgement, no matter how small it may seem. "When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it—creation, challenges, ownership, identity and pride." There is no longer a clear separation between work and life. This lack of boundaries makes it more important than ever for people to find meaning in what they do. That's why money isn't enough to motivate individuals anymore. While adequate pay is important, it doesn't replace the feeling of being challenged, rewarded and proud. How can you incorporate these components, Ariely asks, to create meaning in your workplace — and for your employees? Photo: TED

TED Talk Tuesday: Robots Will Take Our Jobs, Then What?
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TED Talk Tuesday: Robots Will Take Our Jobs, Then What?

This part is part of our monthly "TED Talk Tuesday" series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Andrew McAfee studies how technology affects business and society — more specifically, how computerization will impact our workforce and economy. In his TED Talk, the principal research scientist at MIT Sloan's Center for Digital Business explains how robots will take our jobs, why that's not necessarily a bad thing and what we can do to prepare our society for "technological unemployment." While radical to some, McAfee's arguments are important consideration for any workforce participant — especially HR leaders, whose work is closely tied to the future of the jobs economy. Watch the video below and read more for three key takeaways from his talk. "There is going to be more and more technology and fewer and fewer jobs." According to McAfee, the world of technological unemployment is at hand. Our cars will soon drive themselves, which means fewer truck drivers. We'll hook Siri up to supercomputer IBM Watson, eliminating most of the work done by customer service reps. And we're already developing machines to replace human warehouse pickers. So, what to do next? "[We have] the chance to imagine an entirely different kind of society." The answer is not to run and hide — it's to celebrate. McAfee says that technological unemployment is the best economic news on the planet for two reasons. First, the progression of technology is creating "abundance": more products at higher volume and quality, but lower prices. And second, it frees humanity to stop working and to start innovating, creating and thinking. "We're going. . . to chart a good course into the challenging, abundant economy that we're creating." McAfee acknowledges that this flourishing, creative and enlightened society does not come without its challenges. Not everyone has access to the resources of the world's elite philosophers, artists, businesspeople or diplomats — and without work, the lower and middle classes will struggle. However, McAfee points to the promise of education and the fact that the challenges of a "technological" society are increasingly public. He ends his talk on a promising note: If we pay attention to the plain facts before us, we can thrive in the future world of work. Photo: TED Talks

Ted Talk Tuesday | Why You Should Dare to Disagree
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Ted Talk Tuesday | Why You Should Dare to Disagree

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. According to Margaret Heffernan, it's only human to want to avoid disagreement and conflict. But the blogger, former CEO and television producer encourages you to do just the opposite in her two books. Heffernan challenges readers to push against their comfort zones for the sake of sparking important conversations and inciting positive change. In her TED Talk, Heffernan discusses why inviting objection into our work can be a game changer. While we are biologically drawn to people who think like us, Heffernan questions the value of surrounding ourselves with liked-minded peers. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from her talk. "It's a fantastic model of collaboration — thinking partners who aren't echo chambers." Collaborators who challenge us and find the flaws in our methodology are crucial to doing good work. These are the working relationships that allow us and our work to grow and strengthen, but all too often we seek out people who we know will agree with us. Organizations are even worse culprits of "group think" than individuals. When is the last time you were recruiting for a role, and actively sought out candidates who might not "fit the mold" of the job they were applying for? Bringing diversity of thought into an organization is the first step to creating a company culture where people are comfortable speaking up when they have a new different idea or see a flaw in an existing system or product. "We have to be prepared to change our minds." Part of seeking out opposition is being open to accepting it. Growth stems from listening to conflicting viewpoints and the flaws that they may highlight in our own arguments. The biggest catastrophes that we've witnessed rarely come from information that is secret or hidden, Heffernan explains. In situations that go horribly wrong, we often have already been told the information we needed to to stop the problem, but we remained what she calls "willfully blind" to it all because we don't want to create conflict. "Open information is fantastic, open networks are essential." Our common fear of conflict also impacts speaking up in the workplace when something is wrong. "In surveys of European and American executives, fully 85 percent of them acknowledge that they had issues or concerns at work that they were afraid to raise," Heffernan cites. People who have worked to find the best talent for their organizations will have difficulty engaging or retaining them if they don't question suspicious issues. Creating an open network of communication that welcomes opposition makes for a functional and efficient work environment. Heffernan explains that this all takes practice to develop these skills—access to information alone isn't enough, it needs to be shared, accepted and discussed. Photo: TED

Trouble With the Curve: 4 Alternatives to Forced Rankings
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Trouble With the Curve: 4 Alternatives to Forced Rankings

Marissa Mayer has caused another stir with her latest HR stunt. Last month the Yahoo! CEO implemented a forced rankings performance review process at the company, meaning managers rank their employees on a bell curve and fire those at the low end. Forced—or “stacked”—rankings have fallen out of favor with some companies. Microsoft recently dumped its controversial forced ranking system in favor of more frequent and qualitative reviews, according to Business Week. But performance review processes that work for one company won't always fit another. “If this topic were simple there would not be over 25,000 books listed on Amazon’s U.S. book site for the query ‘performance review,’” Steven Stinofsky writes on Business Insider. Here are some alternatives—or additions—to forced rankings that companies are using to bolster their performance review schemes. Calibration Calibration is a face-to-face process, in which managers who oversee similar groups review one another’s employee-performance ratings. In these "rater reliability" sessions, supervisors discuss each of their employee’s performance rankings and their reasons behind the evaluation. "A calibration session catches the 'easy graders' and 'tough graders' and helps them rate their employees more realistically," Joanne Lloyd writes on JobDig.com. 360-Degree Feedback Instead of relying on one supervisor to evaluate an individual’s performance, some companies ask everyone with whom the employee interacts to weigh in. That’s the idea behind 360-degree feedback, a technique that collects performance data from a number of stakeholders like team members, customers and direct reports. “When it’s done well, 360 programs allow all your team members to improve in key areas that might be limiting their upward career path or actually causing major conflict within a team,” Eric Jackson writes on Forbes. Management by Objective First outlined by management whiz Peter Drucker, management by objective occurs when supervisors work with employees to outline goals and desired outcomes. Managers evaluate staff members based on their ability to achieve results. The advantage of the MBO process is that it allows employees to actively participate in goal setting, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Peer Review As the term implies, peer reviews require co-workers to comment about each others’ performance. “Coworkers often know more about their peers' strengths and weaknesses than supervisors do, and letting employees review one another is a great way for management to share in that knowledge,” Stephanie Gruner writes on Inc. Companies have used these evaluation methods for ages, but they’re continually experimenting with new feedback iterations that combine input from employees and their peers. There has been some heated discussion on LinkedIn recently around forced rankings. One contributor reminds us, “It really doesn't matter what form is used; what matters is how it is used and what the results really mean.” It’s hard to judge one company’s forced rankings system without understanding other programs that might support or counter balance it.  Photo: Can Stock

This Week on HR Labs: The Employee’s Experience In An Employee-First Business
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This Week on HR Labs: The Employee’s Experience In An Employee-First Business

What HR Can Learn from Community Managers at Coworking Spaces
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What HR Can Learn from Community Managers at Coworking Spaces

When a worker sees an email from human resources, their stomach clenches. And if the employee sees an HR rep walk straight toward their desk, their heart skips a beat. It's easy to assume the worst: Did they say something offensive to a coworker without realizing it? Is their department downsizing? Understandably, HR managers want to shed this stern stereotype. Instead of being seen as the admonishers, they want to be seen as trusted confidants. And, as it turns out, community managers at coworking spaces may be the inspiration HR needs. Similar to HR managers, community managers' main goal is to create an environment where people can do their best work: They connect coworkers who could be beneficial to one another. They cheer on successes and provide solace during setbacks. They listen to what coworkers want—and efficiently address the problems. According to recent studies, community managers are doing quite well: People in coworking spaces rate their level of thriving at a six on a seven-point scale, according to the Harvard Business Review, and members say that they benefit most from interacting with people in those spaces and trading know how (all of which community managers facilitate). HR, on the other hand? A 2012 study found that fewer than 7 percent of employees believe HR is looking out for them. Here, a few well-connected community managers share advice for HR on how to cultivate more positive, beneficial relationships with employees. Show a Vested Interest HR professionals most commonly approach workers at the beginning and end of their tenure, for onboarding and offboarding. But what if they were to approach their workers more regularly, and on less serious terms? According to Annelie Chavez, who has worked in HR and now handles community and partnerships at coworking space Camp David, it all comes down to relationships. “Make sure you touch base with employees every so often. People aren't going to come to you," advises Chavez. "Have a quarterly or monthly [check-in] to make sure things are getting done—it's important to keep a pulse on the staff." Diana McLaren, who worked as a community lead at Hub Australia in Sydney, offers similar advice. In McLaren's opinion, HR workers would do well to get to know their employees as people—she suggests asking about how employees' kids are doing, or checking in on their upcoming vacation plans. “There's nothing that will make people feel more cherished than remembering something they said in passing last week," she says. “You're showing a vested interest in them." Move Around the Office Another way of forming better relationships with employees? Try moving around the office. Chavez sat in the front of her office as a secretary before being promoted to HR, and saw first-hand how her relationships with workers were more intimate and comfortable than some of her HR peers who hadn't come up from the trenches. “It really has to do with how open HR people make themselves," Chavez says. “If you're an HR person sitting in the corner of an office, no one is going to come to you [at the onset of a problem]. They're only going to come at the breaking point." Take Action In addition to genuinely listening to your employees—including paying attention to their successes and struggles—it's important to take action to address their concerns. “One thing that community managers do really well is come up with creative solutions that fix multiple problems at the same time," McLaren says. “Communities end up growing that way and people feel cherished and important. You're actually hearing them and getting rid of the problem for them. And that's a lot more reassuring than if the HR worker just tries to follow protocol and listen." Make Connections Among Coworkers One simple way HR can become a friendly resource? Adopt the proactive mindset of community managers when it comes to introducing employees to coworkers as mentors or peers with similar interests—in other words, focus on creating a literal "community." “People are not that complicated," says McLaren. "They want to feel a part of something, like their work matters." Jamie Russo, executive director of the Global Workspace Association, suggests putting systems in place to facilitate skill swapping. “[You] have to go after it," Russo says. “I would advise HR people to spend time in a coworking space to see how it works." Overall, if building relationships and networking are a valued part of company culture, people will generally be more engaged at work—and more trusting of the HR team that facilitated those relationships. Photo: Twenty20

What Performance Management Trends are You Noticing in the New Normal?
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What Performance Management Trends are You Noticing in the New Normal?

The prevalence of remote work in 2021 and beyond requires leaders to adapt how they work with their people. The question, of course, is how you can make that happen? Let’s explore some of today’s biggest challenges and discuss how they’re impacting performance management and HR. The New Remote Landscape Though telework has been around for years, it was generally limited to short periods and a limited number of remote employees. However, spring and summer of 2020 presented a complete shift in how we work—company offices became vacant, travel was halted and many workers transitioned to working remotely on a full-time basis.  This new remote culture has changed how employees interact with colleagues and managers. Water cooler talk is no longer a thing. It’s a lot harder for managers to track sentiment and behavior when communications are email-only. Annual reviews are a lot more challenging, too, because you haven’t seen an employee in months. Naturally, fully remote work has presented a different look at performance management. With less direct communication and conversation between co-workers, superiors, and direct reports, it’s a lot harder to track some of a performance review’s underlying components. Pair this with the ongoing dissatisfaction with traditional performance management and companies are facing an inflection point.  The Biggest Challenges of Remote Work For many organizations, the traditional performance management approach was convenient—with an appraisal of each employee once or twice a year. As a manager, you document what you would like to change or improve, use this information to create an annual review rating, and designate a day to speak with the reviewee. Then you use all of that information to determine compensation, employment status, development plans, and organizational talent analyses.  It’s convenient, it’s cost-effective, and it’s heavily embedded into your company. It helps you establish company goals, standardize expectations and identify room for improvement.  The traditional performance management process is also found to be demotivating by management and employees and is considered ineffective by HR managers. It ignores what’s on the horizon and focuses on backward-looking performance, making it challenging to build a holistic and accurate review. This ultimately creates a stressful environment for all those involved. Criticism of annual performance reviews is not a new phenomenon—it’s taken a new normal to bring this methodology’s weaknesses into the spotlight. With fewer in-person interactions, it’s a lot harder to track engagement, solicit feedback or understand whether your people are aligned.  The Rise of Ongoing and Informal Reviews To address this, many companies have decided to look beyond the traditional (and highly criticized) annual review. Instead, organizations are using the current landscape to increase the frequency of reviews to stay connected with employees. Ongoing, informal reviews are becoming more popular as part of a larger continuous engagement initiative. Not only do they provide recognition at a time when employees are worried about the future but also they rely on up-to-date and future-looking information. At a time when HR managers are making tough decisions and management teams are seeking increased productivity, shorter review timeframes can provide companies with a clearer picture of their business. How Companies Benefit from Check-ins and Continuous Feedback Though there are many reasons to embrace the quarterly review model or replace formal reviews with more frequent check-ins or 1:1 performance meetings, the following reasons stand out: Reduce Employee Angst – Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “scared chickens don’t lay eggs.” As employees read about recessions, businesses being shut down and more, they need you to lead. Your team wants to know things are moving smoothly and that the business is going to be around. Provide Recognition – 69 percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Recognition is the number one way to inspire great work. How long does this feeling of recognition last? Not long—certainly not a whole year. A shift from annual reviews to more frequent ones can deliver this recognition and increase engagement. Increase Accountability – It’s a lot harder to keep track of your employees when they’re not around the office. Accountability and engagement are intertwined here. But it’s a lot easier for a disengaged employee to deliver just enough when there are limited person-to-person discussions. This is doubly so when said employee knows that they won’t have to answer this until review season. With shorter timeframes and less formality, you can develop a clearer picture of accountability and engagement. New Tools Deliver Efficiency, Transparency, and Accuracy For better or worse, the early stages of the pandemic changed the way employees worked and communicated. Although you may have read about or even experienced “Zoom burnout,” many have found that the new communications tools used to manage the move to work from home provided a wide range of benefits: More Efficient and Effective Communications – Rather than taking time out of your day to meet or discuss projects, a well-built message board or corporate social media platform allows employees to communicate more quickly and effectively.  More Transparent Communications – The home is now the office. The virtual water cooler conversation leaves room for more discussion areas and at least one friendship has formed over mutual interests discovered by a Zoom background. Simply put, it’s easier to broaden the conversation and understand how employees are doing because you’re both in a more personal setting. More Informed Employees – The implementation of new communications tools has presented companies with another benefit—it’s easier to share information. Now, rather than a disconnected process of pushing down information, internal communications have become timelier and more transparent.  Though 2020 has introduced you to new platforms, companies have provided more communication channels to employees for years. The only difference is that instead of simply looking at or using the tools, your employees rely on them. As these platforms become more deeply embedded, this new normal will provide your staff with more fluid and accurate communications. Rising Focus on Engagement Provides Outstanding Results 2020 has presented a lot of unprecedented challenges for companies and their employees, and it might have been the shock to the system that leaders needed. With new tools in place and a new focus on connection with employees, many businesses have found opportunities for improvement that were previously overlooked.  From communications to performance management, HR is creating new programs built to facilitate conversations, encourage connection, and build engagement—often seeing outstanding results. According to Best Place to Work data meta-analysis, 2020 has seen employee engagement skyrocket, up 11 percent over the high water mark set in 2019.   In fact, the survey from Josh Bersin notes that 83 percent of employees feel better supported by management, 77 percent feel their organization is providing up-to-date and transparent communications and has found that engagement programs are working.  More Work to Do: Engagement Programs Need Continued Improvement There’s still a lot of work on the horizon. Getting from adjusting to the new normal to advancing your business into it will require a mentality that shifts and accommodates change. Now is the time to focus on engagement program results and implement new methods focused on morale.  The Role of Continuous Feedback in Performance Management, Employee Engagement, and Morale With communication taking place more efficiently, information being shared more transparently and check-ins becoming more frequent, a focus on continuous engagement can deliver results. Feedback and recognition connect employees and managers, establishes a common goal and connects processes, helping your organization: Solidify and reinforce connections between managers and employees. When feedback and recognition are provided by indirect managers or across departments, previously unknown insights emerge, helping your employees feel valued and motivated (especially if they are working between different departments or clinical facilities). Take noticeable steps toward a workplace culture where others are not only recognized but heard. Increase engagement with the talent platform(s) you’re already invested in. Gauge how your employees are doing by implementing employee pulse surveys. These surveys can help employees share where they are professionally and personally. The companies can also use them to find ways to recognize employee dedication and hard work when the lines are blurred between work and home.   Cornerstone and Educe: Learning, Thriving and Performing  Performance Management has always been a challenge. But with recent events, many have risen to this challenge.  Much like the transition to work in the new normal, the operating landscape will require the right tools, tactics and processes to get where you want to be. If you’re looking to put your business in a position for long-term success, Cornerstone and the Educe Group can help. By relying on a leading service provider to implement one of the world’s most powerful talent management platforms, you can empower your users and make the most of your Cornerstone investment. As a Cornerstone partner for over five years, Educe helps organizations at every level better understand and fully leverage Cornerstone’s powerful talent management capabilities. To keep learning more about emerging performance management trends, watch this video of Stacie Grasberger, associate at The Educe Group, and Hendrik Thomas, senior product manager at Cornerstone, discussing what you can do to be prepared for these trends and how to handle their challenges. Contact us to learn more about how Educe can help you make the most of your Cornerstone investment.Â

Why Women Are Still Struggling to Climb the Corporate Ladder
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Why Women Are Still Struggling to Climb the Corporate Ladder

International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8, and there’s a lot that female professionals ought to be proud of. For one, there are more women starting their own businesses—and succeeding. From 2007 to 2018, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 58%. They’re also highly profitable: A recent Boston Consulting Group Report reported that if men and women were treated equally as entrepreneurs, global GDP would rise by 3% and boost the global economy by $2.5 trillion. In fact, women consistently score higher than their male counterparts in most leadership skills. And when it comes to getting a seat at the table, women are seeing a higher level of representation than ever before. According to research from Grant Thorton, 29% of senior management roles were held by women last year—the highest number ever on record. But despite this progress, they continue to lag behind when compared to their male counterparts. Women make up 44% of the overall S&P 500 labor force and 36% of first- or mid-level officials and managers at those organizations. Yet they make up only 25% of executive- and senior-level management. What’s more, women hold only 20% of board seats and account for just 6% of CEOs. This imbalance isn’t new. For years, women have lacked representation at the highest levels. That’s especially true for women of color, who make up only 3.5% of board rooms for the S&P 1500. So why do these inequalities persist? More often than not, the challenges that women face can be linked to the “broken rung,” a term that refers to companies’ failure to empower women in entry-level roles to grow into management positions. Fixing it is a necessary step toward achieving equality. According to a report from Lean In and McKinsey & Company, if women are promoted to first-time managers at the same rate as men, there will be one million more women in corporate management positions over the next five years. Luckily, organizations are already equipped with the tools they need to turn this goal into a reality. Communicate D&I Goals and Get Internal Stakeholders On Board When you’re hiring for any position—and especially entry- and mid-level ones—it’s important to set clear goals for diversity and inclusion. Employees who hold more junior positions will eventually be qualified to move into managerial roles—and they’ll be looking for opportunities to do just that. LinkedIn reports that 94% of individuals would stay at a company longer if the organization invested in their careers. As a result, ensuring your candidate pool contains more women from the get-go is crucial if you want to see more of them land in leadership spots. Once you develop a diverse hiring strategy, communicate it internally to members of the HR team and to C-suite decision-makers. Make the case for recruiting more women at all levels so you can receive buy-in from all internal stakeholders and gain access to resources that will enable you to recruit most effectively. After you hire and onboard employees, pay close attention to how they’re adjusting to their roles. Meet with associates early on and talk to them about their career goals, ensuring they have access to the same opportunities as their colleagues from the moment they begin working. Many career growth opportunities stem from internal networking activities. And while some employees will make connections at work naturally, others may be a bit more reluctant to build bonds with colleagues. It’s also a gendered issue: Men often benefit more from networking activities at work, and sometimes these activities are centered around a “bro” culture that doesn’t always welcome women. Luckily, there are other ways to foster mentorship. For example, an employee-mentor program can empower female associates and early managers to build relationships with their senior colleagues. These programs not only provide women an opportunity to make meaningful professional connections within your organization, they also give them the opportunity to ask questions and gain new skills. Establish Clear and Consistent Evaluation Criteria At many companies, the promotion process can seem rather opaque. This lack of transparency is often frustrating for employees—especially those working hard to get to the next level. To ensure all workers have an equal opportunity to move up, focus on establishing evaluation criteria for managers to follow when making promotion decisions. This approach not only helps managers, it also offers employees greater visibility into the process and gives workers the tools they need to reach their potential—regardless of gender. Require Managers to Participate in Unconscious Bias Trainings Offering managers guidance around how to evaluate employees certainly contributes to a more just promotion structure, but fixing the systematic problem of the “broken rung” will require your HR department to challenge managers on how they hire, fire and promote employees. That starts with evaluating their own inherent biases—and taking steps to ensure those preferences don’t impact their employees’ growth and development. Managing unconscious bias is easier said than done. That’s because all humans have preconceived notions—even if they don’t necessarily act upon those judgments. The scientific explanation for unconscious bias is simple: The brain can consciously process 40 pieces of content per second, while it can unconsciously process 11 million pieces of content. We do a lot of thinking that we’re not aware of, meaning we often come to certain conclusions without realizing it. One of the most common examples of unconscious bias is gender bias. When women are strong and assertive, they are often perceived as “aggressive” while men with the same qualities are seen as confident. As a result, a female employee who demonstrates these attributes might be passed up for a promotion because of their gender, due to a manager’s unconscious bias. Knowing how to spot these fixed assumptions is critical to building and maintaining a more diverse workforce and fixing the “broken rung.” Start by incorporating unconscious bias training into your L&D efforts and educating managers on how to minimize their own judgments. Helping women move up the corporate ladder will likely require planning, communication and, in some cases, changes in policy and structure. If you’re an HR manager working to bridge the gender gap at your organization, you certainly have your work cut out for you. But with the right strategy and resources, you can empower more women to reach their full professional potential.

Why You Need Infrastructure for Managers to Succeed
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Why You Need Infrastructure for Managers to Succeed

Can we all agree that the leadership of an organization is the single most important element driving success? Yes, I know that's an odd question—but think about it. Isn't it the case that the behavior of leaders shapes the behavior of employees, through effective coaching, correction and development? In last month's article, I talked about leadership development and how the day-to-day work of an organization actually serves as the best learning curriculum; by solving real problems and reflecting on why something worked or didn't work, leaders grow in knowledge and experience. But is that enough? Hire incredibly smart people and let them learn by doing? In my experience, there is still a piece missing and, unless it is addressed, it can create chaos. The missing piece? Infrastructure. The Importance of Infrastructure You've likely heard the old saying, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Or perhaps "If you pit a good performer against a bad system, the system will win almost every time." But what do these pithy sayings really mean? They mean that the infrastructure—the systems, processes, policies and programs that those in the organization execute every day—have to facilitate and enable behaviors that drive organizational performance. You can teach, communicate, motivate and inspire people to do the right work with appropriate behaviors, but if the infrastructure is teaching or communicating a different message, your performance and productivity are seriously impacted. It's like an orchestra with everyone playing their favorite piece. Unless they agree, it's chaos. It's like a racing pit crew where everyone runs to fix something, and they run to the same tire, so one tire gets all the attention, and the rest run flat. Infrastructure provides the parameters by which leaders lead and employees work. Values Support Infrastructure, But Don't Define It What is the purpose of those “values and principles" tacked up on the wall that talk about things like customer service, integrity and communication? They're referring to the ideal infrastructure, telling leaders and employees, “This is what is important; this is how we expect our team to behave." But it's not enough to simply say, “Act with integrity," or “Communicate effectively," because those are open to individual interpretation. The solution? Programs designed to put values to action, measure employee culture fit, and identify engagement gaps. So, Who Builds Infrastructure? There are a number of methods modern organizations have adopted to ensure organizational values are translated into action. Today, we create employee handbooks that prescribe appropriate behaviors, and define reprimands for bad ones. We offer intense manager trainings. We design pay and benefits structures that reward high performance and good behavior. We implement processes to set goals and measure performance to ensure that the work the organization is doing is aligned with the business strategy. We evaluate leaders' and employees' skills and competencies, and create plans for continuous development. We practice behavioral interviewing to try to source and hire new employees who can perform and thrive in our culture. But hang on—these are all HR programs, right? They are, but all too often, these programs fail to address their core purpose of building an infrastructure based on values. Instead, managers begrudgingly complete their tasks as HR cajoles and polices the programs, focused on compliance over strategy and completion over improvement. HR programs—which are inherently about building your organization's infrastructure—should instead be continuously evaluated and tweaked to align with the needs of the organization. The “words on the wall" may tell employees that they are the organization's most valued asset, but do the managers' behaviors reinforce the message? Do your words match your actions? Does the infrastructure that you created work, or is it shouting mixed messages? I cannot give you the answer; only you can take time to reflect on your organization's infrastructure and answer these questions. Executives, your HR team probably has a pretty good sense of the answers to these questions. If you're looking to improve your leadership culture, ask them where there might be opportunity to improve the infrastructure. I bet they have some good ideas. Photo: Twenty20

Why Your Job Descriptions Should Tell a Story
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Why Your Job Descriptions Should Tell a Story

Just as branding — both personal and professional — is essential to marketing or sales, it's increasingly crucial for HR. Job candidates have understood the power of personal branding for quite some time — the key to landing a dream job is to craft a concise, first-person narrative about who you are and the value you represent to potential employers. For recruiters and hiring managers, tired beyond belief of bland, hackneyed descriptions of “results-driven, self-motivated team players," it's a welcome relief to read about actual people, not automatons. Now, flip the equation. With relatively low unemployment rates at 5 percent, employers also need to craft a compelling brand in order to attract the most qualified candidates. What more obvious place to craft your employer narrative than through your job descriptions? How to Tell a Brand Story to Candidates A job posting should focus on convincing a talented candidate that he or she belongs at your company. Just as a great resume speaks directly to the hiring manager's needs and shares a unique story, a great job posting should speak to the needs of the candidate's ideal employer and offer a narrative for his or her "character." How do you tell a unique story with a job description? Let's walk through a recent job posting from First Round Review, the online magazine of venture capital firm First Round Capital. 1) Lead with a non-stock photo image The image at the top of the post — a woman on an indoor swing in an art studio — lets interested candidates understand that this is not a buttoned-up, corporate type of job; the company obviously wants to attract creative, daring people. 2) State the company's mission Candidates immediately get a sense of the employer brand through the image, and a succinct, strong description of the employer confirms the bold brand: "We launched First Round Review to offer a better brand of advice to the startup ecosystem." A link back to the employer's site invites candidates to explore how the Review's mission aligns with the broader vision of First Round Capital and its clients. 3) Invite the candidate to join the adventure Immediately following the Review's mission, the post states, “That's where you come in." That's right — the posting speaks directly to the candidate, just as candidates should speak directly to the hiring manager through a resume or cover letter. 4) Craft a character Instead of writing up a laundry list of skills, the Review's posting focuses on character traits: Phrases like "You call yourself a writer first;" "You're curious about people;" and "Tech fascinates you" indicate certain skill sets, but put them in an individual, relatable context. By focusing on such character traits, First Round Review attracts potential hires that may not have every specific skill desired, but certainly have the right interests, approach and personality. 5) Start a conversation, not an application First Round does have a senior HR executive, one whose strategy seems to empower managers to determine whom they want to interview. Nowhere does the posting instruct candidates to “upload your resume and cover letter." Instead, a link to the manager's email encourages applicants to “talk" to her directly. Terrific! A company that eschews ATS software in favor of an actual human who can identify candidates based not only on their resume, but also on what she intuits. The New Standard for Job Descriptions HR professionals have developed a comfort zone with old-style job descriptions that are completely out of sync with the contemporary world of work. Continue posting jobs this way, and I predict that the quality of your candidates will quickly match your behind-the-times recruitment strategy. I can hear the protests already from companies that require highly specific skills and consider the example I've provided above too "warm and fuzzy" for their culture. But the point is not to copy the exact language above; it's to clearly communicate your company brand and tell a story about the person you're hoping to find. Think about it this way: When buyers shop for a house, realtors encourage them to envision themselves living there. The specs on square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms matter, of course, but the buyer also needs to believe the specs that make up that house could be a home. The same thing applies to your company's potential talent pool — your job description should invite the candidate to not only imagine working at your company, but belonging there. Photo: Creative Commons

Working Towards Mindfitness: The Flexible Mind
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Working Towards Mindfitness: The Flexible Mind

Wisdom requires a flexible mind. - Dan Carlin If I could turn the clocks back and do a few things differently, there is certainly one thing that I would have embraced much earlier on in my life, and that is yoga. Without wanting to sound evangelistic, it is something that has literally changed my life not only physically, but it has also had a very positive impact on my emotional wellbeing. Countless studies demonstrate the effect that practicing yoga can have on reducing stress levels, and one of the other great benefits is how much it improves your range of motion and ultimately your physical flexibility. In many ways it is a truly liberating experience because over time it helps to build core strength and nimbleness. So, in a world where the pace of change requires us all to be more and more adaptable, it is reassuring to know that as we are able to exercise our bodies to improve our physical flexibility, we can indeed do the same with our minds. Thankfully, we have now entered an age where flexibility and innovation matter much more than antiquated experiences or decades-old qualifications. Staying relevant in the fourth industrial revolution is about staying current, adopting a growth mindset and embracing fresh thinking. We are, after all, perpetual students in the university of life and continuous learning is the key to thriving. One of my favorite books was written in 1970 by Alvin Toffler who is regarded as one of the world's most outstanding futurists. The book is called Future Shock and there is a very powerful quote that says: The illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read or write it will be those who have the inability to learn, unlearn and relearn. It is wise to appreciate that what is relevant today may not be relevant for the future and the willingness and ability to ‘unlearn’ is as important as our ability to learn. This of course requires an open and flexible mind. Our ability to disengage from one task and respond to another or to think about multiple concepts at the same time is fundamental to thriving in most modern workplaces. Someone who is flexible will learn quicker, as well as being able to adapt and respond to new situations more easily and in a much smarter and appropriate way. What is flexibility? Behavioral flexibility and cognitive flexibility are terms that are used in the field of experimental psychology to identify a form of cognition that enables humans to adapt their behaviour according to changing environmental situations. The etymology of the word flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking and in a world that is in a constant state of flux this is a powerful skill. In many ways, a flexible mind allows us to expand our thinking and explore and discover a broader range of options that are potentially available to us. Being able to think on our feet and adjust accordingly will help us to be responsive and agile. So how do leaders empower flexibility? As a flexible leader you will need to adapt well to changes and be willing to revise your plans to incorporate new innovations and overcome challenges, while still achieving your goals. You will also need to possess the ability to think about situations and consider as many different elements as possible in the time you have available. The antiquated “one-size-fits-all” approach to leadership simply does not work anymore. In a truly inclusive workplace, flexible leaders recognize that different people and situations require different leadership styles and approaches. Leading through uncertainty and ambiguity is the new normal, especially in these unprecedented times. Flexible leaders embrace change, demonstrate a growth mindset and embrace working with a wide spectrum of people. What I love about flexibility is how tangibly useful it is in a crisis and I would like to share with you three key approaches that are fundamental to empowering flexibility within your team: 1. Constantly review and refresh your perspective The pace of change right now is relentless, and it is important to factor in time to stop and reflect and refresh your understanding of both internal and external factors that may well be impacting on your organization's effectiveness. This will help you to be constantly on top of what approaches are most likely to work best and how to prioritize and balance the need for urgency and diligence. 2. Flex your leadership style Having knowledge and a good understanding of the different styles of leadership can be very helpful in terms of improving your ability to be more flexible. As we have previously established, in a world of rich diversity one style of leadership doesn’t get the best results from everyone. The ability to flex your approach to suit the needs of each individual and each situation is key to achieving the best outcomes. 3. Lead by example It isn’t enough to know and show people the way, you also need to go the way. Modelling the behaviors that are required to be flexible is one of the most important tasks for any leader and especially in times of constant flux and uncertainty. Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways you will instil trust and confidence in a high performing team. These are just a few examples of how great leaders can best support their teams to be truly empowered and flexible. The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings. - Kakuzo Okakura For more Mindfit resources, check out free sample courses from Cornerstone’s Original Learning Series, Empowering Minds with Liggy Webb. Read about Liggy Webb's "Mindfit" model, or take a closer look at the next element in the model, a Creative Mind.

Working Towards Mindfitness: The Resilient Mind
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Working Towards Mindfitness: The Resilient Mind

When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience - Jaeda DeWalt I discovered one of my favourite descriptions of resilience whilst doing some research. It’s an inspiring account of resilience written by a critical care nurse called Sonja M. Schwartzbach: "And then resilience enters the room, the most elegant of emotional beings; glowing; refined; a reminder that even a flicker of light glows amid the darkness. And we can save our tiny ship of troubles from life’s stormy seas once again." Resilience, in many ways, is an elegant, rich and inspiring topic. It is also an essential skill to cultivate, and our ability to be resilient to stress, setbacks, adversity and relentless change depends so much on our inner resources and strength. So, what is resilience? The word resilience derives from the Latin verb resilire, meaning to jump back or to recoil. In physics, resilience is the ability of an elastic material to absorb energy and release that energy as it springs back to its original shape. The recovery that occurs in this phenomenon is akin to a human being’s ability to bounce back after one of life’s various and inevitable challenges. Resilience is essentially the process of adapting and recovering well from adversity, trauma, tragedy or threats. Some people describe resilience as the ability to bend instead of breaking when experiencing pressure or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges. The same abilities also help us to be more open and willing to take on new opportunities It is also essential to understand that resilience is not about ‘toughing it out’ to the detriment of our own overall wellbeing. We need to acknowledge that as human beings we will of course have our own unique fragilities and vulnerabilities. Focusing on self-care and building a toolkit of positive and healthy coping mechanisms is one of the best ways to cultivate resilience. Something else that I have learned about resilience is that the curve balls and challenges that life will inevitably throw at us, perversely, are often the most valuable lessons when it comes to learning about and building our ability to be resilient. As Theodore Roosevelt once remarked, “For those who have had to fight for it, life has truly a flavor the protected shall never know.” So how do leaders empower resilience? I love a good parable, and this one is so powerful: This is the story of a man who finds a butterfly cocoon and, as he has never witnessed the metamorphosis before, he is fascinated to see what happens. This, however, was in the days before the internet and all he has is a large magnifying glass. As he examines the process, all he can see is the butterfly struggling to push through a tiny hole in the cocoon and it appears to be in discomfort. Seeing this he decides to help it out and gets hold of a pair of scissors and very carefully cuts into the side of the hole to make it bigger. The butterfly then emerges really easily with very little effort and then to the man’s dismay he watches as the butterfly withers away unable to take flight. You see, with all the good will in the world, what the man did not realize was that the butterfly's struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. Just like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us stronger. So, as a leader, you may well be tempted to solve every problem in your team’s path to save time or energy or avoid frustration. However, I would urge you to not get in the way of your team’s journey as they build up a sense of personal responsibility and self-efficacy. Allowing them to learn their own lessons and self-actualize is the key to empowerment. When you allow people to take responsibility for their own actions, they learn to demonstrate accountability. By being accountable they will ultimately feel more empowered, confident and in control when dealing with setbacks and adversity. It is also liberating to allow your team to acknowledge and understand that they can ultimately create options and choose their responses to every situation. So instead of jumping in and trying to solve all of your team’s challenges for them, work out how they are feeling about the challenges and focus on building up their confidence. Focus on supporting them to build their own unique resilience toolkit. This is how great leaders can best support their teams to be truly empowered and resilient. On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin -Gregory S. Williams For more Mindfit resources, check out free sample courses from Cornerstone’s Original Learning Series, Empowering Minds with Liggy Webb. Read about Liggy Webb's "Mindfit" model, or take a closer look at the next element in the model a Curious Mind.

3 Ways to Address Brain Drain in Government Agencies
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3 Ways to Address Brain Drain in Government Agencies

In the age of constantly evolving technology, it's easy for any company to fall behind. But state and local government agencies face a particular set of challenges: budget cuts, an older generation of employees, a lack of resources and a strict hierarchy that can stand in the way of moving forward. This hinders opportunities to enlist young, fresh talent and retain them within the agency. A recent survey from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence found more than 90 percent of state and local government human resource managers rank recruiting and retaining qualified personnel as the most important issue they face. While government agencies can't often compete with the salary, perks, and brand of young tech startups or large organizations, they can find budget-conscious ways to create a compelling work environment and career opportunities. In addition to the civic impact and fulfilling work government agencies offer, it's important to provide talent with ways to learn and grow on their own terms. Here are three ways government agencies can bring in and hold on to top talent. 1) Be Flexible It's important to provide employees with flexible scheduling and work environments. By offering mobile training or an online onboarding experience, employees can work from anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to the Center for State and Government Excellence study, only 22 percent of agencies offer regular telecommuting for eligible positions and 28 percent of workplaces didn't offer any flex work practices. By providing a flexible workplace, agencies can improve employee engagement, as well as increase dedication to the company. According to the Best Places to Work data, work life balance has proven to be a key differentiator when people are considering where to work. Additionally, the public sector lags behind the private industry in offering these flexibilities. 2) Provide a Modern Learning Experience As HR ushers in a younger, new talent pool along with the latest technology, it's important to remember the older workforce. Training is ongoing, says Steve Dobberowsky in a recent webinar on how to attract and retain the incoming generation, senior principal of thought leadership and advisory services at Cornerstone OnDemand. So to help different generations succeed at the same place, provide everyone with video content to learn new skills and keep the user experience simple. Also, start automating the application, screening, and onboarding processes to utilize your employees' time. As Dobberowsky says, people no longer go start at one organization with the mindset that they are going to stay there for their entire career. Therefore, it's important to give young employees the resources to learn new concepts. By thinking about what's next in technology—such as artificial intelligence and smart workflows—instead of staying set in old ways, you will start to attract the type of workforce that will bring in fresh ideas to build the future of your agency. 3) Focus on Your Employer Brand According to the same study by the Center for State and Government Excellence, 84 percent of recruitment for state and local government agencies is done through online job advertising. It's important to amp up your online presence, Dobberowsky says, because 84 percent of workers would consider leaving their job for another company with a strong reputation. Agencies should be vigilant about maintaining their online presence and take active steps to maintain that identity. In today’s technological world, people look to what others are saying about things before making up their minds on issues such as ‘where do I want to work?’ Most people do their research online. Take a look at your Glassdoor account to see how your ratings are doing and respond to employee comments. Adopt a consumer-style strategy for marketing and engaging potential employees. Use social media to your advantage and update LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter with useful information about your agency, as well as marketable content that shows off a mobile and diverse workforce. By taking control of your agency's online presence, you can start to draw in the ideal candidate for your agency—and take action to make the employee want to stay long term. For more information, check out our latest webinar, "How to Attract and Retain the Incoming Generation of Government Employees." Photo: Creative Commons

A manager's guide to confronting performance issues
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A manager's guide to confronting performance issues

One of the most daunting tasks managers face is dealing with an underperforming employee. Traditional approaches to performance management often leave managers unequipped to deliver constructive performance feedback. As a result, employees feel demoralized and defensive rather than motivated to succeed. It doesn't have to be this way. View this webinar and you’ll gain insights into: Why traditional performance management makes correcting underperformance so challenging How a modern approach to performance management impacts employee engagement and productivity How to adopt a five-step process for diagnosing employee performance issues How to address underperformance in a way that feels good to the employee

In Healthcare, a Happy Staff Makes for Healthy Patients
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In Healthcare, a Happy Staff Makes for Healthy Patients

Healthcare professionals know a slew of factors go into keeping patients healthy, safe and satisfied with the care they’re receiving. But while adopting state-of-the-art technology, recruiting top specialists and creating preventative health programs tend to get the spotlight, there’s an often-overlooked variable with wide-reaching consequences: employee engagement. Employee Happiness Matters Strong employee engagement has been linked with significant improvements in patient care and satisfaction. For instance, higher nurse engagement scores lead to lower patient mortality and complications, according to a recent Gallup study. Higher nurse satisfaction resulted in an 87 percent decrease in infection rate over two years, according to data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI). What’s more, Gallup also found that hospitals employing the least engaged nurses spend $1.1 million more per year in malpractice claims than those with the most engaged nurses. Just like employees at any company, healthcare providers will do better work — and provide better care — if they are happier and invested in their jobs. The State of Engagement Today If employee engagement is so crucial to providing high-quality patient care, what are healthcare providers actually doing about it? According to a 2014 Cornerstone OnDemand study that surveyed HR professionals at healthcare organizations, nearly half of respondents said their organizations do measure whether or not employees are engaged — and to what extent. But nearly half of respondents also indicated that their employees were not fully engaged, and a quarter of respondents said they don't measure engagement at all.  The low engagement levels, survey respondents said, were primarily due to industry changes (such as the burden of transitioning from paper to electronic medical records), high rates of employee turnover and mandates to manage hospital surveys and adopt ICD-10, a new coding system for diagnosing various diseases. While healthcare organizations are aware of the problem and (some) even believe they’re prepared to address the downsides of low engagement, there is still a long way to go to achieve higher engagement rates that translate into better patient care. Only a third of organizations surveyed had an HR plan in place to drive engagement, but these initiatives become sidetracked by everyday concerns like patient emergencies and transitioning to new systems and software. 6 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement It’s clear that healthcare organizations need to address employee satisfaction and its consequences. But where to start? These six strategies can help: 1. Use succession planning to create career paths. Succession planning is not only important for the long-term success of an organization, but it also improves overall job satisfaction. This is especially true in healthcare, where the exodus of Baby Boomers and an acute nursing shortage has underscored the need for strong employee retention. Having a comprehensive strategy for building a strong leadership pipeline is directly tied to improved employee satisfaction, engagement and commitment, according to a 2012 study from Walden University. For example, a New Jersey healthcare system that implemented a succession plan for employees boosted engagement and retention, and eventually earned HR Solutions International's top rank for engagement, patient care and overall job satisfaction. 2. Recognize your strongest players. In healthcare, it’s crucial for nurses and other on-the-floor care providers to feel acknowledged and appreciated. So be sure to recognize nurses and other staff for good work. One caveat: a culture of recognition does require better performance management processes, so make sure feedback sessions and reviews happen more than once a year. 3. Prioritize learning and development. Employees who have access to “meaningful learning and development opportunities” are typically very engaged, according to the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration. Additionally, research has found that solid development opportunities can lower employee turnover and bring in up to twice the revenue per worker. 4. Deliver feedback that integrates learning opportunities early and often. Building a highly engaged workforce means delivering more frequent, actionable feedback that's tied to actionable learning opportunities. It's also important to deliver feedback early in an employee's tenure. Connecting performance management and learning opportunities keeps employees prepared with the latest skills needed to provide the best care to patients. 5. Start engagement activities early. An employee’s first day is likely to be his or her most engaged day on the job, according to Katherine Jones, vice president of HCM Technology Research at Bersin by Deloitte. Have your new hires hit the ground running by networking early with coworkers to drive home your organization's high expectations for ongoing engagement. It's also important to make new hires feel welcome in their new community. A Washington, D.C. hospital saw a significant drop in attrition when it sent new nurses a welcome card introducing them to the team before their first day. 6. Align employee goals with organizational goals. Healthcare workers generally enter the field because they have a strong passion for helping others. Communicate your organization's mission clearly and consistently so employees have a strong reference from which to set personal goals. Set your employees up for achieving these goals by providing the necessary resources, whether it's a mentorship program or training sessions for specific skills. Connecting employees' personal passion for their work with the organization’s goals leads to stronger employee loyalty and better performance. Photo: Shutterstock

Onboarding in Healthcare: To Socialize or Not - Is That a Question?
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Onboarding in Healthcare: To Socialize or Not - Is That a Question?

I'm sure you remember. It was your first job. You wondered whether or not they would like you. You thought to yourself, "Will I be able to do the job?" Peer pressure seeped in when you walked into the hospital the first time. However, it's not about your skills. It was whether or not the culture would accept you. Would people embrace you and give you the understanding of the "ins and outs" of this particular hospital? Leadership told you that you would be onboarded, that murky process when the hiring manager pulls you aside and has you fill out all the employment forms as well as to confirm you are up-to-date with your compliance training. Perhaps you get to meet your boss, some coworkers and go out to lunch. How would you be received? Where is Onboarding? The fact remains that onboarding, as a discipline, is often neglected not only in the healthcare industry but also by other industries as well. Little has been said about the onboarding process since usually confined to employment forms and compliance training. The reality is that onboarding is an integral part of the employee lifecycle and can make a difference to whether or not you can stave off the challenges of attrition for years to come. In the market, the healthcare industry has suffered an average of 28% turnover year-over-year (Note 1). As baby boomers continue to retire, reports show us that two-thirds of nurses over the age of 54 will be considering retirement in the next three years (Note 2). If these predictions continue, it appears that we will be 1.2 million nurses short by the year 2022 (Note 3). The challenge is real and current. The need to address onboarding is an immediate one. Let's take Different Perspective Human Resource scholars from Portland State University, Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan, decided that they would assume the challenge to define better and address the lost art (and science) of onboarding. Bauer and Erdogan define organizational socialization (read "onboarding") as "a process through which new employees move from being organizational outsiders to becoming organizational insiders" (Note 4). Their conclusions suggested that it is more important to take the time to socialize new employees into the institution early on in their employment history to ensure greater levels of employee satisfaction and organizational commitment, while at the macro level, reducing turnover and increasing personnel performance. They offer a set of steps that organizations can take to help in the socializing process. These measures consist of socialization tactics, formal orientation, recruitment and realistic previews as well as, providing organizational insiders as preceptors. Socialization Tactics In essence, this step suggests that the organization could intentionally connect new employees into the social structure of the institution. Some socialization tactics utilized, unconsciously, may be described as a "sink or swim" approach in which the employee is made the struggle to figure out the associated organizational norms and how they are to fit in. Though a tactic such as this has been effective to highlight self-directed employees, it is not very predictable in its outcome (Note 4). An example a socialization tactic that is more useful and predictable is that of providing an activity that brings together current and new employees. Often, the perception of team building is as an activity without an outcome, however, in this case, the journey is far more beneficial than the destination. Having the opportunity to intentionally interact, at a social level, with new colleagues, makes the onboarding experience, not only more useful but also pleasant. An example of a good onboarding socialization tactic is present at UCLA Health, where new residents are invited to participate in a day long ropes course activity to assist in establishing clear communications and building trust. These activities also help in the future when teamwork and critical problem–solving skills are required. Formal Orientation This particular step is fairly traditional and has a place in the onboarding process. Not only can formal orientations help new employees feel welcome and provide them with the appropriate information for success, but it also shows the employee that the organization is rigorous and well-structured, that it has the best intentions for their success in their new job. Research does indicate that orientation programs can be effective when discussing the goals and the history of the particular institution. Evidence also shows that face-to-face orientation has greater levels of benefit over computer-based orientation when it comes to understanding the job (Note 4). One hospital in the East utilizes the Wizard of Oz as the primary vehicle to present strong leadership skills. Each new staff member is required to watch the Wizard of Oz movie before their formal orientation so that they can discuss leadership principals in the movie and at the hospital. This approach is efficient and memorable when they are in the midst of the hustle on the hospital floor. Recruitment and Realistic Previews We have already recognized that social events are essential in the onboarding process, but it should not stop there. Bauer and Erdogan also suggest that a good onboarding process continues to recruit the employee even after the candidate becomes a formal employee. The recruitment process, during onboarding, is not like the recruiting process when discussing a job with the candidate, but more so in providing a realistic view of the job to be performed. A realistic preview encompasses showing the new employee the company culture, in action, and giving them as much accurate information about what is required (Note 4). Often, onboarding processes provide a glossy and unrealistic view of the organization and the associated job, therefore, eroding a proper understanding.  A better approach to this situation is to conduct ongoing job fairs and other cross functional activities so the new employee can continue to embed themselves in the institution and have a more realistic view of what is required. An example of recruitment and realistic preview come from a national senior living healthcare provider. Every year, they conduct an operational meeting where many of their 20,000 employees converge at headquarters to hear from senior leadership and take corporate training. During their stay for the week, there is also a department "fair."  Picture a large convention hall with many tables set out representing the various departments and major projects currently at the organization. This strategy allows new employees as well as veterans to see what is happening across the groups and potentially provide a vision to serve in different capacities within the company. Organizational Insider One of the more significant discoveries of organizational socialization research is the use of a mentor, or preceptor, assigned to the new employee. Having a one-on-one relationship between mentor and new employee allows for specific questions to be answered as well as job instruction, offering social support during the socialization process. Continued research has found that new hires are more likely to internalize key values of the organization, and its associated culture if they attend social events and spend time with an organizational mentor (Note 4). Meet Steve and Katrina Greer. Some time ago, Steve contracted Leukemia and admitted to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center (Note 5). Katrina, Steve's daughter, spent many a day and night at the hospital with her father as he underwent treatment. Katrina, concerned about her father, observed the nurses take care of him. Katrina had plans to become an orthodontist, however, after seeing the critical role that nurses play in our healthcare system, she deiced to become a nurse herself. "Nurses saved my father," Katrina states. She especially connected with one of Steve's nurses, Angie. It was Angie's actions that convinced Katrina to take up nursing. Mentorship is a powerful force. Though there are many influences in the onboarding of clinical staff in a healthcare institute, organizations must begin to tackle the onboarding process in a more proactive way. As the job market continues to be challenging for healthcare institutions to satisfy their need, these same institutions must take heed to current lackadaisical onboarding processes and take advantage of an intentional approach. By examining these four areas with relation to your current onboarding processes, you may be able to be in a better position to provide greater levels of organizational socialization thus achieving better odds in increasing retention, improving performance and overall employee satisfaction. Onboarding alone is not the answer. There are many factors that contribute to attrition and productivity. It is for that reason that Cornerstone is conducting a four-part series focused on healthcare talent issues. We would love to have you attend the next session on on October 19th where we will be focusing in on engagement.  Interested? Here is the link to register and we look forward to seeing you there. Notes: 1 https://www.healthecareers.com/article/healthcare-news/staff-turnover 2 http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/02/nursing-shortage/459741/ 3 http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/human-capital-and-risk/how-5-health-systems-are-recruiting-retaining-nurses-during-an-rn-shortage.html 4 Bauer, T. N., & Erdogan, B. (2010). Organizational socialization: The effective onboarding of new employees. In S. Zedeck, H. Aguinis, W. Cascio, M. Gelfand, K. Leung, S. Parker, & J. Zhou (Eds.). APA Handbook of I/O Psychology, Volume III, pp. 51-64. Washington, DC: APA Press 5 Cornerstone Client Story: Penn State Hershey Medical Center. (2015). Retrieved September 21, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1HsVpXoP4Y   Â

What State Governments Can Learn from the Cornhusker State
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What State Governments Can Learn from the Cornhusker State

For state governments, striving to operate as “one employer” comes with a variety of challenges. To start, state agencies range in size, geographic spread and mission, and they tend to operate in isolation from one another. When it comes to managing, engaging and training state workers, frequently there are as many methods used as there are state agencies. With 17,000 employees across 80 divergent agencies, this story rings true for the State of Nebraska—and in 2010, the State set out to unify its workforce management efforts, turning to Cornerstone OnDemand’s integrated talent management solution to support its initiatives. We recently sat down with the team at the State to discuss their progress and explore the benefits realized since undertaking their transformation. When speaking to state governments across the country, I am regularly asked what states like Nebraska did to make their talent management efforts successful. What best practices should they take away from these successes when changing or reviving their own talent management projects? Several factors make Nebraska’s initiatives successful. Understand your talent The State of Nebraska’s talent team thought beyond individual agencies to understand the skills and abilities of its entire workforce – both what skills employees possessed, and where training was needed. Looking at the entire talent pool across 80 agencies helped the State to align and consolidate training, development and succession planning efforts statewide. As a result, the State was able to create consistent methods of employee evaluation, measurement and training – something that transcends agencies, administrations and changing elected leadership. Engage the workforce The State of Nebraska didn’t settle for the commonly held perception that state government jobs rarely provide exciting, upwardly mobile and career-building opportunities. Taking matters into their own hands, the talent management team challenged this assumption and demonstrated to employees that the state is committed to providing the tools and training to let employees grow and develop their skills, obtain increasing levels of responsibility, and pursue leadership positions. Involving employees in discussions around their development led to a more productive and engaged workforce committed to growing their careers with the State. Develop careers – beyond the agency Nebraska’s agencies were siloed and operated independent of other departments within the State, and as a result, their employees—especially in the smaller agencies—often embraced a limited perspective on their job opportunities, focusing only on the narrow career progression path within the confines of their current team. With its increased focus on the whole talent picture, Nebraska is leveraging its talent management programs to help its workforce embrace a different kind of path – one where employees can move across agencies as they build their careers, learn new skills and take on increasing leadership responsibilities. This approach helps motivate employees, improves retention and a commitment to a government career, and provides a vehicle for ensuring the right people with the right skills are in the right roles. Federal, state and local governments are well aware that they need to improve how they recruit, engage and retain employees. Like the State of Nebraska, governments that embrace creative ways to approach their workforce and talent management activities will see a transformation among employees that lets them not only meet the requirements of today, but also prepare to address the emerging needs for tomorrow.

What you have to know before choosing an LMS
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What you have to know before choosing an LMS

What you have to know before choosing an LMS. Presented by Craig Weiss, CEO and Lead Analyst, Craig Weiss Group and FindAnLMS.

5 skills all leaders need in times of transition
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5 skills all leaders need in times of transition

How to improve learning impact in your organization
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How to improve learning impact in your organization

In the summer of 2020, we surveyed HR and Learning professionals in businesses in small and medium businesses across the US and Canada about the current state of learning within their organization and the results are in! Cornerstone’s Brett Wilson examines the survey results and explores what we can learn from the answers, and the steps to take moving forward. Watch this webinar and you’ll learn: Current trends in learning strategy for small and medium businesses Critical factors influencing learning effectiveness The 4-stage learning maturity model Actionable recommendations to improve learning impact in your organization

There's No Such Thing as a Natural Born Leader
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There's No Such Thing as a Natural Born Leader

There’s a common misconception that being in a leadership role within an organization automatically makes someone an effective leader. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. That being said, there are some people in this world who, based on their natural charisma and infectious go-getter attitudes, can play the role of “leader” and exude influence in ways that many people could only dream of doing on their own. But there’s a good chance that those skills, even as effortless as they may seem on the surface, took a little time to master as well. That’s why I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a natural born leader. Sure, leadership may come easier to some people than others, but even those people need to fine tune their skills every now and then. In this way, you could say that leadership is not a “one-and-done” acquired skill; it’s something that people need to learn and constantly work on. So, when you’re faced with the important decision of either hiring or promoting into leadership roles within your company, what criteria do you use to make the right choice? There’s always room for growth Let’s take a look at another common misconception worth busting: just because someone has held leadership positions in the past makes them the best candidate for future leadership positions. Again, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. There are actually a lot of people who have landed in leadership positions haphazardly and, without the proper training and coaching, have had to navigate those waters on their own. This leaves a lot up to chance; some are successful at embracing the new challenge with open arms while others crack under pressure and eventually crash and burn. Some people just aren’t cracked out to be leaders—and that’s ok. They can bring a tremendous amount of value in a lot of other ways, so instead of bogging them down with leadership responsibilities, give them a runway to do what they do best. Not only will they be happier doing that work, but giving those people the right focus will also benefit your organization in the long run. It’s a win-win. Similarly, there are a lot of people who have incredible potential to be amazing leaders but just haven’t yet had the opportunity to flex their leadership muscles. These are the people you really need to focus on. With the right training and support—along with a genuine desire to lead teams and companies to success—these people can be worth their weight in gold. Not to mention, these are also likely the people who won’t shy away from learning new skills and then actually apply those skills in their day-to-day. Spotting these diamonds in the rough isn’t always easy. However, once you’ve found them, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure they succeed in their newfound leadership role: 1. Be open to unconventional career paths This may sound like heresy, but a job description is merely a job description. Very rarely will you find a candidate that ticks all the boxes—and even if you do, they may not be the right cultural fit for your team or organization. In a similar way, experience is just experience. When assessing candidates for leadership roles, spend less time focusing on what’s on paper and take the time to learn more about the “impact” that those candidates made in those roles. Because roles and responsibilities can vary significantly from one company to another, a big VP-level title in a resume may be nothing more than the result of a long-tenured employee receiving a series of promotions, without ever getting a change in responsibilities or even a team to oversee. That’s why, when pinpointing future leaders within your organization, it’s important to consider new hires—or even current employees—who may not necessarily fit the bill on paper but, rather, bring broad experience, unique insights, and an eagerness to grow to the table. 2. Leadership skills and role-based skills are two entirely different things It’s important to remember that leadership skills are learned just like any other skills. Just because someone has been a top performer in their current role doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for the challenges of being a leader. Succeeding at the role-based level is just that: mastering the skills to do a specific job well. Although they are certainly role-based skills involved with leadership positions, there’s an entire layer of human-, interpersonal-, and communication-based skills that rarely see the light of day in a job description. In other words, just because your top salesperson keeps beating goals every quarter doesn’t mean that the same person is ready to lead a team. How this person succeeds at the individual contributor level is vastly different from the challenges they will face as a leader. Try not to confuse the two. 3. Leadership is a continuous learning process Even if someone has a tremendous amount of potential, just throwing them into a leadership role without any guidance is a recipe for disaster. You can’t expect anyone, even those people who have held leadership positions in the past, to rise to the occasion when faced with new teams, new responsibilities, and new challenges. That’s why it’s important to build learning and development into every leader’s growth plan, especially knowing that leadership is more nurture and less nature. So, if you’re in charge of developing the leaders within your organization, as an HR professional, take the time to create a leadership development skills “playlist” and make continuous learning mandatory for anyone hired or promoted into your company’s leadership ranks. 4. Don’t forget about soft skills Because leadership is interpersonal in nature, it’s important to help your leaders develop skills beyond their day-to-day roles and responsibilities alone. Qualities like empathy, adaptability, communication, crisis management, ability to inspire, and more are skills that can set apart a successful leader from one who makes little impact. Although many people at this level may feel that learning soft skills may be “overkill” or unnecessary at this stage in their career, it’s important to reinforce that these skills, like leadership in general, are not “one and done.” They must be practiced, refined, and perfected over time. And when they take the time to do this, they’ll see that their more “human” side of leadership will start to shine through. Remember, leadership is learned Unless you missed the point along the way, let’s reiterate here again out of good measure: leadership is not something you’re born with, it’s something you learn. A big part of this requires companies to proactively implement learning and development programs to ensure that leaders not only succeed in the role-based tasks but also continue to build the necessary skills to ensure that they constantly motivate, inspire, and encourage their teams to be as successful as they can be. And since being a dynamic leader isn’t a skill most of us are naturally born with, it’s important for HR teams to implement comprehensive learning and development programs to ensure that any people hired or promoted into leadership roles can thrive at all times. Platforms like Cornerstone Learning can help you take the guesswork out of developing your company’s next generation of leaders. And as always, if you don’t know where to start, the team at Cornerstone is ready to help you take your learning and development program to the next level. 

The 3 Risks of Crowdsourcing — And How to Avoid Them
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The 3 Risks of Crowdsourcing — And How to Avoid Them

The beauty of crowdsourcing is that you can now have access to thousands of talented individuals who can do work faster and at a lower cost. It's a new form of employing talent that has created unprecedented opportunities for both businesses and individuals. With these benefits, of course, come a few risks. As a new and non-traditional way of "employment", it's important to understand the challenges of crowdsourcing before jumping at the opportunity to integrate into your workforce. Here, I explore three typical risks with crowdsourcing, and how your leadership team can ensure that your company and the crowd both benefit from working together. Risk #1: Receiving Low-quality Work Whether you use crowdsourcing for development, design, content creation or some other type of work, you are putting your faith in people that you don't know, with unfamiliar backgrounds and skills. Unlike when you're hiring full-time candidates, you don't have the time or resources to screen all of the crowd's qualifications — even if you wanted to. So, how do you ensure quality work? Find a high-reputation partner in the crowdsourcing industry who manages the individuals in their crowd and their quality of work. When selecting a crowdsourcing partner, the most important thing is to ensure they have a strong relationship with their crowd members and a process for measuring quality. At Appirio, for example, the people in our crowd are incentivized to create the best (winning) outcome for your business since projects are competition-based. The best result wins — and since you only pay for the result, quality is a given. Risk #2: Turbulence in Your Business According to research by Dr. Michael Gebert, Founding Member of the Crowd Mentor Network, one of the biggest risks that companies face when using crowdsourcing is "turbulence risk" — a concept he describes as "the risk of engaging in the unknown in an environment where risk-taking is not necessarily encouraged." In other words, your full-time team might have some big questions — and hesitations — about the idea. If individuals and leaders in your organization aren't fully committed to crowdsourcing, it's hard to implement successfully. To discover if your organization is ready for crowdsourcing, consider the 3 C's: capability, capacity and calendar. Determine which parts of the project your internal teams are capable of tackling, and which parts they aren't. For the internal folks that are capable of working on things, make sure they have the capacity to do it. (You don't want to pull them away from critical work that they're already doing.) And finally, take a look at the calendar to outline your timeline for the project and decide if it makes sense to expedite some (or all) of the project with crowdsourcing. And, of course, make sure to communicate the benefit of crowdsourcing to your team — it should be a welcome help, not a threat, to their work. Risk #3: Intellectual Property Right Infringement When using crowdsourcing, individuals from outside your company will have a certain level of access to things like software source code, web content and other intellectual property, which can be cause for concern in organizations that like to keep such property close to their corporate chests. With new technologies and ways of doing business being created much faster than new laws, it's understandable that organizations may be unclear about how to best protect themselves. In order to ensure your data and work are safe, make sure the crowdsourcing partner you choose doesn't provide their members with access to real data sets. The data used should be obfuscated or the domain information should be stripped away, leaving only the information necessary for the crowd members to complete their portion of the work. And remember, a disgruntled employee is just as likely (probably more so) to steal your intellectual property as an outsourced partner. The most important thing is to have a plan of action to monitor improper use and act when necessary. While there are risks with crowdsourcing, they are certainly avoidable — and the potential benefits are worth the preparation and research you need to do. If you find the right partner, communicate with full-time employees and take the property security precautions, crowdsourcing can vastly improve the quality, scalability and creativity of your organization's work. Interested in more crowdsourcing content? Look out for upcoming posts from our partners at Appirio. Photo: Creative Commons

How to Meet the Needs of HR Customers (All 6 Types of Them)
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How to Meet the Needs of HR Customers (All 6 Types of Them)

Here's a telling question: Do you believe HR is more than just a cost center? In order to transform HR into a strategic arm of an organization, executives and HR leaders alike need to see talent management as part of the business strategy, not just an overhead department. And like most businesses, we in HR need to understand how to serve our customers in order to thrive — which means putting the customers' needs before compliance. But whom do I mean by HR's "customers"? At first thought, employees and company leaders likely come to mind. However, if you take a hard look at the organizational universe, I think you’ll find that our list of customers is much bigger. This is important, because in order to focus on meeting our customers' needs, we need to be clear about what defines a customer and what his or her needs are, exactly. This may all sound like semantics, but bear with me — after carefully exploring our broad customer base, I think you'll understand why each type of customer is important and the value that HR can provide to them. 1) The Organization If you take a 30,000-foot view of employees and leaders, the organization's needs are not necessarily the sum of its parts. The organization looks to HR to ensure a highly skilled and productive workforce. This means that every organization-wide program we sponsor should aim to achieve that goal. Programs or processes that are simply risk avoidance and create busy-work rather than drive performance are not valuable to the organization. 2) The Executive Leadership The executive leadership team sets the vision for the organization — a moral compass that guides decision-making, the process of accountability and, overall, the culture of the organization. Culture cannot exist separately of the larger employee base, and HR is the only unit in an organization, besides the CEO, that has a broad and deep view of the people — what they do, how they feel and how they perform. In order to align culture and business systems, HR should provide information about the workforce to the executive team and collaborate with them as a trusted advisor. 3) The Managers I use the term "manager" somewhat differently than "leader." Anyone can lead; people don't need a formal role to do so. A manager, however, is someone entrusted by the organization to develop talent and drive performance through a productive workforce. It is a role that carries a heavy burden, with overwhelming tasks to accomplish and a demanding schedule. Most of time, managers will see HR programs as just more busy-work. Myriad "programs" like performance management, engagement surveys, succession planning and salary reviews that each have different criteria and processes are too cumbersome to be helpful for managers. The most important thing for HR is that leaders have meaningful conversations with their employees. So, in order to serve this type of customer, HR should focus on providing tools and resources to ensure that everything the managers are assigned helps drives performance. If you can find a way to make managers' jobs easier by streamlining or consolidating their work, I suspect that would be like Nirvana for most of them. 4) The Organization's Customers Don't forget about your business' actual customers — yes, they count as your customers, too. Every organization is designed to ultimately serve a customer, so it makes sense that those customers benefit from a workforce that is skilled, efficient and trustworthy. 5) The Shareholders Like customers, the shareholders benefit from the work of the people; the more productive the workforce, the better the return for investors. 6) The Community In our connected and global society, organizations are a major part of a thriving economy and community. HR has the chance to give back to the community by developing a skilled workforce that can learn and grow. For example, an up-and-coming leader can learn so much by volunteering for a local non-profit board. Why not make such opportunities part of your talent development program — a benefit to the individuals, the organization and the community? Keeping Customers Front of Mind Nice big list of customers, isn't it? In order to bring value to each group, HR leaders must understand each customer's needs and how to address them. Of course, that doesn't mean giving them everything they want, but it does mean considering what will make their jobs easier and more productive. To start, ask yourself how many managers in your organization today would say your performance management program drives performance and productivity for business results? Why would any dissent? The answer to those two questions could very well be the first step to changing the reputation of your team and bringing strategic value to HR. Photo: Creative Commons

Why Your Job Descriptions Should Tell a Story
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Why Your Job Descriptions Should Tell a Story

Just as branding — both personal and professional — is essential to marketing or sales, it's increasingly crucial for HR. Job candidates have understood the power of personal branding for quite some time — the key to landing a dream job is to craft a concise, first-person narrative about who you are and the value you represent to potential employers. For recruiters and hiring managers, tired beyond belief of bland, hackneyed descriptions of "results-driven, self-motivated team players," it's a welcome relief to read about actual people, not automatons. Now, flip the equation. With relatively low unemployment rates at 5 percent, employers also need to craft a compelling brand in order to attract the most qualified candidates. What more obvious place to craft your employer narrative than through your job descriptions? How to Tell a Brand Story to Candidates A job posting should focus on convincing a talented candidate that he or she belongs at your company. Just as a great resume speaks directly to the hiring manager's needs and shares a unique story, a great job posting should speak to the needs of the candidate's ideal employer and offer a narrative for his or her "character." How do you tell a unique story with a job description? Let's walk through a recent job posting from First Round Review, the online magazine of venture capital firm First Round Capital. 1) Lead with a non-stock photo image The image at the top of the post — a woman on an indoor swing in an art studio — lets interested candidates understand that this is not a buttoned-up, corporate type of job; the company obviously wants to attract creative, daring people. 2) State the company's mission Candidates immediately get a sense of the employer brand through the image, and a succinct, strong description of the employer confirms the bold brand: "We launched First Round Review to offer a better brand of advice to the startup ecosystem." A link back to the employer's site invites candidates to explore how the Review's mission aligns with the broader vision of First Round Capital and its clients. 3) Invite the candidate to join the adventure Immediately following the Review's mission, the post states, "That's where you come in." That's right — the posting speaks directly to the candidate, just as candidates should speak directly to the hiring manager through a resume or cover letter. 4) Craft a character Instead of writing up a laundry list of skills, the Review's posting focuses on character traits: Phrases like "You call yourself a writer first;" "You're curious about people;" and "Tech fascinates you" indicate certain skill sets, but put them in an individual, relatable context. By focusing on such character traits, First Round Review attracts potential hires that may not have every specific skill desired, but certainly have the right interests, approach and personality. 5) Start a conversation, not an application First Round does have a senior HR executive, one whose strategy seems to empower managers to determine whom they want to interview. Nowhere does the posting instruct candidates to "upload your resume and cover letter." Instead, a link to the manager's email encourages applicants to "talk" to her directly. Terrific! A company that eschews ATS software in favor of an actual human who can identify candidates based not only on their resume, but also on what she intuits. The New Standard for Job Descriptions HR professionals have developed a comfort zone with old-style job descriptions that are completely out of sync with the contemporary world of work. Continue posting jobs this way, and I predict that the quality of your candidates will quickly match your behind-the-times recruitment strategy. I can hear the protests already from companies that require highly specific skills and consider the example I've provided above too "warm and fuzzy" for their culture. But the point is not to copy the exact language above; it's to clearly communicate your company brand and tell a story about the person you're hoping to find. Think about it this way: When buyers shop for a house, realtors encourage them to envision themselves living there. The specs on square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms matter, of course, but the buyer also needs to believe the specs that make up that house could be a home. The same thing applies to your company's potential talent pool — your job description should invite the candidate to not only imagine working at your company, but belonging there. Photo: Creative Commons

Why Rotating Employees Through Your Company Is a Win-Win
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Why Rotating Employees Through Your Company Is a Win-Win

The days of employees spending decades at a company -- and receiving a gold watch in gratitude -- are long gone. Workers today are constantly on the move, a fact of life that will only accelerate as job growth picks up. But the turnover poses particular challenges for companies looking to hold onto their best and brightest. In response, innovative companies are embracing a promising new retention strategy: employee rotation. Instead of locking workers into a single job category with a specific career trajectory, companies are moving workers through a variety of positions within departments or teams. Job rotation is seen as a way to motivate key employees, broaden their skill sets and, most important, hold onto them. It also gives employers the comfort of knowing there's someone who can quickly fill an ailing or departing coworker's shoes. "I can't think of a single industry that wouldn't benefit from job rotation," says Susan Heathfield, a human resources consultant who's been in the business for 30 years. "It helps employees spread their wings and extend their boundaries" and, she says, it helps employers engage and motivate their staff. The Payoff for You and Your Staff So where to start? First, recognize that employee rotation programs should be implemented with careful consideration. Every company should establish clear guidelines with each internal team so employees know what the rotation will entail and managers have a set of of best practices. Otherwise, the rotation will fall apart as employees wander from job to job without clear guidance or oversight. Have a purpose, have a plan and have a way to measure if the rotation is successful, Heathfield said. The programs can often be costly in terms of time spent training workers for their new jobs, she says, but the benefits can far outweigh the expense. Take, for instance, human resources. In a large company, an employee who typically handles employee health insurance can be shifted into a position that tends to job referrals. "So many employees come to human resources for a multitude of reasons and it makes more sense if their questions can all be answered by their first point of contact," explained Heathfield. "I want everyone in HR cross-trained so that you can serve employees immediately." The same logic applies to sales teams. Since sales hinge on relationships, it's crucial for everyone on the team to be familiar with one another's clients. "Normally people have dedicated customers, but having someone else available if the (primary point of contact) is out to serve your customers is key," Heathfield said. Sales folks are always reticent to share their clients, but will if given the right incentives. A Motivated Worker Is a Happy Worker It happens -- a lot. You have a valued employee whose skills have grown beyond her current duties and, yet, a promotion isn't an option. In any organization -- flat or hierarchical -- the opportunities to move up the ladder get smaller the higher up you go, notes Heathfield. Then, too, the employee may not want a promotion to the next rung. She'd rather stay an individual contributor than move into management. For these folks, job rotation can be a key retention strategy to keep them within your company. Whether an employee wants to be promoted or not, job rotation improves their skills and gives them a broader understanding of the inner workings of a company. Sometimes, a valued employee's career path isn't the right one for her. But that doesn't mean she needs to pack up and leave. Quite the opposite. Too often we follow the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and are happy to have employees do what they've shown they can do best. But a lot of workers might be happier facing different challenges and learning new skills. The Society of Human Resources Management reports that self-growth and career development are among the top five most important considerations for workers. If employees don't feel like they're growing, they'll head for the exits, warns Heathfield. So if you've got a great employee who has expressed interest in trying out new roles within your company, work with them to create a job rotation plan or test phase -- it could be the difference between losing a stellar employee and helping them find a new passion that, in the end, bolsters your bottom line. It’s important for companies to make sure that employees are always motivated, engaged in their work, and progressing in their careers. Click here to learn more about how business and HR leaders can do this remotely, according to HR expert Suzanne Lucas. Photo credit: Can Stock

Mastering the Art of the Self-Assessment
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Mastering the Art of the Self-Assessment

If you need to do a performance review, chances are you also need to write a self-assessment. While it might be tempting to brush it off – after all, that’s precious time you could spend on your actual work – here’s a couple of pretty compelling reasons why you should make the effort: Your boss might not have all the facts It’s unlikely your managers are keeping a list of all your accomplishments throughout the year. Even worse, they may only remember that one project that went horribly wrong, but not how you managed to save it. Ultimately, the person with the most knowledge of what you do at work is you. Self-assessments give you the chance to leverage that first-hand knowledge when it really counts. You and your boss might not be on the same page In a perfect world, your goals and objectives will be crystal clear, signed off well ahead of time, and regularly discussed with your manager. In the real world, it’s a good idea to record what you thought you were supposed to do and what you actually accomplished. This will help keep your review on track, and provide that all-important context for your conversation. It's all in the approach Don’t be modest, vague or overly inventive. If you accomplish something great, make sure you mention it, and make sure you can back yourself up (hard facts and figures are really hard to dispute). Acknowledge any failures. People have a really good memory for things that go wrong, so if you screwed something up, acknowledge it. Then explain what you did/or plan to do to fix it and what you will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Everyone has to deal with a failure at some point in their career, but it’s how you handle and learn from those failures that demonstrates professional growth to your manager and peers. Look to the future and suggest development opportunities. This demonstrates your desire to grow and is an opportunity for you to develop your skills in the areas of your choosing. This is an opportunity, take advantage of it. If your manager doesn’t take the time to do a thorough review, at least your perspective will be part of the permanent record. And this is a really good time to remind your manager of all the good things you’ve done throughout the year. Let your peers to the talking. If you can, take advantage of peer feedback. Every time someone sends you an email thanking you for your exceptional work and contribution, save it and include it with your self-assessment. Peer confirmation of your achievements is a powerful tool – it’d be a shame not to use it...

Why Talent Management Makes Sense for Healthcare Organizations
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Why Talent Management Makes Sense for Healthcare Organizations

The healthcare industry is certainly no stranger to changing compliance and competency requirements, but the latest shifts are changing the game as we know it for healthcare organizations concerned with providing top patient care. New regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act give patients more opportunity to decide the fate of a healthcare organization’s financial wellbeing. Now, high scores in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient surveys result in higher government reimbursements to healthcare organizations, giving patients a significant ability to affect a provider’s profitability. Given that most healthcare firms are experiencing talent shortages in areas such as nursing and IT, it’s essential for these organizations to provide ongoing training and development to their staff to ensure they are able to drive retention and provide a positive, compliant experience for their patients. Why Talent Management? Key to helping healthcare organizations keep pace and still provide a top-notch patient experience is an agile, focused and aligned employee experience that meets generational expectations. With an agile talent management infrastructure in place, healthcare organizations can respond more quickly and cost-effectively to shifts in compliance and validation standards, talent loss or shortage, and overall, gain better insights around how to best develop staff to drive quality patient care and employee retention. Creating an Aligned Employee Experience Several of our healthcare clients, such as Mount Sinai Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Sanford Health and WellSpan Health, are bringing talent initiatives to the forefront of their strategy in order to remain competitive amid rapid industry shifts. Other success stories include: · Carilion Clinic is a nonprofit healthcare organization that serves nearly 1 million patients. A client since 2008, Carilion uses Cornerstone’s integrated system to assess performance, and identify and address training gaps for 11,000 employees with role-specific content. In addition to cost savings, increased efficiencies, and improved compliance and talent enablement, Carilion also worked directly with our product team to help develop Observation Checklist, a unique solution within the Cornerstone suite that allows users to assess and record and employee’s skills and competencies while directly observing specific activities in the field. Read more about their story here. · Cadence Health, a unified health system that serves Chicago’s western suburbs and the surrounding region, strives to the region’s most innovative health system and provide an exceptional career experience for its employees. The organization implemented the Cornerstone Performance Cloud in 2012 in an effort to address staffing and leadership challenges. Using the system, Cadence is helping its employees develop careers and opportunities that align their professional goals with the goal of the health system, which is to provide exceptional patient experiences. Since implementing the system, Cadence Health administrators are now 99 percent compliant with their 6,700 performance assessments, and over 18,000 FY13 goals (both team and individual) have been created in the system. Read more about their story here. · BJC HealthCare is another great example of a firm using talent management to drive business impact and cost savings. As one of the largest nonprofit healthcare organizations in the United States, BJC uses Cornerstone to identify and assign training to more than 26,000 employees, ensuring superior patient care, safety and compliance. Creating a centralized learning resource for BJC’s employees helps the organization save $800,000 annually as well as drive consistent patient experiences during nursing staff changes and migrations across locations. Read more about their story here. We also recently started working with UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest healthcare system in Central and Western Massachusetts and a clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The organization is implementing Cornerstone’s Learning Cloud and Performance Cloud in an effort to streamline its performance and development processes and enable its more than 13,500 employees to focus on providing best-in-class patient care. To read more about how Cornerstone is helping healthcare organizations drive top-notch patient care, visit www.cornerstoneondemand.com/global-business/industries/commercial/healthcare. Want to find out what your healthcare organization needs most when it comes to talent management? Take our 2-minute quiz and discover your talent management prescription.

Why You Need an Alternative to the Management Career Path
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Why You Need an Alternative to the Management Career Path

This article was originally published under Jeff Miller’s column "The Science of Workplace Motivation" on Inc.com. During one of my first corporate learning roles, a senior executive at our company approached me about the most talented developer in the organization. The employee in question was in line for a promotion that required managing a large team, and the executive asked if I could put together a management training to help him get to the next level. Easy enough, I thought -- until we sat down for our first meeting. As I asked the developer questions about his role, aspirations and concerns, I started to sense some hesitation. And that's when I asked a simple question that I've realized all too often gets ignored. "Do you want to be manager?" He hesitated, and then said, "Not really." He was one of the top employees at the company, and since our conversation, I've spent a lot of time thinking about the role management should play in the modern workplace. Because the truth is, if you want to cultivate a culture of great management at your organization, then you also need to make it optional. Questioning the Ladder to Management A couple years ago, New York Times columnist Arthur C. Brooks observed a similar phenomenon to my encounter with our company's top developer. "People generally have a 'bliss zone,' a window of creative work and responsibility to match their skills and passions," he writes. "But then the problems start. Those who love being part of teams and creative processes are promoted to management." Writers become editors. Players become coaches. Professors become deans. And then they all spend a lot of time reminiscing about when they were able to write, play or teach. As Brooks writes, "Why don't people stop rising when they're happy?... We incorrectly infer that promotions will equal greater satisfaction." I'll take his question one step further. Why do we limit "rising" to mean rising to management? The developer at my company wasn't alone. In fact, most American workers don't want to manage people. A CareerBuilder survey found that a mere 34 percent of workers aspire to leadership positions. Why? The majority (52 percent) are simply satisfied in their current positions. What's more, many people who are already in management positions would rather be doing something else. In Managing for People Who Hate Managing , publisher Berrett-Koehler found that only 43 percent of managers are comfortable in their jobs, and less than one in three (32 percent) enjoy managing. Offer Option B You've probably heard the saying, "People leave managers, not companies." And it's no surprise. If a large portion of managers are disengaged, their employees will be disengaged, too. A Gallup study revealed that one in two people have left their jobs to get away from a manager at some point in their careers. If we were more discerning about who we promoted to management, and how we structured team hierarchies, I imagine this statistic would go down significantly. And this doesn't mean you can't promote talented people. There are many ways people can remain influential individual contributors at an organization and continue to hone their expertise. For example, they can act as one-on-one mentors, they can offer training to new employees, they can lead internal committees or they can become "fellows" at your company dedicated to researching their respective fields. If you consider management as its own unique set of skills outside of the general role description, you'll not only increase engagement but you'll also directly impact the bottom line. Gallup found companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 30 percent increase in employee engagement score, a 48 percent increase in profitability, a 22 percent increase in productivity and a 19 percent decrease in turnover. Ask Why First If an employee is thriving in their current role, how do you know if they would make a great manager, too? In my mind, strong managers share one foundational quality: They inherently put people first. A great manager is humble -- they're willing to take the blame and pass the credit. They're able to set clear goals, and create an environment where people hold themselves accountable (instead of one where the manager has to hold them accountable). They're resilient when projects get derailed and turn to problem-solving, not complaining. They build cultures of trust where communication, open dialogue and transparency reign. And last but not least, they motivate people to achieve their full potential. But most importantly, they want to be managers. So before you go down a rabbit hole analyzing your top performers' management skills, ask them a simple question -- "Why do you want to be a manager?" -- and hope for a simple answer: "I want to make the people on my team better every day." Photo: Creative Commons

5 Reasons HR Needs a Seat in the C-Suite
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5 Reasons HR Needs a Seat in the C-Suite

As Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group, said, "a company's employees are its greatest asset." Branson is one of a growing cohort of leaders who understand that a company is no greater than the talent it employs. And who owns responsibility for managing the needs of corporate talent? Human resources, of course — a department that rarely has influence in the C-Suite. Corporate culture is transmitted from the top down, so a culture that values its people first needs HR in the C-Suite. Here, five reasons a CHRO is invaluable when it comes managing a company's greatest asset — its people — and their contribution to its success. Forging Career Paths from Within Succession planning — a strategic move that's often overlooked by senior management until a crisis arises — is one of the most important reasons to hire a CHRO. In order to attract and retain top talent, companies should foster a culture of growth, demonstrating through its actions that open positions are first sourced internally. In order to do that, a company needs a CHRO to not only develop a succession plan, but also monitor its progress by identifying promotable talent and cross-training opportunities. Restructuring Stale Performance Models Performance assessment is another contentious issue, particularly because of its close tie to compensation. A CHRO who understands the unique culture and requirements of the company can develop a balanced performance and compensation dynamic. Of course, this may involve shaking things up and ruffling a few feathers. When I worked at a SaaS company, its HR policies were as outdated as its technology product was innovative. I designed an interactive performance assessment to replace the "old economy" prescriptive one. In the new version, employees provided feedback on how well their managers helped them achieve goals just as their managers provided feedback on employee performance. Senior management initially derided the idea, but when I convinced them to try it for one year, the level of employee engagement rose and satisfaction increased. Engaging Your Greatest Asset Employee engagement is critical to your employer brand, and your employer brand is critical for hiring the best talent. Employee engagement, in fact, may be the most important talent strategy for companies to adopt — nearly every HR initiative can trace back to increasing engagement. CHROs are instrumental in promoting engagement, which provides the added benefit of profiling your company's talent pool and creating a more sustainable enterprise. When employees are fully engaged, two great things happen: their contributions are more readily recognized by senior management, and they become invested in the company's success as well as their own personal achievements. According to a 2011 study, raising low engagement by 10 percent in a company of just 10,000 employees can create a $24 million impact on the bottom line. Increasing Bottom-Line Results HR is rarely valued for its thought leadership — instead, most companies hire a senior HR professional to report to the COO or the CFO, trivializing the profession into a function rather than an overarching discipline integral to incubating corporate success. But big data supports the business case for the importance of having a CHRO. A 2011 study revealed that when companies include strategic HR within their other operations, they experience nearly 40 percent lower turnover, 38 percent higher employee engagement and more than twice the revenue per employee than companies who view HR as a primarily transactional function. Making the C-Suite a Cohesive Unit Throughout my career, I've worked for CEOs who initially viewed HR as a necessary, but non-revenue producing function limited to personnel management — in other words, not particularly valuable. Some soon came to recognize the need for a CHRO to provide strategic direction alongside the CFO, COO and CMO. One CEO, however, memorably invited me to the C-Suite only once — and that was to discuss the annual holiday party. CHROs belong in the C-Suite not only to manage a company's critical asset, but also to make the C-Suite team more effective. They help focus the team as a cohesive unit and by doing so, support the CEO's mission. I predict the most forward-thinking CEOs will soon start planning to bring a CHRO onboard, if they haven't already. To learn more about the role that HR should play in the C-Suite, read Cornerstone's ebook, How HR can Help Executives Get the Big Picture: Becoming a Strategic Partner to the C-Suite. Photo: Shutterstock

Forget HR Best Practices—You Need Customer Feedback
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Forget HR Best Practices—You Need Customer Feedback

Any good business needs customer feedback. HR is a business, and the leaders and employees are our customers—but as I've highlighted in previous posts, we usually don't think of them as such. As a result, HR rarely gets the feedback we need to thrive. Leaders and employees are users of our products and services, and they're the ones who can tell us whether products are easy to use and whether services are adding value. Their feedback is how we know whether the cost of products and services measure up to the buyer's satisfaction. Facing the Lack of Feedback in HR But as HR practitioners, we get complacent about understanding our customers' needs. We hide behind the litigious regulatory environment with a false sense of security that we can and should mandate work to our organizations to avoid putting the organization at risk. We assign tasks: "Hold meaningful conversations with your employees," "Measure employee performance to make sure they're accountable," and "Develop their skills for growth." While our customers generally can't fire us, they can grown and complain—and do a mediocre job with tasks that, in reality, are critically important to the success of the business. No organization can afford to simply pay lip service to such important work. We have to think of the employees and leaders of our organization as our customers if we want them to take this important work seriously. Alleviating the "Busy-Work" of Leadership There is another reason to focus on our customers: Today's leaders could easily begin to buckle under the weight of all of the work required of anyone in a management position. When a leader is too busy to lead, we have lost our ability to be competitive as an organization. Anything a leader does should have a clear and defined positive business impact, or else it will seem like busy-work (and fall to the bottom of their to-do list). Let me give you an example. Because we're HR leaders, we know the organization needs a performance management program, so we source a vendor to build a program that is both cutting edge and affordable. We design it, train it, wrestle with leaders who don't want to do it and then spend our time chasing down completed evaluations. Let's switch it up. Start with the business premise: Improved performance will improve the bottom line. We engage leadership in a dialogue about what improvements in performance could/would have the biggest impact on the bottom line. We then agree on 2-3 outcomes, and design a simple process to meet that specific need. We help leaders decide the consequences they would impose for not completing the simple process, and we partner with the Finance department to measure results. At the end of the first phase, we ask for customer feedback, and share quantitative results and qualitative ideas about how well the jointly designed process worked, and make adjustments based on the results. Stepping Up to the Proverbial Table This approach takes courage; it is not for the faint hearted. It means stepping up and saying "HR can make a difference, but this is what we need from you." It means letting go of "best practice," in favor of mutually designing something that works. Your leaders may not want to participate, but remind them that it's an opportunity to discuss the time and resources they are willing to commit to improve human performance in the organization. If we, in HR, shift our thinking to act like a business selling services that needs customer feedback, our business processes will dramatically improve. We will: Have clearly defined products and services, and know the cost of each to produce; Work hard to understand the customers' stated needs, but also listen for needs that might not be easily expressed; Develop a sales and marketing proposal to educate the customer on how our product/service could impact their business results; Listen carefully to the customer feedback and adjust accordingly and; Build trusting relationships based on mutual benefits. Take a step in this direction. Ask some trusted operational leaders about your HR processes and programs. If they LOVE 'em, great. If they don't, you now have a tremendous opportunity to step in, step up and really make a difference. Photo: Shutterstock

Management Is About Emotional Connections—Not Rules
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Management Is About Emotional Connections—Not Rules

Once upon a time, the threat of job loss or a pay cut from upper management was all it took to influence employees and keep them on the straight-and-narrow. Today, however, the employee-manager relationship depends more on collaboration than it does on top-down ruling. Person-to-person, emotional connections are essential for engaging and inspiring employees in today’s workplace, says workplace coach Jay Forte. Some see this new management tactic as a fancy way to describe "handholding," but Forte argues to the contrary. "Actually building a personal connection with employees is one of the most significant ways managers can activate performance and inspire loyalty," he writes on Human Capitalist. How should managers add a higher level of emotional intelligence to their employee relationships? Make the effort to understand each employee and share information that will help improve performance. He offers a sample letter for managers to send to their employees, asking them to keep improving not only in their day-to-day tasks, but also as people. The letter encourages them to improve: their work, their contact with customers, their workplace culture, their communities, the planet and finally, themselves. "Do more than just manage your talent: Engage and inspire it," Forte says. Want to connect with your employees and raise their personal standards? Read the full letter on Human Capitalist.

Organizational Change is Constant: Here's How to Get Good At It
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Organizational Change is Constant: Here's How to Get Good At It

This article was originally published under Jeff Miller's column "The Science of Workplace Motivation" on Inc.com. The pace of change in business today is accelerating—fueled in large part by the disruption that new technologies bring. And research from McKinsey shows that companies are struggling to keep up. For leaders, that means taking a closer look at the way you manage change from start to finish. Whether the change comes in the form of a new software system, a merger or acquisition, or even just a small shift in process, how can you ensure your approach will lead to business success? In my experience, the challenge is often that leadership doesn't see the change process all the way through. I've written recently about Ann Salerno's six stages of change, and how effectively leading your team through the first four stages (loss, anger, doubt, discovery) will help everyone become productive again. But stopping there is a mistake. Stages five and six, "understanding" and "integration," require leadership to reflect on the change process. By spending time to track outcomes and debrief, the entire organization will be better equipped to transition smoothly when change happens again (and again). Start by Tracking the Impact At Cornerstone, we recently launched a new worldwide manager training program. Where before the training had been more individualized, this new format emphasized group discussion among new managers. We organized trainees together into online cohorts (kind of like chatrooms), creating communities for them to share insights, ask questions and respond to topics provided by a facilitator. Once we had successfully implemented the new program, we entered stage five of the change process: understanding. In stage five, you can be pragmatic about change and start to understand its impact. That means gathering as a leadership team to discuss the short term and long term features of the change. For our team, one short term feature was using our product differently. In the long term, we were facilitating cross-cultural discussions around management. Make sure this discussion about features happens out loud—verbalization allows you to avoid assumptions--as an individual or even by the group as a whole. And use specific terms: "Did this new manager system accomplish our goals?" is too open-ended. Instead, asking, "Did we implement a system that will connect managers across offices?" helped ensure we were all having the same conversation. Celebrate Your Team This part is simple: Recognize the individuals involved in the change process for what they accomplished. Change is tough for most people; getting to stage five successfully is a major feat. It doesn't have to be a party, just an acknowledgment that their hard work didn't go unnoticed. It's an easy step that will mean a lot to your employees. Hold a Thoughtful Debrief Stage six of the change process is an opportunity to look back and debrief. It's best not to debrief with the entire company because voices will get lost. Instead, identify the people who might represent those voices and invite them to participate. For our debrief meeting, we gathered the team that implemented the cohort system. From there, review the goals you set at the beginning of the process and ask: Did we get the outcomes we wanted? What can we do better next time? What were the unanticipated outcomes? For example, we hadn't anticipated how quickly managers would make themselves vulnerable in these cohort discussions—and achieve some honest, positive communication as a result. Finally, encourage people to be introspective, too: What did I learn about myself through this change? What did I learn about others and how they handle change? The person on our team who led this change had never done anything like it before. In the debrief, he talked about how the experience had showed him it's okay to ask for help—and he'd get help if he asked for it. His confidence rose as a result of that debrief process. The next time he faces a change, he might be more open to it. Psychologists call this resilience: a person's ability to adapt well to difficult events that change their lives. By seeing these final stages of the change process through, you'll start to build resilience not only in individuals, but make it part of your company's DNA—and over time, you'll avoid the paralysis and upheaval change can often bring about in favor of efficiency and productivity. Photo: Creative Commons

3 Ways to Work Effectively with Freelancers
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3 Ways to Work Effectively with Freelancers

This is the third post in a series about how to thrive amid shifting workplace demographics. The U.S. freelance workforce is currently 53 million strong and growing fast, according to a recent report from the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk. In fact, freelancers make up 34 percent of our national workforce. As Sara Horowitz, executive director of the Freelancers Union, writes, "This is an economic shift on par with the industrial revolution." Some managers will groan at the thought of the increasing freelance population. They may think of freelance employees as difficult employees. But in fact, the growth of freelancing opens up just as many new opportunities for employers as it does for workers: The so-called "gig economy" can expand your talent pool, empower a mobile workforce and allow your company to finish projects faster. That's not to say managing freelancers is the same as managing full-time employees. Yet, effective HR teams and managers already have the skills to integrate freelance employees effectively; they just need to understand the common problems that occur when working with freelancers. Then your organization can put helpful protocols in place before things get tricky (and know how to handle the situation if things do go awry). Here, three common challenges companies face when working with freelancers and how to address them effectively. Challenge 1: Communication When it comes to freelancers, you are managing people who could be working at a desk, poolside or on an airplane. Clear and consistent communication between the freelancer and his or her manager is needed for this arrangement to work. If not, both parties will become frustrated and tasks that can be done quickly will end up being delayed. Follow the four tips below to avoid communication mishaps. Set email protocol in advance Schedule all checks-ins in advance Establish a system to recap meetings Track projects in an easy way for both you and your freelancer Challenge 2: Collaboration When bringing a freelancer onto a collaborative project with full-time employees, it's important to identify everyone's role on the team. If no one knows who is in charge, or who is handling the operational aspects, you'll not only have work fall through the cracks, but work being done twice — a waste of everyone's time. In addition, the entire team dynamic will crumble and the project will suffer. One of the most effective ways to ensure positive collaborative environments between freelance and full-time employees is by using a "GRPI" model, an approach to team development created by the Systemic Excellence Group: Goals: Managers need to make sure that all members of the team, whether working in-house or freelance, know the end goal for their work. Roles: All workers need to know the role they play on the team, as well as the role their team members play. Processes: Managers should be open to shifting the plan when needed — an effective process for completing all projects takes time and flexibility. Interactions: Managers should maintain organizational culture when interacting with employees who do not work in-house. We’ll take a closer look at how to do this below. Challenge 3: Culture Organizational culture is dynamic. With a team that is split between the office and elsewhere, culture can easily begin to take its own form, whether you like it or not. As the centerpiece of culture among your organization's workforce, managers and HR can make a tremendous impact. These three tips will help maintain organizational culture with freelance workers: Keep culture in mind during the hiring process. Don't just hire freelancers for their skills or portfolio, but make sure to ask questions that measure their cultural fit as well. Model the desired culture through your own actions, behavior and communication style with freelancers. Integrate freelancers into the organization: virtually pair them with a seasoned employee, add them to company-wide meetings or newsletters and, if possible, invite them to work at the office during the project. The freelance workforce isn't going anywhere. It's one of the four major workplace trends organizations are currently facing, in addition to Baby Boomers retiring, women leaving the workforce in droves and minorities becoming the majority of the workforce. Managers and HR teams that take time to work with freelancers will benefit from collaborating with diverse employees, and help the organization as a whole as it enters the future of work. Stay tuned for another post in this series on changing workplace demographics next month! Photo: Creative Commons

New Grads, Your Dream Job Exists—Here's How to Find It
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New Grads, Your Dream Job Exists—Here's How to Find It

"What are you doing after graduation?" During graduation season, new grads get countless questions about their post-diploma plans. But the reality is, deciding on a career or finding a job is difficult and strenuous, and all too often, people make quick decisions based on opportunities easily available to them—instead of what’s right for them. If you're walking across a stage this weekend and still unsure of what lies on the other side, don't fall into the trap of just taking whatever job comes along. There's still time to target your job search based on who you are, what you're good at and what you like to do. Here are some easy tips that will get you on the path to finding your career fit and a job that actually brings satisfaction and joy! Tip 1: Clarify What You Want in a Career There are four basic questions that help uncover a good career fit: How do my natural preferences and tendencies impact what I love to do and how I do it? Where am I strong and what talents do I love to use? What motivates me to feel satisfied about what I am doing? What types of people, work and organizations appeal to me? When you take time to honestly answer these questions, you will start to see patterns and clues that indicate where to focus your career. You will begin to understand why certain tasks, people and environments drive you crazy—they don't align to your preferences or values. You will begin to understand why certain assigne are the ones you tackle first every day, because they align to your strengths and interests. These clues and themes are powerful factors that make a big difference in your career happiness. Tip 2: Reflect on Your Daily Work Identify a time each day to reflect on how the four questions above were present for you in your work—whether that's an internship, homework or general to-dos. By day three, you will already start seeing trends emerge. Here are some specific questions for daily reflection: Who was easiest to interact/work with today and why? What were the most satisfying parts of my day and why? What were the most dissatisfying parts of my day and why? What tasks were easy for me? Why? What skills did I rely on most? What tasks were difficult for me? Why? What skills are harder for me? At the end of the week, you should have a pretty clear picture of what you want and don't want in your future career! Tip 3: Get Information and Ideas From People You Trust You may be inclined to ask other people you trust, "What career do you think I should pursue?" And you've likely received some very opinionated responses, such as: "You should be an engineer because that's where there are a lot of jobs." "You should go into teaching so you can have the summers off." "You shouldn't go into teaching because teachers don't make money." Even with the best of intentions, statements like the ones above are clearly reflective of the other person's values and interests—not your own. Change the conversation by asking these questions: What do you see as my greatest strengths? What are my best traits and qualities? When do you notice I look frustrated or unhappy? What am I doing during these times? If you were assigning work to me, what projects or tasks would you most likely assign? Why? Do some research on three careers that align with what you've learned about yourself. A great on-line resource for researching career paths is O*Net, and sites like CareerBuilder can guide you in setting up and conducting informational interviews. Tip 4: Don't Leave Your Career Decisions to Chance Just because there might be an opportunity in front of you doesn't mean you should take the easy route. Take time to really consider if the opportunity aligns to what you've learned about yourself through the first three steps. Think about your career choices in terms of "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves" by creating a decision-making framework. First, make a list of five or so things that are "must haves" in your next role—things that are non-negotiable. For example: I must make $45,000. I must have a flexible work schedule. I must work for a great leader. Writing makes up a large portion of my responsibilities. I must get to work on team projects. Then, make a list of "nice-to-haves" in your next role—things you would sacrifice for a must-have. For example: I want to commute less than 25 miles to work. I want to work from home occasionally. I want to earn at least two weeks of vacation. I want to work for small- to mid-size organization. I believe everyone can find a career that brings them joy and purpose by articulating what is important to them and factoring in those details as they make decisions. Once you come to a conclusion, that formerly dreaded question, "What are you doing after graduation?", will actually be exciting! Photo: Creative Commons

Why It Might Be a Great Time to Reconsider Your Rejects
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Why It Might Be a Great Time to Reconsider Your Rejects

Does your recruiting and screening process have some blind spots? Have your current hiring criteria become too restrictive? Are you tossing potential A-level prospects into a growing reject pile? Recent employment and jobs data suggests that's happening at more companies and in more industries than you might think. According to the latest data from the Labor Department, the U.S. economy is cranking out the highest number of job openings since 2008 -- an 11 percent jump over 2012. Yet that far outpaces the rate of day-to-day hiring: Between January and February of this year, the number of openings jumped 8.7 percent, yet the pace of hiring grew by just 2.8 percent. Unemployment, meanwhile, is still stuck at 7.5 percent -- 2.2 percent higher than it was during the last hiring peak in 2008. So what gives? While an array of economic variables factor into the big picture here, some HR and labor experts argue that hiring managers today are suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the Great Recession: They've become too risk-averse, too infatuated with cost savings, and applying overly strict job criteria to their screening process. "The real culprits are the employers themselves," explains Peter Cappelli, professor of management and human resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, in the Wall Street Journal. "It is part of a long-term trend, and the recession caused employers to be able to be pickier, to get even more specific in the skills they think they can find outside the company and to cut back on training." All of which suggests that now might be a great time for hiring managers to take a serious look at the job applicants they've turned down over the last year or two -- and look at the best of them with fresh eyes. Why? No screening process is foolproof, and the labor trends strongly suggest there may be more wheat than chaff lurking in the pile. Here are a few other reasons to reconsider the rejects: 1. Moving from Need to Want A lot of hesitancy around hiring is often derived from immediate need. Do we need this candidate or do we want this candidate? During the times of economic strife, as Cappelli points out, need generally outweighs want. Today though, with the economy on the rise, it would do hiring managers well to revisit the people they passed on months earlier. Some hiring managers see this practice as laziness -- why not look at the current talent pool? -- but there's something to be said for the candidate that endured multiple rounds of interviews and still accepted a rejection gracefully. 2. Looks Are Deceiving on Paper Hiring managers turn away applicants because of how the perceived "fit" looks on paper -- with recent and relevant experience showing up at the top of resumes. Yet recent data suggests it's a foolish practice. According to a recent workforce report from analytics firm Evolv, 8 percent of recently hired employees had prior experience in the job they were hired for, while 72 percent did not. What's more, the study found that after six months there was no noticeable difference in the attrition rates between the two groups. The point is that the resume shouldn't be your single selling point. In leaner times for business, it seems easier to rely on someone who looks good on paper, but the numbers don't lie. It's a good time to listen to your gut. 3. Using Rejection to Your Advantage For some, pain and rejection can be powerful motivators -- a factor that comes into play when re-connecting with a job prospect you may have interviewed and turned down earlier. But hiring managers should heed the results of this Stanford University study, showing that while rejection can increase someone's desire to obtain something, it can also diminish its attractiveness. During the study, participants who failed to win a prize were willing to pay more for it than those who won it, but were also more likely to trade it away after they got it. In other words, your rejects may be inclined to work harder when they first come on board, but it's important to make them feel a part of something -- if not, they'll be more inclined to jump ship. Photo credit: Can Stock

How to Ask a Purposeful Question
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How to Ask a Purposeful Question

At an early age in your professional career, many were taught to seek 'why' people do things. Whether you are a sales person, a project manager, or an implementer, we were taught to ask 'why'. Even in your personal life, we continue to ask why someone would do something like that to us, or why did someone make that decision. Well, I'm here to tell you that is poor advice. Let's Gain Clarity We need to understand what we are truly seeking and how to go about getting the real answer we seek. The fact is that we really don't want to know why, but we want to know, for what purpose. Yes, there is a difference. When asking why, we are communicating that we seek justification when what we really want is to seek for what purpose, or value. By asking 'why', which implies justification, that places the individual in a defensive position. When one is placed in a defensive position, the sole objective is to reduce or eliminate the threat, which, in this case, is you. So long trying to get any meaningful information. Now, let’s get practical. A Common Professional Scenario Let’s say you are engaged with a customer, either internal or external. You seek to find purpose in a project or request. You immediately launch into 'why' questions. Your customer hears 'give me your justification'. They become defensive, believing they are not required to justify their request, especially to you. In their mind, you have crossed the line in a hierarchical position in the relationship. They begin to shut down and gaining information becomes increasingly difficult. You get frustrated and continue to ask questions, badgering the customer, sounding like a four-year-old (why, why, why). Eventually, they give you an answer, maybe even the justification for their request, which, unfortunately, is not really the information you need as it won't help you solve their problem or fulfill their request. What To Do Okay, so what should you do? The idea is to seek purpose or value so questions like "for what purpose do you need...?" or "if you had X what would that get you...?" might be more beneficial as they provide you with information that you can actually use. Providing solution that support others' purpose is really what you seek. By raising the discussion to a higher level, you are now coming across as one that wants to help. A by-product of this approach is that you being to understand not only the value you can bring, but also what your customer values, which is great insight for future discussions. So, next time a customer has a request, or a loved one needs your help, seek to gain their purpose for the request and not place them in a defensive position by asking for their justification. You and your customer (and your loved one) will be happier and more fulfilled. #HappyLearning #HappyLife

Say "So Long" to Silos: Part 2
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Say "So Long" to Silos: Part 2

In Part One of this series, we discussed how humans and silos are natural partners. We like to put things in groups, categorize, and label them. We also make assumptions based on those silos that can keep us from achieving the business impact promised by integrated talent management. In this installment, we are going to take a look at a scenario encountered by many employees: Consider This Scenario A global, consumer-products company called GCP Co. has hired Doris as a Warehouse Manager. Warehouse Manager is a critical role within GCP and a vacancy in this position directly impacts GCP’s ability to serve its customers. Doris meets with her new manager, Bill, for her 90 Day Review and he tells Doris that she is doing well and exceeding his expectations. Bill also informs her that HR requires every employee to have a development plan. "Go to the talent management portal and fill out the development plan. I will approve it and then we can get on with other things," Bill instructs her. Doris leaves the meeting wondering if she made the right decision in coming to GCP. Doris calls her recruiter and says, "I expected them to give me some input on how to be successful at GCP and help me outline a plan for moving ahead. I joined this company because they stressed their commitment to employee development and providing opportunity for advancement." Get Your Managers In the Loop GCP is now on the verge of losing a great employee holding a critical position. Why? The main reason is that her manager doesn’t get it. There are three distinct silos in play here: The employee has expectations of coaching development from her manager; HR has a leadership-sponsored process for development (hey have supported it with technology and communicated the process to the business), and The manager views development as an administrative task that he must get done or get in trouble with HR. Change management would help integrate these three different perspectives by helping those involved understand that Talent Management is everyone’s responsibility. Doris is ready to participate and is motivated to move ahead. HR has provided a process. Bill thinks that Talent Management processes are HR’s responsibility and he just needs to keep them off his back. Clearly, HR has made the assumption that managers know and understand that they own talent management just as much as HR does. The manager doesn’t really understand how his lack of focus on managing his talent will ultimately end up hurting him and GCP either through low employee engagement or the loss of a good employee with potential. We used development as an example here, but this lack of understanding by managers can have equally devastating effects on performance management, succession planning, and talent acquisition. Without a common understanding of what role managers play in talent management, Doris will most likely be blamed for a less than stellar performance - and if she leaves, it will be written off as a "bad hire" by recruiting. You get the picture. Who’s Accountable for Talent Management Decisions? Another key element that is missing here is accountability. It isn’t enough to educate managers on their responsibilities. They need to be held accountable for their talent management decisions and outcomes. If Bill were held accountable by his leader, in addition to HR, he would be more likely to view the development conversation with Doris as an important business discussion rather than an administrative duty. Many organizations assign talent goals to managers. Those goals are included on either the annual performance review or used as input to their variable compensation plan. Remember, what is measured, gets attention. In summary, some of the most dangerous silos are a result of a lack of understanding of what is expected and a lack of accountability. Change management and accountability are not instant fixes and should be planned as part of the initial implementation of any Talent Management process. Even if you didn’t do that at the onset – you should do it now. As we talked about last time, silos are created by people, and in order to mitigate their impact, we need to help people see the integration that is possible and then support them in achieving it.

A Day in the Life of a Diversity Manager
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A Day in the Life of a Diversity Manager

The need for more diversity in Silicon Valley is no secret — recent demographic reports from large companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter show large gaps in both gender and ethnicity. Fortunately, companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of a diverse workforce, hiring HR managers, program leads and recruiters with the specific task of increasing inclusion initiatives. "A wealth of research shows that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse teams," says Carissa Romero, a partner at Paradigm, a startup that helps companies implement diversity initiatives. "They make better decisions and solve problems more effectively. Focusing on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace isn't just the right thing to do; it's also a smart business decision." To learn more about the rise of diversity-focused roles, we spoke with three individuals who have committed their careers to inclusion. Here they discuss their everyday challenges, current initiatives and best advice for other companies dedicated to increasing diversity. Carissa Romero Title: Partner at Paradigm, a startup that helps companies implement diversity initiatives How did you get involved with diversity and inclusion? I was attracted to Paradigm because they were drawing on a wealth of research in social psychology to help companies design diversity and inclusion strategies. I believe that I can make an impact on an issue that's both personal to me — I am a Puerto Rican woman — and that I'm deeply passionate about. What's the most challenging part about your job? One big challenge that we see many companies face is their reliance on referral hiring. Because companies' workforces are often homogeneous, if they don't find other ways to source candidates, it's going to be hard for companies to create more diverse teams. What current diversity initiative or past project are you most excited about? Inclusion Labs is a partnership with Paradigm and Pinterest that will allow us to conduct workforce research to identify and better understand barriers to diversity, test new strategies for addressing these barriers, and share publicly as much information as we can about what we're learning. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? A successful diversity and inclusion initiative is one that is data-driven, draws on what we know from social science research and is context-specific. Tina Sandford Title: Managing Director of International Field Delivery at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) How did you get involved with diversity and inclusion? Last June, we ran an inclusion and diversity survey, held focus groups and did a series of interviews. I've had the wonderful opportunity to lead this initiative. What's the most challenging part about your job? Balancing the demand and drive of those who want to get things done quickly versus those who are more conservative. We want to go slow in order to go fast; to do this, we have to be thoughtful and recognize that everyone has a different point of view. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? In a general sense, ask: What are you trying to achieve and how does that relate to your organization and employee base? It's not one-size-fits-all. What is your best piece of advice for companies trying to improve diversity? Keep an open mind and realize that everyone has a different perspective and values that drive where they come from. Melanie Goldstein Title: Diversity and Inclusion Product Manager at Kanjoya, a start-up specializing in emotion-based intuitive analytics What's the most challenging part about your job? Through our technology, I am constantly faced with the reality that unconscious bias is not a myth; rather, it exists everywhere, is culturally ingrained and can impact people's careers. What current diversity initiative or past project are you most excited about? We help clients understand precisely where and how bias is manifesting in their organizations. Armed with metrics for unconscious bias, our clients can convince even the most ardent skeptics that there is a problem, take data-driven action and make diversity an organization-wide commitment. What qualities make for a successful diversity initiative? Successful diversity initiatives have to be data-driven and led by a commitment to transparency. The ability to track and measure progress over time is also crucial. What is your best piece of advice for companies trying to improve diversity? It's imperative to address the entire employee lifecycle. To make lasting diversity improvements requires a continuous process of iteration and experimentation. Photo: Creative Commons

Why You Need Infrastructure for Managers to Succeed
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Why You Need Infrastructure for Managers to Succeed

Can we all agree that the leadership of an organization is the single most important element driving success? Yes, I know that's an odd question—but think about it. Isn't it the case that the behavior of leaders shapes the behavior of employees, through effective coaching, correction and development? In last month's article, I talked about leadership development and how the day-to-day work of an organization actually serves as the best learning curriculum; by solving real problems and reflecting on why something worked or didn't work, leaders grow in knowledge and experience. But is that enough? Hire incredibly smart people and let them learn by doing? In my experience, there is still a piece missing and, unless it is addressed, it can create chaos. The missing piece? Infrastructure. The Importance of Infrastructure You've likely heard the old saying, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Or perhaps "If you pit a good performer against a bad system, the system will win almost every time." But what do these pithy sayings really mean? They mean that the infrastructure—the systems, processes, policies and programs that those in the organization execute every day—have to facilitate and enable behaviors that drive organizational performance. You can teach, communicate, motivate and inspire people to do the right work with appropriate behaviors, but if the infrastructure is teaching or communicating a different message, your performance and productivity are seriously impacted. It's like an orchestra with everyone playing their favorite piece. Unless they agree, it's chaos. It's like a racing pit crew where everyone runs to fix something, and they run to the same tire, so one tire gets all the attention, and the rest run flat. Infrastructure provides the parameters by which leaders lead and employees work. Values Support Infrastructure, But Don't Define It What is the purpose of those "values and principles" tacked up on the wall that talk about things like customer service, integrity and communication? They're referring to the ideal infrastructure, telling leaders and employees, "This is what is important; this is how we expect our team to behave." But it's not enough to simply say, "Act with integrity," or "Communicate effectively," because those are open to individual interpretation. The solution? Programs designed to put values to action, measure employee culture fit, and identify engagement gaps. So, Who Builds Infrastructure? There are a number of methods modern organizations have adopted to ensure organizational values are translated into action. Today, we create employee handbooks that prescribe appropriate behaviors, and define reprimands for bad ones. We offer intense manager trainings. We design pay and benefits structures that reward high performance and good behavior. We implement processes to set goals and measure performance to ensure that the work the organization is doing is aligned with the business strategy. We evaluate leaders' and employees' skills and competencies, and create plans for continuous development. We practice behavioral interviewing to try to source and hire new employees who can perform and thrive in our culture. But hang on—these are all HR programs, right? They are, but all too often, these programs fail to address their core purpose of building an infrastructure based on values. Instead, managers begrudgingly complete their tasks as HR cajoles and polices the programs, focused on compliance over strategy and completion over improvement. HR programs—which are inherently about building your organization's infrastructure—should instead be continuously evaluated and tweaked to align with the needs of the organization. The "words on the wall" may tell employees that they are the organization's most valued asset, but do the managers' behaviors reinforce the message? Do your words match your actions? Does the infrastructure that you created work, or is it shouting mixed messages? I cannot give you the answer; only you can take time to reflect on your organization's infrastructure and answer these questions. Executives, your HR team probably has a pretty good sense of the answers to these questions. If you're looking to improve your leadership culture, ask them where there might be opportunity to improve the infrastructure. I bet they have some good ideas. Photo: Twenty20

Why You Should Hire a Career Pivoter
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Why You Should Hire a Career Pivoter

Let's say you're hiring a senior HR manager at your company. What are the chances you would interview a candidate who had been teacher, a stay-at-home mom and a communications manager in financial services? Pretty low? I thought so. Recruiting firms, corporate HR departments and, today, even applicant tracking systems (ATS) gravitate toward job candidates whose careers have traveled a fairly straight trajectory. In HR, for instance, we expect candidates for mid-career roles to have started as an HR coordinator (or even an administrative assistant) before climbing the ladder to manager, director and vice president. Why? Recruiters are conditioned to believe that knowledge increases in proportion to years of experience — but that's faulty reasoning, especially in our fast-changing world of work. Rethinking the Definition of Value A particular skill or years of practice isn’t what makes a candidate truly valuable; instead, it's his or her ability to learn new skills, methods or technologies that matters. Adopting a strategy that values intellect over line-by-line adherence to a job description will produce a better pool of viable candidates. As the old adage goes, "You can teach an intelligent person, but you can't teach intelligence." Recruiters should adopt this mindset when evaluating job candidates, particularly those who have pivoted direction throughout their career. Why do I say this with such conviction? The nature of work is undergoing unprecedented change, and the ways in which we accomplish certain tasks change with every advance in technology. Job Hopping is the New Normal As Charles Coy points out in "Why Job Hopping is the New Career Ladder," it's difficult, if not impossible, to predict the types of jobs that will be available even five years from now. In fact, the skills required for these jobs may not even have been invented yet. This uncertainty requires recruiters to focus on a variety of core skills; arguably, the most critical skill is the ability to learn. That is precisely the skill that career pivoters have mastered through the variety of positions they've held. Whether employees pivot early or midway through their careers, adopting new skills develops new synapses in their brains, allowing them to learn even more. For example, Noah majored in music at college and intended to teach, when he was recruited to run operations in his family's manufacturing business. Two years later, when my company needed CRM sales support, the hiring manager wanted me to hire a Salesforce ninja, and was shocked when I suggested Noah. "But he's never even used the app!" the manager protested. Pointing out that any college grad Noah's age had grown up using apps and would soon learn Salesforce, the manager agreed to meet Noah and was impressed by his interest in learning new things. Noah has since earned his Salesforce certification and is now running market research at a major publishing company. A New Set of Core Skills As HR professionals, we need to learn a new way to evaluate candidates — not only to prepare ourselves for how recruitment is changing, but also to develop a better understanding of career pivoters whose paths are marked by a variety of industries and professions. So, what are those new "core skills" we should be looking for? With a predictive eye toward the future, here are my recommendations: Social intelligence: In a global work environment, employees need to collaborate with far-flung groups of co-workers/clients, and demonstrate cultural sensitivity and openness to diversity. Innovation: Candidates whose resumes showcase their creativity and willingness to propose new processes represent value for your company. This type of employee is interested in examining the paradigm and reconfiguring it — and that's a skill you need in a world where following the "traditional" way of doing things will leave you behind. Technical literacy: Every profession requires knowledge of industry-relevant technology, but that doesn't mean recruiters should reject candidates who don't have specific software skills. Look for quality and quantity in the types of technological tools the candidate understands — an employee who learned one app can always learn another app. Adaptability: A good indication of adaptability is one or more career pivots, either within a job function or an industry. Exposure to and success in a variety of industries and environments likely means a candidate works well with others and learns fast. Let's return to the candidate for the HR position. The one who had been a teacher, a stay-at-home parent and manager of a communications team? That was me. I didn't know about employment law, benefits or compensation analysis when I started, but those and other responsibilities of a HR generalist were acquired over time, through careful study and observation. They weren't the skills that landed me the job, or allowed me to excel. Rather, the variety of roles I had held demonstrated my adaptability, teaching in a multi-cultural environment developed my social intelligence and I had made it a point to stay ahead on technology. So, recruiters: Next time you receive a career pivoter's resume, get excited — it could just be your next star employee. Photo: Creative Commons

How to Retain Younger Employees Who Are Unlikely to Stay
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How to Retain Younger Employees Who Are Unlikely to Stay

Despite the common image of younger generations bouncing from one job to the next, Millennials aren’t changing jobs that much. In fact, young people are changing jobs less now than they were 30 years ago. Yet, the stereotype of young employees leaving one job for another persists, and companies struggle to retain young talent. While a majority of Millennials are happy to have a job, especially those who were job searching during the recession, a good portion of younger employees are self-starters and aspire to be entrepreneurs — or at the least work alongside like-minded people. Therefore, they are likely to move from one job to the next without much weight given to company loyalty. Quint Gribbin, a Millennial data scientist at Red Owl Analytics, is a prime example. Gribbin, who had six jobs in just three years, has always pursued his passions and looked to solve problems in his jobs, rather than conform to the job title or the culture of a company. "You follow your skill set. Not a company," Gribbin told the Washington Post. Gribbin isn’t the only recent graduate who follows this path of jumping from one company to the next. In fact, many Millennials say they expect to switch companies every year or two. When employees leave a company, that creates more work for hiring managers and disrupts the sense of company culture. To retain top talent, managers must learn what Millennials are looking for in a job and company and turn the company into a young employee’s ideal place to work. Listening to what Millennials want is a top priority for companies since within six years, Millennials will be 50 percent of the workforce. While some employees stay at a company for the security, Gribbin sees his investments in learning new skills and building a talent network as more secure than being loyal to a company. Keeping employees with Gribbin’s mindset may seem next to impossible, but here are four things that younger generations want in a job: 1. A team dynamic. While many Millennials are innovative and can take a project and run with it, they like to collaborate on projects and share their ideas. "They want to feel like they're always in collaboration with people, so it's really important for companies to show the ways they are going to bring this person into an organization and then keep them very involved, giving them feedback on a regular basis, and giving them many opportunities," says Cindy Madden, director of consulting solutions for global relocation service Cartus. 2. The opportunity to learn new skills. Many people say that the younger generations are learners for life. Once they’ve mastered one skill, they’re ready to learn another speciality and continue perfecting past ones. Millennials are known as being fast learners and open to change, so the more skills they have, the more flexible they are to move into new roles within the company. 3. New experiences. Whether it’s a river-rafting team outing or the opportunity to relocate to London for a year, younger generations like to be offered "extracurriculars." Millennials expect their company to provide these opportunities for them to expand their horizons. 4. Time to pursue outside projects. To cater to the employees who would love to start their own company, companies should provide time for them to develop new projects, such as Google’s well-known 80-20 time allocation. "Every generation from here on out will become more entrepreneurial than the next because they will have had more access to information, people and resources earlier in the life," writes Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding

Is Coaching Right for My Healthcare Team?
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Is Coaching Right for My Healthcare Team?

Hospitals and care centers are always looking for well-qualified, highly-skilled practitioners. And as an RN, I was always being asked to learn something new. Typically, one of my more senior peers would orient me on the new task. And I can easily say that the times I experienced the most growth in my career was when I received some kind of coaching. Over 70% of coaching recipients saw an increase in work performance, relationships, and communication skills, and 80% reported having more self-confidence.1 So it’s no wonder that coaching in healthcare is so important. So why don’t more hospitals do it? Quality patient care depends on a well-trained, passionate, committed staff, which in turn is fostered by supportive, skilled leadership. Yet healthcare organizations are facing radical changes in everything from policy to technology, a loss of key leaders and clinicians due to the Baby Boomer exodus, and an increasingly dissatisfied—and overworked—labor force. Not to mention increased competition and the need to run ever-leaner while still providing the same level of care, despite an increased patient load. Nurturing engaged, curious employees and creating skilled, committed leaders are key to surviving and thriving amid all these challenges. So what is coaching? Coaching is an umbrella term for the process of developing people’s skills and abilities, boosting their performance, and dealing with issues and challenges before they become major problems.2 But coaching can be broken out into three different categories: Executive coaching: Designed for top tier team members to improve their performance and leadership capabilities. Leadership and capacity building coaching: Aimed at helping managers—from those involved in patient care to administration to operations—become better leaders to prepare them for more high-level responsibilities. Performance coaching: Implemented to help recipients improve performance in their current roles, build strengths, or correct weaknesses. Must-Have Coaching Skill Sets In addition to the above, coaches should be able to offer intangible skills that enable staff to achieve a higher level of success. Whether a coach is "coaching your coaches," or if a manager is coaching a more junior colleague, they should be able to: 3 Listen actively: Employees need to know that when discussing career aspirations and challenges, their coach is as invested in their success as they are. By being an active listener, the coach will be able to fully internalize and understand team members’ goals and offer meaningful solutions for impactful growth. Part of listening actively is not checking e-mails, not looking at a cell phone, or doing anything else that distracts from the one-on-one element. Reinforce positive behaviors: A quality coach should reward their clients when they’ve made the right move or decision, rather than punish them for the wrong one. By rewarding correct choices, the staff member will display better performance-related behaviors as an instinct, rather than as something they have to think about doing before acting. Ask open-ended questions: Asking "yes/no" questions, or ones that similarly offer a limited number of responses, are risky because respondents have to choose best-fit answers that may not paint the whole picture. Instead, a good coach will use open-ended question, such as "How do you feel when..." or "What do you think is..." This enables the staff member to provide detailed, candid answers, rather than be pigeon-holed into responses that may not present the most accurate information. More on Coaching There are many different types of coaches, strategies for teaching and best practices on timing. For a more in-depth look on coaching, you can download our Coaching Playbook for free, here. #### 1 No author. "The Benefits of Coaching." Outstand.org. Date published: March 28, 2013. Date accessed: March 30, 2015. http://www.outstand.org/index.php/2013/03/the-benefits-of-coaching/ 2 No author. "What is Coaching?" MindTools. No date published. Date accessed: March 27, 2015. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_15.htm 3 No author. "Business Results Through Coaching."Bersin by Deloitte. No date published. Date accessed: March 26, 2015. http://www.bersin.com/News/Details.aspx?id=15040.

Mentoring 2.0: How to Redefine Employee Mentorship
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Mentoring 2.0: How to Redefine Employee Mentorship

Company growth shouldn't mean employees lose the personal connections they crave in order to learn and grow. Sometimes, though, as business ramps up, mentorship falls by the wayside. About 70 percent of Fortune 500 firms have formal employee mentoring programs in place, while only 25 percent of large U.S. companies have similar programs. To forgo mentorship is to miss out on a huge opportunity for employee engagement and retention. Good news: Mentorship is evolving be more exciting and less tiresome for companies and employees, alike, through revamped programs. Just as training and learning are being redefined through new technologies, new methods in mentoring are emerging that also promise powerful advantages to companies at a time of super competitive, high-cost recruiting. Some companies are changing their internal employee mentorship programs while others are looking for outside help. Revolutionizing Remote Mentorship Typically companies connect high-performing employees with newbies to guide them throughout their careers, but what about when a majority of the workforce works remotely? Remote employees don’t get mentors since a program is too hard to manage, right? Wrong. Remote mentoring is just as essential and effective as in-person mentorship when it comes to engaging employees and continuing career development, argues Beth N. Carvin, president and CEO of retention management firm Nobscot. Carvin suggests that employers let remote employees choose their mentors, but encourages them to not choose the obvious mentor (like another remoter worker). Instead, these employees should consider looking for a mentor who is highly connected in the physical office to provide them with new insights and keep them up-to-date about on-site company meetings. Another innovative idea: Give employees the option to join a mentoring group around specific topics like work-life balance or how to stay connected while working remotely. A Program to Guide the Next Mark Zuckerberg While remote mentorship is a great idea for the traditional workplace, mentoring entrepreneurs takes a different form at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Some believe entrepreneurs are born, but not Bing Gordon, chief product officer at Kleiner Perkins. "Genius may be born, but innovation can be learned," says Gordon. That’s why the firm introduced a new mentorship program — atypical for a VC firm — to help entrepreneurs turn good ideas into amazing products. The mentorship program, KPCB ProductWorks, is different from a normal employee mentorship program because it connects aspiring startup founders with talented partners from Kleiner Perkins and leading industry experts outside of the company. Plus, the program provides entrepreneurs with top-notch engineers, designers and product managers to help them create their product. Now Trending: Mentors From Outside the Company Though internal mentorships serve some companies well, a look outside of the company for mentors is a new tactic for other companies. In fact, innovative companies have taken the concept to another level by introducing technologies that can pair up-and-comers with established professionals outside of the company to help them develop new skills and provide insights for success. Everwise is one such technology — hosting a community that matches mentors and proteges using data from LinkedIn profiles and questionnaires. Once the mentor relationship is off and running, relationship managers check in to make sure both sides are satisfied with the interactions. Companies such as Cisco, eBay, Wal-Mart and HP are leading the way by adopting this technology (and others like it), recognizing that sometimes the best advice comes from without. The reason internal mentor programs sometimes don’t work is trifold, says Mike Bergelson, co-founder and CEO of Everwise: employees within the company sometimes lack genuine desire to be a mentor, mentees don’t look for the right mix in a mentor (they simply look at titles and popularity), and mentors and mentees need guidance through their relationship. "As long as the learning community is designed with the specific needs of the protege in mind as well as the specific needs of the mentor and as long as the needs are fulfilled, I think that process can work in many organizations," says Bergelson. Photo: Can Stock

10 Companies Putting Empathy into Action
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10 Companies Putting Empathy into Action

Today's top employers are doing much more than providing a good salary and basic benefits to recruit and retain employees. In fact, some employers are trying to empathize with employees' personal needs as much as they focus on their professional needs. You've heard of on-site fitness classes — but how about on-site health clinics? Unlimited vacation is nice — but wouldn't a flextime schedule better match your work-life balance goals? For companies that offer these and other "personal" benefits, the potential payoff is promising — based on a recent report, UK consultant group Lady Geek found that the most empathetic companies increased in value more than twice as much as the least empathetic companies in 2015. How do you measure "empathy"? Lady Geeks defines the term as "a cognitive and emotional understanding of others' experiences" and consults clients on how to engage with customers and employees holistically. Their analysis uses a variety of metrics, such as CEO approval ratings, gender ratios on the board, brand controversy (such as scandals and fines) and sentiment on the company's social networks. Below are the 10 companies that topped their Global Empathy Index — and a little something to learn about empathetic policies from each. 1. Microsoft Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Redmond, WA Monetary value: $436.4B* Number of employees: 118,584 Empathetic policy highlight: Microsoft offers a lab program, Microsoft Garage, which both encourages and supports employees' side gigs and creative ideas. The program allows employees across any department to brainstorm, plan and develop projects outside their primary job or function at Microsoft. 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Monetary value: $289.1B Number of employees: 11,996 Policy highlight: Facebook allows employees to select their own workday start and stop times. The flextime program provides employees with the opportunity to align their hours on the job with their lifestyle, which Facebook believes leads to greater flexibility and productivity. 3. Tesla Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA Monetary value: $29.2B Number of employees: 12,000 Policy highlight: Tesla pays 100 percent of the direct plan costs for employee health plans. The plans come with high deductibles, but with an in-house medical clinic, employees can avoid unnecessary visits through an on-site clinic visit first. 4. Alphabet (Google) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Monetary value: $515B Number of employees: 59,976 Policy highlight: Mom or dad-to-be? Moms get up to 18 weeks of paid leave, while dads get six. To help out even more, the company provides "baby bonding bucks" to help with expenses, such as formula and diapers. 5. Procter & Gamble Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH Monetary value: $213B Number of employees: 118,000 Policy highlight: Life happens. And when employees are going through a difficult time, Procter & Gamble offers a personal leave of absence. Employees can take up to three months off periodically without pay — but with continued benefits — allowing employees to take time for personal needs and the company to retain valuable talent. 6. Apple Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Cupertino, CA Monetary value: $587B Number of employees: 66,000 Policy highlight: Apple prioritizes employee health by offering a wellness center at its corporate headquarters, which includes doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and dietitians. Don't work full-time or at corporate locations? No worries — even part-time and remote employees qualify for benefits. 7. Johnson & Johnson Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: New Brunswick, NJ Monetary value: $278B Number of employees: 126,500 Policy highlight: Johnson & Johnson is a leader in understanding how employees' movement while working affects physical health. They've built an ergonomic workplace and implemented strategies to improve productivity as well as long-term health and wellness. 8. Walt Disney Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Burbank, CA Monetary value: $170.2B Number of employees: 180,000 Policy highlight: Employees receive free and discounted admission at many Walt Disney theme parks across the country, which can save workers' and their families thousands over the course of one's career with the company (not to mention provide some pretty cool vacations for theme park enthusiasts). 9. Prudential Financial Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Newark, NJ Monetary value: $35.8B Number of employees: 48,331 Policy highlight: Being a caregiver for a parent or relative is a tough job, but Prudential makes it easier by providing adult care in an employee or loved one's home. In addition, the company provides geriatric care services (in-home care and facility assessments), elder law services and adult care-giving seminars. 10. Audi Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Herndon, Virginia Monetary value: $28.8B Number of employees: 80,000 Policy highlight: The Audi Veterans to Technicians Program is designed to bring veterans back into the workforce. Participants in the program receive individualized support, advice and assistance from a team of dedicated program staff. *Data on each company’s market capitalization from Google Finance on 1/5/15 was used to determine the monetary value of all companies in this list. Header photo: Creative Commons

 Empower Managers and Employees to Support Wellness at Work
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Empower Managers and Employees to Support Wellness at Work

Even before a global pandemic upended our lives, nearly three-fourths of workers said they experienced burnout at their jobs. Now, 69% of workers say that the COVID-19 pandemic is the single most stressful time of their entire career — and this unprecedented stress is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. A recent CDC survey found that 41% of Americans are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic. Responding to employee wellness right now is essential, and companies need to shift their mindset about employee health. According to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, 96% of respondents agreed that organizations are responsible for their employees’ well-being, but despite that, nearly 80% said that well-being is not being integrated into their work environment. Using learning content to support your managers and employees is a key way your organization can demonstrate a commitment to wellness, both personally and professionally. COVID-19 has created an opportunity and an obligation for companies to support their employees, create safe spaces and help get meaningful work done during a time of high stress—and learning content is there to meet the need. In March 2020 alone, people across the globe engaged with 27.5 million hours of content on Cornerstone’s learning platform, and nearly half of our Cornerstone Learning clients saw an increase in logins in March 2020. When creating and curating wellness learning content for Cornerstone, we knew we needed to address the stress people have felt since the pandemic began. Having practical tips and tangible tools to manage stress can help team leads and employees at every level succeed at work. Using Learning Content to Help Managers Support Wellness In any stressful time, learning content in the hands of managers can support changed behaviors and mindsets. Managers can better understand how to be available and present, both in all-hands situations and in one-on-ones—and according to a recent Harvard Business Review study, employees who feel their managers don’t communicate well are 23% more likely to experience a decline in mental health. By understanding how to recognize signs of burnout and stress, how to model wellness and how to have empathetic conversations, leaders can support their employees during any difficult time. Learning content can help your managers: Normalize mental health throughout your entire organization. The most important thing that managers can do for employees is to create an environment for psychological safety. What does that mean? It means that employees who may need to speak about difficult topics, like mental health and wellness, feel comfortable doing so. To measure the psychological safety of your team, try this publicly available survey today.  Facilitate social interactions. Connections at work can go a long way to mitigating feelings of loneliness, isolation and stress. The pandemic changed who we see on a daily basis, stripping away many in-person interactions with coworkers. With many workers still operating remotely, it can be harder to have these social interactions, but managers can work to make sure team members are still connecting with their colleagues across the company.  Identify signs of burnout in team members. Stress is inevitable at work. And while stress can sometimes help focus your energy, other times it can feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water. Unaddressed burnout can affect performance, morale and willingness to help others. Keep an eye out for people taking lots of sick days, drops in productivity or lots of people quitting. Learn how to talk to your team and give them the chance to raise any concerns at an early stage, before burnout takes over. Providing Learning Content as a Wellness Resource for Employees Content can also provide wellness tips directly to employees, giving them tools to manage stress and boost mindfulness that they can bring to the workday. Everyone feels emotions at work — and that’s OK! Content can help your employees process those emotions, gain self-awareness and understand when they may need to ask for help. Learning content can help your employees: Understand what triggers stress. The body has a physical response to stressful situations that can make it difficult to solve problems, make decisions and react rationally. To recognize trends about how you feel in intense moments, do a body scan to evaluate how you’re physically reacting. Then try to describe exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Create the space to recharge. Mental health isn’t static — it’s something experienced on a continuum. And employees should take time to recharge when they slip toward one end of the spectrum. From scheduling screen breaks to taking walks, there are plenty of ways to build space into daily work routines. Take advantage of mental health days. Sometimes, recharging might take more than a quick walk or a screen break. It’s okay if you need a day away from work to get up and running again. And remember: The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of disability, including many mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and ADHD. Employees with a mental health condition have the right to reasonable accommodations to help them perform their essential job functions. Turning Uncertainty into Understanding with Content In a recent webinar, we participated in together, Liggy Webb, the award-winning author and expert on human resilience, talked about how our current environment can feel like the military acronym VUCA, standing for “volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.” That probably sounds familiar to a lot of people right now. But as Liggy pointed out, there’s are counterparts to consider: vision, understanding, clarity and agility. Content can help bring this transition to life. With the resources to understand and address wellness in the workplace, think about what this might look like for employers with stressed-out employees: Being curious about employee needs. Knowing which resources can help. Clearly communicating to help avoid information anxiety. Having a fast response that adapts to new information. This can all help navigate stressful challenges in the most positive ways possible. Looking for more ways learning content can help with stress management, mindfulness and returning to work? Join our virtual Learning Content Summit on May 12. Or try some of our free mental wellness courses, click here and choose the Wellness category.

Transforming the Government into an Employer of Choice for Millennials
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Transforming the Government into an Employer of Choice for Millennials

On paper, a career in government service appears to beautifully align to the professional values and interests of millennials. A Capstrat study of millennials in the workforce revealed that balance, benefits, purpose and support trump all else for twenty-something workers — even salary. Millennials want to make a difference in society, and employment within the federal government offers countless opportunities to do so. But what is on paper is a stark contrast to what is reality. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that federal government employees under the age of 30 hit an eight-year low of 7 percent in 2013, versus about 25 percent for the private-sector workforce. By comparison, in 1975, more than 20 percent of the federal workforce was under the age of 30. In spite of all the negative publicity surrounding government work, about 45 percent of college seniors remain very or extremely interested in working for the government, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. So why aren’t there more millennials employed by the federal government? The answer is simple – because federal agencies aren’t doing enough to recruit, hire, and retain them. Critical Skills, Leadership Shortages The federal government workforce is undergoing a dramatic transition. In addition to the leadership voids that are arising due to baby boomer retirements, there is also a rapidly growing need for skills and competencies required to manage the increasingly digital demands of today’s missions. While the current workforce is largely lacking this needed expertise, it could easily be obtained by strategic hiring of millennial professionals. The government cannot afford to waste any more time in addressing these issues. Millennial recruitment and workforce succession planning must elevate to the most urgent priority. According to Kimberly Holden, deputy associate director of recruitment and hiring at OPM, "the government will be lost" without technologically savvy staff able to carry agencies into a digital future. In order to build and prepare a workforce that can take on the work agency missions demand, the federal government needs to act now to recruit, onboard and retain millennial civil servants. Here is how to get started. Fix the recruiting process In spite of the urgent need for new employees and new skills, the government continues to rely on confusing, complicated and overly bureaucratic HR methods – ones that turn off even the most interested millennial candidate. Technologically savvy millennials are used to an on-demand world – and federal agencies must adapt to and meet these expectations. From improving the use of technology and social media to attract interested applicants to providing candidates more visibility and transparency into the hiring process, recruiters need to be creative in how they capture and maintain the attention of millennials to quickly convert them into agency employees. Establish career paths It’s a competitive market out there, and an improving economy is giving workers and job candidates, as opposed to employers, the upper hand. Particularly for millennials who have skills that are highly in demand across both the public and private sectors (information technology, engineering, finance), federal agencies must provide clearly defined growth and career paths to keep employees engaged, motivated, and focused on future opportunities. While we may no longer be in an era of lifetime career civil servants, agencies can still encourage millennials to have long, active and fulfilling careers at a variety of government agencies. Provide ongoing mentoring, coaching and assessment In order to keep a government job challenging and fulfilling (particularly as higher-paying private sector opportunities continue to beckon), millennials must receive ongoing coaching and mentoring from more experienced and/or longer tenured colleagues. From navigating the organizational structure to understanding growth and advancement opportunities to finding new ways to collaborate on mission requirements, a support network is critical for millennial engagement and retention. Without an influx of younger workers with much-needed skills, critical government programs may be derailed, innovation will be stymied, and the competitiveness of the U.S. compared to other nations will continue its decline. The federal government will greatly benefit from the competencies that millennials bring – digital expertise, technical savvy, and a more collaborative and inclusive approach to problem solving – as soon as they prioritize millennial recruitment and hiring.

Hiring for Ethics and Integrity: 4 Tactics That Work
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Hiring for Ethics and Integrity: 4 Tactics That Work

Every company’s got at least one: that overly competitive, sour, power-hungry -- you fill in the blank -- employee that walks around with a rain cloud over his head, infecting every conversation he joins and inciting feelings of isolation, discouragement or doubt among his coworkers. It only takes a few such toxic personalities to infect company morale and, ultimately, the bottom line. Recruiters and HR managers face a daunting task when wading through the pile of resumes lying on their desks, in search of terrific talent and great character. So how do you spot these telltale signs of toxicity in the short span of a job interview and zero-in on important intangibles like character, honesty, ethics and integrity? We asked Anna Maravelas, author of "How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress" and a motivational speaker recognized for her ability to transform negative cultures into climates of respect and pride. From prisons to the financial sector, every industry has its share of jerks. And Maravelas should know -- she’s worked with many of them. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as she found many of her favorite hiring tactics in the companies she encountered. Here are four that top her list. Surprise them with an ethical scenario Every job candidate has practiced the tried-and-true interview questions aimed at drawing out weaknesses or negative qualities. Today’s job candidates know how to turn a negative into a positive: "I’m just too hard working, too motivated, too detail-oriented..." they may say. But what about throwing in a question from left field that catches the interviewee off guard entirely? The CEO of a predominant design and building company Maravelas had worked with stuck out in her mind for a unique interviewing tactic. The CEO would interview candidates directly, starting off with warm, getting-to-know-you conversation. A bit into the interview, the CEO would then ask, "If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little white lie to help us out?" "If the candidate said yes," Maravelas explains, "the offer evaporated. You really have to have a lot of integrity to say no." Listen to how they praise - or blame - themselves and others Companies built on a culture of collaboration rely on team players to achieve their goals, so working effectively as a team and bringing a fraternal attitude to the table is essential. Thus, an effective way to tell if a prospective employee fits the team profile is to see where they give credit and place blame. "Ask candidates to talk about a time when they achieved something they were really proud of," Maravelas says. "How much credit did they give others?" Is the candidate constantly saying "I, I, I" or referring to collective achievements she accomplished as part of a team? Does she refer to a great mentor or a close relationship with her boss as a contributor to her success, or is she constantly patting herself on the back? An alternative way to gauge this quality, Maravelas suggests, is to ask candidates about a time when they really tried their hardest, yet failed, and listen to how they assess their own responsibility in that failure. Tap into referrals from your best employees Current employees can be great resource in the hiring process, and their opinions should factor significantly into a hiring decision. After all, they’ll be the ones working with the new employee. One of Maravelas’ favorite companies relies heavily on the referrals of current employees who have been with the company for several years, tapping solid veterans to actively recruit prospects from their circle of friends and professional contacts. "If they have integrity and are known for their kindness and compassion, their friends probably are, too," Maravelas says. "They probably don’t hang out with fakes." Trust your gut We’re often so focused on the person we’re interviewing, we may not be tuned into our own physiological reaction to them. Sitting back and asking ourselves how another person is affecting us is a valuable tactic for interviewers. If a candidate makes you feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease, he’ll probably make his co-workers feel that same way. We may not consciously identify negative qualities right away, but we often subconsciously pinpoint an off-feeling that comes in the form of an awkward moment or the feeling of being manipulated. When hiring for integrity and character, the best bet is to go with your instinct. We gravitate towards those who make us feel good, and that quality will likely be reflected in the larger work environment. Adds Maravelas: "Really pay attention to how you feel when you’re interviewing someone else." For useful resources on building talent pipelines and developing your 21st-century recruiting strategy, check our our recruiting lookbook.

3 Reasons Why Employees Underperform
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3 Reasons Why Employees Underperform

What an ongoing struggle it is to get employees to perform. At HR conferences, CEO meetings and among organizational development groups, the topic always seems to revolve around getting our employees to step up and do great work. In all my years of teaching and consulting around workplace performance, I see three reasons why employees consistently underperform: they’re incapable, disconnected or unclear. 1. Employees are Incapable Employees who are incapable have core abilities that do not align with the abilities required to complete the activities of the job. Every job has a specific set of activities that are key to performance and ultimate success. For example, the activities of an accountant are to close the books, create reports, analyze performance, and ensure compliance with procedures. These activities require a strategic, analytical, methodical and detail-oriented person. If your accountant employee is not that, performance is a challenge. Another example: If you have a site manager (at a retail store or on a job site) working for you, his activities are to hire talented people, manage work schedules, advance results, and meet deadlines. These activities require a strategic, organized, driven, results-oriented person. If your site manager is not this, he shows up as incapable to do the job. Many times the primary reason for employee underperformance is in hiring employees who do not fit their role — they do not have the abilities that align to the specific needs of the job. Solution:Include the required abilities in addition to skill and experience criteria when defining the performance profile of the job. Hire for abilities as well as skill and experience. 2. Employees are Disconnected Employees who are disconnected do not share or understand the direction, vision, belief or mission of the business. There is no emotional connection. When employees understand the beliefs and vision of the business and they align with their personal values, they are more engaged, committed and passionate about their performance. Think of the way employees who work at Google feel about innovation, the way employees feel about coffee at Starbucks, the way employees feel about service at Zappos, the way employees feel about the outdoors at Patagonia. Our performance is fueled by our passions and values — and diminished by our lack of interest or connection. Solution: Clearly share your vision and belief about the business — source and hire employees who share your beliefs. 3. Employees are Unclear Most employees do not have nor understand their specific performance expectations — they don’t know what a successful or "done right" outcome is. They have no performance standard. Here is a personal example: when my kids were younger it seemed we were always in conflict with them about keeping their rooms clean. The problem was we didn’t share the same definition of "clean room." So, once the room was cleaned "at expectation," we took a picture and then taped it to the door. This became the standard of how a room was to look when we said "clean." We all shared the same expectation or standard and now could hold them accountable for delivering this specific performance. In the workplace, employees need the same guidance about what a successful performance outcome is so that they can be held accountable to deliver it. This clarity lets them use their abilities to determine how to deliver the outcome. For example, create a performance expectation that a daily dashboard report prepared by the employee is to be accurate, completed on the CEO desk each morning, or that a certain amount of sales are required in a 30 day period. Now clear, employees can access their abilities to determine how to make the expectation happen. Without the clarity, they wander and performance suffers. Solution: Improve the clarity of performance expectations to ensure employees know what is expected and can perform accordingly. Sustainably high performance requires that employees’ abilities fit the activities required of the job, they share the values, beliefs or mission of the business, and they clearly know their performance expectations. We can’t expect employees to bring their A-game if we haven’t set the stage for them to be successful. Once in place, it is fair to expect great performance.

Star Employees Aren't Always Management Material – And That's Okay
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Star Employees Aren't Always Management Material – And That's Okay

My colleague once shared a story about managing that I will never forget. At the conclusion of her company’s performance management process, one of the new manager’s evaluations were the most thoughtful, honest and actionable she’d ever seen – despite it being his first time providing formal feedback. Unfortunately, it was also his last time. Upon realizing the effort required to manage people, the employee decided to relinquish his managing role and return to his passion as a software developer. I love this story because it highlights the importance of truly understanding people management. "Manager" is a responsibility – not just a fancy title – that requires a special set of skills and immense effort. And it's not for everybody: It should be okay for ambitious high performers to decline the management career path. The many consequences of ineffective and uncommitted managers take a high toll on organization effectiveness. Far too often, top individual contributors transition into management roles for the wrong reasons and without knowing what the role truly entails. In a previous post, I shared some alarming data from the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Corporate Leadership Council research: 57 percent of managers would have opted for non-management roles if there were an option. 65 percent of managers would "opt-out" of their management roles today if given a chance to take another equally attractive role. 31 percent of managers were neither committed nor effective at their management roles. Only 19 percent (out of 9000 managers studied) were both committed and effective at managing. In order to avoid the mediocre management syndrome, human resource professionals need to provide career path alternatives, help high performers consider alternatives and then carefully select qualified and committed managers. Below are three ways to cultivate the best managers for your company and determine the best paths for your employees: 1. Offer alternative career ladders Commonly found in technology industries, dual career ladders allow those not well-suited or interested in management to advance their careers up a comparable professional ladder. "Distinguished engineer" might be the job-level equivalent of a senior manager or director, for example. And an engineering or scientific "fellow" may be the equivalent of a vice president. 2. Mentor aspiring managers You can design a set of tools, programs and experiences to help top performers gain an understanding of the management path – and make an informed decision about whether it's right for them. At 2020 Talent Management, for example, we developed a one-day program to mentor aspiring managers in Bangalore, India. During the pilot program, two engineers approached me after lunch, having already decided management was not right for them. This was a true win-win – the engineers avoided accepting an ill-fitting job and the company avoided appointing disengaged managers. The next time I delivered the program in Boston, I shared the Bangalore story with the group. By 11:00 a.m. that morning, one of the participants told me he did not have to wait until after lunch – he already understood management was not the best fit. 3. Design a comprehensive selection process Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of Gallup Inc., said, "The single biggest decision you make in your job – bigger than all the rest – is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision." Establishing a formal process for selecting new managers is critical to the future success of your organization. While the hiring manager is ultimately responsible for any decision, the smartest hiring choices are made in consultation with others (i.e. HR, Leadership Development, current colleagues). When selecting new manager candidates, consider their skills and experiences, such as leadership on informal teams or projects, collaboration and ability to establish relationships beyond their immediate team, as well as their personal motivation and commitment to being a manager. Consider utilizing standardized tools that assess attributes that correlate with manager/leader success, such as Emotional Intelligence and Learning Agility. If you offer a mentorship or self-selection management program as described above, did the candidate take advantage of it? You can also ask candidates to work through a manager-oriented case study, such as the HBR case study, Is the Rookie Ready. Great leaders foster engaged teams that deliver great results. By carefully selecting and developing effective and committed managers, you can enhance your organization’s competitive advantage and ensure a sustainable future for your company.

What Really Drives Employee Happiness? [Infographic]
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What Really Drives Employee Happiness? [Infographic]

As the competition for top talent intensifies, organizations are seeking new ways to attract and retain employees. From competitive signing bonuses to flexible schedules and pre-paid vacation, the perks designed to increase satisfaction on the job are more diverse than ever. This growing list of benefits may seem superfluous to some, but attempting to improve employee happiness is a strategic business decision. A recent study from the University of Warwick found that job satisfaction can directly benefit the bottom line, as happy employees are 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees. And with less than half of employees currently chipper at their jobs, successful efforts to increase satisfaction at work have the potential to substantially improve organizational results. But what factors actually make employees happy? The Secrets of Job Satisfaction While you may think the best way to determine employee happiness is to ask them about it, turns out people are generally poor judges of what makes them tick. There are some stark differences between what we think makes us happy compared to what actually contributes to our satisfaction on the job. (Click to enlarge) As seen in our infographic above, a recent study from Cangrade examined the relationship between individuals' job satisfaction and the prevalence of certain factors in their work. The results showed that some of the factors people report as "most important" to job satisfaction, such as security and work-life balance, don't matter as much as we think. Instead, the most significant influencers on job satisfaction were intellectual stimulation, achievement and power. The difference between perception and reality is particularly interesting when it comes to power — employees rated it as dead last in terms of importance, but the study found that it's the third most influential factor in overall job satisfaction and happiness. In a similar vein, while money was perceived as the fourth most important component to happiness, it ranked last in terms of actual impact on satisfaction — reminding us that as much as we think a raise or bonus will boost morale, compensation isn't the best way to your employees' hearts. However, despite these discrepancies, the study found that people do have some level of self-awareness; when people list a factor as very important to their happiness, it turns out that quality impacts their satisfaction more than it does for the average employee. For instance, intellectual stimulation accounts for 18.5 percent of job satisfaction on average, but it's even more influential for people who also listed it as important — accounting for 23 percent of their satisfaction. The main takeaway? Listen to your individual employee's feedback about company culture, but consider proactive ways to engage your workforce as well. By offering cross-training opportunities across projects and departments, you can ensure they feel both intellectually challenged and influential. Instead of simply providing bonuses, provide employees with ongoing feedback about their achievements and value at the company. Your workforce — and your bottom line — will be happier for it. Header Photo: Shutterstock

TED Talk Tuesday: Robots Will Take Our Jobs, Then What?
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TED Talk Tuesday: Robots Will Take Our Jobs, Then What?

This part is part of our monthly "TED Talk Tuesday" series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Andrew McAfee studies how technology affects business and society — more specifically, how computerization will impact our workforce and economy. In his TED Talk, the principal research scientist at MIT Sloan's Center for Digital Business explains how robots will take our jobs, why that's not necessarily a bad thing and what we can do to prepare our society for "technological unemployment." While radical to some, McAfee's arguments are important consideration for any workforce participant — especially HR leaders, whose work is closely tied to the future of the jobs economy. Watch the video below and read more for three key takeaways from his talk. "There is going to be more and more technology and fewer and fewer jobs." According to McAfee, the world of technological unemployment is at hand. Our cars will soon drive themselves, which means fewer truck drivers. We'll hook Siri up to supercomputer IBM Watson, eliminating most of the work done by customer service reps. And we're already developing machines to replace human warehouse pickers. So, what to do next? "[We have] the chance to imagine an entirely different kind of society." The answer is not to run and hide — it's to celebrate. McAfee says that technological unemployment is the best economic news on the planet for two reasons. First, the progression of technology is creating "abundance": more products at higher volume and quality, but lower prices. And second, it frees humanity to stop working and to start innovating, creating and thinking. "We're going. . . to chart a good course into the challenging, abundant economy that we're creating." McAfee acknowledges that this flourishing, creative and enlightened society does not come without its challenges. Not everyone has access to the resources of the world's elite philosophers, artists, businesspeople or diplomats — and without work, the lower and middle classes will struggle. However, McAfee points to the promise of education and the fact that the challenges of a "technological" society are increasingly public. He ends his talk on a promising note: If we pay attention to the plain facts before us, we can thrive in the future world of work. Photo: TED Talks

TED Talk Tuesday: How to Create a More Productive Workplace
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TED Talk Tuesday: How to Create a More Productive Workplace

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Jason Fried is a software entrepreneur and co-founder and president of Chicago-based collaboration software Basecamp. Fried is also the co-author of the book Rework, a reimagining of the way we work and create. In his TED talk, Fried asks audiences to consider why people can't seem to get work done at work, and what unconventional solutions we can create for the problem. Watch the video below and read on for four key takeaways from his talk: "People go to work, and they're basically trading in their work day for a series of 'work moments.'" Companies spend exorbitant amounts of money renting or buying office space and equipping it with everything they think their employees need to be productive. Then why do people rarely answer "the office" when asked, "Where do you really want to go when you need to get something done?" Fried compares work to sleep. Like sleep, you need long stretches of uninterrupted time to really be productive with work. Managers can't expect team members to complete tasks or be creative in a 15- to 30-minute widow in between meetings. He identifies the biggest enemies of productivity at work as managers and meetings (what he refers to as M&Ms). Managers interrupt work to make sure that work is getting done and meetings eat away at long stretches of time that would allow people to think and create. So how can employers improve this unproductive office environment? "Four hours of quiet time at the office is going to be incredibly valuable." You've heard of Casual Friday, but how about "No-Talk Thursday"? Fried says that if employees are given roughly four hours of uninterrupted work time once a month, they will openly thank you for it. This prolonged quiet time will be productive and valuable to the company and its employees. "[Replace] active communication and collaboration... with more passive models of communication." There's something that physical workplaces can learn from the telecommuting workforce. Fried recommends making a switch from in-person active communication to passive models like email, text or instant messaging. These electronic-based methods of communication can be turned off or snoozed, and that allows employees the opportunity to choose when they want to be interrupted, allowing them to finish a task before responding to a message. Typically, nothing is so urgent that it needs to be addressed instantly. "Just cancel that next meeting." Finally, Fried questions the necessity of meetings. He challenges "enlightened managers" to cancel, not reschedule, the next internal meeting. Meetings spawn other meetings, and frequently eat away at the ability to complete work. Fried believes that after cutting down on inessential meetings, managers will discover most get togethers aren't as essential as they thought. Photo: TED

Peer Feedback: 6 Tips for Successful Crowdsourcing
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Peer Feedback: 6 Tips for Successful Crowdsourcing

As companies replace corporate hierarchies with flatter reporting structures, they're also decentralizing power in the performance review process by gathering feedback from colleagues and not just top executives. Crowdsourcing feedback and providing it on a continual basis, rather than in one lump package at the end of the year, allows employees to improve their work and receive recognition throughout the year. Better yet, employees favor reviews with feedback from their peers. Four in five employees think an accurate review requires a combination of input from managers as well as colleagues, according to the Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker study. "The arrival of the crowdsourced performance review is a welcome paradigm shift in the human resources industry," says Eric Mosley, CEO of Globoforce. "An innovative, more complete system for providing team members with accurate, consistent feedback creates happier employees and more productive work environments." Why Peer Feedback Is Successful Whether peer feedback stands on its own or as part of a 360-degree review, including employees in the recognition and feedback process creates a positive workplace environment. When all employees are asked to contribute praise and constructive criticism about their colleagues, it builds a culture of open feedback and supports collaboration, notes Karen Caruso. Crowdsourced evaluations also create a community of accountability where employees can make sure that employees are working on areas they need to improve, adds Caruso. "The first time I ever had a peer review I got the most valuable feedback I've ever received in an evaluation process," says Tim Sackett, president of staffing firm HRU Technical Resources and blogger at The Tim Sackett Project. "It was a punch to the stomach, but it made me focus and change more than anything I ever had in a corporate setting." A manager often doesn't see how an employee works on all of his projects and how he interacts with different teams, so having employees fill in the gaps, especially around an employee's collaborative and interpersonal skills, gives a complete picture of employee performance. Ninety percent of HR professionals say peer feedback is more accurate than manager feedback, according to the Employee Recognition Survey by Globoforce and SHRM. While the annual performance review still exists, companies are gradually incorporating colleague feedback into employee evaluations. According to the Employee Recognition Survey by Globoforce and SHRM, 85 percent of companies are currently using or would consider using peer social recognition, and 78 percent say crowdsourced recognition would be helpful to integrate into formal performance reviews. Advice from Experts: 6 Tips for Crowdsourcing Reviews Integrating employee feedback into performance reviews isn’t as easy as sending out an email saying, "We want to hear from you." It requires a detailed strategy with the ability to respond effectively to employee feedback on the process itself. Here are some tips from experts about how to do it right. Outline the process. Joe Shaheen, managing principal of Human Alliance, a Washington, DC human resources consulting firm, suggests addressing these questions: "Who will be reviewing who?" and, "What type of feedback will employees be asked to give?" Clarity from the outset should be the priority. Identify characteristics of top performers. Is it more important for employees to hone their technical skills, be quick learners, excel under pressure or have collaborative spirit? Based on the priorities, encourage employees to frame feedback around what’s important, suggests Shaheen. Give continuous feedback. End-of-the-year reviews are helpful to show the progress of an employee and to provide a holistic picture, but it’s best to reward successes and address areas of improvement when it’s timely and relevant. Continuous feedback can come in many different forms, whether informal recognition/badging or as part of a more formal performance management process. Provide flexibility. Having structure and defining the purpose of peer-to-peer feedback is a must, but it won’t be successful without giving employees some freedom to provide feedback in a way that suits them, adds Shaheen. Make it a routine. Panay suggests building peer feedback into team meetings. For example, at the beginning of meetings LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner asks employees to share one personal victory and one professional achievement from the previous week. Starting meetings on a positive note and talking about the little things highlights the power of small wins, notes Panay. Keep managerial reviews. Crowdsourcing feedback is great for the many reasons already discussed, but it shouldn’t be the only source of performance evaluation. Think of peer-to-peer reviews as a supplement rather than a replacement, Mosley tells Inc. Employees want to provide feedback to their colleagues and their colleagues want to hear it. When the workplace revolves around the employee experience, integrating crowdsourced feedback into performance reviews can produce meaningful ways to motivate and engage employees in the long term.

Is Two Weeks’ Notice an Outdated Standard?
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Is Two Weeks’ Notice an Outdated Standard?

In high school, my friend and I strategized exactly when to quit our mall jobs in order to enjoy our summer break. We may have been entitled brats, but we knew that 14 days' notice was a standard courtesy—and it was unthinkable to leave our managers in the lurch. The professional workforce tends to mirror my teenage mindset, taking the standard two-week departure for granted. It's a mutually beneficial courtesy, the logic goes, in which employees provide notice (in order to receive positive recommendations) and employers have enough time to hire and train replacements. But there are rumblings that this tradition is eroding. Talk to anyone who has dealt with a departing employee and he or she will concur: When it comes to giving notice, the status quo may no longer be standard. Too Short for HR ... In positions requiring specialized skills, two weeks isn't nearly enough time to hire and train replacements. In fact, it takes employers today an average of 27.3 working days to fill vacant positions, a new high. According to the Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure, an index created by University of Chicago economist Steven Davis, jobs in the financial services sector take an average of 41 days to fill, while healthcare jobs averaged 41.9 days and government positions averaged 39.5. Even the interview process has been super-sized in recent years, growing by almost four days since 2009, according to Glassdoor. Plus, these figures don't account for the lag in time between when the job is filled and the candidate's official start date. ... and for Talented Candidates As a result, many companies now ask employees to stay for at least a month to make sure their replacements are fully trained and self-sufficient. And for the most part, employees are often happy to stay around, even if they have already found another position. The reason? Staying longer than 14 days can serve as a source of pride. It signals that employees are important and required, which in turn, elevates their status at both their current and upcoming place of employment. "It's a bragging right. My boss needs me," says one banker who asked to remain anonymous. For the most part, HR managers tend to be gracious about this added time. As an employer, they're generally pleased to know they're gaining valuable and in-demand talent. But Too Long for Time Wasters and Disgruntled Employees On the flip side, employers don't need someone to stick around to train a replacement when they're eliminating or transforming a job. "If you aren't utilizing the employee in a way that empowers them to pass on knowledge, you are basically doing nothing with the two weeks notice, therefore it is invalid by nature," says UC Davis Athletics' Troy Kirby, who has called the 14-day notice a "dead concept." Then there are the not-quite-so happy departures. Many employers, particularly in technology and finance, prefer that someone who quits leave immediately, lest he or she stick around to steal information or clients. Several ad agencies, for instance, typically prefer quitters to leave as soon as possible since the industry's revolving door means that person is more than likely heading to a competitor. A Conversation, Not a Calendar It's important to note that the intent behind the gesture is still expected. It may just be lip service, but every HR manager expects employees to at least offer to stay for a set amount of time before his or her goodbye party. "It really depends on the person and the role," says Scott Goodson, CEO of ad agency StrawberryFrog, who employs more than 200 staffers. He echoes the sentiment of most hiring managers when he says that each circumstance must be approached uniquely. In fact, this notion underscores the broader trend across the workplace wherein personalization has replaced standardization. The two-week notice may soon be going the way of the 9 to 5 schedule and beige cubicle. Photo: Shutterstock

For Millennials, It’s Purpose or Bust
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For Millennials, It’s Purpose or Bust

We all want fulfilling jobs, but Millennials take that need for purpose to a whole new level. The youngest generation in the current workforce, these 18-to-34-year-olds have a strong yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves. They seek a balanced life, and they’re on an endless search for happiness, Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University, writes in Forbes. Moore says that Millennials posses unique and seemingly contradictory priorities: altruism and self-interest. In other words, they want to do good, but they also want to know that their career trajectory is heading in the right direction. "[Millennials] are constantly questioning where they are going next and why," Moore says. "That is, which position they will hold next. If your organization can’t tell them that, they’ll seek out another firm that will." Millennials will make up half of the U.S. workforce by 2020, so employers can’t afford to ignore their demands. Moore offers several recommendations for employers to engage with and help retain Millennial talent. Onboarding matters Only 31 percent of recent graduates think that companies properly integrate new employees, Moore says. He blames poor communication. "Orientation provides a clear sense of the company’s purpose, mission, value and goals and where an individual fits in the grand scheme of things," he says. Work-life balance is essential The majority of Millennials are unwilling to make their work lives an exclusive priority, even with the promise of substantial compensation later on, according to research from PwC. Moore says that he’s seeing companies pick up on this trend. Consulting firms send traveling employees on shorter trips, for example. Deloitte supports a support group for young working fathers called "Deloitte Dads." Prioritize purpose "Many more of the undergrads and MBAs today are looking into working for NGOs, or at least for corporations which have serious Corporate Social Responsibility programs," Moore says. Millennials want to feel like their 9-to-5 has meaning, and while that idea is built in for employers like hospitals and schools, firms from banks to retailers will need to focus on their sense of purpose. As Millennials increasingly make their mark on the workplace, companies will need to fill their demands if they want a retention rate beyond 0-2 years. h/t: Forbes Photo: Can Stock

The Year in Leadership: 7 Teachable Moments
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The Year in Leadership: 7 Teachable Moments

From Chris Christie's George Washington Bridge trouble last winter to the bizarre saga of the recent Sony hacks, 2014 proved to be a roller-coaster ride for the HR and management spheres. In the spirit of reflection, we look back at a few standout moments in leadership — both good and bad — and the resolutions they might inspire in the new year. 1. Jill Abramson (New York Times): Keep it Positive When Abramson was fired from her post as executive editor at the New York Times in May, a media storm followed. But Abramson rose above the drama with class. In a commencement speech at Wake Forest University, she spoke fondly of her former employer, saying it was the "honor of my life" to serve at the Times. She was also frank and forthright: "You know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want? When that happens, show what you're made of." Which is exactly what she did. 2. Satya Nadella (Microsoft): Examine Your Own Biases Just nine months into his tenure as Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella stumbled on a topic that has tripped up many a tech executive: the gender pay gap in Silicon Valley. "It's not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise," Nadella advised the audience at an event celebrating women in tech in October. Criticized for ignoring real inequalities in the workplace, he later backtracked. But there’s an important lesson for leaders and managers here: Never assume your personal experience is universal. 3. Arthur T. Demoulas (Market Basket): Put Your Team First, Even in Tough Times Last summer, Tewksbury, Mass.-based Market Basket's employees staged a successful boycott to keep their beloved CEO, which pushed the company into the red. So it was a pleasant surprise when Demoulas recently announced that despite lean times, all employees would receive holiday bonuses. The takeaway: Always put your team first, even when business isn’t booming. It’s vital to give employees the validation that their work matters to the company’s overall success. 4. Tim Cook (Apple): Grand Gestures Matter In October, Apple's CEO famously wrote for Bloomberg, "I’m proud to be gay," becoming the first openly gay CEO on the Fortune 500 list. Cook’s sexual orientation was widely speculated (he'd appeared in Out magazine's "Power 50" list twice previously), so the statement didn't stand to affect the trajectory of his own career. But it had important implications for present and future LGBT leaders, and is a powerful instance of leading by example. 5. Max Schireson (MongoDB): There's Strength in Leaning Out In August, Schireson, the CEO of database vendor MongoDB, wrote a blog post entitled, "Why I am Leaving the Best Job I Ever Had." The father of three explained that he was stepping down voluntarily to focus on his family. "Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday?" he wrote, "Maybe. Life is about choices." Schireson's move sent a message that leadership doesn't always mean going full-throttle. 6. Emil Michael (Uber): Keep Your Critics Close Every company struggles with PR problems, but the way ride-sharing app Uber has dealt with criticism is a clear PR "don't." After a prominent tech journalist penned a particularly unflattering story about the company, Michael, a senior VP, was overheard suggesting "digging up dirt" on the reporter as revenge — a move that, predictably, backfired. The lesson? When you’re constantly scrutinized by the media, keep your fans close and your critics even closer. 7. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook): Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has dominated headlines for months and will certainly be one of the biggest stories of the year. So when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated $25 million in October to help fight the disease, people took notice. Two weeks later, Facebook added a donation button to news feeds, encouraging its 1.3 billion users to help stop the ravaging disease. Zuckerberg's move was a large-scale example of thinking beyond the bottom line and truly committing to company values.

What State Governments Can Learn from the Cornhusker State
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What State Governments Can Learn from the Cornhusker State

For state governments, striving to operate as "one employer" comes with a variety of challenges. To start, state agencies range in size, geographic spread and mission, and they tend to operate in isolation from one another. When it comes to managing, engaging and training state workers, frequently there are as many methods used as there are state agencies. With 17,000 employees across 80 divergent agencies, this story rings true for the State of Nebraska—and in 2010, the State set out to unify its workforce management efforts, turning to Cornerstone OnDemand’s integrated talent management solution to support its initiatives. We recently sat down with the team at the State to discuss their progress and explore the benefits realized since undertaking their transformation. When speaking to state governments across the country, I am regularly asked what states like Nebraska did to make their talent management efforts successful. What best practices should they take away from these successes when changing or reviving their own talent management projects? Several factors make Nebraska’s initiatives successful. Understand your talent The State of Nebraska’s talent team thought beyond individual agencies to understand the skills and abilities of its entire workforce – both what skills employees possessed, and where training was needed. Looking at the entire talent pool across 80 agencies helped the State to align and consolidate training, development and succession planning efforts statewide. As a result, the State was able to create consistent methods of employee evaluation, measurement and training – something that transcends agencies, administrations and changing elected leadership. Engage the workforce The State of Nebraska didn’t settle for the commonly held perception that state government jobs rarely provide exciting, upwardly mobile and career-building opportunities. Taking matters into their own hands, the talent management team challenged this assumption and demonstrated to employees that the state is committed to providing the tools and training to let employees grow and develop their skills, obtain increasing levels of responsibility, and pursue leadership positions. Involving employees in discussions around their development led to a more productive and engaged workforce committed to growing their careers with the State. Develop careers – beyond the agency Nebraska’s agencies were siloed and operated independent of other departments within the State, and as a result, their employees—especially in the smaller agencies—often embraced a limited perspective on their job opportunities, focusing only on the narrow career progression path within the confines of their current team. With its increased focus on the whole talent picture, Nebraska is leveraging its talent management programs to help its workforce embrace a different kind of path – one where employees can move across agencies as they build their careers, learn new skills and take on increasing leadership responsibilities. This approach helps motivate employees, improves retention and a commitment to a government career, and provides a vehicle for ensuring the right people with the right skills are in the right roles. Federal, state and local governments are well aware that they need to improve how they recruit, engage and retain employees. Like the State of Nebraska, governments that embrace creative ways to approach their workforce and talent management activities will see a transformation among employees that lets them not only meet the requirements of today, but also prepare to address the emerging needs for tomorrow.

Theory Into Practice:  Say "So Long" to Silos, Part 4
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Theory Into Practice: Say "So Long" to Silos, Part 4

In our previous installments of Say "So Long" to Silos (check them out here, here and here), we focused on talent management processes and real-world workforce situations. We looked at silos directly affecting the employee and those affecting the cost to fill positions. In this final part of the series, our focus is on how talent silos impact the successful execution of business strategy and ultimately, business outcomes. The highest level of maturity in Talent Management requires talent processes and the HR organization to be fully integrated with business, not only facilitating the execution of the business strategy, but driving it. Does This Sound Familiar? A Recruiting Fire Drill Let’s take a look at another fictitious company, TECH, a global technology company whose focus for the last year has been developing new products to replace other products entering the last stage of their lifecycle. TECH’s customers are very sophisticated with deep technical expertise. Therefore developing products requires that, upon release, customer support professionals have significant technical expertise on the product specs in order to provide the support customers expect. TECH’s manager of customer service, Barbara, gets pulled into a meeting and is told that she has to have support ready for a new product in four weeks. This product, called XC45 has been in development and testing for over a year. "No one could tell me three months ago that I needed to hire an extra 10 people!?" Now Barbara has to pull her most senior people off their current work and train them in record time. "I cannot backfill their positions and have the new personnel ready in two weeks." Barbara goes to her recruiter, Jason, who tells her that they may be able to get some temps to help. Jason thinks to himself, "If I would have known about this – I could have built a pipeline of external candidates and we could have brought them on in time to have them trained. I could have even built a talent pool of internal candidates that could have been developed to be ready. Now we are going to pay a premium for support resources and potentially impact our existing customers." Silos Lead to Poor Resource Planning Okay, so TECH may have to pay for external support resources. What else might result from this lack of resource planning? When a customer purchases the new product and has a question or an issue, or if customer support cannot provide the level of technical support customers require, the success of the product may be impacted. Word will go out within the tech industry that there are issues and maybe some customers will go to a competitor. In this particular industry, bad press can impact the company’s image for years to come. This silo is a fairly common one that has significant consequences beyond increased costs. Often, business units do not think about how staffing and planning for headcount (or lack thereof) will affect the successful execution of strategic plans. Without the resources to execute, the plan stops short. HR needs to be at the table to understand the business plans and help leaders understand the lead time for having resources ready to hit the ground running. Seeing the Interconnectivity Many of you are thinking: "Removing the silos from these business scenarios is way above my pay grade." Well – yes and no. One way individuals can overcome their tendencies toward silos it to use systems thinking. I think the best definition comes from Virginia Anderson and Lauren Johnson in their book Systems Thinking Basics, "a school of thought that focuses on recognizing the interconnections between the parts of a system and synthesizing them into a unified view of the whole." Some key points include: You do not "own" your area. Be open-minded about input from others regardless of your title or expertise. It just MIGHT be your job. Don’t be a slave to your job description. You actions and decisions impact others and ultimately you share accountability for performance of the organization. Knowledge TRANSFER is power. You might actually achieve the influence and status you want by becoming a source of useful information. Help others become better and you will be better. Keep others regularly informed and frequently share your ideas. Moving Theory into Practice If you are in a position to tackle broader issues within your organization here are some tips for helping break down silos: Enable and encourage broader and more diverse input into the decision-making process. Innovation comes from unexpected parts of the organization and through the cross-pollination of ideas from different areas (read, The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation by Frans Johansson.) Effectively implementing the first tip can result in meeting hell in some cases. Too much input and/or the ineffective management of the meetings can make them an incredible time drain. Use effective meeting management techniques (agendas, facilitators, etc.) to avoid the possible negative repercussions that can result from expanding meeting participants. Silos are formed when we get caught up in the day-to-day work of our area and our perspective narrows to just what is in front of us. By stepping back and looking across the system or organization, our perspective changes drastically. If your organization does not have clear strategic goals – then get some (that is a whole other subject.) If your organization has them, you already have the one tool that can break down silos. With clear strategy, silos have a common language around which to collaborate and collaboration IS the remedy.

Not Too Easy, Not Too Hard: It's Goldilocks Goals
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Not Too Easy, Not Too Hard: It's Goldilocks Goals

When it comes time to set goals, be clear on what constitutes ’just right’ for you. It’s good to be stretched (yoga-style), but not so stretched that everything snaps. A crazy workload will mess with both your work and personal life, so you need to be realistic about what’s achievable. Stretch Goals are Great (For Gymnasts) You do need to make sure you set some goals that ar e challenging and stimulating; you shouldn’t be lumbering through the work day like a zoned-out zombie. But if every goal is so challenging you have no hope of achieving it (for whatever reason - skill level; time constraints; the irrational desire to eat, sleep or see your kids...) well, that’s just silly. But We're Encouraged to Stretch Goals By definition, stretch goals are out of reach: difficult (impossible if you’re really unlucky) to achieve even if you work really hard towards them. Missing stretch goal after stretch goal is a fairly major demotivational downer for anyone who doesn’t thrive on failure, so it’s a good idea to make sure you only have one or two on the go at a time. Enough to keep you on your toes, but not enough to sap your will to live. A Managerial Aside The best managers know how far to push people to get the necessary results: what their strengths and weaknesses are; what will engage and challenge them; what they’ll enjoy. You need to meet with your team frequently to review progress and make sure that most of their goals are still sitting in their ’just right’ place (if not, adjust accordingly - maybe add more salt or another cushion). A little positive reinforcement when they achieve targets never hurts from a motivational point of view. Most people will tell you to make goals SMART. At the very least, make sure: You know what you want to do You know how to do it You’re capable of doing it (really - don’t kid yourself ) & You’re enthusiastic about it getting it done Or you could give VAGUE goals a shot. We’ll clue you in on those another time.

How Free Time Can Affect Your Management Style
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How Free Time Can Affect Your Management Style

It seems like every week there's a new article professing the "8 Things Successful People Do" or "What Successful People Accomplish Every Monday." But how much do your choices about leisure time affect your management style while on the clock? According to Kurt Motamedi, professor at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management, a manager’s attitude and personality — both of which are closely tied to hobbies and other choices — are important and can wield a high level of influence on workplace behavior. As part of his research, Motamedi has defined seven neurotic styles of management, all of which reflect the manager's personality, which "plays a significant role in management style and productivity," Motamedi says. Aside from obvious external factors that can affect a manager’s ability to lead, such as relocating, having a baby or coping with illness, we looked into how an individual’s hobbies can affect their personality and leadership skills. Competitive Sports From participating in occasional after-work basketball games to training for triathlons, athletes (even hobbyists) are known for being active, motivated and healthy. However, according to a study from Stockholm University in Sweden, perfectionism is also a characteristic found in many athletes that can produce good and bad results in their work and personal lives. The study found that athletes with high self-esteem had more positive patterns of perfectionism than athletes with low self-esteem who were prone to anxiety. Competitiveness, another common attribute of athletes, can also be problematic when self-esteem is low. One study found that knowledge sharing in the workplace was less common when individuals exhibited low self-efficacy and competitiveness, often claiming they were ’"too busy" to share knowledge with colleagues. Family and Friends Managers that lead the most productive teams often have strong support and honest feedback from family and friends, Motamedi says. Research from San Diego State University found that support from family and friends helped to provide a buffer from the stress of strained social and workplace interactions. However, research from Michigan State University found that heavy workload environments can cause family conflict and therefore create higher levels of fatigue for employees while at the office. Watching Television? Leisure activity such as watching television, reading a good book and listening to music can all have restorative effects on employees. A study from Oxford Brookes University found that leisure activities can be a significant source of positive moods for individuals. Managers who put time aside for leisure activities can reap the benefits of returning to work more relaxed. However, too much of an activity like television watching can also affect a manager’s wellbeing in a negative way. A study on the effect of watching television soap operas found that heavy viewers are more likely to be impressionable to television messaging, often suffering from distrust and relationship conflicts. Volunteering and Charity While volunteering for community causes can take energy and even time away from work, the positive impact that it has on employee morale and productivity is worth it. Individuals who spend their free time volunteering and donating to charity reap the reward of having given back to their community, but doing so can also increase overall happiness in their daily life. According to a study from UnitedHealth Group, 78 percent of people who volunteered in the last year reported lower stress levels and 76 percent said that volunteering made them feel healthier. What hobbies or activities do you participate in that influences your work life for the better? Photo: Can Stock

In Healthcare, a Happy Staff Makes for Healthy Patients
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In Healthcare, a Happy Staff Makes for Healthy Patients

Healthcare professionals know a slew of factors go into keeping patients healthy, safe and satisfied with the care they’re receiving. But while adopting state-of-the-art technology, recruiting top specialists and creating preventative health programs tend to get the spotlight, there’s an often-overlooked variable with wide-reaching consequences: employee engagement. Employee Happiness Matters Strong employee engagement has been linked with significant improvements in patient care and satisfaction. For instance, higher nurse engagement scores lead to lower patient mortality and complications, according to a recent Gallup study. Higher nurse satisfaction resulted in an 87 percent decrease in infection rate over two years, according to data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI). What’s more, Gallup also found that hospitals employing the least engaged nurses spend $1.1 million more per year in malpractice claims than those with the most engaged nurses. Just like employees at any company, healthcare providers will do better work — and provide better care — if they are happier and invested in their jobs. The State of Engagement Today If employee engagement is so crucial to providing high-quality patient care, what are healthcare providers actually doing about it? According to a 2014 Cornerstone OnDemand study that surveyed HR professionals at healthcare organizations, nearly half of respondents said their organizations do measure whether or not employees are engaged — and to what extent. But nearly half of respondents also indicated that their employees were not fully engaged, and a quarter of respondents said they don't measure engagement at all. The low engagement levels, survey respondents said, were primarily due to industry changes (such as the burden of transitioning from paper to electronic medical records), high rates of employee turnover and mandates to manage hospital surveys and adopt ICD-10, a new coding system for diagnosing various diseases. While healthcare organizations are aware of the problem and (some) even believe they’re prepared to address the downsides of low engagement, there is still a long way to go to achieve higher engagement rates that translate into better patient care. Only a third of organizations surveyed had an HR plan in place to drive engagement, but these initiatives become sidetracked by everyday concerns like patient emergencies and transitioning to new systems and software. 6 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement It’s clear that healthcare organizations need to address employee satisfaction and its consequences. But where to start? These six strategies can help: 1. Use succession planning to create career paths. Succession planning is not only important for the long-term success of an organization, but it also improves overall job satisfaction. This is especially true in healthcare, where the exodus of Baby Boomers and an acute nursing shortage has underscored the need for strong employee retention. Having a comprehensive strategy for building a strong leadership pipeline is directly tied to improved employee satisfaction, engagement and commitment, according to a 2012 study from Walden University. For example, a New Jersey healthcare system that implemented a succession plan for employees boosted engagement and retention, and eventually earned HR Solutions International's top rank for engagement, patient care and overall job satisfaction. 2. Recognize your strongest players. In healthcare, it’s crucial for nurses and other on-the-floor care providers to feel acknowledged and appreciated. So be sure to recognize nurses and other staff for good work. One caveat: a culture of recognition does require better performance management processes, so make sure feedback sessions and reviews happen more than once a year. 3. Prioritize learning and development. Employees who have access to "meaningful learning and development opportunities" are typically very engaged, according to the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration. Additionally, research has found that solid development opportunities can lower employee turnover and bring in up to twice the revenue per worker. 4. Deliver feedback that integrates learning opportunities early and often. Building a highly engaged workforce means delivering more frequent, actionable feedback that's tied to actionable learning opportunities. It's also important to deliver feedback early in an employee's tenure. Connecting performance management and learning opportunities keeps employees prepared with the latest skills needed to provide the best care to patients. 5. Start engagement activities early. An employee’s first day is likely to be his or her most engaged day on the job, according to Katherine Jones, vice president of HCM Technology Research at Bersin by Deloitte. Have your new hires hit the ground running by networking early with coworkers to drive home your organization's high expectations for ongoing engagement. It's also important to make new hires feel welcome in their new community. A Washington, D.C. hospital saw a significant drop in attrition when it sent new nurses a welcome card introducing them to the team before their first day. 6. Align employee goals with organizational goals. Healthcare workers generally enter the field because they have a strong passion for helping others. Communicate your organization's mission clearly and consistently so employees have a strong reference from which to set personal goals. Set your employees up for achieving these goals by providing the necessary resources, whether it's a mentorship program or training sessions for specific skills. Connecting employees' personal passion for their work with the organization’s goals leads to stronger employee loyalty and better performance. Photo: Shutterstock

In the News: How Tech Can Keep Portland Weird — And Employed
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In the News: How Tech Can Keep Portland Weird — And Employed

Portland has a problem. And, in many ways, it's not a bad one. According to New York Times Magazine, the Pacific Coast city has attracted — and retained — college-educated young people at the second highest rate in the nation. So now what? While a number of recent college grads relocate to cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York for the bustling economies and job opportunities, another group of Millennials is moving to Portland to, well, move to Portland. Though the area is home to some outdoor sports apparel businesses such as Nike and Columbia Sportswear, Portland isn't really a destination for the burgeoning tech industry that most Millennials want to get a piece of. The fact remains, though, that a number of these young Portlandians are without jobs. The good news: the tech industry is providing ways for college-educated workers to have their cake and eat it, too. Companies that are open to the possibility of a remote workforce will be able to cast a much wider net when recruiting talent. Most Millennials cite workplace flexibility as a top priority at their current (or prospective) place of employment. Flexibility can be defined in many different ways, but for swarms of educated young people who want a big city job with a smaller city life, remote work is where it's at. And, it seems, where it's really at is in Portland. Read more about Portland's growth among the young and educated here.

5 Steps for HR Pros to Become Business Leaders
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5 Steps for HR Pros to Become Business Leaders

Strategic human resources. An oxymoron perhaps? What does "strategic HR" really mean? If you talk to HR professionals about business strategy, you may hear things like "having a seat at the table," "being a trusted advisor" or "being included in key business initiatives." But HR pros can play more than just an advisory role — they should be business leaders. What other overhead department has such a significant opportunity to drive business results by creating a framework for a high performing workforce? Follow my logic: Nothing is accomplished in business without active performance of the workforce. A highly skilled and focused workforce can have a significant impact on the success of the organization, but the work performed and skills exercises must be directly aligned to the business strategy and objectives, otherwise time and money are wasted. In order to ensure an aligned workforce, there needs to be an infrastructure that coordinates human behavior with the company mission. HR has the opportunity to develop this infrastructure and create an aligned workforce. That's not just grabbing a seat at the table; it's impacting the bottom line. Here are five steps for HR leaders to make the move from an overhead department to a strategic leadership department. Study Your Organization Read your annual report carefully. Review every financial report you can get your hands on, both at the organizational and departmental level. Brainstorm with your HR team, particularly those embedded in operations, and look for cases of human behavior obstructing business success. For example, let's say you review the financials for one of your struggling business units that is losing market share to a competitor. Your HR team comes together to discuss the business unit: Recruiting reports they have had to fill the same manager position three times in the past 18 months. Compensation says the director insists on paying below market. The employee satisfaction scores indicate unrest in the workforce and explain the low retention rate. Frame the Business Opportunity After identifying a problem, look for the opportunity. In our example case, the opportunity is to help the business unit leader improve market share. Once you have identified an opportunity, outline the precise human behavior issues that you see as obstacles to achieving this goal. For instance, point to the low employee engagement levels in the department and the sources — bad leadership and below market rate payment. Make Your Case Next, provide business leaders with actionable steps to take to address these obstacles, and explain how your proposal, if implemented, will make a significant positive contribution to revenue, income, market share or expense. For example, explain how increasing employee satisfaction can subsequently increase productivity. To increase satisfaction, you need to re-evaluate your compensation strategy, and pay above market rate for top talent. Make sure you clearly detail the commitment needed for your proposal to achieve the desired result. Go for It After you receive commitment, implement carefully. Provide regular progress reports, and let those who made the commitment know when commitments are not honored. In our sample case, you should work closely with the struggling director on compensation strategy. Discuss the current pay strategy and offer a new approach, based on employee feedback and performance. It is critical to involve key stakeholders in your process. Without regular updates and check-ins, your proposal may fail. Shift the Paradigm After the project is completed, you have a powerful opportunity to demonstrate what "strategic HR" can be — a powerful resource to drive business results. Let's say you implement the new compensation strategy. Continue following up on the impact of the new strategy, and present leadership with concrete results, such as increased productivity and rising market share. Analytics and data-driven reports focused on business results — revenue, income, market share or expenses — demonstrate your ability to impact the bottom line. By shifting the focus of HR from a reactive to a proactive department, you will not only drive organizational success, but also transform the reputation of strategic HR. Photo: Shutterstock

Quiet, Yes, But Introverts Can Be Your Best Performers
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Quiet, Yes, But Introverts Can Be Your Best Performers

Introverts are a misunderstood bunch. They're often seen as standoffish, shy or lacking ideas, and can have trouble fitting into today's bustling and open workplaces. But just because they're not calling out ideas or showing up at happy hour after work doesn't mean they're not valuable team players or future business leaders. Consider this: the best-known introvert today is President Barack Obama. He can deliver a phenomenal speech so long as it's been prepared in advance. But off-the-cuff responses? Not so good. What’s more, Jennifer Kahnweiler, an executive coach and author estimates that 40% of today's business executives are introverted. "Extroverts are more likely to connect with people and get their energy from being around people," said Meredith Persily Lamel, an executive in residence at American University's Kogod School of Business. "Obama needs his alone time and family time." At face value, extroverts might seem like the more obvious choice when it comes to hiring, but introverts outshine their more gregarious peers in many aspects. "When they do talk, their thoughts tend to be better formulated," Lamel said. "Extroverts put their foot in their mouth more. Extroverts may tend to think better on their feet, but are more likely to say something they'd regret." So what are the key characteristics of introverts, and how can their strengths be allowed to shine through the hubbub created by their more extroverted counterparts? Lamel gave a few tips for managing the office introvert: Be Comfortable with Silence Just because they're not the first to speak, doesn't mean the ideas aren't churning around in their brains. They're also not likely to speak over extroverts who are more comfortable with a dynamic, free-wheeling conversation where people talk over and interrupt each other. According to Lamel, it's important for managers to moderate the conversation so that introverts are given the chance to speak up and contribute their thoughts. Encourage them to share their thoughts, positively reinforce their contribution and let them have the last word on occasion. Give Them Space "Solitude matters, and for some people, it is the air that they breathe," said Susan Cain, the author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking" in her TED talk, "The Power of Introverts," which has been viewed more than four million times. "We have known for centuries about the transcendent power of solitude. It's only recently that we've strangely begun to forget it," she said. Both mentally and physically, introverts need more space to reflect on their thoughts and prepare for social situations. More independent work and a less social workspace are ideal. "Are you energized by a room full of people, or does that exhaust you?" Lamel asked. "When feeling a lack of energy, do you spend time by yourself to recuperate or surround yourself with external stimuli? Introverts need to mentally prepare for things a bit more." Clarify Roles and Expectations Because introverts are often tentative to overstep their bounds, they may not show the same type of public initiative as extroverts. Setting clear roles and expectations and providing more structured meeting environments allow introverts to step up and take the reins on their own terms. "The more freedom we give introverts to be themselves, the more likely they are to come up with their own unique solutions," Cain said. Photo credit: Can Stock

5 Management Lessons You Won’t Learn Online
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5 Management Lessons You Won’t Learn Online

A version of this post originally appeared on Fistful of Talent. For HR professionals interested in improving our organizations and our abilities to find, attract, recruit, develop and retain great talent, there is no shortage of freely available resources: HR/Talent blogs, HR and workplace podcasts, webinars, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter chats, white papers — the list goes on and on. But while many of these resources offer great insight, advice, tips and tools, it's hard to sort out the truly valuable from the obvious. Sometimes, I think we spend too much time searching for answers instead of paying attention to our own experiences and the people we have encountered along the way. The truth is, anyone can learn much of what they need to know about becoming a better manager by reflecting on their own careers. Here are the top 5 lessons I've learned throughout my life about good management – from real, live, actual managers: 1) Trust: Age Sometimes is Just a Number My first job was working retail at the mall with my high school buddy. We were about 17 — and due to a combination of decent upbringings and a low bar to climb over, were the most trustworthy employees out of a shaky lot. Once the store manager determined we were reliable, she slowly began to give us more and more responsibilities at the store. We went from stockroom to customer service at the front of the store to inventory management and ordering, and eventually even to scheduling and payroll. It didn’t matter to her that we were just high school kids, or that we had not worked there (or anywhere) for very long. She let performance determine trust — and from there came more responsibility and opportunity. 2) Calm: Don't Cry Over Spilled OJ A few years later, I had a summer job at a massive grocery distribution center. One evening, a forklift driver was attempting to move several large pallets of orange juice from an extremely high shelf when — suddenly — crash! The pallets gave way and, in an instant, there were hundreds of gallons of orange juice everywhere and the forklift driver was stunned on the ground, knocked out of his seat from the force of the impact. Of course, my fellow employees and I began to freak out – no one knew what to do first. Then the shift manager arrived, and almost like a movie (if movies were made about night-shift warehouse workers), issued a series of calm directions: deal with the injured man first, then address the potential danger of additional pallets crashing, focus on clean-up third, and finally get everyone not needed at the scene back to work. Everyone played off his controlled attitude and within minutes, order was restored. 3) Perspective: Take One Step at a Time My first "real" job after graduating was in a staff accounting and finance group for a huge corporation – The kind of place full of smart and nice people, but also the kind of place where a dense and determined bureaucracy had developed over many years. Young and arrogant, I was full of ideas about how we should change everything. My manager humored me, while making sure I understood some important (and not covered in the official onboarding process) elements of the culture. He taught me the value of seeing the bigger picture, thinking about the one or two areas to try and effect change and then driving hard in these areas. The company was a massive ship – no 22 year-old was going to step in and turn it around! But a 22 year-old could have an impact if he played it smart, and my manager taught me that crucial lesson. 4) Respect: You Don't Know It All The one thing that I found most important the first time I had to manage another person was patience. It can be really tempting to hit your first managerial role with the mindset of, "I know it all, and if the team just does ’it’ the way I would, we'll all be fine." Trying to tell folks not only what to do, but how to do it, is the fastest path toward tension, disengagement and even rebellion. I learned this when a long-time (and very good) employee I was managing pulled me aside. In no uncertain terms, he informed me that the team did, in fact, know what they were doing, and that I, in fact, had about 20 fewer years of experience on the subject matter than they did. 5) Compassion: Your People Are People First We have all encountered personal problems – from an illness or a death in the family, to problems with kids’ or parents' care-taking, to a bad breakup. In two different situations, the "best" managers I ever had stood up as caring, decent and compassionate people. They never brought up things like "bereavement leave" or asked about where a particular piece of work stood. They demonstrated the kind of concern and empathy you’d want from someone who cares about your welfare. And in both cases, once the "crises" were over, I knew I would do just about anything to help both of them going forward. What examples of great managers do you have from your career? Photo: Shutterstock

HR Analytics Is About Asking the Right Questions
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HR Analytics Is About Asking the Right Questions

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the world's greatest computer was asked for an answer to the ultimate question of "Life, the universe and everything." After millions of years of number crunching, the computer majestically proclaimed the answer to be... 42. It was not the edifying conclusion the audience had been waiting millennia for, but, as the great computer pointed out, that was because they had asked the wrong question: "Life, the Universe and Everything" just wasn't specific enough. It's a fitting lesson for HR people beginning their workforce analytics journey: ask the right questions. The accuracy of the data, the quality of the analytics, the figures you come up with — everything is irrelevant if you're not asking the right questions. Think About the Bigger Picture One of the problems with the type of questions HR professionals typically ask is the narrow focus — the question will address an HR concern, without considering how it impacts the business as a whole. So, while it may be useful to keep an eye on absence, diversity or engagement metrics, this transactional information will likely not get your CEO's pulse racing. What executives want to know is how these metrics affect productivity or profitability; they want to know whether there are particular areas of the business where these rates are higher, and why. Above all, they want information and insight into what changes they need to make to change future outcomes, not data about what happened in the past. But Get Specific While you need the put your questions in the context of larger business goals, you also need to be detailed about the question itself. If your analytics questions are as vague as "Life, the universe and everything," then the answers will be vague too. It will simply be a fishing trip – you might be lucky and catch something tasty or you might come up with nothing. So what is the right question? Clearly, that will vary between companies, but the key is for the question to be plugged directly into the matrix of the business. HR can't work in a vacuum, it needs to understand where the business pain points are, to appreciate both the outside market pressures and the inside forces impacting its line managers and leaders. HR is not short on data — though some areas may fall short on quality — so, you should be able to dig up some interesting revelations with this sweeping approach. Make a Group Effort HR doesn't need to work alone on developing the right questions. By working directly with other business leaders, you can work out the answers together in order to make a real difference in business performance. For example, if you have an issue with high staff turnover, then look beyond the figures to find out why people are leaving. Is there a particular division or location where churn rates are higher? Can you talk to those managers? Or perhaps churn rates are higher among women than men? Look through the exit interview data, and take stock of the gender ratio in management. Is there a high churn rate in an area of business that requires highly prized, in-depth knowledge of the business? It's possible that the people in this department don't understand how much they are valued at the company. Asking the right question is a great start on the quest for business insight. But whatever the outcome of the analysis, it's also vital that HR maintains and presents the information in a business-friendly and business-relevant manner. Photo: Creative Commons

Today’s Choice in Talent Management: HR Generalist or HR Specialist?
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Today’s Choice in Talent Management: HR Generalist or HR Specialist?

It wasn’t that long ago, perhaps just a couple of years back, that the talent management software buyer was buried under an avalanche of choice. There were dozens of vendors to choose from – small and big companies offering bits and pieces of technology to drive learning management, performance management, recruiting and more. Remember these companies? No single company effectively offered the full TM suite, but because these vendors were largely independent and laser-focused on their niche, product innovation was possible and client responsiveness was high. Back to the Future – The Market Has Completely Changed Flash forward to 2013 and the market for talent management software has fundamentally changed. After an intense wave of mergers and acquisitions, the buyer’s choice is radically different. The way we see it, the choice is actually rather stark: HR generalist or HR specialist. You choose. Let’s define our terms: An HR Generalist is a jack of all trades, master of none. Their core areas of business are ERP, payroll and HRIS, and if they offer talent management, it’s often as an add-on or an acquired business, not as an organically grown solution. For the generalist, talent management software is usually an afterthought, and often bounty from their latest merger, an inherited tool the generalist doesn’t know how to develop or manage. An HR Specialist focuses on one thing and one thing only: developing talent management software and services that help clients source, develop, and engage their workforces. Talent management is all that the specialist does, so you can imagine that rates of product innovation and client responsiveness are higher than for the pulled-in-many-directions generalist. A Clear Choice When considering an investment in talent management software, the buyer hopefully expects to realize real benefits in terms of workforce engagement, productivity and compliance. In other words, not just a checked box on a long menu of ERP items. The differences between the HR generalist and the HR specialist are not only unambiguous, they are also important. There are at least four critical distinctions: 1. Client Service & Support The HR generalist has a lot to support: different product lines, newly acquired products, merged companies, legacy software from a bygone era and a range of delivery models. If the client needs support on their performance management process and recruiting tools, they might need to call into multiple different call centers. Sounds daunting. The talent management specialist, on the other hand, provides an integrated suite, ideally developed organically and under one roof. The client is supported by a single client success manager and a single point of contact for any product questions across the suite. One call, one vendor, one product, one client success model. 2. The Promise of the Cloud The HR generalist typically tucks their talent management products in under the umbrella of a much bigger, more complex network of products and, importantly, delivery models. They might offer a legacy behind-the-firewall version of one product and a hosted version of another and maybe a software-as-a-service version of yet another. This is not only confusing, it completely goes against the very benefits of the pure Cloud or SaaS model. The HR specialist, on the other hand, knows that the Cloud is not only the future of enterprise software, it’s also the present. Pure SaaS is a complete business model; it's more than just a check box on an RFP. Cornerstone has evangelized the Cloud model for more than a decade and we contend that the benefits include: client-vendor partnership, greater scalability, iron-clad data security, easy configuration, more control, faster and better product innovation and much more. 3. Product Innovation & Upgrades The generalist ERP vendor must focus on integration of acquired bits and pieces; as well as integration of different product lines and delivery models from yore. Also, beware getting stuck on the generalists upgrade paths – which might be very different for payroll or HRIS than they are for talent management. The talent management specialist, on the other hand, has none of these worries. Instead, the specialist can focus on rapid product development and deploying innovative new features. And every single client is always on the exact same version – that is, the most up-to-date version! And product upgrades are more frequent and totally seamless for the Cloud-based specialist. Cornerstone releases new, opt-in product functionality on a quarterly basis. We believe that keeping up with the breakneck pace of information and technology in the wider world means being agile in our product development. 4. User Experience & Adoption One further issue facing the HR generalist is that products tend to come in a jumble of different user interfaces. When your LMS and your recruiting system and your succession planning tool all come from different merged companies (remember our list of old logos above?), the inevitable differences in user experience can befuddle end users and drive up support and training costs. Also, is this the right way to encourage widespread, weekly use of the talent management suite? The HR specialist, on the other hand, delivers a single product suite across all areas of talent management in the same user interface with the same user experience and the same password for employees, managers and administrators alike. That’s a big deal – if it’s easy and engaging, user adoption rates will go through the roof. That’s our take on the critical questions buyers should be considering as they evaluate the market for talent management solutions. After all, it’s a market that has changed dramatically in the course of only a few years. From an ocean of choice and smaller vendors, we’ve moved to a clear decision between the HR generalist and the HR specialist. After all, you wouldn’t expect your family practitioner to perform neurosurgery or a fast food cook to create a sushi masterpiece, so why leave your talent management to a generalist?

Helping Employees Find a Productive State of Mind
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Helping Employees Find a Productive State of Mind

Self-control drives workers to file that report, make a sales call or finish the meeting agenda, yet managers largely fail to consider its impact on worker productivity. They fret about meeting performance goals or building a product, but they ignore the motivating factors that individual employees need to deliver results. "In our own lives self-control is a big problem — yet it is largely absent from high-level discussions about worker productivity," Sendhil Mullainathan, a professor of economics at Harvard, writes in the New York Times. In a recent study, Mullainathan and his colleagues set out to understand workers’ self-control on the job. They studied data entry workers in India. These employees were already well motivated in their jobs: they received 2 rupees for every 100 fields of data they entered. The researchers gave the workers the option to set a target for their work. If they entered 5,000 data fields, they would maintain the same pay rate, but if they failed to meet the goal, their pay rate would be halved to 1 rupee per 100 fields. Surprisingly many employees chose the target, saying it helped them stay productive. The option didn’t offer a better pay rate — in fact it made it possible for them to earn less, if they didn’t meet the target — but it helped them work harder, thus earning more. Mullainathan suggests that these workers craved a self-control mechanism to keep them productive. They’re looking at productivity as a state of mind, he says. A Call for New Measurement While data entry is a relatively easy task to measure, productivity in the knowledge economy generally lacks concrete metrics. For example, does extra time on a customer service call mean that an employee is being less productive? Or is she adding value by building stronger relationships with customers? A worker who responds to hundreds of emails all day long might feel productive, but the value of that work likely is less impactful than actually doing research or writing a report, for instance. "In general, organizations have not truly come to grips with how to think about productivity in a knowledge economy, let alone how best to manage it," Jordan Cohen, a productivity expert with PA Consulting Group, tells Knowledge at Wharton. Managers don’t think twice about interrupting employees for an urgent request or to call an impromptu meeting, yet we know the growing amount of workplace disruptions adversely affects workplace productivity. In a study published in the Journal of Stress Management, employees who experienced frequent interruptions reported 9 percent higher rates of exhaustion; and it takes more than 25 minutes, on average, to resume a task after being interrupted, the Wall Street Journal reports. If managers think deeply about what individual productivity means, and how their actions play a role in it, they'll likely make decisions that won't set employees back. "How a company defines productivity will determine what infrastructure they build to measure and manage it," Cohen says. "If they don’t really question the traditional assumptions around productivity, they end up with an industrial-era notion — simply that ’more output with less input’ is better." In other words, managers today need more subjective criteria for determining productivity. For lawyers, that might mean tracking how often others cite their briefs. For engineers, it’s not how many lines of code they produce, but the quality of the solution that the code creates. Once managers understand establish a semblance of measurement behind productivity, they’ll be better equipped to help those employees feel a sense of self-control. h/t: New York Times

Secret’s Safe With Me — Or is It? Workplace Privacy in the Internet Age
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Secret’s Safe With Me — Or is It? Workplace Privacy in the Internet Age

Human Resource professionals believe in privacy. We don't share salaries or performance ratings (unless it’s part of our company policy to do so). When someone comes to complain about a perceived injustice, we conduct our investigations with the utmost care. When we coach a manager on how to handle a difficult employee, we do so behind closed doors so that only those that truly need to know, know. Privacy is a hallmark of good HR. In an effort to be efficient, though, we've made everything electronic. Yes, this is convenient and makes it possible to review everything from an employee's pay history to their performance reviews with one click or toggle. However, it also means that employee privacy has become a lot harder. In the old days, we did paper — and lots of it. Violating employee privacy was possible in only a few ways — if we left something at the copier, or accidentally set a file down in the office kitchen, for example. Now? Well, take the case of a poor former co-worker who accidentally sent a detailed rejection email to everyone in the building rather than just to the internal candidate. For hours, people were hitting reply-all saying, "Why am I getting this?" and then those responses started to morph into, "For all this embarrassment, you should just give the guy the job anyway." The problem with this type of privacy breach is that no policy could stop it. The recruiter made a mistake. Email makes the exchange of information easy, but it also makes quick, inappropriate distribution easy, as well. Privacy problems aren't limited to HR departments either. It's so easy to share information with the world today. What’s more, this sharing of information is a huge part of our current culture. Often people don't think twice before posting to Twitter. Take for instance the hospital employee who tweeted the name of a celebrity couple's new baby — before the couple had announced it. While most HR privacy issues are covered by custom and ethics alone, releasing patient information falls under federal law. The reality is, you need policies and procedures in place for all of your company data and employee social media behavior. The National Labor Relations Board isn't making social media policies easy, though. In a recent case, the NLRB held that a social media policy which prohibited blogging or sharing "confidential or proprietary information about the Company, or ... inappropriate discussions about the company, management, and/or co-workers" in social media was invalid because that implies that employees couldn't engage in protected activity, such as discussing wages or working conditions. See how complicated it can be to comply with the law when we're talking about keeping company information private? Remember to differentiate between company secrets, such as marketing plans and "secrets" like how much money people make and what they think of their bosses. Additionally, don't think that just because the NLRB was originally founded to deal with unions that it doesn't apply to your non-union company. They have jurisdiction over just about everyone — your business included. The biggest mistake a company can make when it comes to privacy issues in the Internet age is to ignore it until something bad happens. Legal hassles can be a nightmare, but a public relations disaster can be worse. For instance, employees at a car dealership in Westport Massachusetts treated a pizza delivery person horribly, thought it was hilarious, and posted the security camera video on YouTube. The rest of the Internet did not find it funny, however, and came out strongly against the company. I doubt anyone ever thought to prohibit posting security camera footage on the Internet — but the backlash can be severe. You need a good policy. You need to be extra aware of security controls on your internal data. Otherwise, you can have angry employees, an embarrassed company, or lawyers knocking at your door.

Distracted Managers Hurt Employees — and the Bottom Line
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Distracted Managers Hurt Employees — and the Bottom Line

Office distractions are hardly new, but they’re more ubiquitous in this age of information and technology overload. Between checking Facebook, sending a text and overhearing conversations in an open office, sometimes it’s a wonder employees accomplish any work at all. And bosses are no exception. When they’re flitting between screens and tasks, they neglect employees and big-picture business goals. Social media distractions alone cost American businesses $650 billion annually in lost productivity and employee stress, according to research from Learn Stuff. Factor in email—the average CEO receives 200 to 300 emails per day—and top-level executives are swimming in a sea of distractions that they can’t afford to pursue. "Senior executives so badly need uninterrupted time to synthesize information from many different sources, reflect on its implications for the organization, apply judgment, make trade-offs, and arrive at good decisions," McKinsey’s Derek Dean and Caroline Webb write. The focus problem Devices are wired to grab our attention and keep it, Claire Steiner-Adair, a clinical and consulting psychologist, tells NPR. "When you are plugged into your screen, the part of your brain that lights up is the to-do list," she says. "Everything feels urgent; everything feels a little exciting. We get a little dopamine hit when we accomplish another email, check this, check that." And while checking off tasks in rapid succession might give leaders a surge of satisfaction, it detracts from the deep focus that’s crucial for strategically guiding a business and its employees. "The best way to understand your competition, learn from your employees, chart a long-term strategy, or innovate is to have the mental discipline to home in on what really matters to your business," says Brian Dumaine, a freelance writer for Inc., citing research from Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. "Only by intensely concentrating can you link new ideas and facts ... Juggling digital tasks certainly doesn't help with that process." The constant use of e-mail and other social media, a phenomenon researchers call "unchecked infomania," led to a temporary 10-point drop in the IQ of participants in a study at King’s College Institute of Psychiatry in London. That reduction is twice as much as the effects shown in people who smoke marijuana. When managers are distracted, the effects trickle down to other employees. "When your Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT), a.k.a. bad or childish boss, has the attention span of a fly, you endure unnecessary stress, and decreased productivity — not helping you, your boss, or the company," Lynn Taylor writes in Psychology Today. The focus movement While it seems like distractions will only be more common as new technologies and information channels proliferate, some leaders are pushing their companies to regain focus. At Google, more than 1,500 employees have taken the company’s multi-hour "Search Inside Yourself" course. Employees spend their first day of class practicing better focus. In another part of the curriculum, employees listen to a colleague speak for three minutes and repeat what the speaker said. SAP adopted Google’s program, which it calls "attention training." EBay maintains a no-device policy during some team meetings, according to the Wall Street Journal. And at Intel, managers allow employees to block out four hours of "think time," during which they’re not expected to respond to emails or attend meetings. As infomania continues to afflict employees at all levels, managers have the opportunity to set a good example and promote focus among their peers. How do you and your colleagues manage distractions at work? I can tell you for certain that my manager has never been distracted at work.

Onboarding: The Critical First Step to Employee Engagement
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Onboarding: The Critical First Step to Employee Engagement

It hasn’t been all that long since the termonboarding appeared on the talent management horizon. After all, the original, traditional "onboarding" concept was pretty matter-of-fact, to be kind: "OK, here’s your cubicle, computer, desk, phone, ID badge and a map to the closest restroom. Good luck!" For the past several years, as bringing new people into an organization has finally been recognized for its critical connection to engagement, onboarding has taken on a new definition. Simply, onboarding today is the strategic vehicle for fast-tracking new talent into – and through – the organizational labyrinth to a progressed state of engagement and, as a result, productivity. In other words, if you do it right, onboarding means that a new employee can hit the ground running and start out on a very positive note. From pre-screening through hiring and onboarding, welcoming a new employee to the team can be the start of a rewarding relationship. Or, it can be the beginning of a missed opportunity. For employers who have workforces in the 500-600 range, missed opportunities translate to expensive oversights. Consider the fact that even with that new focus on onboarding, studies show that one third of all external hires are no longer with an organization after two years. That’s an especially unfortunate outcome for smaller businesses that need to be as focused as possible on business strategies – not worried about the expensive merry-go-round of bringing on new hires Saving Time, Increasing Productivity and Improving Retention There are solid strategies for delivering the ultimate new candidate experience from start to finish. There also are new approaches to creating a successful onboarding program based on the strategic objectives of any organization. Using those proven strategies, combined with today’s learning and talent management software systems, you can develop a clearer picture of what needs to be done to compete for and retain talent - today and in the future. It also provides the foundation needed to help new hires succeed in their personal career development and drive optimal business results. Using technology to help in developing and executing a successful onboarding process can: Bring more structure and consistency to an otherwise decentralized process Enableblended learning opportunities, combining classroom training with e-learning and social learning Facilitate targeted role-specific skills training for faster time-to-productivity Allow new employees to connect with their new team, peers and perhaps even a mentor via an internal social network In addition, leveraging a system will automate the process, saving valuable time in areas such as auto-registering new hires and notifying and reminding new hires of required steps. Small Investment Delivers a Big Return You may have noticed that employee engagement is receiving a lot of attention in mainstream and trade media. After all, an engaged workforce is a productive, happy workforce. Well, it should come as no surprise that onboarding is the catalyst, the place where engagement really begins when someone joins your company. The good news is that effective onboarding requires a relatively small investment to deliver a big return. Below are some tips on developing an effective onboarding strategy: Be sure to have a clear understanding of what competencies are required for success, and how those competencies link to business outcomes. Provide structured development support in the first few weeks. Remember to support both managers and new hires throughout the process. Establish a clear roadmap for success early in the onboarding process. Do your best to have an understanding of what drives and motivates any new hire. Work out how you are going to increase his/her level of engagement. In the end, successful onboarding requires micro-engagement based on what matters to the individual, more than anything. Also, the most successful companies don’t end their onboarding program after a week or two. To work, onboarding should span well into the early stages of employee development. In some leading companies, in fact, onboarding is a two-year process – a strong indicator of its importance. Clearly, onboarding today must be a much deeper, more meaningful effort than just providing an easy route through new hire paperwork. If it doesn’t serve as a prime driver of employee engagement - getting the new hire jazzed up and productive from the get-go - then it’s time to rethink your process and move to onboarding that works. For more onboarding best practices, check out the recording of the Cornerstone OnDemand webinar, "Onboarding Success: Tools to Engineer Experience for Optimal Business Outcomes."

The Case for Sharing — and Understanding — Human Capital Metrics
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The Case for Sharing — and Understanding — Human Capital Metrics

Ask most companies to define their most important asset and they’ll tell you it’s something intangible: humans. Yet when evaluating a given company's worth, investors still rely on performance metrics that largely ignore an organization's brainpower. Think about the problem this way: A low turnover rate sounds like a good quality for any company, right? But what about nimble startups that live by the motto "fail fast, fail often?" Low turnover might signal to an investor that talent is too complacent, and therefore not innovating fast enough. No wonder universal talent metrics are a touchy subject. It's a debate that's been lately revived thanks to better reporting tools and growing demand from investors. And while human capital reporting standards have drawn their fair share of advocates and opponents, there’s no question that people information will only become more relevant to company performance. Outside pressure and reporting initiatives aside, HR departments must learn to measure, share and explain the human capital metrics that matter to their businesses. The Trouble with "People Data" As the gap between net assets and market capitalization widens, no one can seem to agree on how to measure and report the increasing value driven by employees. In 2012, SHRM drafted standards to help companies disclose human capital information in six areas: Human capital spending, including investment on training and development and third-party employees Retention, categorized by job types Leadership depth, including succession planning and internal hires Leadership quality, based on employee surveys Employee engagement, based on surveys Discussion and analysis to explain the metrics SHRM ultimately withdrew its draft in response to public opposition, however, which included concerns about competitive disadvantages and the cost of reporting. There’s also the issue of context: The metrics above are general and might not be relevant to employers in all industries. Of course, it all comes down to comparability and how different people interpret different measures. A Nuanced Approach While the initial push from SHRM fell flat, technology has made reporting tools more accessible and advocates have fine-tuned their arguments. Two initiatives from both sides of the Atlantic call for more substantive reporting of human capital information. In the UK, the International Integrated Reporting Council published a reporting framework that includes human, social and relationship capital. In the U.S., the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) provides industry-specific reporting recommendations. In software and IT services, for example, SASB calls for employers to report the risks of recruiting foreign nationals, such as threats to intellectual property and visa regulations. Guidelines also suggest management include an explanation of how it addresses those challenges. The industry standards also propose that software and IT companies report employee engagement metrics like "actively engaged" or "passive." Campbell Soup reports the amount it spends on training and employee satisfaction rates. "Investors and potential candidates for jobs want to rank and rate companies. Retention and happiness are proxies in some people’s minds for better performance," Dave Stangis, vice president of corporate responsibility at Campbell, tells SHRM. Whether or not reporting standards become law, companies that understand the value of their human capital will turn that knowledge into competitive advantage. Photo: Flickr/Perpetual Tourist

How to Make the Exit Interview a Constructive Conversation
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How to Make the Exit Interview a Constructive Conversation

Exit interviews can be a headache for the departing employee and the HR team, but that’s likely because the discussion involves routine questions from a checklist rather than a constructive conversation with an end goal. The exit interview should be an opportunity for the employee to voice whatever is on his mind. Aside from covering legalities, the exit conversation is an opportunity for the employer to show the employee that he was valued and to learn about how to improve the company. "There is nothing sadder than handing in your badge and computer and walking out the door unnoticed," writes Barbara Milhizer, partner at human capital consultancy PeopleResults. Many experts in the HR space don’t see the value of exit interviews, mainly because they haven’t thought about them strategically. The questions and answers from an employee who is leaving can help the company learn how to better keep current employees happy and productive. Unsatisfied employees present challenges that a majority of companies are facing — 85 percent of employees are either actively looking for a job or open to talking to recruiters about relevant opportunities, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. How to Reframe the Conversation The exit interview often starts with the question, "Why are you leaving?" Instead, the HR folks should be asking "What made you start looking for another job in the first place?" suggests Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender blogger and president of HR consulting firm ITM Group. Whether the response is salary, a long commute or the work-life balance, the employer can use that insight to reconsider the basis for the compensation or to introduce telecommuting. When asking employees to speak honestly about their experience and why they’re leaving, be sure to remind them that their conversation is confidential and will help the company in the future. Karen Skillings, an HR manager at Munich Reinsurance America, told the Wall Street Journal that her company uses the information from these conversations as a data point by inputting information from exit interviews into a database to view trends. Then the company can identify the reason most employees are leaving, whether it’s compensation or a better offer from a competitor. "All too often, exit-interview responses are simply filed away with the employee’s profile, to be used only if litigation looms later," wrote David Hakala on HR World. "It is vital to track these answers, look for long-term trends and take action to correct mistakes or improve areas in which management excels." The main reasons that employees left their job or would be convinced to leave their current job are better compensation and benefits, better work-life balance, greater opportunities for advancement and better leadership from senior management, according to a LinkedIn survey. 4 Exit Interview Questions to Improve the Workplace While it’s best for companies to foster an open, honest environment and continually check in with employees to see how they’re doing, often companies have the conversation about what didn’t work when it’s too late to retain the employee. During the exit conversation, here are four questions to ask, suggests Liz Kelly, CEO and founder of Brilliant Ink, an employee engagement consultancy: How did the job match your expectations? It’s important to know if the job is what the employee expected. If not, the HR team should rejigger how they market and talk about the position. Did you feel that the work you were doing aligned with your personal goals and interests? Employees should always feel like they’re developing new skills and working in an area that they’re passionate about. A majority — 70 percent —of employees feel disengaged, and when they’re disengaged, they’re more likely to leave. While the job tasks won’t change, HR can integrate questions about personal goals and hobbies into the hiring process. Did you have the tools and resources you needed to effectively do your job? Without the right training and resources in place, employees might not feel that they can effectively do their jobs, or worse they might feel that their work isn’t valued enough to get adequate support. This is something that HR can easily change, given adequate financial resources. Would you recommend this as a great place for a friend to work? This taps into the heart of the employee experience. Even if the company isn’t a good fit for one person, every company hopes that former employees continue to promote the company as a good place to work. Aside from one-on-one conversations, the HR team can collect feedback from current and former employees by looking at online reviews, such as those on Glassdoor. They should keep documentation and, similarly to the exit conversations, this data can help show overall trends on what the company needs to improve. Photo: Can Stock

TED Talk Tuesday: Happiness Is the Secret to Success
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TED Talk Tuesday: Happiness Is the Secret to Success

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Shawn Achor, CEO of consulting firm Good Think and best-selling author, is one of the world's leading experts on happiness and success. In his TED talk, Achor reveals our backward understanding of how to achieve happiness, based on his research in the field of positive psychology. (Hint: Success doesn't lead to happiness — it's the other way around.) As we prepare for Thanksgiving, a holiday defined by gratitude, Achor's lessons on positivity and practicing appreciation for the present will serve business leaders and employees well at both the office and home. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. "If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average." Achor shares that one of the principles of academic research — whether it's economics, education, medicine, business or psychology — is to eliminate the outliers (in a statistically valid way, of course). In most research, the goal is to focus on the "average": How fast does the average child learn to read? How many Advil pills should the average person take? Positive psychology, on the other hand, proposes that if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average. Instead of eliminating the outliers, Achor is interesting in studying the outliers to discover why certain people exist outside of the curve — intellectually, athletically, musically, emotionally, etc. By studying the outliers, Achor believes we can glean information about how to improve the average. "We need to reverse the formula for happiness and success." What has Achor discovered by studying the outliers? It's not reality that shapes us, but our perception that shapes our reality. Studies show that the external factors of your life can only predict 10 percent of your long-term happiness; whereas how you perceive the world can predict 90 percent. Why is this? Every time we get a good grade, job or award, our brain changes our definition of success to better grades, a better job or a better award. Success is elusive, as Achor explains, which makes achieving happiness from our successes elusive, too: "If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there." The key to happiness is not changing external factors, but changing the way we process external factors. "You can train your brain to be able to become more positive." According to Achor, if we can find a way to become more positive in the present, our brains will experience a "happiness advantage." A positive brain is 31 percent more productive than a negative, neutral or stressed brain, and our energy, intelligence and creativity levels all rise when we're in a positive mindset. In other words, happiness actually leads to greater success. But can you actually increase your positivity? Yes, Achor says, adding that in just a two-minute span of time over 21 days in a row, you can rewire your brain to work more optimistically and successfully. For example, by writing three new things you are grateful for every day for 21 days, your brain will begin to retain a pattern of scanning the world for the positive instead of the negative. Other tactics Achor has studied include journaling about positive experiences, meditation and writing thank-you notes. By reversing the formula for happiness and success, Achor says, we can not only increase individual happiness, but also create ripples of positivity and productivity throughout organizations. Photo: Creative Commons

TED Talk Tuesday: The Power of Yet
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TED Talk Tuesday: The Power of Yet

This part is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford and the author of Mindset, studies motivation theory: asking what drives people to succeed, why people succeed (or not) and how we can foster success in others and ourselves. Her work is influential in education and increasingly followed in the business world, too. In her TED Talk, Dweck discusses the power of the word "yet" and how simply believing that you can improve impacts your ability to succeed. While her talk focuses on children, the research and arguments she makes closely relate to the people development work of HR professionals. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from her talk. "If you get the grade 'Not Yet,' you understand you're on a learning curve." Dweck describes a school in Chicago where students receive a new kind of grade if they don't pass a test: instead of an "F," they'll receive a "Not Yet." The latter fosters a "growth mindset," or an understanding that abilities can be developed, rather than a "fixed mindset," where skills and knowledge are thought of as static. Dweck explains that by framing low grades or mistakes as an opportunity to improve, instead of a final result, we provide ourselves and others with the confidence to continue learning — "yet" provides a path to the future. "Praise wisely." Instead of praising talent and intelligence, Dweck argues that we should praise the process: effort, strategy, focus, perseverance and improvement. Process praise, she explains, leads to more persistence and, ultimately, better results. She references a study in which she partnered with game scientists at the University of Washington to create a new online math game — while a typical game rewards players for correct answers, this game awarded players for their process. Dweck shares that the "process" players exhibited more effort, more strategies, more engagement and more perseverance when they hit hard problems. "Let's not waste any more lives." Dweck shares a story of a letter she received from a 13-year-old boy, in which he wrote that he followed her advice and saw great improvements in school, in friendships and in family relationships. He signs off the letter, "I now realize I've wasted most of my life." While Dweck chuckles at his youthful sincerity, she also emphasizes that focusing on results over potential does in fact lead to wasted lives — people believing they are not good enough or smart enough, and therefore giving up. Dweck is quick to point out that a "fixed mindset" can, in fact, change — by focusing on "yet," we can not only foster confidence, but also truly help people become smarter and more engaged. Photo: TED

A Day in the Life of an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
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A Day in the Life of an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychologists (also know as I-O psychologists) aren't your typical sit-on-the-couch therapists. This line of work involves applying the principles of psychology to the workplace to help businesses increase productivity, make better decisions around hiring and provide insight into applying market research to business strategy. Sounds like a pretty useful person to have on your team, right? In recent years, more and more organizations would agree—in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked I-O psychology as the fastest growing occupation in the U.S. in 2014. But although executives are increasingly turning to psychology to inform business strategy, it's not yet a mainstream practice. As Dr. Kelly Slack, an I-O psychologists at NASA, says "Although this field has gained traction in recent years, the vast majority of people have no idea what I-O is." To learn more about the field, we spoke with three I-O psychologists about their daily work, biggest challenges and current initiatives. Dr. Kelley J. Slack Title: I-O Psychologist for the Behavioral Health and Performance Group at NASA Johnson Space Center and CFO and Managing Consultant for Minerva Work Solutions PPLC What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? At Minerva, we've taken the Moonbase simulation—a simulation game developed for NASA—and adapted it to a business setting. Moonbase is used at Johnson Space Center to teach flight controllers and new astronauts soft skills. At Minerva, we've taken the basic Moonbase simulation and adapted it to teach teamwork and other soft skillsto workers and managers. How has the growth of workforce analytics impacted your role as an I-O psychologist? One of the beautiful facts about I-O psychologists is that we've been taught to use scientific evidence to solve real workplace problems. For example, we might get hired because an organization is worried about employee turnover. We might decide the best way of finding out the 'why' behind what is happening is conducting focus groups and an employee survey. From the results of those, we can determine not only why employees are leaving, but also develop an action plan to improve engagement and reduce turnover. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? A company that is looking to utilize I-O psychology is already way ahead of its competitors. For companies looking to support their workforce from line workers to the CEO, the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP) says it well: I-O psychology is "science for a smarter workplace." Dr. Brenda Fellows Title: President and CEO of Fellows Corporate Consortium, LLC, a global management consulting firm, and Adjunct Professor at Hass School of Business, University of California Berkeley What is the most challenging part of your job? One challenging part of my job is getting organizations, organizational leaders and employees ready for change. I work on many projects that include change management and organizational effectiveness. Oftentimes, people resist change no matter how complex or simple the change may be. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? I worked with a major global corporation to develop three employee development programs, which continue to provide current and future employees the opportunity to learn new skills by learning from persons functioning at two and three levels above them. The return on investment for these programs is a win-win for the organization and its employees through employee engagement, retention and continued motivation. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? To effectively address psychological underpinnings of human dynamics within the field of leadership one must explore emotional, social, spiritual and internal dynamics driving human performance, decision-making and stressors. Jen Lacewell Title: I-O Psychologist for Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, a non-profit mental health agency What is the most challenging part of your job? Scope creep has to be one of the most challenging parts of my position. The work I do can be very ambiguous, and small projects that I think will only take a few days can easily turn into large projects that take weeks if I'm not careful. How has the growth of workforce analytics played into your role as an I-O psychologist? Specifically, working for a non-profit, a lot of what we do is funded by grants. Workforce analytics are great for demonstrating evidence, by way of data, that a program or initiative is working. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? If you're looking to spend the money to hire an I-O, do it right. Listen to what the I-O has to say with an open mind, and don't expect results if you withhold resources or override their advice during projects. It will be the best decision you make! I-O psychologists can help you leverage human capital through selection, assessment, training and employee development. Header photo: Twenty20

10 Jobs With the Best Work-Life Balance
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10 Jobs With the Best Work-Life Balance

It's no secret that many of today's top employers promote work-life balance as a key component of company culture to recruit and retain top talent. Employers are increasingly focused on creating a workplace that values individuals not only professionally, but also personally. But in today's 24/7 connected world, finding such balance is much easier said than done. Many job seekers are not only evaluating companies on an individual level, but also looking for career paths that allow them to manage work in conjunction with individual and family obligations, health and wellness priorities, and flexible scheduling that fits their lifestyle. What positions actually allow for such flexibility? A recent study from job and recruiting platform Glassdoor offers some guidance: After evaluating employee feedback on Glassdoor from the past year, the company ranked the best jobs for work-life balance. (Fun fact: Three out of the top 10 best jobs for work-life balance are HR-related jobs: Data scientist, talent acquisition specialist and recruiting coordinator.) Check out the rest of the list below: 1. Data Scientist Photo: Shutterstock Data scientists bring structure to big data by finding compelling patterns and advising executives on the implications for products, processes and decisions. The growth of the role is due to the increasing interest in using statistical analysis to make informed workforce, business, healthcare and policy decisions. Work-Life Balance Rating: 4.2 Average Salary: $114,808 Job Outlook: Job growth from 2012 to 2022 is projected at 22 percent, significantly higher than the average 11 percent. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 2. SEO Manager Photo: Shutterstock SEO managers are key components of a company's interactive marketing and digital divisions, providing expertise in analytics, data and content development. They develop and grow partner-vendor relationships to help make their company's product, brand and services more visible online. Work-Life Balance Rating: 4.1 Average Salary: $45,720 Job Outlook: The overall number of SEO jobs in the top 20 cities grew by 18 percent in 2015. (Conductor.com) 3. Talent Acquisition Specialist Photo: Creative Commons This highly-valued position is responsible for delivering all facets of recruiting success within an organization. Talent acquisition specialists often manage recruiting coordinators and HR generalists and build relationships with business partners to help the organization discover and retain top talent. Work-Life Balance Rating: 4.0 Average Salary: $63,504 Job Outlook: Human resources specialist positions are projected to grow at 7 percent through 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 4. Social Media Manager Photo: Creative Commons Social media managers monitor, contribute, filter, measure and otherwise guiding the social media presence of a brand, product, individual or corporation. Work-Life Balance Rating: 4.0 Average Salary: $40,000 Job Outlook: Many social media managers work closely with public relations, an area that is growing slightly above average at 12 percent. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 5. Substitute Teacher Photo: Shutterstock Substitute teachers do not have employment contracts with schools, but teach while contract teachers are out due to illness, short term absence, sabbatical leave or other types of absences. The growth in private, charter and specialized schools is expanding the opportunity for substitute teachers to work in a wider variety of environments. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.9 Average Salary: $24,380 Job Outlook: Employment growth will vary by region. Those with specialized skills, such as Spanish or special education, may find unique opportunities. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 6. Recruiting Coordinator Photo: Shutterstock Recruiting coordinators support HR and talent acquisition teams with job postings, resume review, coordinating interviews, preparing job descriptions, updating the company applicant tracking system and more. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.9 Average Salary: $44,700 Job Outlook: Employment of human resources specialists, such as recruiting coordinators, is projected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 7. UX Designer Photo: Shutterstock UX designers focus on the look, feel and usability of technology tools, such as apps and websites. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.9 Average Salary: $91,440 Job Outlook: Opportunities in the web development field are expected to increase by 20 percent through 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 8. Digital Marketing Manager Photo: Shutterstock Provides strategy, leadership and direction for all digital and interactive marketing initiatives, focusing on analytics, advertising, SEO, email marketing and more. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.9 Average Salary: $70,052 Job Outlook: Marketing manager jobs are predicted to grow by 12 percent through 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 9. Marketing Assistant Photo: Shutterstock Marketing assistants work closely with marketing managers to assist with the administrative, communication, social media and project planning within a marketing department. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.8 Average Salary: $32,512 Job Outlook: The marketing assistant role will likely see similar growth to marketing managers — 12 percent through 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 10. Web Developer Photo: Shutterstock Web developers design, program and maintain web sites. Work-Life Balance Rating: 3.8 Average Salary: $66,040 Job Outlook: Similar to UX designers, web development jobs are expected to increase by 20 percent through 2022. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) Header photo: Shutterstock

How Building a ’Social Business’ Can Boost Employee Retention
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How Building a ’Social Business’ Can Boost Employee Retention

Employee turnover isn't just costly -- experts say that finding and training a replacement can cost twice an employee's salary -- it can also dampen employee morale, cut into productivity and put customer and partner relationships suddenly on thin ice. With an increasingly fickle (and mobile) workforce, holding on to your most prized asset, your people, in some ways has never been tougher. An array of well-known retention strategies can hedge against those risks, of course. Offering competitive benefits and perks, for instance, conducting "stay" interviews," and training and promoting from within are great examples. At the same time, the boom in social and mobile technologies in the workplace is pushing managers -- and not just HR managers -- to use new approaches and tactics to reduce churn and boost retention. Introducing social business. Vala Afshar, social business expert and co-author of "The Pursuit of Social Business," says it’s built on the premise that open and transparent social communication between people and organizations at all levels improves attitudes, performance and company culture. And today’s nascent cloud services and social collaboration tools make that opportunity easier and cheaper than ever to explore in the workplace. "A social business is not just about social media or social tech -- it’s about a mindset of inclusiveness and shared compatibility," explains Afshar. Communication and transparency in a company culture can lead to a lower need to hire additional staff and efficiency gains within the workforce, he says. Afshar offers three insights for creating a social business that works. Flatten the Social Hierarchy Afshar believes that "not one of us is as smart as all of us." This means a great idea can come from the office assistant or an SVP -- and when people are talking and collaborating together, even greater ideas emerge. Valuing every employee and making them feel integral to the organization brings more engagement and is critical for establishing a fulfilling company culture that doesn’t lead to turnover. "Trust the people you hire and trust them to do the work," Afshar says. Establish a Social and Transparent Mindset from the Top The formation of a culture starts at the top -- executives must exhibit transparency, equality and trust to establish a companywide social mindset. Employees feel a stronger connection to the company when they are included in communications. And the more communication, the better. Use New Tools to Jump-Start Collaboration At the end of the day, effectively working together is what makes a social business, and there are now many tools to help facilitate that. Internal social networks can connect employees and get departments and units talking and collaborating. The result will be not only make for more efficient work processes, but more engaged employees. Use new technology to help create community.

Spotlight on Recruiting Tech: What Works — and What Doesn't — with Game-Based Evaluation
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Spotlight on Recruiting Tech: What Works — and What Doesn't — with Game-Based Evaluation

Is the process of hiring and promoting the right people an art — or a science? The debate is raging in human resources circles with the rise of new technologies that claim to quickly and accurately assess whether a worker is the best fit for a job. How do these technologies do it? Through "predictive people analytics," which are computer-based assessment tools that use algorithms to calculate a job candidate's potential. Proponents say people analytics ensure that companies make better hiring and promotion decisions. Critics, however, contend that no technology can replicate the value of human evaluation. Maybe technology can assess if someone has the right skills, they concede. But what about softer skills like integrity or personality? No way. True Believers Say, 'It’s All About Big Data' Here's a closer look at debate through Knack, an up-and-coming people analytics service. Knack develops app-based video games that are intended to calculate a worker's potential as a leader or as an innovator based on how she performs in a series of games. "Dungeon Scrawl," for instance, challenges an employee to find her way through a maze and solve puzzles. "Wasabi Waiter" turns a user into a waiter — and tests her ability to bring the right sushi order to the right customers as the restaurant gets busier. Guy Halfteck, the founder of Knack, tells The Atlantic that Knack games generate far more data in a much shorter period of time than any SAT or standard personality test could. The games not only analyze whether workers can complete tasks, but also measure how long they hesitate before making a move and the paths users take to complete a task. All told, says Halfteck, Knack measures six traits — or knacks — to determine if users are likely to be innovators: Mind wandering Social intelligence Goal orientation Implicit learning Ability to switch tasks Conscientiousness In the end, Halfteck tells The Atlantic, you get a "high-resolution portrait of [an applicant's] psyche and intellect, and an assessment of [her] potential as a leader or an innovator." How One Company Uses Knack — and Loves It Royal Dutch Shell, the oil giant, is one company that uses Knack to assess for a skill that's especially hard to measure: creativity and innovation. Shell's GameChanger division employs inventors who can spot disruptive ideas — whether they come from within the company or from outside. Knack helps Shell identify workers who can identify and evaluate business ideas, only 10 percent of which actually get pursued to any degree, Hans Haringa of Shell tells The Atlantic. Haringa says he was skeptical at first. To test Knack’s algorithm, he asked individuals who previously contributed an idea to GameChanger to play Knack’s games. The result: the same individuals whose ideas Shell had singled out were identified by Knack as innovators — only in far less time. Today, Shell's human resources team uses Knack for recruiting. Haringa calls Knack a "paradigm shift." What Skeptics Have to Say: Good Idea, Poor Results Catherine Rampbell at The New York Times sees the potential for people analytics to new open doors for job seekers — say, those without a college degree. But she questions whether today's technology can "replace the good old-fashioned grill session" just yet. People analytics, she argues, cannot assess soft skills such as empathy or honesty. John Sumser, the editor-in-chief of HRExaminer Online Magazine, is equally doubtful. Any good recruiter can quickly assess a candidate's skills, or lack thereof, by looking at a resume. He doubts, too, that anyone would want a "doctor or lawyer recruited by a game." That said, Sumser sees value in Knack's technology for employers who need to fill a lot of low-skilled jobs — such as a restaurant manager who's on the constant lookout for waiters. A better alternative to people analytics, according to Melissa Hooven of Cornerstone OnDemand, is behavioral interviewing, such as the STAR method. With STAR, interviewers ask candidates to describe a situation, task or action — and the results ("STAR") achieved when answering each question. "If it’s clear that an interview is always answering with incomplete STARs, it’s clear that he’s not going to be a good candidate — or employee," argues Hooven. What's the verdict on Knack? It's too soon to tell. But the consensus so far is that the process of hiring and promoting is still very much an art form. "Nothing in the science of prediction and selection beats observing actual performance in an equivalent role," Peter Cappelli, a professor at the Wharton School, tells The Atlantic. Photo credit: Knack

10 Companies Putting Empathy into Action
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10 Companies Putting Empathy into Action

Today's top employers are doing much more than providing a good salary and basic benefits to recruit and retain employees. In fact, some employers are trying to empathize with employees' personal needs as much as they focus on their professional needs. You've heard of on-site fitness classes — but how about on-site health clinics? Unlimited vacation is nice — but wouldn't a flextime schedule better match your work-life balance goals? For companies that offer these and other "personal" benefits, the potential payoff is promising — based on a recent report, UK consultant group Lady Geek found that the most empathetic companies increased in value more than twice as much as the least empathetic companies in 2015. How do you measure "empathy"? Lady Geeks defines the term as "a cognitive and emotional understanding of others' experiences" and consults clients on how to engage with customers and employees holistically. Their analysis uses a variety of metrics, such as CEO approval ratings, gender ratios on the board, brand controversy (such as scandals and fines) and sentiment on the company's social networks. Below are the 10 companies that topped their Global Empathy Index — and a little something to learn about empathetic policies from each. 1. Microsoft Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Redmond, WA Monetary value: $436.4B* Number of employees: 118,584 Empathetic policy highlight: Microsoft offers a lab program, Microsoft Garage, which both encourages and supports employees' side gigs and creative ideas. The program allows employees across any department to brainstorm, plan and develop projects outside their primary job or function at Microsoft. 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Monetary value: $289.1B Number of employees: 11,996 Policy highlight: Facebook allows employees to select their own workday start and stop times. The flextime program provides employees with the opportunity to align their hours on the job with their lifestyle, which Facebook believes leads to greater flexibility and productivity. 3. Tesla Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Palo Alto, CA Monetary value: $29.2B Number of employees: 12,000 Policy highlight: Tesla pays 100 percent of the direct plan costs for employee health plans. The plans come with high deductibles, but with an in-house medical clinic, employees can avoid unnecessary visits through an on-site clinic visit first. 4. Alphabet (Google) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Monetary value: $515B Number of employees: 59,976 Policy highlight: Mom or dad-to-be? Moms get up to 18 weeks of paid leave, while dads get six. To help out even more, the company provides "baby bonding bucks" to help with expenses, such as formula and diapers. 5. Procter & Gamble Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH Monetary value: $213B Number of employees: 118,000 Policy highlight: Life happens. And when employees are going through a difficult time, Procter & Gamble offers a personal leave of absence. Employees can take up to three months off periodically without pay — but with continued benefits — allowing employees to take time for personal needs and the company to retain valuable talent. 6. Apple Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Cupertino, CA Monetary value: $587B Number of employees: 66,000 Policy highlight: Apple prioritizes employee health by offering a wellness center at its corporate headquarters, which includes doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and dietitians. Don't work full-time or at corporate locations? No worries — even part-time and remote employees qualify for benefits. 7. Johnson & Johnson Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: New Brunswick, NJ Monetary value: $278B Number of employees: 126,500 Policy highlight: Johnson & Johnson is a leader in understanding how employees' movement while working affects physical health. They've built an ergonomic workplace and implemented strategies to improve productivity as well as long-term health and wellness. 8. Walt Disney Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Burbank, CA Monetary value: $170.2B Number of employees: 180,000 Policy highlight: Employees receive free and discounted admission at many Walt Disney theme parks across the country, which can save workers' and their families thousands over the course of one's career with the company (not to mention provide some pretty cool vacations for theme park enthusiasts). 9. Prudential Financial Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Newark, NJ Monetary value: $35.8B Number of employees: 48,331 Policy highlight: Being a caregiver for a parent or relative is a tough job, but Prudential makes it easier by providing adult care in an employee or loved one's home. In addition, the company provides geriatric care services (in-home care and facility assessments), elder law services and adult care-giving seminars. 10. Audi Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Herndon, Virginia Monetary value: $28.8B Number of employees: 80,000 Policy highlight: The Audi Veterans to Technicians Program is designed to bring veterans back into the workforce. Participants in the program receive individualized support, advice and assistance from a team of dedicated program staff. *Data on each company’s market capitalization from Google Finance on 1/5/15 was used to determine the monetary value of all companies in this list. Header photo: Creative Commons

20 Great Ideas for Work Mentoring and Coaching
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20 Great Ideas for Work Mentoring and Coaching

A well-implemented organizational mentorship program is a fantastic company-culture investment. Mentors bring their experience, emotional support and ­advanced skills to the relationship, while a mentee is committed, engaged, and willing to learn and develop. Formal mentorship programs allow organizations to make the most of their current high-potential employees in order to develop future talent. One of the key benefits of establishing an in-house mentorship program is that mentors can offer specific advice and help mentees address organization-specific challenges as they develop their careers, fostering internal talent mobility It's important to cultivate the right environment that encourages a natural relationship to form, so that both mentor and mentee can concentrate on development during their meetings. Without a robust development environment in place, it's easy to fall back into a default culture of "busy-ness." And, thanks to competing priorities, it can become a challenge for your mentors to make time for their proteges. Now, whether your organization has been thinking about implementing a mentorship program or your existing program needs a bit of a polish, remember that the beginning of any mentor-mentee relationship is the most important part of the work. So, to get your people off to a strong start, we've put together a handy infographic that outlines 20 great ideas for work mentoring and coaching. 20 Great Ideas for Mentoring Activities Identify Goals Identify your professional mentoring goals for their relationship. What will be the outcome? Create a Mentoring Action Plan review possible career mentoring activities with your mentee and choose a few of them to do. Then create a mentoring action plan to capture your selections. Address Mentee Challenges Spend time discussing how your mentee dealt with a challenging situation. What was the outcome? If needed, brainstorm alternate ways to overcome that challenge. Role Play Role play how to address a challenging situation to practice skills. For example, an upcoming interaction that the mentee is unsure about or would like guidance for. Job Shadow Invite your mentee to sit it on a meeting of yours that will give them an opportunity to learn or network. Debrief afterwards. Provide Networking Opportunities Introduce your mentee to one of your contacts who could prove to be a valuable professional network contact for them. Provide Oral Feedback Observe your mentee in a meeting or presentation and give her feedback on her performance. Provide Written Feedback Review and provide feedback on a presentation, report or document your mentee has prepared. Read Up Read a new business/professional book or article and discuss your thoughts about it (if reading a book, you might want to read and discuss one chapter at a time). Share Career History Invite your mentee to share the “story of his career” explaining how he got to where he is today. Share yours. Review Your CVs Exchange, review and discuss each other’s resumes. How are key achievements represented? Are there differences in how you each “sell yourself”? Suggest Other Reading Suggest books, articles and blogs or other resources for your mentee to read. Team Up and Network Together Attend a local industry of professional networking or educational event together. Debrief afterwards. Create a Vision Statement Ask your mentee to create a vision statement that captures where he wants to be in five years and what he wants to be known for, then review and discuss together. ‘ Be a Coach: Focus on Strengths Discuss your mentee’s strengths, ways he can further develop these skills, and potential problems that can result from over-reliance on them. Review Goals Regularly Regularly review and discuss progress on your mentee’s career development goals. Discuss Interpersonal Skills Talk about the types of people your mentee finds most difficult to work with, and strategies for more effective interactions with them. Talk about the types of people your mentee most enjoys working with and review why. Be a Coach: Target Weaknesses Discuss your mentee’s weaknesses, ways she can strengthen her skills in these areas, and the potential advantages they can offer. Consider Volunteer Work Identify a volunteer or community-based group activity where your mentee can practice desired skills, then debrief on the experience. Close the Loop Prepare for the end of your formal mentoring relationship. Take stock of lessons learned, directions taken, and what still needs to be accomplished.

3 Innovative HR Tactics for the New Normal
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3 Innovative HR Tactics for the New Normal

In September of this year, I had a chance to sit down with Pim de Morree, the co-founder and CEO of Corporate Rebels, on the Disrupt Yourself podcast. de Morree is a fascinating young entrepreneur who left a promising, more conventional career in 2016 to found a research and consulting firm, Corporate Rebels, with his childhood friend and business partner Joost Minnaar. Their organization studies successful business leaders and companies around the world who are using somewhat radical HR practices to build better organizations. After years of exploring and researching, Corporate Rebels collected their findings and documented them in a new book, titled “Corporate Rebels: Make Work More Fun.” In our conversation, de Morree explained some of these cutting-edge HR practices and how he's applied them to his team at Corporate Rebels to create more transparency, trust, and fun. He says that by rethinking employees salaries, job descriptions, and productivity measurement Corporate Rebels saw higher engagement and business growth—and other companies can do the same. Here are some of the cutting-edge HR practices de Moree champions, and why. Set Your Own Salary Using an “Advice Process” Instead of establishing rigid salary ranges for specific positions, HR teams can allow employees to establish their own salary and benefit packages. Traditionally, says de Morree, “Goals are misaligned. The job seeker wants as much compensation as possible, while the employer often wants to pay significantly less.” To avoid this, Corporate Rebels allows employees to set their own salaries through what de Morree calls the advice process: “Employees come up with a rough proposal for what they want to earn, and then have to get advice from colleagues who are influenced by that number. After they gather all their advice, the employee decides what to do. So, they are in the end responsible for listening to or ignoring their colleagues and making their final decision on what it is they actually want to earn.” In order for this strategy to work well, companies have to be extremely transparent with all of their employees about their finances, expenses and salaries. This will not only help employees create affordable, more realistic salary proposals, but foster more trust internally. This strategy also encourages employees to think more critically about the value they bring to the company, and makes salary setting an ongoing evaluation. “If employees think they deserve a salary bump, they can create a proposal explaining their increased value-add,” explains de Morree. “But they have to prove and defend it. The responsibility falls on them.” Eschew Job Descriptions in Favor of Team Sharing When companies follow job descriptions too closely, it encourages the assumption that whatever is not included in an employee’s description is excluded from their role and should be left to someone else. “But this doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially not if things change very quickly in your company,” explains de Morree. Instead, he recommends that teams sit down and enumerate all the tasks necessary to create success for the entire team and cluster those tasks into roles. Then, let people pick up the roles they want, based on their intrinsic motivations. In effect, this strategy allows individuals to craft their own perfect job. “This strategy can help solve the problem of unmotivated employees,” argues de Morree. “If there are employees who feel stuck in their jobs, or don't really feel like their greatest talents are being utilized, they can more easily solve this problem.” Measure Outcomes, Not Hours de Morree believes that counting hours of work, rather than results is “the most outdated practice we still have in workplaces.” “We can trust people more than we think we can—and the success of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic proved this to be true,” says de Morree. Instead of worrying about whether or not employees are doing their work at a certain time and setting expectations around traditional, 9-to-5 structures, create expectations more holistically. At Corporate Rebels, the employees set and announce individual, monthly goals. Then, at the end of the month, the teams reflect to see if employees have actually been able to achieve their self-set targets. If they haven’t, the company looks for ways to help them accomplish them. As long as employees are delivering the right results, there aren’t any conversations around the amount of hours they spend at work. This strategy creates more flexibility for employees at all levels of the organization and encourages them to create work-life balance in their schedules.  “It not only gives employees the responsibility to create their own schedule, but for them to adopt responsibility for doing a good job,” explains de Morree. HR Shouldn’t Slow Innovation Down HR professionals can’t be laggards in innovation—and that’s true now more than ever. As remote work continues to be the standard for everyday business operations, organizations need to find better ways to engage and support their employees. A good first step? Start thinking about new, more inventive strategies for creating more transparency, flexibility and trust internally. For more advice for leaders on how companies can integrate more innovative and effective HR strategies, check out this ReWork’s series on how one new technology, blockchain, can support and improve organizations’ HR practices.

3 Reasons Why Employees Underperform
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3 Reasons Why Employees Underperform

What an ongoing struggle it is to get employees to perform. At HR conferences, CEO meetings and among organizational development groups, the topic always seems to revolve around getting our employees to step up and do great work. In all my years of teaching and consulting around workplace performance, I see three reasons why employees consistently underperform: they’re incapable, disconnected or unclear. 1. Employees are Incapable Employees who are incapable have core abilities that do not align with the abilities required to complete the activities of the job. Every job has a specific set of activities that are key to performance and ultimate success. For example, the activities of an accountant are to close the books, create reports, analyze performance, and ensure compliance with procedures. These activities require a strategic, analytical, methodical and detail-oriented person. If your accountant employee is not that, performance is a challenge. Another example: If you have a site manager (at a retail store or on a job site) working for you, his activities are to hire talented people, manage work schedules, advance results, and meet deadlines. These activities require a strategic, organized, driven, results-oriented person. If your site manager is not this, he shows up as incapable to do the job. Many times the primary reason for employee underperformance is in hiring employees who do not fit their role — they do not have the abilities that align to the specific needs of the job. Solution:Include the required abilities in addition to skill and experience criteria when defining the performance profile of the job. Hire for abilities as well as skill and experience. 2. Employees are Disconnected Employees who are disconnected do not share or understand the direction, vision, belief or mission of the business. There is no emotional connection. When employees understand the beliefs and vision of the business and they align with their personal values, they are more engaged, committed and passionate about their performance. Think of the way employees who work at Google feel about innovation, the way employees feel about coffee at Starbucks, the way employees feel about service at Zappos, the way employees feel about the outdoors at Patagonia. Our performance is fueled by our passions and values — and diminished by our lack of interest or connection. Solution: Clearly share your vision and belief about the business — source and hire employees who share your beliefs. 3. Employees are Unclear Most employees do not have nor understand their specific performance expectations — they don’t know what a successful or “done right” outcome is. They have no performance standard. Here is a personal example: when my kids were younger it seemed we were always in conflict with them about keeping their rooms clean. The problem was we didn’t share the same definition of “clean room.” So, once the room was cleaned “at expectation,” we took a picture and then taped it to the door. This became the standard of how a room was to look when we said “clean.” We all shared the same expectation or standard and now could hold them accountable for delivering this specific performance. In the workplace, employees need the same guidance about what a successful performance outcome is so that they can be held accountable to deliver it. This clarity lets them use their abilities to determine how to deliver the outcome. For example, create a performance expectation that a daily dashboard report prepared by the employee is to be accurate, completed on the CEO desk each morning, or that a certain amount of sales are required in a 30 day period. Now clear, employees can access their abilities to determine how to make the expectation happen. Without the clarity, they wander and performance suffers. Solution: Improve the clarity of performance expectations to ensure employees know what is expected and can perform accordingly. Sustainably high performance requires that employees’ abilities fit the activities required of the job, they share the values, beliefs or mission of the business, and they clearly know their performance expectations. We can’t expect employees to bring their A-game if we haven’t set the stage for them to be successful. Once in place, it is fair to expect great performance.

3 Ways to Improve Employee (and Customer) Satisfaction
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3 Ways to Improve Employee (and Customer) Satisfaction

How do you make your employees happy? As an HR professional or executive for your company, this is a question that's likely always top of mind. And for good reason—having a team of happy, engaged employees is not only good for office morale—it's good for your customers, too. A recent Gallup poll showed that only 32 percent of employees feel engaged at work. In order to feel fulfilled and satisfied at work, today's employees need a different kind of support and autonomy than previous generations. A recent survey conducted by Appirio looked into what's driving employee engagement and happiness. While some managers equate higher salaries and more frequent bonuses with happiness at work, that's just not the case with today's employees. In fact, when it comes to analyzing a job offer, only 4 percent of our respondents were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises. On the other hand, 60 percent most valued knowing whether or not the staff feel appreciated by management. So if it's not money, what do today's employees want? Here are three ways you can increase your employee happiness and boost your customer satisfaction along the way. 1) The Latest Tools and Technology Today's workers are more tech-savvy than ever, so it's natural that workers would want the same access to the latest tools, gadgets and hardware at work that they do as consumers. By providing your team with consumer-grade tools and technology, you're doing your customers a service as well. From mobile-unfriendly websites to cumbersome user experiences, your customers won't put up with an outdated experience. Update your tools and allow your employees to provide their customers with modern, world-class service every single day. 2) Prioritize Honest, Open Communication A top frustration for many workers today is not getting regular, constructive feedback on their performance from their manager or superiors. When asked to analyze their own workplace personality, 47 percent of our survey respondents said that they value transparency and open communication above all else. Acting on tip one, and updating technology, can help with this problem, especially if you're working with a remote team. Above all, however, it's important to try and reduce reliance on top-down communication and instead, focus on regular one-on-one conversations and a streamlined exchange of information when possible. Direct feedback, both positive and negative, will show your employees that their managers trust them to work autonomously. Healthy communication in the workplace can only translate to healthy communication externally, with your customers. When honest, open communication is prioritized among employees, your team will be more apt to anticipate the needs and desires of your customers, without having to bring in multiple team members. 3) Be Flexible I've already mentioned how lack of flexibility and mobility in the workplace is causing workers to feel disengaged from their jobs. In addition to the more obvious benefits modern workplaces are starting to offer—like flexible hours, ability to work remotely and coworking spaces—it's also important for employers to recognize and address different worker needs. If you hire a mix of full-time employees, contractors and freelancers, for example, the needs and expectations of those groups of people will likely be vastly different. From benefits packages to in-office perks, it's important to keep a flexible mindset. By focusing on the above tips to increase your overall employee happiness, your customer satisfaction will soon follow. Happy workers are more efficient and more engaged. And when efficient, engaged workers interact with customers, the result shows up in positive ways that will ultimately impact your business for the better. Look out for more upcoming posts from our partners at Appirio. Photo: Twenty20

3 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Strategy in 2018
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3 Ways to Improve Your Recruiting Strategy in 2018

The "war for talent" has been grabbing headlines for over twenty years, after McKinsey's Steve Hankin coined the term in 1997 and wrote a book with the same name. Back then, the phrase referred to growing competition to attract and retain employees as Baby Boomers left the workforce. The war for talent still rages on in 2018, but now applies to companies struggling to fill open positions with candidates qualified-enough to fill skill gaps created by emerging technologies. In 2018 recruiting landscape, top candidates are few and far between, which means they get to call the shots, while companies continue to compete in recruitment. There's particularly fierce competition among organizations in technology and engineering fields, where skilled employees are especially sparse. This shortage can be incredibly damaging—according to the Hays US 2018 Salary Guide, 92 percent of the survey's respondents said that a skills shortage is negatively impacting their business. During this tough time for hiring, it pays to put effort into developing an effective recruiting strategy. Organizations that are able to effectively recruit talent have 18 percent higher revenues and 30 percent greater profitability than organizations that aren't as apt, according to Bersin by Deloitte's January report, Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and Execution. High-performing talent teams are proactive, strategic and innovative in their endeavors; they don't take a scattered "post and pray" approach to hiring. What do these organizations have in common, and how can you apply their methods at your company? To improve your recruiting strategy in 2018, focus on these three areas: 1) Be "at One" With the Business Talent acquisition should not be separate from the core of the business. For talent teams to be their most effective, they need to be strategically aware of and integrated with overall company goals, so that they are able to participate, and importantly, anticipate future business requirements. To stay in-tune with company strategy, have regular check-ins with leaders to ensure that corporate initiatives align with hiring initiatives, and adjust them accordingly if they're out of sync. 2) Make Recruitment About Candidates, Not the Company Employees want to feel special and wanted, so rather than taking a blanket approach to recruitment in 2018, effective recruiters should take the time to market roles to specific candidates and create a more personalized candidate journey for them. Shift your perspective and consider how candidates experience the hiring process from their first click on the careers page, throughout the application and interview process, all the way until the post-interview stage. Are candidates looked after? Have you built a connection with them? Are you communicating with them consistently? It's also important to consider whether or not new recruits will fit into the company culture. Rather than solely focusing on skills and experience, 90 percent of top recruiters consider candidates' work ethic, values and potential, according to the Bersin report, compared with only 35 percent of low-performing recruiters. A cultural fit is important, because candidates with the right values will continue to feed into and reinforce the company culture. 3) Use the Right Technology Mature talent teams need to look to the future and find tools that enable organizations to teach employees new skills as skill gaps form. Deloitte's report shows that forward-looking teams are four times more likely to coach and develop their people than poorly-performing recruiters. It's crucial to keep up not only with learning technology, but also other emerging tools. For example, effective recruiters are six times more likely than low performers to use artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive data analytics to stamp out any possible bias in their recruiting methods and constantly improve the calibre of candidates they source. The war for talent shows little sign of abating in 2018. Companies that want to be the best need to bring the best recruiting strategies to the table, and that means putting thoughtful, proactive effort into talent acquisition rather than being reactive. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Ways You Can Turn the Tide From Outbound to Inbound Recruiting
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4 Ways You Can Turn the Tide From Outbound to Inbound Recruiting

With unemployment hovering at 4 percent nationwide, employers are scrambling to find new ways to attract top talent. A 2016 study from Deloitte made it clear: companies need to articulate their brand in a way that entices candidates that want to align their personal values with their employer's mission. Companies who are able to do this often experience a shift from outbound to inbound recruiting. Outbound recruiting is a traditional approach to recruitment, which involves posting open positions on the career page of the company website, or on job boards, and subsequently sorting through resumes to find qualified applicants. Inbound recruiting, on the other hand, means candidates are proactively searching for openings at your company. This creates a pool of applicants who aren't looking for just any job, but want to work for your company. Not only does inbound recruiting attract candidates who are more passionate about your company, but the savings can also be substantial. LinkedIn's pay-per-click job posting fees can cost 1.3 times your daily pay-per-click budget, while having a strong employer brand grows a candidate pool organically, and for free. Here are four ways you can communicate your brand story to help turn the tide from outbound to inbound recruiting, as told by companies that have made it happen. 1) Make Employees Your Brand Advocates HubSpot, a marketing software company creates content on its website that demonstrates their brand as employers, and allows them to engage with candidates in a personal way. HubSpot's blog posts instill a sense of pride and ownership into employees by highlighting how the company has been integral in transforming the marketing industry. Hannah Fleishman, Hubspot's Employer Brand Manager, says it "gives employees a reason to care about the brand," which turns them into brand ambassadors. Employees who see their work highlighted on the blog are more likely to share these blog posts on social media, which in turn further promotes HubSpot's employer brand and drives inbound marketing. 2) Give Authentic Insights Into the Company Culture Alex Turnbull, CEO of GrooveHQ, a customer support app, established the company's brand by creating a personal blog on his company's website where he details the ups and downs of his startup journey. Its candor inspired two candidates—both of whom now hold senior management positions—to contact Turnbull and express interest in working there. His advice: behind-the-scenes blogging not only helps build a brand, but also gives potential employees insights into the company's culture that can lure them in. 3) Align Your Brand With Relevant Candidate Pipelines Cristian Rennella, VP of Human Resources at ElMejorTrat, a web-based financial services business in Argentina, credits the company's employer brand with attracting engineers who weren't simply looking to change jobs, but were compelled by the company's focus on collaborative learning. The key to success was in their partnerships with software engineering programs at prestigious universities, which attracted candidates eager to grow their technical knowledge. By aligning their brand with specific opportunities for learning and development relevant to their business, they were able to expand their inbound recruiting candidate pool and you can too. 4) Use Social Media to Lend a Fresh Perspective Brett Helling, CEO of Ridester, a resource for rideshare drivers, wasn't having success with his traditional outbound recruitment approach. Scrapping "boring job ads," he instead opted for sharing fun insights into the company's culture on Twitter and Instagram that included rider surveys and contests for employees. This approach garnered mentions in prestigious business publications and turned outbound recruitment into inbound with very little effort. Traditional outbound recruitment shouldn't be the only strategy smart HR professionals have in their toolkit. By adopting inbound strategies based on your employer brand, your company can not only save on recruitment expenses, but can also build an engaged, more loyal workforce committed to achieving company goals. Photo: Creative Commons

5 Essential Elements of a Feedback Loop
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5 Essential Elements of a Feedback Loop

This is the first post in our CHRO Community Series, which highlights big ideas from CHRO's working to push the boundaries of HR and transform their organization for the better. This first mini series will focus on improving systems of feedback within organizations. Lately, it seems as though companies are going to extremes to find the most effective way to provide feedback to their employees. Microsoft, Deloitte and Accenture have made headlines with their radical decision to drop performance reviews in favor of continuous feedback methods, while some are sticking solely to ratings systems, and still others are attempting to reimagine the entire process. But let's not overcomplicate things here. The truth is, the concept of feedback has been around for over 2,000 years—and in that time a lot has been learned about exactly what it takes to establish a successful "feedback loop," which takes the output of a system (in this case performance reviews or weekly feedback) and adjusts the input in order to achieve the desired results. While different companies have various needs when it comes to talent development, a successful feedback loop typically includes these five elements at its core. 1) Get Everyone Involved in the Process Early On Successful feedback systems are rooted in the respective organization's mission and values, and have buy-in from their executives and employees. Not only does this bring legitimacy and authority to the entire feedback process, it increases the likelihood that the system will result in actionable change. Before leading your feedback revolution, gather thoughts from each of your employees: What do they like or not like about the current system? How frequently do they want to give and receive feedback? After giving feedback what action do they want to see taken? All of these questions will help you figure out what is working well with the current system and how you can improve it moving forward. Getting everyone on the same page and contributing ideas will ensure people feel personally accountable for the system's success. 2) Focus on More Than Just the Data Data collection is part of every feedback process, whether you are implementing an annual performance review or having your weekly check-in. But keep in mind that while the data will be helpful to uncover long term trends and insights the ultimate goal of having a system of feedback is to find ways to improve the employee experience and the organization as a whole. It's not about just getting answers to the designated questions or adding another data point into the system, it's about building relationships with your employees so that they feel valued and engaged in their work. 3) Analyze the Data to Make It Actionable The work doesn't end after the surveys are turned in or the weekly discussion ends. Take time to process and analyze the information you have gained. Keeping the data organized in a performance management system can enable you to easily track trends, employee goals and identify areas for improvement. 4) Discuss Results with Employees The most important part of a feedback loop is also where it most often falls short. Sharing any insights or findings you have with your employees is critical to keeping the cycle of feedback moving. Set up a time to chat with each person you reviewed and have an open and honest conversation about the results. Then work together to find ways for improvement and growth. By having these follow-up conversations, you demonstrate how much you value the program, increasing accountability and improving response rates in the future. A survey by Zenger Folkman, which looked into the feedback practices of 22,000 leaders, found that "employees are far more content, put forth extra effort, stay employed longer and have enormously better relationships with their manager if their leader provides effective feedback." 5) Create Opportunities For Employees to Take Action The whole point of having a cycle of feedback is to enable you and your company to continuously improve and innovate based on the results of each cycle. But, when done correctly it does a lot more than just that: Having an effective feedback loop keeps employees engaged and invested in their work by making them feel valued by the organization, improves performance by putting employees on the most direct path to reach their goals and improves communication by giving employees dedicated time to speak to their managers and peers. And according to Gallup's State of the American Workforce Report, companies with engaged employees see a 240 percent jump in performance-related business outcomes compared to those without engaged workers. Make sure to continuously track both feedback and the actions taken by individuals in response to it so you can see the impact on your employees and the organization as a whole, and then find ways to continuously improve. Photo: Creative Commons

5 Steps for HR Pros to Become Business Leaders
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5 Steps for HR Pros to Become Business Leaders

Strategic human resources. An oxymoron perhaps? What does "strategic HR" really mean? If you talk to HR professionals about business strategy, you may hear things like “having a seat at the table," "being a trusted advisor" or “being included in key business initiatives." But HR pros can play more than just an advisory role — they should be business leaders. What other overhead department has such a significant opportunity to drive business results by creating a framework for a high performing workforce? Follow my logic: Nothing is accomplished in business without active performance of the workforce. A highly skilled and focused workforce can have a significant impact on the success of the organization, but the work performed and skills exercises must be directly aligned to the business strategy and objectives, otherwise time and money are wasted. In order to ensure an aligned workforce, there needs to be an infrastructure that coordinates human behavior with the company mission. HR has the opportunity to develop this infrastructure and create an aligned workforce. That's not just grabbing a seat at the table; it's impacting the bottom line. Here are five steps for HR leaders to make the move from an overhead department to a strategic leadership department. Study Your Organization Read your annual report carefully. Review every financial report you can get your hands on, both at the organizational and departmental level. Brainstorm with your HR team, particularly those embedded in operations, and look for cases of human behavior obstructing business success. For example, let's say you review the financials for one of your struggling business units that is losing market share to a competitor. Your HR team comes together to discuss the business unit: Recruiting reports they have had to fill the same manager position three times in the past 18 months. Compensation says the director insists on paying below market. The employee satisfaction scores indicate unrest in the workforce and explain the low retention rate. Frame the Business Opportunity After identifying a problem, look for the opportunity. In our example case, the opportunity is to help the business unit leader improve market share. Once you have identified an opportunity, outline the precise human behavior issues that you see as obstacles to achieving this goal. For instance, point to the low employee engagement levels in the department and the sources — bad leadership and below market rate payment. Make Your Case Next, provide business leaders with actionable steps to take to address these obstacles, and explain how your proposal, if implemented, will make a significant positive contribution to revenue, income, market share or expense. For example, explain how increasing employee satisfaction can subsequently increase productivity. To increase satisfaction, you need to re-evaluate your compensation strategy, and pay above market rate for top talent. Make sure you clearly detail the commitment needed for your proposal to achieve the desired result. Go for It After you receive commitment, implement carefully. Provide regular progress reports, and let those who made the commitment know when commitments are not honored. In our sample case, you should work closely with the struggling director on compensation strategy. Discuss the current pay strategy and offer a new approach, based on employee feedback and performance. It is critical to involve key stakeholders in your process. Without regular updates and check-ins, your proposal may fail. Shift the Paradigm After the project is completed, you have a powerful opportunity to demonstrate what “strategic HR" can be — a powerful resource to drive business results. Let's say you implement the new compensation strategy. Continue following up on the impact of the new strategy, and present leadership with concrete results, such as increased productivity and rising market share. Analytics and data-driven reports focused on business results — revenue, income, market share or expenses — demonstrate your ability to impact the bottom line. By shifting the focus of HR from a reactive to a proactive department, you will not only drive organizational success, but also transform the reputation of strategic HR. Photo: Shutterstock

5 Ways Managers Can Guide the Talent Development Process
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5 Ways Managers Can Guide the Talent Development Process

When a young Marine officer becomes a company commanding officer, it is his first experience with leadership. Being responsible for the lives of more than 200 Marines in times of peace and, more importantly, during war is a heavy weight to bear. The consequences of failure are staggering. That's why a young Marine officer's most crucial task is ensuring that those under his command have the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to succeed. This resonates with me and my role as a learning professional. I understand the critical importance of learning as it relates to knowledge, skills and behaviors, and I see the value in having a safe environment in which to practice these skills. But today, many companies are missing a key element of leadership—taking responsibility for the development of employees both as individuals, and as members of a team. Talent development is a new buzz word, and we talk about it all the time. What's unclear is who is responsible for developing employees? Is it the Learning and Development department? Is it HR? Or might it be the manager of the team or department? I am inclined to go with the latter. After all, the leader is closest to the team, has a thorough understanding of the capability and capacity of team members and always has skin in the game. But this scenario doesn't make the learning and development department obsolete. L&D professionals are subject matter experts on how adults learn, and managers are subject matter experts on the missions of their respective teams. Working together, they can develop scenarios, plan activities, identify competencies, build motivation and deliver learning content in the most expedient and lasting ways. To maximize this partnership, the managers should follow this five-step approach as part of the talent development process. 1)Provide Context Team leaders know which skills will be crucial to the success of the team, and talent development process. For example, a team focused on receiving and classifying new inventory has to work together to achieve accuracy and efficiency—this task requires key organizational skills, and managers should make it clear why organization is essential for team success. With this context, team leaders can motivate their employees to learn. They can also help them connect the dots between a newly learned skill, and the increased success of the team. After gaining insight into the context of a learning experience, employees will likely be more attentive and be able to better relate learning content to their jobs. 2)Prepare the Learner Team leaders can prepare their employees for a learning experience, whether formal or informal. Before diving into the learning experience, set it up. Explaining what to expect and how the new knowledge or skill will benefit the team and the employee creates interest and curiosity. By generating curiosity, the manager says, “This is important—here's why you should pay attention and learn." 3)Monitor Learning As the learner embarks on a journey to gain new knowledge, check in regularly. Answer questions and ask questions to ensure that the process is working. Track progress using your Learning Management System as well as regular evaluations related to the new knowledge and skills they are learning. 4)Follow Up A simple yet effective question mangers should pose after an employee has gained new knowledge is, “What did you learn, and how will that help you to do your job more effectively or efficiently?" With that question, the manager emphasizes the relevance and importance of the learning content. If the leader cannot connect the dots back to the employee's work, it may be time to question the need for the learning experience. 5)Evaluate Progress Everyone needs practice to improve and perfect a skill. Feedback is important here, and doesn't necessarily mean a critique. Rather, it means discussing the employee's confidence level, identifying ways to increase confidence and coming up with different scenarios that might challenge the employee in the future. Keep the dialogue going until both you and the employee believe that the appropriate confidence level has been reached. Managers aren't the only ones that have to guide employees through a learning experience. L&D teams play a crucial role as well—look out for the next post in this two-part series, which will explore L&D's role in the partnership between managers and learning professionals. Photo: Creative Commons

8 Simple SEM and SEO Strategies for Recruiters in 2018
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8 Simple SEM and SEO Strategies for Recruiters in 2018

Like it or not, the war for talent will only become more competitive in 2018. As such, recruiters must assume the role of online marketing masters to attract the best talent and there's no better way to start than by applying search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Google receives 300 million job-related search requests each month, which makes up nearly 30 percent of all Google searches. Unfortunately, for many organizations, there's often a significant disconnect between how job seekers search for opportunities and how recruiters post jobs. Consequently, it's all too easy for a job posting to evaporate into cyberspace and become an invisible blip in a sea of information, even with seven out of every 10 job searches starting online. Using SEM and SEO strategies can boost recruiters' chances of getting a job opening noticed. Here are a few simple recruiting hacks that can help your next job posting find its way to the right candidates. 1) Tweak the Job Title Think of the job title as a keyword—and do some research on what works best. Keywords are like cookie crumbs; they lead applicants to your treasure. Some jobs are inherently more popular and there's not much you can do about that. But different versions of similar job titles may receive more searches than others. For example, approximately 4,500 jobseekers use “office assistant" each month, while 80,000 use the phrase “administrative assistant" instead. Google's Keyword Planner, an intuitive tool that provides insight on trending keywords, is one free option, but if you want to step up your keyword game, there are plenty of paid tools out there as well. 2) Use Precise Terminology While "salesperson," "sales representative" and "sales rep" may all describe the same position, it's critical to identify which phrase or word order job seekers use most often. In other words, when it comes to search engine optimization, "sales rep" and "sales representative" are not necessarily interchangeable, so use Google's Keyword Planner or other tools to identify the most suitable terminology for the job you're posting. 3) Focus on the Position, Not the Company Keyword position also matters, and could be the difference between showing up on page one of search results versus page two or three. Perform a search yourself and compare how a job listing that reads "Administrative Assistant Family Law" fairs against a listing that says "Family Law Legal Administrative Assistant" and structure your listing accordingly. 4) Keep It Short Keep the job title to under 60 characters. Some search engines have a maximum number of characters they display. While Indeed is quite liberal with a maximum of 200, Google and Craigslist are stingy at 60 and 70, respectively. 5) Be Different The goal of a job posting headline is to get applicants to click and apply, so be creative. Try something like this: “Wanted: A Team-Building HR Manager." You can also use parentheses to add more detail to the posting headline. For example, consider "HR Manager (Full Benefits, Medical and Dental)." And if yours is a recognizable organization, don't be afraid to name-drop your company into the posting headline as well. 6) Be Specific Rather than Promotional Let's say you're a recruiter looking to fill a driver role at a car dealership. You might be temped to use “Amazing Part Time Job Opportunity" in place of a job title to promote the opening, but the chances of a candidate coming across this posting will be slim when he types “Driver" into the search bar. Use specific, informational terms rather than promotional ones. 7) Don't Use Slashes or Other Characters In a title like “Administrative Assistant/Office," words separated by a slash may be queued as a single search term. Since job seekers are unlikely to search for "assistant/office," you will reduce your visibility and page ranking. 8) Don't Use All Capital Letters In the digital world, using all capital letters is the equivalent of shouting. Not only are capital letters difficult to read when they appear side by side, they're also a turn-off for candidates and don't improve rankings. So, where's the future of job posting headed? The simple administrative task of posting a job has evolved into a highly skilled function that combines the art of storytelling and the science of online marketing. A client summed up the situation perfectly when she responded to my critique of a poor-performing post, "It looks like I need more SEO knowledge…who knew?" Check back next month for part two of this series with more SEM and SEO tips! Photo: Creative Commons

Bookmarked: Get to Know Mollie Lombardi, Founder of mollielombardi.com and m.Research
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Bookmarked: Get to Know Mollie Lombardi, Founder of mollielombardi.com and m.Research

Can You Terminate an Employee for Looking for Another Job?
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Can You Terminate an Employee for Looking for Another Job?

Dear ReWorker, An employee told me that she is planning to quit, but didn't provide a date for her last day on the job. Her role is critical. I want to start searching for a person to replace her, but do I have to wait until she actually gives me an exact date before hiring someone new? Sincerely, Ready to Rehire ___________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Ready to Rehire, This is a tricky situation. On the one hand, you should be thrilled to have gotten advanced notice. On average, it takes 42 days to fill a vacant position, which is a lot longer than the standard two weeks notice most employees give. On the other hand, now you're in limbo. You don't have a date, yet you know she's got one foot out the door and everyone is waiting for your next move. Remember, all of your employees are watching how you will handle this situation. Legally, you can go ahead and start recruiting now and, once you find someone, fire your current employee. But, if you do that, no employee will ever give you more than two weeks notice again. You want your other employees to be honest with you about their plans because it helps you prepare, so don't jeopardize that openness with a rash decision. Instead, before starting the recruiting process, have a formal conversation with your existing employee to better understand their motivations for looking for another job. Ask her why she's planning to leave and just how serious she is about it. This may also help you gauge her end date. For example, if she's planning on starting graduate school, she'll have an end date to give you just as soon as she's received an acceptance letter. But, if she's just looking for a new job, it could be well over a year before she actually leaves, assuming she finds something better. When you two speak, don't be afraid to explain your situation. Tell her: "Jane, you told me you were looking for another job. Because your role is critical, I want to fill it as soon as possible. Can you help me nail down a date so I can start the recruiting process? Ideally, a new person would start a few weeks before you leave, so that you can help with training." Jane may have just been babbling out loud and doesn't have any real plans to go anywhere, in which case this conversation should alert her to the seriousness of what she said. Additionally, she may have been fishing for a "please don't go" raise or promotion. Threatening to quit isn't the best way to ask for those rewards, but people often don't know how else to do it. If she deserves a raise or a promotion, offer it, but know that it might not fix the problem if it's not what she wanted in the first place. If she is ultimately serious about leaving, then offer to help. Why? Because this behavior on your part will ensure your good reputation in the field, and make other employees feel at ease about coming to you with their plans. Turnover is a part of HR life, but getting advanced notice makes it far less painful. Your ReWorker, Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Bad Influence
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Bad Influence

In the modern office, collaborative work environments and open offices have become the norm. But while these emerging office layouts are designed to promote teamwork, they can sometimes have a detrimental effect: When an employee comes to work feeling stressed, this stress can actually become contagious. Negativity in the workplace can have harmful long-term impacts on your workers—and your business. Find out what you can do to design your office in a way that encourages employees to be happy, engaged and productive. Header image: Creative Commons

Cartoon Coffee Break | HR Complaints
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Cartoon Coffee Break | HR Complaints

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Where should employees turn when they have a complaint against HR? Our Evil HR Lady weighs in. Header photo: Creative Commons

 Cartoon Coffee Break: What About the Old Office Buildings?
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Cartoon Coffee Break: What About the Old Office Buildings?

Cornerstone Among First Organizations to Achieve ISO 27701 Gold Standard in Data Privacy
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Cornerstone Among First Organizations to Achieve ISO 27701 Gold Standard in Data Privacy

At Cornerstone, we’re on a journey to continuously demonstrate our commitment to data privacy and people protection. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been awarded the ISO 27701 certification for our Privacy Information Management System. Considered to be the first globally recognized privacy certification, and aligned with GDPR, ISO 27701 is an extension of the gold standard in security. It requires organizations to adhere to a structured framework of information security and personal data protection requirements and outlines practical guidance for managing privacy programs. “With this new certification, we are bringing the power of people protection to all of our clients across the globe,” explained José Alberto Rodríguez Ruiz, Global Data Protection Officer at Cornerstone. “We are focused on offering all organizations we work with the reassurance for how we handle their data, providing compliance reporting and career protection. Ultimately, this enables our clients to also gain the trust of their employees.” Achieving ISO 27701 was a top priority for Cornerstone after it was enacted last fall. “We believe this certification marks a key milestone for both us and data privacy in general,” said José. “It’s about more than protecting data: we protect the data to protect the people.” Â

A Day In the Life of a Campus Recruiting Expert
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A Day In the Life of a Campus Recruiting Expert

This piece is the third in our "Campus Recruiting 101" series, about how recruiters can make the most of their campus recruiting efforts this year. As industries shift and demand for multi-skilled workers skyrockets, companies are looking for young and dynamic talent to join their ranks. A study from Bentley University found that 71 percent of in-demand skills are required across two or more job categories—meaning cross-disciplinary talent is in high-demand. Colleges are a great place to locate potential employees trained to excel in multiple areas, but as an HR professional, it can feel as though there are as many competitors to beat out as students to recruit. We caught up with Jill Ripper, Director of Talent Acquisition at Informatica, to get her take on how a company can set itself apart both during and outside the school year. What is the most challenging part of your job? Number one is keeping up with the ever-changing ways to recruit talent in general. The demand for talent continues to rise, especially in the tech space. Informatica's not a household name, so we have to do a lot of extra work to brand ourselves on campus—a lot more work than, say, your Googles, your Facebooks—names that students know. How do we compete in that space successfully when there's such high demand for talent, and when we don't have the same brand recognition as some of our peers in the industry? Sometimes, thinking outside the box and doing outlandish things gets students' attention. Don't be afraid to try something. Oftentimes you find that it works, and you're surprised by that. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? When I worked at eBay, I had the great fortune of helping launch a new grad induction program in Europe. We'd piloted the program for about a year in San Jose, where eBay is based, and then we launched a version of it in India and then a version in Europe. I built out the entire European program. For a week, we ran new college grads—22 of them—through various workshops: how to build your personal brand, how to acclimate from campus to the workplace, how to manage up and how to communicate. We brought in senior leaders from the organization to teach the grads about the different parts of the business. Lastly, we had a professional facilitator lead a workshop on how to build and organize around a project plan, because the grads' ultimate deliverable at the end of the week was to present to a panel of judges—senior leaders at our company—on a product or technology that eBay was not using, but should have been, to attract the millennial generation. Many, many patents came out of those projects, so the induction program had a huge business value. How does Informatica distinguish itself on campus? In Bangalore, India, we are teaching our products and technology in the university classroom. We're partnering with certain IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) schools to put Informatica products in the classroom so that we have a direct connection with not only the professors, but also the students who are learning our technology. Those students are ripe for the picking when it comes to recruiting, because they come out of these programs understanding the company and our technology, and wanting to learn more once they graduate. How can companies improve their campus recruiting? For a company that has no program and wants to start one, my advice is to start small. Build a solid foundation and build the structure of the program—identify a couple of schools to target, identify what roles you're going to invest in hiring for and build a scalable model. I often see companies get very excited about recruiting, and they come out of the gate trying to do too much, too fast. They don't build a sustainable structure, so it comes crashing down. So: Start small, build a foundation and scale. For companies with an existing program looking for ways to improve, my advice is to get in the classroom, build those relationships with professors in order to have a connection with the top students, and look at more innovative and creative ways to brand yourself on campus. Photo: Creative Commons

A Day in the Life of an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
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A Day in the Life of an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychologists (also know as I-O psychologists) aren't your typical sit-on-the-couch therapists. This line of work involves applying the principles of psychology to the workplace to help businesses increase productivity, make better decisions around hiring and provide insight into applying market research to business strategy. Sounds like a pretty useful person to have on your team, right? In recent years, more and more organizations would agree—in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked I-O psychology as the fastest growing occupation in the U.S. in 2014. But although executives are increasingly turning to psychology to inform business strategy, it's not yet a mainstream practice. As Dr. Kelly Slack, an I-O psychologists at NASA, says "Although this field has gained traction in recent years, the vast majority of people have no idea what I-O is." To learn more about the field, we spoke with three I-O psychologists about their daily work, biggest challenges and current initiatives. Dr. Kelley J. Slack Title: I-O Psychologist for the Behavioral Health and Performance Group at NASA Johnson Space Center and CFO and Managing Consultant for Minerva Work Solutions PPLC What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? At Minerva, we've taken the Moonbase simulation—a simulation game developed for NASA—and adapted it to a business setting. Moonbase is used at Johnson Space Center to teach flight controllers and new astronauts soft skills. At Minerva, we've taken the basic Moonbase simulation and adapted it to teach teamwork and other soft skillsto workers and managers. How has the growth of workforce analytics impacted your role as an I-O psychologist? One of the beautiful facts about I-O psychologists is that we've been taught to use scientific evidence to solve real workplace problems. For example, we might get hired because an organization is worried about employee turnover. We might decide the best way of finding out the 'why' behind what is happening is conducting focus groups and an employee survey. From the results of those, we can determine not only why employees are leaving, but also develop an action plan to improve engagement and reduce turnover. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? A company that is looking to utilize I-O psychology is already way ahead of its competitors. For companies looking to support their workforce from line workers to the CEO, the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP) says it well: I-O psychology is “science for a smarter workplace." Dr. Brenda Fellows Title: President and CEO of Fellows Corporate Consortium, LLC, a global management consulting firm, and Adjunct Professor at Hass School of Business, University of California Berkeley What is the most challenging part of your job? One challenging part of my job is getting organizations, organizational leaders and employees ready for change. I work on many projects that include change management and organizational effectiveness. Oftentimes, people resist change no matter how complex or simple the change may be. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? I worked with a major global corporation to develop three employee development programs, which continue to provide current and future employees the opportunity to learn new skills by learning from persons functioning at two and three levels above them. The return on investment for these programs is a win-win for the organization and its employees through employee engagement, retention and continued motivation. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? To effectively address psychological underpinnings of human dynamics within the field of leadership one must explore emotional, social, spiritual and internal dynamics driving human performance, decision-making and stressors. Jen Lacewell Title: I-O Psychologist for Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, a non-profit mental health agency What is the most challenging part of your job? Scope creep has to be one of the most challenging parts of my position. The work I do can be very ambiguous, and small projects that I think will only take a few days can easily turn into large projects that take weeks if I'm not careful. How has the growth of workforce analytics played into your role as an I-O psychologist? Specifically, working for a non-profit, a lot of what we do is funded by grants. Workforce analytics are great for demonstrating evidence, by way of data, that a program or initiative is working. What is your best piece of advice for companies looking to utilize I-O psychology in the workplace? If you're looking to spend the money to hire an I-O, do it right. Listen to what the I-O has to say with an open mind, and don't expect results if you withhold resources or override their advice during projects. It will be the best decision you make! I-O psychologists can help you leverage human capital through selection, assessment, training and employee development. Header photo: Twenty20

Dear ReWorker: How Do I Get a Manager to Be a Better Leader?
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Dear ReWorker: How Do I Get a Manager to Be a Better Leader?

Dear ReWorker, We just promoted a fabulous team leader to assistant manager. As a team leader, he was collaborative, full of new ideas and everyone loved him. But now, it's like he's had a personality change. He's nitpicky, only gives negative feedback and has become super demanding. How do I coach him back to being the person he was before? Sincerely, Managing the Manager +++++ Dear Managing, There are two potential problems here. First, I’m guessing that as a team leader, this individual had no disciplinary power, and now he does. Sometimes, this level of authority gets to people’s heads. Second, people learn to manage by watching their managers, so I suspect that he learned these skills from a boss that was equally nitpicky, demanding and prone to focus on negative feedback. Your new assistant manager was supportive as a team leader because he was protecting the staff from the manager. Now, he’s a manager, and is convinced that this is how managers behave. I’ve seen this situation happen over and over again. So, let’s fix it. Create a Conversation Sit down with the new assistant manager and say exactly what you’ve said here: “You used to be supportive and now you find fault with everything. Why did you change the way you lead?” I like using the word “lead” instead of “manage” because he obviously understood leadership as a team leader. Now, it’s important to find out why he thinks of the term “manager” as a different ball of wax. Listen to his answers. He may, for example, say that he didn’t realize how many problems needed fixing before he was promoted—and perhaps there’s truth to this. However, it’s critical to emphasize to him that nothing gets fixed through negativity.  Tell him that you want him to be the leader he was before—just at a higher-level and with more influence. Explain his responsibilities clearly and emphasize the leadership aspect. Leverage the Learning Opportunity This situation is an excellent opportunity to offer your manager learning resources and opportunities. So many companies don’t provide formal training for their new managers, but if you want good leadership, you need to train for it. Learning content—including courses on how to communicate so that others listen or how to deliver feedback constructively—can enable your manager to more effectively engage with his team. And be sure to offer him learning resources that train him for leadership and management in tandem, because while the two are related, they’re not synonymous. To understand the difference, it’s helpful to think of leadership as the goal, and management as the grunt work. In providing him with the tools to make him a good manager and leader, you’re empowering him to let go of everything that makes him a not-so-good one.  Be sure to act as soon as possible. The longer you let him manage poorly, the harder it will be to get him to change. And his employees will become disgruntled and resent him. This is an assistant manager you can save—you know he has the ability. Don’t drop the ball now. Get in there quickly and teach him how to lead and manage at the same time. Sincerely, Your ReWorker, Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady For more advice from our ReWorker, check out her column here.Â

Dear ReWorker: How Do I Rehire Employees Laid Off Due to Coronavirus?
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Dear ReWorker: How Do I Rehire Employees Laid Off Due to Coronavirus?

Dear ReWorker, We recently had to lay off employees when the uncertainty of COVID hit. One of the first people we laid off was an employee that had performance and behavioral problems. We had multiple coaching sessions. We gave this employee multiple warnings. But nothing worked. Fast forward six months: Things have picked up, and we have a few positions open. This employee privately messaged me and applied for an open position. How should I respond? And should we bring back other people when another round of closures could mean we’d have to lay people off again? Sincerely, To rehire or not to rehire                                                                                                                                  Dear Rehire, Once upon a time, I got multiple phone calls from a former employee asking me about open positions. The HR system listed him as ineligible for rehire, but he insisted that that was an error—that his former boss told him he’d be first in line when a position opened up. I called his former manager to see if the notation had, in fact, been an error. It had not. This employee was ineligible for rehire for performance reasons, but the manager had taken the “easy” way out and didn’t mention this to the former employee. (It was in his severance paperwork, but obviously, he thought it was an error.) I told the manager that the next time this hopeful former employee reached out to him, he was to say very clearly that it was time to move on—the company was not going to rehire him. You need to do the same thing. Send a clear, straightforward message: “I appreciate your application, but we will not be moving forward.” Then repeat that every time this person contacts you. Make sure this is consistent within your HR system and any other records. This person is ineligible for rehire, period. Rehiring Employees Laid Off Due to Coronavirus Now, let’s talk about rehiring in general. Your previous (eligible) employees should be your first choices. The main reason: They require the least amount of training, and you know what you’re getting. Yes, it’s an opportunity to move people around and hire from the outside if your laid off or furloughed employees aren’t a good fit, but they should be at least considered. As the skills gap across organizations continues to widen, it’ll be harder than ever to find quality candidates. In a recent whitepaper, Cornerstone shared that 80% of CEOs seek a much broader range of skills for their company’s workforce than they currently have. If you had highly-skilled employees that you had to let go, take the opportunity to bring them back. For the workers that do come back, consider a few things: your new(ish) employees will need some retraining. They will be concerned about company stability and they may be on the financial edge if they’ve been unemployed for the past several months. My advice? Empower them from day one. Be sure to provide the same quality of onboarding experience that you’d deliver to brand new workers—whether it’s refreshing their knowledge of company processes or providing them with learning materials to catch up on any new tools you’ve implemented during the pandemic. It’s certain they’ll need resources to get up to speed. And be extra compassionate toward them. They will need support and transparency, especially if you foresee another wave of shutdowns and subsequent layoffs. They know that another slam to the economy may result in layoffs, but let them know you’ll do everything you can to avoid this—which you should. Finally, if you’re worried about the awkwardness of reaching back out to a laid-off employee, know this: For the most part, the people who have not found new jobs will be just as thrilled to be back to work as you are to have them back. Sincerely, Your ReWorker http://www.evilhrlady.org/ For more advice from our ReWorker, read her column here. Â

Dear ReWorker: How Should I Handle Political Chatter in the Office?
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Dear ReWorker: How Should I Handle Political Chatter in the Office?

Dear ReWorker, There are some employees who are uncomfortable with the political chatter in the office. It seems to pop up everywhere—in Slack conversations, jokes at meetings and even people asking direct questions about how the company will react to whatever political event is occurring. How should HR handle this? Sincerely, Tired of the Chatter _____________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Tired, You would think once the November elections ended, we would get a break from politics until the 2020 presidential election starts heating up again, but that is never the case. So, how do you handle political chatter creeping into office conversations? Well, first of all, unless you work for the government, your employees don't have free speech rights at the office—so, you can technically make certain topics off limits. However, before you run to do that, be aware that some states protect political beliefs—California most notably. If you reside in a state that protects politics beliefs it would be fine to say, "We are not going to discuss politics at work," but it's not fine to say, "We will only allow discussions in favor of the Republican party." Once you cross that line you violate free speech. Before you create a blanket ban on political chatter, here are a few ideas on how to set boundaries to create an office environment that allows for healthy discussion without distracting from work. 1) Focus on the Work The easiest way to diffuse political conversations is to remind employees that at the office, the main focus should be work. Diversions like, "Hey, let's get back to this slide deck," and, "Right now we need to be concentrating on the work not politics," can often diffuse a tense conversation. But, that doesn't fix all the problems. You can speak directly to people who are focusing more on politics than their jobs and be quite direct: "Jane, your focus on politician X is starting to impact your work. When you're at the office, I need you to focus on your work." If Jane is the only person talking about politics she may feel singled out, but the point is that no one would blather about a movie so much it interfered with their work. Guaranteed, people who are spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on politics aren't performing at their highest levels. If she doesn't pull it together, you can put her on a performance improvement plan. 2) Empower Managers to Talk With Their Teams Managers should be empowered to find a solution that works best for their teams. If that means they need to shut down off-topic conversations while people should be working, let them know you will back them up. If someone complains that "Kate won't let me talk about politics because she disagrees with me," investigate. If you find out that Kate won't let anyone talk about politics, explain to the employee why that is the office policy and not related to a manger's political leaning. 3) Create a Designated Space As for communications via Slack and email, they are generally for work purposes. But, if you want to, you can create a politics channel in Slack or a group email that people can opt into. Emphasize that disagreement is okay, but attacks are not. Managers, especially, should be aware that retaliation against employees who express different views should not be tolerated. Now, a caution: It's super easy to think "boy this sure is an interesting discussion!" when people agree with you and at the same time think, "these people should shut up and get to work!" when you don't agree with them. So, make sure you approach the crack down on politics from a neutral standpoint. If you don't, you may find yourself criticizing people in one group more than another and that can open you up to discrimination lawsuits. Sincerely, Your ReWorker Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Creative Commons

Directors, Here's How to Lead the Leaders
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Directors, Here's How to Lead the Leaders

When climbing the corporate ladder in a larger organization, director is an aspirational title. It might mean a bigger office, a bonus, stock eligibility and the responsibility of leading those who lead. While managers typically lead individual contributors, directors assume the role of leading the leaders—this is different. It is the director-level in an organization that sets the standard for engagement and commitment. As a director, you'll have to balance the needs of the organization, the division and the individual. It's also up to you to set the tone for communication—up, down and across. You'll need to understand that everything in an organization happens through people, and that people are guided by leadership. And you must acknowledge that guidance means setting clear expectations, measuring results and creating an environment of continuous learning. Directors, it's crucial to realize the enormity of your new role. It is a big change, but not always recognized as such. Here are three key wake up calls. 1) You Are the Face and Mouth of the Organization What you say isn't just your words anymore. Employees will listen, but they will watch more closely. You are the single most important ingredient in the organization's culture. If your words don't mirror the organization's aspirational values, you will cause confusion, wasted time and ultimately cynicism. 2) You Can Shape Your Organization's Image The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to make organizational-level decisions that are good for everyone. The perception of unfairness will become toxic if allowed to fester. As a director, you have the benefit of a 30,000-foot insight into why the decision was made, as well as the unique view of how the decision will impact your employees. Make it a point to understand the “why" and communicate it in a way that connects your employees to the organization as a whole. After all, the health of the organization is paramount to everyone; without it, jobs may be at risk. 3) You'll Have to Teach Managers How to Lead Here's the thing. New managers are taught (or not) the basics of Management 101. They are not taught how to lead; that's your job. Develop trust across your division. Ask employees about what they need and measure their engagement and commitment. Share your observations with managers, not in the form of criticism, but as a learning tool. A poor work climate can be turned around with attention to the needs of the employees. Teach your managers the importance of listening. Then teach them how to respond. Help them understand that they don't have to acquiesce to every employee's wants, but that they do need to acknowledge them and help the employees understand the “why." Reaching the pinnacle of organizational success by becoming a director is exciting, but you're not in Kansas anymore. The director role has a huge impact on the engagement of the workforce. By developing their front line managers, they can influence retention, generate commitment and move the organization forward. Photo: Creative Commons

Don’t Forget About the Boomers: How to Foster a Culture of Multigenerational Learning at Work
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Don’t Forget About the Boomers: How to Foster a Culture of Multigenerational Learning at Work

Why Rotating Employees Through Your Company Is a Win-Win
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Why Rotating Employees Through Your Company Is a Win-Win

The days of employees spending decades at a company -- and receiving a gold watch in gratitude -- are long gone. Workers today are constantly on the move, a fact of life that will only accelerate as job growth picks up. But the turnover poses particular challenges for companies looking to hold onto their best and brightest. In response, innovative companies are embracing a promising new retention strategy: employee rotation. Instead of locking workers into a single job category with a specific career trajectory, companies are moving workers through a variety of positions within departments or teams. Job rotation is seen as a way to motivate key employees, broaden their skill sets and, most important, hold onto them. It also gives employers the comfort of knowing there's someone who can quickly fill an ailing or departing coworker's shoes. "I can't think of a single industry that wouldn't benefit from job rotation," says Susan Heathfield, a human resources consultant who's been in the business for 30 years. "It helps employees spread their wings and extend their boundaries" and, she says, it helps employers engage and motivate their staff. The Payoff for You and Your Staff So where to start? First, recognize that employee rotation programs should be implemented with careful consideration. Every company should establish clear guidelines with each internal team so employees know what the rotation will entail and managers have a set of of best practices. Otherwise, the rotation will fall apart as employees wander from job to job without clear guidance or oversight. Have a purpose, have a plan and have a way to measure if the rotation is successful, Heathfield said. The programs can often be costly in terms of time spent training workers for their new jobs, she says, but the benefits can far outweigh the expense. Take, for instance, human resources. In a large company, an employee who typically handles employee health insurance can be shifted into a position that tends to job referrals. "So many employees come to human resources for a multitude of reasons and it makes more sense if their questions can all be answered by their first point of contact," explained Heathfield. "I want everyone in HR cross-trained so that you can serve employees immediately." The same logic applies to sales teams. Since sales hinge on relationships, it's crucial for everyone on the team to be familiar with one another's clients. "Normally people have dedicated customers, but having someone else available if the (primary point of contact) is out to serve your customers is key," Heathfield said. Sales folks are always reticent to share their clients, but will if given the right incentives. A Motivated Worker Is a Happy Worker It happens -- a lot. You have a valued employee whose skills have grown beyond her current duties and, yet, a promotion isn't an option. In any organization -- flat or hierarchical -- the opportunities to move up the ladder get smaller the higher up you go, notes Heathfield. Then, too, the employee may not want a promotion to the next rung. She'd rather stay an individual contributor than move into management. For these folks, job rotation can be a key retention strategy to keep them within your company. Whether an employee wants to be promoted or not, job rotation improves their skills and gives them a broader understanding of the inner workings of a company.  Sometimes, a valued employee's career path isn't the right one for her. But that doesn't mean she needs to pack up and leave. Quite the opposite. Too often we follow the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and are happy to have employees do what they've shown they can do best. But a lot of workers might be happier facing different challenges and learning new skills. The Society of Human Resources Management reports that self-growth and career development are among the top five most important considerations for workers. If employees don't feel like they're growing, they'll head for the exits, warns Heathfield. So if you've got a great employee who has expressed interest in trying out new roles within your company, work with them to create a job rotation plan or test phase -- it could be the difference between losing a stellar employee and helping them find a new passion that, in the end, bolsters your bottom line. It’s important for companies to make sure that employees are always motivated, engaged in their work, and progressing in their careers. Click here to learn more about how business and HR leaders can do this remotely, according to HR expert Suzanne Lucas. Photo credit: Can Stock

Employees Are More at Risk for Burnout Than Ever: Take Steps Now to Prevent It
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Employees Are More at Risk for Burnout Than Ever: Take Steps Now to Prevent It

At this point, we've all heard about employee burnout and the incredible toll it can take on individuals' mental, physical and emotional health, not to mention their company's performance and bottom line. A staggering 76% of employees report experiencing burnout in their work at least sometimes, according to a 2020 report from Gallup Research. In the best of times, many companies share a culture where being busy and exhausted is perceived as admirable. As a result, the risk for burnout is high. The recent pandemic has only heightened that risk, with the boundaries between work-life and home-life blurring, and increased pressure to add value (and avoid a layoff). Not to mention many are juggling home responsibilities like childcare with work. This is especially true for employees who love their work and for those who are concerned that creating true separation between their work and personal life will make them appear less driven. So how can we build company cultures that encourage productive, meaningful work—but don’t lead people to sacrifice their sanity in the process? Burnout is more than just stress. The World Health Organization first officially recognized burnout in 2019, terming it "a form of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed." It is characterized by the following: Feeling exhaustion or lack of energy Feeling cynical, negative or distant from your job Being less productive at work And those are just the symptoms. The repercussions can be physical, psychological and occupational: Studies indicate that burnout is a significant predictor for everything from insomnia and depression to coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, not to mention increases in job dissatisfaction, absenteeism and other behaviors that are of consequence to employers. It’s common among high achievers who love their careers. According to recent studies, there are three major types of employees who experience burnout: those who feel overwhelmed, those who are under-stimulated and those who feel disengaged. Underchallenged and disengaged employees can respond well to opportunities for professional and personal development, but what about an ambitious person determined to make an impact? By acknowledging burnout as the legitimate issue it is, the WHO helped launch the condition into the global spotlight. But while awareness is on the rise, the response still seems to fall short. Articles advising that employees simply need to "work less" and "take some time for themselves," can feel laughable in a culture where 1 a.m. emails and working through the weekend have become de rigueur. This is true for employees at every level, but can especially resonate with motivated achievers who want to prove themselvesin high-pressure jobs. Understand what's causing the problem—and make changes. Each company has its own issues to address, but there are three trends that contribute to burnout across the board. 1) With emails chiming in our pockets, we're always working. Employees checking email before getting out of bed is a problem—for more reasons than you might think. "Each time we receive a work alert when we are not at work, our brain performs something called a 'cognitive set shift,'" says Jennifer Douglas, Ph.D., a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. "This means it takes energy and effort to go from listening to your partner's story about their day to thinking about a work task." This energy depletion happens even if we don’t respond to the email, Dougas says, because it begins as soon as we have to process new information about a different subject matter. It's the constant switching back and forth from work to personal and back again that decreases our sense of restoration, which can contribute to burnout. To help reduce the number of set-shifts for employees, companies can make the culture around technology more human—and that’s especially critical now that everyone is working from home during the pandemic. In fact, now is an opportunity to model and foster healthy behaviors, such as setting their Slack notifications to Do Not Disturb, taking breaks and staying “off” during predetermined hours. 2) Without clear goals, employees are either overwhelmed or disengaged. Working without knowing what you’re working toward can, for high achievers, lead to a feeling of endless work without achievement or recognition. On the other end of the spectrum, a lack of connection with company goals or team objectives might be the reason some employees feel disengaged. Both can lead to burnout in employees. "Set reasonable individual employee goals and corporate goals," says Carla Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in employee burnout. "Goals that are excessively high and nearly unachievable can lead to exhaustion and frustration, but when goals are clear and doable, employees will feel challenged." The next step: Celebrate individuals for achieving those goals—even if it's just a quick email saying "good job!" "Not only will this increase employee motivation, but it will help decrease the stress that leads to burnout," Manly says. 3) Listening and understanding go a long way. The more someone expects their work to be meaningful, the more easily they can experience burnout—especially when they feel their ability to achieve their goals is hampered by outside forces like bureaucratic red tape, unnecessary regulations and unresolved conflicts. "Employees can figure out most of their work-related issues and problem-solve on their own," says Annie Varvaryan, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who provides therapy to tech employees in Silicon Valley. "But when an employee is coming to management with an issue about meeting their deadlines, department issues or even systemic issues in their company, it’s important to help them feel listened to instead of turning every discussion into a problem-solving session." This may seem counterintuitive—why wouldn't people want solutions?—but research suggests simply hearing out a problem and responding nonjudgmentally can improve morale. This kind of open-door policy centered around listening can help employees feel confident raising a variety of issues—including feelings of stress or other mental health concerns. This will help who are experiencing burnout—or are about to—come forward and seek support. "Have referrals on hand for therapists who accept the company’s insurance," Manly says. "This may sound simple, but the impact can be profound."

The Four Major Factors That Crush Curiosity
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The Four Major Factors That Crush Curiosity

Imagine our world if the parents of Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs had told them to shut up and just do as they were told. And yet, parents, teachers and managers seem to do everything possible to crush curiosity. Ironically, it’s the catalyst for everything business seeks: productivity, growth and innovation. Curiosity is also the engine behind every list of high-demand workplace skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and creativity. These skills can’t be taught in the traditional sense: Students and workers can’t memorize facts and formulas, and, upon passing a test, be declared proficient. Mastering them requires a high, healthy dose of inquisitiveness, which, unfortunately, we lose over time. As kids, we pick up every object, dirty or shiny. We touch it, smell it and even taste it. Psychologist Jean Piaget says that we come into this world as tiny amateur scientists. We ask, “What is it?” and “Why?” repeatedly. From the first time we discover our own hands, we embark on a nonstop experiment to explore everything. But along comes a parent, teacher or stranger who slams the door on curiosity with these words: “Just put it down and pay attention.” It happens at work, too, thousands of times each day. Employees ask, “Why do we do it this way?” and are told, “That’s the way it’s done around here. If you want to make it, just do what you’re told and stop asking so many questions.” Fortunately, curiosity is an innate human behavior. It’s not really a new skill that we need to learn, but one that we need to nurture. So what has to happen for us to unblock and unleash it? Dr. Diane Hamilton has identified four factors that stifle curiosity. She’s labeled them FATE: fear, assumption, technology and environment. Our goal, individually and collectively, should be to identify which factor(s) may be blocking our curiosity—or that of our employees—and create a plan to remove it. How to Overcome FATE Fear: It’s the most prominent of the factors and is also the opposite of curiosity. It’s responsible for the dreaded, “Yeah, but what if it doesn’t work/what if I fail/what if I look stupid?” Fortunately, most of our fears are not impenetrable walls but fragile mirrors and glass. Often they are just imaginary. Franklin D. Roosevelt probably summed it up best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Antidote: Ask yourself, Are my fears real or contrived? Give yourself permission to be vulnerable and venture outside your comfort zone one small step at a time. Ask a different person each week about something they’re into that you don’t fully understand. “Why do you like football, NASCAR, listening to podcasts?” Assumptions: Familiarity is the curse of curiosity. We get comfortable with the way things have always been done. Assumptions make our life easy, convenient and safe. But in today’s world of accelerating change, assumption is dangerous and can be catastrophic because norms are being disrupted at an unprecedented pace. Many supposedly immutable truths are now being exposed as no more than myths and old wives’ tales (remember that notion that a four-year college degree is the golden ticket to a middle-class income and decades-long career?), and referencing the past is no longer as good a predictor of the future. As the saying suggests, “you know what happens when you assume.” Antidote: Follow the lead of Priceline co-founder and social entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman and “info-sponge”: Each day, read something that has nothing to do with your industry, your business or your interests. Write down the things that you found interesting and ask, “How can these disrupt my business or my life?” Remove your filters and regain your childlike wonder of seeing something for the first time. Technology: Technology has opened up a world of opportunity. Information is now available at our fingertips, but it’s increasingly difficult to keep up. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with social media and fake news. We don’t need to remember phone numbers, directions or history. We just “Google” it and answers appear. Will technology make us lazy and dumb or smarter with the democratization of data and information? It depends—and curiosity seems to hold the key. Antidote: Technophobia won’t keep you safe. Likewise, blindly embracing technology is dangerous, too. Its presence in our lives is inevitable, but you can—and should—impose your own limitations on it, too. Like the antidote for assumptions, use that childlike wonder to ask why, how, what, when and where as opposed to relying on algorithms. Environment: We have been taught to conform and learn answers, not ask questions. We worry about what others think more than wonder what can be. One of the most popular complaints I hear from managers concerns millennials and Gen Z: “Why can’t they just do what we say?” Managers just perpetuate the adulthood assault on curiosity, but then complain about the lack of innovation and drive within the next generation. Antidote: Sir Ken Robinson’s popular TED talk explores the idea that schools kill creativity, not grow it. The same process happens in business. Open your mind. When others ask “why,” thank them. Curiosity is not a sign of disrespect or disloyalty but strength. Image: Creative Commons

Four ways to become a better leader
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Four ways to become a better leader

More than ever, employees need a strong leader. They need someone who they can trust, who they can confide in, and who can provide a level of comfort in an uncertain situation. If there was a time to change your leadership style, it’s now. Have you ever had someone leave a job because they didn’t get on with their boss? Research also suggests that having to deal with difficult managers is among one of the top five causes for employees wanting to change jobs. Controlling management styles and providing hyper-critical feedback are just some examples of the problems employees have with managers, causing them to look elsewhere for work. So how can a manager improve their image amongst their employees? And how can this help improve retention rates? Here are four quick tips to become a better leader for your team. Find time to welcome new arrivals Making the effort to personally welcome newcomers to the team is essential. Whilst it may seem like a waste of time in some cases, especially when new employees arrive to fill already advanced positions, it projects an image of a leader that is genuine and cares about their employees from the get-go. The first few weeks for a new employee are all about settling into the new role, and part of that is getting to know who’s who. Managers should spend time welcoming new arrivals and getting to know them in order to create a stronger relationship. An employee who feels welcomed right from the start sets a precedent for a long working relationship with the company. Be transparent when communicating Another good habit to adopt as a leader is transparent communication. This can often be forgotten due to lack of time but serves as an important tool between leaders and employees. Giving feedback and performance reviews once a year, for example, is not enough to allow employees to progress. Ideally, you should be scheduling performance reviews regularly with your employees to discuss their successes and how they can achieve their goals. It allows employees to identify any hurdles and talk about them on a regular basis. A true leader should know how to listen and offer their guidance where necessary. Be flexible Flexible working options and initiatives to improve work -life balance are considered one of the top perks that employers can offer. By offering flexible working options, you are showing your team that you care about their wellbeing and work-life balance. It can also act as a double benefit to the employer because it can make workers more productive. A flexible working culture is also an attractive recruitment initiative. Show your commitment Doing good makes us feel good. Often, we feel good when we get involved in big initiatives that are outside of our daily work activities, such as charity activities or voluntary programmes. As a leader, actively encouraging employees to take part in extra activities can improve team moral and bring you closer to your employees. From your employees’ perspective, they see this as an opportunity to be part of something bigger that contributes to society, and it makes them feel good too, improving their happiness and well-being. Involving employees in volunteer programmes or charity events not only helps to establish relationships that go beyond just a professional one, but also helps to create a work environment they can feel proud of. And nobody leaves a company they are proud to be a part of. Being a leader is more than just about guiding your business to success. It’s about being a mentor to your employees and guiding them through their progress at the company. Even though employees will still come and go, the leaders who show compassion and confidence in their employees will be the ones who are remembered.

Graphic: Bridging the Confidence Gap Between Employees and Employers
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Graphic: Bridging the Confidence Gap Between Employees and Employers

The modern worker has been forced to adapt—and quickly, with the half-life of a skill now estimated to be about 5 years. Their very livelihood depends on acquiring new skills. But recent research from Cornerstone shows there's a major disconnect between what employees feel capable of—and what business leaders expect—in terms of skill development. The Cornerstone People Research Lab conducted a global research survey on the progress that has been made in the last few years in the area of skills development. The survey asked company leaders and employees to evaluate how they think their organizations are prioritizing employee growth. The research shows that although leaders understand that a balance of hard and soft skills is essential for success, a significant “confidence gap” exists: While 90% of business leaders feel confident that they are positioned to develop their employees’ skills, only 60% of employees believe that their organization could help them build their skills for the future. And, only 62% of employees feel they currently have the proper resources they’d need to succeed going forward. The infographic below explores the “confidence gap” in more detail and suggests how organizations can work to bridge this divide. Look for additional content on ReWork and read our ebook, “Bridge the Workforce Skills Gap: 3 Key Places to Start,” to learn more about how executives, HR leaders and managers can work together to help close the confidence gap and reskill successfully.  How can organizations work at closing skills gaps and improve employees’ confidence? Learn more about the challenge and opportunity for organizations to close these confidence gaps and reskill organizations successfully. Find out the next steps in our ebook, “Bridge the Workforce Skills Gap: 3 Key Places to Start.”

How to Be a Proactive Manager
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How to Be a Proactive Manager

Years ago, I shadowed a night manager at a large grocery store chain. She didn't sit down a single time during her entire eight hour shift. She tackled problem after problem, putting out fires. I was completely exhausted by the end of it, and asked her how she did it. She said, "Well, I've been here six months and I've lost 20 pounds without dieting." The reason why her shift was so chaotic was that she was managing by being reactive, rather than proactive. To some extent, this is inevitable because of the role—you never know when a customer is going to throw a fit because you're out of her favorite dog food, or when a delivery truck will come in late. Still, there are ways to prepare for some disasters. Many of us spend far too much time being reactive rather than proactive managers. If we can maximize how often we think proactively, our lives—and our customers' lives—become easier. Here's how to make the switch: Anticipate What Will Happen Managers aren't gifted a crystal ball when they accept the position, but we have the next best thing: data. Data can provide insight into recurring patterns, and better prepare managers for upcoming challenges before they manifest. If John has come in late six times in the past two months, you can bet that he will come in late next month as well. You can wait until he comes in late again to talk with him, or you can sit down now and figure out what the problem is, and if there is a solution. It's tempting to simply say that the problem is John's lateness and the solution is to reprimand him continuously. But that's the type of thinking that gets you into a reactive rather than proactive management mode. Instead, sit down with John and find out what is going on. It could be that: There's construction along his commute that can be quite unpredictable On Tuesdays, his wife has to be at work early, so he has to get the kids on the school bus. More often than not, this means he's late. His clients are on the opposite coast, so he finds it silly to be in at 8:00am when they aren't going to be in the office until 10:00am. John is a slacker and this isn't his only problem. For each one of these problems, there is a different solution. To address the first, John just needs to leave earlier. To solve the second, you could consider adjusting his schedule so that he starts 30 minutes later on Tuesdays. The third requires a reassessment of his schedule and the fourth might mean that it's time to let him go. This proactive management style, predictive thinking doesn't only apply to lateness. For example, based on previous experience, you've learned that the Senior Vice President is always going to have last minute changes to projects, so add time for those into the timeline. And, draw from structured data sources such as performance reviews or employee surveys to anticipate problems or tough conversations that may arise with specific employees. If you sit down and look at the past fires you've put out, you're very likely to find that the same fires start over and over again. Creating a plan for each one will prevent the sparks from turning into full on blazes. You Can't Stop Every Fire, But You Can Hire a Fireman Even armed with the best data, it's impossible to predict everything that can go wrong. There's no way for a night manager to prevent all customer complaints, or ensure that no one ever drops a jar of pickles, and it's impossible to foresee the next time a shoplifter will try to sneak Diet Coke out the door. So, build that uncertainty into your plan. You know that these fires will happen, but you don't know which ones and at what times. To avoid falling behind on crucial tasks, be mindful about time management. Don't leave all your monthly paperwork until the last minute, and get frustrated when you get pulled into other tasks. You know this happens on most nights, so be prepared. Approaching your management tasks in this proactive manner takes the frustration out of it. These "fires" aren't stopping you from doing your job. These fires are your job. It's a tough job, but if you're mentally prepared for it, and that alone reduces stress. Take a minute to stop and analyze what you can predict, what you'll have to handle and how to best handle it. It will make managing a heck of a lot easier. Photo: Twenty20

How to Best Manage Gen Z to Create a Productive and Successful Workplace
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How to Best Manage Gen Z to Create a Productive and Successful Workplace

This article was originally published by Thrive Global. Gen Z is making its way into the workforce. And, while generational discussions often risk arbitrarily putting people into groups, Gen Z is different from other generations thanks to one important distinguishing quality: They’re the first group that has never lived in a world without the internet—and therefore, the first true digital natives. That fact gives them a different perspective, and a greater level of digital fluency than even their millennial counterparts. In fact, it makes Gen Z an asset in workplaces, which is itself in the process of incorporating new technology at a faster rate than ever. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy for Gen Z to assimilate into the workplaces of today. In fact, quite the opposite: Many will chafe against what they feel like are inflexible work schedules or a lack of a work-life balance. They might struggle to adapt to office norms, questioning the status quo in favor of more nimble, digitally progressive workflows. Companies can be proactive and address some of the challenges Gen Z will face through generationally-specific onboarding courses. But to help foster and retain Gen Z talent long-term, companies need to provide managers with targeted learning resources so that they are ready to welcome, lead and empower this rising class of employees. Welcome: Managers Must See Beyond the ‘Z’ I’ve mentioned that the workplace is changing thanks to technology—and that’s true more than ever in the midst of COVID-19. For managers, adapting to these changes can be jarring and even frustrating at times. Add to that a new set of employees who call into question tried-and-true office processes and procedures, and you can imagine why a manager might feel defensive, or perceive Gen Z as obstinate. But Gen Z are simply trying to find their way in a system that hasn’t found a place for them yet. They’re entrepreneurial and eager to grow, so approaching them in opposition will give them the sense that the manager is trying to hold them back—and they’re likely to move on. Managers need to learn to interpret the way their Gen Z employees communicate and approach problems with this lens rather than the more personal instinct that ‘they don’t value what we do, or all the work we have done.’ Instead approach Gen Z as an ally and say things like: Here’s the value I see you bringing. Here’s the passion I see you bringing. How do you want to use those tools for the betterment of our organization? Lead: Help Gen Z Navigate the Digital Divide Gen Z has a great deal to offer the workplace thanks to their digital fluency. And in fact, they’re drawn to tech roles: a recent Deloitte survey found 51% of Gen Zers rated technology as a top industry in which to work. They’re better able to adapt to new digital tools than generations before them, and as a result, are of value to workforces in need of upskilling their employees to adapt to the rise of AI, automation and more. Managers should look to their Gen Zers to support technology adoption at these companies to not only drive adaptability, but also to foster Gen Z’s sense of influence and purpose. But while Gen Zers have this exceptional digital fluency, they might struggle to understand norms around existing workplace tech. For example, what should be a Slack conversation versus an email versus an in-person conversation? While the use of these channels might vary by team, managers need to be prepared to explain the advantage of each platform and why they use it for a particular purpose. And in some cases, it’s important to help Gen Z overcome their digital dependence. Most of the Gen Z team I work with has had an easier time adapting to remote work than other generations. However, I had one of my Gen Z team members miss a virtual meeting because their phone failed to alert them. It was a great teaching moment about how always looking to technology can have pitfalls. Instead, I remind my team that they alone are accountable for their time management, and while tech can make this easier – they need to be cognizant of their schedule beyond alerts and programmed reminders. Empower: Managers Foster Gen Z’s Growth A host of studies have shown that the number one thing on Gen Z’s priority list is a path for growth. They’re a highly entrepreneurial group: many have had side hustles since they were 15 using platforms like Etsy, and are self-taught through YouTube videos. So there’s a feeling of dissonance—and even disillusionment—when they come into the workplace and we give them limits: this is your desk, this is your job, this is what you do. One of the ways Gen Z tries to find their way, then, is by looking to advance quickly — something that’s fostered by a lifetime of instant-gratification on social media. And as managers, again, there’s an emotionally-driven pitfall that can drive a wedge between the manager and their Gen Z employee. That’s because if a Gen Zer comes to you and says “when am I getting promoted to manager,” it feeds a manager’s insecurity. Those managers are likely to have an emotional response and feel like: “You want my role? I just got this role!” With training, managers can help foster Gen Z’s drive and instead say: “Okay, what do you want to learn next? What do you want to accomplish while you’re here?” Help foster a sense that as an employee, advancing doesn’t always have to be “up.” Sometimes, lateral moves are equally valuable in terms of experience, impact and opportunity. Finally, while Gen Z is unique in many respects, all generations do seem to have (at least to some extent) this feeling of beating their head against a wall trying to make change. As managers guide Gen Zers it’s sometimes helpful to remind them of the larger context they’re operating within: Sometimes, change happens faster (as in the case of the recent pandemic) and sometimes it happens slower. No matter the generation of your employee, help them understand that their impact can resonate beyond the speed of change. Help position them to influence their team, the company, and even the world in the long run.Â

How Crowdsourcing Can Solve Your Toughest Talent Gaps
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How Crowdsourcing Can Solve Your Toughest Talent Gaps

Talent management has traditionally focused on three main categories—short-term, mid-term and long-term needs—with the goal of ensuring a ready and solid supply of talent to meet any organizational need. Thanks to new technologies like applicant tracking systems and predictive analytics, today's companies are able to build and evaluate this supply more efficiently and effectively than ever before. However, while technology has improved how organizations both assess current needs and plan for the future, there are new challenges emerging that threaten to disrupt the careful balance of planning and execution in traditional organizational development: 1) Technology is now core to every business; 2) Corporate training and development is lacking; and 3) Traditional hiring and outsourcing is increasingly difficult. In order to meet these new challenges, organizations need to adapt their talent approach to meet immediate needs, not just short-term, mid-term or long-term. How? By integrating new acquisition methods like crowdsourcing—asking a community of people for ideas and resources—into their talent management strategy, companies can tap into a "human cloud" for on-demand capabilities. Here's a closer look at the emerging business challenges of tomorrow, and how crowdsourcing can help companies meet their talent needs. Crowdsource Your Core Tech Strategy More than ever, today's businesses—not just consumer product companies—need to create digital customer experiences that allow customers to engage with them in easy, rewarding ways. B2B businesses are creating innovative methods for collaborating, learning and working with external stakeholders using technologies like social media, mobile apps, and the Internet of Things (IoT). This trend is causing traditional businesses to fundamentally reinvent how they interact with the outside world—the very definition of disruption. With crowdsourcing, any company can put tech at the center of their business strategy. By tapping into a “human cloud" of talent, organizations have the power to integrate tech-driven thinking with their traditional project process, and meet unique business needs faster. Companies that may not have the expertise in place to evaluate and map out new technologies —like mobile apps and collaboration tools—can now get high quality digital concepts, designs and prototypes quickly (not to mention at a lower cost). Crowdsource the Talent Search In addition to a core focus on tech, there are skills essential to meeting the needs of today's economy that simply can't be filled through traditional university or corporate education at scale, such as mobile app development and data science. These skill sets are some of the most constrained in the economy today; Gartner predicts that by 2017, demand for enterprise mobile applications will outstrip supply by a ratio of 5:1. Building consumer-grade experiences designed for mass appeal and usability on a 5-inch screen is an incredibly complex mix of art and science—and most companies don't have the resources for rewarding elite talent like Apple does. So, how can you effectively add this capability to your organization to compete like a tech company? For tough-to-find design, development and data science skills, companies can look to the crowd and source a variety of on-demand talent. Through challenge-based crowdsourcing competitions, like those at topcoder, companies can receive multiple outcomes for a project—and choose the best of the best—instead of relying on a single idea. Crowdsource Corporate Training The human cloud is not only useful for tapping external skills; companies can also use crowdsourcing to bolster their existing internal workforce. The old model of university education > employment > on-the-job training > corporate training and development was (and still is) an excellent way of developing classic job skills for evergreen areas, such as accounting, leadership, HR, customer service and quality control. Since the 1990s, however, companies have cut back on how much they spend on traditional skills development outside of leadership development and compliance training. This can often lead to retention issues, as workers may feel that they don't have enough opportunity for career development. It can also cause organizations to consistently miss opportunities to develop their own people and overspend on bringing in new talent. By embracing crowdsourcing, companies receive a dual benefit: In offering their employees new learning opportunities, companies expand their current members' skill sets and value. On communities like topcoder, people can learn the latest, most cutting-edge skills by actually doing the work and participating in challenges on their own time. In short, there are significant benefits to solving your toughest talent gaps with crowdsourcing—where you pay for results, not just for effort. By offering a new way of thinking about capability and execution, the "human cloud" (or crowd) represents a huge step forward for companies that live in the Cloud Economy. Interested in more crowdsourcing content? Look out for upcoming posts from our partners at Appirio, or check out their crowdsourcing page to learn more! Photo: Shutterstock

How To Differentiate Performance Without Ratings
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How To Differentiate Performance Without Ratings

The biggest barrier to modernizing the approach to performance management is the HR-created need to have a "number" or category to help determine pay. If we get rid of performance reviews and ratings, how will we calculate merit increases? This question indicates that the real need is finding a method that effectively differentiates performance. Here's an Example of a Typical Framework: Numerical rating (out of 5)      Category/Pay increase 5                             Outstanding - 4-5% 4                             Exceeds - 3-4% 3                             Meets - 2-3% 2                             Needs Improvement - 0% 1                             Unsatisfactory - 0%  The rating category determines the percent increase, sometimes expressed as a range (2-3%). Traditional performance management schemes, whether online or paper-based, use an approach that involves the following: 1. Rating and commenting against five or more competencies (communication, teamwork, accountability, customer focus, innovation, results orientation, etc.). 2. Rating and review of goal achievement. 3. An overall rating representing a single category, such as "Meets Expectations." Managers end up scratching their heads wondering how to fill out the form. They wrack their brains trying to think about how the employee performed against each competency. They may even become fixated on filling out a form instead of thinking about the employee. Step 1: Move Away from Ratings Differentiating performance starts with defining performance: Performance is a combination of results and behaviors. Results describe what gets done and observable behaviors describe how the work gets done. Step 2: The Seven Performance Types Based on the definition of performance as a combination of results and behaviors, we can generate seven performance types:  Rather than using a single category, such as "meets expectations," you can view performance as a two dimensional model. Step 3: Ask Managers to Identify the Employees in Each Category Most managers can slot their team into one of these seven performance types (filling out a form to assess and rate competencies isn't required to do this). At this point in the process we want to avoid being too granular because this leads to over-thinking the form. You don't want to lose sight of the employee or how to assess and manage their performance. Step 4: Think About Performance Visually It's helpful to think about employee's "coordinates" relative to one another, so plot them out visually. Using this Employee Performance Continuum grid can give a visual snapshot of the makeup of your workforce. Simply place dots on the grid to match each employee's standing on the continuum. Download a printable version here. Thoughtful Visual Performance Continuum Discussion and Process While the placement of the "dot" is intuitive, the key is verbalizing the thinking behind the plotting. It's similar to a student who gets the correct answer to the math equation, but is then asked to explain their thinking and show their work. As you can imagine, the discussion is quite robust. Discussions about who goes where on the continuum can be very productive and insightful. Sometimes everyone is in agreement about the plotting, and other times new input is shared and the coordinates are adjusted. This ability to give and receive new input is the reason I label the process "Discovery" as opposed to "Calibration". The process is an opportunity to gain and contribute different perspectives to reach a consensus about each individual. New points of view versus "go-to-bat" for someone or argue for the highest "position". Once the plotting process is complete, it can also be useful to get a snapshot of your workforce as a whole. What percentage exhibit top-tier results but poor behaviors? How many one-year employees have made the jump from the newly hired category to mid and high performance? These are the kinds of questions you can answer with the Visual Performance Continuum grid. The 9-box Distraction Inevitably when I share this model with a group of HR pros someone will make a comparison between the 9-box matrix and the Employee Performance Continuum, which is made up of four boxes and is used for assessing performance. The 9-box measures performance and potential and is primarily used in succession planning. While succession planning and performance appraisal are worth linking, these are two distinct activities. The purpose of the 9-box grid is to look into the future of your organization while the Employee Performance Continuum assesses performance now and what the employee can do to be even more effective in their role. This snapshot of current performance can be used to determine salary actions ( in most cases, a salary-increase). You Have an Alternative to Ratings Let's set the traditional forms and ratings process aside and think more simply. Performance can be assessed without the use of a single rating category and it can be done more accurately and holistically. The process of a manager filling in the form and randomly assigning ratings to competencies, goals and determining an overall rating is familiar, but leaves something to be desired. Measure With the Intent to Move People Forward This exercise should not involve using a permanent marker to put the employees into boxes. This isa point-in-time snapshot. It's intentionally called a continuum to account for movement and growth. Conversations that help employees move forward and develop will drive more employees to the upper right. The goal is to see where their current performance falls and engage in conversations designed to help people move forward. This means working with your managers to move from a judging and evaluation approach to a coaching and mentor mindset.

How to Expand and Leverage Your Employee Referral Network
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How to Expand and Leverage Your Employee Referral Network

Ask most hiring managers to identify their most powerful recruiting tool and they’ll likely say, “employee referrals.” Not only do internal referrals tend to attract better talent, they also help create brand evangelists within the company, further strengthening the company’s ties to current employees and its culture. Yet the majority of managers still don't make the most of this valuable resource. “If your corporation is not getting close to 50 percent of your hires from employee referrals, I have gathered 10 compelling numbers that should change your perspective,” writes Dr. John Sullivan, an advisor to Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms and a well-known HR thought leader. Employee referrals lead to more diversity, faster application-to-hire times and greater happiness -- and yet the vast majority of applicants are still coming from career sites and job boards, according to Jobvite’s monthly index. Meanwhile, the top sources for actual hires are coming from employee referral programs – 39.9 percent, to be exact – clear evidence that it’s time for employers to rejuvenate the way they tap their current employees’ networks for their next hire. The authors of Recruit or Die: How Any Business Can Beat the Big Guys in the War for Young Talent – Chris Resto, Ian Ybarra and Ramit Sethi – offer some practical strategies for expanding your employees' referral potential: Host an Employee Open House Host an open house, happy hour or panel discussion about the state of your industry and invite current employees to help drive the guest list. Their friends, the ones interested enough to attend your event, will already be a step above the rest because they’re making the time to brush up on their industry. Leverage Your Employees' Social Networks There's a vast pool of untapped talents at our – well, our employees' – fingertips; don't let it go to waste. Employees who are willing to be brand evangelists are a great resource who can be tapped to post company news, job openings and updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. An employee's stamp of approval adds an extra layer of authenticity that may be lacking in a company's post about its own news. Tap Into College Alumni Associations Identify the universities that have brought you the top talent at your company. Got a couple of standout performers from University of California, Santa Barbara? Are some of your best writers straight from the journalism programs at Ohio University or University of Kansas? If you’re noticing a trend, it’s probably not a fluke. Ask those employees to post openings on their alumni association’s job board, speak at an alumni event or reach out to fellow alums via social media. A note from a fellow alum seems much friendlier and more inviting than one from a complete stranger. Reach Out to National Professional Organizations Many of the strongest employees are active in large professional organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists or the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. Since these organizations are national, tapping into those connections will reach a wide range of targeted folks, ones who are very much involved in networking around their particular career. Be Strategic About Your University Targets If you’re a small tech company, it's obvious that you might not want a booth next to Google at the next recruiting fair: you need to be careful about selecting the right audiences for the positions you’re trying to fill. Do your homework and identify the universities, big and small, that will produce the candidates best suited for your company. Go Greek With regional and national chapters, there’s plenty of networking going on among fraternities and sororities, and you shouldn’t leave them out of the mix. As with professional organizations, take stock of the different fraternities and sororities your employees are involved in and ask them to be advocates for your company when networking with their brothers and sisters.Â

How Free Time Can Affect Your Management Style
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How Free Time Can Affect Your Management Style

It seems like every week there's a new article professing the “8 Things Successful People Do” or “What Successful People Accomplish Every Monday.” But how much do your choices about leisure time affect your management style while on the clock? According to Kurt Motamedi, professor at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management, a manager’s attitude and personality — both of which are closely tied to hobbies and other choices — are important and can wield a high level of influence on workplace behavior. As part of his research, Motamedi has defined seven neurotic styles of management, all of which reflect the manager's personality, which “plays a significant role in management style and productivity,” Motamedi says. Aside from obvious external factors that can affect a manager’s ability to lead, such as relocating, having a baby or coping with illness, we looked into how an individual’s hobbies can affect their personality and leadership skills. Competitive Sports From participating in occasional after-work basketball games to training for triathlons, athletes (even hobbyists) are known for being active, motivated and healthy. However, according to a study from Stockholm University in Sweden, perfectionism is also a characteristic found in many athletes that can produce good and bad results in their work and personal lives. The study found that athletes with high self-esteem had more positive patterns of perfectionism than athletes with low self-esteem who were prone to anxiety. Competitiveness, another common attribute of athletes, can also be problematic when self-esteem is low. One study found that knowledge sharing in the workplace was less common when individuals exhibited low self-efficacy and competitiveness, often claiming they were ‘“too busy” to share knowledge with colleagues. Family and Friends Managers that lead the most productive teams often have strong support and honest feedback from family and friends, Motamedi says. Research from San Diego State University found that support from family and friends helped to provide a buffer from the stress of strained social and workplace interactions. However, research from Michigan State University found that heavy workload environments can cause family conflict and therefore create higher levels of fatigue for employees while at the office. Watching Television? Leisure activity such as watching television, reading a good book and listening to music can all have restorative effects on employees. A study from Oxford Brookes University found that leisure activities can be a significant source of positive moods for individuals. Managers who put time aside for leisure activities can reap the benefits of returning to work more relaxed. However, too much of an activity like television watching can also affect a manager’s wellbeing