Stories of disruption typically fall somewhere in the tradition of David vs. Goliath. That is: A small, nimble and clever startup unseats an unsuspecting industry giant. Look no further than Netflix vs. Blockbuster, Airbnb vs. traditional hotel chains, or even Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica.
But rather than wait for a disruptor to emerge, many large companies are looking for ways to disrupt from within—changing the status quo internally to stay competitive in the marketplace. Amazon and Adobe are just a few examples from Harvard Business review’s Innovation 20 list of companies that have developed new products, services and business models to improve financial performance.
But how exactly does HR help spur this kind of disruption from within? I recently interviewed Dave Ulrich on the topic. Ulrich describes himself as compulsive about organizational improvement and recently co-authored a book with Arthur Yeung called "Reinventing the Organization." He’s also a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a partner at the consulting firm RBL Group. His answer is centered around people: their competence, their commitment and their contribution. By focusing on these keywords, HR can help ignite an organization-wide transformation.
Ulrich’s first rule of disrupting from within is to put the right people, with the right skills, in the right jobs, at the right time.
"If you hire the right people, a lot of the business challenges are [taken care of]," he says. HR needs to focus on matching people to available jobs and setting criteria for their success—that is, establishing objectives, expectations and accountability.
"My caveat," he adds, "Is always that people should not be overly competent for their position, a recipe for boredom and disengagement." Instead, there should be follow-up training, ongoing coaching and, unfashionable though they’ve become, regular performance reviews to ensure accountability. HR can play a role to make sure these conversations are happening.
A committed employee shows up to work and does what they’re asked to do. That’s important, of course, but to support an innovative organization, it’s not enough to simply be physically present—employees should also be energized and creative. HR can help facilitate these qualities by providing learning and growth experiences and offering clear pathways for employees to move in the organization. This does not always mean employees must advance. But are there opportunities for lateral movement to a new and challenging role? Is there sufficient autonomy for employees to own their work and feel motivated to perform it at a high level?
Employees with persistently low performance despite interventions, or who simply lack the necessary skills to thrive, need to be moved to a more appropriate role, or removed from the organization before they undermine the morale of their peers. Ulrich recommends grounding conversations in data: "Can you help me understand why you’ve been late with your work or why you’ve missed the last 5 meetings?" If firing is required, be proactive.
"It’s important for the sake of your employees that you take action," Ulrich adds. "If you don't do it, you not only hurt that employee, you're also hurting all the other employees who need to respect your ability to make hard decisions."
To maximize the contribution of each employee at the organization toward innovating, HR needs to help convey meaning.
"Sometimes people are 'committed' behaviorally: They show up, but they're not showing up emotionally," Ulrich says. Addressing that gap starts by communicating why the company does what it does. That is, answering questions like: What is the value of our work? Ulcrich says employees who understand and embrace the why, and who believe that there is value to others—customers, investors and stakeholders—are more likely to be high contributors.
"They commit not just with their feet and hands but with their hearts and minds," Ulrich says. They’re more likely to think creatively about how the organization can do better, and how it can reinvent itself to be of higher value.
4. People and Purpose Create Profits
Ulrich says the emphases are not profits and people, nor profits and purpose.
"It’s profits through people. Profits through purpose," he says. The goal of reinvention isn’t simply to reinvent. Instead, it’s to ensure the company’s ability to continue to thrive in its market rather than be unseated by a disruptor—whether that’s another company or even a new regulation or technology. But successful reinvention cannot be mandated. Instead, it has to come from the company’s people.
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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy
Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
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. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt
Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock