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Charles Coy's picture

Take It From a Futurist: The "Second Middle Ages" of Work Are Coming

For futurist Peter Weddle, the biggest upcoming challenges that the world of work faces are grasping the extent of the tech-driven transformation that's coming and preparing for it. The author of Circa 2118: What Humans Will Do When Machines Take Over says it's the responsibility of the C-suite, HR leaders and employees to educate themselves about what he calls a Second Middle Ages, or when super-intelligent machines surpass human cognition.

He has developed his expertise over the past four decades by studying the intersection of technology and people, serving as the CEO of three HR consulting companies and a partner at the Hay Group and authoring more than two dozen books. He now refers to himself as a “Latter-day Futurist," stressing that fast-paced changes to the way we work are already underway.

Weddle says the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning can't be legislated into oblivion or curbed by humankind's logic and compassion. It will ultimately cause some people (particularly those performing manual labor rather than creative work) to lose their jobs and remain unemployed indefinitely because there is nothing left for them to do in the workplace—and all of this will happen within the next 100 years.

“Animated by ultra-intelligent, ultra-intuitive, ultra-empathetic technology, these byte-collar workers won't terminate our species, but they will terminate our jobs, our careers and our access to the American Dream unless we prepare for their arrival," says Weddle as he softens these alarming warnings for the future with an action plan designed to address the disruption of individual lives and business. So how can employees and organizations prepare?

Start With Individual Preparation

The first step is recognizing the life-altering change at our front door—this applies to workers, HR leaders, organizational leaders and government leaders alike. They must all come to terms with the fact that change is coming. Once that realization takes place, it will be up to workers to identify areas where they can continue to contribute, even if their core functions are replaced by technology.

It takes soul-searching and skill-building—employees will have to expand their skills to remain relevant and HR leaders should do what's in their power to not only give them physical tools to succeed (i.e. learning courses), but also engage in conversations to help workers uncover strengths they may not know they have. Breaking deep into people's consciousness to learn what drives them can make the difference between an employee that's out of a job, and an employee that's on her way to developing new skills and securing a different job or role.

Once employees are set on the path to a more promising future, they have to muster up the courage to "bring the possibilities to life," Weddle says. That means putting in the hard learning and development hours.

Take Collective Action

As important as our individual preparation will be, Weddle says collective action is needed to protect humans from being mistreated by the mass introduction of machines, or what Weddle refers to as byte-collar workers. Americans will have to assemble new groups in a wide range of venues and exert the full force of their democratic power to ensure they know:

  • How and where machines are entering the workplace and workforce
  • What changes to specific occupations, jobs, industries and locations are being caused by their introduction
  • When, where and how new and more capable machines will be added to the workplace and workforce in the future
  • What governmental, academic, social and civic organizations are and will be doing about it

The government should also play an involved role in ensuring that humans continue to play a role at work. According to Weddle, the federal government should acknowledge how important human resources departments will be for ensuring employers' fair and equitable treatment of workers who are affected by the introduction of super-intelligent machines.

And, to raise broader awareness about the growing challenges plaguing the world of work, Weddle suggests investing in the expansion of HR curricula at both the undergraduate and graduate level in higher education, while also supporting the development of more advanced coursework for mid-career and senior professionals through groups like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Once we're able to successfully transition into this new reality, Weddle predicts workers will be rewarded with the Age of Ennoblement, or when “machines are leveraged for the daily grind of employment while people—for the first time in human history—can achieve the more creative and mind-driven work they're all capable of doing."

Photo: Creative Commons

Ira S. Wolfe's picture

I Host a Podcast, Tour the HR Conference Circuit and Hit the Gym Once a Day—Here's How I Make Time for Learning

In our Learning Diaries series, seasoned HR and business leaders share how they make time for a critical but often overlooked aspect of their jobs: learning. It's an inside look at how successful people navigate their busy schedules to continuously improve their skills—and advance their careers.

As a prominent speaker on the HR conference circuit, Ira Wolfe needs to stay ahead of current and future trends that impact the world of work. In this week's edition of Learning Diaries, the author, speaker and HR guru gives us a glimpse into how he fits learning and development activities into his jam-packed schedule.

Best Advice For Approaching Learning: "Learning is personal, and everyone learns differently. I tend to learn on-the-fly. I rarely can find the time to read a book or even listen to a book in its entirety, so I often read or watch a video in short bursts."

Biggest Struggle With Learning: "There is just so much to learn. It's both exciting and exhausting. With so many learning materials available online, the biggest limitation to learning is time."

Total Time Spent Learning This Week: 18 dedicated hours

Day One: Podcasts, Print Journals and Newsletters, Oh My!

8:15 AM: This morning, I catch up on newsletters and read articles from the Washington PostWall Street JournalHRdive and ERE Daily. Keeping up with the news cycle is one of the easiest ways to embed learning into the day—staying informed on forces outside your industry helps build an understanding of how they may shape the trends inside it. I also check my email and review offers for new marketing software. It helps me stay educated on products that are on the leading edge of marketing trends.

Favorite email newsletters: Shelly PalmerEREThe Digital HR LeaderSeth Godin's Blog

10:00 AM: It's time to prepare for and shoot today's episode of my podcast, Geek Geezers and Googlization Show. In each episode, I interview a thought leader about trends and challenges in the future of work, like the rise of automation and the challenges of talent management. Every guest on my show teaches me a little something about our industry that I hadn't considered. My guest today is Rob Kelly from Ongig, a job description software company. He discusses the evolution of job descriptions, and how each great job listing requires a high level of detail and customization.

2:30 PM: I spend the rest of the afternoon responding to emails, leads and client phone calls, but I also take time to read some of my favorite HR industry blogs. Reading content from other experts often introduces me to perspectives that I hadn't considered. Just recently, on ReWork, I read about reverse performance reviews, a unique approach to offering employees feedback.

Favorite online blog or magazine: ReWorkOnGigHubspot.

Day Two: Info-Sponging

6:30 AM: Today's early rise is my attempt to get a head start on the tasks of the day. Serial entrepreneur and Priceline co-founder Jeff Hoffman describes this early morning practice as “info-sponging." He spends up to 20 minutes a day reading about something new to him. Building off Hoffman's methodology, I begin my morning practice by delving into a new and unfamiliar topic—today, I explore blockchain. Did you know that while its key applications have traditionally been in the financial services industry, it can also be used to improve recruiting? I sure didn't.

11:15 AM: I receive a LinkedIn message from a new connection. He left an audio recording in the message, which gets my attention. Turns out it's a new and relatively unknown feature that LinkedIn has added to its mobile app. My mind starts racing with ideas for how recruiters can use this, and I make a note to discuss this new feature at my upcoming conference presentations. This bit of learning is a welcome surprise.

Favorite recent article on LinkedIn: 15 Best Articles on People Analytics April 2019

6:30 PM: My wife and I head to the gym. I listen to the news of the day and tune into a podcast. Listening to podcasts is a great way to absorb learning, because it can happen almost passively. You're not sitting at a desk and actively taking steps to learn a new skill or task, and yet you absorb and retain information quite effectively. Podcasts are the ultimate learning/entertainment hybrid.

Favorite podcasts besides my own: Fresh Air and TED Talks Daily.

Day Three: A Jam Packed Keynote

8:45 AM: Today I'm at the Society for Human Resource Management 2019 conference in New York City. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, I attend a few minutes of SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor's keynote. Under his leadership, the society has grown to a record 300,000 members in over 165 countries who impact the lives of 115 million workers every day. His lessons on leadership, which include an emphasis on diversity, inclusion and equality, are truly inspiring.

10:15 AM: It's time for me to present and my sessions and the room is packed. I begin the presentation by asking the audience how many of them use Google for Jobs. To my surprise, no hands go up. This means I'm on track and my content will be new and relevant for everyone. I only have time for one or two questions from attendees, but these questions are important because they provide me feedback: What did I miss? What didn't I explain well enough? I begin to notice patterns in audience reactions, and get a better sense of how I can improve future presentations.

2:45 PM: I've been eagerly waiting for this keynote presentation all day. The speaker is Dima Ghawi, author of Breaking Vases. She shares her experience as a woman living in the Middle East. Sometimes learning opportunities come in the most unexpected ways—it's not just her story that resonates with me, but her method of storytelling. She not only discusses the concept of “breaking vases" to metaphorically represent breaking cultural barriers, but also illustrates her point by breaking the vase she is holding, which certainly gets everyone's attention. This gets me thinking about how I can be more creative in my own presentations.

5:20 PM: My wife and I arrive at a post-event happy hour nearby. We join a gentleman sitting alone in the corner. He's an HR consultant and for the next 60 minutes we enjoy a very engaging conversation. My approach to business and HR differs significantly from his. I tend to live on the bleeding edge of technology, while he, like many of my peers, is a bit more old-school. I suggest we connect on LinkedIn, but he's not on it. Instead he pulls out an address book and asks me to write down my name and number. I find conversations like this simultaneously frustrating and enlightening. It reminds me how diverse the HR industry is, and that we need to walk in one another's shoes every now and then.

Header photo: Creative Commons

Silvia Dettori's picture

Design Thinking Leads to More Successful Talent Management Software Implementation

The design thinking approach combines strong discovery with Agile methodologies applied to prototyping and testing. Robust discovery is the foundation of a successful talent management implementation project. At the onset of a talent management technology engagement, the end user experience must be considered while designing learning, recruiting, onboarding, compensation, succession and performance management processes that support an organization's talent management philosophy.

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success." — Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO

There's a lot of praise for Agile methodologies. And for good reason: Agile offers a (still) innovative approach to software development, one that not only keeps organizations competitive through continuous improvement, but also empowers people. Developers and stakeholders both are more engaged through Agile's much-lauded process of collaboration.

However, when it comes to not developing but successfully implementing software rather than developing it, using Agile alone has its limitations. For example, organizations that rely on Agile to design talent management processes often encounter unexpected roadblocks, e.g., the tools work in theory but not in practice with human beings. While iteration—Agile's strength—is a great approach to creating new (or improving existing) software, it's not the best way to align that software with unique, real-life user scenarios.

The focus of software development is creating the most useful tool; the focus of implementation is identifying how people within each unique organization will use that tool on a day-to-day basis. That means that a successful implementation can't (and simply won't) happen through continuous improvement alone.

For example, a large manufacturing client's human resources team created a time intensive, lengthy annual performance review form to collect annual feedback, but no more than 48% of managers completed it. The team took an iterative approach and added on features they thought managers and employees desired. But they did not collect feedback from managers or employees. The end result was a cumbersome, time consuming process. This caused them to ask: if Agile alone isn't ideal for executing a successful implementation, what is?

Design thinking.

How can design thinking drive a successful talent management implementation? 

Design thinking has one powerful goal: to find the balance between what is desirable from a human point of view, what is technologically feasible and what is economically viable.

Instead of relying solely on a continuous improvement cycle to discover what works, design thinking starts with a strong, non-negotiable discovery process. This discovery process is used to investigate the context, the business and the user in depth. This means the design of a solution, i.e., implementation, is based on actual, user and manager feedback. In the case of the manufacturing client and the lengthy annual review, when they interviewed users and managers, they discovered that creating four reviews per year with each review taking 15 minutes to complete increased their completion rates to 98%. Investing in an in-depth analysis period—a core tenant of Design thinking—also helps organizations anticipate and cater to future needs by understanding the humans who use the talent management tools.

When a high level discovery is conducted, details can be missed that create greater risks for the schedule and budget of a talent management deployment. Often clients and consultants hurry though the discovery phase and then soon discover during the design phase that something that was assumed, does not exist and rework has to be redone. In the case of a quick service restaurant, when it came time to go live with a new solution, they discovered their managers would not have access to a report that was critical to their business, delaying the launch as a result. Managers relied on the report for compliance, yet during a rushed discovery phase, it was missed.

Agile does have a key role in the design thinking methodology. Post-discovery period, design thinking turns to the iterative methodologies of Agile to prototype and test processes. This enables organizations to review and adapt the design of the solution until it satisfies unique and contextual business requirements around their talent management processes.

Photo: Creative Commons

Terry LaBan's picture

Cartoon Coffee Break: Conference Networking

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" seriesWhile 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.

Cornerstone's 17th annual Convergence conference wrapped up in San Diego on Wednesday, June 5th. It was jam-packed with educational sessions and inspiring keynotes from Adam MillerJoe Burton and Kat Cole as well as amazing networking opportunities. To learn more about what was covered check out our conference recap!

Header photo: Creative Commons

Julie Brandt's picture

Bookmarked: Get to Know Julie Brandt, Executive Director of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Bookmarked" series, where we ask some of our favorite HR experts, analysts and business professionals to answer questions about their career, life and aspirations for the future. Be sure to bookmark it for next month!

Julie Brandt believes that people power nonprofits to change the world. And as executive director of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, which provides nonprofits with Cornerstone's learning and talent management software, she is in a unique position to ensure the people running nonprofits are better trained, better utilized and more engaged to put their passion to greater purpose.

After nearly a decade of transforming the way people people help people through her work at the foundation, Brandt reflects on her favorite career moment, life motto and values that have contributed to her own personal transformation and career growth.

Matan Berkowitz's picture

L&D Playbook Lesson One: Create a Leadership and Management Training Program for Everyone. Yes, Everyone.

Editor's Note: Over the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out three lessons for developing up-and-coming employees as leaders and managers. Learn more about the effort in our playbook introduction, and check ReWork again soon for lesson two!

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, the average age a person becomes a supervisor is 30. That same study revealed the average age of people entering leadership training programs is 42. That means employees are generally leading for over a decade before they receive true leadership training. They're expected to learn on the job without formal guidance for far too long.

Leadership training shouldn't start only after employees start managing other people, either. L&D leaders can help managers gain the skills they need even when they're still individual contributors, so that once they get into a management or leadership role, they'll be ready to perform at their best—which translates to real dollars for a business.

Leadership Skills for Individual Contributors

To properly prepare future leaders, companies need a leadership and management training program that offers these employees skills they can hone before they're in managerial roles. Employees at this stage may not need to learn about high-level topics like strategic goal-setting, for example, but they can benefit from a few topics on both sides of the leadership and management continuum.

For example, it's never too early to offer training on leading a project. Even if it's a small, relatively low-stakes situation, L&D leaders can guide these employees through the ins and outs of planning and managing a project, and navigating the changes that inevitably come up along the way. At the same time, you can help these employees start to learn the networking and relationship skills that successful leaders rely on. That means training on topics like establishing credibilitybuilding influence and taking ownership—after all, its these skills that'll enable rising leaders to inspire and motivate their teams. This is critical because without the support and trust of their surrounding employees, leaders are unlikely to see buy-in for their initiatives.

Evolve With Front-Line Managers

One type of manager in particular that's often overlooked for leadership development is the front-line manager. Front-line managers are those underserved supervisors who are expected to learn on their own for 10+ years. Companies have an opportunity to train these managers so they can guide their team through any situation, and effectively track their team's progress toward goals.

Instead of leaving it to managers to learn on their own, offer formal training on topics like delegatingfacilitating meetingsmanaging performance and using KPIs. If you leave managers to fend for themselves and pursue learning independently, however, you leave their development up to chance and lose control over what skills they learn.

But don't stop with the tactical topics. These are future strategic leaders too, and they need to further master their relationship and visionary skills in order to lead the organization to new places. Offering them training on topics like coaching strategies and team motivation will help prepare them for the future when they reach their next role.

Develop Your Strategic Leaders

This third level of leadership, when employees have reached senior manager or even director-level roles, is one where they might get typical leadership training. Strategic leaders must stitch together high-level strategies with the work that's happening on the ground and communicate issues effectively to their people. That means offering training in topics like leading innovationsetting goalsbuilding smart teamsresolving conflicts, and managing organizational change.

Though it seems like some of these skills can be learned intuitively or through on-the-job practice, formal training is important. Organizational psychologists and team-building experts often have specific tactics and proven strategies that they've spent years developing—pulling content from trusted sources such as these and offering it to your leaders in training via a Learning Management System or another tool can make the content easy to access and digest.

Leadership and Management Skills Are for Everyone

According to Brandon Hall Group's State of Leadership Development report in 2015, 84% of organizations anticipated a shortfall of leaders in the next five years. And yet, only 5% of organizations reported having fully implemented development programs at all levels. The way to bridge that leadership gap is to get all employees involved in leadership and management training, no matter what role they're currently in. By offering a progression of training throughout their careers, they'll stay engaged with valuable experiences they might not be able to get elsewhere. This will set any organization up for its future.

To see how you can use Cornerstone's Development content as part of a comprehensive leadership and management program, click here to get in touch.

Stay tuned for the next lesson in our L&D Playbook, coming shortly!

Photo: Creative Commons

Suzanne Lucas's picture

Dear ReWorker: Do I Need Proof Before Investigating an Employee Complaint?

Dear ReWorker,

An employee recently came forward with an accusation that two other employees were selling and buying drugs in the company parking lot. My boss says we can only investigate if the complaining employee has proof of the problem. This is his policy for all employee complaints, even harassment. He says that if the complaining employee doesn't provide proof, we can be accused of unfair targeting. Is this how a Human Resources investigation should be conducted?


Burdened By Proof


Dear Burdened By Proof,

Normally, I'd applaud a boss that doesn't want to get involved in office gossip. Whisper campaigns create a toxic work culture that can lead to lower moral and higher turnover. But there is an HR exception when failure to address the complaint puts the entire company at risk.

Let me first ask a question: What counts as proof?

Eyewitness Testimony Is Proof

If someone comes to you and says they have observed questionable behavior, that counts as proof and you should investigate the situation. Your employees aren't detectives, and should not be expected to record what they see. What's more, your company can get into legal trouble in some states if an employee records someone without their knowledge or consent. You don't want to wait until someone has photographic evidence of a drug deal going down in the parking lot, or a recording of someone sexually harassing someone else to take action. Using hard proof as a standard for investigating means a lot of people won't report problems because they lack proof—and a toxic culture can fester as a result.

Don't Accept Everything at Face Value

It's important to get your facts straight before taking any action. If someone comes to you and says, "Jane is sexually harassing people," you need to dig deeper. Ask the employee how they know this—the answer matters. For instance, if the employee says, "Steve said, that Kevin said, that Harriet said, that Holly said," that means something much different than "Jane sent me a naked photo on Whatsapp." Use your judgement to understand the gravity of the situation, and take appropriate action.

First and Foremost, Follow the Law

Throughout your investigation, make sure that all parties are being treated fairly. The last thing you want is to accidentally discriminate against an employee. If the eyewitness to the parking lot drug deal saw Person A hand Person B an unidentifiable object, don't run out and order a drug test right away. Unless you order a drug test for every employee who hands another employee some sort of object, you're setting yourself up for discrimination charges. This is what your boss is concerned about. What you can do, however, is conduct a quick investigation. Start by gathering the hard facts and make a judgement call based on what you find. Ask your employment attorney if you are concerned or unsure about how to proceed.

Whatever You Do, Don't Ignore the Complaint

Investigating can involve a lot of judgment calls . It's important to remember that you may have to defend your actions in court. But whatever you do, don't ignore the complaint. After all, if you choose not to act, you'll have to explain why.

A court may not look too fondly on your case if they find out that you disregarded an employee's complaint. Make sure you do your research and document what you've done. That's a fundamental responsibility of any Human Resources Department.

Your ReWorker,

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

Photo: Creative Commons

Charles Coy's picture

ICYMI: Potential, Mindfulness and Communication at Convergence 2019

That's a wrap on another Cornerstone Convergence, our annual event that this year brought together over 2,000 attendees. From co-founder and CEO Adam Miller's energetic kickoff about the power of people potential, to a much-needed meditation session this morning, Convergence 2019 was centered around what makes us uniquely human—our curiosity, thoughtfulness and ability to communicate.

After all, as the skills gap becomes increasingly pervasive and the introduction of automation technology transforms the role of humans at work, it's these traits that will ensure the continued success of today's workforce and generations to come. Below, we gathered our biggest lessons about work from the keynote speakers and breakout presentations at the conference—we'll see you all next year!

1) Your Employees Have Potential—Unlock It

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as the cyber-physical revolution, is shaking up the way we work, Miller said in his opening keynote. Technology is advancing at unprecedented rates, leaving employers scrambling to find talent proficient in the latest tools and capable of adapting to new technologies as they manifest. Over 7 million jobs remain unfilled, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but employers are missing the talent opportunity right under their noses.

Internal talent is ripe with potential and often eager to grow and take on new responsibilities. These individuals already know the company they work for well, they have an interest in seeing it thrive, and they're willing to expand their own skills to remain valuable to their organization.

So how can companies unlock their potential? It comes down to effective talent management across things like onboarding and succession planning. It also requires a strong talent experience—one that empowers employees with learning and development, and allows them to craft their own journeys at the company.

2) Mindfulness is the Foundation of Learning and Leadership

In an era where we're plagued by constant distraction from our mobile devices, mindfulness is more difficult to come by. Our phones make it all too easy to get derailed by an ignorant Facebook comment or a silly meme. When we're not on our phones, many of us find ourselves preoccupied with the same fears and anxieties. As a result, says Joe Burton, founder and CEO of Whil, Cornerstone's new content partner for mindfulness training, we spend more and more of our time with our wandering brain activated—this includes thinking about the past, worrying about the future and yes, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.

But mindfulness is the foundation of learning and leadership because it enables us to focus on the tasks at hand instead of on distractions, Burton said. By forcing our brain to take a break from our stressors and distractions to focus on, say, meditative breathing, we can become better leaders and workers. According to a compilation of research cited by Burton, for 94% of people, mindfulness improves their overall well-being. More than 80% of people also improve their cardiovascular health by being more mindful, while 30% see a reduction of aging at the cellular level. How does this translate to work? It's simple—healthier people are more focused and productive employees.

3) Part of Optimizing Human Potential is Understanding the Bumps Along the Way

Today, Kat Cole is the chief operating officer and president of Focus Brands—but when she started as president of Cinnabon back in 2011, she had a challenge on her hands. In the midst of the recession and the Atkins revolution, customers couldn't afford to shop at malls where most Cinnabons were located and were becoming too health conscious to eat 800-calorie cinnamon buns.

Cole needed a solution. She knew there was little the company could do about the economic climate, but it could do something to make its sweet treats a little healthier. Though Cinnabon's employees were already working to address this challenge, they were working to reduce the calorie count with artificial sweeteners as part of Project 599, an effort to reduce calorie count to below 600.

Cole she saw the potential of the employees working on Project 599 and knew their hearts and minds were in the right place, but she also understood that health-conscious consumers weren't interested in artificial sweeteners. By challenging her employees to course correct, she was able to motivate them to get more creative about a solution to the problem: making the buns smaller and cheaper, which ultimately earned the company 2 percentage points of surplus during a difficult time—and unlocked the potential of a promising team of workers.

4) Unconscious Bias(es) Exist—Acknowledge Them

Unconscious bias is everywhere, said Kim Cassady, chief talent officer at Cornerstone OnDemand, and the first step to overcoming it is acknowledgement. Though gender discrimination has been at the forefront of bias discussions recently, there are many different kinds of biases that exist, including confirmation bias (where if you see a male and female hospital employee in a white coat, you assume the male is the doctor and the female is the nurse) and the horn/halo effect (which suggests that we often judge people based on their latest behaviors rather than evaluating them holistically) among others.

Once people are aware of their biases, however, it becomes easier to manage and even eliminate them. Cassady recommended training the brain to apply active focus and consideration to any decisions, rather than letting the subconscious rule. When it comes to hiring, for example, don't look for candidates you simply "click with" or the "cultural fit." Instead, calculate and evaluate why a candidate is right for the role based on their qualifications rather than the fact that you share common interests. Culture is important, but it's easy for subjectivity and bias to take over when evaluating a candidate.

5) To Build Leadership, Accept the Human Side of Work

As humans, it's virtually impossible for us to check our emotions and psychological needs at the door when we come to work. Effective leaders are well aware of this fact, said Jeff Miller, associate vice president of learning and organizational effectiveness at Cornerstone OnDemand. The way we communicate, for example, varies greatly. While some people thrive in "directive" environments where they're constantly told what to do, others do better in "requestive" environments, where managers ask questions to get employees thinking of the best solutions, instead of handing them the best path forward. His advice for managers? Open up lines of communication to understand the kind of environment that will enable employees to do their best work—then create it.

William Tincup's picture

Bookmarked: Get to Know William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Bookmarked" series, where we ask some of our favorite HR experts, analysts and business professionals to answer questions about their career, life and aspirations for the future. Be sure to bookmark it for next month!

William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily, is a celebrity in the HR space, known for his no-nonsense approach to human resources. A writer, speaker, consultant and advisor, Tincup is straightforward and brutally honest when it comes to his views on recruiting, leadership, talent management and the future of work. He's not one to, for example, sugarcoat how challenging it is to find a true work-life balance—in fact, he doesn't believe it can exist at all.

Read on to get to know Tincup, and learn about the famous founder who inspired him early in his career!

Charles Coy's picture

Convergence 2019 Day One: Discovering the Power of Potential

What powers your business? This is the question Adam Miller, CEO and president of Cornerstone posed to a crowd of over 2,000 attendees to kick-off Cornerstone's 17th annual Convergence conference in San Diego. For Miller, the answer has remained the same since his very first Convergence conference nearly twenty years ago: It's "the power of potential" within every single employee. “If you tap into the power of potential amongst your own workforce, you can do amazing things," says Miller.

This is particularly important now as the fourth industrial revolution, also known as the cyber-physical revolution, is speeding up the rate of technological change to a pace never before experienced by businesses. The rapid evolution of technology has resulted in entire industries scrambling to prepare their employees with the skills they need to adapt to these changes. There are currently 6.5 million people looking for work and 7.6 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the problem, Miller explains, is that the majority of unemployed people don't have the skills required to fill open positions.

Organizations aren't going to find people with the skills they need in the job market, says Miller. Instead, companies need to look within and harness the potential of current employees, enabling them to learn and gain new skills. Unlocking the power of potential boils down to two things says Miller: 1) Managing talent to make sure people are operating effectively and 2) Creating a talent experience where employees have the tools and ability to manage their own talent journey.

Here three Cornerstone clients explain how their organizations have successfully transformed their talent experience to unlock the potential of their employees.

1) UPS Discovers Hidden Talent Amongst Its Workforce

UPS hadn't updated their enterprise-wide learning system in over twenty years when they decided to adopt Cornerstone's Learning and Performance Suites. They chose Cornerstone in order to create a more centralized talent management system across the globe and better identify skills gaps across the organization.

After implementing Cornerstone and onboarding 40,000 full-time managers as well as 35,000 part-time employees, UPS unlocked a global view of their workforce that they never had before. "It showed us that we weren't tapping into the full potential of our employees. We had a ton of college students working for us that could be used to fill full-time roles and weren't being utilized," says John Hampton, HR Systems Director at UPS. 

Previously to Cornerstone, UPS found less than half of the people it promoted were people that had been identified as "ready"or "high potential." "Now the percentage of high potential employees that are promoted has moved to 80%," says Hampton.

2) The We Company Cultivates a Sense of Community During Hyper Growth

The We Company, previously known as WeWork, was founded on the idea of community as its catalyst, says Erin Straus, head of learning at The We Company. But, when the organization grew from 2,000 to 12,000 employees in just two years, it became clear that if it wanted employees to feel a sense of community and harness their full potential, they would need the help of technology to get everyone up to speed on day one. "What's unique about our company is we aren't as structured as other organizations. Most of what we do has to be quarter-by-quarter, not year-by-year due to our current rate of growth," says Straus. Using Cornerstone's Onboarding tool, the We Company was able to create personalized courses that guided employees through the onboarding process.

This got everyone up to speed quickly, but as time progressed, people wanted a learning experience that wasn't as guided, explains Straus. Forced to relaunch the learner experience, The We Company used Learner Home, Cornerstone's personalized learning experience platform, to create authentic experiences for employees and help them realize different skills over time.

"Cornerstone, helped us move from the expert mindset to the beginner mindset—everyone can learn and we need to provide those opportunities," says Straus.

3) RSM Delivers the Power of Being Understood

For RSM, an 11,000 person accounting, tax and consulting firm, unlocking the power of potential in their employees required transforming their talent experience from annual reviews to engaging in continuous conversations throughout the year. Using Cornerstone's Performance Suite, RSM created "fast feedback" to allow employees to get feedback anytime, anywhere.

"To unlock the power of potential, we needed to not only update our tools and technology but also transform our processes," says Katie Lamkin, CHRO at RSM. Using Cornerstone, RSM was able to provide employees the tools to harness their own potential and one central place to plot their entire career journey.

Check back tomorrow for more lessons from Convergence 2019!

Ira S. Wolfe's picture

Convergence 2019 Preview: The Talent Acquisition Process Is Broken. Here's How to Fix It

When it comes to the candidate experience, first impressions matter. The way an employee is treated throughout the recruiting process—from making the application as simple as possible to how quick HR is to respond to their needs—sets the tone for an employee's entire experience at the company. A positive experience can make the candidate excited about the prospect of working for you, but a negative one can have them looking for other employment options within a few months time—or even worse before they make it in the door.

And today, organizations need to work extra hard to get candidates' attention. After all, the competition for talent is fierce—according to IBM, 90% of S&P 100 companies are recruiting for the same 37 jobs. But the real missed opportunity for employers is that when candidates do actually decide apply for a job, many do not make it through the entire application process because it requires too many steps or offers a sub-par user experience. According to a report from SmashFly, 74% of candidates who start the application process don't finish it.

The talent acquisition process at many organizations is fundamentally broken because it's not designed with applicants in mind, says Ira Wolfe, president and founder of pre-employment and leadership testing firm Success Performance Solutions. And while there are many factors that recruiters can't control in today's hiring market, by identifying their organization's unique challenges and acquiring the right tools to overcome them, recruiters can begin to more effectively attract and retain top-performing employees to make their businesses stronger—and more profitable.

This is a subject that's top of mind for Wolfe today, and one he plans to explore at his breakout session at this year's Cornerstone Convergence. Here, Wolfe explains what organizations need to do to improve the applicant experience and attract and retain top talent.

At Convergence, you're leading a breakout session on improving the applicant experience. Why is this important to HR professionals today?

One of the biggest challenges for HR is keeping up with a competitive market that is constantly evolving. The bottom line is that companies are losing candidates, whether that's due to a lengthy and cumbersome application process or the fact that they simply don't respond to candidates quickly enough. This is happening across the board—everybody in every industry in every location is struggling to find people. Believe me, there are people out there who want to work for your company—you just have to know how to treat them well from the start.

How can technology help HR departments solve some of the recruiting challenges they face today?

It's really about fixing the fundamentals. There are companies that need to improve basic processes, like making their career page and application process mobile-friendly. And even if your career page is inviting and engaging, you need to maintain that throughout the entire application process. If a candidate clicks to apply and realizes they need to download a PDF or complete 150 different fields, you will likely see a significant drop-off rate.

I think we're at a place now where technology will help, but having better practices and processes is even more important. Technology is best used to improve a good process, but it doesn't fix a broken one.

How do inclusive hiring practices improve the candidate experience?

When you get down to the basics, gender bias is prevalent in the language that companies use in job descriptions. For instance, many recruiters use the terms 'teamwork' and 'collaboration' interchangeably. But 'teamwork' is more of a male-biased word than 'collaboration.' Consider a phrase like: "We're a dynamic, highly competitive driven culture." That phrasing has a male bias to it. And if you are looking to attract more female employees, there is other language that is more effective. According to a recent report from Glassdoor, male-oriented titles like "ninja" or "guru" should be replaced with more descriptive and neutral titles, like "engineer" or "project manager" to gain the most diverse pool of applicants.

These issues become even more complex when you get into developing more diverse hiring practices across race and class. There are specific words and phrases that appeal to specific communities. Solutions like Textio and Ongig analyze hundreds of millions of resumes and job descriptions, and look at the hiring outcomes. By making small changes to the way you write job descriptions, you will create a more pleasant candidate experience for a diverse range of candidates and open the door for more skilled applicants who are excited about the opportunity to work for you.

Check out Ira Wolfe's session and others at this year's Convergence conference, taking place June 3-5 in San Diego, California. To register for the conference and see the full agenda, click here.

Photo: Twenty20

Kat Cole's picture

Bookmarked: Get to Know Kat Cole, COO and President, North America at FOCUS Brands

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Bookmarked" series, where we ask some of our favorite HR experts, analysts and business professionals to answer questions about their career, life and aspirations for the future. Be sure to bookmark it for next month!

Kat Cole, COO and President, North America at FOCUS Brands, is known as many things: an executive leader, business advisor, speaker, facilitator, board member and volunteer. You may even recognize her as the keynote speaker at this year's Convergence conference!

Having started her career as a Hooters waitress to help support her single-mother and worked her way up through the corporate ladder, Cole knows what it means to work hard, make mistakes and learn at an incredible pace.

Here, Cole shares how her past influences her present, what work-life balance really looks like and why every interaction with her peers has the potential to be a "mentoring moment".

Jeff Miller's picture

Managers: Here’s How to Create Space for Your Team’s Feedback

This article was originally published on, under Jeff Miller's Forbes Human Resources Council column.

There are many reasons why giving feedback is challenging. Some people shut down after hearing tough feedback. Others will actively avoid the person who gave them the feedback, and still others will become angry and lash out. The result can lead to a culture of avoiding feedback altogether: In one study, 44% of managers agreed that giving feedback is often stressful, and in another, 21% admitted to avoiding giving negative feedback, even though research shows feedback can actually make employees more engaged.

If it's difficult for a manager to give feedback, imagine, then, how challenging it must be for employees to give feedback to their manager. The prospect is fraught with similar concerns in addition to being on the other side of a power dynamic.

Managers need feedback just as much as their employees, but before they can hear what employees are really thinking, managers need to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up. To do that, I often encourage the managers I work with to have feedback meetings. These are a meaningful way to communicate to your team that you want feedback and allow them to provide the feedback in a safe environment.

Want to make the most out of a feedback meeting? Start with a strong framework, and approach the feedback with an open mind and a plan of action — and don't forget to follow up.

1. Create A Framework For The Meeting

The meeting should include your entire team to ensure you get the opportunity to hear everyone's feedback — and to give everyone a voice. Ahead of the meeting, ask employees to reflect on your work as a manager and how the team operates.

On the day of the meeting, before the employees enter the room, create a chart on a whiteboard or using poster paper with three columns. Label them according to things you, the manager, should start doing (or start doing differently), stop doing and continue doing. Employees will give feedback within these categories — using color Post-it notes and pens to help preserve anonymity.

It can be helpful to enlist a facilitator to mediate conversations, keep everyone committed to the meeting's goals and even post the feedback of the team's remote workers who are joining virtually. The facilitator should be an unbiased, trustworthy colleague — maybe someone from your company's learning and development team or a manager from another department.

2. Leave The Room

From here, you should leave the room for 20-30 minutes. Your team will use this time to fill the board with their thoughts. In this process, the facilitator can help avoid vague feedback, like, “He's a jerk." They'll flag it for the group (rather than call out an individual), remove it and remind everyone to keep posting specific feedback that the manager can act upon. Once everyone is done, the team should review what's on the board to discern common threads and group the Post-its according to these patterns, making it easier to digest.

3. Process Feedback Without The Team First

Once the team has organized their feedback, they will leave the room. This gives you the opportunity to see and begin to process the feedback. Start to organize your responses in three areas:

• What can I address right now? For example, one employee on my team wrote that they really appreciated the acknowledgment email that I sent at the end of each year — and wished I would do it more often. I told the team then I would start sending these emails monthly, and I have continued to do so ever since.

• What can I address in the near future? There will be things on the board that you can't address right away. Say, for example, your employees don't feel like you give them enough direction when starting a project. Give a reasonable timeline to make the change — for example, "I will come up with a new approach to share with you in two weeks" — and stick to it.

• What is non-negotiable? In one review session I helped facilitate, an employee on a remote team asked, “Why can't we meet in person monthly to share ideas?" The manager knew it wasn't in the budget. Instead, she opened the floor for discussion about how they could accomplish more regular team brainstorms without traveling.

4. Be Mindful Of Your Response To The Feedback

Remember that while this exercise can be incredibly impactful, it can also go awry. For example, one sales manager I worked with got confrontational and argumentative with his team — he even told them they didn't know what they were talking about and left the room. If you respond with openness and a willingness to take action, however, employees will respond in kind. In another of these meetings I helped facilitate, two employees told their manager they'd been thinking about leaving the organization, but they'd had a change of heart. The meeting made them feel more invested in the team and the company because the manager was listening to them.

5. Make Sure To Follow Up

Make sure to honor the action items you committed to in the time frame you committed to, whether it was something you said you'd start doing right away or something you promised to follow up on. If you have a standing team meeting, consider adding these action items to your list and discussing progress with your team over time. If you don't have a regular meeting, send an email check-in, or even create a standing meeting. By seeing these through, you show your team that you are willing to take their opinions and needs into consideration — and make them confident that you'll be open to their feedback in the future.

The goal of these meetings is not only to help you see how you can improve in a given moment, but also to kick off an ongoing conversation. As this continues, you'll create an environment where feedback is happening continuously and no one feels the need to shy away from it.

Photo: Creative Commons

Charles Coy's picture

Convergence 2019 Preview: As Engagement, Intelligence and Responsiveness Converge, Candidate Experiences Get Better

By all accounts, the talent acquisition space today is a candidate's market, driving recruiters to compete for their attention. As the unemployment rate hovers around the lowest in decades, there remains a large pool of less-than-qualified applicants and an ever-shrinking group of highly qualified, skilled ones. For recruiters, it can be challenging to not only effectively engage this handful of workers, but also continue to woo others that are employed at an organization but could be swayed into leaving, if given the right opportunity.

This will become nearly impossible, however, if recruiters continue to use outdated, siloed technology that delivers poor candidate experiences, says Elaine Orler, co-founder and chairman of TalVista, a recruiting technology provider. When candidates call the shots, they don't put up with recruiters that ghost them, or complete lengthy applications with no updates in return. They expect seamless, transparent experiences. What will it take for today's technology to enable these?

In our Q&A below, Orler gives ReWork readers a sneak peek into her breakout session at this year's Cornerstone Convergence and explains why the future of recruiting comes down to the intersection of three key technology elements: engagement, intelligence and responsiveness.

Can you describe the talent acquisition environment today? What are some of the forces that are transforming it?

We are in one of the most uniquely triangulated situations to date. Hiring is competitive right now, especially when it comes to filling positions that have a long list of skill requirements. At the same time, new technology is creating so much volatility with what work looks like and how work is being delivered. On top of that, we're in an interesting political environment. Movements like #MeToo and the fight for gender pay equality, for example, impact recruiting because candidates want to hear how your company is responding to these issues. All this makes it very challenging for recruiters to find viable candidates.

At Cornerstone's Convergence conference this year, you plan to talk about why engagement, intelligence and responsiveness must converge in recruiting technology. Can you give our readers a preview of what you plan to discuss?

Traditional recruiting technologies have been designed for a transaction-based model. Old school applicant tracking systems (ATS), for instance, have always been designed for data collection. Right now, however, we're finally seeing these tools transform to incorporate the three key pillars of engagement, intelligence and responsiveness.

These tools no longer operate in a process-focused way where the candidate comes to fill out application forms, is added to the ATS and then never contacted again. Applicant tracking technology has become more interactive. Whether it be via a chat bot or a scheduling tool, technology that's built with engagement at its core will socialize more content to the candidate, offering to send them status updates via text and notify them of  other job openings. Hiring then becomes about candidate experience and the journey they choose, instead of being all about filling an empty seat.

With responsiveness, we're moving into a more immediate communication culture that sets candidate expectations effectively. Thanks to automation, we see recruiters increasingly being able to automatically say something like, 'Thank you. We typically get two hundred applicants per job and it takes an average from two to three weeks to respond.'

The intelligence component might be a little more aspirational, but we're slowly moving from reporting to analytics to intelligence. Intelligent recruiting technology can put information together that might not have been connected before and apply predictive capabilities. It should be able to identify when, for example, a candidate isn't the right fit for one role, but could be for another, future position. We're going to see smarter solutions as these three forces continue to come together.

Can you expand on how technology supports the convergence of these forces?

Artificial intelligence and robotic process automation tools are supporting these three areas. For example, today's recruiting tools offer chat bots that help with engagement through more content rich and interactive experiences. These experiences allow candidates to create their own journey through conversation, but it's also collecting intelligence as interactions happen. It can understand what candidate preferences are, process their responses and more. And, of course, bots can automate responses to speed up communication between applicants and recruiters.

As these automation technologies mature, we'll hopefully see more consolidation because for the time being, many product categories are still transaction-based categories that focus on one area, like engagement, but can do a little bit in other areas too. What we will likely see more of are engagement-intelligence-responsiveness connectors.

Will these connector tools improve candidate experience? Will they help recruiters meet candidate expectations?

Absolutely. The interactivity of these tools will allow users to feel like there's a deeper connection to the company—even if it is with a technology system.

What are you most excited about heading into the Convergence conference? The theme this year is the Power of Potential—how does that fit into your work?

The idea of the Power of Potential is interesting because we're seeing talent acquisition moving increasingly towards 'total talent.' That means expanding the definition of talent acquisition to not just the employee but also the contractor, the temp, the consultant, the advisor, the extended partner or network of people that exist within the infrastructure and framework of a business.

Today, talent acquisition teams have no line of sight, intelligence or engagement when it comes to many of these other types of recruiting efforts, and yet they fill such a big need in the business. Today, there's potential to correct that and go down the path of better engaging these individuals as well.

Check out Elaine Orler's session and many others at Cornerstone Convergence, taking place June 3-5 in San Diego, California. To register for the conference and see the full agenda, click here.

Photo: Creative Commons

Suzanne Lucas's picture

How to Improve Knowledge Sharing And Increase Productivity With Edge Collaboration​​

The average large U.S. business loses $47 million in productivity each year as a direct result of inefficient knowledge sharing, according to Panopto's Workplace Knowledge and Productivity report. But Sean Jackson, founder and CEO of Sift, thinks edge collaboration might be able to change that. Jackson describes edge collaboration as "eliminating the lag and the proverbial data transmissions back-and-forth between departments." In other words, by cutting down on the time it takes to get approvals and collaborate between departments, you increase your productivity, and, in turn, save money.

But that's not as easy as it sounds. For example, if you are in HR and need information from accounting, you might not even know the correct person to go to. So instead of collaborating with someone directly, you bring in your boss, who goes to the director of accounting, who finds the correct person to answer your question. However, that's a lot of steps. By eliminating the need for all these additional lines of communication, you can improve productivity and efficiency across your organization. Using edge collaboration, HR leaders can create a culture of seamless knowledge sharing that promotes productivity across their organization.

Get Rid of Your Silos

Many companies are organized into departments, resulting in small groups of people having total control over important information. These silos make it difficult for employees to collaborate and sometime even lead to larger problems. For example, in the GM ignition switch cover up, it was discovered employees hadn't communicated a safety defect to senior management. This lack of communication resulted in $2 billion in fines for the company.

People are often protective of their information because they've worked hard for it. And while some information needs to be kept confidential, there's a limit. The default should be to share information across departments. Cross-training and cross departmental team building exercises can help break down these barriers between groups.

Let Your Employees Manage Their Workloads

In order for edge collaboration to work, employees must be empowered to make quick decisions about their work and have visibility into their colleagues' workloads. For instance, if an employee asks her colleague for help on a project, and that colleague has time to help, the colleague should feel empowered to make that decision. But if the request cuts into this employee's ability to effectively do her other work, she should push back, or recommend another employee help out instead. Managers should only get involved if there's a conflict. By allowing employees to work together directly, you get time back to focus on other important projects.

Make Sure Everyone Gets Acquainted

One of the most challenging aspects of edge collaboration is that employees need to know who has the information they need, and how to access it. This can be difficult, especially if you have several employees in different locations. But, there are several ways to make this process easier. For instance, your company directory should include title and a brief job description under each employee's name. This will allow employees to easily access their colleagues' information, regardless of position. To take this approach a step further, you might even include information about a colleague's specific product or subject matter expertise. That way, if you need information on a specific product, you know who to contact.

Using edge collaboration will help ensure everyone at your organization gets the information they need, when they need it. By improving the way people work together, you can begin to build a stronger, unified and more productive company.

Photo: Creative Commons

Charles Coy's picture

Show the Value of Learning, Embrace Automation and Other Lessons We Learned at ATD 2019

It's not everyday you get to hear a Grammy winning composer, a tech entrepreneur and a world renowned media executive talk about talent development. But at the Association for Talent Development's 2019 International Expo, HR professionals and learning practitioners gathered in Washington, D.C., to listen to Eric Whitacre, Seth Godin, Oprah Winfrey and several others talk about their experiences navigating the world of learning and development. Conference attendees came away with actionable takeaways to improve L&D activities at their organizations.

In case you didn't make it to the conference this year, we've compiled a few main takeaways for you to bring back to your organization.

1) It's Time for Learning Professionals to 'Level Up'

For many L&D professionals, it can often be difficult to prove the impact of learning via a direct ROI. But while the business case for learning isn't always obvious, the connection is certainly there. In fact, according to research from Cornerstone OnDemand, devoting 5% of an employee's time to learning can reduce turnover by 20%, creating a higher level of employee engagement and saving your organization money.

Summer Salomonsen, head of Cornerstone Content Studios, spoke about the value of learning at this year's conference. During her talk, "Earn Your Seat at the Table With a Microlearning Strategy," Salomonsen offered actionable steps to help L&D professionals make a compelling case for company-wide investment in learning.

“We're seeing a real need for learning practitioners to 'level-up'—that is, learn new ways to make the case for learning at the strategic table," Salomonsen told ReWork. “It seems that across this industry, we struggle with clearly articulating the value of the learning function, and our inability to do this severely limits our strategic impact in a rapidly changing workplace. The good news is we can adapt by identifying new ways to position learning for maximum impact and hopefully level-up our own influencing skills in the process."

The onus, she says, is on HR professionals to educate leaders across their organizations about these benefits. Involving leaders in learning discussions early on will help you get the buy-in you need to be successful.

2) Automation Has Arrived, and It's HR's Job to Embrace it

When it comes to L&D activities, employee expectations are constantly evolving. After all, new software and technological advances have come to shape everything we do, from checking the weather to ordering food. With these innovations changing the way people approach their daily activities, it's no surprise they now expect the same type of technology to simplify their activities at work.

“Our employees are sophisticated consumers of content," Salomonsen said. “When it comes to work specifically, they want content that is ruthlessly relevant to their jobs, contextualized to their needs, and within the natural rhythm of their workplace. It's a tall order, and it will require us to be open to new technology and leverage automation."

To successfully implement an automation-enabled L&D solution that, for example, uses machine learning to understand the kind of content that best resonates with a certain employee's learning style, HR and learning professionals will need to understand the unique needs of their workforce. What do your employees feel is missing from your existing learning program, and what would help them engage further with learning content? Once you open up a dialogue and begin to understand what exactly your employees are looking for, you can choose the most effective learning solution for your organization.

3) Learning Presents Itself in Unexpected Ways

When we think about L&D activities, we often assign a set of strict definitions: microlearning, e-learning, compliance training and soft skills development, for example, are terms you've probably used to describe structured learning programs. And while developing strategic learning initiatives across your organization has become a useful approach to L&D activities, HR must also recognize the benefits of unexpected learning. For example, at a conference like ATD, attendees might come expecting to learn from structured sessions and scheduled speakers, but casual conversations on the sidelines can be equally impactful.

Summer Salomonsen experienced this firsthand by initiating a number of conversations with attendees at ATD.

“I am not a natural networker, and though I love meeting new people, I always find it a little strange to initiate conversations with strangers," Salomonsen said. “But this time around I made a concerted effort to be bold. One of the ways I did this was by choosing a seat right next to other participants when I joined a session or even took a break, which forced me to step outside my comfort zone and engage with all different types of people."

The result? Salomonsen spoke with several intelligent and interesting people she would not have otherwise met. And, in turn, she was able to educate herself on how different industries approach learning activities.

When you're thinking up new learning and development initiatives at your organization, don't underestimate the power of unexpected human interaction. Encourage an employee to grab coffee with someone outside of their department—chances are these conversations will teach them something new about your organization, and empower them to continue getting to understand how business operates.

4) To Prepare for the Future of L&D, Take a Good Look at the Present

The phrase “Future of Work" has become somewhat of a cliche. Managers everywhere are constantly exploring what the future will hold for their organizations, and how technology continues to impact the way people work. And while this forward-looking approach is beneficial as we prepare for the future, it is equally important to think about what's happening right now.

“We should always be looking forward to what's next, but to fully understand the implications we need to sharpen our focus on what's now," Salomonsen said. “As head of Cornerstone Studios, for example, I lead the vision for what dynamic, compelling and even provocative learning content can be. And to do this successfully means I need to have a solid grasp of how employees are evolving their expectations of what learning content is and how they engage with it."

By keeping tabs on what's happening now, L&D professionals can begin to pick up on trends—and use these observations to make adjustments to their learning programs and initiatives.

Photo: Creative Commons

Christine Corning RN BSN's picture

In Healthcare, Employee Engagement Comes Down to Communication

To hear the full conversation between Christine Corning, RN and healthcare director at Cornerstone, and Vicki Hess, check out the Creating Connections webinar!

Across industries, employers struggle to keep employees engaged. According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report, 51% of U.S. workers are not engaged. Disengaged employees skip work, lack productivity and increase talent turnover, costing corporations about $550 billion annually. In the healthcare field, however, disengaged employees risk more than productivity and revenue: indifferent nurses and healthcare workers can mean the difference between life and death for patients.

A Gallup study of more than 200 hospitals identified the top indicators of mortality risk in healthcare settings, and the findings were frightening—disengagement among nurses was one of the top three indicators of mortality risk for patients.

But there are concrete steps that healthcare employers can take to avoid these potentially tragic realities. Vicki Hess is a nurse, keynote speaker, consultant and author fighting the disengagement epidemic among healthcare professionals. In her day-to-day work, Hess helps healthcare professionals create work environments where employees are engaged, customers are satisfied and organizations achieve their goals through specific techniques that build communication and connection. In her recent webinar for Cornerstone OnDemand, "Creating Connections," Hess offers strategies for engaging employees in the medical field and other work environments.

Communicate With Your Employees

When Hess asked her webinar audience if it was important for leaders to connect with their direct reports, they answered with a resounding 'yes.' And yet, despite understanding the importance of these regular check-ins, many leaders don't prioritize one-on-one communication with their direct reports like they should.

According to Hess, leaders tend to replace this valuable time with relatively unimportant meetings, micromanaging other employees and performing miscellaneous tasks that belong to other workers. When this happens, leaders need to consciously reevaluate their schedules.

"It's about removing the 'nice-to-dos' from your calendar and replacing them with the 'need-to-dos,'" explains Hess. "And leaders need to be meeting and connecting with their employees."

If healthcare leaders put in the time to build trusting, collaborative and healthy relationships with their employees, workers are more likely to succeedOne 2019 study by the PRC found that “nurses are more likely to be fully engaged if leadership is accessible, responsive to their needs, and viewed as trustworthy."

Employees alone do not benefit from one-on-one meetings—companies do, too. Although one-on-one meetings can be exhausting and repetitive, leaders should consider what value they derive from these interactions. Hess encourages leaders adopt the "WIIFM, or 'What's in it for me?'" outlook: "Leaders get something out of these meetings, too," says Hess. "Lower company turnover and higher retention rates."

Choose "Conscious" Connections

Hess offers employers two styles for creating connections with their direct reports: chance or conscious connections.

A chance connection forces one party to be proactive and the other reactive. For example, if an employee wants to discuss an ailment or achievement with their employer, the employee must seek out a meeting with their employer to discuss it. In chance connections, the employer is the reactive party and the employee is the proactive one.

But chance connections are not always conducive to effective communication and employee engagement. According to Hess, what employees tend to bring to these chance meetings are “impediments to performance or engagement." These impediments are temporary roadblocks to their success that are more temporary and urgent than they are important. For example, an employee is more likely to engage in a chance connection meeting with their employer about temporary problems, like the new, bad janitor or poor lighting in their office than talk about major issues, like their lack of interest in their work.

In order to avoid these ineffective conversations, Hess recommends making chance connections through "roundabout meetings." These meetings still happen by chance, but they occur as a leader walks around an office from employee to employee. These interactions tend to be more effective for building connections because the leader is proactive and can drive conversations to discuss their employees' internal motivations and long-term goals.

Alternatively, conscious connections occur when both parties are proactively choosing to meet. The connections include scheduled, preplanned meetings between the employer and employee. In the webinar, Hess argues in favor of conscious connections rather than chance ones. Conscious connections allow both parties to arrive prepared with discussion points and thoughtful observations about their work life and career trajectory. Additionally, time doesn't have to be made for conscious connections. If these meetings are recurring events on a calendar, both individuals can plan for them in advance with some regularity.

Tackle Conversations With Purpose

However employees and employers choose to meet, managers should come prepared. Hess recommends that leaders try to tap into what makes their employees satisfied, energized and productive. This answer gives employers insights into an employee's internal motivators.

For example, if your employee describes their motivators as 'learning new things,' you know they thrive in environments where they are constantly challenging themselves. Or, an employee may derive motivation from 'making a difference for the people they serve' or 'problem-solving.' A leader can then use this information to move that employee into a position or department where they are managing workers and workplace culture more regularly. Regardless of the answer, it's important to use an employee's internal motivators to find more engaging opportunities that support more of what they want to do.

Leaders should also be sure to search for both external and internal motivators during conversations with direct reports. It's easy for an employee to offer only external motivators, like 'I feel energized and productive when other people are doing their job' or 'I feel energized and productive when we are properly staffed.' If this is the case, leaders will need to dig deeper to find out their employee's internal motivators. Without recognizing what internally drives an employee, leaders cannot effectively avoid disengagement.

Want to discover more best practices and solutions to attract and retain your healthcare staff? Learn more about the Cornerstone for Healthcare solution.

Photo: Creative Commons

Jeff Miller's picture

TED Talk Tuesday: Reframing How We Think About Being Wrong

This article 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.

Most of us are absolutely terrified of being wrong. In fact, according to American journalist and author Kathryn Schulz, many of us will do anything to avoid it. But this fear of being wrong is debilitating. It eats up innovation and leaves us worse off as people, employees and organizations. In fact, it might seem antithetical to create a work environment that encourages being wrong, but these spaces tend to better support innovation and new avenues for achievement.

Take the popular example of Steve Jobs and Apple. Jobs was young and temperamental when he founded Apple, and he had visions for the company that other board members didn't necessarily agree with. At the age of 30, Jobs was fired from his own company.

Jobs has since admitted that this failure was one of the best things that happened to his career. As he later recalled, “the heaviness of success was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again." Jobs was able to reconnect with what he had always loved. He went on to found NeXT, which was later bought by Apple, and co-found Pixar, one of the world's most successful animation studios.

There will come a time in most of our careers where we will need to embrace failure. In her TED Talk, Schulz discusses our complicated relationship with failure and urges audiences to flip the script on negative perceptions of being wrong.

Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from her talk.

“Just being wrong doesn't feel like anything."

According to Schulz, we've been programmed to understand being wrong about something as something being wrong with us. This association is formed as early as grade school. The child who performs poorly on a quiz, for example, is seen as the 'careless' or 'stupid'. Their wrongness is immediately connected to who they are as a person.

“By the time you are nine years old, you've already learned, first of all, that people who get stuff wrong are lazy, irresponsible dimwits—and second of all, that the way to succeed in life is to never make any mistakes," Shultz explains.

This early distinction builds a fear of wrongness that bleeds into our future social and professional lives.

In modern workplaces, this fear has created environments filled with perfectionists who place enormous pressure on themselves and others to produce consistently spotless work. And that pressure takes up space. Perfectionism is actually a much bigger weakness than many employers think. Not only is it consistently related to detrimental work outcomes like stress, workaholism and anxiety, but employees and employers tend to limit innovation and achievement by focusing on a repetitive pursuit of perfection.

“Trusting too much in the feeling of being on the correct side of anything can be very dangerous."

In her talk, Schulz presents the example of a doctor at an elite Boston hospital. A woman came in for an operation, received surgery and was later brought to a recovery room where she noticed the bandages on the wrong side of her body. The surgeon had performed a major operation on her left leg rather than her right one. And when hospital officials spoke about the incident, they said: “For whatever reason, the surgeon simply felt that he was on the correct side of the patient."

This example reiterates that the internal sense of rightness we feel, isn't always connected to what's going on in the real world. It can even distance us from the realities of the external world so much so that we may not realize our mistakes until it's too late. Or, if you have done something wrong but are too dedicated to being right, you may be unwilling to admit to your failures and learn from them.

“We want everybody else to gaze out of the same window and see the exact same thing. But that's not true, and if it were, life would be incredibly boring."

The ability to accept that we're all going to be wrong sometimes is far more of an advantage than a disadvantage. The capacity to screw up isn't something we can eradicate —it's fundamental to the human experience. And the sooner we leave behind our obsession with perfection, the greater our capacity to succeed becomes.

Employers that are too committed to their pursuit of perfection can harm the development of their employees. This creates a stressful, irritable workplace that micromanages and erodes the confidence of employees. What's more, a work environment obsessed with perfection tends to view failure as catastrophic. So if things don't go as planned, they are less likely to persist through and learn from a failure.

It's through failure that we gain mastery. With every near-win in a person's personal or professional life, individuals are driven to improve their performance. Take Serena Williams: in 2015, the tennis star lost a big match at the U.S. Open to Roberta Vinci. But instead of letting criticism get to her, Williams used her loss as motivation to improve. When you fail, you learn and locate the spaces in your profession that could be improved. And in locating those spaces and working on them, you get a little closer to true mastery.

In order to push the envelope in any industry, people and organizations don't need to strive for perfection. Instead, they must strive to make peace with failure. The most successful people and organizations are the ones who are able to fail in the name of achievement and innovation.

Photo: TED

Joe Burton's picture

Bookmarked: Get to Know Joe Burton, Founder and CEO of Whil Concepts

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Bookmarked" series, where we ask some of our favorite HR experts, analysts and business professionals to answer questions about their career, life and aspirations for the future. Be sure to bookmark it for next month!

Stressed and overworked to his limit, Joe Burton knew that he wasn't thriving in a high performance public company culture. But Burton is a firm believer in changing your environment if it's not working for you, and has since made it his mission to help others do the same.

As founder and CEO of Whil Concepts, a company offering digital training designed to make people—namely employees—live healthier, happier and more engaged lives, Burton works to ensure that employees know how to cope when they find themselves in high-stress situations or jobs.

Read on to learn more about him in our Bookmarked questionnaire below.

And please note: Convergence 2019—taking place June 3-5—will be jam-packed with over 50 sessions led by top-tier Cornerstone clients and partners, including Joe Burton. Check out the agenda and learn more here!

Charles Coy's picture

Office Hours: Working with Machines is a Lot Like Raising a Child

The loudest talk about artificial intelligence tends to be a strange combination of the existential and the personal. Elon Musk argues that AI will threaten the future of humanity, Mark Zuckerberg calls Musk's warnings “irresponsible" and a Twitter tiff ensues. Meanwhile, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty declared earlier this year that AI will change 100% of jobs. Workers are now pondering what exactly all this means for their careers—and the rest of their time on the planet.

Though far from the sentient intelligence of science fiction, many forms of AI—such as speech recognition, imagery analysis, and predictive analytics—are already in use. According to John Sumser, principal analyst at HR Examiner, it's high time that we develop sober expectations for how we might interact with it in practice.

In this video, Sumserlikens our relationship with AI-related technologies to our relationship with a child. We will have to raise AI “through all the stages of childhood" — from a largely incompetent infancy to a specialized, though imperfect, adulthood. And even at this level, says Sumser, attributes such as compassion and conscience will remain the province of humans. The future of work will require managers and employees to work with—not against—automation.

Photo: Creative Commons