Every so often, I become overwhelmed by how much our world has changed in the past decade. We don't wait for snail mail anymore because email arrived, and all but replaced it. And even emails are now getting replaced by messaging tools that allow us to discuss business issues with all the appropriate stakeholders and come to a decision in a matter of minutes.
As a result, a remote workforce is more realistic than ever. For example, I have a client whose leadership team is scattered across the eastern United States, yet they interact with each other (virtually) more often than they do with colleagues down the hall.
Other phenomena are changing the way companies do business as well. When customers are upset, for example, they post a review on TripAdvisor. The same goes for disgruntled employees—they go straight to Glassdoor.
Still, despite some of these changes, we continue to cling to 40-hour work weeks, brick-and-mortar workplaces and budget planning cycles that distract everyone from real work for a month.
Perhaps it's time to challenge some of those strongly-held paradigms and consider a more flexible world of work. After all, if we've seen so much change already—image what the next decade holds.
Boston College recently published a study that defines various types of workplace flexibility, including flex schedules, reduced hours and flexible work spaces. The research also identified an idea new to me called ROWE, or a Results Only Work Environment. What a concept! Define the work to be done, and pay for that alone. Think about how freeing that could be—no overtime, no schedules and actual business results.
A 2016 research study found that "workers who are allowed to have a voice in the hours and location of their work not only feel better about their jobs, but also less conflicted about their work-to-family balance." Forgive me, but duh.
So how can organizations begin to challenge the status quo? Here's what they need to do.
Define the Work
As leaders and HR executives, we do a poor job of defining expected results. We offer job descriptions with specific duties, but the process of setting expectations, providing feedback and redirecting where necessary is infrequent and often inept.
That won't cut it in a flex workforce. We have to get better at expressing clear expectations, and following through on them.
Pinpoint the Role of Leadership
Leaders today seldom realize how critical their roles are. They rail against setting expectations, giving feedback and holding their employees accountable—that's likely because today's performance management process doesn't work.
The latest research argues for more frequent, two-way performance dialogue. But unless leaders see the value in it, have the necessary skills to implement it and make time for it, even revamped processes will still generate management frustration.
It's leadership's responsibility to set expectations, provide feedback and evaluate results. It has to start at the top.
Provide Tools, and Teach the Skills Needed to Use Them
It's up to HR to not only provide leaders with key tools, but also demonstrate their value and usefulness. One employer I worked with had a massive and robust SharePoint site with access to resources for dealing with change management, giving feedback and holding effective meetings. But these resources were dormant. Leaders either didn't know they needed them, or simply didn't know how to use them.
If we want to evolve to a more flexible workplace, leaders have to lead effectively in a consistent and appropriate manner.
The message to HR? Provide tools, sell their benefits, coach leaders on their value and, of course, teach leaders how to use them. Whether it's an introductory class or a quick coaching session, guidance makes all the difference.
Photo: Creative Commons
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Alexander Mann Solutions wins Cornerstone OnDemands sponsored categories at the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards
Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.
Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey
It's been going on for a while now - the shift towards more agile and flexible companies that quickly can adapt to the fast-changing times of today. Organisations that are unable to make this move are gradually losing competitiveness and finding it more difficult to prove themselves against smaller and faster players. Those who recognise the need and are able to create new conditions for the business, in the form of new structures, will survive and flourish in tomorrow's economic reality. Agile HR can be viewed from two different angles; How HR should work together within the HR team and what / how HR should deliver value to the business for which they exist. All HR processes that are part of Talent and People Management will be different when you start working agile, and each of the processes have their specific tools and working methods. Here we will look at HR from a more general perspective, to get an overall understanding of how the HR role, and the corresponding deliverables, change in a company that wants to increase its business agility. The goal is to focus on creating better workplaces through the development of teams and individuals, throughout the whole organisation. Small and medium-sized companies are easier to change, as they have less hierarchical structures, and often a more decentralised business, where everyone has an ability to make the decisions that need to be made, locally rather than centrally. The larger and more complex a company is, the more systems, processes, and structures there are that cannot be easily and quickly changed. Although it is possible to change a department in the organisation, some issues might remain that forces the department back into the central structures. This happens because it is not possible to isolate a specific part of the business. You can compare it to an attempt to change a rubber ball. It changes when it is being squeezed, but when you let go, it quickly returns to its old shape. However, there is one functional department in most large organisations that can influence all the other parts at once – HR. In many large companies, HR controls; ● Leadership programs and development ● Change management ● Organisational development ● Employee engagement ● Employee training and skills development ● Rewards and bonuses ● Recruitment ● Goal setting and performance reviews ● Long term mix of employees All these processes or areas flow through the entire organisation. These are the structures that can support, or prevent, a more radical change towards a more agile company. It all depends on HOW we work with processes and programs. They can be developed in a way that, paradoxically, prevents performance and commitment. Or they can optimise performance and employee satisfaction. HR struggles with criticisms, it is accused of being some kind of "organisational police", which hinders performance and commitment by implementing Talent management processes in a way that was intended to increase the same. This needs to change. HR has been in the back seat for too long and now it is time to take responsibility for a change in how to support the organisation. Because it is about people, and relationships between people, this is the key to how the company performs as a whole. It is the system that fundamentally needs to change, not the people. We do not need to do more things or implement complicated frameworks and methods. Instead, we need to understand how we can make it easier for people to make their best contribution to the company, by providing supportive structures, instead of hindering structures. It is through more experiments and by trying different working methods, that one can find the best path for each organisation, and each team/individual. Here, the agile principles and the agile mindset serve as a guide. Agile tools and frameworks work sometimes, but not always. The only way to continually improve is through constant learning, which also means that we sometimes fail. Companies that learn faster than others, and turn that knowledge into new ways of working for employees, but also new products and services for external customers, gain a competitive advantage and will be the winner of the future. HR has the power and the ability to design the structures that aim to either support or make it harder for employees to contribute in creative and innovative ways. If HR sticks to the old, traditional ways of working, the consequence will be rigid and non-agile organisations that use inefficient systems and processes. HR can either hinder or support the change, so HR must show the way. By providing opportunities for alternative and more agile working methods, and by focusing on value creation and value flows for the internal and by extension also external customers, HR can lead companies through changes that no other department is capable of. The next blog chapter will dive into HR's changing role.