2010, We Hardly Knew Ye. My Culture of Talent Musings

It’s tempting, in an end-of-year post, to mourn and dwell what didn’t happen in the year past, to give cheery career tips for the new year, or to speculate on emerging innovation trends. I thought about it briefly and then simply decided not to. It’s likely already been done.

I’d like to take a different tack to talk about how 2010 taught us that workplace culture brands need to ‘personalize’, and how truly exciting is has been to watch corporate brands become more authentic and dynamic. It’s a complex work world now and this makes me very happy. There are still many mountains to climb when it comes to workplace, leadership and talent innovation. Thank goodness – right? The real work is still really just beginning.

Down markets are not always times of smart leadership, innovation and inspiration, but 2010 saw these themes emerge powerfully, driven by social media – connecting employees and brands – as well as a return to the realization that emotional intelligence is a critical component in today’s geographically dispersed yet deeply interconnected workplace.

At the TalentCulture social community, I examined the notion of intent and what it means for companies. People seek community. As I said then, “…people come to communities with a purpose, an intent. They are looking for a place to be, a place to learn, a place to grow and interact in a meaningful way. The trick then, for companies, is to behave as social communities. It’s a powerful and new metaphor for the workplace.”

In a company that operates as a social community, there is more room to create a workplace that celebrates and accommodates differences – in backgrounds, personal brands, skill sets and personality temperaments. A healthy workplace “…focuses on ensuring personality/culture fit between employees and the organization, people of diverse skill sets and temperaments can collaborate and succeed – because they have the intent to succeed, and the social context – the community – in which to realize their intent.” Smart and true collaboration holds so many valuable keys for all of us. Bring diversity and enthusiasm into the mix and you really have something special.

Companies that recognize ‘intent to belong’ in their employees know how to build culture by fostering different modes of interaction among the company and its employees. They go beyond transactional interactions with employees to transformational interactions, and then to tacit interactions, where trust is built to create a shared and sustainable competitive advantage. They will be the winners as they recruit and retain the very best talent.

Strong workplace brands that reflect a healthy corporate culture bring an advantage in hiring and creating memorable products, services and missions. We’ll see even more hiring growth in 2011, so companies and people (personal brands) must think about maintaining their brands. As I wrote earlier this year, “Link corporate culture and brand with your people and the magic really starts…Remember that your brand and culture are your biggest attractions…. Your best defense, as an employer, is to have culture and brand in place. Be irresistible to your employees. Be desirable to candidates. Be your brand, revel in your culture, and never abandon either.”

As social media permeates the workplace more deeply in 2011, be prepared to support it, plan for it, even celebrate your social media ‘rock stars’, who are your front-and-center culture brand ambassadors. How cool and fabulous are they? Very.

I, for one, am not mourning the end of 2010. It has been a challenging year for so many people and organizations, to ignore this fact would be completely ludicrous. It’s also been a time of profound changes and advances in workplace leadership and on the community building front. A reason to celebrate = growth and connectivity. Don’t let up – in 2011 the pace will be faster, people will be smarter and more connected, and workplace brand will be critical to retain valued employees. Workplace brands will be a collection of employees with strong personal brands, which will make the workplace a stronger place. So 2010, so long, farewell.

We’re on to 2011 already. Bring it. We are global and we are one. Thank you for listening and sharing. My very best to you and yours from all of us here at the Culture of Talent.

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