3 Proven Ways Successful Leaders Handle the Unexpected

3 Proven Ways Successful Leaders Handle the Unexpected

Building an organization that is able to respond to “the unexpected” is one of the most challenging roles for leaders to play in today’s environment. 

Market dynamics are significantly different now than in the past where there was greater continuity and relatively less unpredictability.

Today it is commonplace to see multiple new technologies shot into markets simultaneously; each ripping into market flow with massive disruption.

In addition, customers have more power today than ever before. They are greater in magnitude and better informed of their choices than people were even 5 years ago—thanks to the internet and the hyper connected world it has created.

New businesses are formed in staggering numbers today, dominated by the opportunities made available through Internet applications. The internet of things is spawning new business ideas at a staggering rate, bringing with it competitive intensity and rivalries never seen before.

These dynamics, characterized by randomness and unpredictability define the chaos facing today’s leader.

If the leaders can’t find their way through the barrage of unexpected events that slam their organization, they will fail and their organizations will die.

Here are 3 ways for leaders to make sure they are prepared when the unexpected is poised to take their organization down.

1. The ability to adapt requires a Plan B mentality. It’s all very well to create a theoretically brilliant strategy; it’s quite another to execute it and achieve the results originally intended. There are too many forces at play during the execution phase of the plan to prevent it from succeeding.

A surprising new technology is introduced, a new competitor springs up, market pricing suddenly is reduced, government policy changes and customer demand changes without warning.

The only effective coping mechanism in the face of this dynamic is to have contingency plans on the shelf ready to go on a moment’s notice.
These “what if” plans are just as important – no, MORE important – than the base plan because they prepare the organization for a body blow; they make responding to the unexpected an integral part of the culture.

2. The ability to adapt fast requires simplicity. A real time response to the unexpected cannot occur if the organization is bound up with a complex bureaucracy.

Complex rules, systems and decision making processes slow response time when “hitting the window” is crucial.  As preparation for the unexpected, leaders must simplify organizational infrastructure in all respects to make it easy to quickly replace the base plan with the appropriate contingency.

3. The ability to adapt requires a culture of nimbleness, flexibility, love of change and the willingness to make a counter move from the current direction quickly.

In order for this to happen, leaders must have the undying trust of employees.

If there is no trust, people will likely be unprepared to shift direction, believing that when leadership changes their mind it’s a sign of uncertainty and incompetence as opposed to a strategic move.

Successful leaders know the world will not likely “unfold as it should”; that unforeseen events will be the forces that shape the strategic outcome of their organization.

And they treat contingency planning as a critical priority because they know that if they do not effectively adapt to the unexpected, their future survival is at risk.

Photo Credit: natalieraegorman Flickr via Compfight cc

How To Tell If Your Leader Is Ruining Employee Retention

How To Tell If Your Leader Is Ruining Employee Retention

What drives retention? Leaders: the flesh and blood humans in charge. From managers to CEOs, the boss has a huge impact on retention. For all the bells and whistles we create to drive engagement and ensure retention, it won’t mean a thing if an organization’s badly led.

The national unemployment rate was 4.5% in March. Key fields are desperate for hires, while others (like health care) will soon explode beyond capacity. Retaining talent is an overriding concern for today’s employers in the midst of a talent crunch. We’re trying to fix it with money (a 2017 survey by Xerox found that 37% of employers are willing to raise pay to keep high performers), smarts (recruiting is grappling with the nomenclature — potential, heart, determination) and tech (cognitive computing is learning to screen for loyalty).

But first, a basic fact: We are a social species. We evolved from small tribal bands whose very survival depended on a good leader — one mistake by the caveman in charge and we’d be ripped apart by a saber-toothed tiger. That instinct remains in our DNA. So if your organization is bleeding talent, ask your employees how they really feel about the person in charge. If any of these 10 traits crop up in their answers, you’ve got a leadership problem on your hands.

  1. Not Credible: If the common reaction to a leader’s directive is incredulity or a face-palm, forget about alignment. You can’t get employees to sign on with hearts and minds to the organizational mission if the boss is clearly not mission-ready, or appears oblivious to problems that simply must be solved. There’s plenty of debate about whether or not a CEO should be from the field, but if not, they should still have the wisdom to turn to experts for guidance.
  2. Bro-ness: The old boy’s network is dead. Sexism is bad business, from any standpoint: demographics, an incredibly tight job market and the clap-back ability of social media. This is a candidate-driven market, in which job seekers are confident they can hold out for the situation they want. Employers with leaders perceived as sexist will lose out on attracting more than half top talent out there, and probably can’t afford to.
  3. Conservatism: Not politically, creatively. The future is AI, VR and cars that fly and drive themselves. Our economy, transformed by digital and global changes, now thrives in a state of constant transformation and runs on disruption. Disruption is how we grow. If a leader can’t see tomorrow’s forest for today’s trees, the most ambitious stars will leave. Employees, particularly younger ones, perceive stagnation as death. And if you’re going to try to align employee engagement with organizational mission, don’t make the mission to not grow.
  4. Recklessness: Granted, we want our leaders to reach for the stars. But there’s the appeal of someone driven by ambition, and then there’s the terror struck by someone clearly engaged in reckless at-all-costs behavior that risks everything and everyone. The recent, troubling profile of Travis Kalanick shows how his at-all-costs, damn-the-regulations leaderships style brought his company to the edge. If employees perceive a CEO is driven enough to destroy his own firm, they’re going to jump ship before they’re forced to drown.
  5. Alienating The Top Ranks: Look around you: are offices empty? Uber’s lost eight high-level people in two months. A leader who alienates the inner circle will trigger an exodus down the ranks as well, just less publicly. As senior execs leave, there’s a palpable crisis of confidence. Kalanick not only created a toxic work culture no one could escape, he made fatal management decisions senior executives found impossible to fix. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, they left.
  6. Inflexible: Deloitte’s 2017 Millennials survey found a strong connection between a culture of flexibility and employee retention. In organizations with a highly flexible working environment, 35% of employees imagined leaving within two years (35%), a mere two points above the 33% planning to stay over five years. But for companies that don’t offer flexibility, there was an 18 point gap (45% versus 27%). The takeaway: a flexible company culture is shaped by its leaders. How many employees represent 18% of your company?
  7. Tone-Deaf: There’s a different between tough and tone-deaf. What happened to Dr. David Dao recently at the hands of United Airlines was bad enough — and revealed a badly flawed organizational culture in which employees have few options for dealing with sticky situations. But when the CEO made the decision to congratulate his employees for their actions, he demonstrated remarkable cluelessness that’s going to cost the company as well as its employees. The health of an airline depends on its customers. Stay tuned.
  8. Bad Ideas: When a leader won’t let go of a really bad idea — stack rankings, a blood-testing startup reliant on fake results, stealing technology — collateral damage spreads fast. You don’t just lose talent, you lose the prospect of their coming back. Seventy-six percent of HR pros see value in hiring back boomerang employees, according to a Worktrends survey, and nearly half of millennials consider returning to former employers. Boomerang employees are an asset in today’s workforce with a distinct advantage, including familiarity with company culture and mission, and the added benefit of what they learned while away.

Add 9: a boss who spins everything instead of talking honestly, and whose lack of transparency practically guarantees internal conflicts. And 10: a passive-aggressive boss who’s over-controlling, withholding, and pits employees against each other. Such as work environment gives retain a whole different meaning: employees trying to retain their sanity just until they find another job — which they will. From demographics to globalism to big data, we know what’s transformed how we work. Now it’s time to focus on who’s leading us.

This article was first published on Forbes.

#WorkTrends Preview: Servant Leadership in the Modern Workplace

#WorkTrends Preview: Servant Leadership in the Modern Workplace

Did you know If you enter “servant leadership” into a search engine and follow the Wikipedia link, the very first line of the definition is sourced from the Servant Leadership Institute, which was founded by this week’s guest, Art Barter.

The definition of Servant Leadership:

Traditional leadership generally involves the exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid.’ By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. Servant leadership turns the power pyramid upside down; instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they unlock purpose and ingenuity in those around them, resulting in higher performance and engaged, fulfilled employees.

That all sounds good, right? As we know, though, changing an organization constrained by traditional leadership isn’t as easy as saying, “let’s do things differently.”

This #WorkTrends chat will give an overview of servant leadership and how it can improve employee retention, engagement, ambassadorship, innovation, and collaboration. It will help us learn to invert the “power leadership” model and enhance individual growth, teamwork, employee involvement and satisfaction.

Join #WorkTrends host Meghan M. Biro and her guest Art Barter, author of many books, including Farmer Able and founder of the Servant Leadership Institute, on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at 1 pm ET as they discuss great how organizations can pursue servant leadership principles and create productive, collaborative workplaces.

Servant Leadership in the Modern Workplace 

Servant Leadership in the Modern WorkplaceJoin Meghan and Art on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 1 pm ET | 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why is servant leadership so important in the modern workplace? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question

Q2: What behaviors do true servant leaders display in the workplace? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question

Q3: How can proper servant leadership improve workplace culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed and our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community.

Photo Credit: jackbonner Flickr via Compfight cc

The 5 P’s of Culture Management

The 5 P’s of Culture Management

As culture settles in as a legitimate business concern in the larger discussion of work management, so do methods for measuring and managing it. Here are five key touchpoints of culture that all businesses from startups to blue chips can use to build employee engagement — and extra profit — from day one.

By Joshua Levine and David Kahn Ph.D.

He sat in his office wondering what was wrong. Though far exceeding his financial goals, the company he set out to create was evaporating as it grew in size and staff. Success was causing the problem, but it wasn’t growth that was the issue; it was the engagement of his team.

This scenario, recently experienced by one of our clients, is not uncommon. When businesses scale, operational concerns often take priority over people concerns. When left unchecked, rapid growth begets disengaged workers. The problems mount when leaders realize how difficult it is to hire and retain top talent. (High-performers can smell a poorly managed culture from the front door.) The urge to grow and the focus on culture have an inverse relationship that’s challenging to shift once a company is in the throes of expansion.

Add to the scenario the ever-shortening tenure of employment — soon predicted to average a mere 15 months — and the prospect of building a strong, sustainable culture grows even more grim. Turnover isn’t just a financial burden; it’s a culture roadblock. For the seasoned organization, culture is inextricable from brand — with years of momentum, the regular ebb and flow of employees is less problematic than for startups that have just come into their own.

In the face of business realities and a drastically changing work world, how can businesses scale in size, revenue, and culture? They need a measurable strategy that addresses the core aspects of company culture and adapts to changes over time. We’ve identified five touchpoints — package, potential, people, purpose, and perception — that startups can use today to guide company culture and tomorrow to course-correct.

The 5 Ps

The 5 P’s of Culture Management

The 5 Ps are a strategic structure that frames the needs of today’s highest performers. Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the psychological theory that starts at the physiological and ends with self-actualization, each step grows in significance and can only be reached after fulfilling the one below it. But as industries and the working world change, how each company fulfills each step can differ. Together, the five Ps form an adjustable “control panel” that startups can use to build an engaging company culture.

Below is a brief overview of each of the Ps and how a startup is uniquely positioned to provide for employees at each level.


(“Me Now”)

Package refers to the basic benefits that organizations offer, salary being the first (but not only) item on the list. Insurance, time-off, and bonuses also fit here. The problem startups face is scarcity of capital needed to compete head-on with the big guys. While it’d be nice to provide gold-plated insurance and six-figure salaries to lure over the best talent, it’s not realistic. Deferred payment, flextime and investment opportunities are a few examples of benefits that startups are particularly well-suited to offer.


(“Me in the Future”)

Potential refers to personal career growth. According to a 2013 study by Modern Survey, the ability to grow and develop is the number one driver of engagement. This growth can encompass skill development, experience within new roles, or even the promise of a current job being a resume builder for the next. Startups provide a unique environment where a person can attain a vast array of skills because, out of necessity, workers must assume many roles.


(“We Now”)

When it comes to job satisfaction, many studies say who you work with is more important than what you do. Workers are more engaged in their jobs when they like their co-workers. Gallup has repeatedly found that close work friendships boost engagement by at least 50%. The size of startups means individual employees count for more. When bringing on new folks, look first for people who’ll contribute to building a positive culture.


(“We in the Future”)

In the startup world where everything from the code to the CEO will change, the one thing that shouldn’t is an organization’s purpose. Why are we all here? Purpose is the reason an organization is in business beyond making money. According to GP Strategies, a deep-seated belief in a company’s purpose is the main reason engaged people stay on, no matter how else it may change. Individuals not only need to feel like they are doing work that matters, but work that matters to them. In lieu of a hefty paycheck, a startup’s purpose is the best recruitment tool they have and will serve to attract people who are already engaged in what they are trying to accomplish.


Would you recommend working at your company to friends or family? How favorably employees perceive their company is the ultimate sign of engagement. It’s often proof of greater productivity and brand evangelism. In fact, talent placement resource glassdoor.com uses this question as a primary indicator of a great place to work. The best hires usually come from referrals, and the only way your top talent will refer their contacts is if they can honestly recommend working at your startup. Do candidates, employees, and employee alumni feel proud to have contributed their time and energy to your organization? When you meaningfully connect with these people, they become part of your brand’s story, and your company likewise becomes part of them.

In a world where the most engaged employees bring in four times more profit than the least engaged, startups have no option but to actively manage culture from the start. For many burgeoning companies, potential and purpose will factor high in the engagement strategy while package and perception scale to size. Holding it all together are the people who make startups possible. While “employee engagement” and “culture” are often viewed en masse, it’s individual employee experiences that create the net results.

Use the five Ps as a gauge for your startup’s culture, but also as a measure of individuals’ experience with your organization. While engaged employees have a positive impact on your bottom line, leveraging individuals’ perception means you’ll have a sustainable network of advocates well beyond your startup days.

Joshua Levine and David Kahn are the co-founders of Pique, a leading indicator for measuring and improving organizational culture. For questions, please contact them at josh@piqueteams.com or david@piqueteams.com.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

Finding Inspiration at Work: How to Get Your Mojo Back

Finding Inspiration at Work: How to Get Your Mojo Back

To feel motivated, most people must first be inspired by something or someone — whether it’s a new project, a different direction, or a new colleague with which to try new approaches to big company problems. In fact, Talent Culture recently wrote about igniting inspiration and making working exciting again, also posing a related question via Twitter: “Why is inspiration so important in work and life?”

Meagan Biro quotes Scott Mautz’s point that “It’s important to differentiate inspiration from motivation. Motivation, it turns out, is the pragmatic consequence of inspiration. Inspiration comes first.”

But what if the source of inspiration is not found at the office, per se, but somewhere else, entirely? Let’s examine a few possible sources of mojo, inspiration, duende. Whatever you call it, it’s a crucial part of building and developing an intelligent career that’s fully aligned with personal and professional goals and aspirations, as we approach 2018.

With Whom Do You Connect?

Rather than thinking of what we want to do at our place of work, perhaps we ought to ask a different question: with whom do we tend to connect? Is it the sales and marketing department, or are you more interested in IT, content strategy, or online social media optimization?

Who do you gravitate toward in your everyday life? Do you tend to have better interactions with people over coffee or lunch, or is it easier to interact with people in a large group? Do people cause you to feel drained or recharged, energy-wise?

Personally, I’ve noticed that I sympathize greatly with other musicians, writers, artists, and thinkers who communicate through writing and art, rather than via small talk or formal interactions. I often sympathize with misanthropes who can’t stand the banality of popular culture. I tend to gravitate toward libraries, bookstores, and quiet cafes, rather than loud parties, bustling restaurants, or large conferences.

Who inspires you in the office? Do you communicate better in person, on paper, or in emails and Slack channels? You might work better one on one, as opposed to in a group — even if it’s a small group. Ideally, you can work up enough trust within a group to overcome this preference, but if not, it could be better to figure out who you can work with one on one and develop working relationships that way, first.

Why Do You Show Up?

In other words, what’s your ultimate career goal? How can your current position and place of work benefit your career in the long run?

If you’re feeling the effects of occupational burnout, you’re not alone. In fact, Ohio University notes, “Each year, over $300 billion in profits is lost due to employees feeling overworked, drained of energy, and unable to put their best foot forward in the workplace each day.”

This problem may stem from the historical U.S. tradition of pounding the Protestant work ethic into our collective psyche. However, feeling burned out sometimes simply means that you’re due for a vacation. Don’t discount daily or weekly day trips to a nearly river, lake, ocean, or mountain range, either. For me, retreating into nature helps, as well as meditation, vigorous hiking, skiing, bicycling — anything that gets my blood pumping and then allows me to breathe deeply and meditate in nature. Personally, that means pine trees and mountains, as well as relaxing bodies of water.

Listen to your body’s physiological responses and check in with yourself daily. How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? What about right after work? If you don’t see the light of day anymore, that’s not a good sign. Moreover, if you never turn off your phone or computer to read a book or quietly meditate in nature, you may not be in touch with yourself at a deeper level. Our society’s obsession with always staying connected — via phone, email, television, and the Internet — may be part of the reason why you’re feeling burned out.

How Do You Work?

While at work, do you communicate your thoughts and make points assertively? Being a self-starter can be tough at first, but it’s a possible way around the conundrum of feeling like there isn’t enough to do in your current role. Learning how to utilize good judgement — for example, refraining from asking unnecessary permission for trying a new way of doing things — will inevitably be helpful for your career. Taking ownership of a situation to make it more engaging for you can only help make your daily routine more enjoyable for you in the short term—and more rewarding over the long term as well.

Would there be a way for you to start your own project on the side — provided, of course, you’re still able to get all your daily work done? This might mean speaking with people who you’d like to learn from in the workplace. If there’s a structural problem you’ve noticed, you could first take steps toward solving that problem; then, later, you might tell a supervisor about what you’ve found after delving into the situation a bit on your own.

It’s also good to become clear on your personal work and communication style. For example, as a highly empathic person — too much so, at times — it is easy for me to feel drained after being around large groups of people. Whereas extroverts love to lead and manage others, introverts often prefer to work on their own, and they can feel bewildered by constant distractions and interruptions—hence the backlash, among some circles, toward open workplace configurations.

What Keeps You Going?

In other words, what are your ultimate life goals and your greater purpose? To publish a few books? To develop yourself as an influencer? But to what end? What are the causes that make you want to strive toward influence? Do you exist to create more art or beauty in the world? Do you long to contribute to a cure for cancer, world hunger, or the pollution of the world’s oceans? What about income inequality, lack of education, or corporate social responsibility?

Alexander Huls from the Hartford recommends specific actions to feel motivated, including celebrating your “done” list, tackling your “to do” list incrementally (“an inch at a time,” as Anne Lamott writes), prioritizing one task a day, turning off your inner perfectionist, and keeping inspiration close. He adds, “To stay motivated every day, find something that gets you really inspired—a quote, a compliment from a client, an article—and keep it handy near your work space … Personally, I love to bookmark inspirational passages in a book or two.”

If you never take the time to really find out what it is you love and want to do, how will you ever be able to make those longer-term goals that can help round out your life and give you that raison d’etre?

*  *  *

Inspiration can keep you going and fuel increased motivation, if you let it. What’s stopping you? Share your thoughts on finding inspiration for your career in the comments section, below.

Image source: Pixabay

Snacks Make All the Difference: Why Free Food is a Great Workplace Perk

Snacks Make All the Difference: Why Free Food is a Great Workplace Perk

When it comes to boosting employee morale, finding small ways to make the day a bit more pleasant, fun, and less stressful can go a long way. That’s why office perks are a big deal at today’s top companies—and among the most appetizing are boatloads of free snacks.

Don’t worry—you don’t need to hire a celebrity chef and create gourmet meals on-site. However, stocking a bountiful snack pantry, setting up a coffee bar, or having free lunch Fridays just might feed your employees’ workplace devotion, and end up offering a pretty healthy return on your investment. According to a Glassdoor survey, younger workers aged 18-34 (89 percent) and 35-44 (84 percent) said they actually prefer benefits or perks to pay raises. And of the perks listed, 19 percent mentioned free lunch.

When you consider that only 22 percent of offices provide free snacks and beverages, it’s an easy and fairly low-cost way to stand out from your competitors.

Take a look at a few of the benefits of keeping your staff well-fed to decide if it’s time to get in on the office snacking trend:

Snacks make people happy. Even in companies that have extremely or very satisfied employees, a survey by grocery delivery service Peapod found that the happiness factor goes up when free food is involved-jumping from 56 percent in companies with bare cupboards, to 67 percent at workplaces that supply snacks. Think about organizations that are known for their great employer brands (like Dropbox, Apple, and Google), and you’ll see that fabulous food is a staple of the employee perks menu.

Your staff may be more productive. It’s hard to dispute the fact that hunger tends to creep up throughout the day, especially around 3:00 in a hectic office setting. So, ask yourself-isn’t it better if your employees walk into the kitchen or lounge for a cupful of popcorn or to make a cappuccino, than if they step out and end up taking an extended work break? Why do you think tech start-ups are notorious for having so many perks on-site-it’s to limit the need for their employees to leave the premises. By encouraging people to remain in the building, you’ll limit those 15-minute coffee runs that turn into 45 minutes, or those 30-minute lunches that turn into two hours.

Healthy food can improve moods and keep people energized. You can’t argue with nutritional science. By offering an array of healthy energy-boosting foods, it will help prevent your workers from crashing or fizzling out. Sure, it’s nice to have cupcakes or pizza luncheons from time to time, but for daily offerings, stick with snacks that will invigorate your workers. The American Heart Association actually has a Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage Toolkit that offers smart snack and lunch suggestions for employers to offer. Among the most important tips are to provide clean, cool water, always, and offer healthy treats, like a “Build Your Own Trail Mix” bar, complete with dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and whole grain cereal or granola.

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to increase employee satisfaction, consider serving up some free snacks. A giant jar of pretzels or a few bunches of bananas might seem insignificant, but that small gesture can help show your workers that you appreciate them.

This article was first published on Huffington Post.
#WorkTrends Recap: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

#WorkTrends Recap: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

Going to work these days can feel like a minefield. It seems that most people have an opinion about topics that create intense emotions, and people’s differences lead to polarization rather than unity.

Thank you to Patrick Antrim, former New York Yankee baseball player and author of 7 Talent Strategies for High Performing Teams, for being the guest host of this #WorkTrends chat. Patrick welcomed diversity and inclusion strategist Mary-Frances Winters, Founder and President of The Winters Group, Inc., and author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, who shared expertise based on her 30+ years of insight and experience on how organizations create environments where people can find common ground.

We discussed how to build a framework for creating inclusive environments that lead to more productive teams and respectful workplaces. It’s important to remember that creating inclusion isn’t a “one and done” type of phenomenon–it’s a journey. It is also important to build in the time and discipline to reflect and apply what we learn from our experiences.

In closing, Mary-Frances reminded us that part of this journey is “recognizing that we don’t know what we don’t know,” being curious and having an openness to learning.

Thanks, Mary-Frances, for inspiring us to keep pursuing the journey.

Here are a few key points Mary-Frances shared:

  • People who feel respected want to come to work
  • The work of diversity and inclusion is never done; it is always a journey
  • Preparation is important prior to a conversation about differences
  • There is a significant difference between “equality” and “equity”
  • The organizational culture should go beyond creating a “safe space” and create a “brave place”

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here: http://bit.ly/2AfZ45L

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT).

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo by Ocean Biggshott on Unsplash

Time Management Tips for Recruiters

Time Management Tips for Recruiters

By: Roy Mauer

A recruiter’s day is spent juggling applicants, candidates, hiring managers, e-mails, phone screens, intake meetings, queries and reports—making effective time management a critical skill to stay above water.

“Talent acquisition is an onslaught of a thousand seemingly important things competing for your attention,” said Christian De Pape, head of brand and operations at Recruiting Social, a recruiting services firm based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and in Los Angeles. “Many of the recruiters I know love it for this very reason—they love the rush of juggling so many moving parts, the multiple ongoing projects, the surprises that pop up and the tactical maneuvering needed just to keep pace.”

But that rush can make it hard to keep track of the process, which could doom a recruiter to being perpetually in catch-up mode, missing deadlines and failing to complete tasks.

“Practicing time management will determine whether someone is an effective recruiter or not,” said Lindsay Mustain, SHRM-SCP, a talent acquisition leader at Amazon and founder of recruiting consultancy Talent Paradigm in Seattle. “You have to move fast, and I tend to find that recruiters are naturally more in line with their people-person, extroverted side and not so much with tracking and being organized. That’s why I try to build a lot of automated steps into the process.”

Time management doesn’t need to be complex or high maintenance, De Pape said. Instead, practices should be simple and “complement how your mind operates.” Many of the talent acquisition professionals interviewed for this article described themselves as “old school” when discussing what works best for them.

In a response typical of those interviewed, Wal-Mart Senior Corporate Recruiter Catherine Pylant said that she has “dabbled with a lot of different organizational platforms, apps and methods,” but ultimately she goes back to “tried-and-true handwritten notes and utilizing the Microsoft Office suite.”

Take Notes

Keeping a list of what you want to accomplish is a basic organizational tactic, whether you prefer writing it out by hand or using digital list-making tools.

“The act of writing down my workday’s goals with pencil and paper really helps me stay focused,” said Michelle Cugini, an HR and talent acquisition consultant at HRawesome, based in Oceanside, Calif.

“A notepad next to my keyboard is all I need,” said Nina Rodriguez, an Orlando, Fla.-based recruiter for online travel site Booking.com. “Once I finish the task, I cross it off the list. If it’s something pertinent that I need an alert for, I just plug it into my Google calendar. If I want to keep an electronic note for future reference, I use Notes for Google Drive, which is an extension on my browser and easy to access without having to open a new tab.”

Pylant uses Microsoft OneNote to keep track of tasks. “I keep all of my notes on this platform because it is easily shareable, there is no limit on how much information can be cataloged in it, and it’s easy to access and pull from,” she said.

Task management apps like Asana and Trello are also effective, De Pape said. Whatever you use, “pick a tool you’re already comfortable with and make sure it’s something you can keep at your side at all times,” he said. “Avoid software that lives exclusively on your desktop and doesn’t sync between devices.”

De Pape recommended capturing clear, specific information when jotting down tasks. “Assume you’ll forget the details, because you will,” he said.

Block Time

Assign yourself time to accomplish assignments. Mustain uses Calendly, a scheduler app, to block time in her day. “I go in on Fridays and block off meetings and sourcing power hours for the next week,” she said. She uses a planner to set daily goals like “source 20 candidates, do three interviews and submit five people,” she said.

Pylant segments her day using her Outlook calendar. She blocks time, titles each block, and adds details such as bullet points or a plan of action. “Some tasks I do pretty repetitively, such as extending offers and processing them, so I know that if I have a call to extend an offer I also need to block off 15 minutes after that in order to process and complete the administrative piece. This helps me ensure nothing slips through the cracks and I get my tasks done in a timely manner.”

Pylant cautioned recruiters to be realistic when blocking time. “If you underestimate a meeting or task, it will throw off the rest of your blocked time for the day—and sometimes week—due to the repercussions.” She also recommended adding a floating 30-minute time block each day, which can be parceled out to make up for unexpected but unavoidable time-wasters—like a meeting that goes too long or being stopped in the hallway by a chatty colleague.

Prioritize Tasks

When it comes to prioritizing tasks, solutions range from the simple—Pylant keeps a written list handy and constantly updates and reprioritizes it—to more-complex organizational methods.

“Whether you’re using Google or Microsoft for e-mail, it’s easy to color-code your inbox and calendar,” Cugini said. “I use red for urgent items that have deadlines associated with them and green for items that are important and need my attention but might not have a firm deadline. I find this really useful because it’s so easy to continuously put off important things.”

For each task, Mustain considers where in the process the related requisition lies, the urgency of the task and the stakeholders involved. “If your boss is coming to you with something urgent that ranks higher than a candidate who needs something on the side that can wait.”

She spends the first hour and the last part of each day reading e-mails and schedules her sourcing time early in the morning. “I can get people responding that same day and that drives my results,” she said. “What I’m really doing is focusing on the 20 percent that will net 80 percent of my goals. I’ll target what is the most value-add for my time. Two hours of sourcing each day gives me the candidate generation I need to fill the [requisitions] I’m working on.”

Mustain also believes in getting the most challenging tasks done early in the workday. “Try to do the things you are most reluctant to do in the morning,” she said. “If you hate calling to decline people, do it in the morning and get it over with or it will hang on you all day.”

It gets tougher to solve problems and complete challenging work later in the day, De Pape agreed. He schedules calls and meetings and does administrative tasks during the “downtime” periods of the day, such as right before breaking for lunch or midafternoon.

Take Breaks

Everyone knows that taking breaks during the workday is important for recharging, but many recruiters find this hard to do. “In my time in recruitment as well as working remotely, I have found myself many times logging in at 8 a.m. and then the next thing I know it is 6 p.m., and I never took a break and sometimes forgot to eat,” Pylant said.

“I schedule a lunch hour on my calendar every day,” Mustain said, even though she admitted that she usually works through it, eating at her desk. “When you are doing anything for over 90 minutes, you need to step away and take some time to clear your mind. Take a walk, grab a cup of coffee or chat with colleagues.”

Take breaks away from your desk or work area when possible. “I like to take a walk at lunch and maybe even a quick walk around the building for a shorter break during the day,” Cugini said. “Hopefully others are breaking at the same time, and we can walk and talk about life outside of work. Workplace friendships have such a big impact on employee engagement, and these walks and talks have proven that to me over and over again.”


By Roy Maurer Online Manager/Editor, Talent Acquisition

Roy covers talent acquisition for SHRM Online. Before joining SHRM in 2008, he was an editor and reporter covering state and city government in Indiana, arts and culture in Los Angeles and theater in Washington, D.C. Before that he was a filmmaker and screenwriter and before that a photographer in the United States Marine Corps.  He has a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in film production from Columbia College.

This article was originally published on SHRM.

Virtual Reality Gives Job Candidates a Vivid Big Picture

Virtual Reality Gives Job Candidates a Vivid Big Picture

By Steve Bates

You’re piloting a 37-foot-long boat on a river deep in enemy territory. Your mission: Extract a Navy SEAL team pinned down by gunfire. Your craft can cruise at over 45 miles per hour, but the noise might alert the enemy to your approach. With 360-degree vision, you notice fellow sailors around you tightening grips on weapons. Night begins to fall. And you have less than 10 minutes to save the day.

It’s only a virtual reality (VR) simulation of a Navy mission, but for many who don the special headgear and immerse themselves into the action, the experience is jaw-dropping.

VR is a technology-assisted environment that simulates the real world or an imaginary one. It can evoke vivid sight and sound—and even taste, smell and touch. There’s more to the Navy mission simulation than simply the wow factor, however. It’s a way to show potential recruits what it’s like to be a part of the service.

Many Navy employees never see battle, of course. The Navy has more than 100 career specialties, many of which involve little danger. But once a potential recruit has felt the special operations boat rock and watched comrades dangle from a nearby helicopter through the VR experience, he or she develops a closer connection with the Navy and its broader mission, said Capt. Dave Bouve, the service’s director of marketing and advertising, who is based near Memphis, Tenn.

“My job is to tell the Navy story,” Bouve said. “VR is just another tool.”

As of early 2017, the Navy had two large vehicles that were driven from college campus to campus to offer the VR exercise. “It’s an opportunity to start a conversation” with a potential recruit through a debriefing after the VR experience and through follow-up e-mails, said Bouve.

If you have never experienced VR, he added, “It will probably blow your hair back.”

Bouve and others who use VR in recruiting say it’s a way to differentiate an employer from others in a field. It helps solidify a brand. It illustrates what it’s like to work for an organization. And it demonstrates an employer’s commitment to cutting-edge technology.

Online shopping firm Jet, German mobility and logistics provider Deutsche Bahn and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are among large businesses using VR in recruiting. Some colleges are even starting to use VR to recruit students.

‘Truth and Validity’

VR has found a variety of niches in HR—from training to diversity and inclusion programs to talent acquisition. “It’s got truth and validity to it,” said Joe Shaker Jr., president of Oak Park, Ill.-based Shaker Recruitment Marketing.

VR can have a major impact in recruiting if used right, he said. Shaker added that another advantage to using VR in recruiting is that it helps marginal job candidates “self-select out” once they get a picture of a company and its employment opportunities. That gives recruiters more time to focus on serious prospects.

VR could make the leap from “nice to have” to “must-have” for recruiters, suggested Alexa Merschel, a national talent leader for assurance, tax and advisory services provider PwC in the Philadelphia area. “This is practically an expectation at this point” in some industries, she said. “There is a demand for real-time experience, to show what it is like to work at the firm.”

PwC started using VR on college campuses in 2016. A job hopeful can strap on a VR headset and be transported into the spacious, brightly lit lobby of PwC’s Boston office building. An employee arriving for his first day of work gets a tour of the facility, hears about a student loan paydown program, rotational assignment opportunities, mentorships, a softball game after work and an upcoming community service day. He meets several colleagues in person and joins others in a teleconference.

“We’re trying to bring our firm to life,” Merschel said. “You see it and feel it, including human interaction. We see it as enhancing our brand as a technology-enabled professional services firm.”

General Mills has been using VR to recruit talent since 2015. A team of employees used special cameras to capture footage around the company’s Minneapolis headquarters and at popular landmarks in the area.

The VR experience was designed to let job candidates see themselves working at General Mills and living nearby—without the expense of flying them to Minneapolis for final interviews. Using VR, potential employees can walk the halls of the company and even work out in the gymnasium.

“The thing with VR is that you can’t escape it” once you put on the headset, said Peter Schlueer, president and co-founder of VR products and solutions firm WorldViz in Santa Barbara, Calif. “You have the full attention of the person using it. It’s so visceral, it creates an indelible memory in your brain.”

He added that recruiting is “a fantastic use” of VR technology. “Seeing is believing.”

Steve Bates is a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C., area.

This article was first published on SHRM.

Winning at Talent Recruitment in the Age of Extreme Competition

Winning at Talent Recruitment in the Age of Extreme Competition

In today’s highly competitive job market, winning at recruiting top talent is no easy task. Whether you’re a talent recruitment pro or a small to midsize business owner looking to find and hire individuals for your organization, success in recruiting today requires an understanding of your target “customer” (i.e. the job seeker or prospect). That means knowing where to find them, understanding what’s important to them, knowing how to market a job opening, crafting a job offer that will be compelling, and perhaps knowing how to use technology to make the process more efficient and effective.

Here are six ways your company can be more effective when it comes to talent recruitment:

  1. Take a social spin on recruiting. To find top talent, you need to think outside the box. Sure, nearly every recruiter, manager, or business owner uses LinkedIn these days—but there are more social networks out there. For example, Jobvite’s 2016 Job Seeker Survey found 35 percent of job seekers used Twitter to look for work, and 67 percent of them turned to Facebook. Companies are also using Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube as part of the way they showcase who they are, what they’re doing, and what working with them would be like. So if your company doesn’t have a legitimate presence on a variety of social media channels, know that it’s quite possible you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with prospective employees. They are checking you out, all across the web, and what you’re doing, or not doing, on social media channels makes an impression.
  2. Use technology wisely. Manually sorting through pages and pages of resumes and hosting a slew of in-person interviews to hire the right talent is one way to go about it, but it’s not the most efficient way. Technology can play a big role when it comes to streamlining recruiting processes. As my colleague Meghan Biro recently pointed out, HR and recruiting is the perfect place to leverage technology. Technology can be employed to help to manage the applicant process, combining deep learning algorithms with big data to determine which candidates are best suited for particular jobs. Companies are also using technology to streamline interview processes as well as onboarding processes. There’s much that the smart integration of technology into the recruitment process can do to make everything better—for recruiters and prospects alike.
  3. Make Marketing part of your recruitment efforts. Employees today want more than a job—they want a fulfilling work experience. Recruiting pros need to take a page from their pals over in the Marketing department. When competing for attention in a competitive job market, the more you can do to market your company and the opportunities your open positions present for job seekers, the more effective you’ll be at finding people interested in knowing more. Keep this in mind when creating job postings, job descriptions, and even social media posts, and develop messaging that speaks to the opportunities that working with your company affords prospective employees. This will go a long way toward attracting the right talent.
  4. Humanize your company. Job seekers today are selective, and rightfully so. When recruiting efforts showcase the corporate culture of an organization in a way that’s attractive to prospective candidates, it can make a big difference. There are many different ways to humanize your company. Featuring candid (and not super slick) photos of employees and events at your company on social media sites, using video on your website and in social media posts opens, and featuring employee voices in your corporate blog are all ways to humanize your company and open a window into the culture of the organization.
  5. Broaden your hiring horizons. As I’ve written about in the past, building an internal culture that hinges on innovation can have a direct impact on your success in the market. How do you get there? Diversity, diversity, diversity. Even Google encourages staff to uncover and ditch their bias in the workplace, so no company is immune to the need for more inclusion and equality when it comes to hiring.
  6. Employees are often your best source for new talent. Look for referrals from employees to streamline your path to the best hires. If you don’t already, consider starting a referral program for current employees incentivizing them to refer stellar candidates. Those incentives don’t have to be monetary, either—you could offer extra time off or another perk in exchange for uber-qualified personnel. It’s also smart to stay in touch with employees who no longer work for your company but left on good terms. Sometimes, these professionals are considered “boomerang” employees because they can be persuaded to return to your company for the right compensation package, title, or position.

Bottom line: Recruiting top talent today is not easy, but if you’re smart, you can gain a competitive edge when it comes to finding and recruiting the key players you seek. Get social, understand the role technology can play as part of your recruitment efforts, dig into data, think like marketers, humanize your company, prioritize diversity, and don’t discount referrals. In the race to find the best of the best, these tactics will set you and your company apart.

Additional Resources on This Topic:

Marketing (And Showcasing) Your Corporate Culture During Recruitment
Five Marketing Strategies HR Should Embrace

This article was first published on Work Connect Blog.

Are You a First-Time Manager? Six Tips to Start Off Right

Are You a First-Time Manager? Six Tips to Start Off Right

Are you ready to be a first-time manager? Perhaps you’ve had some bad managers in the past, and you think this is your chance to do it right.

Well, it IS your chance to do it right. But you can’t wing it.

Research reveals that nearly 60 percent of first-time managers underperform and often end up leaving the company.

Here are six tips to start off right and avoid finding yourself alone on the edge of a precipice.

  1. Approach your new role with humility.

You might have an idea of what a manager does. You might have had some bad managers and think you know how to do it better. The truth is, it’s not as easy as it looks. It takes time to get it right. If you act like you always know what you’re doing, people won’t believe or trust you. You will earn much more respect by being open, asking for help when you need it, and making changes when you’re off track. Recognize that you will make mistakes (it’s inevitable), and when you do, own up to them. Be open to feedback and be willing to make adjustments.

  1. Change your focus.

You might have been promoted to a management position because you were great at doing your job. But you now have an entirely new job. The jump from the role of individual contributor to first time manager is one of the biggest leaps you can make. Instead of doing the work, you now need to work through others to get the work accomplished. Your focus should be on building your team and supporting them in doing their work. On of the most challenging things you will need to do is to delegate effectively – to be willing to delegate and to know when to delegate.

  1. Learn the skills of management.

Becoming a good manager is not simply a matter of attitude. There are skills that are essential to managing others. In addition to learning effective delegating, you need to learn communication skills like how to hold difficult conversations. You need to be able to set SMART goals and the RIGHT goals. And you need to know how to adjust your management style to the specific needs of each direct report. One of the best ways to learn how to adjust your style is through Situational Leadership® II.  If you can’t take a workshop, I recommend reading Leadership and The One Minute Manager.

  1. Understand the big picture.

At times you will need to provide a rationale for the things you are asking your direct reports to do. You need to have a good understanding of where the company is going and how your team supports the company’s goals. Don’t just wait for your boss to fill you in. Be proactive and read information on the company website and ask your boss and other leaders strategic questions.

  1. Acknowledge your changing relationships.

One of the most confusing aspects of being promoted to a first-time manager is figuring out your relationship with your former peers. You need to find a place in the middle – not aloof and not just pals. You can still be friends, relax, hangout and laugh with them, but you need to be clear about your boundaries. You can’t gossip about others or confide confidential information. It’s important to be fair to all and not let your personal relationships cloud your decisions.

  1. Find a mentor.

Ideally your new boss will coach you as you grow into your new role. But if not, find someone, ideally who knows the company’s culture, to give you advice and act as a sounding board. Knowing something in theory and in reality are two different things. In the beginning especially, you need someone you can talk with about some of the complicated situations you are actually facing.

This article was first published on seapointcenter.com.

5 Ways Conferences Can Teach Us How Organizations Behave

5 Ways Conferences Can Teach Us How Organizations Behave

Conferences are our own tribal gatherings, held in giant convention centers in fun cities like Las Vegas and New Orleans —  21st-century village squares. Aside from scrambling to catch every event we can and slyly peeking at each other’s badges, we listen to storytellers and reconnect with our shared sense of purpose.  We also eat too much, hardly go outside, and hit the hay at 2 am. Why sleep when we’re in a dream world of star keynote speakers and mind-blowing new tools?

What we’re doing at these massive events is a mirror on the work we’ve got to do back in reality. We may think we’ve evolved so far from our origins that the workforce itself is no longer human — consider all the presentations on AI. But judging from how we are at these grand events, I’d argue the opposite is true, and here’s why:

  1. We Still Act Like a Tribe. We easily join up to get behind a shared objective. At the conference, we’re in a bubble of excitement and community, surrounded by hundreds of colleagues. We flock to presentations and keynotes like villagers heading to the campfire, eager to hear our leaders tell stories that renew our shared sense of purpose.

How does that play out in organizations? The workforce is a social tribe and we suffer from some holdover traits, such as powerful women still getting interrupted by their male peers.

  1. We Follow Our Leaders. We tend not to extoll the leader-follower equation these days, but we should. At work we generally accept the direction set by our leaders, flawed or not. If there’s a good story involved, even better. We’re open to their ideas and we want to be inspired.

Organizationally, we can leverage that to improve work culture, and hold our leaders accountable. Transformation starts at the top. We just saw an Uber board member forced to resign over a bro-ish remark. It’s high time to bring in more women leaders as well. A recent Deloitte study found that in 2016, only a fifth of board members in Fortune 500 companies were women.

  1. We All Suffer From FOMO. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a more potent force than we often realize. It’s the ancient glue that holds us together, a primitive, tribal survival instinct that’s more recently conflated with the need to have the best new toys. But it’s far more than a material desire or addiction to social media. It can work for or against organizational change.

Not wanting to miss out is a behavior worth paying attention to, and leveraging for positive ends. It can drive engagement and get people on board with learning and development initiatives and new tech adoptions. It’s also a strong argument for building a recognition culture with a big emphasis on social sharing.

  1. We Like Bright and Shiny. Tribes on the search for sustenance, shelter and treasure developed a sharp collective eye for objects that stand out. We still seek out that glint of gold in the hills, but the reflex is trained on digital innovations these days.

Our collective ability to see standouts has evolved into an appreciation for disruption. Nowhere is that more apparent than in HR tech and breakthrough technology. Investors plunged more than $2 billion into HR tech systems and platforms in 2016, according to venture capitalist resource CB Insights. HR tech continues to grow — and this growth will drive faster transformation in a field that needs to grow faster.

  1. The Strongest Do Survive. Organizational culture owes a lot to Darwin. Yes, Amazon continues its accelerated behemoth takeover of retail — it just announced it’s buying Whole Foods, But equating strength with size and force is a misassumption.

We may not have a spare $13.7 billion to invest in swallowing up a potential future competitor, but we can achieve strength in other ways. The top companies aren’t those who use survival of the fittest to justify bad leadership, or put people last. Companies are only as good as their workforce — and in a talent crisis where retention is high on our list of nervous-making concerns, that means engaging a workforce and incorporating people-centered core values into strategy.

One more trait: we love to have fun. As a tribe, we need to laugh. We need to smile. We need to breathe. Some of us are better at kicking back than others. But for the workaholics among us — and you know who you are — make sure you have the chance to relax. And don’t miss your fight.

This article was originally published on Forbes.

#WorkTrends Preview: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

#WorkTrends Preview: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

Today’s headlines are brimming with emotionally-charged topics including racial injustice, protests, sexual harassment and more, making it unrealistic for employers to expect their employees to leave their opinions at the door.

Organizations must take advantage of this emotionally fraught time to help employees find common ground. Doing so will improve engagement, company chemistry, productivity and retention. Teams will become more cohesive and employees’ sense of safety will improve.

Guest host Patrick Antrim, former New York Yankee baseball player and author of 7 Talent Strategies for High Performing Teams, will welcome diversity and inclusion strategist Mary-Frances Winters, Founder and President of The Winters Group, Inc., and author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics to share her 30+ years of insight and experience on how organizations create environments where people can find that common ground and remain respectful and productive. She and her firm are committed to helping people feel comfortable and empowered bringing their whole selves to work.

This #WorkTrends chat will address how to create inclusive environments and provide a model for difficult conversations, providing building blocks of competence and preparation.

Join #WorkTrends guest host Patrick Antrim and his guest Mary-Frances Winters, author of We Can’t Talk about That at Work!: How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics, on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 1 pm ET as they discuss the framework for creating inclusive environments that lead to more productive teams and respectful workplaces.

We Can’t Talk about That at Work!

#WorkTrends Preview: We Can’t Talk about That at Work!Join Patrick and Mary-Frances on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 1 pm ET | 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:


Q1: What topics have been historically considered taboo in the workplace and why so? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can employees effectively address sensitive topics in the workplace? #WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Q3: How can leadership affect change to open the lines of communication? #WorkTrends  (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed and our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community.

Photo Credit: Jiuck Flickr via Compfight cc

Performance Enablement and Empowerment

Performance Enablement and Empowerment

When it comes to performance enablement and empowerment, we need to stop trying to manage performance, which seems to be the prevalent mindset in many organizations today. The word management is about “controlling and making decisions,” neither of which help us maximize performance. When we manage performance, we stifle employees’ ability to be their best and grow. So instead of talking about managing, let’s refer to it as performance enablement and empowerment—two words that really get to what our role in performance should be. But before we dive too deep into enablement and empowerment, we must define exactly what performance is.

Performance is defined by two considerations:

1) the desired or needed results and 2) the way in which the results are achieved.

We can’t just think of performance in terms of how much is delivered because then we have a situation where staff only focus on results and neglect how they achieved those results even if it was to the detriment of others on the team or in violation of professional ethics. Performance metrics need to be aligned with the team or department as well as the objectives and the values of the company.

Let’s talk performance enablement. Performance enablement is the organization giving their people the ability to do something, the ability to perform. To do so, you must provide the following:

  • Training: Continually develop good work habits and skills through a combination of classroom, online, and on-the-job training. Training must be ongoing and account for differing learning styles. Training is the ongoing mastery of the skills needed to do a job and remain up to date with changes occurring in the business or marketplace.
  • Tools to Do the Job: Ensure your people have the things they need to do their job well. As a manager, this is one of your main responsibilities. Ensure there is a process in place that gets the necessary tools to your team on time and at the right time.
  • Technology: Technology has become an important part of our lives, especially at work. Technology should be implemented to make things easier for both the customer and employee.
  • The Right Information: Managers need to be forthcoming and transparent with information an employee needs to do their job and make decisions.

Once employees have what they need, managers need to get out of the way and let their people make decisions. In an article for IndustryWeek, Shawn Casemore stated that it is critical to “let go in order to help employees grow.” This is performance empowerment. Managers must stop being so insecure and concerned that they will not have a job if the staff are making all the decisions. I would agree a manager becomes more valuable when they empower their people and stop controlling so many aspects of the business. They shift from being managers to leaders. But this shift is necessary for everyone to succeed.

Empowerment is a critical part of achieving an engaged workforce. You cannot have engaged employees without first empowering them. Considering that only 51% of US employees are engaged at work, there is a dire need to empower your people.

To empower your people:

  • Stimulate Thinking: Instead of giving answers, ask employees what they would do. Simply asking questions can get your staff thinking as owners and leaders themselves. By asking them for their thoughts, you are telling your employees that you trust their judgment. Empowerment is all about giving staff confidence in their own abilities. Continually remind staff that they can make decisions.
  • Provide Decision-Making Training: Scenario-based training can help staff collectively think what the best solutions or decisions might be. Ideally, this training should take place in an informal environment such as a daily team meeting. Providing staff with a scenario on a daily or weekly basis can get their creative juices flowing and turn them into expert problem solvers.
  • Share Financial Information: Teach your people about financial responsibility and the impact of different decisions on the company’s bottom line. Encourage them to solve problems in a way that benefits both the organization and the customer.
  • Provide a Solid Start: Provide guidelines as new staff come on board. During their onboarding period—that first 30-60 days on the job—there should be plenty of opportunities to teach new hires the guidelines for decision making while they are in a safe learning environment where the customer, product, or service is not inconvenienced.
  • Respond, Don’t React: Be prepared to respond positively when someone gives too much away. In most cases, it’s not the end of the world. Make it a teaching moment, not a punishment. Staff must make mistakes to learn what not to do. Think back to your early days as a leader. I can guarantee you made your fair share of mistakes as well, and it only helped you grow in your role and in the organization.

Remember, the only way a manager becomes truly indispensable is to be dispensable to their teams by enabling and empowering them. If you are selecting the right people, orienting and onboarding them correctly by enabling and empowering them, you set up your people to feel great about themselves and their role, which leads to them being their best for your customers and the business.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my new book, Culture Hacker, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also check out Season 2 of the Culture Hacker Podcast, available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Recommended Readings:
Top Principles of Employee Empowerment

Photo Credit: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Flickr via Compfight cc

Hire a Marketer for Your HR Department

Hire a Marketer for Your HR Department

If there’s one trend that is picking up speed in today’s organizations, it’s the realization that keeping departments in separate silos isn’t the most efficient way to do things. Cross-departmental collaboration is helping companies tap into the skill sets of their talent in new and exciting ways. For example, consider how well HR and marketing work together. When you think about the fact that HR handles recruitment and, as part of that, is becoming more focused on managing the employer brand—hiring a marketer to join your HR team makes sense.

According to the Harvard Business Review, 40 percent of CEOs surveyed said they are relying on employer branding to secure their long-term hiring needs. And when it comes to branding, who better than a marketer to step in and take the lead?

Explore some of the reasons why your HR team could use a marketer:

HR is rooted in marketing principles. In a way, the HR department plays an integral role in shaping the company culture, from the way the employer brand is represented during the recruiting process, to the how employees perceive the company. As EmotiveBrand.comexplains, “The authenticity of the employer brand depends on HR and marketing working together to create an employee experience that is true to the brand.”

Marketers know how to nurture relationships online. The nature of marketing is such that marketers tend to be up on the latest technology tools and platforms to help build customer relationships, says Rajveer Gangwar on LinkedIn. Just as marketers use social media to engage customers, such tactics can—and should—be applied to recruitment and retention efforts. Having a marketing-minded HR team member can help you stay on the cutting-edge.

Employer reputation management will help with talent acquisition. In addition to putting forth a corporate image, it’s important to stay tuned to the conversation. According to a 2016 Glassdoor survey, 69 percent of people said they were likely to apply to a job if the company hiring manages its employer brand actively (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment). Having a marketing person on your HR team can ensure that you are addressing employee reviews and other feedback appropriately and promptly.

A marketer can help maintain a consistent voice across all channels. Chances are, you already have a great team of marketers on staff who work hard to establish branded collateral, so shouldn’t HR benefit from that as well? Dell is just one of many organizations that realized an HR partnership with marketing was a win-win all around. Not only did the pairing allow for a more consistent employer brand identity, but having marketing step in allowed the HR pros to remain focused on the recruiting tasks that they did best.

In-house marketing can help HR improve employee morale. You don’t want to wait until your employees leave your organization before finding out what they really thought of the company. Keeping the lines of communication open and listening to the digital conversations(as marketers do) can provide valuable insight as to what drives and motivates your employees. In turn, you can determine which HR programs are working and if you should implement new ones.

Learn the data and analytics ropes from marketing. Today’s marketers have more data and insights to inform their decisions than ever before, and so does HR—if it can learn how to track and measure performance, that is. Bringing on a marketer to track relevant metrics can help HR improve employee engagement.

From recruitment to employee relations to retention, HR is more complex than ever before. If you have the opportunity to add someone to your HR team, consider someone who can think like a marketer and elevate your employer brand.

Photo Credit: teamgivingsacramento Flickr via Compfight cc

This post was first published on V3Broadsuite.

Problem: Many Managers Don’t Give a C.R.A.P.

Problem: Many Managers Don’t Give a C.R.A.P.

There are plenty of articles and opinions on how to become a better manager and leader, but nearly all of them are blind to the overwhelming evidence that 50-65% of managers don’t give a crap. That may be a generous number. Take a look at Gallup and other studies, and you will find, for over 15 years the average breakdown is, 30% of employees are engaged, 50% are meh, and 20% are actively disengaged. The percentages may tick up or down from year to year, but the stubborn reality persists, a minimum of two, and possibly as many as seven out of ten people are not engaged in their work, i.e. don’t care.

Ponder your personal experiences and a list of possible causes for this will ripen with reflection. The reality, only 20% of those reading these words will do the work and find ways to combat the issue. If you are in that achiever’s group, you have to double down to make a positive difference, because face it, you are outnumbered, either by indifference or malfeasance.

If you are in the group that genuinely cares and you are also responsible for other managers, it is crucial to admit that many of them do not care. They don’t care about their direct reports, the organization that pays them, and they don’t particularly care about you. Like it or not, their behavior and attitude reflect on you. You own it.

You could invest dollars with world-renowned thought leaders, who will provide insight and theory on ways to solicit higher performance, and in some instances that may be beneficial. Though keep in mind, the distribution of engagement hasn’t budged much in 15 years so the real answers may reside with practitioners, more so than theorists.

Do a gut check. Do your managers give a crap? If they don’t, figure out why not and find ways to either remove their obstacles or remove them from management responsibilities, because you may confirm, they are the obstacle.

In short, start giving a crap.

Care – Care about your direct reports, your clients, your boss. If you often find yourself thinking, “I could not care less,” you’re doing it wrong. Decide to either improve or resign from your position.

Recognize – Recognize the efforts of those around you. It is too easy to take people for granted, especially if they make things look effortless. If you cannot make the time to recognize people who are helping you achieve the goals you are responsible for, you had better find ways to return to being an individual contributor, because you’re not demonstrating a basic component of effective leadership.

Accountability – The most difficult person to hold accountable is yourself. You make and break promises to yourself all the time, and then you subconsciously take it out on others. Polish your integrity. Honor your commitments and your mistakes. Instead of passing blame, accept it and fix it. Holding yourself accountable doesn’t come easy for many people. Set your ego aside and ask for help.

Persist – Don’t abdicate your leadership when it gets too hard or uncomfortable. Persist. Don’t succumb to apathy when things don’t immediately go your way. Persist. Know your true north, keep an eye on your moral compass, and continue driving toward what you know is right, despite any obstacles, self-imposed or otherwise.

There are plenty of strong, effective leaders; unfortunately, many of them do not hold positional power. That’s okay. Strong leadership has never needed a title. It is most attracted to those who give a crap.

This article was first published on bimshasconsulting.com

#WorkTrends Recap: Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace Culture

#WorkTrends Recap: Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace Culture

There is a lot of talk in human resources circles about diversity and inclusion, but what does diversity and inclusion really mean in the workplace? Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global Communications and author of several books including Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Global Companies Improve their Bottom Line by Employing Persons with Disabilities, joined me today for #WorkTrends to help us all understand how to fully define diversity and inclusion, and how to practice it within our organizations.

We discussed how broad the definition of diversity is, and the fact that 46% of the workers in the United States have a disability of some type. In her work with the United Nations on diversity issues, Debra saw that people with disabilities were often excluded from lists of those who needed to be incorporated into diversity and inclusion planning. There are also other components of the definition that are sometimes overlooked, she reminded us, such as age and invisible disabilities.

Diversity helps businesses fulfill their full potential in the workforce as well as on the balance sheet. As a McKinsey report noted, companies with diverse executive boards have higher earnings and better returns on equity. Diversity doesn’t just matter on the executive board, though–it matters organization-wide.

An employee benefiting from an inclusive environment is more likely to provide effective customer service. The benefits spread outward from the employee to those they serve.

Businesses also benefit from diversity because, along with the fact that it’s the right thing to do, they are setting themselves up for litigation if they fail to pursue diversification efforts. It’s not expensive to do the right thing, but it does take attention to policies and processes. That’s one area in which Debra’s organization specializes.

“Ultimately, we all need to think outside of the box”, said Debra. She provided a powerful framework for doing exactly that.

Here are a few key points Debra shared:

  • People with disabilities should be included in diversity and inclusion programs
  • Learning from one another is multiplied in diverse workforces
  • Qualifications are important; organizations shouldn’t look at hiring people with disabilities because it’s “nice” to do — they should hire people with disabilities who are the most qualified candidates
  • Diversity adds innovation to the workforce
  • The more diverse teams are, the better the organization’s bottom line will be

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here: http://bit.ly/2im54SG

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT).

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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The Best Performance Management Puts Humans First

The Best Performance Management Puts Humans First

It’s one thing to decide to revise your performance management approach. It’s another thing to successfully re-engineer the mindset that embraces the change — and then manage that transformation across the organization. Too often, performance management is still stuck in an old framework that conflates human performance and business performance as one. If there’s anything we know now — illuminated by revealing data — it’s that humans must come first.

Why intentions get derailed

Yes: our business or organization is only as good as its people: to a certain extent, that’s true. But confusing how we measure what people do and how the organization is doing often results in our people feeling devalued and their efforts overlooked. We know what happens next. While many companies say they want to change how they evaluate performance, 9 out of 10 still use numerical performance scores to not only to rank employees but also determine compensation. A recent HR strategy roundtable focused on plans versus reality: Most organizations average a mere two hours a year on performance management per employee. Meanwhile, half (48%) of employees surveyed in a recent study felt that a performance review helped them improve their performance.

Without the engagement and alignment of our workforce, all the big plans in the world won’t amount to much. The organization is likely too busy spinning its wheels to just sustain a workforce. We’re in a talent crunch: good talent is hard to find. Great talent — even harder. Facing churn and constantly forced to train and rebuild new teams, some managers are understandably going to fall back on the systems they already well know, and resist the prospect of yet more change. The complex fabric of today’s workforces will only exacerbate that sense of being under siege.

As the business performance suffers, it seems to underscore the need to better oversee how the people are doing, which can turn into a review of the mistakes or lapses they made in the past turbulent year. Some exasperated managers may want to point the finger at employees not ‘pulling their weight.’ Competitive rankings, awkward peer reviews, accusations of unfairness, a long future of compensation based on a half-hour meeting, surveys that start with key weaknesses — there go any plan to retool the workplace culture. There, then, go some of your best people. It’s crisis HR: forget redesigning the house at least until the fire’s out. Newsflash: the fire isn’t going to go out.

Change requires better tools

Here’s what must happen instead. Empower everyone. The role of managers is to enable the organization to work to keep it working: their loyalty must be to productivity. They may know full well there’s a better way but simply not believe it’s viable given the current turbulence they’re trying to navigate. But it’s exhausting, managing by crisis mitigation. It’s not engaging for anyone. So, if you can pry your captains’ hands off the wheel for a moment, it’s an ideal time to make the change — if it’s done right. Successfully initiating and seeing through a complete shift to a culture of collaboration, innovation, and empowerment — for everyone, including managers — means capitalizing on the powerful tech and innovative systems now available.  That way all levels of the organization, particularly management, is secure in knowing nothing will fall between the cracks.

In with the new

This new model of performance management functions on technology that frees manages to play a far more frequent and connected role in the overall performance of employees. And here’s what happens: the value is put back into people. On the human side, we get to be — human. Whether a meaningful debriefing when a project is still fresh in everyone’s mind, team feedback given by request, individual check-ins through a day or a week, or exchanges around goals and targets, the mindset is freed of a transactional imperative. There’s no need for human effort to be flattened into a spreadsheet and numbers. Replacing that is a far more collaborative and ongoing conversation that’s far more responsive to the needs of everyone involved and thus more productive in terms of the data and knowledge it creates.

On the tech side, the difference is a sea change. Goal alignment and attainment, for instance, can be measured on a granular level for employees and managers — to see specially and immediately how they’re working and what kind of progress is taking place. What skills need to be deepened, what training needs to be added, what improvements can be made — all is based on information, not an onslaught of impersonal rankings. Performance reviews, whatever time period they do cover, are based on tangible and real data that, in turn, is connected back to the employee’s own experience of the work. The tech integrates into existing systems and platforms, becoming part of the workplace — within the workplace, not outside of it. And every action can be measured to provide data that empowers improvement. The bottom line is responsiveness. The right performance management system is responsive the organization’s needs as well as human needs — and acts as a bridge between the two.

Organizations are only as good as their people, it’s true. We also know that employees do far better when they can take ownership of their own success and invest in their own excellence. The key difference is that people need to feel like that paradigm’s not a liability, but an advantage. To drive true change in performance management, there must be a powerful set of tools in place to keep it from going off the rails, set it on its course, and let it gain momentum from within. The right tech can effectively free managers from the relentless administrative pressures that tend to, by necessity, narrow their focus — when what they need is to be freed to connect with their workforce. The best tools put humans first — all of them.

To learn more, check out the webinar, “Making Performance Reviews More Human.”  from Reflekive.  Enjoy.

Photo Credit: Ravennanotizie Flickr via Compfight cc

How Technology and Digital Transformation Impacts Today’s Workplace

How Technology and Digital Transformation Impacts Today’s Workplace

Digital Transformation involves technology being introduced into the work culture to create efficiency through automation or skill reorientation, making the process more aligned with achieving a predetermined goal.

As a whole, we are seeing our every day lives and our workplaces becoming more and more digitized. From technological advancements such as the pervasiveness of smartphones, the prolific growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and even the super disruptive advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, digital transformations are taking place every day. The latest trends in digitizing efforts is looking at how people work and connect with their employers and work environments.

Ushering in this workplace digital transformation has huge incentives for organizations—considering the workplace needs to keep pace with the changes the business environment is currently facing. It is important for companies, now more than ever to respond and succeed through those challenges if they want to be successful.

The rapid pace of technological change has been cited by most business leaders from Fortune 500 firms, as the single biggest challenge they face in today’s world, according to a recent survey.

So it’s imperative that they commit to taking steps to counter and ride this new wave of disruption if they want to keep their business moving forward towards success.

When a company goes through a digital transformation, they miss out on their internal functionaries— mainly their employees. Remember, if the employees follow old practices, you won’t be able to build products and experiences that are in tune to today’s consumer demands.

Efforts to Bring Digital Transformation into the Workplace:

How Technology and Digital Transformation Impacts Today’s Workplace

How can you possibly find out if most of your employees are unhappy about a certain way they are treated, when you own a multi-billion dollar global enterprise with offices in around 170 countries and a global workforce of 380,000 employees, coming from different backgrounds, belonging to various social classes and genders?

IBM did exactly that, through a sentiment analysis tool named Social Pulse. Its HR department wanted to bring changes and completely revamp its global performance review system, so it used its internal social network called Connections for reviews on how to do it.

Social pulse was deployed to find common patterns, and in doing so, figured out that the employees dislike the curved model for their performance reviews. Employees had given their feedback through hundreds of thousands of comments on the forum, precisely developed for the task. IBM interestingly abolished the use of the curved model from that point onwards.

Social Pulse is a tool which allows the management to know the prevalent collective emotions among its employees and it flags out the most prominent ones, like the dislike for the curved model among a majority of the employees. The result? A happier workforce that knows its voice is being heard at the very top.

Like the famous Hawthorne experiment showed that employees’ performance increases when they see that their employer is taking an interest in their activities, the attitudes haven’t changed a lot. Technology might be the new way to signify interest, but when you are well connected to your employees, success becomes more achievable.

Digital Transformation used to make the product experience better for clients revolves around bringing more engagement by taking the conversation with an individual on a more personal level. With employees, the steps towards transformation really are no different.

Technology is widely misconstrued as the only amicable solution to our problems in the workplace, but if you are going to bring in new HR technology, you need to make sure that the technology prioritizes the individual, and not the other way round.

The individual needs to be at the center of all conversations to build a better workplace as it pays more dividends. The productivity levels of those organizations who manage to engage their employees more rise up by 22%, compared to those who don’t, according to a survey by Gallup.

Powering “Richer” Inclusivity:

How Technology and Digital Transformation Impacts Today’s Workplace

People don’t buy what they don’t trust, and even if they buy it out of sheer necessity, their loyalties will switch the minute they find a better alternative. What you need to remember is that the biggest barrier to a digital transformation is employee disapproval.

Implementing new HR technologies and believing that they will improve employee performance without initiating conversation with employees is a decision which is sure to end up as a disaster.

The workforce would be directly affected by any new HR transformation you might bring in. A holistic strategy that fosters richer inclusivity can result in team cultures that will help businesses thrive in the future.

The process of digitizing everything revolves around creating a strategic advantage that places you ahead of your competitors. Instead of eyeing bigger changes, you should think about bringing smaller improvements in structure, design, and policy on how you move about doing things.

For, example, an online e-commerce store, by the name of Zulily, asks prospective candidates to share Instagram posts describing their personalities and talents, if they want to join their social media department. This is an excellent display of culture being assimilated in the extended parts of the HR function, thereby fostering inclusivity to even those who are not even in the company yet.

The candidate, if hired, would be more involved and engaged from the first day because it has seen how the company appreciates and values his/her individual talents and capabilities.

Technology is an integral part of our lives as we interact with it on so many different levels, be it using Uber to get home, Facebook to check out your friend’s photos from his latest vacation, WhatsApp to communicate with a client, or Google to search for the answer to anything and more. It is not surprising that technology can make our lives easier and put the resources to much better use.

Digital transformation in the workplace, led by HR technologies, should also work on the same lines, allowing each employee to feel that the new tool or change, improved his/her performance significantly and allowed him/her to play a visible part in the achievement of the strategic goals of the organization.

The implications of such a massive digital transformation could be huge in the workplaces, given only that, the employees are prioritized when choosing, implementing and positioning them.

Your competitor can buy the same tools you use, have an exact same office designed to model your physical building and even build as good products as you can, but one thing no one can replicate is how you respond to your employees and how engaged your employees are in achieving your vision which will only be possible when the staff is left to thrive in a learning environment.

In today’s highly competitive environment, the biggest strategic asset, with which you can gain an edge above the rest, is your team. So move forward – engage your employees, and invest in them to build an organization that pushes ahead towards success.

Tracking Down the Online Candidate Experience

Tracking Down the Online Candidate Experience

In 2016, 47 percent of job applicants reported that they hadn’t heard back from employers more than two to three-plus months after submitting applications. This figure rose to 52 percent in 2017, according to the latest data from the North American Candidate Experience benchmark research.

Although many employers agree they don’t want everybody applying again, these statistics represent a missed opportunity with possible “future fit” candidates.

The sad fact is pizza buyers are treated with more care than these job candidates. Literally. In 2008, Domino’s launched its Pizza Tracker—an online tool that tells customers the status of their pizza from the moment they place an order. Customers know when their pizza is being prepped, when it’s in the oven, when it’s being quality checked, and when it’s gone out the door for delivery. The Pizza Tracker has been a phenomenal success.

Why? Because it makes customers feel informed and respected. The Domino’s tool was such a hit, in fact, that Papa John’s and Pizza Hut eventually both launched their own tracking tools.

I think it’s time we took a page from their playbook and kept job candidates thoroughly informed of their application status. Two or three months of radio silence from employers is just plain unacceptable, regardless of the initial automated response that might have gone out.

Where Improvements Are Happening

Full disclosure: the number of applicants who are having an overall positive candidate experience and are also able to track the progress of their application status has risen over the past few years. But judging by those statistics above, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

Historically, the application phase has been the most troubled part of the candidate experience—for both applicants and employers. Thousands of company job sites are as difficult and confusing for applicants to utilize as they are for employers to maintain and manage.

Although the trend today is to collapse the time it takes to apply online, too many applicants are still forced to fill out long, complex and often redundant forms, which generates a ton of data for employers to process and track on the back end. And despite all of their effort, too many recruiters can’t keep up with the deluge of applications pouring in—which again results in the 52 percent of candidates who never hear back after two to three months.

Although employers continue to struggle with timely applicant communications, they have been improving the application process itself. Many Candidate Experience Awards winners like Humana, for example, recently implemented new technology and redesigned its application process to speed things along for its candidates. So has New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Capital One rolled out a mobile application to accommodate the growing number of candidates who prefer to use mobile channels, and it launched a mobile referrals program that now account for 40% of its referrals. Plus there are employers like BASF whose Careers sites are telling candidates “what to expect” during the application process and beyond, including next steps.

Clearly, employers must bring this same sense of urgency to applicant communications—as Johnson & Johnson has done with its newly launched J&J Shine platform. It makes the entire application process more transparent and gives applicants the ability to track their progress in real time.

“Research has told us that the job application process can be a total black box experience, so we’re literally shining a light on it—giving applicants the respect they deserve,” said Johnson & Johnson’s Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Sjoerd Gehring, when their platform launched. J&J Shine also gives applicants access to articles and videos that match where they are in the hiring process, along with content that helps them get more familiar with the company.

How To Improve Your Own Application Process

So what’s the best way to begin following the example of CandE Award winning companies like Johnson & Johnson and many others?

  • Walk a mile in your candidate’s shoes. The only way to know whether your current apply process is efficient and working to everyone’s advantage is to experience for yourself. In other words, apply to your own jobs. If you find yourself struggling through the process, you need to admit the process in broken and then take steps to change it. CandE Award winning companies do this on a regular basis and improve their processes incrementally.
  • Identify exactly what you’re doing once candidates apply. Are you responding with more than an automated email? Are you setting expectations with applicants on how long the process will take? Are you reaching out to applicants on a regular basis with status updates—especially when the process takes weeks or months to complete? If you answered no to any of these questions, you can bet applicants are less than thrilled and letting their colleagues, social networks and online review sites know about it.
  • Ask for applicant feedback throughout the process. A whopping 79% of applicants who had a one-star (terrible) candidate experience were never asked for feedback by employers. Applicants are eager to give you insights that can transform your candidate experience and put it miles ahead of your competitors. Unfortunately, many employers are missing out on this amazing opportunity for improvement. Don’t be one of them.

These are just a few of the steps you can take to improve your application process and develop an award-winning employer brand. Improving your overall candidate experience doesn’t only impact your reputation as an employer. It also significantly impacts your bottom line:

  • The cost of a poor candidate experience can potentially be in the millions of dollars per year, according to years of North American Candidate Experience research. And incremental improvements to your candidate experience can go a long way toward increasing revenues and referrals.
  • 46% of job applicants who had negative candidates experience promise to take their future job applications, referrals to friends and colleagues, and even their purchases to other companies. Conversely, 74% of applicants who had positive candidate experiences say they’ll definitely increase their relationships as a result.

At the end of the day, organizations like Johnson & Johnson, Humana, New York-Presbyterian and Capital One are interested in the same crucial objectives: to improve their talent acquisition process and deliver a great candidate experience – which is a great customer experience. While technology has helped them accomplish this to some degree, it’s their empathy and a willingness to change that enabled their most meaningful improvements.

These organizations have put themselves in their applicant’s shoes, conducted honest self-assessments, and made necessary adjustments to their strategies and processes. Now, they’re reaping some very well-deserved rewards. Follow their examples and you will, too.

This article was first published on thetalentboard.org

How Many Apps Does Your Workplace Really Need?

How Many Apps Does Your Workplace Really Need?

It was the best of times—it was the worst of times. It was the new generation of app sprawl.

IT teams have long dealt with the issue of outdated software and unnecessary programs clogging the enterprise network. But the accessibility—and affordability—of as-a-Service (aaS) apps has presented both a gift and a burden for today’s digital workplace. On one hand, a huge array of easy-to-use and manage services have popped up to help companies work more efficiently. On the other hand, those programs are so easy to download and purchase that many companies are finding themselves lost in a sea of unnecessary programming. The problem is further compounded by bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, which continue to gain popularity. Maintaining these applications can cost enterprises millions and potentially expose them to cybersecurity risks—without providing any substantial value.

So, what’s to be done? As I’ve said before, I’m a huge advocate of aaS in digital transformation, as it allows for agility and scalability that onsite, legacy programs simply do not offer. But I’m also a fan of being smart with our technology. Just like data is not useful unless it’s clean and accurate, aaS apps can slow your company down—literally—if they are not properly managed. Here’s what CIOs and IT departments need to do to rein in the app explosion.


One report by Flexera Software showed 64 percent of respondents have more desktop apps than they need. That’s a sign it’s time to take inventory. Instead of relying on your teams to tell you which programs they’re willing to remove, make the matter an enterprise-wide study. Start by noting all apps and programs present on every device on your network. But don’t stop there. Organize those apps by category or purpose to try to determine redundancies. This process can reduce items by a factor of 10. Can you imagine how much faster your network will run when you remove 90 percent of the junk clogging its pathways?

Take Ownership

Involve department owners in the clean-up process. Find out who is using the application (if anyone) and why. It’s possible this could become a political process. One department may prefer one app for a certain service, while another department is loyal to a different one. Work with all relevant constituents to determine which is a best fit for the company as a whole—and be prepared to use diplomacy and leadership in those discussions. They won’t always be easy.

Get Compatible

When deciding between one app or another, be sure to consider your overall network and the operating systems you’re using now and in the future. It makes no sense to insist on using an app that most devices are not equipped to utilize. Yes, sometimes this means having hard discussions about off-the-shelf vs. best-in-suite applications. Communicate the reasons it makes sense to use universally compatible and accessible software, and central repositories for data storage. And when using best-in-class programs, make sure there is a true “best reason” to make that choice.

Train and Educate

Employees will not use apps they are not comfortable with. As such, be sure to continually educate your employees on the apps that are replacing those being switched out or removed. Also, be aware that some employees might decide to go rogue and re-download their preferred programs. It’s human nature. Communicating the purpose behind the change should help your cause.

Keep It Going

Cleaning up app sprawl is not a one-time thing. Once you clean up your network, put policies in place to keep it clean, whether it be an approval process or administrator protections. While you never want your tech policies to create a bottleneck for employees who truly need certain services, you also need to be careful in keeping your system safe and un-clogged.

In the future, there will likely be an app to clean up app sprawl—but for now, it’s in the hands of our tech leadership. Be a true partner in the process. Teams will be more likely to come to you for software and aaS approvals when they know you understand their needs and want to find them the best, most efficient solutions.

Additional Resources on This Topic:
Getting a Hold on App Sprawl
The App Generation: Driving Change in the Future of Work
Digital Transformation and the Everyday Employee Experience

Photo Credit: www.techroomage.com Flickr via Compfight cc

 This article was first published on FOW Media. 
The Practicality of Purchasing an ATS

The Practicality of Purchasing an ATS

How do you know you need a new ATS?

(Part one of a three-part series)

When looking for an applicant tracking system (ATS) your first job is to critically evaluate your motivations as to why you need one, and if you currently have one, why you need to change vendors. Analyzing where and why the current ATS is not performing and why a new ATS is needed should be bona fide business reasons, not driven by subjectivity. Looking objectively and pragmatically at your business and motivation to switch providers or when making an initial purchase are the biggest factors to consider when shopping for a new ATS.

Mind the Gap

Start by conducting a gap analysis of your recruitment business and looking objectively at what you are lacking. Consider your company’s present requirements as well as anticipated future needs. For example, if your business is growing, your software needs to be scalable to suit your anticipated plans, if not, you may face having to re-evaluate ATS systems down the road. Further, prioritizing your needs is critically important to evaluate competing systems, since no off-the-shelf software will likely satisfy all of your requirements.

Before you begin the product evaluation process, look objectively at your talent acquisition processes, your current ATS’s performance for reliability and support along with your future goals. Without this in-depth knowledge, it will be difficult for you to adequately compare ATS products to determine which is best suited for your business goals and talent acquisition practices. I recommend having end-users’ input when determining where your current software is falling short. These individuals can provide the feedback you need to know as part of the due diligence in your analysis.

Also, part of the due diligence in understanding what you need for your business will help you avoid over-purchasing or under-purchasing what is actually needed to sustain your talent acquisition workflow and pressing business needs.

Where it Goes Sideways

Over the past 30 years, I have heard many subjective reasons as to why a company wants to leave their current applicant tracking software provider or make an initial ATS purchase… this case rarely ends well. Reasons that aren’t supported by a solid business case generally means the decision makers bypassed a needs analysis, and what ultimately results are one or more of the following mistakes: Buyers creating a broad list of overly general questions, using a templated RFP, not applicable to the buyer’s organization and sent to a long list of (mostly) unqualified vendors, preemptively choosing a vendor used in the past at a previous employer, or selecting a vendor exclusively on cost versus knowing the true value to the buyer’s organization.

I’ve also experienced interactions with organizations that have assigned the task of evaluating potential ATS providers to a third-party consultant or departments outside of the area where the end-users sit. This can spell disaster for the end-users and job candidates because the decision usually doesn’t serve the end-users and support the business needs of the company. We recommend designating one or more “power users” or internal subject matter experts who can help with the product evaluation process, and later serve as key points of contact to support user adoption and maximize the ongoing cost-effectiveness of the system.

Further, fostering good communications with your current provider and understanding the full complement of what your system has to offer is important for understanding what you really have at your fingertips, and I’ll address more about this is part three.

Keeping in line with good communications, the first place you should take your completed gap analysis is to your existing vendor and discuss the results. Often times your current software provider has the functions you need, but you simply aren’t aware. You should be satisfied that you have reason to explore other options and not just assume the grass is always greener based on the latest marketing hype of a potentially new vendor.

In part two of this series, I’ll discuss how cost versus the true value and why a vendor’s company culture matters in helping you make the right decision for your ATS purchase. In part three of the series, I’ll discuss the implementation and care and feeding of your ATS.

Photo Credit: alberthobbs Flickr via Compfight cc

5 Reasons You Can't Afford to Overlook the Power of Diversity

5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Overlook the Power of Diversity

First, the good news. Diversity in the workplace is increasing, which gives organizations greater access to talent. It also generates a more inclusive corporate culture that mirrors the society in which we live. The not-so-good news? Diverse workplaces are not always easy to achieve, for many reasons. Some geographical areas are more conducive to diversity recruitment than others, and a commitment to diversity can often be overlooked the higher up the corporate ladder you go.

Here are five trends we’re observing today. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Workplace diversity is improving.

More than half of workplaces report a rise in diversity over the past five years, according to XpertHR’s Diversity in the Workplace Survey, published in 2016. Having a more diverse workplace has affected corporate policies for the better, too. Companies with diverse workplaces are more likely to permit unpaid time off for employees to observe religious, cultural or ethnic holidays.

  1. Businesses are recruiting with diversity in mind.

The XpertHR survey found that companies hire for ethnic and racial diversity first, with military veterans a close second. However, the study also identifies some obstacles to diversity recruitment efforts, such as lack of minority candidates in some geographic areas, lack of time or other resources to move such recruitment efforts forward, resistance to change and the persistence of unintended biases that can manifest in a “like-hiring-like” phenomenon.

  1. Business leaders realize diversity is not optional.

Many corporate leaders recognize inclusion and diversity as essential criteria for attracting and retaining top talent. The 2016 Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development Survey from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School found that top business leaders see an inclusive corporate culture as being an important factor in attracting and retaining employees, as well as a means to improving innovation and collaboration among its ranks.

  1. Minorities are fast becoming the majority.

Within 20 years, projected growth among Asian, Hispanic and multiracial groups will put traditionally underrepresented populations in the U.S. majority. As HR experts observe, the companies that do best are the ones whose employee base has a similar demographic makeup to that of their customer base. Beyond the benefits of mirroring the country’s demographics, there are also performance benefits. According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., companies with ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform businesses that don’t have this diversity. The performance benefits are even higher — 53 percent — for those who are in the top quartile of executive-board diversity.

  1. Diversity is lagging in the C-suite.

An unfortunate exception to the diversity trend is occurring in C-level positions. Women are sorely underrepresented, with a Korn Ferry Study finding only 24 percent of C-suite positions being held by women. The top-most position, CEO, has just 5 percent representation from women. A recent study by Peterson Institute for International Economics confirmed just how important gender diversity can be, identifying a 15 percent increase in profitability for companies that have a 30 percent share of women in C-suite positions. The representation of minorities in high-level positions is even bleaker. There have been only 15 African-American CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500, and just five currently hold the top role.

While companies may be recruiting and hiring with diversity in mind, they also need to ask themselves: Where do we go from here? Don’t assume that your corporate culture is immediately conducive to diversity. These steps can help ensure that it is.

  • Implement workplace diversity initiatives. According to the XpertHR survey, many companies are moving forward with such initiatives as the formation of affinity groups, instituting mentoring programs and/or career development and focusing on supplier diversity.
  • Embrace other points of view. Hiring a diverse workforce is only the beginning. It’s also important that you actively seek advice, opinions, and ideas from a wide range of employees to truly be inclusive.
  • Create diversity-friendly policies. Some examples include flex-time and telecommuting opportunities, which are helpful for young parents who are juggling career and home life. Make sure your office is physically accommodating to those with disabilities. And be cognizant of religious holidays and cultural celebrations that may be important to your employees.
  • Strive to change diversity in the C-suite. Recruit employees with advancement potential in mind, and focus on professional growth and employee development so that you have qualified minority and female candidates to choose from when top positions open up.

Corporate leaders can feel justifiably proud that diversity is more prevalent than it’s ever been before. However, that shouldn’t cause them to lose sight of the undeniable truth: We still have a long way to go.

This article was first published on Entrepreneur. 

#WorkTrends Preview: Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace Culture

#WorkTrends Preview: Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace Culture

What do “diversity and inclusion” mean in the workplace?

Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global Communications and author of several books including Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Global Companies Improve their Bottom Line by Employing Persons with Disabilities is an expert in all aspects of diversity: how to define it, how to achieve it, and the positive effects it creates for everyone involved, and I am so pleased she will be with us this week on #WorkTrends.

The core of Ruh’s mission, which began when she established a business to help websites become more accessible to people with disabilities, is helping businesses understand that diversity helps businesses fulfill their potential in the workforce as well as on the balance sheet.

As a McKinsey report wrote, companies with diverse executive boards have higher earnings and better returns on equity. Diversity doesn’t just matter on the executive board, though– it matters organization-wide. “Diversity is a mentality, not just strategic imperative,” says Ekaterina Walter in Forbes.

An employee benefiting from an inclusive environment is more likely to provide effective customer service, and the benefits spread outward from the employee to those they serve.

Deborah’s organization specializes in helping businesses benefit from diversity, by showing them how to pay attention to policies and processes.

I am looking forward to talking with Debra about diversity, both about attracting diverse employees and retaining them.

This #WorkTrends chat will define diversity and walk through ways to make an inclusive workplace culture a reality.  

Join #WorkTrends host Meghan M. Biro and her guest Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global Communications, on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, at 1 pm ET as they discuss how to create and maintain an inclusive workplace.

Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace Culture

#WorkTrends Preview: Diversity Supports an Inclusive Workplace CultureJoin Meghan and Debra on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 1 pm ET | 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How does a diverse culture drive innovation? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can an organization create a diverse culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: Why is it socially responsible for brands to support diversity? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed and our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community.

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Five Corporate Workplace Well-Being Trends to Watch in 2018

Five Corporate Workplace Well-Being Trends to Watch in 2018

Workplace well-being programs have really grown up in recent years thanks to significant changes and upgrades in technology and a renewed cultural interest in health and well-being.

As I look at the corporate well-being landscape, I see a number of exciting trends on the horizon that I believe will help companies take their well-being programs to the next level, or help those just starting out to expand the focus of their well-being initiatives beyond physical fitness.

Here’s a look at five key workplace well-being trends I’m keeping an eye on in 2018.

The corporate vending machine comeback

Mark it down: 2018 is the year we’ll see the comeback of the corporate vending machine! I like to call it “vending machines 2.0”! These vending machines will include healthy options like granola bars, popcorn, pretzels and trail mix. In fact, you’re already seeing this in the consumer world as CVS is experimenting with vending machines filled with vitamins and healthy snacks.

Standing desks officially take off

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has called the standing desk the fastest growing employee benefit in the United States. And for good reason. Consider the lifestyle of the average office worker. Sitting all day with minimal breaks, right? In many ways, that lifestyle is worse than smoking! So, standing desks are poised to solve that problem by allowing employees to get just a little movement in their busy days.

An added bonus for employers? Standing desks are often fairly easy to implement, and it’s the type of perk that younger, health-minded workers are looking for when they walk through an office during the interview process. 

Let’s get personal

It’s no secret: employees want more personalization from their corporate well-being programs. And for an increasing number of companies that means getting smarter about using digital platforms, apps and wearable devices to meet employees’ preferences to have personalized experiences for their well-being—whether that’s in the office, working remotely or on-the-go.

In the year ahead, you’ll see more companies using “big (well-being) data” to customize well-being experiences for employees that sync up with their preferences and needs. Translation: More tailor-made content and specific content offerings based on employee interests.

Not only should these personalized programs drive adoption rates, but they should also increase awareness for well-being programs—an issue that research has told us is prevalent among employee audiences (the fact that many employees simply don’t know corporate well-being programs exist!).

2018 won’t see technology replacing live, human support when it comes to corporate well-being programs. But, we will see technology enabling more of those personal connections—especially at a more global level.

Tackling stress differently

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, one recent study found that work-related stress costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays (some estimate it at $300 billion).

That’s a serious business issue, folks.

It’s not like companies don’t know this is an issue among employees. They understand that. But, in 2018, I think you’ll see companies take a little different approach.

For example, I believe you’ll see more companies turn to meditation and mindfulness for help. Mindfulness, in particular, has been said to boost creativity and sharpen focus—two things that employers are eager to retain in the “always-on” age. For example, one of our manufacturing clients offers its employees a release and relax class—a simple 15-minute meditation class where employees are not required to change their clothes.

Finally looking closely at sleep

Sleep deprivation is another issue employers are painfully aware of—and one they also understand is plaguing today’s workforce. A recent RAND study estimates sleep deprivation costs U.S. employers roughly $411 billion annually. And we thought stress was a big issue!

Expect to see more employers tackling sleep deprivation head-on through formal sleep awareness and education programs, as well as incentive programs that track an employee’s sleep and provide points towards rewards for achieving set sleep goals. I believe we’ll also see more employers make room for on-site nap rooms (believe it or not!) and sleep pods as a way to give employees a break and boost productivity. 

What about you? What well-being trends do you see for the upcoming year?

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