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Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do?

Written by James Clear

In 1966, a dyslexic 16-year-old boy dropped out of school. With only a tiny bit of seed money and a friend’s help, he founded a magazine for students. Fueled by advertisements he sold to local businesses, he ran this bootstrapped operation from the crypt of a local church.

Four years later, seeking ways to grow the fledgling magazine, this enterprising young man started selling mail-order records to his student subscriber base. Within a year, record sales were sufficient to help him build his first record store. After two years of selling records, he decided to launch his own record label and studio.

The small recording studio rented space to local artists, including one named Mike Oldfield. This was where Oldfield created his hit song “Tubular Bells,” which became the record label’s first release. The song eventually sold more than 5 million copies.

Over the next decade, the fearless entrepreneur grew his record label by attracting bands like Culture Club, Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones. Along the way, he continued adding businesses to his portfolio — an airline, railway, mobile phones, on and on. Almost 50 years later, his conglomerate included more than 400 companies.

That young boy who left school behind but kept starting things despite his inexperience and lack of knowledge is now a world-renown billionaire — Sir Richard Branson.

How I Met Sir Richard Branson

When I walked into the Moscow conference room, Branson was sitting in a chair only 10 feet away. A hundred other people surrounded us, but it felt like we were having a private conversation in my living room. He smiled and laughed frequently. His answers seemed unrehearsed and genuine.

At one point, he told the story of how he started Virgin Airlines, a tale that seems to represent his entire approach to business and life. Here’s what he said, as I best recall:

I was in my late 20s, so I had a business, but nobody knew who I was. I was headed to the Virgin Islands and a very pretty girl was waiting for me, so I was, um, determined to get there on time. At the airport, the final flight to the Virgin Islands was cancelled because of maintenance or something. It was the last flight out that night. I thought, “this is ridiculous,” so I went and chartered a private airplane to take me to the Virgin Islands, which I did not have the money to do. Then, I picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines: $29” on it, and went over to the group of people who had been waiting for the cancelled flight. I sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the charter fee, and we all went to the Virgin Islands that night.

Successful People: What Habits Make a Difference?

After speaking with our group, Branson joined a panel of industry experts to discuss the future of business. As everyone around him filled the air with buzzwords and mapped out complex ideas for our future, Branson said things like, “Screw it, just get on and do it,” closely followed by things like, “Why can’t we mine asteroids?”

As I watched the panel, I realized the one person who sounded the most simplistic is the only one who is also a billionaire. So what sets him apart from the rest?

Here’s what I think makes all the difference:

Branson doesn’t merely say things like, “Screw it, just get on and do it.” He actually lives his life that way. He drops out of school and starts a business. He signs the Sex Pistols to his record label when everyone else says they’re too controversial. He charters a plane when he doesn’t have the money.

When everyone else balks or comes up with rational reasons why the time isn’t right to move forward, Branson gets started. He figures out how to stop procrastinating and he takes the first step forward — even if it seems outlandish.

Start Now — Even If You Don’t Feel Ready

Of course, Branson is an extraordinary example, but we can all learn something from his approach. If I summarize the habits of successful people in just one phrase, it’s this — successful people start before they feel ready.

I can’t think of anyone who embodies that philosophy better than Branson. Even the Virgin empire name was chosen because Branson and his partners were business “virgins” when they launched the company.

Branson has spearheaded so many ventures, charities and expeditions throughout his career — it would have been impossible to prepare fully before launching them all. In fact, he was likely not prepared or qualified for any of them. He’s a perfect example of why the “chosen ones” choose themselves.

The Truth About Getting Started

If you’re working on something important, then you’ll never feel ready. A side effect of pursuing challenging work is that you’re simultaneously pulled by excitement and pushed by uncertainty.

When you begin a new endeavor, you’re bound to feel uncomfortable and perhaps even unqualified. But let me assure you — what you have right now is enough. You can plan, revise and delay all you want, but trust me, what you have now is enough to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a business, lose weight, write a book or re-energize a career. Who you are, what you have, and what you know right now is good enough to get going.

We all start in the same place — no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience. The difference is that some people choose to start anyway. And only those who start can reach the finish line.

So, what are you waiting for?

james-clear-circle-250(About the Author: James Clear is an entrepreneur who leverages behavior science to help you master your habits, improve your health and do better work. For useful ideas on improving your mental and physical performance, subscribe to his newsletter or download his 45-page guide on Transforming Your Habits. Connect with James on Twitter or Google+ or LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Kris Krug Flickr

Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full Storify highlights + resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Bring Your ‘Genius’ to Work.“)

Happiness at work
. Passion for your profession. Finding your bliss.

These days, we hear a lot about the importance of being emotionally connected with our careers.

Sounds like a nice idea — but it’s much more than that. Research shows that it’s a key driver of professional performance. It’s also an essential aspect of employee engagement. Yet statistics show that, for most of us, it remains an elusive goal.

Bucking the Trend

This week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how each of us can defy those statistics by gaining better understanding of our individual strengths and motivations — and by putting those insights to work through better career choices.

We’ll also look at why it’s smart for business to encourage this kind of investigation and discovery.

And who better to help lead this discussion than career management expert, Maggie Mistal? Before establishing herself as the personality behind the long-running SiriusXM radio show, “Making A Living,” Maggie was Director of Learning & Development at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Also joining us is Laura Rolands, a former HR executive at Chrysler, who, with Maggie’s guidance, launched a rewarding practice as an ADHD coach.

Sneak Peek: Finding Your “Career Core”

To frame this week’s events, I spoke briefly with both Maggie and Laura about how and why it pays for all of us to pursue careers that leverage our strengths. Watch the hangout now:

This discussion has potential to help each of us find more fulfilling work lives, while helping organizations develop more effective talent strategies. So join the #TChat crowd this week to share your ideas and opinions with other “world of work” professionals!

#TChat Events: Claiming Your “Core” Career

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 5 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands critical about how to find and claim your core career “genius.” Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 5 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community, in a live chat moderated by Dr. Nancy Rubin.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: How can we align our career aspirations with our strengths?
Q2: When a job isn’t fulfilling, what can we do to take charge of our career?
Q3: How can we continually identify and develop skills and talents?
Q4: What value does business gain from encouraging “career genius” in employees?
Q5: How can new technology help us redirect and manage our careers?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our new G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Finding Tech Talent to Fuel the Future #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Tech Recruiting: Skilling Up to Fill the Middle.“)

Recently, we’ve seen the rise of the “digital detox” — when individuals temporarily go “off the grid” to reconnect with life apart from technology.

But of course, it’s impossible to escape fully anymore. Technology is now deeply embedded in daily life — its pervasiveness reaches far and wide. And not surprisingly, as innovation continues at full speed, competition for skilled technical talent is more fierce than ever.

How can employers stay ahead of that curve? And what should recruiters do to help lead the way in attracting technology rockstars?

That’s the topic we’re tackling at #TChat Events this week, with Shravan Goli, President of Dice, The Career Hub For Tech, and Sara Fleischman, Senior Technical Recruiter at Concur.

Sneak Peeks: Facing Tech Recruiting Challenges

To frame this week’s events, I spoke briefly with both Shravan and Sara about how businesses can recruit effectively in today’s environment. Shravan suggested three success factors in an audio hangout:

And Sara added her perspective as a technology recruiter:

Is your organization feeling the impact of the tech talent shortage? How are you addressing this? What does this trend mean for business innovation, overall? Join us this week to discuss your ideas and opinions with the #TChat crowd.

Publication1Share Your Insights, Win a Smartwatch!

As extra incentive to submit your best ideas, everyone who participates in #TChat Events this week will be eligible to win a cool Pebble Smartwatch from Dice! After the the #TChat Radio Show and #TChat Twitter Dice shared details about how to enter before the Feb 7th deadline. See details now!

#TChat Events: Tech Recruiting In a World of Pervasive Technology

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 29 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Shravan Goli and Sara Fleischman about critical tech recruiting issues and trends. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 29 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, for a live discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: How do tech recruiters stay skilled up and “in the know”?
Q2: Why is finding tech talent so difficult?
Q3: How do recruiters tap into high-tech hot spots to find tech talent?
Q4: How do employers create a culture that attracts skilled tech talent?
Q5: What recruiting technologies appeal to high-tech professionals?

We look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions, as talent-minded professionals who care about recruiting issues and trends.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees #TChat Recap

There we were — discussing the factors that make “great” employers so special.

I couldn’t resist asking how organizations on Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” compare with those featured in Jim Collins‘ best-selling books, Built to Last and From Good to Great.

Similarities? Differences?

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Learn more about the 2014 list

That’s a tough question to answer in a single 30-minute radio show. But this week’s #TChat guest came well prepared. China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work Institute, has been crunching numbers to create the 2014 best employers list — and her perspective reflects a lifetime of leadership and HR expertise.

She made a compelling business case

The 100 Best consistently perform 2x better financially than the stock market average
The 100 Best experience up to 65% less voluntary turnover than competitors
Companies returning to this year’s list saw unprecedented growth in 2013.

But even as China shared these facts, back-to-back tweets appeared on the Twitter stream. The first from #TChat regular, Donna Rogers:

 

The second came from a fresh voice — another Jim Collins (unrelated to the author):

 

These comments inspired me to dig deeper.

In a follow-up book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins (the author) revisited 11 of the 60 companies he had previously profiled as winners. These once “great companies” had stumbled for multiple reasons — from hubris, to overreach, to denial.

The sobering conclusion? Unless fallen companies return to the fundamentals that made them great, death is inevitable.

Two Implications for “Great” Employers Everywhere

1) Greatness can fade fast. Poor decision-making, heavy-handed micro-management, bad expansion bets, products that fail, fluctuating global economics, government regulation (or lack thereof) — many factors conspire to “kill” even the best companies. But the quickest road to ruin comes when organizations lose talent to competitors because employees lose “love” for what they do, who they do it with, and why they’re doing it.

2) Perpetual salvation requires rigorous work. The work that makes companies shine — a focused, flexible business model, a compelling value proposition, a workforce that feels fairly recognized and rewarded – is the same work that keeps them moving forward through peaks and valleys. Business is a non-stop gauntlet of no guarantees — and it never gets any easier.

So, what have we learned? Great is good, if you can get it. But good can also be great, if that’s where longevity lives.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Lessons From Great Workplaces

SAT 1/18:

Watch the Preview hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guest, China Gorman. See the #TChat Preview now: “Best Employers: What Makes Them Work?

SUN 1/19:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro explored the connection between employee engagement and business performance in her weekly Forbes.com column. Read “Happy Employees = Hefty Profits.”

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

How Great Companies Attract Top Talent” — by China Gorman
Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?” — by Dr. Nancy Rubin

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay!

WED 1/22:
#TChat Radio: Hosts Meghan M. Biro and I talked with China Gorman about what makes “Best Companies to Work For” so special. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, China and I joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: “Best” Employers: What Makes Them Work?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/best-employers-what-makes-them-work.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to China Gorman for sharing your perspectives of effective workplace environments. We value your time, your expertise and your commitment to the TalentCulture community!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workplace culture issues? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 29, when we explore the impact of pervasive technology on modern recruiting. We’ll be joined by top executives from Dice, the career hub for tech, so save the date, and prepare to share your questions and opinions!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group, and elsewhere on social media.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: WIkipedia

Your Corporate Culture: What's Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Best Employers: What Makes Them Work? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? Read the recap: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.“)

We’ve all heard the bad news about the state of today’s workplace. Years of economic recession, business upheaval and intense global competition have taken a toll on organizational culture and employee engagement. Media channels are brimming with stories of employers that miss the mark.

So, where’s the good news?

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Learn more about the 2014 list

Maybe that’s why Fortune Magazine‘s “100 Best Places to Work For” list is so popular. Each year, it shines a light on what really works. We’re reminded that organizational excellence is all around us, and we have a chance to learn from those examples.

Fortunately this week, the TalentCulture community gets a front-row seat in that learning process, as China Gorman joins us at #TChat events!

As many of you know, China is CEO of Great Place to Work Institute — the firm that produces the “Best Companies to Work For” list. The 2014 edition was announced last Thursday, so we’ll be looking at the very latest results. And based on what I’ve seen, this year’s list deserves closer attention.

Sneak Peek: Shifting Priorities

To set the tone for this week’s events, China joined me for a brief “sneak peek” Hangout, where she explained that the 2014 study reveals two new top management priorities:

Last week, she shared other takeaways in a TalentCulture blog post: How Great Companies Attract Top Talent.

What are your thoughts about employers on this year’s “best” list? Do you see evidence that organizational culture is gaining ground as a source of competitive advantage? What role should “best practices” play in improving talent strategies? Join us this week to share your ideas and opinions with the #TChat crowd!

#TChat Events: Lessons From Great Workplaces

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 22 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio Show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with China Gorman about what it takes to create and sustain an extraordinary workplace culture. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 22 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and China will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will moderate a live discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: How does a company become a “great place to work”?
Q2: What characteristics do fast-growing and great workplaces share?
Q3: How does an employer brand interact with the recruiting process??
Q4: Why is a great workplace more about business strategy than HR?
Q5: How can HR convince leadership that workplace technology is a smart investment?

We look forward to hearing your ideas and opinions, as talent-minded professionals who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Putting a Face on Remote Work #TChat Recap

Say, “Good Morning.”

Go ahead. Say it out loud. Oh, but say it to someone else. Preferably in the morning. In person. Or on the phone. Or even online.

If it’s later in the day, maybe you can say, “Good Afternoon.” Or “I’m going to grab a bite to eat” when you leave for lunch.

Or when you want feedback on an idea, simply ask, “Gotta minute?”

Face-to-face — keyboard-to-keyboard — whatever it takes. Human interactions are the glue that keeps us all grounded and helps us get work done. And these days more than ever, more of us are getting more work done remotely.

Collaboration platforms, video conferencing, social networks — even our phones — these are the tools that keep us connected and empowered, wherever we roam in today’s fluid world of work.

These technologies help us plan and problem solve more efficiently than ever. Of course, they can also help us interrupt and disrupt workflows. It may be harder to be a dreaded “gotta-minute” goblin when you work from home, but it still happens.

So seriously. Gotta minute? Because it’s those disruptive, frictionless human connections, those moments when we’re relating to one another personally and professionally – that’s what keep us moving forward, together. The connections may be virtual, but the results are real.

As we explored the virtual work frontier this week with #TChat guest Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo, two core themes emerged:

1) Be yourself: Whether you operate from home or a centralized office, it’s essential to “show up” and be authentic. Acknowledge me throughout the day. Keep me in the loop on the good, the bad and the ugly — and don’t be afraid to tell me why. That’s the stuff that binds us in a common mission, even through rough times. Paychecks are great, but there’s no substitute for genuine human connection and shared purpose.

2) See yourself: When you work virtually, don’t forget that, in the eyes of your colleagues and managers, you’re part of something larger than yourself. It’s smart to invest in that context. It may mean periodic in-person visits to the headquarters “mothership,” or catching up at conferences and training events, or even regular (perhaps awkward) team video conferences. It may not always be fun, but the effort can make a big difference in the quality of your performance and your team’s results.

So let’s learn from the wisdom of our talent-minded crowd, and let’s stay connected. OK?
“Good morning, #TChat. How are you doing today?”

#TChat Week-In-Review: Remote Work Continues to Rise

SAT 1/11:

Mike Hostetler

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guest, Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo. See the #TChat Preview now: “Virtual Workplace? For Real!

SUN 1/12:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro discussed what’s at stake for leaders as the future of work becomes increasingly virutal. Read “Telecommuting Is The Future Of Work.

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit” by Daniel Newman
Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?” by Dr. Nancy Rubin

WED 1/15:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Hosts Meghan M. Biro, and Kevin W. Grossman talked with entrepreneur Mike Hostetler about what it takes to create and sustain successful virtual teams. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Virtual Workplace? For Real!

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/virtual-workplace-for-real.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Hostetler for sharing your perspectives on creating and managing remote teams. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about remote workgroups? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 22, when China Gorman, CEO at Great Place To Work, reveals emerging trends in employment practices, with illustrations from Fortune Magazine’s recently announced “2014 Best Companies To Work For” list. See the #TChat Radio preview now.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

How Great Companies Attract Top Talent

Written by China Gorman, CEO, Great Place To Work

The start of a new year is an ideal time to reflect upon recent accomplishments and look to the future with optimism. But this year is starting on a particularly high note.

On Thursday Jan 16, our organization reveals the 2014 100 Best Companies to Work For list, in conjunction with our media partner, Fortune Magazine.

And next week, I’ll be discussing the results with the TalentCulture community on #TChat Radio and Twitter.

While there are certainly more “best workplace” lists now than when we started nearly 20 years ago, this list remains the gold standard — largely due to the rigor of our evaluation process. Based on extensive employee surveys and detailed investigation into corporate cultural practices, our data provides a unique look inside stellar organizations, and reveals what sets them apart.

Learning From The Best

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For

Learn more about the list

This year’s list features some exciting stories. Several companies are included for first time — and their identities may surprise you. Also, some veterans on the list are experiencing extraordinary growth, and we’ll talk about characteristics that support those changes. We’ll also look at employment perks that are gaining popularity.

All of this provides a framework for companies who aim to develop more productive, profitable cultures that attract and retain top talent. For those who want a head start, here’s a preview of several best-practice takeaways that can inspire other employers:

Employee Development and Leadership Engagement

In 2014, top organizations are focusing on several high-profile business challenges. For example, last year, some studies exposed disturbingly low employee engagement rates. Best companies are figuring how to engage top performers by helping them map their career paths and develop desired knowledge and skills. They do this through professional development classes, executive coaching and training for managers who need to understand how they can spot potential talent and support employee growth.

At the best small and medium companies, there is a strong sense of inclusion and camaraderie — keys for trust-based cultures. CEOs and senior-level executives make an effort to know employees personally, and they often participate in onboarding, training, recognition and company celebrations. Moreover, leaders seek regular input and feedback from employees about the workplace environment and related decisions. Because their opinions and ideas matter, employees tend to feel deeply invested in their employer and its success.

Enhancing Company Culture

Another pattern among top companies — organizational culture is not just a priority, but a strategic imperative. Employers understand that a strong culture attracts the right kind employees. We see this with both large and small companies, from Google (last year’s top pick among large companies) to much smaller Badger Mining Corp.

When employee and employer values and visions align, we see companies succeeding in retention, profitability and innovation. Best practices in achieving a cultural fit include interview questions that assess a candidate’s alignment with company values, multiple interview rounds, and simulated work experiences to get a sense of candidates’ abilities and interpersonal style before they’re hired.

Also on the culture front, top employers are serious about creating a fun, celebratory environment that’s meaningful to employees. A variety of engaging practices and events are often integrated into daily work life, punctuated by big celebrations once or twice a year. From simple “Random Acts of Fun” to all-hands offsite trips to Maui, the best companies constantly push themselves to find new ways to foster lighthearted bonding and workplace joy.

Generational Factors

Another emerging trend — employers are positioning themselves for long-term leadership success by integrating demographic changes into their talent strategy. Succession planning is essential, as boomers retire and younger employees rise through the ranks. Tying into company culture and engagement, employers are looking at ways to involve younger employees and keep them committed and loyal. We see this manifested in new cultural norms and development practices, and in recruiting efforts that emphasize cultural fit.

This is just a taste of what employers everywhere can learn from the 100 Best Places to Work. I hope you’ll join me as I share more details, and discuss this with the TalentCulture community next week at #TChat Events!

China-HR_low res(About the Author: China Gorman is CEO of Great Place to Work, a global human resources consulting, research and training firm, specializing in organizational trust. An experienced leader and sought-after thought leader in the human resources domain, China has served as COO of the Society of Human Resource Management, CEO of CMG Group, and President of DBM North America and Lee Hecht Harrison.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted with permission from an article written for Recruiter.com, and republished by the Great Place to Work blog.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Recruiters: What's Your Behavioral Interviewing Strategy?

Written by Deepa Barve

Behavioral interviews are increasingly popular as the “in” thing in in recruitment techniques.

These days, you’ll find tons of online resources that share all sorts of advice for candidates about how to ace a behavioral interview. Yet oddly enough, recruiters often only receive a simple template with a list of standard “behavioral questions.”

But here’s the catch for recruiters: What you do with the interview answers is far more important than the questions, themselves.

Make The Most of Behavioral Interviewing

To get more value from every interview session, keep these three tips in mind:

1) If at first the answer doesn’t succeed, ask, ask again

Behavioral interviewing is based on the belief that past behavior is a predictor of future performance. The keywords here are “past behavior.” Too often, candidates have a tendency to respond to questions hypothetically. But that only tells you what they think they would do (or think you want them to do) in a particular situation. It’s not what they’ve actually done in a similar situation.

If candidates can’t think of a past example, broaden the parameters of the question. Suggest they provide an example from their personal life instead of a professional example. You could also try rewording or paraphrasing the question to help stumped candidates respond appropriately.

2) Know your ideal answer before you ask the question

Interpreting responses to behavioral questions can be tricky. These questions are typically multidimensional, so the answers can be complex and misleading. Some candidates are also adept at this sort of interviewing, and have practiced the art of sounding eloquent while avoiding an authentic, relevant answer.

Each specific behavioral question is typically meant to assess a particular skill. Having a good idea of what you’d like to hear (similar to creating an ideal performance profile) will help you hone in on the competency or skills you’re assessing.

For example, consider the question, “Tell me about a time when you’ve failed at work.” Answers may range from “I’ve never failed” to some version of, “I’m human and I’ve made many mistakes.” Candidates may describe a mistake with negligible impact or reveal details of a huge blunder.

Ultimately, the actual mistakes they made don’t matter. But how they reply does.

The ideal response should include three components: 1) details of the mistake, 2) remedial action they initiated to correct it, and 3) steps they took to prevent it from happening again. The third element — the “applied learning” component — is most important. Very few candidates actually cover the second or third aspects of an answer, unless they’re prompted.

3) Dig deep to make this conversation really count

Prior to an interview, you’ve probably sifted through volumes of resumes and profiles to find a few candidates worth getting to know. You might have also invested time in intermediary steps such as phone screens to create a short list of candidates that seem worthy of a behavioral interview. So make every moment count. Ask follow-up questions to probe deeper. And ask clarifying questions to understand the context surrounding a candidate’s examples.

Be curious, but don’t interrogate. Make it a conversation. Assure them there are no right or wrong answers. Some answers may not impact a hiring decision, but may simply indicate areas where training or coaching are required. Don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, seek complete and accurate information that can ultimately inform your hiring decisions.

Above all, aim to disarm job candidates. After all, you’re trying to get a glimpse of how they behave outside the interview setting. If you’re committed to finding the right talent this way, then it’s worth conducting these interviews right.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of these three behavioral interview techniques? What else do you recommend?

Deepa-Barve1(About the Author: Deepa Barve is Sr. Recruitment Leader at SSOE Group, an architectural and engineering consulting firm. Deepa has more than seven years of recruiting experience in engineering, healthcare and hospitality. Her career advice articles are also featured at www.examiner.com.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)


Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Recruiters: What’s Your Behavioral Interviewing Strategy?

Written by Deepa Barve

Behavioral interviews are increasingly popular as the “in” thing in in recruitment techniques.

These days, you’ll find tons of online resources that share all sorts of advice for candidates about how to ace a behavioral interview. Yet oddly enough, recruiters often only receive a simple template with a list of standard “behavioral questions.”

But here’s the catch for recruiters: What you do with the interview answers is far more important than the questions, themselves.

Make The Most of Behavioral Interviewing

To get more value from every interview session, keep these three tips in mind:

1) If at first the answer doesn’t succeed, ask, ask again

Behavioral interviewing is based on the belief that past behavior is a predictor of future performance. The keywords here are “past behavior.” Too often, candidates have a tendency to respond to questions hypothetically. But that only tells you what they think they would do (or think you want them to do) in a particular situation. It’s not what they’ve actually done in a similar situation.

If candidates can’t think of a past example, broaden the parameters of the question. Suggest they provide an example from their personal life instead of a professional example. You could also try rewording or paraphrasing the question to help stumped candidates respond appropriately.

2) Know your ideal answer before you ask the question

Interpreting responses to behavioral questions can be tricky. These questions are typically multidimensional, so the answers can be complex and misleading. Some candidates are also adept at this sort of interviewing, and have practiced the art of sounding eloquent while avoiding an authentic, relevant answer.

Each specific behavioral question is typically meant to assess a particular skill. Having a good idea of what you’d like to hear (similar to creating an ideal performance profile) will help you hone in on the competency or skills you’re assessing.

For example, consider the question, “Tell me about a time when you’ve failed at work.” Answers may range from “I’ve never failed” to some version of, “I’m human and I’ve made many mistakes.” Candidates may describe a mistake with negligible impact or reveal details of a huge blunder.

Ultimately, the actual mistakes they made don’t matter. But how they reply does.

The ideal response should include three components: 1) details of the mistake, 2) remedial action they initiated to correct it, and 3) steps they took to prevent it from happening again. The third element — the “applied learning” component — is most important. Very few candidates actually cover the second or third aspects of an answer, unless they’re prompted.

3) Dig deep to make this conversation really count

Prior to an interview, you’ve probably sifted through volumes of resumes and profiles to find a few candidates worth getting to know. You might have also invested time in intermediary steps such as phone screens to create a short list of candidates that seem worthy of a behavioral interview. So make every moment count. Ask follow-up questions to probe deeper. And ask clarifying questions to understand the context surrounding a candidate’s examples.

Be curious, but don’t interrogate. Make it a conversation. Assure them there are no right or wrong answers. Some answers may not impact a hiring decision, but may simply indicate areas where training or coaching are required. Don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, seek complete and accurate information that can ultimately inform your hiring decisions.

Above all, aim to disarm job candidates. After all, you’re trying to get a glimpse of how they behave outside the interview setting. If you’re committed to finding the right talent this way, then it’s worth conducting these interviews right.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Have you tried any of these three behavioral interview techniques? What else do you recommend?

Deepa-Barve1(About the Author: Deepa Barve is Sr. Recruitment Leader at SSOE Group, an architectural and engineering consulting firm. Deepa has more than seven years of recruiting experience in engineering, healthcare and hospitality. Her career advice articles are also featured at www.examiner.com.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)


Image Credit: Stock.xchng

What's Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

This Friday is tattoo day at work. Seriously. Tattoo day.

Everyone in our team is encouraged to display meaningful “appropriate” tattoos and the stories behind them. Any form is acceptable — permanent body art, decals, even hand-drawn creations. (Want to join the fun from a distance? Keep an eye on my Twitter stream for some inspired ink.)

The Art of Business Culture

Sure, this sounds a little hokey, like “Hawaiian shirt day.” But that’s the charm. It’s a simple, lighthearted way for us to interact, learn about one another, and gel as a team. What could be wrong with that?

The fact is — today’s crazy-busy world of work assaults us with constant change. It forces us to adapt, and adapt, and adapt again. But in rolling with all the changes, we can easily lose touch with people who are in the trenches with us. Injecting a little camaraderie into the day-to-day flow helps us create, reinforce and enhance our culture. For a company that has absorbed multiple acquisitions in the past two years, that can be a tough sell. But we’re making the case for continuous cultural connections, from the top down and the inside out.

And yes, as I said, along with the fun comes learning. We’re learning in general, and individually from one another. When fun is purposeful and persistent, it actually sticks.

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

“The traditional definition of a ‘highly engaged’ employee is one who delivers discretionary effort. What leads someone to deliver ‘discretionary effort?’ Our research shows it takes a working environment that is friendly, flexible, fulfilling and purposeful.”

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

This week’s #TChat Events guest, Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt, would agree. On #TChat Radio, he noted that the most vibrant, valuable business cultures are built by design. They’re “very purposed and intentioned — creating a place where people actually want to come.”

(Editor’s Note: See full #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

So, ask yourself these questions:

• How purposeful is your company culture? Even if you lead an organization of one, what are your intentions? Knowing that commitment to culture is integral to business success, are you clear with your employees (and yourself) that you’re here to stay and play? Don’t let your culture slip away through unintentional behavior. Choose to make it stick.

• What’s the shape of your cultural tattoo? I’m not an ink kind of person, but I don’t disparage those who are. In fact, throughout history, great leaders have bound tribes together with powerful visual symbols. In today’s organizations we may think of them as brands, but why shouldn’t meaningful symbols bind work tribes, as well? They do fulfill a primal need for identification and belonging. Does your employer brand accomplish that mission?

Hey — if you show me your tat, I’ll show you mine. On purpose.

For more insights on this topic, check out the highlights and resource links below from this week’s #TChat conversation. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your contributions helped bring the concept of “culture makeovers” to life!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Leading a Culture Makeover

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a variety of related blog posts, and a “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Mike Myatt, author of the new book, “Hacking Leadership.” Read the Preview now: “New Year, New Company Culture?

MON 1/6:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested multiple ideas for leaders who need to drive cultural change. Read “5 Ways to Recognize Your Talent Culture.

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro, spoke with Mike Myatt about the role that leaders play in transforming organizational cultures — focusing on several real-world examples. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as Nancy Rubin moderated a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/new-year-new-company-culture.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Myatt for sharing your perspectives on how to drive meaningful organizational change. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about organizational culture and change? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 15, when @appendTo CEO, Mike Hostetler, helps us take a closer look at remote workplaces — specifically, what makes virtual models work. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

What’s Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

This Friday is tattoo day at work. Seriously. Tattoo day.

Everyone in our team is encouraged to display meaningful “appropriate” tattoos and the stories behind them. Any form is acceptable — permanent body art, decals, even hand-drawn creations. (Want to join the fun from a distance? Keep an eye on my Twitter stream for some inspired ink.)

The Art of Business Culture

Sure, this sounds a little hokey, like “Hawaiian shirt day.” But that’s the charm. It’s a simple, lighthearted way for us to interact, learn about one another, and gel as a team. What could be wrong with that?

The fact is — today’s crazy-busy world of work assaults us with constant change. It forces us to adapt, and adapt, and adapt again. But in rolling with all the changes, we can easily lose touch with people who are in the trenches with us. Injecting a little camaraderie into the day-to-day flow helps us create, reinforce and enhance our culture. For a company that has absorbed multiple acquisitions in the past two years, that can be a tough sell. But we’re making the case for continuous cultural connections, from the top down and the inside out.

And yes, as I said, along with the fun comes learning. We’re learning in general, and individually from one another. When fun is purposeful and persistent, it actually sticks.

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

“The traditional definition of a ‘highly engaged’ employee is one who delivers discretionary effort. What leads someone to deliver ‘discretionary effort?’ Our research shows it takes a working environment that is friendly, flexible, fulfilling and purposeful.”

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

This week’s #TChat Events guest, Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt, would agree. On #TChat Radio, he noted that the most vibrant, valuable business cultures are built by design. They’re “very purposed and intentioned — creating a place where people actually want to come.”

(Editor’s Note: See full #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

So, ask yourself these questions:

• How purposeful is your company culture? Even if you lead an organization of one, what are your intentions? Knowing that commitment to culture is integral to business success, are you clear with your employees (and yourself) that you’re here to stay and play? Don’t let your culture slip away through unintentional behavior. Choose to make it stick.

• What’s the shape of your cultural tattoo? I’m not an ink kind of person, but I don’t disparage those who are. In fact, throughout history, great leaders have bound tribes together with powerful visual symbols. In today’s organizations we may think of them as brands, but why shouldn’t meaningful symbols bind work tribes, as well? They do fulfill a primal need for identification and belonging. Does your employer brand accomplish that mission?

Hey — if you show me your tat, I’ll show you mine. On purpose.

For more insights on this topic, check out the highlights and resource links below from this week’s #TChat conversation. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your contributions helped bring the concept of “culture makeovers” to life!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Leading a Culture Makeover

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a variety of related blog posts, and a “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Mike Myatt, author of the new book, “Hacking Leadership.” Read the Preview now: “New Year, New Company Culture?

MON 1/6:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested multiple ideas for leaders who need to drive cultural change. Read “5 Ways to Recognize Your Talent Culture.

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro, spoke with Mike Myatt about the role that leaders play in transforming organizational cultures — focusing on several real-world examples. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as Nancy Rubin moderated a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/new-year-new-company-culture.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Myatt for sharing your perspectives on how to drive meaningful organizational change. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about organizational culture and change? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 15, when @appendTo CEO, Mike Hostetler, helps us take a closer look at remote workplaces — specifically, what makes virtual models work. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

New Year, New Company Culture? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full recap of this week’s events and resources? Read the #TChat Recap: “What’s Your Culture Tattoo?)

“It’s never too late to start all over again.”
John Kay

As we move into 2014, it’s natural to take stock of our status — where we are, where we’re headed and how to get there.

That future-minded theme is the framework for #TChat Events throughout the month of January. And we’re excited to kick off the series this week with Fortune 500 executive leadership advisor, columnist, and author, Mike Myatt.

Hacking-Leadership-Book-Cover-678x1024

A year ago, Mike wrote a compelling Forbes post, “10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You,” which challenged business leaders to take a hard look at the how they undermine organizational culture and workforce commitment. His conclusion was stark — unless companies address these fundamental issues from the top down, it’s only a matter of time before employees will look elsewhere.

Of course, some executives will never get it. But what’s really alarming is how common these issues seem to be in today’s world of work. According to employee engagement research, most companies are long over-due for an extreme culture makeover.

But how? What can leaders do to intervene successfully?

That’s the focus of Mike’s new book, “Hacking Leadership” — 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close, and Secrets to Closing Them Quickly. So we asked him to join the TalentCulture community this week for a conversation about how to fix organizational cultures that are failing on multiple levels.

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

I had an opportunity to conduct a brief hangout with Mike, where he set the stage for this week’s conversation:

Also, to help you prepare for this week’s #TChat events, we’ve listed questions (at the end of this post), and selected several related articles:

8 Strategies to Successfully Change Your Corporate Culture
When Your Culture Needs a Makeover
 If You Want to Change Corporate Culture, Dare to Tell the Truth
How To Build a Great Corporate Culture
How Organizational Design Can Help Improve Corporate Culture

For everyone who wants to crack the code on cultural change, this promises to be an interesting and helpful week. So bring your ideas and opinions — and let’s talk!

#TChat Asks: Is It Time For A Business Culture Makeover?

#TChat Radio — Wed, Jan 8 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Mike Myatt about how to assess cultural health, and steps leaders can take to turn around a struggling organization. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Jan 8 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan and Mike will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: What factors motivate people to remain with an employer?
Q2: How do leaders know if their culture needs a makeover?
Q3: What role can recruiting play in driving healthy cultures?
Q4: What critical development activities build employee commitment?
Q5: What technologies help leaders makeover business culture?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and in our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So don’t be shy! Please join us, and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Startup Leadership: Lessons From a Runner's World

Written by Adii Pienaar

Most of us with entrepreneurial drive have a similar passion for other pursuits. For me, it’s about long-distance running. For example, in a recent month I ran 120 kilometers (about 75 miles), including a half-marathon.

That’s a lot of time on the road — just me, some music, the sound of my (sometimes ragged) breathing, and most importantly, my thoughts.

Lately, I’ve used some of that time to think about the similarity between my progress as runner and how to apply that mindset in running a company. What did I conclude? Here six suggestions based on my experience:

1) Work only when you’re productive and focused

I used to motivate myself in a very threatening, reactive way. I would decide to run a half-marathon, and then “demand” (of myself) to run specific distances in specific times. Regardless or how I felt, I was “forced” to comply with those requirements.

Recently, I decided I wasn’t going to set a rigid, arbitrary goal of running in a specific half-marathon. Instead, I decided to run just because I love it.

Sometimes at the start of a run, I can feel that my body isn’t responding, or I’m just not in the right mental space. On those days, I cut the run short and go home. On the flip side, sometimes I plan to run 5km but end up running 10km instead, because I feel good. That’s double the return for “doubling down” on that good feeling.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of this. We force ourselves to work, even when we’re not being productive. Stop. Get up. Do something else that’s unrelated to work. But when you discover you are in the zone, double down and you’ll achieve much more, instead.

2) Avoid burnout

Earlier this year, I got greedy and, for about a week, I pushed myself too hard, aggravating an injury. Instead of just stopping, I kept pushing. The result was that I developed a severe case of shin splints that kept me out of running for two full months.

As entrepreneurs, we know how to push (hard), and we know how to use adrenaline to fuel us. However, burnout is a very real threat and should not be dismissed lightly. The problem with injury or burnout isn’t the pain; it’s the frustration. Once you’ve injured yourself, there are no more shortcuts. You have to do the time.

So don’t give burnout a chance to stop you in your tracks. Try getting eight hours of sleep a day. Eat nutritious foods. Exercise regularly and immerse yourself in non-work activities, too. All of this will help strengthen your entrepreneurial fitness, so you’ll have a consistently high level of ambition and drive.

3) Reward yourself

When I eventually recovered, I decided to get a weekly sports massage to help prevent shin splints from recurring. Although these treatments began as preventive work for my muscles, the pampering began to feel more like a reward. I loved this downtime, and it became a motivating factor for me to run even more.

The same is true with work. For me personally, money isn’t enough motivation to work harder or do more. But rewarding myself with experiences does work. On the expensive end of the scale, that translates into traveling as much as I can. But on a more regular basis, I reward myself with a bottle of fantastic red wine.

The key is to connect the dots between the work and the experience, knowing both need to be present to make that connection.

4) Nurture consistency

Running every-other day has become a routine for me. This consistency is one of the primary drivers behind my ability to run 120km in a month. Running has become a habit.

I’ve seen the same scenario with my inbox. All of us get a boatload of email, and it’s probably the number one complaint of busy people. But when I’m disciplined and consistently keep my inbox neat and clean, I avoid the problem. As soon as I lose that consistency, it becomes a mess.

As an entrepreneur, these habits are key to helping you get stuff done, stay focused on what matters, and keep moving forward. Consistency is your friend.

5) Shed excess weight

Running with excess weight is hard work. Now, I’m not obese, but you probably won’t see me on the cover of GQ, either. So about six weeks ago, I started the Paleo diet, and I’ve since decreased my body fat 5%. It makes running a lot easier.

In business and in work, excess weight can take many different shapes and forms. I used to take responsibility for things that either I didn’t need to do myself or weren’t important. I was really bad at prioritizing my time. Now I focus on the most important things every day. I get more done, and I am happier.

Shed the excess weight on your to do list. I guarantee that, afterwards, you’ll run easier.

6) Run your own race

While running my last race, I realized we’re always competing. We’re always measuring ourselves against other entrepreneurs and their companies. We read about how they do things, how they manage to be successful and how we should be applying all of those things to our own lives.

In fact, you’re doing that right now, but reading this post.

But this is your life. In every race, you can only run against yourself, and try to improve on your personal best. What the other runners (or business leaders) are doing shouldn’t influence the way you run your own race.

Do things for yourself — and rely upon your own instincts, for a more satisfying outcome. Be a little selfish every now and again, and remember to invest in yourself.

What are your thoughts? How can leaders apply athletic training principles to run their companies more effectively?

ce07b0f37a0fc570882f6337d7258d9f(About the Author: Adii Pienaar is the ex-CEO and Founder of WooThemes. He has a passion for helping other entrepreneurs, making new mistakes (of his own) and, as such, is working on his new startup, PublicBeta. He is also a new dad, ex-rockstar and wannabe angel investor.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life via The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Neerav Bhatt via Flickr

Startup Leadership: Lessons From a Runner’s World

Written by Adii Pienaar

Most of us with entrepreneurial drive have a similar passion for other pursuits. For me, it’s about long-distance running. For example, in a recent month I ran 120 kilometers (about 75 miles), including a half-marathon.

That’s a lot of time on the road — just me, some music, the sound of my (sometimes ragged) breathing, and most importantly, my thoughts.

Lately, I’ve used some of that time to think about the similarity between my progress as runner and how to apply that mindset in running a company. What did I conclude? Here six suggestions based on my experience:

1) Work only when you’re productive and focused

I used to motivate myself in a very threatening, reactive way. I would decide to run a half-marathon, and then “demand” (of myself) to run specific distances in specific times. Regardless or how I felt, I was “forced” to comply with those requirements.

Recently, I decided I wasn’t going to set a rigid, arbitrary goal of running in a specific half-marathon. Instead, I decided to run just because I love it.

Sometimes at the start of a run, I can feel that my body isn’t responding, or I’m just not in the right mental space. On those days, I cut the run short and go home. On the flip side, sometimes I plan to run 5km but end up running 10km instead, because I feel good. That’s double the return for “doubling down” on that good feeling.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of this. We force ourselves to work, even when we’re not being productive. Stop. Get up. Do something else that’s unrelated to work. But when you discover you are in the zone, double down and you’ll achieve much more, instead.

2) Avoid burnout

Earlier this year, I got greedy and, for about a week, I pushed myself too hard, aggravating an injury. Instead of just stopping, I kept pushing. The result was that I developed a severe case of shin splints that kept me out of running for two full months.

As entrepreneurs, we know how to push (hard), and we know how to use adrenaline to fuel us. However, burnout is a very real threat and should not be dismissed lightly. The problem with injury or burnout isn’t the pain; it’s the frustration. Once you’ve injured yourself, there are no more shortcuts. You have to do the time.

So don’t give burnout a chance to stop you in your tracks. Try getting eight hours of sleep a day. Eat nutritious foods. Exercise regularly and immerse yourself in non-work activities, too. All of this will help strengthen your entrepreneurial fitness, so you’ll have a consistently high level of ambition and drive.

3) Reward yourself

When I eventually recovered, I decided to get a weekly sports massage to help prevent shin splints from recurring. Although these treatments began as preventive work for my muscles, the pampering began to feel more like a reward. I loved this downtime, and it became a motivating factor for me to run even more.

The same is true with work. For me personally, money isn’t enough motivation to work harder or do more. But rewarding myself with experiences does work. On the expensive end of the scale, that translates into traveling as much as I can. But on a more regular basis, I reward myself with a bottle of fantastic red wine.

The key is to connect the dots between the work and the experience, knowing both need to be present to make that connection.

4) Nurture consistency

Running every-other day has become a routine for me. This consistency is one of the primary drivers behind my ability to run 120km in a month. Running has become a habit.

I’ve seen the same scenario with my inbox. All of us get a boatload of email, and it’s probably the number one complaint of busy people. But when I’m disciplined and consistently keep my inbox neat and clean, I avoid the problem. As soon as I lose that consistency, it becomes a mess.

As an entrepreneur, these habits are key to helping you get stuff done, stay focused on what matters, and keep moving forward. Consistency is your friend.

5) Shed excess weight

Running with excess weight is hard work. Now, I’m not obese, but you probably won’t see me on the cover of GQ, either. So about six weeks ago, I started the Paleo diet, and I’ve since decreased my body fat 5%. It makes running a lot easier.

In business and in work, excess weight can take many different shapes and forms. I used to take responsibility for things that either I didn’t need to do myself or weren’t important. I was really bad at prioritizing my time. Now I focus on the most important things every day. I get more done, and I am happier.

Shed the excess weight on your to do list. I guarantee that, afterwards, you’ll run easier.

6) Run your own race

While running my last race, I realized we’re always competing. We’re always measuring ourselves against other entrepreneurs and their companies. We read about how they do things, how they manage to be successful and how we should be applying all of those things to our own lives.

In fact, you’re doing that right now, but reading this post.

But this is your life. In every race, you can only run against yourself, and try to improve on your personal best. What the other runners (or business leaders) are doing shouldn’t influence the way you run your own race.

Do things for yourself — and rely upon your own instincts, for a more satisfying outcome. Be a little selfish every now and again, and remember to invest in yourself.

What are your thoughts? How can leaders apply athletic training principles to run their companies more effectively?

ce07b0f37a0fc570882f6337d7258d9f(About the Author: Adii Pienaar is the ex-CEO and Founder of WooThemes. He has a passion for helping other entrepreneurs, making new mistakes (of his own) and, as such, is working on his new startup, PublicBeta. He is also a new dad, ex-rockstar and wannabe angel investor.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life via The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Neerav Bhatt via Flickr

More Minds: How Diverse Ideas Drive Innovation

Is it me, or has 2013 been an extraordinary year for stories from the forefront of social business, leadership and organizational culture? For every new book I finish, it seems that 3-4 more find their way to my “must read” list. There never seems to be enough time to take it all in.

Among the books I’ve had time to complete, several have made a lasting impression. One of them is Ekaterina Walter’s Think Like Zuck: Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO. Of course, we all know another book that speaks to Mark Zuckerberg’s success. What more is there to say, right? Wrong.

Diversity of Thought: Rocket Fuel For Business?

Ekaterina looks beneath the surface of Facebook’s founder in an engaging assessment of why his company is so successful. Along the way, she uncovers something that many other leadership books seem to miss — the power of diversity in innovation.

I’m not just talking about demographic diversity. Don’t get me wrong — demographic diversity is absolutely vital to innovation, and organizations still have a long way to go in that regard. But since we know that diversity is strength, it makes sense to expand the classic business understanding of workforce “diversity.” This isn’t a counterpoint to the demographic meaning, but an extension of it. A flourish. An embellishment. In the same way that jazz performers rely upon flourishes to add unique depth and character to their music, diversity has the potential to elevate the business innovation process in unique and valuable ways.

How can leaders put this insight into practice? Here are three factors to consider:

1) Yin Needs Yang

In Think Like Zuck, Walter defines five “musts” for business success: passion, purpose, people, product, partnership. It was her thought-provoking chapters on people and partnerships that made me really sit up and start thinking about diversity, and why it’s vital.

Because of Zuckerberg’s passion and smarts, Facebook did well nearly from the start. But it didn’t go into orbit until Zuckerberg picked Sheryl Sandberg as his COO. Walter writes:

She had a completely different style from his. I think their differences are what make the Zuckerberg-Sandberg duo such an extraordinary team. They complement each other very well. What Mark lacks in experience, Sheryl brings to the table in abundance. When he doesn’t feel like stepping into the limelight, she steps in for him masterfully. The difference in age, as well as gender, contributes various perspectives and capabilities.

“Yeah,” I thought, “that makes a lot of sense. So why don’t more companies get this? Isn’t it obvious?” Nailing the point, Walter quotes Leslie Bradshaw of JESS3 (a social media firm that serves world-class companies like Nike, MTV, Samsung, NASA, Twitter, ESPN and Google):

In our partnership, Jesse Thomas is the yang, and…I have enough yin to balance it out. If you look beyond our personalities, the fact that our genders are different also adds diversity. The perspective I bring as a woman is very different from what he brings as a man, and that helps balance out the way we hire, the way we treat our employees, and the way we approach strategies when we execute for clients.

“Of course!” I shouted. (Luckily, I was alone. HA). Of course diversity allows you to do more — to think more, think differently, think better! It seems self-evident, really. Yet it can be incredibly hard to convince CEOs and managers to hire or involve people who are different from them. People who do things differently, who think differently. It’s a perceived risk. And it’s wrong. “Everyone needs to be talking about this” I insisted. I was pretty fired up — but with good cause, don’t you think?

2) It’s Proven: Two Brains (and Personalities) Are Better Than One

Inspired by Walter’s book, I dove into Hutch Carpenter’s article “Diversity and Innovation: Improve the Person, Improve the Idea.” Pacing back and forth, I searched for past threads that would push my current thought process forward:

A key aspect of the next generation of innovation is the ability to tap a much larger set of minds in pursuit of valuable ideas. The historic method of innovation relied exclusively on a designated few. (“So true!”) Diversity is the key element here. That is, engaging a broad set of different perspectives to generate something better than one could do individually. Cognitive and heuristics diversity — that’s what benefits innovation. People who see things in a different way, and bring a different practice to solving problems.

“Good, good, yes,” I thought, still talking to myself. “Of course — put people together, you get more ideas. Like one plus one, right?”

Not quite. Instead, we need to think one of this kind, plus one of another kind. Carpenter cites a study by Ron Burt of The University of Chicago, finding that “people with more diverse sources of information generated consistently better ideas.”

So. It’s not just about more sources. It’s about more more diverse sources.

3) E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One?)

Then I found out something totally cool. Are you ready for this? Group diversity leads to better innovation than a genius inventor working alone (or a group working in isolation) — even when that solo entity gets input from others. Although the “lone inventor” may come up with great innovations (okay, we’re all thinking Alexander Graham Bell) it’s less likely that will happen than with communities of diverse thinkers who freely explore ideas together.

It’s true: Zuckerberg didn’t work alone. And neither did Alexander Graham Bell. Facebook and the telephone may have been visions of “lone inventors,” but those visions became world-changing products only because Zuckerberg and Bell worked well with others who thought differently from them.

As Ekaterina Walter makes abundantly clear, Mark Zuckerberg, along with many others, has created a platform more powerful for letting our voices be heard than anything since the invention of the printing press. It’s the basis for social community on a grand scale.

Social Networks and Innovation: The Bigger Business Picture

Okay, then. So the tools are there to connect our diverse dots. Why not use social networks to create a new world of work? All of us, together, representing a spectrum of talents, personalities, styles, backgrounds, brains, ideas, experience. All of us focused on contributing to a common purpose. A diverse community — an orchestra, of sorts.

We could be riffing together like jazz musicians to create organizational cultures that are more responsive, resilient, energized, engaging and innovative. Diversity playing in unison isn’t only music. It can, in fact, inform the future of work.

What are your thoughts about the power of diverse thinking in the workplace? What’s the best business book you’ve read this year? And what did it teach you?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

(Also Note: This post is adapted from Forbes.com, with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Gut Check: Leadership and Emotion #TChat Recap

We’ve all worked with them. Brilliant intellectuals who hold managerial titles — yet they struggle to form and sustain effective professional relationships.

They lack self-awareness, and seem even more clueless about how to deal with others. As leaders, they may be tolerated, ignored or even undermined. Despite their impressive credentials, they’re like fish out of water in the workplace.

These leaders desperately need an emotional Intelligence intervention. A gut check. Fortunately, talent development specialists agree that essential “soft skills” can be learned — although the process may be hard.

That’s the topic we tackled this week at #TChat Events with guest, Steve Gutzler, President of Leadership Quest and author of “Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership.” As one of the nation’s premier experts in emotional intelligence, leadership and personal transformation, Steve helped us explore the connection between EI and the ability to influence others.

(Editor’s Note: See #TChat Event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

Defining Emotional Intelligence: What’s Inside?

At its core, emotional intelligence (EI) is about our ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. Almost a decade ago, psychologist and author, Daniel Goleman, defined the 5 core components of emotional intelligence:

1) Self-awareness: Deep understanding of their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives. People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest — with themselves and others.

2) Self-regulation: Like an ongoing inner conversation, this frees people from becoming prisoners of their feelings. Self-regulators feel bad moods and emotional impulses, just as everyone does, but they’re able to control and even channel those responses in useful ways.

3) Motivation: Virtually all effective leaders display this trait. They’re driven to achieve beyond expectations — their own and everyone else’s. The key word here is achieve.

4) Empathy: This is the most easily recognized aspect of EI. We’ve all felt the empathy of a sensitive teacher or friend; we’ve all been struck by its absence in a stoic coach or boss. But in business, people are rarely praised, let alone rewarded, for their empathy.

5) Social Skill: As a dimension of EI, this is not as simple as it sounds. It’s not just friendliness — although people with high social skill are rarely mean-spirited. Rather, social skill is friendliness with a purpose. It’s about moving people in a desired direction, whether that’s agreement on a new marketing strategy or enthusiasm about a new product.

Emotional Intelligence: Leadership Secret Sauce?

Why is EI so vital? Today’s business environment is increasingly collaborative and team-oriented. To succeed in almost any mission, leaders must inspire and influence others. That’s where EI skills make all the difference. For better or worse, every interaction we have in the workplace has an impact on emotions, attitudes and motivation within us and within others. High-performing leaders understand this, and use it wisely.

What did our community have to say about this topic? Check out the resource links and highlights from this week’s #TChat conversation, below. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and opinions! Your experiences make concepts like EI more meaningful for us all.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Emotions, Leadership and Influence

SAT 12/14:

Steve Gutzler (2)

Watch the Preview hangout now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post and “sneak peek” hangout video with guest, Steve Gutzler. Read the Preview: “Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out.

SUN 12/15:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested ways that leaders can up their EI skills to help the talent in their organizations shine. Read: “Leadership Is About Emotion.”

MON 12/16 — WED 12/18:

Related Post:Psst! Leaders, Are You Really Listening?
Related Post:Managerial Magnets: Becoming a Leader Others Want to Follow

WED 12/18:

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Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with Steve Gutzler about why emotional intelligence matters in the workplace, and its connection with influence. Listen to the Radio replay now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Steve joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open, crowdsourcing conversation focused on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Leadership, Emotion and Influence

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Steve Gutzler for sharing your perspectives on emotional intelligence and leadership success. We value your time, your passion and your expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how leaders can be more successful by developing emotional intelligence? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Happy #TChatHoliday!

Our weekly #TChat Events are on hiatus until the New Year — mark your calendar for January 8th. We’re preparing to start 2014 strong, with a full month of forward-looking #TChat guests and topics that you won’t want to miss!

Meanwhile, the lights are always on here at TalentCulture, where we’ll continue to post relevant “world of work” content over the holiday. And as always, the conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media.

So make merry, enjoy this festive time of year, and we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

2014: Year of the Social Employer Brand Ambassador

We already know that social media is extremely powerful for business communication. Essentially, anyone with an internet connection has the potential to cultivate and grow a brand. Corporate brand, product brand, personal brand, employer brand — the possibilities are limitless.

It’s as easy as flipping on a light switch! Well maybe not that easy, but social channels have blown traditional media out of the water, and there’s no going back.

Of course, with its potential to drive brand development, social proliferation can also have a huge impact on talent acquisition and retention. How does that work? The idea in leveraging social media to grow a brand is through a fan base that we call “brand ambassadors.” Collectively, your ambassador group functions like a marketing and promotional team that amplifies the message for whatever it is that you’re trying to sell — products, services, yourself or your organization.

Employer Brand Ambassadors: What’s the Challenge?

If you’re an employer, which audience should be your biggest, most important source of brand ambassadors? Customers? Industry thought leaders? Local media outlets? Nope — it’s your employees. But do organizations currently view employees this way? Based on my experience in working with HR executives, I struggle to say yes.

We know that social media instantly connects you with the online world, and the most effective way to grow an employer brand is through social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest — the list goes on. So ideally, if employees are your prime brand ambassadors, and social media is the best way to grow your brand, you should be able to say that, when your employees interact with others on social channels, they’re effectively promoting your organization as a great place to work.

Are you confident making that claim? Unfortunately for most employers, the answer seems to be NO!

Enter My Bold Prediction for 2014

With the holiday season upon us, we’re seeing our share of blog posts about HR Technology predictions for 2014. One of many good reads is from Craig Bryant at the TLNT blog, “5 Predictions for Where HR Technology is Going in 2014.

My key prediction is a tad bold, but here goes: I think that organizations are ready to give their employees the right tools, so they can easily represent the company as brand ambassadors on social media. In other words, employers will actively explore and implement cloud-based solutions that make it simple for employees to curate and share high-quality, on-brand content with their connections.

Why Does This Shift Matter?

The biggest barrier organizations face when integrating social media across business functions is the inability to ensure a consistent, coherent brand message and voice. It’s about mitigating risk and ensuring that employee social media activity creates a net positive impact, and doesn’t result in PR fiascos. (Case in point: HMV employees react to firing on Twitter.)

Organizations that figure out how to remove these barriers so employees can comfortably operate as employer brand ambassadors will see huge gains in all facets of their business. Think about it — if your company has 500 employees, and each employee has an average social media network of 300 people, that’s a direct network of 150,000. All of these 150,000 connections have a network of their own, so before you know it, you’re reaching millions — all because you enabled your inner circle.

Mark my words: 2014 will be a watershed year of “employee enablement.” Organizations will gain momentum by creating and supporting brand ambassadors who come from within their ranks.

There are very few players in this space, but watch for momentum in the year ahead. You’ll want to look at platforms like PostBeyond, Jostle and EveryoneSocial to see how they help organizations support employees as brand ambassadors. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, 2014 is going to be a milestone year for social HR business tools!

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Managerial Magnets: Becoming A Leader Others Want To Follow

Written by Roberta Matuson

Are you a manager who’s ready for a professional breakthrough? Then it’s time to become the kind leader people will do anything to work for. The kind of leader who draws others to you. It’s time to become a magnetic leader.

Contrary to popular belief, great leaders aren’t born that way. Most are developed, coached and mentored throughout their careers. But why wait for someone else to guide you? Magnetic role models are all around us. So, no matter what your title or level of experience, you can observe more closely and strengthen your own skill set anytime.

Here are 5 best practices to help you get started:

1) Put Your Team First

When in doubt, put the interests of your employees ahead of your own. For example, it’s tempting to volunteer your department to organize this year’s charity event. After all, it would be great PR for you and the rest of your team. But everyone has been working on weekends to complete a critical project on time and within budget. They’re already burned out.

This is a good time to take a pass. Your team needs a break. Let them recharge. There will always be other volunteer opportunities.

2) Go to Bat for Your Employees

Let’s say you’ve been discussing a potential reorganization with your superiors. However, upon reflection, you believe the timing isn’t right for your organization to make that move. You feel uncomfortable asking your manager to reconsider the current plan.

Be bold. Let your boss know you’ve had a change of heart. Explain your rationale, and be prepared to offer alternative solutions. Regardless of the outcome, your employees will eventually figure out that you had the courage to push back when others would have retreated. Those who walk through the fire with you will stick by your side through thick or thin.

3) Learn to “Manage Up”

In my book, Suddenly in Charge, I explain that managing up isn’t about brown-nosing. It’s about developing strong relationships with those above you and throughout the organization, so you can get your people the resources they need to perform well.

In every company, there are people who are somehow able to get what they need while everyone else waits on the sidelines. These people have taken the time to build strong relationships up and down the organization. You can bet these resourceful leaders have no problem keeping top talent on their team. Observe how they work — and if an opportunity presents itself, ask for some tips.

4) Make Yourself Visible and Accessible

Magnetic leaders are visible both inside and outside their organization. Get involved in a professional association. Whenever possible, step up and volunteer to take a leadership position. You’ll be seen as a leader in your field, based on that affiliation. Don’t be surprised if others come to you seeking advice or a position on your team.

5) Treat People the Way You’d Like to be Treated

I bet you’ve heard this one before, right? It seems so obvious — but when is the last time you saw someone in a managerial role who consistently follows this creed?

In my book, Talent Magnetism, I tell the story of magnetic leader, Chris Patterson, CEO of Interchanges, who took it upon himself to help an employee who was in crisis. Patterson made it his personal mission to provide his employee with the best care possible during a life-threatening illness. He did so with compassion and conviction. This is a guy who is magnetic in every way.

Magnetic leaders are highly valued by their organizations — and are compensated accordingly. But it’s not just a reward for their effort and contributions to corporate objectives. Their employers know that leaders who display these characteristics are highly attractive to competitive organizations.

Do you know role models who demonstrate the value of magnetic leadership? What do they do that makes them so attractive to others in their professional sphere? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments area.

Roberta-Matuson-Photo(About the Author: Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer®, is the President of Matuson Consulting, a firm that helps organizations achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. Her new book, Talent Magnetism, is available for download or purchase at Amazon.com. Connect with Roberta on Twitter or on LinkedIn.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Rebecca Krebs via Flickr

Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for all the highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? You’re in luck — they’re right this way at the #TChat Recap: Gut Check: Emotions and Leadership.)

“It’s not personal — it’s strictly business.”
–Mario Puzo “The Godfather

Have you ever heard someone at work echo that classic line to dismiss their ruthless, destructive or self-serving behavior? In the past, that kind of cold-blooded Mafia mindset was all too prevalent in business. But these days it’s losing relevance, as emotional intelligence takes hold.

Although academics continue to debate various “EI” models, the core concept is simple. It’s based on the notion that the more mindful we are of the “human” side of business (in ourselves and others), the more effective our performance will be, and the more likely we’ll influence others’ performance.

While some people resist the term “emotional intelligence,” the concept is gaining traction. Some of the world’s most successful organizations — companies like Google and Microsoft — are actively developing emotional intelligence in their workforce. Why does it matter? And how can it “make” or “break” your professional reputation?

That’s the topic we’re discussing this week at #TChat Events, with EI expert, Steve Gutzler, President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle leadership consultancy, and author of “Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership.”

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

To kick-off this week’s discussion, Steve joined me for a G+ Hangout, where he briefly shared some fascinating insights about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace:

This week’s #TChat Events promise to be helpful for anyone who wants to work more effectively with and through others. So bring your questions and ideas — and let’s talk!

#TChat Events: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Influence

#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 18 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Steve Gutzler about why emotional intelligence matters in the workplace, and its connection with influence. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Dec 18 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Steve will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will lead an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these 5 related questions:

Q1: Why is emotional intelligence so critical for today’s leaders?
Q2: How do emotional “soft skills” complement hard-edge business skills?
Q3: What is emotional hijacking vs. emotional self-management?
Q4: How can business leaders offer productive emotional influence?
Q5: What technologies can foster employee appreciation + emotional commitment?

We look forward to hearing your feedback, as talent-minded professionals, who care about the human side of business.

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Employee Referral Programs: How To Expand Your Circle

Written by Ziv Eliraz, CEO, Zao

There’s a reason why employee referrals are touted as the #1 hiring source. Each referral is a credible thumbs-up from a trusted member of your organization, confirming that the candidate is qualified for the job and will fit-in with your culture. Plus, when tons of people are responding to your job postings, referrals can be an effective way to separate the good from the bad, while accelerating time-to-hire.

It’s all good. So, why not expand that model?

Traditionally, referral programs have been built around an organization’s internal network, with employees identifying likely prospects. However, smart companies understand that their external network is filled with potential sourcing allies — business partners, vendors, professional peers, college connections, even former employees. It just takes a different approach to get them on board.

Four ways to extend your referral program reach:

1) Incorporate Rewards

Relevant rewards can be a powerful incentive. Plus, they work. Research shows that when companies offered rewards to trusted members of their external network, 41% of referral hires came from those non-employees. As a result, referral hires were 69% higher than through employee channels, alone.

Tip:  Make sure the value of the reward is calibrated to the business result. For example, a token gift card or social recognition could be given to acknowledge a hot lead — while cash compensation would be more appropriate when a referral is interviewed or hired.

2) Go Mobile

Consider contractors and other virtual contributors members of your workforce. Although they may not be employees, they can still provide value through referrals. However, because many operate from remote locations, your referral program should be accessible on-the-go — through smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. This lets your external network easily refer candidates wherever and whenever the opportunity strikes.

Tip:  Create an employee referral app or a mobile-accessible portal that is tailored specifically for external network members. This helps them feel like they’re part of the program, and makes it convenient to participate.

3) Automate The Process
While your external network can make a significant contribution to your referral pipeline, recommending candidates is an added duty they must perform without immediate reinforcement. Try to make the referral process as quick and easy as possible by automating the process. New technologies can automatically compile jobs, sending relevant reminders to the correct people at the right time, and recommending appropriate next-step actions. Automation not only keeps the referral program continuously active, but also guides your external stakeholders in their role.

Tip:  Rolling “push” communication is a smart idea. For example, you can automatically share job updates every Wednesday at 3 p.m., or whenever your network is most active. That way, your program participants learn when to expect information. Also, it’s wise to personalize message content — sending relevant messages to the right people. This avoids frustration for participants, who would otherwise have to search for information they need.

4) Incorporate Game Dynamics

Gamification uses game-based strategy, learning and mechanics to increase engagement in non-game systems. While it may seem like an uncommon strategy, 70% of the world’s top 2,000 public companies will have integrated gamification into at least one business application by 2014. In this case, it can be a fun way to involve external parties in your referral process, using quick feedback, creating friendly competitive challenges and other methods that keep your participants engaged.

Tip:  A great way to introduce game dynamics is through a leaderboard or a point-based tracking system. Members of your network can see how they’re contributing to the overall referral process, and see how they compare with top performers. This not only creates a sense of friendly rivalry, but also offers ongoing feedback that helps remind participants that their recommendations are not being ignored.

Tap Into Your Full Sourcing Potential

Of course, employee-only referral programs aren’t a bad idea. However, at some point, there is a limit to how many people an individual employee knows directly. While your internal network can provide some excellent referrals, your external network can amp up the quality and diversity of potential hires. Although you may not think of external allies first, they can be a great referral resource because they understand your organization’s culture, they know your business needs, and they often have a vested interest in your success.

What do you think? Do you involve your external network in the employee referral process? What kind of results have you seen?

Ziv Eliraz-001 (About the Author: Ziv Eliraz is Founder and CEO of Zao, social employee referral platform. Connect with Ziv on LinkedIn and Zao on Twitter and Facebook.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome to participate; or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

How Good People Can Deliver Bad News at Work

Written by Sarah Colomé

Something has gone terribly wrong at work. (It happens.) You’re terrified about telling your manager. (That also happens.) Breaking bad news to your boss can feel like you’re the designated driver on girls’ night out — while it’s not easy, someone has to take the hit.

However, if you take a closer look at this situation, you may find it’s a blessing in disguise for your career.

Employers are looking for contributors who know how to think on their feet, adapt quickly and  communicate effectively. If you reframe a work nightmare by offering timely, useful, well-researched solutions, you’ll demonstrate that you’re not only a smart thinker, but also a doer with management potential.

So, when that moment strikes and you have to break bad news to the person who decides your fate, consider these three strategies:

1) Bring the whole story to the table

Rushing to squeal that the keynote speaker for your annual conference just dissed your company on social media isn’t going to improve the situation.

Before you make a move, consider your source of information. Is this a credible individual or channel? Repeating uninformed, disruptive information only adds to the chaos. Research the facts (quickly!) so you can provide decision makers with relevant context. Your extra legwork can help them make an informed choice about how to proceed.

Knowing details helps frame the situation, allows for a better decision making process and makes you look like a mature, level-headed colleague rather than an reactive tattletale.

2) Think and speak objectively

Taking sides and passing blame does nothing to solve the problem. Instead, you’ll only paint yourself in a negative and self-serving manner — the complete opposite of what you want.

While this doesn’t mean you should hide pertinent information you have about the problem, you also don’t need to wrap a particular person up in a bow and pin them to a bull’s eye.

Pointing fingers isn’t necessary to solving the immediate problem. If necessary at all, it should be set aside until a solution has been found. Focusing on the fixing the problem helps you avoid looking like you’re stepping on another employee to make yourself look good. Plus, you’ll protect your working relationships with all parties involved — including the idiot who ordered 200 bottles of pineapple juice instead of Pinot Grigio for the donor banquet. Besides, if someone on the crew is truly inept, their actions will speak for themselves.

3) Offer problem-solving options

Showing up empty-handed to announce bad news accomplishes nothing. You need ammo. Prepare to suggest possible next-step ideas, so you’re less likely to become the target of a manager’s negative reaction.

Your goal is to avoid adding more stress to a difficult situation, by being ready to offer viable options. Research alternatives that save time or money, and assess the likely outcomes, so you can help determine a workable plan of action.

But keep in mind that offering effective solutions requires more than just a Google search and a few thrown-together spreadsheets. No solution can be implemented without investing employee energy, so assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each path. This approach can help your manager avoid costly missteps — while simultaneously portraying you as a proactive, strategic thinker.

Delivering bad news is never easy, but reframing a negative work situation into a positive professional opportunity can be beneficial both for you and your company.

The next time someone accidentally sends detailed employee compensation data to everyone in your company, don’t fret. Get the whole story, be objective and come with a solution in hand.

Have you stepped up when there was a melt-down at work? How did you deliver the news — and did it help you grow in your career? Share your experiences in the comments area.

Sarah Colome (2)(About the Author: Sarah Colomé, M.S. is an educator, advocate and the SOARS Booking Director for A Long Walk Home, Inc. Based in Chicago, Sarah has traveled both nationally and internationally as a competitive collegiate public speaker. She teaches on topics related to social justice and diversity, health education, sexual violence and persuasive speaking. Connect with her on Twitter.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)


Image Credit: Mugley via Flickr

Compliance: Why It's The Only Fix For Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of those terms recruiters just can’t seem to shut up about. But unlike the blizzard of buzzwords mostly designed to sell consulting services and content marketing, it’s one that we should be discussing more. The reason is (unlike, say, employer branding), candidate experience actually is a concept that has real impact on real people and real recruiters every day.

Forget, for a second, the normal argument about business value and brand equity that seems inexorably intertwined with the candidate experience conversation. It’s actually kind of sad that we need to frame basic courtesy as a business case. Forget, also, the fact that many of the issues around candidate experience stem from bad technology and process, not necessarily bad recruiters.

Recruiting’s Problem Child

Candidate experience is perhaps the only issue every recruiter seems to agree on, with minimal dissent. We bicker all day about minutiae like in-house vs. third party, or when’s the best time of the day to send a job-related tweet — but no one disagrees with the fundamental facts that candidate experience counts, and that what we’re doing to fix it isn’t working.

The data generated by initiatives like the Candidate Experience Awards and products like Mystery Applicant provide valuable benchmarks. However, meaningful metrics and actionable insights simply reinforce a hypothesis upon which everyone already agrees, but treats with apathy more often than action.

Candidate Experience Petition Change.org US Dept of Labor

See the Candidate Experience petition at Change.org

Who Can Fix Candidate Experience?

It’s time to reframe the candidate experience discussion. We need to move from identifying the problem (we know it exists) and pinpointing its causes (the “why” is really irrelevant), to what companies actually can do about it. But that seems unlikely, because this issue is so big, and employers have been getting it so wrong for so long. What’s more, the HR industry seems more concerned with candidate experience as a commodity instead of an issue that demands conscious, meaningful change from the inside out. Instead, an improved candidate experience must start with the candidates themselves – and we’re all candidates, eventually.

Recently, I surveyed various professional networks and career-focused social media groups about this topic. Although the methodology was informal and unscientific, the results are noteworthy. For example, 80% of candidates (and about 50% of career services professionals and coaches) have never even heard of the term “candidate experience.” That low Q score likely skews high, considering the source – primarily active candidates who also engage about their searches on social media. Interestingly, this same group of non-mystery applicants also seems convinced that searching for jobs is a pain in the ass, applying online takes too much time, and they’ll likely never hear back from employers or recruiters who receive their application.

We’re not going to solve this issue overnight. But the first step (one that too often seems overlooked) is simple. Candidates need to recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way, and make their voices heard. We’ve done a good job of “managing” — and diminishing — candidate expectations to the point where they’re essentially minimal. But if job seekers demand better — if candidates say that this isn’t the way hiring should be — then employers will eventually listen. But how can we be sure they’ll actually do something to improve the status quo?

How You Can Help, Starting Now

Compliance is a sure bet. That’s why I established a petition over at Change.org calling for the U.S. Department of Labor – the same feared entity which keeps so many HR generalists so busy – to create specific guidelines and specific penalties for candidate experience.

Because in HR, it’s hard to change a mindset. It’s far easier to change the law. So please sign the petition now and make your voice count. I welcome your revisions, suggestions and/or comments.

Image Credit: Change.org

Compliance: Why It’s The Only Fix For Candidate Experience

Candidate experience is one of those terms recruiters just can’t seem to shut up about. But unlike the blizzard of buzzwords mostly designed to sell consulting services and content marketing, it’s one that we should be discussing more. The reason is (unlike, say, employer branding), candidate experience actually is a concept that has real impact on real people and real recruiters every day.

Forget, for a second, the normal argument about business value and brand equity that seems inexorably intertwined with the candidate experience conversation. It’s actually kind of sad that we need to frame basic courtesy as a business case. Forget, also, the fact that many of the issues around candidate experience stem from bad technology and process, not necessarily bad recruiters.

Recruiting’s Problem Child

Candidate experience is perhaps the only issue every recruiter seems to agree on, with minimal dissent. We bicker all day about minutiae like in-house vs. third party, or when’s the best time of the day to send a job-related tweet — but no one disagrees with the fundamental facts that candidate experience counts, and that what we’re doing to fix it isn’t working.

The data generated by initiatives like the Candidate Experience Awards and products like Mystery Applicant provide valuable benchmarks. However, meaningful metrics and actionable insights simply reinforce a hypothesis upon which everyone already agrees, but treats with apathy more often than action.

Candidate Experience Petition Change.org US Dept of Labor

See the Candidate Experience petition at Change.org

Who Can Fix Candidate Experience?

It’s time to reframe the candidate experience discussion. We need to move from identifying the problem (we know it exists) and pinpointing its causes (the “why” is really irrelevant), to what companies actually can do about it. But that seems unlikely, because this issue is so big, and employers have been getting it so wrong for so long. What’s more, the HR industry seems more concerned with candidate experience as a commodity instead of an issue that demands conscious, meaningful change from the inside out. Instead, an improved candidate experience must start with the candidates themselves – and we’re all candidates, eventually.

Recently, I surveyed various professional networks and career-focused social media groups about this topic. Although the methodology was informal and unscientific, the results are noteworthy. For example, 80% of candidates (and about 50% of career services professionals and coaches) have never even heard of the term “candidate experience.” That low Q score likely skews high, considering the source – primarily active candidates who also engage about their searches on social media. Interestingly, this same group of non-mystery applicants also seems convinced that searching for jobs is a pain in the ass, applying online takes too much time, and they’ll likely never hear back from employers or recruiters who receive their application.

We’re not going to solve this issue overnight. But the first step (one that too often seems overlooked) is simple. Candidates need to recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way, and make their voices heard. We’ve done a good job of “managing” — and diminishing — candidate expectations to the point where they’re essentially minimal. But if job seekers demand better — if candidates say that this isn’t the way hiring should be — then employers will eventually listen. But how can we be sure they’ll actually do something to improve the status quo?

How You Can Help, Starting Now

Compliance is a sure bet. That’s why I established a petition over at Change.org calling for the U.S. Department of Labor – the same feared entity which keeps so many HR generalists so busy – to create specific guidelines and specific penalties for candidate experience.

Because in HR, it’s hard to change a mindset. It’s far easier to change the law. So please sign the petition now and make your voice count. I welcome your revisions, suggestions and/or comments.

Image Credit: Change.org