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Skills Development: Now or Later?

Podcast Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Research from PWC shows that upskilling puts companies at a great advantage. The research found that companies realize an extra 10% to 15% of the benefit of large-scale transformation initiatives and up to 40% reduction in workloads on individual roles, as well as a 5% improvement in workforce retention when they integrate upskilling. These benefits lead to more output, opportunities to reduce cost, and higher customer satisfaction

Our Guest: Katie Ballantyne

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Katie Ballantyne, Cornerstone’s VP of Product and Customer Experience. She has years of experience achieving industry-leading employee engagement programs across organizations.

Katie Explains the already large gap we are seeing in skills development from 2020 to 2022

“Well,  from 2020 to 2022, what we’ve found out through research is that employee confidence that their employer is effectively developing their skills has gone down. And we found that the gap has grown wider. There’s now a 35 percentage point difference between that employer and employee confidence in skilling.

“What this really means, is that only about 55% of employees feel like their employer is effectively developing their skills.”

High Performing Organizations VS Low Performing Organizations

What differentiates these high-performing organizations from organizations that are just not excelling? Is it money? Type of employee? There has to be a definitive answer. Lets see what Katie thought:

“Here’s what we found out. The high performing organizations, they only had a nine percentage point skills confidence gap, whereas the laggard organizations had a 42 percentage point skill confidence gap.”

Katie goes further into the analysis:

“So what that means is that these laggard organizations, so the organizations that aren’t performing as well financially or with their customer retention, this means that only 18% of those employees feel like skilling and development is a high priority for their company. Let’s compare that in contrast to the high performing organizations, this was the only one with that nine percentage point gap, 88% of employees that these organizations feel like there is a priority in their development, in their learning, in their growth.”

The Lure of Learning Development

With a stat from 2021- Katie Explains:

“There was a survey that was done between Amazon and Gallup, it was back in 2021, and that survey uncovered that skills training is one of the top perks that people look for in their jobs. And with about 61% of the respondents in this study saying that upskilling opportunities are also important for staying at their jobs.”

How does technology play a role in the learning development process?

“People know that skilling is important, but sometimes they’re not quite sure where to start. This is big. It’s not like going and picking maybe eight competencies, which is still important and that’s still huge work to even do that and to narrow down that selection, but it can be really, really intimidating.”

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Cornerstone and Skills Development, please visit https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/ 

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

The State of the Frontline Work Experience in 2021 [Podcast]

Frontline workers have had a difficult time over the last couple of years, to say the least. Many haven’t had the option to explore hybrid or remote work options due to the on-site nature of their roles. They have had to work in concerning situations, interacting with the public during the global pandemic. This caused many to quit their jobs in high numbers, never looking back.

In order for organizations to retain talent, they need to recognize the unique struggle of frontline employees. They need to make a targeted effort to change the state of frontline work as we know it. By doing things like increasing communication efforts, prioritizing learning and development opportunities, and decreasing stress and burnout, businesses can make the frontline work experience more rewarding–and increase the chances that employees will be happy and stick around.

Our Guest: JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect at Axonify

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with JD Dillon, an author and speaker with two decades of experience in frontline training and enablement. JD has worked in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations ranging from Disney to Kaplan to AMC. In his role as Axonify’s Chief Learning Architect, JD applies his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day.

According to a 2021 report by Axonify, 50 percent of employees said they’re ready to leave their frontline jobs. As the Great Resignation and Great Reprioritization continue to affect the working world, I wanted to get JD’s take on how to specifically hire and retain frontline workers. What are the main reasons they want to leave their jobs?

“The biggest reason frontline workers are leaving is they’re burned out,” JD says. “The second motivator is lack of appreciation, especially from management. Number three is lack of interest in daily work. The number four reason is compensation. And five is being overloaded–particularly with the stresses of the past year with the pandemic.”

While much of the coverage around work focuses on hybrid work situations, the fact is that frontline workers never had the chance to work from home. So that conversation isn’t relevant to them. JD explains that there needs to be more focus on the nature of frontline work and how to make the experience of those employees more equitable.

“People are leaving because of the nature of the work itself. Frontline workers have been out there every day clocking in because they need to keep the shelves stocked, execute deliveries, work with people, etc.,” JD explains. “Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of focus put on the larger picture of what it means to work in a frontline role.”

Making the Frontline Work Experience More Equitable

To make the frontline work experience more equitable, JD says, organizations need to start by focusing on communication. They need to get to know what their employees need and make sure they don’t feel isolated or unheard. This will not only help with creating stronger bonds between employees and management but can let leaders know what career development opportunities employees are interested in. Communication can also help mitigate the number one issue of burnout–a problem that must be remedied from the top.

“Burnout isn’t a personal problem. It’s an organizational issue. And it comes down to that kind of prolonged job stress that really pushes people to disconnect based on a level of exhaustion,” JD says. “It occurs when the job experience isn’t well-crafted and people aren’t taken care of.”

A significant way to create a well-crafted job experience is to focus on learning and development. According to JD, organizations should embed the learning experience into work, introducing reskilling and upskilling to the frontline work experience. This helps engage employees’ minds and adds meaning to their roles–two things that people are seeking (and often demanding).

“If you want to be able to compete and become a standout workplace culture, you have to understand that people aren’t settling for a mediocre work experience anymore. They’re not looking for a job that offers ‘just enough,’ whether they’re a corporate employee or frontline worker,” JD says. “Leaders need to be asking: How many people are building skills that are also going to build strength within the organization? How many employees are excelling and growing?”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends sponsored by Axonify. You can learn more about the state of the frontline work experience by reaching out to JD Dillon on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Career Development, 2021 Style: Learning How to Learn

Think back to your first day of work with your first major employer.

You probably arrived early on your first day, ID card ready, and experienced a week full of inductions, walk-throughs, and hand-shaking introductions.

Now imagine if your first day took place in April 2020.

Your first day would probably be spent in your bedroom, opening a laptop and trying to figure out how to log on to Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace.

In a similar fashion, your mentors were also coming to terms with new technologies, new processes, and the dramatic events unfolding all around them.

It’s almost as if they were experiencing their first day in a new job, too.

The extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted everybody.

But most notably, it had a profound effect on the career development of younger generations and those entering the workforce for the first time.

Focus on Young Workers

Grappling with personal concerns and anxieties during a global health crisis is one thing, yet young workers also had to cope with:

  • Organizational learning taking a back seat, with leaders focusing on surviving the crisis rather than integrating new workers or transferring skills
  • Lack of authentic relationships; communicating with and meeting coworkers and mentors took place virtually, without the benefit of in-person interactions
  • Absorbing a diluted, online version of company culture, without the benefit of informal coffee, lunch, or hallway chats
  • Learning to work with new platforms and systems without in-person support
  • Working from challenging environments–such as shared housing or in a multigenerational household

By concentrating on learning and career development, business leaders can help workforce entrants find their place within organizations and focus on building their skills for the future.

Organizational Learning

Why is organizational learning important for career development?

An organization that empowers people to learn will drive personal growth, job satisfaction, and loyalty. In turn, this leads to greater performance and in-house skills.

Indeed, at a time when employees are choosing to quit their jobs rather than go back to the office, organizations must find more effective ways to find and retain talent.

(Let’s not forget, this also comes at the time of a global health crisis, the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a dire skills shortage.)

That’s why it’s crucial to invest in learning and development in your organization, but this doesn’t just refer to hard skills.

The Need for Soft Skills in 2021

Organizational learning comes in many different forms. Developing soft skills is arguably the top priority during this unprecedented moment in history.

But, the soft skills required now are markedly different from those of just five years ago.

The World Economic Forum’s top skills for 2020 places complex problem-solving at the top of the list, followed by critical thinking and creativity.

In 2015, the top three included skills related to in-person interaction, such as coordinating with others and people management.

“Employers overwhelmingly agree that young employees need soft skills, such as communication, creative problem-solving and entrepreneurial thinking,” according to the World Economic Forum.

Positively, all of these skills can be learned. The key difference is that in-person learning has, for the most part, been replaced by distance learning.

This may be new for many workers, particularly those working remotely for the first time.

That’s where the process of re-learning comes in, or “learning how to learn.”

Learning How to Learn

In 2018, Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, explained how to become better at learning, tackle skills gaps, and enable career development.

“A growing body of research is making it clear that learners are made, not born … In short, we can all get better at getting better,” Boser says.

Boser outlined three key behaviors to help workers focus on learning:

  1. Organize your goals: First, set achievable goals and plan each stage. This strategized approach will help to strengthen the commitment to tasks while minimizing feelings of self-doubt. “By setting targets, people can manage their feelings more easily and achieve progress with their learning.”
  2. Think about thinking: Also known as metacognition, “thinking about thinking” is the process of being more inspective. How do you know what you know? Could you explain it to a friend? Do you need more practice or clearer goals? Push yourself to really think about what you’re learning.
  3. Reflect on your learning: Have you ever noticed that when you step away from a problem, you achieve greater clarity? This process of reflection and focused deliberation is crucial for understanding. This cognitive quiet, says Boser, also helps explain why it’s so difficult to gain skills when we’re stressed or angry or lonely: “… for us to gain any sort of understanding, there needs to be some state of mental ease.”

Learning Starts Now

Young workers are the next generation of leaders in your workforce.

The sooner you can integrate them into your organization through a process of organizational learning and career development, the sooner they will become embedded in your culture and a part of your company’s future.

Consider the benefit of providing a virtual office membership to your remote employees and leveraging coworking options for future in-person collaboration. Investing in the well-being of your employees is investing in your company.

While nobody could have predicted the health crisis or its legacy, a positive outcome is that we can turn it into a process of constructive learning and equip young workers with a unique and invaluable set of skills for the future.

The Future of Work: AI Transforms Career Progression

What is the shelf life of your professional skills? According to research, not very long. In fact, one in three skills from an average 2017 job posting in IT, finance, or sales is obsolete due to continued digital innovation. If that stat doesn’t shock you, it should. The skills we have today are expiring fast, with some experts estimating their life expectancy at just two to three years.

While we can’t place blame solely on the global COVID-19 pandemic, it and other world events have accelerated us toward an environment of unrelenting business transformation and permanently pixelated work arrangements. Employers must now prioritize a more inclusive, purpose-driven culture through broader strategic skilling investments to retain and attract top talent.

Leveraging AI for skill proximity

As our skills become increasingly outdated, new skills will replace them. So, how can employees expect to excel in their careers when today’s business landscape is continuously evolving? It boils down to one word: visibility. A barrier many employees face in the workplace is a lack of visibility into career advancement opportunities. Employees are also largely unaware of the resources and connections available to help them achieve their career goals. This obstacle stems, in part, from a prolonged debate regarding who within a business owns career development. Difficulties aligning the needs and wants of the employee with those of the organization has also contributed to the issue.

Through skills proximity, employers can provide greater visibility. Companies should prioritize an employee’s distance between skills and identify how skills correlate to expedite development. If businesses can find a balance between where employees want to take their careers and where they might be able to take their careers within the organization, they can recognize and foster the skills needed to help them grow.

AI technology has a role to play here. For employees to proactively pursue a growth plan that accelerates career mobility, we need to leverage AI to make skills data and qualification information readily available. Resurfacing relevant learning content and development opportunities is also paramount to an employee’s future success. Done right, it can deliver a broad range of business benefits too. Improved organizational agility and workforce productivity, as well as increased transparency and DE&I, are all advantages attributed to AI.

In addition to AI technology, learning and development content is another tool necessary to ignite career development at work. However, human resources and talent leaders first need to identify a way to connect learning and development to performance results–and annual performance reviews aren’t going to cut it.

Employees and businesses each play a role

There is no one size fits all approach to employee engagement. For employers to maximize the success of their training programs, they must first personalize the content available to each employee. Lessons should be adapted according to an employee’s needs, learning style, and preferred delivery method, in turn allowing the employee to more easily navigate their own development and gauge how their skill-maturity aligns with their overall career goals.

Businesses also need to reconsider how they measure learning and development. Self-directed learning pathways require an element of unstructured exploration required for career growth. Currently, however, course completion and time in course are the metrics being utilized. While important, we need to pivot and explore other factors, including course engagement and the focus of content employees primarily seek out.

Ultimately, employee learning is the foundation of high performance and a key motivator for those wanting to stay at their current company. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning report, managers are 3.3x more likely to still be with their company in two years if offered the room to learn and grow. Proof that when you invest in people, they will invest in you.

Employee experience is critical for overall company success

The bottom line is the best way to help employees achieve their full potential is to provide career growth opportunities. An AI-driven platform can provide employees with a unified view of skills. It can provide a measurement of the proximity of different skills. Also, it can provide continuous monitoring of the new skills required for continued career progression. Organizations that utilize comprehensive skills data will have a better understanding of their talent’s existing skillsets. Additionally, they’ll understand what will be required of them in the future to adapt.

Between artificial intelligence and the careful deployment of skills-oriented content, anyone with the intrinsic motivation to grow can benefit.

Next Move, Best Move: Making a Career Transition You’ll Love [Podcast]

A career is more than just making money. It directly impacts your quality of life, reflects your values, and can affect overall life satisfaction.

If you find yourself wanting to make a career transition, while it may be a difficult task, it’s totally achievable–especially when we cultivate communities of support. By learning to appreciate the value of networking, a career transition could be much smoother than you think.

Our Guest: Career and Leadership Expert Kimberly B. Cummings

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Kimberly B. Cummings, a career and leadership expert who helps women and people of color navigate the workplace, earn more money, and become industry leaders. Her leadership development company, Manifest Yourself, LLC, provides organizations with tailor-made solutions to hire, develop, engage, and retain women and people of color. She has spoken at SXSW, Warner Media, Princeton University, Salesforce, and Thurgood Marshall, and her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, MONEY Magazine, Business Insider, Fox 5, CNBC, and more.

Kimberly understands that a career transition can come in many forms, whether that’s moving from one industry to another or simply changing your title. But no matter what transition is occurring, the first step is to generate a positive mindset so as not to hold yourself back.

Many times if you’re feeling stuck in a role, that mindset is a reflection of you not understanding what the possibilities are for yourself. And not believing that you’re able to get to that next level in your career,” Kimberly says. “It’s easy to feel stuck when you literally have no idea what it is that you like, that you want, that you’re good at, or what that would even look like in the workplace every single day.”

One strategy to pull yourself out of that mindset is to focus on your good qualities and skills, then set goals for the future.

“We need to ask: What are our strengths? What would happen if we built a career and a brand based upon what our strengths are?” Kimberly says. “What do you want to be known for?”

Network and Be Realistic 

Once you’ve determined the career transition you want to make and the strengths you want to highlight, the best course of action is to continuously share that path and your goals with the world of work. Develop relationships that recognize your value and help promote you, and make sure those connections are varied and wide-ranging.

“You need peers, so people who help you day-to-day in your job,” Kimberly says. “These are the people you’re collaborating with. And I always say, you need internal and external connections. You don’t want to just build your network in your current company.”

Once the networking has reaped its benefits and you find yourself in a job interview to make that transition, it’s important to be realistic about what you have to offer and how you could appear valuable to potential employers.

“Ask yourself, are you qualified for the job you want? What transferable skills could you use to help you make your next move? And think about the stories you can tell that could connect you to that job more deeply. What have you done that will help you navigate that opportunity better?” Kimberly says. “When you’re interviewing and really convincing an employer that you are prepared for that job, it’s really all about storytelling. Putting yourself in the shoes of someone who would be able to navigate that workplace environment.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about networking for a career transition by reaching out to Kimberly B. Cummings on LinkedIn.

One-On-One Meetings: 5 Things Managers Should Keep in Mind

The success of any organization largely depends on the quality of the employees. Due to this fact, employers have always devised and will continue to look for ways to make their employees feel valued and appreciated. When they are happy, they will be at their best. When you make them feel included in the company’s plans, they will work as if the company is theirs. One of the ways employers show that they care is by holding regular one-on-one meetings with their employees. As an employer, you should consider this if you are not already doing so. Here are some tips.

Let it be a regular exercise

The needs and workflow of your team are what determine how regularly you should hold one-on-one meetings. Most organizations hold one-on-one meetings every three months, but it should depend on what works for you and your team. One challenge here could be different time zones, especially when some of your team members live on a different continent. So, it’s important to select a time that is beneficial to all parties.

The meeting is supposed to go beyond the employee’s on-the-job performance. It is an opportunity to connect with all of your employees individually. You get to know what is working for each of them, celebrate their successes, and find out ways you can be of assistance to them. Whatever format you want to adopt, meetings should be consistent.

Prepare to listen actively

The mistake most managers make during meetings with their employees is that they make it a one-person show where they talk the whole time and leave no room for the employees to say anything. The employees do most of the office work and as such should be allowed to give their own view about things in the organization. The one-on-one meeting should be a chance to hear them out and understand their concerns, plans, and aspirations for the job.

It is possible that there is a difference in first languages, especially if you are meeting your foreign employees online. You can use remote interpreting platforms to help bridge that language barrier. Whatever your employees are concerned about or dissatisfied with should be handled immediately. This will make the employee always look forward to another meeting since the experience is always rewarding.

Choose your words carefully

There are various ways of conveying the same message. It could be friendly and it could be done callously. As a manager, you need to be careful with your words–as words badly spoken can cause great harm to the psyche of the employee. Instead of using words like “failed” you can use “unsuccessful.” Instead of phrases like, “You are not performing well,” you can use words like, “You are doing a great job, but there is room for improvement.”

At the end of the meeting, the employee gets the message without a negative psychological effect. If you are giving your employee some additional tips on how to improve their work practice, then be specific and clear. The employee shouldn’t feel confused. For example, if you are talking about the development of a chatbot and you want to let them know about a specific aspect of the project process that you want to change, be direct and don’t beat around the bush.

Discuss growth opportunities

When employees don’t see opportunities for personal growth at work, they become unhappy and the effect is seen in the output of their work. This is why discussing growth opportunities with your employees is very important. Managers are in the most suitable position to empower their employees and create opportunities for them to grow. So, when you meet with your employees, don’t just talk about the past or present, talk about the future also. Ask them where they see themselves in the next few years and what bigger roles they are interested in.

End the meeting on a positive note

During your meeting with your employees, you will probably discuss work most of the time. To mix things up and keep things more casual, ask your employee about his family and what the employee does for fun. Make this part of the meeting as pleasant as possible and let it be what lingers on in the employee’s mind at the end of the meeting.

Final Word

It may be difficult for you to monitor your employees’ everyday activities or know how they are faring outside of work. One-on-one meetings help you as a manager to bridge this gap and get to meet everyone individually. See this activity as part of your core duties as an employer. Do not replace it with other activities you presume are more important. If you start finding reasons not to have these meetings, they may stop altogether–and this could have a negative effect on your team’s productivity.

Overcome Your Self-Sabotage to Live a Confident, Empowered Life [Podcast]

Self-sabotage is the act of keeping yourself from achieving what you want. It can take a variety of shapes and forms, from anxiety to depression to negative self-talk. It happens both in your personal life and at work–and can wreak havoc in both. For instance, self-sabotage could mean the difference between pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to get that promotion–and losing the opportunity completely.

To lead a fulfilling life, it’s important to develop deep self-awareness. By rewiring behaviors, negative thought patterns, and challenging yourself to change, you can take control of your self-sabotage and overcome what’s holding you back.

Our Guest: Therapist, speaker, and author Dr. Candice Seti

On the #WorkTrends podcast, I recently spoke with Dr. Candice Seti, therapist, speaker, coach, and author of The Self-Sabotage Behavior Workbook. In her private practice, Candice works with individuals to help them through maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns. The aim is to replace those patterns with healthier ones that allow her clients to overcome self-sabotage and see success in their personal and work lives.

Because self-sabotage is so prevalent in the working world, I wanted to get Candice’s professional opinion on why we do it. Why would we voluntarily engage in behaviors that hurt us?

“Where to begin? Fear, comfort, self-doubt, anxiety, just poor self-esteem. I mean, there are many reasons we self-sabotage. But mostly, it’s habitual. Habits develop and ultimately reinforce themselves … they create self-fulfilling prophecies,” Candice says. “So we just get stuck in that habit loop … so it very easily creates a pattern, which is part of the problem.”

Another part of the self-sabotage problem that existed pre-pandemic has been further exacerbated by COVID-19. More people are experiencing the effects of self-sabotage due to major life changes and emotional ups and downs.

“With the impact of the pandemic over the last year, stress levels have increased exponentially. Work changes have been implemented and there’s been a major increase in self-sabotaging behaviors as a result. I mean, you definitely see it in the workplace with things like procrastination taking stronger form,” Candice says. “You’ve also seen more social avoidance and emotional eating.”

Overcoming Self-Sabotage: Breaking the Cycle

So if self-sabotage is so pervasive, what can we do to break the cycle? According to Candice, the first step is to be aware of how negative thoughts are manifesting in your mind. She says you need to pay close attention to the voice in your head telling you that you can’t do something, or you’re not good enough, or you should put tasks off.

“Pay attention to that voice. Not only what is it saying, but how you’re responding to it and what behaviors you’re engaging in. Then, you’ll have a good, solid understanding of what your self-sabotage looks like,” Candice says. 

Once you understand it, says Candice, then you can figure out a plan of attack. For example, if you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, where you believe that you’re not experienced enough to be doing your job, you can combat those negative thoughts with positive ones. Focus instead on your achievements and capabilities, rather than any failings you may encounter. This will help build your confidence and drown out the self-sabotaging dialogue.

“Self-sabotage is rooted in fear,” Candice says. “Think about how you can start facing those fears to prove yourself wrong and start building your confidence and challenging those fears.”

Once you face your fears head-on, your whole relationship to success changes. By being aware of what’s holding you back, you can become empowered to go after what you want.

“For most people, when fear of success is the driver, it’s not enough to just say, ‘I want to succeed.’ You have to actually challenge the fears because those are what are keeping you rooted in that self-sabotage,” Candice says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about taking control of your fears and combating self-sabotage by connecting with Candice Seti on LinkedIn.

Turning Mistakes into a Business Model [Podcast]

Most of us want to have a perfect business model out of the gate, but that’s a pie-in-the-sky attitude. As much as we all want to avoid mistakes in business, they’re pretty much inevitable. Everybody makes them, and many try to hide those mistakes because they’re worried they’ll be judged for them.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that in business, there are often happy accidents that lead to a successful business model. In fact, one could argue that mistakes are the lifeblood of a strong business. And those who are willing to admit to their mistakes and pivot are the ones who can turn a blunder into a boon.

Our Guest: Executive Talent Acquisition Expert George McGehrin

On the #WorkTrends podcast, I got to chat with George McGehrin, a man who managed to turn a mistake into a national executive search/recruiting firm–one that has been successful for two decades. For years, people asked George for job search and recruiting assistance, and he said he couldn’t help. Then one day, he decided to try. Suddenly, there was a seven-figure business involving recruiting, coaching, and more. Since then, he has been widely featured on podcasts including Money Matters, Moving Up, and The Entrepreneur’s MBA.

I had to know: How can a mistake like that turn into a great business model? The secret to success, George says, is listening.

“You have to be open to listening to what people are asking you over and over, what their needs are,” George says. “The fifth time someone asks you for something, go ahead and say, ‘Yeah. This is what we charge.’ And you’ll be surprised at what comes of it.”

George says that in order to have a good business model, you have to be financially prepared for anything–even COVID-19. He says that business is a cyclical experience, so any business owner should expect to go through ups and downs.

“A lot of times it comes down to money. Do you have enough to withstand challenges?” George says. “If you’re a business owner, you can’t spend every dollar you make. Or if you work for somebody and you only have one source of income, you need to make sure that you allocate your money properly for a rainy day.”

To Succeed: Test, Fail, and Try Again

Once you’ve turned a mistake into a great business, there are ways to make sure your business model is successful. So what are the key actions to take?

First off: Test everything.

“If you’re going to send one email out to somebody or to a group of people, maybe send out two emails with different language,” George says. You should always be willing to adapt and try new things to get better results. 

Secondly, don’t be afraid to fail–and keep going.

“At the end of the day, the more times that you fail, you’re a little closer to winning, right?” George says. “First timers, when they’re starting a business, they say, ‘Oh, it didn’t work. I reached out to 30 people and no one got back to me.’ They need to expect to hear a lot of nos and keep going.”

And finally, while you should be willing to hear nos from potential customers or clients, you also should be ready to say no to opportunities. You shouldn’t expect to do everything by yourself as a business owner, but rather, give tasks to your employees and trust them to come through.

You have to know what your strong points are. People who do well focus on one or two things that they’re really good at. And they delegate everything else,” George says.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about how to push through challenges to create a successful business model by connecting with George McGehrin on LinkedIn.

Building the Future Through STEM [Podcast]

STEM, an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, will greatly affect the future of work. STEM is at the core of innovative technologies, driving not just the success of businesses, but medical advancements, education, and more.

The demand for tech workers and engineers is especially growing, and some worry that our educational system isn’t keeping up. When the time comes for current technical talent to retire, how can we prepare upcoming generations to take over?

Our Guest: Speaker, Author, and Futurist Rachael Mann

I was excited to welcome back Rachael Mann for a second time to the #WorkTrends podcast. Rachael is a futurist with a passion for tech and science. She frequently speaks at events across the country, channeling her 14 years of classroom teaching experience to lecture on topics ranging from disruptive technology, education, and careers. She is the author of The Spaces You Will Go, co-authored the book Martians in Your Classroom, is a founding member of the Council on the Future of Education, president-elect for the NCLA executive board, and vice-president of New and Related Services for ACTE.

One of the biggest issues STEM faces right now is education, says Rachael. Basically, schools should offer it as a part of their curriculum to make young people aware of its existence. And there need to be more opportunities for experts to teach it.

“We need to offer the right education in order for kids to be interested in STEM. But we also need the right teachers,” Rachael says. “And I think that really has a huge impact on the workforce. Students aren’t seeing science, engineering, math, and tech role models or understanding what opportunities are out there for them.”

Of course, parents play a vital role in inspiring future generations to get into STEM too.

“There are so many free resources available to parents with hands-on, fun activities. Give kids books with characters that they can relate to who are interested in science and tech. I wrote a children’s book called The Spaces You’ll Go about a little girl named Cass with her kangaroo robot, and they’re exploring space-related careers,” Rachael says. “These kinds of activities allow children to envision themselves someday in a field that they’re curious about.”

STEM: Our Future May Depend on It

By incorporating STEM into education, kids can learn from a young age that their work can have a positive impact. This early exposure can get them passionate about big world issues moving forward.

“Whether it’s this global pandemic, cybersecurity attacks … overpopulation, renewable energy,  anti-aging therapies, there are just so many problems connected to STEM,” Rachael says. “And when it comes down to it, those big problems offer the biggest opportunities for young people to change the world through their careers.”

Of course, while a lot of technical and scientific knowledge comes with STEM skill development, it’s important to focus on the human aspects of the fields as well. After all, we’re using STEM to improve life on Earth and our interactions and connections with each other.

“We have to be more human,” Rachael says. “As we think about technology and advancing the world, it’s more important than ever to focus on humanity and the skills that can’t be replaced by robots or technology.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about technology, science, and STEM education by connecting with Rachael Mann on LinkedIn.

Navigating Your HR Career Across Multiple Industries [Podcast]

The landscape of HR is rapidly changing, especially due to the pandemic. With WFH culture escalating and employee needs constantly shifting, HR professionals need to be ready to adapt to the times at a moment’s notice.

Now more than ever, organizations are turning to HR to create a culture of flexibility and adaptability. They recognize that company culture needs to not just welcome change, but thrive in it. Thus, employers need HR departments with individuals who seek to fully understand the industries they work in and make them shine.

Because of the recognition of HR’s value, especially over the past year, more roles are popping up for HR professionals. Many are seriously considering seizing an HR career, but aren’t sure where to start. Turns out, a key aspect of breaking into the HR profession is a desire to know the industry you want to work in, and a willingness to adapt to whatever challenges that industry presents.

Our Guest: Alex Smith, Chief HR Officer for the City of Memphis

It was a delight to talk to Alex Smith, CHRO to the City of Memphis, on this week’s episode of #WorkTrends. Reporting directly to Mayor Jim Strickland, Alex is known for architecting and updating the city’s labor relations. Also, she’s known for being adept at talent management, training, employee engagement, compensation, managing diversity and safety initiatives, and more. She was named the 2021 Leadership Memphis Changemaker and was a nominee for HRO Today magazine’s CHRO of the Year 2020 Award.

The unique aspect of Alex’s career is that she’s worked across multiple industries–working for organizations like Microsoft, Brightstar, Target, and more. I was dying to know what advice she has for anyone trying to break into an HR career, and what she recommends people do to be successful in HR roles.

“Whether it’s starting off in recruiting, manufacturing, government, or any industry, I think just getting into a function and seeing how HR works is a very important step. And ultimately all of the experience that you gain over the years, it all builds up,” Alex says.

Once you land the job, to truly stand out over the course of your HR career, you have to have an open mind. Be flexible in the face of difficult decisions and shifting employee needs.

“Most of the time, and truly the pandemic has shown this, the issues you face in HR are not black and white. They’re usually very gray,” says Alex. “So having multiple experiences from different industries helps you to have a comprehensive view and approach to solving certain problems for the organizations that you work for.”

If You Want to Work in HR, You Must Seek to Understand

As you grow in your HR career and attain new roles across industries, Alex says it’s vital to show an interest in the ins-and-outs of each industry you pursue. Recognizing that employee needs vary and that HR decisions will fluctuate based on context is crucial to success.

“‘Seek to understand’ is a phrase that I learned really early in my career. And I’ve found it to be true in a number of different circumstances. When you’re transitioning into a new industry, seek to understand the historical perspective of how the industry has evolved. Also, learn why certain rules, policies, and procedures are in place,” Alex says. “Not rushing to judgment, and not rushing to change things, I think is important.”

Basically, seeking to understand will help any HR professional adapt to what’s coming. The changes incited by the pandemic are just one example of how HR roles and responsibilities change. It’s a never-ending process, and it requires flexibility.

“I think the name of the game for every organization in the future is going to be flexibility. For instance, they can be flexible with their work environments, with their working arrangements. With how they think about who’s going to be doing work. Whether it’s full-time, part-time, flexible around work hours,” Alex explains. “The pandemic showed us that people can be very effective working remotely, working from different places, and using different technology.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. If you’re thinking about an HR career or want to level up the one you have, consider Alex’s perspective. Are you flexible? Do you seek to understand? Also, how can you make changes to do so? Learn more about this topic by connecting with our guest, Alex Smith, on LinkedIn.

Image by Tom Kawila

5 Essential 2021 Workplace Soft Skills (And How to Recognize Them)

Yes, workplace soft skills still matter. In fact, amid our ever-changing “new normal,” the intangible qualities that focus on behavior, personal traits and cognitive capabilities are more in-demand than at any other time in the modern workplace. They are also more challenging to recognize.

According to Deloitte, 90% of organizations are redesigning roles and teams. Perhaps no surprise, traits like adaptability continue to be in high demand as businesses adjust their operations to embrace remote work and other hybrid workplace models. At the same time, many job seekers are looking to make career transitions. Along the way, they’ll leverage the transferable, people-centered capabilities they currently possess.

In other words, we’ll soon be looking at a perfect storm for soft skills. Companies will covet them while candidates market themselves and their mastered soft skills to the best employers.

Top 5 Essential Soft Skills for 2021

So which workplace soft skills do employers require now? In our near-future of work, which soft skills will candidates need most to succeed?

Self-Management

The recent swing toward more autonomous working environments has changed everything. In the process, self-management has become one of the most in-demand — and marketable — soft skills. From everything to task ownership to time management, and self-motivation and the ability to set boundaries, this skill is a must-have in the workplace. A person who self-manages well also significantly reduces the risk of WFH burnout and Zoom fatigue.

Communication Skills

Good communication isn’t all about how we talk to others; it also involves active listening and the ability to keenly observe as well. Candidates must not only be articulate, but they must also be able to “see” beyond the spoken word and notice unproductive behaviors and patterns. Employees with expert communication abilities also tend to mitigate problems before they become a crisis and focus on collaborative solutions when they’re needed most. 

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (or “EQ”) is the ability to gauge and manage your own emotions while building productive relationships. EQ influences how well employees interact with one another — especially in remote or hybrid working environments. EQ also helps us increase performance, manage stress and conflict, and show much-needed gratitude. In a world of work where much of our communication happens via one-dimensional, tone-deaf text rather than in-person conversations, EQ will remain a top workplace soft skill for some time. 

Empathy

At one time, we didn’t associate empathy with the workplace. However, since we are now invited into everyone’s homes every day via Zoom, empathy is among the most sought-after soft skills. Especially when combined with a high level of emotional intelligence, empathy helps us read people and situations. When an employee has mastered empathy as a soft skill, they better exhibit adaptability, find it easier to build trust and connect quicker with remote team members. 

Self-Awareness

The mother of all soft skills, self-awareness, allows us to identify and develop the skills we may be lacking. Those with self-awareness pay attention to how they show up in different situations, especially during digital communications (like all those Zoom meetings). They ask for and are interested in and open to feedback from colleagues and leaders. Most importantly, they’re interested in personal and professional growth, achievement and contribution levels. 

How to Recognize These Five Workplace Soft Skills in Candidates

Candidates may not always be aware of their own soft skills. Or, especially during a virtual interview, they may not know how to articulate them). But savvy hiring teams can learn a lot during the application and interview process — virtual or traditional. 

For example, when a candidate completes an assigned, interview-related task on time and conveys their accomplishment to the recruiter, that’s a sign they have mastered self-management and communication skills. Similarly, candidates who give their former teammates credit while understanding how difficult it can be to remain productive during the pandemic display emotional intelligence and empathy. And those who display a passion for growth within a given role and as a member of a team — while understanding how they’ll need to adapt to fit into this new role — demonstrate acute self-awareness.

Want to truly assess mastery of the soft skills most important to your team or company? Be sure to leverage the many behavioral and situational tools available. 

For example, ask candidates to tell stories about how they handled various scenarios. Of course, don’t just rely on the candidate’s ability to serve as a storyteller. So ask the candidate’s references for insights on their workplace soft skills. For example, ask the reference to describe how the candidate handled specific situations involving stress and deadline-related pressure. To keep the conversation balanced, ask how they successfully rose to challenges and met opportunities to collaborate or lead.

Leverage Available Digital Resources

There is no doubt: Emerging technologies have helped us thrive during the pandemic. So why not take advantage of the many digital tools that have been developed and fine-tuned during the pandemic to better assess soft skills in candidates:

  • Video-based interview platforms that capture a candidates’ emotional nuances. We’ve found that reviewing videos after the initial discussion can reveal even more than noticed during the first couple rounds of interviews. Specifically, that review can provide hints that a candidate hasn’t quite mastered a specific soft skill. 
  • Virtual reality (VR) assessments can immerse candidates in a simulated world of the job and working conditions. These VR platforms help crystallize an excellent candidate experience. They also have tremendous recruiting advantages; some have increased work efficiency in industrial settings by 60%.

Recognizing Workplace Soft Skills: A Soft Skill of Its Own

A quick look at an application, resume, and LinkedIn profile will tell you most of what you need to know on the technical and professional side of the hiring process. We’ve all gotten pretty good at that side of the equation.

But screening for these five workplace soft skills is a skill all unto itself. By taking the time to master this skill, however — and by learning how to recognize the most in-demand soft skills for 2021 — you’ll help secure the best possible candidates for your company.

 

Photo by Fizkes

Remote Employee Training: 5 Steps to Creating Effective Microlearning Content

Keeping employees engaged in training is no easy task. This is especially true when asked to design remote employee training, where WFH distractions are almost unavoidable.

You can host day-long virtual meetings and give them PDFs to go through, but how much of that information will they actually retain? Chances are, hardly anything. That’s because this mode of training is not engaging enough. Employees start treating it as a check-the-box exercise, resulting in a waste of company time and money.

Microlearning can help you address those challenges.

This method involves delivering short and focused training content at regular intervals. It aims to train employees in short bursts, which retains their attention, guarantees more engagement, and increases learning ROI. The fact that microlearning makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient and creates a 50% increase in engagement proves that microlearning is here to stay.

Let’s look at how you can create effective microlearning content for your remote employees in five simple steps.

Step 1: Determine the Learning Objective

Look at microlearning content as building blocks. While each block has its purpose, they all collectively point towards one single objective. Similarly, every microlearning content piece needs to be created with the training’s learning objective in mind.

Think about what you want your remote employees to achieve from the program. To help that thought process, consider using Bloom’s Taxonomy — a practical method of creating effective learning objectives that establishes six learning goals:

  • Remember | Recall facts and basic concepts
  • Understand | Explain ideas or concepts
  • Apply | Apply knowledge in new situations
  • Analyze | Compare ideas and draw connections
  • Evaluate | Form opinions and justify decisions
  • Create | Propose new thought processes and ideas

You can implement this while planning your employee training program in which each level delivers a specific learning outcome.

In short, start with knowing where you want to go and then work backward.

Step 2: Plan the Training Material

Now that you know what you want to achieve, the next step is to plan and organize your training content. In other words, so they meet the learning objectives, think about what information you need to provide to employees.

To start, create a course outline that details out the information you plan to include while ensuring it flows in a logical manner. Next, speak to subject matter experts and gather all the information you need to train your employees.

Step 3: Break Content into Smaller Chunks

At this stage, you’re sitting on truckloads of data, research, and information.

What’s important now is breaking down that information into action-based, smaller chunks. Not only does this prevent information overload, but it also helps learners consume information at their own pace and retain it for longer periods.

Make sure each of the bite-sized content pieces has a single takeaway focused on one learning objective. After all, you can always share links to additional articles and research for those who want to know more about any one concept.

Elearning Industry has a useful tip for creating microlearning content. It states, “Avoid throwing a whole novel at them. Ideally, each module should stick to around five to seven minutes, so being precise in what you want your employees to know is important.”

Step 4: Choose Your Formats Wisely

Microlearning is not only about creating bite-sized content, it’s also about diversifying your content delivery formats.

Review every granular piece of content and assess the most appropriate content format for delivery. For instance, if you want to explain a process, a process infographic might be the best choice. On the other hand, explainer videos might be a better choice for explaining a concept.

Here are the different types of microlearning formats you can include:

The idea is to use a mix of interesting formats that help you deliver the bite-sized training content in the best possible manner that retains your employees’ attention and keeps them engaged. For instance, here’s an example of an infographic that explains the different diversity and inclusion terms. As you’ll see, this learning format succinctly presents the essential information.

 

DEI infographic

Source: Venngage

Step 5: Create Context

The end goal of training programs is to get employees to implement what they learn in their day-to-day work. To achieve that and help employees transfer their learnings, it’s essential to create context in the content you create.

Employees need to know why the training material is relevant to them and how they can apply it in their work. Doing this also piques learner interest, helps them derive meaning from the training, and boosts performance.

You can create context by including the following tactics:

  • Create branching scenarios
  • Provide real-life examples
  • Use role-playing scenarios
  • Provide case studies

Incorporate Microlearning in Your Remote Employee Training

Declining attention spans is one of the biggest challenges learning and development professionals face.

The good news is that incorporating microlearning in remote employee training will help you overcome that and create a meaningful training experience that engages — and truly enriches — employees.

 

Remote Human Resources Strategies for 2021 (And Beyond)

2020 was a year of job losses and significant changes for human resources and hiring teams. While the pandemic will eventually come to an end, many of the changes we’ve seen will stick around — perhaps permanently. So maybe it is time to take a look at your remote human resources strategies?

One of the biggest changes was the swift and complete adoption of remote work. Many businesses that had been resistant to this growing trend faced no choice starting last March. This mandatory, multi-month pilot program has been eye-opening in many positive ways.

Because of this, we can expect remote work — and remote HR — to be a long-term shift. What are some strategies you can use to excel? Here are some ideas.

Excel at Remote Hiring

The first step is to become comfortable with the technology needed for remote hiring. This includes fine-tuning automated resume review software so that you get the applicants you really want. You can also take advantage of pre-interview questionnaires and email references to qualify your candidates further.

When you’re ready for an interview, it’s time for video! Because you can see the candidate and read their body language, video-based interviews are better than telephone options. This technology, which enables you to see how the candidate prepares and reacts in a higher-pressure situation, can help you ensure a better cultural fit along with hiring for the right skills.

As you incorporate video interviews in your hiring process, find ways to keep the process streamlined and give personal attention to top candidates to win them away from competitors. For example, keep the interview short, impactful, and positive.

Embrace the Positive Impact of Remote Work

Many companies have determined that remote work is more cost-effective and sustainable than they imagined. There are fewer late employees, more flexibility, and increased employee satisfaction.

There are also cost-savings for companies. Maintaining fewer desks can mean smaller office spaces and less overhead. Remote work can also lead to increased productivity and a focus on results over time-in-office.

Most of all, remote work allows for increased diversity. People who have health issues and struggle to commute to work daily no longer feel excluded from the talent pool. The fact that people are working from home means they can create the accommodations they need to be successful and overall have a better work environment.

Focus on Employee Engagement

One of the biggest challenges of remote work is keeping employees engaged. While many people enjoy not having to drive to work, others miss the camaraderie of being in an office. Regardless of which side of this fence your employees stand, HR and management must figure out how to actively engage staff.

Start by encouraging each manager to find out what their teams actually want and need. Too often, team-building goes wrong because managers base the effort on someone else’s idea about what matters. In every instance, the team should guide the engagement process.

Leaders should also meet regularly with individual employees. These one-on-one meetings often help minimize any concerns about being forgotten or overlooked for promotions.

There are also virtual team building games you can leverage if they are a fit for your teams and company culture. Many people enjoy the break provided by a virtual scavenger hunt or digital board game – or any chance to do something fun. Do you and your employees a favor, though: Make sure the activities chosen don’t come across as corny or forced.

Support Career Development

As your dispersed team continues to function off-site, be sure to emphasize career training and development to your employees.

The remote work era an excellent opportunity to take advantage of technology and computer-based training. Because companies can tailor these efforts to each individual’s pace and preferences, many companies were already using these methods before the pandemic. Many more companies now offer employees online access to personal and professional growth opportunities such as learning programs provided by LinkedIn or SkillSoft.

Of course, leaders need to be aware of — and support — their individual team members’ career goals. When people believe their career goals are understood and supported, they are far more likely to be engaged and productive.

Balance In-Office and Remote Teams

Many companies are already managing a combination of in-office and remote workers. One way to make sure this works well is to treat everyone – regardless of their work location – fairly. For example, decision-makers shouldn’t prefer in-office workers for promotions or projects. Similarly, remote employees shouldn’t be the only people given flexibility.

Your leadership team must decide how they will recognize and reward the efforts of all team members. And the leaders themselves must serve as advocates for those people doing good work from home.

Of course, companies can adapt recognition and rewards programs to serve blended workforces well. Moving toward a focus on results rather than time-at-desk, for example, can be a great way to make promotions and raises equitable. When you balance your teams, you give everyone an equal opportunity to excel.

Remote Human Resources: Are You Ready for 2021?

Many leaders and companies continue to struggle with the adjustment to a remote work or blended environment – so you are not alone. One at a time, leverage these remote human resources strategies — and make your adjustment to a long-term remote-based or blended workforce better for your company, and better for your employees.

Here’s to a successful 2021 — and beyond!

 

Photo from Photosvit

[#WorkTrends] Launching a Dream Career Amid Pandemic Unemployment

The pandemic has caused widespread unemployment. And yet, today, many people are launching their dream career, right now. Let’s talk about how you can make that happen!

No doubt, this seems like a tough time to start a job search. But it is more than possible — even during what many see as a nightmare scenario — to find your dream job. Of course, some of the old school methods we used to rely on to find work are now outdated. And, yes, we must now anticipate a job search that is nearly 100 percent virtual. 

But there are many companies making job offers — and you can find meaningful work with a great company right now. All you need is the right approach.

Our Guest: Tracy Timm from The Nth Degree Career Academy

I couldn’t be happier to welcome Tracy Timm to this episode of #WorkTrends. Tracy is the founder of The Nth Degree Career Academy, a proven career clarity system that helps high-potential professionals discover, define, and drive careers they love. With a degree in behavioral psychology from Yale University, Tracy is a sought-after career clarity expert, organizational advisor, speaker, and author. Tracy’s passion for her work and expertise helps clients go from stuck in their job to unstoppable in their careers and lives. 

And that is where we started our discussion. I asked Tracy, “What’s the most important thing a person can do during this pandemic to bounce back better, both in life and in career?” With her answer, Tracy made it clear she knows how to navigate the current job search environment:

“This super disruptive time is a great reminder that life is going to throw us curve balls. Challenging circumstances beyond your control are going to surface. And the only thing that you can control is your level of clarity at any given time. So our office as a mantra is, ‘When there’s a lot more noise, when there’s higher unemployment, and when more people are applying for the same jobs — the person with the most clarity is going to win.’ Because only clarity allows you to rise above that noise, speak with more confidence, and pursue your next step with more certainty.”

Tracy added, “We must show up differently than most people are showing up — which is in panic and reaction mode.”

Launching Your Dream Career Now

Feeling her energy, I pressed Tracy on precisely what a job seeker must do to launch a successful job search, even while the pandemic rages on. Tammy shared some powerful insight:

“The number one thing you can do right now is to take a step back and get super, hyper, laser-focused on you. Your unique value. Your professional genius zone. And then to pursue your dream career with absolute clarity, confidence, and certainty.” Tracy went on to say that clarity is so powerful: “Just to know something with certainty, and to not question it. To not be ‘all in’ is the root cause of most issues when it comes to making decisions or choices in our life.”

“Too many of us don’t fully commit to our choice. We question it, even though we’ve already chosen it.”

As our 30-minute conversation continued, it became clear Tracy was dispensing a lifetime of sage advice perfectly suited to today’s job seekers. If you’re in the middle of a job search, you must listen in. If you know someone currently looking for work, share this conversation with them. Because this episode of #WorkTrends provides must-have insight into how people can launch their dream careers, even during a global pandemic.

 

Learn more about Tracy’s work on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

Photo by Wright Studios

Workforce Prediction 2021: Get Ready for the Internet of Careers

What is the internet of careers? And how will that impact the future of work?

We approach the end of a genuinely unprecedented year. And many organizations and people are asking what the future holds for the workforce in 2021.

Things are changing at lightning speed for employees, making it impossible to document all they are learning. Thus, far too often, they undervalue themselves in the marketplace. Further infuriating, in our current remote workplaces, there’s no one able to look over our shoulders and affirm, “Yes, you’ve mastered this skill.”

For organizations, it’s challenging to know who really knows what. They must still rely on buzzwords off a resume to serve as the professional “gospel” – claiming to reveal the truth and dispel falsehood. This reliance on keywords gives incentive to people to embellish their resumes. As a result, expensive and time-consuming hiring practices continue to prevail. In the meantime, good employees (those undervalued themselves) don’t have the opportunity to excel.

Where does this leave us? The hiring ecosystem, with its inherent inefficiencies accelerated by the pandemic, has confirmed two needs:

  1. A way to fix employees’ undervaluation of their skills and ownership of their career journey.
  2. An efficient and trusted system for verification and exchange of skills.

The new world of work and the rapid digital transformation of the labor market is also pushing us towards a reimagined, frictionless talent screening, employment, and internal mobility ecosystem.

The solution sure to fix this problem for both organizations and employees: The Internet of Careers.

Introducing Blockchain to the Workforce

A verified and trusted career credentialing solution will forever change the hiring ecosystem and skills economy. Such a system will empower employees to manage their career credentials while also allowing organizations to trust the shared credentials.  So, what makes this possible? The answer, blockchain.

We dare not confine blockchain to transactions of cryptocurrency. Instead, it has the broader capability to transform the way we validate transactions across all kinds of essential applications – from food safety to insurance processing.

So what about its use in the workforce? Blockchain is creating the “Internet of Careers,” a verifiable digital wallet of career records and qualifications. For HR leaders, this will be a key player in future recruiting and employee career advancements. And it’s already in motion: Fourteen industry leaders formed the Velocity Network Foundation from across HCM and education markets. The organization’s mission: To deliver a first-of-its-kind “Internet of Careers” platform.

By utilizing blockchain, the Internet of Careers offers a standardized and secure ecosystem with verifiable digital identity, career, and education records. The technology enables a decentralized information exchange, requiring consensus across the ecosystem before documenting new transactions. This process prevents alterations to items once recorded and ensures all transactions are safe and secure.

Equipping HR Professionals to Succeed

Without the ability to meet new candidates face-to-face, HR leaders can rely on candidates’ background information and be confident the experience and skillset is verifiable. The Internet of Careers equips each employee with a digital record of their work-related data – from employment history, to skills and credentials, to previous salary and benefit information. Traceable and trusted records through the ecosystem make it easier for HR professionals to find the best candidates with the right skills and qualifications.

By leveraging the Internet of Careers, the hiring process would gain much-needed efficiency through reduced cost and time to hire. Also, organizations will benefit from lower hiring mistakes caused by an applicant who has falsified their information.

Increased Ownership Over Our Careers

According to Accenture’s Putting Trust to Work study, 73 percent of employees said they want to own their work-related records and take them along as they transition jobs. For many Millennials and members of Generation Z, having a transferable digital identity is crucial as they continue to develop and advance in the workforce.

Rather than taking a job and staying with a company for a decade or two, today’s employees continue to jump from organization to organization every few years. Many – especially those with technical skills in high demand – stick around even less, taking on freelance and gig roles for a short period. Due to the disrupted job market created by the pandemic and the burgeoning skills economy, remote freelance and gig work has seen a tremendous spike that will continue to rise in 2021.

The design inherent with The Internet of Careers gives individuals the ability to verify their employment history and skills gained. The user then shares this career ecosystem of credential issuers and inspectors as and when needed. Giving employees ownership of their own digital identity allows them to carry this with them throughout their careers. Further, by decentralizing data location, users can oversee where their data is stored. They’ll also know who has access to their data, for how long. And they’ll also know where and how their data is used.

A New Normal for Organizations and Employees

The future of work calls for future-ready employees eager to gain new skills and engage with ongoing learning. Having a clear record of ambition and achievement will give individuals a leg up when seeking to advance their careers. And when selecting individuals for new projects, promotions, and positions? Leaders will actively seek employees who can show verifiable evidence of reskilling and upskilling.

The Internet of Careers will make the future of the workforce a reality. Even more important, it will impact organizations and employees for years to come.

Photo by SkitterPhoto

[#WorkTrends] Designing Work to Meet Personal and Professional Goals

We’re all doing more with less. And yet, we continue to work toward the achievement of our personal and professional goals. So how do we find the right balance… or shall I say the right “blend”? 

Even as we learn best how to work from — well, wherever — for most of us, our overarching goal remains integrating a productive, engaging professional life with a satisfying, fulfilling personal life. In fact, as I talk to members of the TalentCulture community over the past few months, one thing has become clear: The blending of personal and professional goals into a comfortable mix is finally gaining momentum. 

That makes sense; after all, attempting to create strict boundaries between one’s personal life and work often meets with disappointment. Especially now, when distancing oneself from personal life while at work — and removing work from our active thoughts while on downtime — is becoming increasingly difficult. 

However, with some concerted effort, we can balance satisfying personal and professional goals. 

Our Guest: Author and Productivity Expert, Carson Tate

Joining me on the #WorkTrends podcast this week is Carson Tate, the founder and managing partner of Working Simply, Inc. — a consulting firm that enhances workplace productivity, fosters higher employee engagement levels, and helps build personal and professional legacies. Carson’s newest book, where she talks about making any job your dream job, is Own It. Love It. Make It Work. Of course, I had to ask Carson if someone, especially now, can really design their work in a way that makes them happy in their professional and personal life. Her answer was both encouraging and inspiring:

“That is the big question, and it often comes with an eye roll or a sigh. Yes, because any job can be a place for fulfillment and engagement for you. Because who defines what fulfillment and engagement look like? You do! So you must own the opportunity to shape and craft your work in a way that works for you. You actually own your piece of the action. So you must identify what you need to be happier, more fulfilled, more engaged, and more excited about going to work.”

I followed up by asking how that is possible given many of us can no longer separate who we are at work and who we are at home. Carson replied, “When our commute is two minutes to the kitchen table, our concept of work is very different. Folks are working more hours. There’s more burnout because of the connectivity. And there’s anxiety around making sure I stay visible; that my boss knows what I’m doing and that I’m adding value.”

“So it’s even more important to be thoughtful about what it is you need, the conditions under which you work best, and also your own levels of engagement and fulfillment.”

Professional Goals: How to Make “This” Job Your “Dream Job”

Carson shared with us many tips on how to stay connected and visible while working remotely. Her tips are sure to help all of us balance our desire to live a fulfilling personal life while being fully engaged at work. My favorite moment came when I asked her about the three most important steps when making our current job our dream job. “Own it… love it… make it work,” Carson said. She added: “When we own our work, we align our strengths to the work; we then do better work. When we love our work, we have a clear idea of where we want to go and the skills we must develop to get there. And when we make it work, we’re designing the work for more meaning; we find purpose in what we do each and every day.”

Solid advice we can all use. But we weren’t done yet. I also talked with Carson about avoiding the roadblocks that interrupt our career journeys (especially in these challenging times), how to ensure we’re getting the recognition and appreciation we all need while working from home, and much more. Be sure to listen to the entire episode!

My thanks to Carson Tate for joining me on #WorkTrends. A thought-provoking conversation, indeed!

 

Find Carson on LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: We’ve updated our FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast pages. Take a look!

 

How to Bounce Back from a Big Mistake at Work

It’s human to make mistakes — after all, no one is perfect. However, errors in the workplace can feel ominous. If you break your mother’s favorite vase, she’s still going to love you. If you wreck your spouse’s car, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up in divorce court.

But the workplace is a different environment, and depending on the severity of your error, it could derail your career. Fortunately, by taking the right steps, you can recover. Carolyn Thompson, executive recruiter and managing principal at Merito Group, a Washington, DC-based boutique consulting and recruiting firm, explains how you can bounce back from a major mistake.

Accept Responsibility

The first step is to acknowledge your actions without making excuses, according to Thompson. “Admit you messed up, instead of explaining why you messed up,” she says. “When you get into trying to explain what happened, you create an opportunity for conflict to start.” However, when you take responsibility and admit it was your fault, Thompson says you can avoid a contentious back-and-forth discussion.

Reprove Your Value

The next step is to show your boss that you’re still a valuable asset to the organization. Realistically speaking, Thompson says it may take three or four times to rebuild trust. “In a private conversation, you need to explain that you’re not going to make the same mistake twice,” she says. “This is where it’s important to have emotional intelligence — show that you grew from this situation and you’re better, instead of trying to pretend it never happened.” Depending on the cause of the error, she says it may be necessary to gather input (for example, ask for clarity or confirmation) to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again.

If You Get Fired

Getting fired is the worst-case scenario. However, Thompson says almost everyone has been fired at some point in their career. “Whether it’s a result of attitude, performance or realignment, this happens frequently.” How will you explain this to the next potential employer? “Don’t focus on ‘I was let go because of this,’ or ‘They misrepresented the job,’” Thompson warns.

She says there are two sides to every story. So maybe the job was misrepresented, but maybe you didn’t ask the right questions. “There are a lot of conflicts because of expectations,” she says. Instead of blaming someone else, she suggests turning it into a learning opportunity. “Your best response is something along the lines of ‘There was a miscommunication; let me be sure that I work on that.’”

Unemployment rates are low, but Thompson says the current job market can work to your advantage if you can take interim or temporary work. “If a company wants to bring in someone at a moment’s notice (for example, to cover for a parent on maternity leave), if you can fill that void, you’re in an ideal place,” she says. As opposed to applying for direct hire positions, which may offer a lot of competition, she says that temporary employment won’t have as many applicants.

Decrease Chances of a Repeat Mistake

Mistakes happen for a variety of reasons. “The most common mistakes are avoidable: incorrect numbers, things that weren’t proofed, some error that wasn’t caught.” Thompson says. She recommends avoiding those common mistakes by, for example, having a colleague read your report before it goes to a supervisor or the board. “Build a network of people to have your back and vice versa.”

Some mistakes may be the result of fatigue or sleep deprivation. She recommends building a schedule of well-rounded activities to make sure you have enough rest and down time after work.

5 Proven Ways to Make Employees Never Want to Leave

Recruiting the right employees is a time-consuming and important process. Hiring the right people is critical to the organization achieving its goals. But what happens when a new hire shows up for work? How can you make sure your star candidate becomes a happy, dedicated employee who never wants to leave?

I’ve learned five keys to meeting new employees’ expectations and keeping them engaged on the job.

“How Can I Help” Leadership

Command and control is old-school; servant leadership is the new school of management. To improve retention, throw out old dictatorial practices and focus on how leaders help employees achieve their goals. Rather than tell people what to do, the servant leader looks for ways to remove obstacles that prevent people from succeeding.

As an executive servant leader, I dedicated at least 50 percent of my time each week meeting with people to understand how they did their job and what they needed to achieve their goals more effectively. I always took notes and made a point of following up to report on what actions I had taken as a result of their input.

In addition, every month I held “bear pit” sessions where I invited key employees from various functions to come together and “have at me.” They asked bold questions and I answered, unaccompanied by my support staff. To say that these sessions were grueling would be an understatement but I quickly learned how people were feeling in my organization and what was needed to enhance their engagement.

Regular Performance Feedback

Everyone wants to improve, and if employees don’t get constructive performance assessment on a frequent basis, they feel abandoned by the organization. They have no idea what they need to do to improve and as a result feel that no one really cares about helping them do a better job. Employees who don’t get feedback leave for an organization that has employee performance management hardwired into its culture. Show your people that preparing employees for future opportunities is a priority for leadership.

I held each of my direct reports accountable for conducting regular performance reviews with their reports; it was a key element in their performance plan and their annual bonus depended on how well they carried out the task.

Career Development Plans

Every employee needs a specific plan for how they’ll learn new skills and get exposure to new opportunities. Leaders are responsible for making sure every employee has a detailed career plan, including potential lateral moves that could enhance their long-term potential.

One way I measured a leader’s effectiveness: looking at how many of their employees moved around to new positions in the organization in order to expose them to new challenges. The effective leaders made it a priority to proactively move their people around; the mediocre ones never did and as a result had short tenure in my organization.

A Personalized Culture of Engagement

A culture isn’t created by corporate programs. It’s defined by everyday personalized acts of leadership. No two people can be engaged in the same way, hence the problem with a single engagement program that is forced to fit all individuals. Instead, a leader can create a personalized culture based on how they interact with each employee every day.

My calendar was full of one-on-one conversations with individuals in my organization. Those conversations made it fairly easy to understand how I could help them identify more strongly with the goals of the organization.

Fair Compensation

The most obvious way to retain employees is to satisfy their basic needs: pay and benefits. Without those fundamentals, it’s difficult to attract people through the recruitment process and to hold them if they take a position with you. You must be at least comparable to your competitors to play the game.

Standout organizations with incredible retention rates invest heavily to both discover individuals who align with their vision and values and to build a culture that encourages them to stay. The leader who wants to retain loyal employees makes it an everyday priority. Focus on these five practices and not only will your retention rates improve, your peers will look at you as the organization to watch in the field.

How to Take Charge of Your Career

Want to let your peers outpace you?

If you’re not constantly looking for ways to enhance your professional worth, you’ll soon find yourself in the cloud of dust your peers leave behind as they race past you. They’ll be moving rapidly toward your promotion, your job, and the recognition you were meant to have.

If you don’t take action, your value will simply be undermined.

To avoid getting stuck in your career while your colleagues outplay you, you must increase your market value. You must continuously acquire new skills and new experience.

Take charge of your growth

To avoid undermining your professional value, you have to stop settling for good enough, and start aiming higher.

Trying to exceed your own performance can be scary, especially if you’re a fan of comfort zones. Naturally, you fear ending up with even more work and longer days in the office.

Luckily, taking charge of your professional growth doesn’t mean you have to spend 10 extra hours a week at the office, or that your happiness depends on getting a promotion (although the latter might unintentionally happen after what you’re about to do).

Rather, you should approach your development as a series of projects. Projects are advantageous because they’re designed to be completed one step at a time within a definite time frame. This allows you to work on a project alongside your daily tasks and avoid overwhelm.

Come Up With An Idea

So, what should the project be about?

Doesn’t matter. The only requirement is that it allows you to acquire skills and experience that benefit you and your work place. The idea is to make your professional development an intrinsic part of your work life. Since you’ll be spending time on it during office hours, it must have a positive impact on your work.

Maybe you want to read about the latest trends in your professional field, build relationships with people in your industry, create a more efficient system for solving your daily tasks, or even find new creative ways to improve the work environment.

Choosing which idea to pursue can be intimidating, since it involves taking a chance. You have to set a course and commit to taking one step forward every day, even if you’re not sure whether you’re on the right path.

For instance, if you’re looking to acquire new skills, but you aren’t sure which ones would be more beneficial in your job, pick one at random and commit to studying as much as you can in the next hour, day, or week. If it feels right, keep going – if not, change the topic.

Decide On A Time Frame

To increase your chances of success and avoid getting stuck (again), assign a specific time frame for your project. Once the time is up, move to something else. Your primary purpose is to keep growing.

The time frame could be everything from 1 to 12 weeks. Its primary purpose is to make sure you don’t get stuck on a particular project. In his book Project: Success, Mark Sieverkropp suggests a maximum of 60 days. This gives you enough time to immerse yourself in the project but ensures that the end is always in sight.

Even more important, however, is that you commit to taking small steps and set milestones that illustrate your progress. How many hours a week will you spend on the project? How many minutes a day?

You can also measure progress as an outcome, e.g., how many books you read, how many leads you create, or how much time you save due to increased efficiency. But beware: you have limited control over these outcomes. Therefore, I recommend assigning an amount of time or specific little tasks as your measure of success.
This corresponds to what James Clear calls focusing on systems rather and goals. Of course, it’s valuable having a clear direction – maybe in the form of a measurable goal – but it’s the effort that counts.

Take Action Today

The first step is usually the hardest. So to get the ideas flowing, start by asking yourself:

What would be a fun project to do?

Some measure of fun (in this case, earnest interest is just as valid) is critical to mustering the energy necessary to keep growing professionally. Of course, you can’t practice rope skipping during work hours, but surely there is some topic you’d be interested in studying or a skill you’d enjoy improving.

Please share your idea in the comments below. For accountability, you could also share it with a friend, or stick a post-it on your computer screen. Just commit to start working on something that will help increase your professional value.

So get out that pen and paper, and write down one idea for a project that you could start today. Keep it simple – and enjoyable!

 

Image: bigstock

Is Your Personal Brand Working Against You?

Your personal brand is supposed to boost your reputation. It’s also supposed to help you spread messages, build relationships and grow your business.

It’s supposed to.

But that doesn’t mean it does. Your personal brand can actually work against you, and can even damage people’s perception of you.

For the first half of my career, I was a copywriter in advertising, and wrote ads for some of the world’s greatest brands. I saw the power of branding to help a brand become more loved and admired.

Yet I also saw that not all branding is created equal. A generic or half-hearted brand can turn people off, and make them less likely to return for more.

The world doesn’t need another personal brand to roll off the assembly line. The world needs YOU.

Avoid damaging your personal brand by making any of these five mistakes.

1. Is your personal brand generic?
Most personal branding techniques give generic tips about how to make an impression. Yet, the whole point is to stand out, and rise above the competition, with authentic traits. Ironic, no?

You can’t stand out by presenting yourself in the same way as everyone else. Avoid  following one-size-fits-all techniques, or else you’re just blending in with everyone else.

2. Does your personal brand seem artificial?

Nobody wants to talk with a fake cardboard cutout. Are you focusing so much on the other person (your customer, your client, your manager) that you’re losing your you-ness?

Don’t focus so much on what you think someone wants that you lose who you actually are. Identify who you are at your best, and the advantages that highlight your greatest value. Build your brand around those core qualities, and you’ll never feel like a manufactured  persona.

3. Do you equate “personal branding” with a resume or logo?

No, no, no. Your personal brand is NOT the same thing as your marketing or resume. It’s not your business card, or your blog, or the color of your website. It’s not artificially manufactured.

Your personal brand should come from within — from your personality. It’s a living, breathing part of you.

What you do should be in alignment with who you are.

4. Is your personal brand stagnant?

Basic personal branding is a good start to a career. But after a certain point, you outgrow where you started. The basics become too basic. Don’t get stuck.

As your income rises, so should people’s perception of your brand.

5. Is your personal brand jumbled and confusing?

It’s easy to think you should change your voice and mindset to match different situations.

Here’s the problem: That makes you seem inauthentic.

Don’t be one person on LinkedIn, and a whole different person in a live conversation. People want a clear, consistent sense of who you are. We want to trust that you’ll be the same person today and tomorrow.

Be more you.

Everything falls into place when you have a clear focal point for your communication. You can stop struggling, and start doing more of what you’re already doing right.

So what’s next?

So many of you have been asking for help in this area. You understand what you shouldn’t do, but you need a game plan of what you should do.

David Ogilvy, one of the smartest branding minds in history, said this: “Tell the truth but make the truth fascinating.”

When you know the truth of who you are at your best, you can be both authentic and fascinating.

The people in your life don’t want the plastic version of you. They want the real you.

Give us the YOU who has ideas and opinions and quirks. Give us the YOU who is different and magnificent and one-of-a-kind. We’ll love you for it.

What is your biggest issue or pet peeve around personal branding? Have you seen examples of personal branding gone horribly wrong?

This post is adapted from Sally Hogshead’s original post “5 Ways Your Personal Brand Can Go Horribly Wrong.”

About the Author: World-class branding expert Sally Hogshead is the creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

photo credit: Tug O War via photopin (license)

The Rules of Engagement Are Changing: 4 Ways You Can Ride the Wave Successfully

Leaders already know that keeping their teams motivated, engaged and driven to succeed is a demanding task in itself. But in today’s world it’s even harder, because leaders have to keep their people engaged while responding to huge, disruptive changes in how we work and what we care about in the workplace. It’s a big challenge, but the first step to overcoming it is knowing what the changes are. In Hay Group’s new book, Leadership 2030, we’ve identified six “megatrends” that are transforming societies and the global business environment as we know it.

The six megatrends leaders must be prepared for

  • Globalization 2.0 — Economic power is shifting from mature Western economies to emerging markets, so we’re seeing more diverse market needs, more collaboration across countries, and global competition for talent
  • Environmental Crisis — The world is facing a disruptive combination of climate change and scarce raw materials that brings the perfect storm of challenges for businesses: increasing costs, fluctuating values and concerned stakeholders
  • Demographic change — Aging populations are changing the face of the global workforce and exacerbating the war for talent
  • Individualism — Growing freedom of choice is eroding loyalty and forcing organizations to respond to individual needs in an increasingly diverse workforce
  • Digitization — Work is going remote, and the boundaries between professional and personal lives are blurring, as people increasingly live life online
  • Technology convergence — A combination of nano, bio, information and cognitive (NBIC) sciences is set to spur a wave of powerful technological breakthroughs — speeding up the pace of change and creating new product markets

Right now, employee engagement is already a moving target. To take a line from The X-Files, “The future is out there.” To successfully keep people engaged and on track to deliver business results, leaders must respond to trends outside the organization, because they will affect what happens inside it. The six megatrends bring about a multitude of challenges – here we’ve identified four core responses to help you, as leaders, successfully navigate them.

Employee Engagement and the New Imperatives for Leadership

Imperative #1: Instil confidence in the direction your organization is taking

How engaged employees feel is influenced not only by their current work experiences, but also by their view of the future. For people to commit, especially over the long term, they need to have confidence that a company is well-led, heading in the right direction, and well-positioned to deliver products and services they know customers want.  Unfortunately, given the pressures that come with change, communicating regularly about the changes with employees can often slip, leaving them confused about the priorities for the organization. Demand for information often outstrips what you and your managers are able to supply: the consequence is a lack of clarity, which erodes confidence in leadership and strategic direction.

Technology convergence won’t just create new product opportunities; it will also increase the challenge of staying ahead of the curve. And in an increasingly global business environment, new competitors can be expected to emerge regularly. So how can you respond?

As well as having a clear and compelling vision, you need to communicate regularly and personally about changes in your organization and what they will mean for individuals and teams. Making sure you and your peers at all levels know about changes and receive the same messages about them is essential to promote consistent understanding across the organization. Managers in particular play an important “sense-making” role in times of change, helping employees understand new developments in the organization and their implications for teams and job responsibilities. You must make sure that managers at all levels are aware of and engaged with planned changes, and that they understand the importance of reinforcing key messages with their teams. If middle managers and supervisors signal to employees through their words or actions that they lack faith in their leaders, employees’ trust will decline rapidly.

Imperative #2: Have integrity

Socrates said: “Regard your good name as the richest jewel you could possibly be possessed of.” That advice applies to companies just as much as individuals. Consider a quote from Miles White, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Abbott: “Today we’re in an all-out war for reputation, our companies are battling – to an unprecedented extent – for our most vital assets: our own identities.” That battle is playing out on many different fronts. Companies are facing increasing pressure from the media and from political and regulatory scrutiny. But increasingly too there is a power shift in play, brought by digitization, toward consumers and employees. A single voice can undermine a company’s reputation. Individuals can make a huge impact with the click of a mouse. And so companies need to be ever more careful in managing their reputation, because hard work to make a good name can be undone in seconds.

To foster employee engagement, you need to give your people the sense that they are contributing to a purpose larger than themselves. The desire to work for an organization that stands for something and makes a difference is not limited to Millennials, but extends across generational groups. So, in a transparent world, where reputation is increasingly at risk, organizations need to prove they operate with a high level of integrity. For leaders, this demands high levels of openness and sincerity, demonstrated through consistent values, words, and deeds.

With critical natural resources becoming scarcer and climate change more threatening, the environmental crisis will highlight the need for all organizations to demonstrate that their operations are sustainable. Pressure will come not only from outside (societies, governments, and customers) but also from within. Showing employees that you are responding effectively to sustainability issues will be necessary to build confidence in prospects for future success. “Greenwashing” will not cut it – and in fact will damage trust.

Imperative #3: Be transparent

Importantly, employee engagement is an exchange relationship. If you want your employees to do and deliver more, it’s essential that they feel valued, believe that their extra efforts are appreciated and that, over time, there will be a balance between total rewards and contributions.

In a digital world, the four walls of an organization will have increasingly large windows. And interested eyes will be looking both in and out, which puts additional pressure on companies from an engagement and retention perspective. Social media allows your employees, especially those with highly desirable skills and experience, to promote their knowledge and accomplishments – making key talent more difficult for organizations to hide. Likewise, online resources make it easier for your employees to compare what they currently get in terms of compensation, career development opportunities, and work environment with what is on offer elsewhere.

To respond, you need to develop and reinforce strong employer brands, showcasing the unique attractions of working for your organization. You also need to recognize that rewards extend well past compensation and benefits and you should build core organizational messages around total reward offerings. In this context, line managers can effectively reward team members outside of the confines of compensation and benefits. Total rewards statements, for example, can be powerful resources for selling the rewards you offer beyond merely salary.

Imperative #4: Be flexible

Leaders are increasingly challenged with overseeing 4G workforces, with four generations of employees working side by side, each with their own needs and motivators. And, with increasing acceptance of the idea that a career should be tailored to the individual, all employees, regardless of age, are likely to value fulfillment, meaning, self-development, and recognition in their jobs

As a result, a one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement is doomed to fail. Engagement will need to be more personal, tapping into each employee’s drivers, outlook, and expectations.

It’s important you balance traditional roles of directing and organizing team activities with more listening, coaching, mentoring, developing, and advocacy. You’ll also need to be flexible in responding to employee needs. Keeping the skill sets and expertise of Baby Boomers nearing retirement in the organization, for example, may require exploring part-time, work-from-home, or contract employment arrangements.

Finally, recognize that there are limits to the “mass customization” of engagement on the part of organizations and empower people to take responsibility for their own engagement, connecting them with the tools and resources available to help them manage their work experiences, development and careers in a personal, positive way.

Don’t Be Caught Out

To motivate and retain employees, you need to rethink your engagement strategies — because a changing world is changing the game. As part of our research looking at how the external environment is transforming engagement, we conducted a survey of 300 leaders responsible for employee engagement in Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 companies:

  • Over 80% agreed that their company needs to find new ways to engage its workforce in light of the changing environment
  • Yet just one-third feel their organizations are adapting to the megatrends
  • And only a quarter have personally started to drive change

You can avoid being caught out by:

  • Considering which megatrends will have the biggest impact on your organization and workforce
  • Identifying the changes needed in your approach to employee engagement
  • Building networks or taskforces that involve the right people and functions to make change happen
  • Regularly talking to your people across the employee lifecycle to understand how their motivators and behaviors are changing in light of the megatrends

How are you responding to the megatrends? Which do you think will have greatest impact on engagement in your organization? Tweet me your thoughts at @markroyalHG or connect with me via LinkedIn.

* * * * *

For more information on how the megatrends are transforming businesses and engagement and to find out what you can do today to respond, download our new rules of engagement report or view further materials here.

photo credit: SayLuiiiis via photopin cc

Happy Interdependence Day

I used to love that little Volkswagen Bug, the little Love Bug named Herbie that many early Gen Xers like me remember vividly. Herbie, the do-good little car with a mind of its own; a driverless car that helped Dean Jones win many races and save the day. Over and over again. Movie after lovable movie.

However, someday in the near future, fleets of driverless cars may displace millions of paid drivers in the global marketplace. Not the “Herbien” vision of buddy-work I remember from my childhood.

Think about it from this perspective, according to The Economist, employment in agriculture used to provide almost all the jobs in the pre-modern era, but now only accounts for 2% of rich-world employment. Based on that trajectory, jobs in today’s manufacturing and services industries will most likely be forced to “retreat before the march of the robots.”

Think about it another way – futurists Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis predict that 200 of the Fortune 500 companies will go out of business in the next 10 years. They say it’s not because of bad management, customer service or quality of the product either. It’s because the product or service will become obsolete due to how rapidly technology and computing power continues to increase at an exponential rate.

After all that, segue to the one question American journalist, columnist and author Tom Friedman, who was one of the keynotes this year at the 2014 SHRM Conference, always gets from people he first meets:

“How’s my kid gonna get a job?”

Those of us with children who’ve been paying attention to the technological tea leaves know this future is today, not tomorrow.

Tom pointed out in his keynote that the biggest change of the 21st century was the merging of IT and globalization – how the world is now so completely hyper-connected (actually hyperactively connected) and has nearly the same computing power and technology tools, and Internet access available to individuals that used to only be accessible to private enterprise and governments.

He called this a “Gutenberg-scale” moment — really, really big. The world’s individuals can now compete, connect and collaborate with one another like never before.

But imagine that you have billions of competitors, regardless of your status or profession, because that’s where it’s headed (if not already there). If we don’t continuously relearn and reimagine while being relentless in failure enablement, we’re doomed. Simply and utterly doomed. White collar, cognitive skills are now in danger. Average is officially over.

Painful I know, but then Tom said something that really stuck with me:

“No one cares what you know. They only care about what you do with what you know.”

And whom you do to it with and how you do it with them. Really. Even with the rise of the robots and continuously human reinvention and optimization, collaborative interdependence is where companies, at least for the next few decades, are going to be winners.

This is why new research from Bersin by Deloitte is so exciting; it shows that the talent management market grew by 17% last year and is now over $5 billion in size, because companies finally understand that “talent optimization” is key to their business success.

According to Bersin, the fact that the “world of corporate learning is entering a new cycle of innovation: MOOCs, new LMS technology and highly interactive digital content is forcing companies to rethink their L&D strategies as well.”

It’s all about having highly integrated and interactive talent systems that aren’t just for HR anymore – they’re for the entire organization – the employees, managers and the leaders. Tom Friedman’s final 5 points underscored this and were summarized this way:

  1. Always think like a new immigrant and that opportunity abounds and is ours to own by leveraging people and resources around you
  2. Always think like an artisan and “carve your initials” into your work – leave your mark again and again
  3. Always be in beta – get 80% there and let her ride while rapidly rethinking, relearning and reengineering with vigor
  4. Always remember that PQ (your passion quotient) and CQ (your curiosity quotient) will trump IQ when combined with everything else
  5. And lastly, always think like a waitress – be entrepreneurial and enterprising with every interaction and transaction you make (again leveraging the people and resources around you)

No pressure, right? Happy Interdependence Day.

Maybe someday soon I’ll have that Love Bug after all where I’ll be happily driven to tears.

photo credit: bibendum84 via photopin cc

Lemonade Stands And The Cadence Of Two Easy Steps

“So Beatrice, what are you going to make today?”

“Lemonade.”

“And what’s the first ingredient?”

“Lemons.”

“And what’s second?”

“Sugar.”

“And then what?”

“Um…ice.”

“Yes, ice, but also water, right?”

“Yes, and water!”

And that’s how it went on my oldest daughter Beatrice’s final Pre-K share and leader day recently – three easy steps – just like Special Agent Oso from Disney Junior teaches toddlers to do. Actually, four easy steps in this case, only because when Bea makes lemonade, it’s always too warm for her and so she wants to add ice to cool it down, along with adding the water.

Three (to four) easy steps to learning something new. In a fun way. A way you’ll always remember and that helps the learning stick, without much inhibition and a full-throttle curiosity of how things work that can be insatiable. To know is to do, again and again and again.

And the kids, well, that’s where they have us beat. Us being the adults in the room. According to a recent Freakonomics podcast titled Think Like a Child, Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California-Berkeley and the author of The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life, has done some fascinating research on children’s cognitive processes and development. In this podcast, Gopnik describes how modern research shows that kids are much more than just underdeveloped adults:

Think of the kids as being the research and development division of the human species. And we’re—adults—we’re production and marketing. So from the production and marketing perspective, it might look like the R&D guys are really not doing anything that looks very sensible or useful. They sit around all day in their beanbag chairs playing Pong and having blue-sky ideas. And we poor production and marketing people, who are actually making the profits, have to subsidize these guys! But of course, one of the things that we know is that that kind of blue-sky, just pure, research actually pays off in the long run.”

 

Those are my girls for sure. But first, there’s a goal. There’s always a goal.

Bea-Lemonade

“Beatrice, do you want to learn how to make lemonade?”

“Yes, I do. It’s yummy.”

There you go. The goal. To make lemonade. Mercy, all we gotta do next is put a lemonade stand together out front and we got ourselves a lil’ business. It is nearly summertime, you know.

The main goal. The three easy steps to reach that main goal, and the goals around completing the three easy steps. A baby-steps business model. A cadence that includes reaching said goals, establishing new ones, and learning something new each and every time that leads to growth and success.

To know is to do, again and again and again.

Unfortunately, this ain’t the case for many companies. Unhappiness and employee turnover are still all too common challenges for organizations of all shapes and size and industries. It’s an overgrown and thorny path that leaders and HR teams walk bare foot daily, with no compass to guide them, no “where the wild things are” curiosity driving the cadence of learning and growing (personally, professionally and monetarily).

This unruly, wild west “talent cycle” can create poor climates and cultures where your people are forced to scramble and hire reactively each time an employee makes a move toward the door.

Listening to Andre Lavoie, CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany, talk about how companies and business leaders need to establish values and primary goals (or reestablish them), aligning cascading goals and developing and managing a cadence to get all the business at hand done successfully and continuously, certainly inspired me to share the lemons-to-lemonade backstory.

Us adults in the room have killed the childhood R&D, and in the same last gasping breath, talent management strategies of the past no longer work. Today people work differently, are motivated differently and are engaged differently, and want their performance measured differently. Millennials may have pushed all the employer flexibility buttons, but now every generation is demanding more.

For example, employees want ongoing growth opportunities, workplace flexibility, tools and systems that encourage collaboration, and commitment to a reciprocal climate of support and encouragement, all of which lead to payoffs in employee retention, satisfaction, and overall business performance. Organizations can no longer afford to simply “manage people,” because the people demand more – they want aligned business goals that they’re part of and that are attainable and evolve collaboratively over time.

We want lemonade stands and the cadence of two easy steps:

  1. Recognize. Organizations need to provide attractive corporate and employee cultures that recognizes the individual, while promoting innovation, learning, collaboration and connections. They need a visionary talent engagement experience that is orchestrated around people and people goals, not processes. The key now is to drive a higher level of contribution, deeper engagement through a better “people management” experience.
  2. Experience. These attributes – the aligned goals, the learning, the development, the sound business model, the full-throttle curiosity of how things work – all culminate in delivering an amplifier effect on talent contribution and success. Organizations that provide a more engaging experience can better gain adoption of the talent initiatives throughout the company, and align individual objectives to business goals to improve performance, retention, and productivity.

This “amplifier effect” of people’s contributions upon aligned, accomplished goals has a rapid and lasting impact over time. Positive business outcomes become the norm.

Just add sugar and ice, right? It’s yummy indeed.

photo credit: InspirationDC via photopin cc

Bring Your "Genius" To Work #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details of this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

“The whims and vagaries of team life sometimes are not so much fun, but more often than not, there’s a great feeling of brotherhood amongst everybody that works together.”  Geddy Lee, Rush

Have you felt that kind of harmonic convergence in the workplace? Brotherhood and sisterhood. A deep sense of interconnectedness and shared purpose that moves you forward. Participation in a team whose members continually learn from one another and push one another to contribute their best.

Collaborative energy can be a powerful creative force — just as it has been for more than 40 years with my favorite band, Rush. Geddy, Alex, Neil. Each has lived, lost and loved his work, with every fiber of his being.

OK, I’m a fan. I romanticize. But the proof is in the music. They take their craft very seriously — blending bass, keyboards, guitar, drums and evocative lyrics. They also have fun. Lots of serious fun. And failure. They’ve seen their share of failure, too.

They’ve pushed themselves individually — and as a team — with a kinetic energy that knows no bounds. To me, this is refreshing, because I constantly hear the world of work cliché about how easy it is to find your passion and be happy with what you do.

It’s not that easy. It takes introspection and homework, plus a lot of practice and perseverance. But the good news is that the investment that pays off in ways that you can apply in your life. It’s not about becoming a big-time rock star. It’s about understanding your particular brand of “genius” — something you can get your heart around, and rev over and over again, until the vibe is right for you. It’s the full measure of your unique skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities, and attitude that you possess.

This week at #TChat Events with guests Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands, the TalentCulture community examined this “core genius” in all of us. And I learned a two-step lesson:

1) Choosing Incremental Steps  Big leaps aren’t in most people’s risk-adverse DNA. For many of us, discovering what we can do (and what we’re here to do that only we can do) naturally unfolds one small step at a time. It’s like learning to play as a team, but internally, and with continuous refinement. My first step came as a child, when I began connecting words into honey-laced phrases. I’ve covered a lot of territory since then (with multiple side trips), but I’ve never looked back.

2) Can Lead to Monumental Outcomes  The operative word, here is “can” — but the point is that legitimate breakthroughs are possible from incremental steps. Finding your core genius is a very personal, soul-searching endeavor that requires self awareness, reflection and prioritization. Before you brainstorm life-changing career possibilities, you have to start with a meaningful decision framework. You need to learn what’s important for you, first.

How can TalentCulture support this process? Wherever you are in pursuit of professional bliss, we hope you’ll keep sharing your experiences with us here and on social channels. This is a safe place to test ideas, find resources, and exchange information. Your #TChat brothers and sisters are with you on this journey. We’re all in this world of work together. So let’s rock on.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Bring Your “Genius” To Work

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

SAT 2/1:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guests, Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands. See the #TChat Preview now: Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business.

SUN 2/2:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered her perspective on why and how business leaders should encourage employees to develop their unique talents. Read Unleash Your Employees’ Super Powers.

RELATED POSTS:

Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do? — by James Clear
Shifting Focus: Aptitudes Instead of Attitudes — by Dr. Nancy Rubin
Soul Search — Then Job Search — by Maggie Mistal

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

WED 2/5:
#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro and I talked with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands about what it takes to tap into your career “genius.” Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Maggie, Laura and I moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, for a dynamic open conversation with the entire TalentCulture community. Moderator Dr. Nancy Rubin led hundreds of participants through a discussion focused on 5 related questions.

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/careers-better-choices-mean-better-business.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands for sharing your perspectives on how each of us can find our core genius and apply it to our career. Your enthusiasm and expertise are infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about career strategy or professional development? 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: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our NEW Google+ community, and elsewhere on social media. So stop by anytime.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr

Bring Your “Genius” To Work #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Looking for details of this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

“The whims and vagaries of team life sometimes are not so much fun, but more often than not, there’s a great feeling of brotherhood amongst everybody that works together.”  Geddy Lee, Rush

Have you felt that kind of harmonic convergence in the workplace? Brotherhood and sisterhood. A deep sense of interconnectedness and shared purpose that moves you forward. Participation in a team whose members continually learn from one another and push one another to contribute their best.

Collaborative energy can be a powerful creative force — just as it has been for more than 40 years with my favorite band, Rush. Geddy, Alex, Neil. Each has lived, lost and loved his work, with every fiber of his being.

OK, I’m a fan. I romanticize. But the proof is in the music. They take their craft very seriously — blending bass, keyboards, guitar, drums and evocative lyrics. They also have fun. Lots of serious fun. And failure. They’ve seen their share of failure, too.

They’ve pushed themselves individually — and as a team — with a kinetic energy that knows no bounds. To me, this is refreshing, because I constantly hear the world of work cliché about how easy it is to find your passion and be happy with what you do.

It’s not that easy. It takes introspection and homework, plus a lot of practice and perseverance. But the good news is that the investment that pays off in ways that you can apply in your life. It’s not about becoming a big-time rock star. It’s about understanding your particular brand of “genius” — something you can get your heart around, and rev over and over again, until the vibe is right for you. It’s the full measure of your unique skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities, and attitude that you possess.

This week at #TChat Events with guests Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands, the TalentCulture community examined this “core genius” in all of us. And I learned a two-step lesson:

1) Choosing Incremental Steps  Big leaps aren’t in most people’s risk-adverse DNA. For many of us, discovering what we can do (and what we’re here to do that only we can do) naturally unfolds one small step at a time. It’s like learning to play as a team, but internally, and with continuous refinement. My first step came as a child, when I began connecting words into honey-laced phrases. I’ve covered a lot of territory since then (with multiple side trips), but I’ve never looked back.

2) Can Lead to Monumental Outcomes  The operative word, here is “can” — but the point is that legitimate breakthroughs are possible from incremental steps. Finding your core genius is a very personal, soul-searching endeavor that requires self awareness, reflection and prioritization. Before you brainstorm life-changing career possibilities, you have to start with a meaningful decision framework. You need to learn what’s important for you, first.

How can TalentCulture support this process? Wherever you are in pursuit of professional bliss, we hope you’ll keep sharing your experiences with us here and on social channels. This is a safe place to test ideas, find resources, and exchange information. Your #TChat brothers and sisters are with you on this journey. We’re all in this world of work together. So let’s rock on.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Bring Your “Genius” To Work

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

SAT 2/1:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guests, Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands. See the #TChat Preview now: Careers: Better Choices Mean Better Business.

SUN 2/2:
Forbes.com Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered her perspective on why and how business leaders should encourage employees to develop their unique talents. Read Unleash Your Employees’ Super Powers.

RELATED POSTS:

Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do? — by James Clear
Shifting Focus: Aptitudes Instead of Attitudes — by Dr. Nancy Rubin
Soul Search — Then Job Search — by Maggie Mistal

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

WED 2/5:
#TChat Radio: Host Meghan M. Biro and I talked with Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands about what it takes to tap into your career “genius.” Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Maggie, Laura and I moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, for a dynamic open conversation with the entire TalentCulture community. Moderator Dr. Nancy Rubin led hundreds of participants through a discussion focused on 5 related questions.

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/careers-better-choices-mean-better-business.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Maggie Mistal and Laura Rolands for sharing your perspectives on how each of us can find our core genius and apply it to our career. Your enthusiasm and expertise are infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about career strategy or professional development? 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: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our NEW Google+ community, and elsewhere on social media. So stop by anytime.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr