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Are You Cultivating a “Culture-Add” Talent Strategy?

In recent years, I’ve been encouraged by a groundswell of employers that are choosing to embrace “culture-add” people practices. In fact, several months ago, I wrote about it in a Sage Masterclass article.

Because this concept is central to the future of work, I’ve continued to ponder, read and discuss culture-add issues with others. Now I’m convinced this topic deserves much more than just one blog post. So let’s explore it further here. I hope this underscores the need for a shift to a culture-add recruitment and retention mindset. But more importantly, I hope it inspires constructive change.

What Does “Culture-Add” Mean?

The term “culture-add” speaks to a paradigm shift beyond traditional “culture-fit” talent strategies. On the surface, the culture-fit approach seems appealing. However, it ultimately leads to one-dimensional groups, teams, and organizations. And history tells us homogeneity can have dangerous consequences:  blind spots, groupthink, and poor decision-making.

In contrast, a “culture-add” approach actively seeks people with diverse perspectives that enhance teams and organizations. As we learn more about the significant benefits of a diverse workforce, culture-add hiring is emerging as an important way to strive for differences that make a positive impact.

As I noted in my previous article:

Most of us know that employees who align with a company’s values and fit into the culture generally have higher job satisfaction, improved job performance, and frankly, stick around longer. However, we are resting on our laurels if we use this as our rationale for continuing to use the culture-fit model.”

Embracing Organizational Change

We all know humans tend to resist change. In fact, the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was suitable for a long time. It still holds some merit, so let’s not dismiss it completely. Tried-and-true processes can potentially save us from all kinds of turmoil — emotional, logistical, financial, and more.

However, if we want to innovate and grow, we must also be able to adapt. No doubt, changing an organization’s cultural fabric can be daunting. But it is necessary for long-term viability.

As Stephanie Burns says in a 2021 Forbes column, Why Evolving Your Business Right Now Is Critical:

Anyone who has wanted to cling to how things were will be in for a surprise this year, as COVID-19 entirely shifted the original paradigm. However, it’s also presented an opportunity for businesses and individuals to evolve into new ways of being.

COVID hasn’t just turned the world on its head, it’s accelerated trends that were already happening, such as the shift to remote work and the collective desire for more convenience…

Still, some founders don’t want much change. This could be due to fear of the unknown or fear that leaving their old business model, which had worked so well for so long, could be catastrophic. However, we’re reaching a critical impasse where businesses that don’t evolve may very well fade out of the picture. Evolution is a natural part of all of our lives, and our businesses are no exception.”

Leaders would be wise to heed this important advice, even if it seems overwhelming. It’s time to change. Our work cultures are constantly shifting. We, too, should remain prepared to embrace new ideas, processes, and people who can make us better.

Culture-add hiring can support this process by inviting more diverse minds and voices to the table as we dream up fresh ideas and orchestrate change. This reminds me of a related term — new blood. We need new blood to thrive.

Connecting Culture-Add and Diversity

This conversation leads us directly to the benefits of diversity. There’s an excellent article on the NeuroLeadership Institute blog, Your Brain at Work: Why Diverse Teams Outperform Homogeneous Teams. The entire piece is worth reading, but here’s a noteworthy excerpt:

Diverse teams are particularly good at exposing and correcting faulty thinking, generating fresh and novel ideas, and accounting for a wider array of variables in planning.

Part of the reason this happens is due to what scientists call cognitive elaboration — the process of sharing, challenging, and expanding our thinking. In essence, diverse teams compel each other to think more deeply about their reasoning and interrogate the facts more objectively.

They share counterfactuals as they go, they don’t take things for granted, and there is minimal ‘social loafing’ — or just accepting things at face value. In short, diverse teams tend to come to better conclusions because those conclusions have been road-tested more thoroughly.”

The science of diversity in teams is truly fascinating. It tells us that recruiting and hiring leaders can help by feeding teams with talented people who can accentuate the benefits of diversity.

Of course, diversity and inclusion don’t end with hiring. The next step is fostering a workplace that makes a wide variety of people feel valued. This is not an easy task. However, it is essential. So let’s look closer at what to consider…

Tips For Building a Culture-Add Mentality

1. Actively weave a sense of belonging into your workforce

As you build a more diverse organization through culture-add hiring, don’t be surprised if cliques and segmentation develop based on geographical, cultural, and other distinctions. That’s natural! But challenge your people to also learn and share what they have in common with others. Allow space for these common interests and goals to surface.

The Why Diverse Teams Outperform Homogeneous Teams article offers a compelling reason to make this a priority:

The benefits of diversity aren’t likely to accrue if we simply put together a team of diverse individuals and assign them a task. The environment in which they’re working should be inclusive — one in which all members feel valued and as if they have a voice.

In that inclusive environment, the benefits of diversity are far more likely to materialize. If not, employees will leave the organization, or worse, stay but not contribute. Diversity without inclusion only creates a revolving door of talent.”

Vigorously work on building a sense of belonging so people of different ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles feel celebrated for their differences. After all, you’ve brought them in to add to your culture, so allow them to shine.

2. Prepare to fully retrain your recruiting and hiring staff

This tip could stand alone as an article, white paper, or college thesis. But to be brief, let’s use an example to illustrate how deeply culture-add hiring upends the traditional approach:

Previously, when Bob hired someone at XYZ insurance company, he considered a candidate like Stan an excellent fit. That’s because Stan lived in a similar neighborhood, was married to a well-liked woman, and had kids who were high achievers. If Stan also golfed on the weekends and enjoyed a steak dinner, even better! He’d fit right into XYZ Insurance and would have a fulfilling career.

As mentioned previously, this model once made a lot of sense. Cultural similarities and a genuine “he’s one of us” mentality created a comfortable atmosphere where longevity was often the result. Unfortunately, homogeneous organizations were also the result.

Today’s businesses face new challenges that require a different approach. Your talent acquisition team can start by taking the initiative to reassess the criteria they use to find people (where, how). Then you can reframe the recruitment conversation from end to end.

Instead of looking for people to fit a standard outdated profile, allow questions and conversations to emphasize and embrace differences in candidates. What can they add versus how do they fit?

Begin by asking yourself and others in your organization to talk openly about how hiring is being handled, and what kind of outcomes this approach is creating — for better or worse.

If a culture-fit model still drives your talent decisions, don’t be ashamed to admit it. But if that’s the case, you’ll want to start making changes soon. Because I assure you, your competitors are already moving toward culture-add for the win.

Leadership Done Right: Yes Elon, Empathy Works

Some conversations stay with me. It could be something about the subject, the wisdom of the person I’m talking to, or the timeliness of the discussion. And sometimes, a random event triggers my recall. Case in point: The world recently watched a sad spectacle, as half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees lost their jobs when new owner Elon Musk stepped into his CEO role and promptly went on a firing spree. Apparently, he hadn’t received the memo from other successful executives that empathy works as a leadership style.

Twitter is obviously grappling with numerous business issues. But it’s stunning to think this company’s future depends on a singular person in a position of great power who simply decided to slice the workforce in half. And that was only his first week on the job.

Why Empathy Works

This behavior reminds me of a #WorkTrends podcast discussion I had with Gary DePaul, a brilliant leadership consultant, researcher, and author. We spoke in June 2021 — more than a year into the pandemic — when everyone was grappling with workplace challenges. The Great Resignation was gaining steam, and leaders were scrambling to redefine work life and organizational culture in ways that would keep talent onboard.

Over the course of our conversation, Gary explained what makes leaders effective in the long run. Among the qualities that give leaders staying power is (you guessed it) empathy. Seems like the opposite of Elon Musk’s approach, doesn’t it?

Whatever you think of his business acumen, Elon has never been an empathetic leader. It doesn’t seem to be one of his goals, to put it mildly.

This posture is already damaging his relationships with employees. And it doesn’t seem to be garnering trust among Twitter’s business partners, either.

Days into this acquisition, major advertisers like GM decided to put their Twitter budgets on hold and marketing strategists began advising clients to spend elsewhere. It seems Elon’s lack of empathy is already costing him dearly.

Empathy Works Because it Builds Common Ground

Will an empathy void ultimately matter to the success of this $44 billion deal? It probably depends on your view of the people/profits equation.

In our podcast interview, Gary made it clear where he stands, and I’m inclined to agree. Empathy is absolutely crucial for leadership. It’s also a necessary through-line for every organizational tier. Whatever your title, you won’t win the hearts, minds, or cooperation of your team members unless you make a genuine effort to connect with them on a human level.

Gary said that openly acknowledging your weaknesses as well as your strengths is a powerful way to break the ice. It doesn’t need to be complicated. For instance, at your next Zoom meeting, when you ask everyone to introduce themselves by sharing a bit of personal information, don’t skip yourself.

Empathy Also Builds Alignment

Self-awareness leads to humility, which in turn, leads to empathy. When you honor others’ right to be at the table, you can expect a better response from them. That’s the reason why empathy works.

Think about it. When you make an effort to connect with others, pay attention to them, and factor their input into your decisions, others will be drawn toward you.

But when your actions make it clear that your business revolves around you, why would your team sign-up for that? When you send a message that says you make decisions in a unilateral, top-down way, you inhibit the free exchange of ideas where engagement and innovation thrive.

No wonder we see phenomena like “quiet quitting” eroding modern work cultures. When people feel like it’s not worth the effort to work hard or go the extra mile, why should employers expect that kind of commitment?

The Elon Musk Twitter story still needs to unfold. But I think we’re already learning some valuable lessons. I believe Gary DePaul would agree.

Authority is best served with warmth. In other words, leaders should be willing to admit they’re going to make mistakes. They should also be willing to admit they’re on a learning curve — particularly when they’ve just taken over a company.

Anyone in charge of a team can and should work on their leadership style and recognize the importance of communicating with different types of people on their terms. (Hint: Maybe email isn’t the best way to deliver life-altering news.)

A Key Takeaway from Gary DePaul

Studying leadership is Gary DePaul’s career passion. When we spoke, his latest book was What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?  It speaks to these core questions:

  • What does it really mean to lead?
  • What does this job really require?

Gary’s bottom line:  Leadership is a continuous, ongoing vocation. So if you’re heading into the corner office (metaphorically or not), don’t assume you’ve arrived. You’re just getting started.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:

For more insights on leadership and other work-related topics, explore our #WorkTrends podcast archives. You’ll find a treasure trove of great guests and ideas.

Also, be sure to subscribe to Meghan M. Biro’s LinkedIn newsletter,  The Buzz On Work, her personal take on what’s happening at the intersection of people, tech, HR, and work culture.

Key Design Decisions for 360 Feedback Success

Many managers and HR practitioners are familiar with 360 feedback as a leadership development practice. However, no two 360 feedback experiences look alike.

That is actually a good thing. Most successful 360 feedback drives behavior change both for individual leaders and their employers because the process is tailored to the organization’s unique culture as well as the intended purpose of the exercise.

On the other hand, this need for customization means practitioners face an overwhelming number of decisions when designing a new 360 feedback assessment. For example:

  • Who should participate?
  • How many survey questions should we include?
  • Who should receive the report?
  • What kind of follow-up support should we offer?
  • Who should choose the raters?
  • What role should HR play in the process?

Fortunately, some 360 feedback implementation practices have become ubiquitous. That means some guesswork, research and debate aren’t necessary. For example, below are five must-haves for strong engagement and outcomes.

Five Design Factors for 360 Feedback:

1) Which groups should participate in ratings?

Anyone who has observed a leader’s on-the-job behavior can provide useful rating input. This could include the leader who is being assessed, as well as a combination of direct supervisors, secondary managers, peers, direct reports, customers, board of directors representatives, donors and even skip reports.

In some situations, it is helpful to include other groups to meet specific requirements. For example, if a leader is actively involved with strategic partners or other third-party groups, their voices could add useful context. 

While there is flexibility to customize the participant mix, 360 feedback assessments typically include these four core rater groups as a baseline:  self, peers, direct reports, and direct managers. In fact, according to soon-to-be-released research from our firm, 88% of organizations include these four core groups.

2) Who will select and approve raters?

Among 360 feedback experts, there is some debate about the best way to choose raters. Should assessment recipients choose their participants? Those who favor this approach say it ensures a sense of ownership and buy-in. Others say a third party (a manager or HR representative) should choose raters. This ensures that feedback is well-balanced and avoids a “friends and family” bias.

Most 360 feedback process owners agree leaders should choose their own raters to build trust and establish assessment process buy-in. On the other hand, 70% of organizations tell us they review and approve final rater lists.

We agree that manager involvement is a wise practice, and a leader’s direct manager should approve the final list. Over the last 20 years, we’ve found that this is the most common approach. And according to our new benchmarking analysis, 48% of companies continue to use this method.

3) How will we score surveys and generate reports?

As with many HR processes, technology has also transformed 360 feedback implementation practices. Now, most HR practitioners rely heavily on online tools so they can collect, organize, analyze and share useful feedback faster and easier.

In 2009, spreadsheets and even paper surveys were still popular ways to collect and report 360 feedback data. Today, those methods are all but obsolete. In fact, 91% of organizations now use a web-based reporting tool to manage surveys and generate reports.

Many practitioners are also choosing to outsource this task to specialized service providers. In fact, our recent research shows that 80% of employers rely on an external vendor or consultant to handle this aspect of the process. 

4) How can we assure rater anonymity? 

To encourage honest responses, employers must ensure that feedback sources remain anonymous. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 81% of employers tell us rater anonymity is essential to the success of their 360 feedback endeavors.

A common way to ensure anonymity is by requiring a minimum number of survey responses for any group specified in the report. For example, peer scores are displayed separately only if at least 3 peers respond. If fewer peers respond, then that data is included only in overall average ratings.

Most often, organizations require a minimum of three raters in a category. In fact, 83% of companies use this three-rater threshold rule. Very few skip this requirement altogether (3% require no minimum responses). And on the other end of the spectrum, very few require more than three responses.

5) How will we help leaders translate the report into action?

For best results, talent management experts agree that personal follow-up is essential. To optimize ROI, employers should avoid the “desk drop” follow-up, where leaders receive a 360 feedback report, but no direct support to discuss results, implications, or next steps.

Follow-up can include any number of supportive actions, such as:  Adding development suggestions to the report, offering action planning guidance, providing individualized 1-on-1 coaching, assigning in-person or online workshops, referring leaders to specialized resource libraries, and more.

The most common step is also what talent management professionals feel is most critical for 360 assessment success:  Provide a one-on-one meeting with a trained 360 feedback coach who can facilitate action planning based on the results.

Historically, these sessions were conducted in person. However, in recent years, video meetings have become the dominant format. Also, reliance upon external coaches (rather than in-house staff) has become more popular.

Fortunately, 88% of organizations say they provide debrief sessions and one-on-one coaching, so feedback recipients can interpret insights and chart a relevant path forward.

Final Thoughts

Good leaders thrive on feedback. But for 360 feedback assessments to be effective, it’s important for leaders to understand the results and commit to improvement.

This means employers must take care to design and implement a valid, well-informed process from end to end. By addressing key design elements at the outset and by investing in ongoing leadership guidance, organizations can dramatically increase the likelihood of success.

 


EDITOR’S NOTE:
Want to learn more about the decisions talent managers make when designing and implementing 360 feedback assessments? Replay this recorded webinar, where the 3D Group unveils findings from its latest benchmarking study,
Current Practices in 360 Feedback, 7th Edition. This analysis includes 20 years of data from more than 600 companies.

Skillability: Will It Solve the Talent Crunch?

The current talent market poses numerous challenges for leaders and employees, alike. Perhaps the most disruptive force redefining the post-pandemic business landscape is persistently high employee turnover. This Great Reshuffle” demonstrates just how quickly teams can change—even beyond the pandemic shift to remote work.

A New Business Necessity: Skillability

This fluid employment environment brings good news and bad. Employees are welcoming it as an opportunity to advance their careers. But among employers, it has given rise to the practice of talent poaching. Global companies are proactively pursuing candidates from all over the world, culling the best talent away from other, smaller businesses.

And on top of this highly competitive talent market, employers are now struggling with the effects of inflation. As the cost of living continues to increase, so do demands for higher wages. And candidates are willing to hold out when employers don’t meet their salary expectations. These dynamics can make it tough to fill openings, even for high-paying, highly-skilled roles.

At the same time, employees face a volatile economic landscape that is sending conflicting messages about how to weigh the stability of an existing job against other attractive options. Today’s sky-high inflation hasn’t done employees any favors, either. Even though individuals have more bargaining power, inflation quickly eats into any wage increases gained from a job switch. As a result, economics plays a much more active role in career choices these days.

But despite all of these issues, both employers and employees can rely on one shared secret weapon. It’s something I call skillability.

The Power of Skillability

A skill is an individual’s capacity to perform a job task or function, based on existing knowledge, ability and competence. Skillability, in contrast, is an individual’s capacity to develop proficiency in an unfamiliar skill.

The faster and more efficiently someone can develop a skill, the better. So, skillability can be measured by determining the time an employee needs to develop new skills, along with the investment needed to build those skills.

Training, alone, is not enough to improve skillability. It also requires a supportive, learning-forward work environment. Together, they can nurture professional growth and create a win-win for individuals and their employers.

It’s essential for leaders to develop key workforce skills internally. This gives them new ways to support employees in their current roles, while helping them prepare for future growth within the organization. At the same time, by proactively encouraging team skillability, leaders can uncover new growth opportunities for themselves.

For example, consider technology advancements. While new technologies may promise greater operational efficiency and profitability, they also require specific skills that existing employees may lack. Employees with a high level of skillability can help companies hedge against the uncertainty of changing technology by being adaptable and agile in the face of change.

Building Skillability Within Your Organization

Skillability may sound like a trait, but the ability to develop new skills can actually be learned. It’s all in your approach to training, development, and talent acquisition. Here are just a few ideas to help your organization move forward with this strategy:

1) Consider Candidates Who May Not Fit the Mold

Candidates who lack one or more “required” proficiencies can bring a background or experience that enables them to quickly pick up new skills, duties, and responsibilities. Don’t screen out these individuals.

This approach offers several advantages. First, it opens your organization to new, often untapped talent pools. Also, it encourages the development of existing internal talent, which can drive retention and avoid the consequences of unwanted turnover.

Think about it. If you hire new employees for skillability and their desire to learn, you’re not just investing in their future, but in your organization’s future competitiveness, as well.

2) Build Achievable Benchmarks Into Training

Benchmarking is nothing new. Business leaders use it to determine the highest standards of performance. However, it can also be used for training and onboarding. Benchmarks and timelines can spur self-driven learning over a defined period.

Industrial technology provider, Emerson, relies on a powerful version of this model. It instills lifelong learning “DNA” in new employees to ensure that they will be skillable throughout their employee journey. This kind of approach indicates early on whether employees are likely to grow continually and take on new challenges as they arise. It also encourages the most enterprising employees to quickly distinguish themselves and demonstrate their skillability.

3) Break Employees Out of Their Comfort Zones

Sometimes, the most effective way to cultivate skillability is to nudge employees toward learning opportunities that push their existing boundaries and routines. This strategy is inspired by the fact that people learn more effectively when they’re somewhat uncomfortable as they explore new ways of thinking and doing things. 

Effective learning disrupts the status quo, so to speak. And overcoming these challenges has a way of encouraging people to continue pursuing learning opportunities for themselves. This means you’ll want to put employees in new situations that force them to challenge their thinking, expand their knowledge, test their abilities, and ignite their desire to grow and evolve in their careers. 

4) Establish a Supportive Environment

The climate you establish for new and existing employees is paramount to skillability’s success. It’s important to create a setting where fear is seen as an invitation to grow, rather than a signal to hold back.

Often, leaders inadvertently discourage growth in others because they fear negative consequences or they’re anxious about their own ability to grow. This can intimidate others and put a damper on skillability. One way to avoid this is for senior leaders to consistently and openly encourage all team members to develop skillability, and for the organization to reward people at all levels who step up to the challenge.

Final Thoughts

Employers can become so invested in hiring for a specific skill set that they fail to consider a candidate’s skillability. When you hire people, you’re already planning to involve them in training. So, why not broaden your talent options to include those with a stronger likelihood to learn much-needed skills in the future?

Even if you look within your ranks for employees with motivation and a commitment to continuous learning, you’re likely to find viable job candidates you might not have otherwise considered. It may only take a gentle push in the right direction and an environment that gives them the support they need to grow and succeed.

Job Design: Is It Time to Rethink Your Approach?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last article in a 4-part series sponsored by Unit4. The series outlines a new approach to talent strategy for people-centric organizations. This final post looks at why and how employers should rethink job design.


 

As we close this series about how employers can reinvent their talent strategy for the future of work, we turn our attention to one of the most important ways to attract and engage the people your organization needs to succeed. Namely, we’re looking at why this is the right time to revisit your approach to job design.

For most of the past 100 years, employers have used the same techniques to scope job vacancies, write job descriptions, and hire employees to fill roles. But these classic job design methods aren’t particularly efficient or effective.

In fact, only about 50% of interviewed candidates who receive a job offer actually become employees. Plus, the talent acquisition process, itself, is expensive. This means the perceived cost of a “bad hire” is so steep that decision-makers often become paralyzed. And that inaction forces organizations to offset costs by relying too heavily on long tenure.

It’s not an ideal solution by any measure. But focusing on the 4th talent strategy pillar can help you address these issues. How? Read on…

Reworking Job Design: Where to Start

Employers can no longer afford to ignore the need to address ever-changing talent rosters. Average employee tenure is decreasing, even as demand for future-ready skills is increasing. This means leaders must fundamentally rethink the way they structure jobs.

Here’s a good starting point: Design new roles based on the assumption that whomever your hire will stay onboard for 2-4 years. Then work backward from there.

In this game plan, onboarding and robust initial training are especially important, so you can ensure faster time-to-value from new hires. In addition, jobs designed with shorter tenure in mind will benefit from being supported by onboarding and “bedding in” processes that are much more tightly controlled.

This means that skills mapping, employee learning, and professional development will need to become a more prominent part of the HR function, along with talent pipeline development. It also means that the skills you expect to develop in employees should become central to the benefits you offer candidates.

Reframe Benefits for Shorter Job Cycles

In addition to packaging skills as benefits, you’ll need to reorient benefits so they’re compatible with shorter terms of service. Rewards for time-in-role or time with the company are relics that don’t make sense in today’s workplace. They need to be replaced.

For better results, focus on performance-based incentives for contributions to specific projects and programs with more clearly defined targets and expectations.

What Does This Look Like? An Example

One way to illustrate this new approach to job design is through the rise of the contractor. This increasingly popular option is a way to tap into skilled talent on a temporary basis. It helps employers find and deploy people more quickly, while simultaneously reducing operational overhead and risk.

At the same time, contractors benefit from more options in today’s predominantly hybrid working environment. They also benefit from a faster learning curve that comes from working on a more diverse portfolio of projects over time.

Reliance on contractors has increased dramatically—but not at the same rate in every region. For example, in the U.K., contractor usage has grown by about a third since the 2008 financial crash. By comparison, in the U.S., it has surged by the same proportion since only 2020.

Nevertheless, the shift to a contingent workforce shows no sign of diminishing. And many organizations still struggle to find permanent employees in today’s tight labor market. So the advantages of hiring contractors make project-oriented hiring a highly attractive option.

Repackaging Jobs to Attract Top Talent

In your job descriptions, do you still use this kind of phrase?

“The successful candidate must be willing to…”

If so, prepare to leave that kind of thinking behind. Instead, think in terms of asking this question:

“How do you want to work for us?”

In other words, you’ll need to let new hires determine some of the terms of their engagement with you. This makes sense because it encourages deeper ownership of the role’s success. Besides, if you’re designing jobs around shorter “tours of duty” with specific goals and objectives, why not configure these positions so they can be performed on a contract or project basis?

This model offers multiple benefits:

  • You can more accurately assess jobs and redefine them so they deliver the most value to your organization.
  • You’ll be better prepared to tap into a much larger talent pool. (After all, the huge increase in today’s contractors is coming from somewhere. That “somewhere” is the rapidly growing segment of the working population currently seeking greater flexibility in how they market and sell their skills.)

Where to Find Help

This blog series may be over, but your job restructuring journey is just beginning. For an in-depth view of our insights into this and other future-minded strategies for people-centered organizations, download our white paper:

Rebuilding Talent Strategy: Finding and Retaining People in a Changing World.

Also, as you consider technologies needed as the backbone of a reimagined talent strategy, we invite you to take a closer look at our ERP and HCM suite of solutions. These advanced platforms can provide the advantage your business needs to stay at the forefront in the future of work.

For example, you’ll be better equipped to:

  • Audit and map workforce skills
  • Target and deliver timely, relevant learning and development programs
  • Take the pulse of workforce engagement
  • Increase pay equity and transparency
  • Provide people with seamless connections to colleagues and resources in hybrid work settings.

In combination, these capabilities can help you build sustainable business value, going forward. To learn more about how Unit4 solutions can make a difference for your organization, book a demo here.

 


Related Reading

For other articles in this series, check the following links:

Part 1:  Reimagine Talent Strategy: Make Development a Core Part of Your Business

Part 2:  Commit to Careers

Part 3:  Engage in the Employee

 

Which Comes First, the Culture or the Practices? The Chicken-and-Egg Problem in HR Tech

In the innovation and HR tech field, one of the common concerns we hear from people is that their culture might not be ready for new practices, processes or tools.

They say their employees simply wouldn’t be ready for the kind of transparency and personal responsibility that are central for virtually all modern collaboration platforms. This might include platforms for employee engagement, idea management or internal communication.

They often continue by saying that unless a culture shift happens prior to introducing these tools or related practices, they would be very likely to fail.

On the other hand, there are also people who see these practices, processes and tools as a way to actually create that change.

Let’s examine both sides of the argument. What does it take to shape culture and successfully introduce change to an organization?

Where Does Culture Come From?

To think about where culture comes from, we must first define what we mean by culture — which isn’t easy since there are probably as many definitions as there are leaders out there, none of which are perfect.

However, my favorite approach is to define culture as the collective way things are done in an organization, especially when the boss isn’t around.

There are a number of factors to consider:

  • The larger purpose and mission of the organization.
  • The collective values of the organization.
  • The personal values of each employee.
  • The formal processes and tools used by the organization.
  • The informal ways of working within the organization.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these factors.

Which Comes First, the Culture or the Practices? The Chicken-and-Egg Problem in HR Tech

The Purpose and Mission

Since there’s such a shortage of talent in most industries, talented employees can choose who they work for. This is especially the case for the most respected and influential people in each organization.

More often than not, these influential employees haven’t chosen the organization they work for based purely on factors such as benefits and compensation, as Daniel Pink argues in his book “Drive.” They often work for the organization because they believe in what it’s trying to achieve. Since others in the organization look up to these influential team members, they often follow suit and seek to help the organization achieve its mission, which has a big influence on how people behave.

The Collective Values of the Organization

Most organizations have core values that represent what they believe in. However, the values the organization has chosen and communicates to the outside world might not really reflect how it actually behaves.

A great example of this is the story of Enron. “Respect” and “integrity” were two of its core values, and it had a 65-page ethics manual elaborating how the company was supposed to behave.

Which Comes First, the Culture or the Practices? The Chicken-and-Egg Problem in HR Tech

However, the people in the organization, starting from the very top, chose not to act according to those values. They acted not based on respect and integrity, but on greed. Employees thus saw that kind of behavior as the way to succeed in the company and replicated it, which eventually led to Enron’s downfall.

So the collective values of your organization matter a lot, and they’re not just words. When your words and actions are at odds, it’s your actions that people will believe in and replicate.

The Personal Values of Employees

Just like the collective values of the organization, the personal values of employees affect behavior. These values can, and often do, also influence other employees.

Over time these individual values shape the larger collective values of the organization, which makes it crucial to choose employees with values that match your desired culture.

As Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri said in a recent episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, having a good fit between candidates’ personal values and your desired culture should always be a key factor in hiring decisions.

The Formal Processes of the Organization

The formal tools, practices and processes used by the organization also have a huge impact on the culture.

If you want your culture to be collaborative but most work and decisions happen individually, it’s quite unlikely that collaboration will thrive. It’s thus crucial that the tools, practices and processes that employees use daily are in line with the culture you want to create.

So if you’re looking to shape your culture to be more innovative, it makes sense to implement practices that encourage employees to innovate, be it via an idea-management process or a practice like Google’s “20 percent time.”

The Informal Ways of Working

If you have a problem with the office printer, the first thing you do probably isn’t to create a support ticket for your IT help desk. Instead you ask Alice for help since she’s the expert on that stuff.

And if it’s too difficult to get approval for new initiatives, the odds are that either you’ll become passive or you’ll find a way to implement the initiative even without permission.

All organizations have thousands of informal ways of working that have gradually become a part of the organization. These informal practices play a huge role in shaping the culture.

How Do You Shape Culture?

If those five factors define culture, how do you shape it?

It’s simple, really. You change those five factors to the direction you want to move and gradually people will adapt to the new norm, which results in the culture changing.

However, “simple” doesn’t necessarily mean “easy.”

Changes in your processes can have unintended consequences. It’s notoriously challenging to change people’s habits and ways of working. Your employees might not embrace the new values until they see management do so. They might even dislike the new values or mission and decide to leave.

There are plenty of practical challenges on actually making cultural change happen. The real question is “Where should we start?”

Which Comes First, the Chicken or the Egg?

Getting back to our original question, there are two basic approaches we can take to driving cultural change:

  • Start from the purpose and values.
  • Start from the processes, tools and ways of working.

Let’s look at each of them separately.

Which Comes First, the Culture or the Practices? The Chicken-and-Egg Problem in HR Tech

The Values-Driven Approach

Proponents of the values-driven approach call for clarifying the purpose of the organization and using that to identify core values that are critical for success.

We’ve heard plenty of talk about the importance of purpose and shared values for motivation and for organizational culture, and we’ve seen research to support these findings, such as the Two-Factor Theory.

The Action-Driven Approach

The other side of the argument is that values and a mission alone rarely result in anything concrete, even if people believe in them, unless they’re rooted in how the organization actually works.

Thus, the more vocal proponents of this approach say that changing an organization happens by collectively building new habits to replace the old ones, and that the important thing is to just get started.

Putting It All Together

The bottom line is that the argument between these schools of thought is somewhat artificial and academic. Yes, it’s hard, if not impossible, to act the right way before you have a purpose and a set of reinforcing values. And yes, you’ll never make change happen at large scale with just a purpose and a couple of values. But in real life you need both. You have to think about them together and you have to implement them together.

Just as with strategy and execution, values and actions are fundamentally linked. If the sides aren’t aligned or one side is lacking, failure is usually inevitable.

Of course, cultural change usually doesn’t — and shouldn’t! — mean that you need a 180-degree reversal of everything the organization stands for. It’s simply about making small adjustments to guide you toward achieving your mission.

So the next time you implement a new HR tech solution, ask yourself whether the tool is going to help you in your mission, and whether your culture should be changed to better accommodate the new tool achieve that purpose — and if so, how you plan to achieve that.

#WorkTrends: Smoothing Out Your Messy HR Processes

HR is at a crossroads. Technology is making it easier to streamline messy, time-consuming HR processes, but where does that leave HR teams? On this week’s episode, longtime HR pro Ryan Higginson-Scott of PeopleDoc joins us to share answers every HR team needs.

An innovative HR leader with more than 15 years of experience spanning business partnerships, shared services and strategic program design, Higginson-Scott works to optimize the employee experience, enhancing both engagement and productivity.

He has helped organizations develop and scale HR/people operations as an advocate for continuous process improvement, operational efficiency, legal compliance and self-service enablement for managers and employees.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Managing Change

Higginson-Scott has extensive experience managing others through process change, and he shares some of the challenges he has faced helping others adapt, along with the strategies he’s relied on to overcome those roadblocks.

“My number one priority in managing change, helping people adapt to change or even helping them accept that change is imminent is to help them find the value in the change,” he says. “Everyone’s human, and they have their reasons for their perspective. I’ve talked people into change, and I’ve talked people out of change when it was the right thing to do.”

He shares a fascinating example of working with an already efficient payroll department on implementing a new piece of technology that was essential but that primarily benefited HR. He explains how he ultimately, through conversations with payroll, discovered one of his biggest pain points overlapped really well with one of payroll’s biggest pain points — which was a challenge they didn’t necessarily realize was a problem. That prompted both departments to look at a different technology that was a solution for both of their problems.

“I’ve worked in a number of different industries and different teams,” he says. “It’s always important to find the right way to communicate with teams and individuals who think differently from you.”

Helping People Adapt to Automation

The rapid pace of technology change in the HR world, particularly when it comes to automation, can be a source of anxiety for people who wonder if they’re going to lose their jobs with the elimination of manual work. Higginson-Scott says including those workers in the implementation of change can help reduce some of that consternation.

“Technology has changed HR more in the last few years than I ever would have expected,” he says. “It’s scary when we start talking about automation and self-service. It feels like the whole role of HR is changing in general. How do people on the front lines, people whose job it is to be tactical and transactional, navigate that change? For me, it’s always been really important to include them in the process and to have them help drive not only the immediate change, but actually be part of the road map design.”

Looking Ahead

With technology reshaping HR, Higginson-Scott talks about his approach to handling the technology and also trends he’s seeing in the space.

“Something I’ve found really interesting lately — because really it’s a move away from the big bang, one-size-fits-all enterprise approach to technology, for the most part,” he says. “It’s become about collaborating between the right tools in each area of HR, to help the teams build the right employee experience and improve efficiency and productivity on both sides of the table.”

He says that while HR departments don’t necessarily have to have a tech-focused person at the helm, organizations should invest time and resources in keeping up with technology trends.

“Business partners, COE leaders, anyone can contribute to or take on management of any of these tools and upscaling around technology and innovation,” he says. “Being part of that process is really where I think everyone in HR needs to spend some time and put some of their focus.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

  • HR tech news:
    News release: Ultimate Software Enters into Binding Letter of Intent to Acquire PeopleDoc for HR Service Delivery.
  • Ryan Higginson-Scott at PeopleDoc on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Let’s continue the conversation. Join us on Twitter (#WorkTrends) for our weekly chat on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific, or anywhere in the world you are joining from to discuss this topic and more.

This episode is sponsored by PeopleDoc.

How To Lead Change By Looking At The Past

There is certainly no shortage of advice on what actions leaders should take to successfully implement change.

However, despite the plethora of guidance available, organizations generally have difficulty executing their “brave idea”. The desired change doesn’t see the light of day; the intended benefits aren’t realized; dysfunction and discontent are often left as the aftermath.

Traditional change management methodology has two fundamental flaws.

First, the premise of change management is based on the future. It focuses on what needs to be done differently in order to meet expected new environmental and competitive shifts.

The risk here is the implicit internal message that can be sent that somehow the past (and by implication the people who were there) is “bad”, and is responsible for the jeopardy leadership says the organization faces.

I’ve seen “warriors” in the organization steadfastly refuse to consider a change in direction because they felt betrayed; they were recognized and rewarded yesterday but today seem to be condemned for getting the company “into this mess”.

Second, change management is treated as an intellectual exercise; one that concentrates on people comprehending strategically what needs to be done given the forecasted threats and opportunities the organization is likely to encounter.

Accepting the need for change at the strategic level is easy; people “get it” because at this stage of the conversation the impact on individuals is rarely understood in detail.

Intellectualizing the need for change doesn’t mean people will jump on the bandwagon to support it.

What is needed is a bridge between understanding the change required and emotionally wanting to play an active role in helping the change get implemented; the trigger that compels the intellect to act.

That trigger is the organization’s history. It harbors the latent emotional energy for employees to be passionate about the change leadership says is required.

The past is the evidence that the organization is capable of adapting to a changing environment.

It provides demonstrated evidence that, in the face of formidable opposing forces, success can be achieved with people who WERE prepared to take on new challenges at the expense of their comfort zone.

The past can inspire people to believe a new future is possible; that people have the capacity to shift “the way they’ve always done things around here”.

It is crucial to honor past achievements and praise the people who delivered them if you expect them to now take on more change. A leader who incessantly reminds people that “the only constant is change” will only repel change agents, not attract them.

Honor the past; use it to usher in the future.

Use it as the right to ask people to take the journey and create another new future.

Then say goodbye.

Photo Credit: loop_oh Flickr via Compfight cc

4 Reasons You Should (Not) Trash Company Performance Reviews 

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk as to why companies should just get rid of their performance reviews. They don’t improve performance. No one likes them. Well, just because you don’t like to give constructive criticism doesn’t mean you should just get rid of it. After all, you still had to eat your broccoli as a child regardless of if you thought it tasted like dirt, right?

Love them or hate them, performance reviews are a necessary use of time and are critical to the success of your performance management system. Most of the arguments to get rid of the performance appraisals all together are largely based on poor performance management practices. You can, however, improve the effectiveness of performance reviews in your organization without trashing them. Here are four reasons to keep them around:

 

  • They do improve team performance.

 

Performance reviews of the 1950s may not have been conducive to the improving employee performance, and that’s the problem. The organizations that say performance reviews are merely a formality and don’t truly ameliorate the work of the team use an antiquated process. Companies that see performance reviews as more than merely a formality do experience a 14.9% lower turnover rate because they conduct them more often than just once a year.

 

  • You can empower management.

 

One of the problems with employee performance reviews is simply that managers don’t like to give criticism because they don’t know how to give it. As an employer, you can solve this. You can empower your management team by providing the supervisory training necessary to conduct more effective performance reviews. Nearly half – 46% – want training in how to properly and successfully conduct performance reviews. When your managers know how to give praise and criticism, they are empowered to conduct better appraisals.

 

  • Employers can ensure consistency.

 

Often, performance reviews are criticized for a lack of consistency from employee to employee. However, as with any other process, employers can set standards. Establish goals and expectations before the performance appraisal so employees know what their supervisors look for when evaluating their work. Paul Falcone (@PaulFalconeHR), a Senior Human Resources Executive at Grifols BioScience, said:

“So don’t think of the process of goal-setting as an afterthought once the backward-looking annual performance review is given: see it as a new way for your staffers to reinvent themselves in light of the new challenges that may be coming your company’s way.”

 

  • Employees want performance reviews.

 

Not only do your employees need regular performance reviews to know their progress on goals, they want performance reviews. More importantly, they want the constructive, or corrective, feedback from their supervisors. In fact, 57% of employees want the corrective feedback. It’s a learning and growth opportunity for employees, so give them the tools they need for development and provide some areas for improvement.

Just like broccoli at dinner when you were a child, you may not like it, but the performance appraisal is a necessary practice. Despite the growing disdain towards performance reviews, organizations still need to use the performance management method in order to track employee growth and maintain goal adherence. Employees want to improve their performance, and a thorough appraisal is the perfect way to do that. Even though each performance appraisal will be slightly different because your employees are different, you can ensure consistency by establishing goals and expectations before the review process. Regardless of the growing negativity surrounding performance reviews, if conducted in accordance with the emotional intelligence of your team, they will improve performance.

3 Methods To Strengthen Your Next Generation Of Leaders

The value of one’s life can be measured by how much of that life is given away. Nearing the end of life, we celebrate one’s selfless acts. Title, status, and accolades do not matter. Selfless actions expand our lives outside of just us. If leadership is all about you, at the end of your life everything you taught dies with you. However, when you make leadership about others, your teachings will live through many generations.

Looking in fear on a new generation of leaders is not an uncommon occurrence for more experienced leaders. Comparing themselves to these emerging leaders, seasoned leaders tend to worry that the new generation has more education and better skills than they had at the same age. When the “newbies” come face-to-face with the experienced leaders, it can be intense as they start asking questions that you know you should be asking.

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast that aired on August 1, 2014 discusses being a “beyond you leader.” This is a leader who thinks outside of him/herself and outside of their own generation. Empowering those to follow in their footsteps is the selfless avenue they take.

Not threatened by these new leaders, beyond you leaders see newbies as opportunities; opportunities to use their influence for the goal of bettering the organization and all the leaders that surround them. Truth be told, everyone knows that the accomplishments of a true leader are shown in the number of leaders they raise.

We all get prideful at times. We all fear competition at one time or another. We all have schedules that keep us busy. Investing time will not happen if it’s not intentional. Stanley provides 3 real solutions to becoming a beyond you leader while, simultaneously, strengthening the next-in-line generation of leaders.

First, he recommends that you make as few decisions as possible. Engage with next generation leaders by providing support in the form of a “you decide” mentality. Let them take the reins and step back a bit. As leaders begin to climb the organizational ladder, they’ll be held accountable for more things; things about which they may not know anything. For this reason, it’s important that seasoned leaders step aside allowing the next generation to lead. It’s a great time for newbies to learn their limitations and exercise delegating responsibility. As they are eager to learn via on-the-job training, Millennials will respond well to this idea. They want to make an impact, sharing ideas and contributing to the team. Turn them loose!

Stanley, then, suggests that you work for your team. Quit worrying about how they can serve you and focus your energy on serving them. They need to see you in action. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can help, and then follow through by doing what they ask. The influence you provide will be invaluable.

Lastly, Mr. Stanley recommends that you empty your cup. Your cup should never be full. It’s your job to pour into the next generation of leaders, and you’ll be surprised by how much you know once you start talking. Your knowledge and expertise will spill out of you quite easily, and this next generation of leaders will reap major benefits. You won’t be able to control what they do with the information you give them, but you’ll still be doing what you should be doing.

A word of caution about beyond you leaders. Don’t wait to become one! If you don’t start right now, you probably won’t start at all. Procrastination kills. If you don’t become a beyond you leader, you’ll begin to think that you achieved your success based upon information not helping. Hoarding stalls influence while sharing multiplies influence.

John C. Maxwell says it well: True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.”

Exemplify what it means to be a beyond you leader and for generations to come, beyond leaders will emerge.

How will you be intentionally selfless in developing the next generation of leaders?

Live from #SHRM15: The Brilliant HR Profession of Today and Tomorrow

SHRMWe’re very excited to announced that the TalentCulture #TChat Show will be live from the 2015 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday, July 1, 2015, from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). We’re going to talk about the brilliant HR profession of today and tomorrow.

Get this: The enterprise executive whose traits are most similar to those of the CEO is the CHRO.

Did you get that? The CHRO (42 percent of which are high-performing females), not the CFO, CMO, or CIO. This all according to “counterintuitive” and groundbreaking research based on data from executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry and the work of Dave Ulrich, a University of Michigan professor and a leading consultant on organization and talent issues.

This research also clearly revealed that a CEO’s people skills, strategy, flexibility, energy and empathy (and many other business-centric attributes) closely align to the CHRO.

The HR profession has never looked brighter and HR leaders are now powerful change agents, amplifying talent engagement and driving business outcomes. And according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), HR professionals are feeling more confident about the job security and growth opportunities than ever.

Sneak peaks:

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation on July 1, 2015, and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

Thank you to all our TalentCulture sponsors and partners: Dice, Jibe, TalentWise, Hootsuite, IBM, CareerBuilder, PeopleFluent, SmartSearch, Predictive Analytics World for Workforce and HRmarketer Insight. Plus, we’re big CandE supporters!

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events: The Brilliant HR Profession of Today and Tomorrow

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, July 1 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we talk about the brilliant HR profession of today and tomorrow at #SHRM15 with this week’s guests: Chanel Jackson, HR Business Partner, Honda of America Mfg., Inc.; Callie Zipple, PHR, HR Rewards Analyst, Zebra Technologies; and Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Executive Director of HR, LaRosa’s, Inc.

 

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, July 1

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, July 1 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Chanel, Callie and Steve will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How confident are HR pros about their job security and growth? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: What top skills do HR pros need to have a successful career? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How can HR help with tech adoption and create a better employee experience? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

Subscribe to our podcast on BlogTalkRadio, Stitcher or iTunes:

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Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

Image Credit: Big Stock Images

New Day HR Drives the Next Gen Fire

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah…Are you telling me that you built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?”

“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

youre firedOn October 21, 2015, Marty McFly and his girlfriend Jennifer will travel back to the future together to see themselves married with children. They’ll be shocked by their own Gen X aging and adult foibles, and then Jennifer will witness older Marty, still easily set off when challenged, engage in an illegal transaction with a colleague. He gets immediately fired via a video conference call from his boss because of his idiotic action. HR was nowhere to be found in this exchange.

Marty and Jennifer will also see their future children – shallow, nerdy, wimpy and smart-alecky digital natives, flippant Millennials who don’t seem to have a clue or promising future. Actually, these are stereotypes of Millennials before we really had Millennial stereotypes. But the universal “work sucks ‘cause we suck” mantra has unfortunately never gone away, and like the movies, further paradoxical hijinks ensue week after week. However, progressive HR and business leaders are doing their best to combat both these days in the real 2015.

Today’s HR ecosystem and the hiring economy are both highly complex, confusing and competitive. They aren’t the highly advanced and exclusive Tesla battery-powered luxury cars (unlike the DeLoreans of old). No, they’re more like a classic high-performance engine we keep tinkering with, tuning up, swapping out old parts for new, with a lot of sweat and tears, through every boom and bust cycle, especially the latest.

And the complexity is killing us. According to ManpowerGroup’s 10th annual Talent Shortage Survey, 43 percent of U.S. employers say talent shortages are having a negative impact on their ability to meet client needs. The consequences include:

  • Reduced competitiveness and productivity (41 percent)
  • Increased employee turnover (32 percent)
  • Higher compensation costs (32 percent)
  • Reduced employee engagement/morale (32 percent)

And even though according to Gallup Research the percentage of U.S. workers engaged in their jobs rose from an average 31.7% in January 2015 to an average 32.9% in February 2015 (and held steady through April 2015), it’s really only an incremental increase from where it stood in February 2014.

Human resources and the work workplace have got their work cut out for them. According to the latest Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM®) Workplace Forecast (The Top Workplace Trends According to HR Professionals), more than one-half of HR professionals think that retaining and rewarding the best employees (59 percent) and developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52 percent) will be the greatest challenges over the next 10 years.

But how to deal with these challenges? Over the next 10 years HR professionals feel the solutions include providing flexible work arrangements (40 percent) and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness (37 percent). One-quarter said offering a higher total rewards package than competitors and providing career advancement opportunities (26 percent) would be most effective.

And that’s the thing, you know? Industry experts and the media always talk more about what keeps business leaders up at night and less about actionable strategies that enable positive change and help them sleep. Change isn’t easy, especially when being applied to solve business problems, but new HR initiatives are important, organization-shifting moments for a company.

When CHRO’s and their business leader counterparts consider a change for their organization, those who think beyond the ordinary get sustainable business outcomes, this according to TalentCulture #TChat Show guest Mark Stelzner, founder of IA HR, a consulting firm that helps HR leaders transform their complex organizations with confidence.

“Sustainable change also requires empowerment – no one person owns change, we all do,” Mark shared with us all. This was illustrated by his story of Williams-Sonoma hiring a graphic artist to literally illustrate the current process of organization so all the players engaged in the change management could visualize where they were and where they needed to go, making it accessible and adoptable for everyone in the organization.

They ended up drawing three-headed monsters and people pulling their hair out and deconstructing all the business processes into what really worked and what didn’t. The results included everything from greater HR technology adoption to improved employee engagement and other positive outcomes because the changes they made weren’t top-down theoretical; they eventually reflected the day-to-day realities of the organization.

No matter how intimidating it is for HR and business leaders to change in our ever-changing hyper-flux-capacitor economy, something as simple as this example becomes quite a catalyst for transformation for the entire organization and every generation employed.

Laugh if you want, but when Marty McFly traveled back to the future in 1985, Whitney Houston released “Greatest Love of All” that opened, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way….”

Those children today make up over half the workforce – and they are more than empowered. And sometimes the future appears brighter than maybe it actually is, and that’s okay for this aging Gen Xer. I recently interviewed two Millennial HR professionals (Chanel Jackson, HR Business Partner, Honda of America Mfg., Inc., and Callie Zipple, PHR, HR Rewards Analyst, Zebra Technologies) for a special preview of an upcoming live TalentCulture #TChat Show at the SHRM 2015 National Conference & Exposition.

Their refreshing yet guarded optimism still flooded me with enthusiasm for “New Day HR” – to take policy and process risks that will empower the workplace and drive future business outcomes (without compromising the organization legally or opening it up to an audit – none of us can get away from that). They were all about social adoption and flexible workplaces and everything that wiser sages than me have been advocating for over a decade.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Actually Doc Brown, we still do, but New Day HR drives the next gen fire of empowerment and that’s a future I look forward to, today.

Special Note: If you’re a Millennial, please take the PeopleFluent Next Generation in the Workforce survey. Your anonymous responses will provide valuable insight for employers as they consider how to hire and develop their next generation of employees. The survey has up to 26 questions and will only take approximately 4 minutes to complete. Upon completion, you will have the opportunity to enter to win one of several randomly drawn prizes, including Beats by Dre headphones. Thank you!

When the Social Collaboration Magic Happens

Mercy me, my MySpace experience is one I’ll never forget. It was my first foray into social media beyond simply blogging, online groups and forums like AOL, and sharing collaboratively via email.

There I was early in 2007, in front of my computer setting up my MySpace profile. I filled it out, not sure of where exactly this online adventure would take me. I hit “publish” and waited.

Ten minutes later I received a connection request. Eagerly I read, in graphic detail, a business proposition of sorts from another woman. Yes, that. A minute later I deleted my profile not sure what the heck I had gotten myself into. So much for the magic at that point. (I’m sure it’s a different experience today.)

Before that email was my social tool of choice. I know, based on what I know and practice now, that’s practically blasphemy. I used it when journaling to family and friends during travel with my wife, collaboratively communicating with colleagues and peers on projects, and communicating real-time with whomever included all of the above.

Many of you may have had similar experiences. If so, you remember that what may have seemed foreign at first – take email for example – a tool I started using way back in the late 1980’s when I attended and worked at San Jose State University. Not only did we have email to communicate with one another campus-wide via email and intranet, we could communicate with any other campus in the state and UC system as well as many other educational institutions.

Of course, email had been used even before my experience at the university. It was also supposed to be the demise of businesses everywhere, public or private, because employees were (are) loose cannons who will share critical business information with complete strangers and competitors alike.

It didn’t thankfully. Now, many of us did (and still do) share too much erroneous and volatile information, inappropriate messages that should’ve been deleted before the send button was ever close to being hit. No, I won’t share a story here, but just know I’ve been one of the many.

What it did do – including the email, the Internet, online forums and more – was increase productivity, innovation and the speed of positive business outcomes. There are smarter academics, entrepreneurs and captains of industry than me who can attest to that. All of these tools and activities had to be adopted and sustained over time in order to bring so much good to fruition, not only by leadership, but also by nearly every single individual contributor inside the organization.

Blogging was my second social activity of choice at the time. I also joined LinkedIn, but after setting up my initial profile and connecting for a handful of others I knew, I didn’t do anything with it (which has changed dramatically for me since). And then I joined Twitter and tweeted out: I’m setting up my Twitter account and have no idea what to do next. After that I joined Facebook where my early social sharing adoption took hold with immediate family and friends.

In 2010 is when Meghan M. Biro and I co-founded the TalentCulture #TChat Show on Twitter (and now have expanded beyond that into multiple online social channels and now includes audio and video), and look where that’s gotten us – a growing highly collaborative community of thousands of HR, recruiting and business professionals who network, learn, share, innovate and engage online with one another every single day around the greater theme of empowering a better workforce and workplace one day at a time.

However, all this adoption has been primarily on external social networks. Plus, the way in which people access the Internet has been transformed in recent years as more people use mobile devices to go online practically anywhere today. There are now 5.2 billion mobile devices in use across the world, compared to only 789 million laptops and 743 million desktop PCs. And according to Aragon Research, by the end of 2015, 85% of businesses will have defined some form of bring your own technology to work.

What about social media and networking inside organizations? With rare exception, it’s been tough enough to get traction with any new social network today, but it’s been even harder to get it internally. Or at least, what’s been difficult has started to finally be embraced with limited open arms.

Many HR technology software providers have embedded the power of social collaboration into their talent acquisition and talent management software (including my own PeopleFluent), so that from the point of being courted by a company, to then being hired, onboarded and beyond, companies can better enable workforce collaboration and communication and amplify their people and the value each brings.

The McKinsey Global Institute has estimated productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees, and the potential for revenue amounts to $1.3 trillion per year. Also according to McKinsey, a remarkable 83 percent of respondents say their companies are using at least one social technology, and 65 percent say employees at their companies access at least one tool on a mobile device.

Given the focus on engagement and some other key internal communications trends, communicators will take a more active role in promoting the adoption of internal social media, which will require a strategic change management initiative to move away from email that still dominates the enterprise today (thank goodness). It must be a cultural adoption throughout an organization, practiced by business leadership but fully embraced by everyone else.

According to Social Media Sites within the Workplace by Prof. Hope Koch, PhD of Baylor University, employees had a greater sense of well-being and organizational commitment and better employee engagement when participating on internal social sites.

But this kind of organizational change means understanding how your current level of employee engagement impacts the ultimate adoption and continued usage of any social software, something that the principal of Holtz Communication + Technology Shel Holtz emphasized on the TalentCulture #TChat Show.

Ultimately what business leaders should invest in is social collaboration software. Besides the improvements and possible return outlined above, it might also be used as an “early warning” system to improve overall risk management. Remember, social networks can be a giant public sieve for inadvertently sharing proprietary corporate secrets and inappropriate employee behavior. Most of us do a pretty good job of not sharing that much, but when emotions flare for whatever reason, transparency isn’t usually one for restraint.

Lastly, according to The Social Workplace Trust Study, when employees are empowered to communication openly internally as well as externally with others, and to engage regularly across social networks, employees evidence greater loyalty to and trust of their employers, have more pride in their work, and feel that they can make a difference at work.

Here’s my proposition (and I promise it won’t make you squirm): when we can network, learn, share, innovate, engage, even play with one another every single day, both inside and out of our “motherships,” that’s when the social collaboration magic happens and we can all empower a better workforce and workplace one day at a time.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: The magic wand via photopin (license)

3 Ways Leaders Create Change Resistance

Leading a change is different than a basic process or tacking your “to-dos.” Change requires a commitment and belief. It takes hearts and minds.

As much as we want it to be, change isn’t a command-and-control effort cascading its way through the hierarchy level by level. Lasting change moves through an organization or community like a virus person by person.

I’ve researched the behaviors and habits essential for starting a successful change as shown by people I call Wave Makers. Interestingly, some of the very behaviors and habits that derail a change are those we associate with being a strong leader.

Here are three familiar ways you can unknowingly develop change resistance within your team:

1. Having All of the Answers

Often we earned our reputations and progressed in business because we are problem solvers. We know how to get things done. Yet, this complete self-reliance and desire to know everything makes others more spectators than contributors. Real changes need participation and engagement from more than you. You can’t do it alone.

Jonathan Morris, of Young Presidents Organization, shared that the kiss of death for your change is showing up to a discussion with, “Good news, everyone. I have all of the answers!” It’s the quickest way to shut down the room. Even if those words aren’t used, this signal is sent by not listening, not involving others and only allowing time for approval not participation.

Inviting others to be part of your change or wave — especially at the beginning — will not only make you smarter, but it also will become “our” wave, not just “your” wave. Change leaders are comfortable moving forward even without all of the answers.

2. Being Right Is the Goal More Than the Ultimate Impact

Wave Makers have adaptable persistence — the ability to keep going while adjusting as they learn more. I think of this quality like a child in a maze at the playground who wants to get to the other side and keeps testing and trying new ways until he or she gets there.

When you dig a little deeper, you see that a big influencer of that persistence is that Wave Makers aren’t focused on personal recognition or being right. They want the bigger prize — the change and impact at they see on the horizon. As a result, they don’t see a setback as a personal failure or a hit to the ego, but more something to learn from and manage around. When setbacks become personal it’s easier to give up too soon.

In a recent New York Times article, Thomas Friedman shared why Google values people who learn from failure. Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, told him, “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure. They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved. What we’ve seen is that the people who are the most successful here, who we want to hire, will have a fierce position. They’ll argue like hell. They’ll be zealots about their point of view. But then you say, ‘here’s a new fact,’ and they’ll go, ‘Oh, well, that changes things; you’re right.’” As Friedman wrote, “You need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.”

3. Searching For Perfection

A change or wave moves through others. Searching and waiting for the perfect plan creates two problems. One, it keeps others outside until the plan is ready to be unveiled. Secondly, a change hasn’t been done quite like this so new information will require updates and changes.

The desire for perfection can be the culprit behind the need for continuing to plan. Yet, that day of knowing everything will never come. There is a difference between perfection and excellence, because waves require quick action before there is the perfectly defined solution.

If you have perfectionist tendencies, remember that change is about incremental progress, not one big perfect event.

Brett Hurt, Wave Maker and co-creator of Bazaarvoice, shared his view on starting. He said, “You’ve got to get going. Surround yourself with other people who are incredibly passionate about your cause, and move. If you have a dream, you have to get moving or it’s never going to happen. Now, if I’m looking to invest in an entrepreneur, for example, I’m looking for motion — someone who is really going after their dream and is passionate about it. They can approach it differently than me or have a different personality than me, but they have to be going after it. Let’s get going. If you really believe in it, why not? Why aren’t you moving?”

As you kick off your next change or wave, remember that what works beautifully in managing a process or your ongoing work may create hard resistance. A wave is different. You can’t do it alone.

About the Author: Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human capital consulting firm she founded in 2004, and the author of Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life. She will be a guest on the December 17th #TChat Show from 7-8 p.m. ET.

photo credit: .martin via photopin cc

#TChat Preview: Making Waves And Positive Change At Work

The TalentCulture #TChat Show will be back live on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about how to legally leverage social media in the recruitment process, and this week we’re going to talk about how to make waves and initiate positive change.

We should all step up and be the ones to initiate positive change in the world of work, instilling “wave-making” behaviors in others within their organization. By reinforcing our continuous desire to contribute and make a difference on an individual level, wave-making bridges the gap between that desire and the actions necessary to realize bigger changes and improve employee engagement.

Change can be big or small. It is the act of stepping up that makes all the difference, as well as the ripple effect on those around.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for the last show of 2014 as we learn about making waves and the impact it has on innovation with this week’s guest: Patti Johnson, CEO of PeopleResults, a change and human capital consulting firm.

Sneak Peek:

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: 5 Disruptors In The World of Work For 2015

Patti Johnson Three Easy Ways To Undermine Your Change

Laurie Ruettiman: HR Doesn’t Innovate

Sean Hougan: 2015’s Top 10 Disruptive Innovations in HR Technology

Debbie Fledderjohann: Disruptive HR

Kristen B. Frasch: Tech Changes Coming

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guest and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: Making Waves And Positive Change In The World Of Work

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, December 17th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Patti Johnson.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, December 17th!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, December 17th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Patti will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What does “making waves” in the world of work mean today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How should we measure change management to ensure we’re driving business outcomes? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What technologies & practices do you recommend companies implement to enable wave-making? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Until the show, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: raniel diaz via photopin cc

Does Your Workforce Feel The Love? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for full highlights and resource links from this week’s events? See the #TChat Recap: “Employee Engagement: Say It Like You Mean It.“)

At one point or another, all of us have felt it.

You know what I mean. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you suddenly realize someone you desperately want to pursue is simply just … not that into you.

Talk all you want about The 5 Love Languages or 50 Shades of Grey. No amount of self-help advice or passionate persuasion is likely to alter the destiny of that relationship.

Employer Love: Beyond Hearts and Flowers

Fortunately, it’s a different story for relationships between employers and employees. Even companies that haven’t connected with their workforce in meaningful ways can turn a lackluster situation around. But what’s the best approach? And is it really worth the effort?

That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is taking on this week at #TChat Events. And we’re fortunate to be welcoming two guests who understand the importance of developing solid employer/employee bonds: Chris Boyce, CEO at Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group.

Sneak Peek

Both of these executives see tremendous potential in strengthening employee loyalty and engagement by focusing on lifestyle fundamentals — health and well-being. Last year, Chris explained in a Bloomberg broadcast interview why it’s wise to invest in workforce wellness, especially in the face of rising healthcare costs and reduced benefits. Watch now:

Recently, Chris contributed a TalentCulture post expanding on this concept. In “Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture,” he makes the business case for embracing next-generation wellness programs — not just to promote employee health, but to build a more resilient business, overall.

What do you think about the importance of wellness programs and other employee engagement strategies in demonstrating employer “love”? This topic affects all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation.

#TChat Events: Love Your Employees, They’ll Love You Back

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 12 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Boyce and  Kevin Herman about why and how employers should demonstrate their commitment to workforce well-being. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 12 7pmET / 4pmPT

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

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

Q1: Why does workforce recognition and engagement matter more than ever?
Q2: What are the best ways employers can demonstrate this kind of “love”?
Q3: Where have you seen engagement in action, for better or worse?
Q4: What technologies help nurture workforce engagement?
Q5: What kind of engagement metrics are relevant and useful?

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Soul Search — Then Job Search

Written by career consultant, Maggie Mistal

Most of us assume that the best way to find a job is to look at what’s available in online listings, or to follow someone else’s advice. However, these methods often lead to unfulfilling career choices.

You only need to look at the latest job satisfaction surveys to recognize how unfulfilled most workers feel. For seven straight years, The Conference Board has reported that less than half of U.S. workers are satisfied in their careers. So what can you do to find job satisfaction and fulfillment while still making a great living?

Uncover Your Core Genius

“Core genius” is the special contribution that each of us brings to our professional life. It’s what you are in this world to do that only you can do. It’s the unique package of skills, experiences, passions, interests, talents, abilities and attitude that you possess.

Take my client Laura Rolands. Laura was a hard-working Human Resources executive at Chrysler. She’s also a mom. When Laura’s son was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she got to work and investigated how to best help him with attention strategies at school and in life. Through this experience and through our career coaching work together, Laura realized she had a talent and an interest in helping people with attention issues.

It led Laura to start an attention coaching business shortly after accepting a voluntary buy-out from her position in the automotive industry. Her business is in a relatively new field, focused on coaching people to overcome challenges associate with ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Actually, you don’t need a diagnosis to benefit — anyone who feels overwhelmed or distracted in today’s hyper-connected environment will find value in Laura’s services. Her clients have developed time-saving personal routines, and have improved their academic and business performance.

The Path to a Successful Career Fit

In 10 years of coaching, I have seen that we are each uniquely built to fulfill a specific purpose. And I am proud to have many success stories such as Laura Rolands. However, too often people take their unique talents for granted. In fact, the real challenge is that most people have no idea what their purpose is. That is where I help.

I believe the best way to find your purpose — your core genius — is to conduct a formal Soul Search, and get specific about all the elements of your ideal career. It starts with helping clients assess themselves in 8 essential dimensions, as part of the “Soul Search, Research and Job Search” process I developed.

These elements include: 1) your top interests, 2) key motivators, 3) skills you want to employ, 4) ways you want to contribute, 5) best qualities, 6) best work environment, 7) activities you enjoy most, and 8) salary and benefits.

Soul Search Before Job Search

By working through exercises and self-reflection questions, we prioritize what’s most important and brainstorm career possibilities that match those elements. You can gain even deeper clarity with my downloadable (PDF) Soul Search workbook.

This workbook contains over 30 pages of exercises to help professionals uncover the eight core elements of your core genius. The insights developed from each exercise are designed to correspond with a section of your own personalized career guide. This helps you easily organize and interpret the information as the basis for brainstorming new career possibilities and making sound decisions about the best options for you.

So stop looking at want ads and instead start talking to anyone and everyone about the ways you are already of service. Carefully process all of that input, and you’ll see viable new options ahead. Take seriously the value you bring to the table, and (like Laura Rolands) believe that you can get paid to deliver it. Let others know about the high-value service you are prepared to provide. Then deliver it consistently and professionally. Soon, you’ll find you have more than enough work in your new role — and you’ll be making a living while loving what you do.

Have You Discovered Your Core Genius?

Are you in touch with your core career strengths? What steps did you take to gain that awareness? And how have you applied it to your career? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

Maggie Mistal(About the Author: CNN dubbed Maggie Mistal “one of the nation’s best-known career coaches.” A former Learning & Development executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she is a certified life purpose and career coach who, for seven years, hosted “Making a Living with Maggie” on SiriusXM, and now airs a monthly podcast on iTunes. Maggie has been featured across major media, including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, CNN and The New York Times. Connect with Maggie on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Facebook.)

(Editor’s Note: For a limited time, in conjunction with her February 2014 appearance at #TChat Events, Maggie is offering special pricing for her “Soul Search” career planning workbook to anyone who mentions #TChat when contacting her. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a fresh perspective on your core genius!)

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

Managing Your Career: What Would Richard Branson Do?

Written by James Clear

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

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

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

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

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

How I Met Sir Richard Branson

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

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

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

Successful People: What Habits Make a Difference?

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

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

Here’s what I think makes all the difference:

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

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

Start Now — Even If You Don’t Feel Ready

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

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

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

The Truth About Getting Started

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

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

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

So, what are you waiting for?

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

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

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

Image Credit: Kris Krug Flickr

What's Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

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

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

The Art of Business Culture

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

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

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

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

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

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

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

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

So, ask yourself these questions:

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

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

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

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

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

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

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

MON 1/6:

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

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

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

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

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

What’s Your Culture Tattoo? #TChat Recap

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

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

The Art of Business Culture

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

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

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

According to Bersin by Deloitte 2014 workforce predictions:

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

Change Agents and Purposeful Symbols

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

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

So, ask yourself these questions:

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

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

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

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

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

SUN 1/5:

MikeMyatt (2)

Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

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

MON 1/6:

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

WED 1/8:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

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

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

#TChat Insights: New Year, New Company Culture?

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

New Year, New Company Culture? #TChat Preview

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

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

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

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

Hacking-Leadership-Book-Cover-678x1024

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

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

But how? What can leaders do to intervene successfully?

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

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Intrapreneurial Spirit: Cultural Alchemy

Written by Renée Warren, CEO, Onboardly

Perfection is hard to define — especially when it comes to finding the right talent for your company. I know this all too well. Running a small communications agency in Canada would seem like an easy next step, after my success as a freelance consultant. But finding the right people to join me and believe in my vision was a tough sell.

Striking Intrapreneurial Gold

I needed to recruit intelligent, resourceful, self-motivated individuals — people who could easily see the big picture and ‘read the play.’ People who didn’t need an employee manual, hand-holding or a perfect office environment to be creative.

So, I hired a few ambitious young people and was surprised at what happened next. They actually helped define the company culture. It blew my mind.

At the time, I wasn’t seeking help to clarify our “why,” or establish our organizational culture. I figured those things would come in time. Little did I know, in recruiting these mavericks, not only would my job get easier, but a unique culture would also emerge.

I learned that these individuals aren’t just hard working employees. They actually are all intrapreneurs — professionals who build businesses from the inside out. And that has made all the difference.

Intrapreneurs Onboard

How did this intrapreneurial crew help create the perfect culture for our growing agency? I’ve identified 5 essential contributions:

1) A Sense of Ownership

Intrapraneurs tend to have a better understanding of the big picture, and their ideas often reach beyond their day-to-day tasks. Our team members are strong believers in the work they do and they embrace responsibility for the results they achieve. They believe they are integral to the organization’s success — they’re not merely working in a position for a paycheck. This passion and attachment only grows stronger with time.

As living, breathing examples of the company culture, the team attracts others to our sphere. They set out to make sure that our culture is heavily entwined with day-to-day operations, and their ambitious attitude becomes contagious. It’s a deciding factor for customers, partners and additional employees, when committing to our organization.

2) Things You Can’t Teach

Intrapreneurs have a way of transforming an organization beyond expectations “because they are self‐motivated free thinkers, masters at navigating around bureaucratic and political inertia,” explains Vijay Govindarajan in a Harvard Business Review post.

Sure, some of these skills can be learned. However, the way this magical mixture comes together is often the product of innate characteristics, rather than the result of training. Members of this special breed either use company culture as a means to excel in a role, or they commit to crafting a culture that will elevate the organization as a whole.

Sounds too good to be true? There is some bad news: It’s often hard to identify this aptitude in a typical job interview. Intrapreneurial aptitude actually can take time — months, or even years — to surface. But if you have a knack for identifying human potential, you’ll be able to recruit ambitious, creative, self-directed individuals who are intrapreneurs at the core.

3) Always Adding Value

Some people go to work to make money, while others go to serve a purpose. Money is important to make ends meet, but it’s not the only reason why people stay with a company and love their careers. When someone is genuinely invested in their work, they will go to great lengths to contribute their best effort. They will work harder and longer to produce the results they seek.

More often than not, this “extra effort” comes from those with an intrapreneurial mindset — from people who refuse to stop until the job is done well. They are exemplary at shaping and contributing to cultures that create business value. Their work is not only self-fulfilling, but something that supports performance across the entire team.

4) Leaders Without the Title

Intrapreneurs are clearly leaders in their own right. They will proactively seek ways to cut costs and increase revenues, even beyond a CEO’s expectations. Regardless of the significance associated with change, an intrapreneur takes on the responsibility as though they own the company — and they make decisions, accordingly.

Perhaps more importantly, these people are visionaries who are willing to challenge the status quo. They “have a dream, and overcome obstacles to achieving it by selling the dream to others” (Hisrich, Peters, and Shepherd, 2010.) Their support of the company often is on par with upper management’s level of commitment.

5) Follow the Magic

No doubt, you already have natural intrapreneurs within the walls of your company. You may know and work side-by-side with some already. But you may not recognize others yet. Surprisingly, these “hidden gems” are not always your classic top talent. However, they are unique. And when you uncover them, if you encourage and nurture them, magic can happen.

How so? Intrapreneurs have a way of making complex processes into something more simple. They see the light at the end of a tunnel that others would abandon. They can think creatively inside and out of the box. They aren’t afraid of taking risks, and they are tenacious problem solvers. Magic? I’d say so.

Letting Your Inner Entrepreneurs Shine

Don’t ignore the signs of an intrapreneur. When you spot them, help them understand that you’re aware of their potential, and then support them throughout their journey. That “go” signal and encouragement from you may be just the thing to kick-start their mission — or keep them on course. Remember, these individuals may not “look” like the typical “CEO” candidate, but can (and will) create magic for you and the company.

It has happened for me. I know it can happen for others. Find the gold in your ranks and let it shine. Give them freedom to make choices and see things through to the next level. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll never regret it.

Are intrapreneurs actively driving your organizational culture? How do you support them? And how are they contributing to your organization’s success?

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

For more insight about how to foster intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

reneewarren(About the Author: Renée Warren is the CEO of Onboardly, a company that works with early stage startups to help them with customer acquisition and to gain visibility. She has worked with companies such as Udemy, Manpacks, and Beaucoo, helping them create an online presence that consistently gets their products in front of thousands of potential customers. Often referred to as a ‘geek in stilettos,’ Renée is passionate about creating a life that allows her to be the world’s best mom and build a company that continues to create value for its customers through inbound marketing.)

(Image Credit: Dan Brown on Flickr)

Intrapreneurial Talent: How Do You Find the “X” Factor?

Written by Susan Foley, Managing Partner, Corporate Entrepreneurs & Hans Balmaekers, Founder, SA.AM

Recently, we’ve seen a groundswell of interest in intrapreneurship – the process of developing organizational cultures that unleash entrepreneurial innovation from within.

Although intrapreneurship can be a powerful engine for business innovation and growth, it’s really not about generating ideas — it’s about turning ideas into profitable ventures. Intrapreneurs are the instigators who make that transformation happen.

Where can you find this special breed? We suggest that you start by taking a fresh look at your existing workforce. Even if you don’t recognize these innovators as they roam the halls of your company, we can assure you, they are there — and they’re likely to respond favorably when you offer support. But before you can move forward, you must first identify the right talent.

How can you spot the best bets? You may actually know some contenders. However, if your organization is large, you may not have crossed paths with some of your most promising candidates. They’re not typical high-potential or C-level mavericks — although they do possess traits that distinguish them from the usual corporate soldier. Keep these attributes in mind as you look for the right match with your initiatives…

7 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs

1) Intrapreneurs tell us that they feel like they don’t fit. Their organizations don’t understand them or appreciate what they do or how they do it. They see the world through a different lens. They’re independent spirits and independent minds. They think, act and make decisions differently. They often find themselves championing the opposite side of issues.

2) Intrapreneurs are a distinct group of individuals. They have a unique combination of competencies that set them apart from more traditional workers. They are self reliant, they like to explore new things, and they’re totally engaged in their heads and hearts. They actively seek out new challenges, effectively manage limited resources and stay focused on getting things done.

3) Intrapreneurs make significant leaps in thinking that are not always linear or fact-based. They’re able to connect the dots. They work with what they’ve got, not what they think they need. They rapidly test and refine ideas, to push them through each stage in a decision process. They make sense of uncertain and complex situations more quickly than most. And they’re resilient — tending to fail and recover quickly.

4) Intrapreneurs think differently. They view situations from a more holistic, “systems” oriented perspective. Many are “whole brain” thinkers who embrace both their analytical and intuitive nature. They’re integrative problem solvers who can consider two totally opposite concepts, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, they creatively combine ideas to form a new solution. They balance thinking and action, and they learn from the outcomes of those actions.

5) Intrapreneurs approach decision making differently. They resist diving into data too early. They don’t simplify things too quickly. They linger in complexity because it presents more options. However, they are decisive. They don’t allow caution to paralyze them. They will change direction or even shut down a project when new data suggests a different course of action. They effectively balance short term and long term demands. They’re willing to base decisions on insufficient data, rather than waiting for perfect data to become available.

6) Intrapreneurs have different motivations and aspirations than others. They are not interested in a traditional career path. They are self motivated and good at motivating others. They like to build things. They’re energized by the excitement of creating anything that moves their company forward. They want to work on the big stuff — the bigger and more challenging, the better. They like to start with a clean slate, because it gives them more freedom to be creative. They are highly curious, avid learners, and they constantly ask themselves if there’s something else they need to know. This also means that they’re restless and may easily become bored.

7) Intrapreneurs operate through action. They’re inherently creative. They typically don’t generate ideas — however they recognize the value in others’ ideas, and turn them into viable business options. They find iterative planning useful, because things are continually changing. They embrace the unexpected. They like surprise because it refines their understanding. They take calculated risks — looking at both the upside and downside of a decision. They deal with uncertainty by acting on it, rather than sitting back and waiting to see what happens.

Finding the right kind of talent is essential to developing an intrapreneurial culture. These are just some of the characteristics that successful intrapreneurs display. Of course, every individual is unique, but if you look for these traits, you’ll be well on your way to creating a team with the strength you need to move your organization into the future.

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

To better understand the relationship between corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, or if you’re looking for ways to implement intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

Susan Foley Intrapreneurship-001(Author Profiles: Susan Foley is Founder and Managing Partner at Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC where she helps companies leverage intrapreneurship strategies that accelerate business growth. An experienced corporate entrepreneur herself, Susan has guided organizations through intrapreneurial endeavors that have generated millions in revenue. She is also a professional speaker and author of the book “Entrepreneurs Inside.” She teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Executive Education program at Babson College, and is a Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership at Suffolk University. Connect with Susan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hans-Balmaekers-founder-sa.am_-001Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of SA.AM, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. Recently, SA.AM launched an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)

Image Credit: Marginal Boundaries

Intrapreneurial Talent: How Do You Find the "X" Factor?

Written by Susan Foley, Managing Partner, Corporate Entrepreneurs & Hans Balmaekers, Founder, SA.AM

Recently, we’ve seen a groundswell of interest in intrapreneurship – the process of developing organizational cultures that unleash entrepreneurial innovation from within.

Although intrapreneurship can be a powerful engine for business innovation and growth, it’s really not about generating ideas — it’s about turning ideas into profitable ventures. Intrapreneurs are the instigators who make that transformation happen.

Where can you find this special breed? We suggest that you start by taking a fresh look at your existing workforce. Even if you don’t recognize these innovators as they roam the halls of your company, we can assure you, they are there — and they’re likely to respond favorably when you offer support. But before you can move forward, you must first identify the right talent.

How can you spot the best bets? You may actually know some contenders. However, if your organization is large, you may not have crossed paths with some of your most promising candidates. They’re not typical high-potential or C-level mavericks — although they do possess traits that distinguish them from the usual corporate soldier. Keep these attributes in mind as you look for the right match with your initiatives…

7 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs

1) Intrapreneurs tell us that they feel like they don’t fit. Their organizations don’t understand them or appreciate what they do or how they do it. They see the world through a different lens. They’re independent spirits and independent minds. They think, act and make decisions differently. They often find themselves championing the opposite side of issues.

2) Intrapreneurs are a distinct group of individuals. They have a unique combination of competencies that set them apart from more traditional workers. They are self reliant, they like to explore new things, and they’re totally engaged in their heads and hearts. They actively seek out new challenges, effectively manage limited resources and stay focused on getting things done.

3) Intrapreneurs make significant leaps in thinking that are not always linear or fact-based. They’re able to connect the dots. They work with what they’ve got, not what they think they need. They rapidly test and refine ideas, to push them through each stage in a decision process. They make sense of uncertain and complex situations more quickly than most. And they’re resilient — tending to fail and recover quickly.

4) Intrapreneurs think differently. They view situations from a more holistic, “systems” oriented perspective. Many are “whole brain” thinkers who embrace both their analytical and intuitive nature. They’re integrative problem solvers who can consider two totally opposite concepts, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, they creatively combine ideas to form a new solution. They balance thinking and action, and they learn from the outcomes of those actions.

5) Intrapreneurs approach decision making differently. They resist diving into data too early. They don’t simplify things too quickly. They linger in complexity because it presents more options. However, they are decisive. They don’t allow caution to paralyze them. They will change direction or even shut down a project when new data suggests a different course of action. They effectively balance short term and long term demands. They’re willing to base decisions on insufficient data, rather than waiting for perfect data to become available.

6) Intrapreneurs have different motivations and aspirations than others. They are not interested in a traditional career path. They are self motivated and good at motivating others. They like to build things. They’re energized by the excitement of creating anything that moves their company forward. They want to work on the big stuff — the bigger and more challenging, the better. They like to start with a clean slate, because it gives them more freedom to be creative. They are highly curious, avid learners, and they constantly ask themselves if there’s something else they need to know. This also means that they’re restless and may easily become bored.

7) Intrapreneurs operate through action. They’re inherently creative. They typically don’t generate ideas — however they recognize the value in others’ ideas, and turn them into viable business options. They find iterative planning useful, because things are continually changing. They embrace the unexpected. They like surprise because it refines their understanding. They take calculated risks — looking at both the upside and downside of a decision. They deal with uncertainty by acting on it, rather than sitting back and waiting to see what happens.

Finding the right kind of talent is essential to developing an intrapreneurial culture. These are just some of the characteristics that successful intrapreneurs display. Of course, every individual is unique, but if you look for these traits, you’ll be well on your way to creating a team with the strength you need to move your organization into the future.

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

To better understand the relationship between corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, or if you’re looking for ways to implement intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

Susan Foley Intrapreneurship-001(Author Profiles: Susan Foley is Founder and Managing Partner at Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC where she helps companies leverage intrapreneurship strategies that accelerate business growth. An experienced corporate entrepreneur herself, Susan has guided organizations through intrapreneurial endeavors that have generated millions in revenue. She is also a professional speaker and author of the book “Entrepreneurs Inside.” She teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Executive Education program at Babson College, and is a Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership at Suffolk University. Connect with Susan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hans-Balmaekers-founder-sa.am_-001Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of SA.AM, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. Recently, SA.AM launched an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)

Image Credit: Marginal Boundaries

Workplace Technology and Innovation: BFFs?

Technology and innovation. How do these terms fit together in your mind?

If you’re like me, you tend to lump them into a fuzzy “whole.” Yet in today’s fluid world of work, each plays a distinctive role.

How do they differ? Why does it matter? And how can they co-exist in ways that add value in modern organizations?

Technology vs. Innovation — Revolution or Evolution?

Some people define technology by focusing on tools and machines. But there’s a deeper view. Technology is based on processes and skills that we mobilize to control and transform our lives. Our goal is to create and manipulate physical objects, symbols and norms. It starts with cultures that are seeking pathways to progress, but ends with solutions that are, in a sense, forced. In this regard, technology seems “revolutionary.”

Innovation, on the other hand, has been described as a better solution that is readily available to society. On the surface, innovation may seem revolutionary. But the process of innovation is more natural than contrived. So perhaps it’s more “evolutionary.”

Regardless, there clearly is an intersection between these two concepts — a symbiotic sweet spot. Therefore, it makes sense to look at them in tandem, respecting the fact that neither can exist without benefit of the other.

Do We “Like” Innovation More Than Technology?

I find it curious that people from all walks of life tend to embrace and support the concept of innovation as a beneficial part of what keeps our world turning. Yet technology often is not as well received. In fact, in some circles, technology is feared and loathed so much, it’s considered a demonic presence that requires experts to eliminate it from existence!

While technology is often equated with concrete mechanisms, innovation is more abstract — and therefore perhaps more approachable. Innovation doesn’t require advanced design, engineering or scientific proof, but can simply be a clever idea that makes life easier or more satisfying. For example, this video demonstrates how innovative ideas can add value without necessarily requiring sophisticated technology:

Change Is Good. Maybe. Sometimes. Sort of.

For some people, technology may symbolize fear of the future. The element of uncertainty can be deeply disturbing to the human psyche. Perhaps reinforced by exaggerated imagery from powerful Hollywood icons, fear surrounding the “dark side” of technology seems to persist. Of course, pop culture isn’t the only reason why our society tends to be apprehensive about accepting technology.

Why do many of us struggle with actually translating an idea from concept to application? And what keeps us from seeing the direct connection between innovation and technology? Some people claim that innovation and its outcomes are driven by a basic human urge to continue learning and expanding our understanding of ourselves and our surroundings. And yet, we all know people who defy that rule — people who never seem interested in learning anything new.

So, why do people perceive innovation and technology so differently? They could be considered two “stops” along the same path — innovation is thinking “outside the box,” while technology is the result of putting those thoughts into action. Technology is what we “make” from our ideas. And sometimes in the space between thought and result, we find resistance that can derail our progress. But the process isn’t necessarily sequential. It’s the result of continuous and sometimes nonlinear inspiration and feedback loops. We can’t dismiss how previous and existing technology and innovation lead to advanced thinking, learning and ideation.

Innovation and Technology at Work

Despite natural human resistance to change, technology solutions increasingly define the world of work. Sparked by innovative ideas, we discover and develop new ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, speed communications, and stretch the physical and cultural boundaries that previously limited organizational performance. Since Americans work such long hours each week, don’t we owe it to ourselves to create a work culture that is not only more productive, but also connects us in ways we previously never imagined, and encourages us to dream of how we might improve tomorrow’s workplace?

If we don’t dream it, we can’t do it. Without innovation to ignite the imagination, and without technology to power these thoughts, silos can isolate and stifle us from advancing our quality of life, and our pursuit of happiness. So let’s honor both as we look to the future of work.

Image Credit: Pixabay