Posts

Photo: Aleks Marinkovic

#WorkTrends: Aligning Around Performance Management: New Findings

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss an episode.

How, where, and when we work may have changed, but there still needs to be a way to manage performance. But do employees want that right now? Amid the uncertainty, the answer is yes. Employees are yearning for continuous feedback, according to a 2020 performance management benchmark report by Reflektive, which surveyed over 1,000 HR practitioners, business leaders, and employees. And the feedback process is bolstering the relationship between managers and employers. 

I invited Jennifer Toton, Chief Marketing Officer at Reflektive to #WorkTrends to shed light on this benchmark study and dig into some of the trends it reveals. But as Jennifer pointed out, what was surprising was what didn’t change. The formal process of performance management and the number of reviews are still intact, but the way we give and receive feedback has really evolved. “We saw a 90% increase in employees who want more formal feedback conversations on a monthly or more frequent basis.”  

Also compelling, to me, is that even in these times, employees have retained a sense of optimism. Many believe that six months from the time of the survey, business will remain as usual. A quarter believed they would learn more skills. Another quarter said they would feel proud of the work they accomplished, and about a fifth said that they will feel more productive. “Our employees are resilient and they’re adapting to the change,” added Jennifer. 

Much is up to the managers, though. They must be transparent in their communication, said Jennifer, particularly around salary freezes and pay cuts, as honesty feeds trust. In addition, 80% of employees said they were having regular meetings with their managers, and that they found the format was not only positive, but productive. 

We covered a lot of ground in this discussion, so I encourage you to have a listen for yourself. Got feedback? Feel free to weigh in on Twitter or on LinkedIn. (And make sure to add the #WorkTrends hashtag so others in the TalentCulture community can follow along.)

 Twitter Chat Questions
Q1: Why do organizations struggle with performance management? #WorkTrends
Q2: What strategies can help improve performance management? #WorkTrends
Q3: How can leaders refocus performance management for better results?  #WorkTrends

Find Jennifer Toton on Linkedin and Twitter

This podcast is sponsored by Reflektive.

(Editor’s note: This month, we’re announcing upcoming changes to #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats. To learn about these changes as they unfold, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.)

Photo: John Schnobrich

Soft Skills Aren’t Optional: How to Teach Them Well

When you hire employees, especially Generation Z and the youngest millennials, you’re investing in the future of your organization. Contributing to their development is one of the smartest investments you can make. But too many companies overlook the basics when it comes to learning and development. 

If you only focus on training to meet the specific tasks and requirements of a given job, you may be developing your employees as much as you think you are. Particularly when it comes to new employees switching to an unfamiliar role, or just-hired younger employees new to the workplace, they may lack foundational abilities you now take for granted. A study by the CollegeBoard found that employers find 26.2% of college students lack sufficient writing skills — and one fourth are generally poor communicators. 

So before you train for job-related tasks, make sure your employees have these essential skills. Call them soft skills, call them life skills, or call them basic work skills, but these four are not only critical for success in your organization, but throughout a career. And whether the training is up to managers, team leaders or anyone else there are a number of tools to help get your employees up to speed:

1. Time Management

Of all the skills employees can and should have, time management is one of the most vital, no matter what the position or task. This is really a group of skills, including knowing how to prioritize, create a list of must-dos, create a workable schedule, delegate tasks, and know how to create downtime. All of these add up to employees being able to work efficiently and manage their time productively.

The best time managers are those who are never fazed by deadlines: give them a deadline and they’ll meet it, no matter what. They know how to focus on the most important tasks and limit the amount of time they spend on the less important ones. They can create and keep to a schedule because they know how much each task will take them. 

Teaching It

Given that how to manage time varies greatly depending on teams and roles, team leaders and direct managers should be involved in teaching this particular skill. Young hires fresh out of college may have mastered the ability to keep up with classwork but will need to learn how to transfer the skill into the context of work. One effective approach: implement routines and incremental goals throughout tasks. These make it easier to segment the day into manageable chunks.

Team leaders and managers may find scheduling software helps: there are a number of different applications, such as When I Work, or a task management software like Asana or Centrallo. But don’t just leave it up to tech. Make sure to clearly communicate the priorities to employees at the start of each new task — and then help them figure out how to allocate their time more effectively.

2. Interpersonal Communication

Some employees will see more direct and immediate benefits from strong interpersonal skills, particularly if they’re in people-facing and communication-heavy roles. But whether employees are going to be giving a major sales presentation or relaying information to a coworker, interpersonal communication is always essential to get the point across. 

The skill includes verbal, nonverbal and listening skills, as in being able to recognize emotions and see someone else’s side. Non-verbal communication involves being able to recognize the subtleties of body language, eye contact, and gestures, and look beyond traditional assumptions to understand what’s really going on. For instance, lack of eye contact is often misinterpreted as dishonesty when it’s actually shyness or nervousness.  

Teaching It

Learning interpersonal skills is a personal process for most employees, and can be tricky with a brand-new hire or a person who’s naturally shy. As such, it’s best taught by mentors or team leaders with small, close-knit teams — provided that your team has the right dynamic to keep everyone comfortable.

You could start by teaching employees how to listen effectively, and recognize the different types of communicators — such as controllers, analyzers, supporters, and promoters. Each enters a conversation differently, and responds to a different listening and speaking style. 

Gather the team and have each person take a personality test to find out what kind of communicator they are and what they value in communication. From there, compare notes: see how each team member tends to communicate, note the similarities and differences — and work on ways to better communicate with each other based on this new data.

If you need more avenues to foster stronger interpersonal communication among your workers, consider heading online. There are a number of classes for improving personal skills, including those recently listed on The Muse. 

3. Written Communication

Writing is often just presented as one of the communication skills, but it’s likely better to set it apart and give it the focus it needs. This is a skill that’s undoubtedly critical in the workplace — the most valued, but perhaps the least utilized. Most of us can read and most of us can write in terms of knowing how to form sentences. But there’s an enormous gap between people who can write and people who are good at it.  

The ability to write is among the top three most valuable skills to employers: 82% of employers want to bring in new hires with strong written communication skills, according to recent research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The cost of hiring poor writers can translate into as much as $2.9 billion each year spent providing remedial writing training for current employees. Add in new hires as well, and that sum rises to $3.1 billion. And no matter the promises of AI to help assist with writing, technology can’t fill the gap in terms of bad writing. 

Teaching It

For employees in marketing departments and HR, for instance, written communication is usually a key part of the role. But the goal here is to enable all of your employees to build at least foundational writing skills — so emails are readable and a small brief or abstract is coherent. If you have employees with more potential, you’ll want to focus on helping them harness that with specific tools. 

Writing skills training may entail mentors — who can help with overall polishing and tone. But managers and team leaders are often the last stage of screening before a product reaches a client — and will know what will or won’t pass muster. But when a team leader has bad habits, those will carry through onto the team. Teaching writing should be done by those who are skilled in it and by the tools that are specific to it. 

Make sure the organization implements a clear and comprehensive style guide and provides it to all employees — sometimes poor writing is simply a matter of not knowing the rules. Set up periodic trainings on the standards of communication, presenting not only what’s expected of employees in terms of writing, but clear samples to model correct usage and style. Consider bringing in a writing coach to “workshop” pieces of writing with new employees: a hands-on, small-group setting is a great place to show what works and why. Reward good writing and share it so employees know what it looks like. But don’t punish mistakes: you don’t want employees who dread the process. 

4. Organization

In the workplace, we often sense who is organized and who isn’t by the state of their desk: some keep their workspace tidy and with everything in its place; others keep it in a state of perpetual disarray. But organizational skills are far more than what meets the eye. They usually go hand in hand with strong time management skills (reserving time to straighten the desk is a simple example). 

But organizational skill is also a matter of knowing all the steps to a task, being able to envision them and know how to complete them, who to bring in for different phases, and when to bring in a senior coworker for help over a hurdle. Organization is vital for any employee whose job includes overseeing, managing, project completion, or team leading. Likely, that’s nearly everyone — in some form. And it’s hard for employees to see — or convey — the big picture in terms of purpose and objectives if they don’t have the energy or ability to look away from the small stuff. But aligning with a greater sense of mission is a key part of employee engagement, particularly among younger employees. And it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Teaching It

Organizational training is usually team-specific, sometimes department-specific. For example, the organizational process that works for marketing workflows isn’t necessarily well-suited to engineering; bringing in an outside expert on calendar and schedule management won’t necessarily work for employees whose tasks have to be completed within a single day.

Direct supervisors are often the ideal choice for organizational training, with backup support from experienced team members. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their team — and are typically the ones who need to connect the dots or undo a snafu. 

The trend to remote working may call into question the need for a tidy desk for some — but it’s the mentality that needs to be emphasized here, and remote teams certainly need to learn how to be organized. Starting by training how to create a routine and a schedule — and stick to it — creates a framework for other facets. Employees need to know where they need to be, what they need to be doing, and when they need to get it done.  Begin with a daily schedule of the top three or four tasks for a given day, then increase with more tasks, over time, as the team masters what needs to be completed.  

This is where you may see a spark of recognition from new employees, particularly those just out of school — who suddenly see the similarities between meeting deadlines for schoolwork, which is mostly done individually, and completing tasks with coworkers as a team. Each has a part to play; each can contribute to the overall completion. Then, start tailoring the organizational methods to best meet the specific nature of a particular team or department. Just make sure skills are taught consistently, regardless of personal management styles or functions. As teams become more cross-functional, it’s key your employees have a shared language and skillset to draw from.  

Work and Life Skills, Integrated

The World Health Organization notes that we spend one-third of our adult lives at work.  That means what we do and know how to do at work inevitably has a huge impact on the way we live our lives. Employers have a responsibility to invest in their people for countless reasons, but this is key. Essential skills don’t stop at the office. We want and need to develop employees who can rise to challenges, as they have the skills to draw from, whether in life or at work. 

These are the people who keep your organization going at crunch time: they know how to schedule, how to communicate, how to write, and how to stay on top of the workflow. And they become comfortable enough in their abilities to help coach others on these vital skills as well. It’s an investment that pays off for generations.

These Blind Spots Are Ruining Performance Management

Have you ever watched a movie where the hero is being chased by predators through the woods? He quickly arrives at a cliff screeching to a halt and nearly falling off into a river far below. He now has a choice, stay to face the predators, which will likely kill him, or take a chance and jump into the river below risking possible serious injury or even death. He jumps.

In my opinion, this describes the decision many major organizations made when they changed
their performance evaluations. They were being chased by the poor results of the typical
appraisal. These include significant wasted time, complaints by employees (especially
millennials) about the quality and frequency of feedback, and the lack of development discussion time. These companies jumped. Some went into the “river of software” where the hope was to spend less time and remove much of the paperwork angst. Some jumped into the “no ratings” river to avoid the difficult and often damaging conversations which managers dread and which upset employees.

The acknowledged reasons for change are not always the root causes of that change. The predators chasing the companies to the cliff’s edge are mostly just symptoms of the real root causes. Unless we know the real reasons for dysfunction how can we be sure our jump is not just a reaction instead of a proactive strategy? The predators chasing the large organizations through the woods include significant wasted time on preparing and delivering the typical performance review meetings and the high percentage of employees and managers who are frustrated and disappointed.

Many of the employees (especially millennials) who are unsatisfied with the typical appraisal process claim the feedback is poor and doesn’t help focus on developmental needs. As high as 65 percent say it is not relevant to their job (Meinert, 2015). Only 8 percent of HR executives believed their performance management systems made a significant positive improvement in employee performance (Rock, Davis and Jones, 2013).

Accenture, GE, Microsoft, Adobe and Deloitte (to name just a few) have changed, but why are employees/executives still unsatisfied? There are two reasons: the lack of appreciation for a system – we call this scotoma –  a spot of blindness. The second is the idea that a manager is THE one who must provide feedback. I call this the omniscient manager scotoma.

Recent brain research suggests that the typical appraisal meeting creates an environment that can prevent creativity and innovative problem solving. This clearly is one of the root causes of the dysfunction, but it’s just not enough to ensure a valuable, sustainable redesign.

One of the main reasons the typical appraisal fails is because it is inconsistent with systems thinking. Rarely does one hear this explanation from one of the major organizations. Systems thinking requires the placement of responsibility for results on the design and functioning of the system and the avoidance of placing responsibility for performance on the individuals or parts of the system.

Many organizations still attempt to provide consistent and frequent feedback to the individuals within their organization. Organizations are social systems with interdependent parts. Any attempt to evaluate the parts ignores the influence of the system on those parts and will either frustrate managers and employees by wasting their time and/or make performance worse.

Why do organizations continue to insist that managers deliver the frequent feedback? This idea is a holdover from the hierarchical view of organizations. Why not design a performance management process that provides opportunities for everyone to learn from each other? Why not allow everyone to innovate their service and performance to improve the quality and speed of the system interactions?

A manager cannot possibly know enough to help employees with all their interactions. This approach in performance management is the false belief that managers must be omniscient and omnipotent simply because they have the big title.

A redesign that offers the option to speak to multiple employees would provide significant opportunity for those who desire frequent quality feedback. In a future article, I’ll share my ideas on how to do a redesign.

If an organization is ready to replace their appraisal process because the leaders find themselves at the edge of the cliff, it is important to recognize the two scotomas and redesign the process to address the two root causes of dysfunction. If not, you’re just jumping off that cliff because the predators have caught you. That’s not strategic leadership. It’s reactionary and deadly to company and employee success.

Photo Credit: douglasreeves Flickr via Compfight cc

The Amplified Moments of Every Single Pitch and At Bat

He threw heat like a wild man, his bulging arms and legs flailing from wind up to release. Every third pitch winged my at-bat teammates causing them to duck, or swing their midsection backward or forward. And every time he threw his mad-hatter ball, he smiled a mouthful of perfect pearly whites.

Sometimes we hit his fastball, and sometimes it hit us. Four and a half innings into six of our Little League playoff baseball game, our team, the Indians, trailed the Yankees by one run with only one out.

The Yankee parents hurled insults at ours; the Yankee players hurled insults at us. They were known for being poor winners and every losing team felt their wrath. We, the reserved underdog Indians, cheered each other on, and our coaches and parents echoed the positive affirmations…

KWG Indians Baseball

…I had been on deck, and after yet another wild pitch and a walk, the bases were now loaded. I remember how palatable my fear was walking up to home plate; I was thin and not the strongest hitter on our team. My throat cramped gritty and dry and it felt like a baseline chalk on hard-packed dirt in the hot sun. The Yankee catcher laughed at me as I approached.This memory came to me recently when a co-worker’s son played on a team that made it to the Little League world series. Every day there was an update on our internal social network of who his son’s team played, and whether they won or not – and win they did. Over and over again. While this winning buzz only excited a small group of us following along online, I imagined the electric thrill his son felt and all his teammates, the coaches and the parents, the local crowds, game after game after game while…

“This ain’t no hitter,” he called out to the wild man on the mound. “Easy out, easy out.

I looked up at our coach who gave me an intricate string of baseball signs, all of which translated into one action…

…and that’s when my co-worker posted the fact that they were in the final world series game against South Korea, which was always a tough opponent because…

…he wanted me to bunt. Bunt?!? I thought. If I turn into that fireball I’m a dead man. But step into the batter’s box I did. Wild man wound up, released the ball and then…

…two days later the news that they won the whole kit and kaboodle was posted, which was huge, and I kicked myself for not watching it on TV, the electric thrill of elevated Little League play and amplified moments of every single pitch and at bat…

…when I squared into the baseball hurling toward me, the Cheshire Cat smile ear to ear on wild man’s face, I realized instinctively that the ball was nowhere near my bat – it was headed at my chest – but instead of rolling out of the box away from the pitch, I put my hand up to stop it…

In the end, we lost that playoff game, and thankfully I kept my hand intact without it breaking. It was sore, yes, but my teammates and I left that game happy with our performance because we had played together with supportive coaching and parenting around us, abuzz with that playoff feeling that lifted our heart and soul.

Patrick Antrim, former professional baseball player with the New York Yankees and founder of leadership & coaching firm LegendaryTeams.com, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that leaders and employees alike should aspire to that championship game feeling every single day in the workplace.

Even if once and a while you get hit with the ball, which will happen kids. No doubt.

But if we can replicate just a smidge of that playoff feeling, focusing heavily on the employee-customer relationship first and foremost, performance always fares better in driving the amplifier effect of winning outcomes. This means the business impact of driving deeper levels of employee engagement is dramatic.

For example:

The data don’t lie, which is why the amplified moments of:

  1. Every single pitch. It’s a bitch to sustain pitching accuracy inning after inning, but in the near- and long-term, it’s the collective strikes and outs that make all the difference between your players and your competitors. We all want to win, we really do, and we all want to string that feeling together as much as we can year round. Just as long as your “team” understands what the strike zone is and gets guidance and practice to throw heat like a mad man and woman.
  2. And At Bat. Deeper engagement from amplified “at-bats” drives better talent outcomes and better business outcomes. When your “players” make the hits, and when they ultimately have individual and group wins, even when they’re the incremental wins during the regular season, they feel more capable and confident, and that translates into happy major leaguers who are then more likely to be candid in communicating and advancing the business and driving innovation.

This is the stuff of legendary teams. And the best companies – the winners – that aspire to that championship game feeling every single day in the workplace perform nearly two times better than the rest of the world. That’s a world of work sports fact.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today…”

photo credit: shoothead via photopin cc

Bring Your "Genius" To Work #TChat Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

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

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

RELATED POSTS:

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

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

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

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

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr

Bring Your “Genius” To Work #TChat Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maggie Laura

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout now

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

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

RELATED POSTS:

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

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now

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

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

See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Better Career Choices Mean Better Business

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll look at how employers can be more proactive in forging employee relationships. Our guests are Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin Pulse, and Kevin Herman, Director of Worksite Wellness at The Horton Group. It’s a discussion that speaks to the heart of talent-minded professionals everywhere, so save the date for this very special Valentine’s Week Event — Wednesday, February 12!

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: MenfiS at Flickr

Leadership + Influence From The Inside Out #TChat Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sneak Peek” Hangout

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

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

#TChat Events: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership and Influence

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

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Skip The Negative Feedback "Sandwich"

I’ve never fully understood the logic behind the “sandwich” method of delivering performance feedback. (I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept: Open a discussion on a positive note, then insert a negative piece of news, followed by another positive.) We like to think that we’re softening the blow by offering several of bits of positive feedback around a central negative message. However, we’re doing no such thing.

Actually, this approach may be a disservice to both categories of information — each of which plays a unique and highly valuable role in shaping performance. Overall, we need to pay close attention to the “cascade” of emotions and behavior that we initiate when delivering feedback, but also be careful to retain the value of the message.

Performance Feedback: Open Dialogue

Processing negative performance feedback is quite challenging for most of us — even though on a very basic level, we realize that accepting “where to improve” is critical to our careers. While positive feedback serves to motivate and energize our work lives (we all need this on a regular basis), the “negatives” can also provide useful information about where we should direct our attention. To remain competitive, we certainly require both categories of information — and I am not debating the value of either. Rather, I’d like to open a discussion about how negative information can be presented and approached, to afford the most progress possible.

When considering negative feedback, we must acknowledge core human characteristics; including self-efficacy (the belief that individuals can actually impact their situation) and goal orientation (some individuals focus on learning, others focus on demonstrating competence, and others focus upon avoiding negative judgement). To properly deliver negative feedback, we should carefully consider and frame the delivery, so potential damage to an individual’s psyche is minimized and progress is emphasized.

Developing A Constructive Approach

There’s truly an art to presenting information about performance deficits of any kind. When managers practice the sandwich method, I fear that once the “meat” of the sandwich is delivered — the “downside” of performance — we really don’t remember much of anything that follows. (Attempting to “hide” the information doesn’t address the issues.) We can certainly do a better job of moving the conversation to more neutral ground, where performance improvement can follow. But how? Here are some ideas:

3 Behavioral Considerations

1) How humans are “wired” to perceive bad news. We are likely predisposed to pay more attention to negative information, possibly a leftover evolutionary survival mechanism. As a result, we’re likely to become hyper-focused on the negatives. This clouds our “lens.”
2) We sorely need the positives. We should all be allowed to absorb what we are doing well at work. That’s not possible when information about our successes is delivered in conjunction with information about shortcomings.
3) We “digest” slowly. It takes time to process negative information properly. Initially, when you hear information you might not not want to hear, negative thoughts can spiral, leading to responses such as panic and denial. There are stages in this process that cannot be skipped.

5 Ways To Avoid “The Sandwich”

1) Build resiliency. Performance management should never be a once a year, “live or die” event. Ultimately, it’s a continuous process. Provide positive feedback concerning small successes along the way to provide balance. This helps difficult information become easier to absorb.
2) Address self-efficacy. Some individuals have the tendency to believe they cannot impact their performance or build a needed skill set. Explore this predisposition, to encourage a more hopeful perspective.
3) Focus on learning. Research has shown that in contrast to performance goals, learning goals can increase problem solving in relation to performance problems, possibly limiting the “sting” of negative feedback. Setting the tone to “learn from failure” can prove more effective in motivating and directing behavior.
4) Never “drop a bomb.” It’s wise to address negative feedback when it is delivered. Allow enough time to help control anxiety, and at least begin to discuss a plan for improvement.
5) Support the digestion process. After sharing negative feedback, be sure to provide plenty of support. Be highly accessible as an employee works through the information and begins to take logical steps forward.

How do you present negative performance feedback? What are your “best practice” strategies? How have these strategies helped you develop others in the workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Kitsa Sakurako/Flickr

How To Skip The Negative Feedback “Sandwich”

I’ve never fully understood the logic behind the “sandwich” method of delivering performance feedback. (I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept: Open a discussion on a positive note, then insert a negative piece of news, followed by another positive.) We like to think that we’re softening the blow by offering several of bits of positive feedback around a central negative message. However, we’re doing no such thing.

Actually, this approach may be a disservice to both categories of information — each of which plays a unique and highly valuable role in shaping performance. Overall, we need to pay close attention to the “cascade” of emotions and behavior that we initiate when delivering feedback, but also be careful to retain the value of the message.

Performance Feedback: Open Dialogue

Processing negative performance feedback is quite challenging for most of us — even though on a very basic level, we realize that accepting “where to improve” is critical to our careers. While positive feedback serves to motivate and energize our work lives (we all need this on a regular basis), the “negatives” can also provide useful information about where we should direct our attention. To remain competitive, we certainly require both categories of information — and I am not debating the value of either. Rather, I’d like to open a discussion about how negative information can be presented and approached, to afford the most progress possible.

When considering negative feedback, we must acknowledge core human characteristics; including self-efficacy (the belief that individuals can actually impact their situation) and goal orientation (some individuals focus on learning, others focus on demonstrating competence, and others focus upon avoiding negative judgement). To properly deliver negative feedback, we should carefully consider and frame the delivery, so potential damage to an individual’s psyche is minimized and progress is emphasized.

Developing A Constructive Approach

There’s truly an art to presenting information about performance deficits of any kind. When managers practice the sandwich method, I fear that once the “meat” of the sandwich is delivered — the “downside” of performance — we really don’t remember much of anything that follows. (Attempting to “hide” the information doesn’t address the issues.) We can certainly do a better job of moving the conversation to more neutral ground, where performance improvement can follow. But how? Here are some ideas:

3 Behavioral Considerations

1) How humans are “wired” to perceive bad news. We are likely predisposed to pay more attention to negative information, possibly a leftover evolutionary survival mechanism. As a result, we’re likely to become hyper-focused on the negatives. This clouds our “lens.”
2) We sorely need the positives. We should all be allowed to absorb what we are doing well at work. That’s not possible when information about our successes is delivered in conjunction with information about shortcomings.
3) We “digest” slowly. It takes time to process negative information properly. Initially, when you hear information you might not not want to hear, negative thoughts can spiral, leading to responses such as panic and denial. There are stages in this process that cannot be skipped.

5 Ways To Avoid “The Sandwich”

1) Build resiliency. Performance management should never be a once a year, “live or die” event. Ultimately, it’s a continuous process. Provide positive feedback concerning small successes along the way to provide balance. This helps difficult information become easier to absorb.
2) Address self-efficacy. Some individuals have the tendency to believe they cannot impact their performance or build a needed skill set. Explore this predisposition, to encourage a more hopeful perspective.
3) Focus on learning. Research has shown that in contrast to performance goals, learning goals can increase problem solving in relation to performance problems, possibly limiting the “sting” of negative feedback. Setting the tone to “learn from failure” can prove more effective in motivating and directing behavior.
4) Never “drop a bomb.” It’s wise to address negative feedback when it is delivered. Allow enough time to help control anxiety, and at least begin to discuss a plan for improvement.
5) Support the digestion process. After sharing negative feedback, be sure to provide plenty of support. Be highly accessible as an employee works through the information and begins to take logical steps forward.

How do you present negative performance feedback? What are your “best practice” strategies? How have these strategies helped you develop others in the workplace? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Kitsa Sakurako/Flickr

1+ Million Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap #TChat Recap

Many Paths Can Lead to Change

Wow, where to begin?  The #TChat Twitter stream blazed last night as the TalentCulture community brainstormed about how business organizations can help create future leaders. Paging all professionals — our students need your help!

Learning advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, moderated a passionate conversation focused on students’ need for opportunities to solve real-world problems, and mentors to guide them. She introduced us to the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  • To accept that they matter
  • To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  • To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

As Angela explained in a recent Huffington Post column:

“Students are willing to not only be the change we need; they are willing to lead the change. They are not asking for permission. They are asking for respect. They want to express their passions in meaningful ways. They want to show the world that in spite of their years, they are a force to reckon with.”

Choose2MatterOur community is partnering with Angela’s organization, Choose2Matter in this important venture. By offering encouragement and expertise, business professionals can support students who are ready to solve problems that they define and “own.” Investing in our young people is an easy win for business organizations, because it develops skills that lead to a more employable work force.

There are many ways to make a difference in the future of enthusiastic students. Mentoring through Choose2Matter gives us an opportunity to do more than talk about the potential pathways. It gives us an opportunity to put our community’s innovative ideas into practice — with real-world impact.

Stay tuned for more information from Angela, as the initiative moves forward. But why wait? Reach out to Choose2Matter today, and let us know where your life as a mentor leads you!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/4

AngelaLg

Watch our sneak peek interview with Angela Maiers

This week’s guest, Angela Maiers, framed the week’s events in a special blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters.”

SUN 5/5

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, suggested “5 Ways to Build a Future Leader” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/6

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a special “sneak peek” video interview with Angela, and outlined the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “Business Case for Mentoring.”

TUE 5/7

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio recording

#TChat Radio: Our hosts spoke live with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran about workforce readiness issues, and the potential for mentoring to make a positive impact.

WED 5/8

Partnership Post: Meghan explained why partnering with Choose2Matter makes sense for TalentCulture, and invited community members to join this mentoring movement. Read “Did You Learn Today? Pass It On.”

#TChat Twitter: Angela and Mark returned to lead the community in a real-time discussion of skills gap issues, and suggested solutions. The feed lit-up with great ideas throughout the hour. But perhaps the most important takeaway was this:

Exactly! Are you inspired? See more highlights in the slideshow and call-outs below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “The Business Case for Mentoring”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-business-case-for-mentoring.js?template=slideshow”]

 

Looking for a quick peek at Qs & As? Here’s a snapshot:

Why do you think education is falling short in the US? Or do you?

“Strong focus on standardization & grades. Not a lot of focus on learning in several ways.” @VizwerxGroup

“We need to teach kids how to think, not what to remember.” @heatherbussing

What can employers do to improve the readiness disparity (expectation vs reality)?

“Hire for culture, train & then trust.” @zacharyjeans

School-Business Partnerships Resources (shared by Jerry Blumengarten ‏@cybraryman1)

How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

‏”Mentoring someone shows that you care + respect that person. That respect alone can change people” @PhilKomarny

“Skill building. Every day youre unemployed, your skills depreciate. Its important to keep them fresh.” @AshLaurenPerez

How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

‏”Business leaders can share their stories w/o telling others the solutions. It’s reciprocal > Listen & learn” @AlliPolin

“Internships a must at university level & start earlier than that. Teaching at all levels can include more biz concepts.” @wmchamberlain

What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

“Use technology to innovate, creat,collaborate, share and engage to make a difference in bridging the skill gaps” @sonaleearvind

“Tech gives even the quietest person a voice to be heard globally.” @cybraryman1

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Angela Maiers and Mark Moran for sharing perspectives on why and how mentoring can bridge the skills gap. Your enthusiasm is infectious!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about mentoring or related issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we have a very special topic in the works! Look for a preview post this weekend.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)

 

Did You Learn Today? Pass It On

“To teach is to learn twice.”  –J. Joubert

I love my work. But there are challenges (understatement). Keeping pace with 21st-century talent and technology trends means commitment to a perpetual learning curve.

The “human side” of business is now a vast and fluid domain. It’s a melting pot, churning in overdrive, with talent-recruitment-engagement-performance-management-HR-bigdata-leadership-development-socialmedia-and-career-skills all colliding and transforming at every turn. Each day brings more than anyone can absorb. We all feel it. This sensory overload is the new norm.

Learning as a Way of Life

I can’t stop learning (and couldn’t if I wanted to). My career demands nothing less. I just got back from an exciting HR conference in Philly where I met fascinating, bright, dedicated people, and discovered jaw-dropping, radically innovative tools. In a word, I learned.

To be honest, there is nothing in the world I love more than learning — anywhere, anytime. Exchanging ideas in any social environment is an experience that makes my pulse race. And these days, I often feel like I’m experiencing a non-stop adrenaline rush!

It’s exhilarating to see smart people rewriting rules (even at this moment). And although it’s often exhausting to be at the heart of a global learning community like TalentCulture, I also feel alive and engaged every day. I hope you feel that way, too — and that’s why you participate.

Learning as Leverage for Others

Along with the adrenaline highs, sometimes on this “world of work” odyssey, I’m exposed to alarming challenges. And as my friend Angela Maiers explains, one of the most alarming issues today is the increasing shortage of skilled talent. It’s a reality that the business world can no longer afford to ignore.

Simply put — we are not preparing students sufficiently for today’s economy — let alone for the future of work.

On one hand, this leaves behind millions of potential workforce contributors who are considered unemployable by most standards. On the other hand, companies are struggling to find qualified talent for unfilled positions. Adding insult to injury, companies have slashed recruiting and development budgets to the bone in recent years, while simultaneously increasing their expectations for finding capable talent. This is not a recipe for success.

We Can Matter — As Mentors

AngelaLg

See the #TChat Preview & sneak-peek video

Something must change. I know that TalentCulture community understands this.

The good news is that each of us is equipped to lead the way — with whatever time, knowledge and skills we have available. Even more good news — there are ready-made ways to “pay-it-forward” as mentors. And one of those ways is through Angela Maiers’ bold educational initiative, Choose2Matter.

Angela isn’t waiting for government or big business or educational institutions to fix the problem. Instead, she’s using her brains, her passion and her professional network to unleash a tiny movement that can make a lasting difference in the future of every student that Choose2Matter touches.

This fearless approach to “future-proofing” our nation is why Choose2Matter’s leaders are joining us this week on #TChat Radio, and on our #TChat Twitter Chat (see the preview: “Business Case for Mentoring”). And it’s why TalentCulture is committed to support Choose2Matter, going forward.

Together we can bridge the skills gap, one student at a time. All it takes is enthusiasm, business experience, and a commitment of your time to help students work productively toward their dreams.

The goal is to encourage the genius in every child. The kids are ready. So let’s give these amazing dreamers the support they need to achieve to their fullest potential. As a talent development champion, I’m in. Why not join me?

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her appearance on the #TChat Radio Show: “Choose to Bridge the Skills Gap.”)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Business Case for Mentoring: #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full recap of the week’s events and information? See “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap: #TChat Recap”)

Talent-in-Training: Where’s the Beef?

The future of business and innovation depends on a generation of students who — unfortunately — are learning in an educational environment that is largely irrelevant and uninspiring.

Employers increasingly demand skills that the workforce is not prepared to deliver. There’s a massive disparity between school curricula and business expectations. And communication between educators and business organizations is broken.

How can we turn this situation around to win the hearts, minds and imaginations of tomorrow’s leaders?

According to education adviser, advocate and writer, Angela Maiers, it begins when accomplished, real-world professionals make a commitment to mentor and encourage today’s students. And, as she explained to me in the brief #TChat Sneak Peek video above, it’s never too soon to start.

#TChat Events: Bridging the Skills Gap for Tomorrow

I think Angela makes a compelling case. Do you? Can business mentors fill the gap? What role should schools play in fostering student/business connections? And how can talent-minded digital communities like ours help advance this agenda?

Fortunately, this week at #TChat forums, we’ll have an opportunity to explore these and related issues with Angela and her Choose2Matter partner, Mark Moran.

Join the TalentCulture conversation this week, and let’s explore the possibilities:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording

#TChat Radio: Tuesday May 7, 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT

Angela and Mark talk live with hosts, Kevin W. Grossman and Meghan M. Biro about how to address the workforce skills gap now and in the future.

#TChat Twitter: Wednesday, May 8, 7:00pmET/4:00pmPT

Follow our Twitter hashtag and be part of an open, collective conversation, as we explore these issues with Angela and Mark:

Q1:  Why do you think education is falling short in the U.S.? Or do you?

Q2:  What can companies do to improve their expectation/investment disparity?

Q3:  How can mentoring help make the unemployable employable again?

Q4:  How can business leaders help bridge the skills gap and create jobs?

Q5:  What technologies will help enable education-rich organizations?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us anytime, and share your questions, ideas and opinions. Just add “#TChat” to your posts, so others in the community can follow the action.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To learn more about Angela’s point of view, read her TalentCulture blog post, “Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters. Or listen to her December 2012 appearance on #TChat Radio “Back to the Future” Edition — when she discussed key trends in talent acquisition and development.)

Creating Future Leaders: A Mission That Matters

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that Angela Maiers was our guest this week at #TChat forums. She’s a passionate, highly visible education advocate who helps create life-changing learning experiences for today’s youth. We invited her to share some thoughts about her mission — creating better ways to prepare students for success in tomorrow’s world of work. To see an inspiring video interview with Angela, see “The Business Case for Mentoring #TChat Preview.” OR for a full recap of the week, see “1 Million+ Ways to Bridge the Skills Gap.”)

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  Jack Welch, former CEO, General Electric

The world is changing at an ever-accelerating rate. This has been the case at least since the invention of the personal computer in the 1980s, and became ever more so with the introduction of the commercial Internet in 1993.

In light of this drastic change in the workforce, how much has the US education system changed? Let me assure you of this: if you are under the age of 65 and if you returned to high school today, you’d feel right at home. Does that surprise you?

Educational Standards: A Reality Check

The “world and workforce” standards to which every school in our nation subscribes are not standards that the business community sets. They are standards “our community” — educators — are comfortable with. We can handle critical thinking, good communication skills, impeccable grammar and computation.

But schools do not encourage students to become bold thinkers, dreamers and doers.

Sure, schools have computer labs and some of them even have a computing device for every student. But instruction has changed very little. Indeed, with the never-ending growth of standardized assessment tests, US schools have become narrowly focused on teaching students how to fill-in the proper bubble on a multiple-choice, standardized exam.

Did you see any transferable work or life skills in the above paragraph?

Opportunity Cost: Priceless

Jack Welch may have it exactly right. While some pundits are forecasting a “revolution” in public education, most observers see these words as totally incongruous. Sure, public schools will continue to exist — at least (as educational consultant Peter Pappas writes) until parents find somewhere else to send their kids all day. But school is quickly becoming largely irrelevant to a student’s learning experience.

Every second that a child is “being educated” without insight, experience and real-life support from accomplished adults is a wasted opportunity to maximize their education — and their potential contribution to the world.

Mentoring Can Make All the Difference

Into this breach comes Choose2Matter and the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2Matter recently launched the Quest2Matter, which challenges every student in three essential ways:

  1. To accept that they matter
  2. To accelerate the message that everyone matters, and
  3. To act on a problem that breaks their heart.

Students have boundless energy and enthusiasm for taking action. What they lack is real-world savvy and the ability to find authoritative and comprehensive information on how to tackle a problem.

Where do they find this insight? Enter the TalentCulture World of Work Community.

Choose2MatterThese future world-changers can and will do incredible things. Members of the TalentCulture community can greatly enhance the students’ contribution by serving as mentors to these amazing young people.

As they work on selecting, curating, and moving forward the top world-changing ideas, TalentCulture members will be guiding them every step of the way.

Merely by knowing that accomplished professionals take their ideas seriously will profoundly impact the seriousness with which students approach their contributions.  For mentors from TalentCulture, this is an unparalleled opportunity to provide real-time, real-life leadership to budding leaders of the world. This will help redefine what the TalentCulture community stands for, and will establish a paradigm of professional and student mentorship for the entire world to follow.

As one talent-minded professional to another, I hope you’ll consider offering your expertise and enthusiasm to help shape the future of tomorrow’s leaders. Looking forward to discussing the Choose2Matter mission in more depth in #TChat forums this week — and I’m excited to collaborate with the TalentCulture community, going forward!

 Image Credit: Pixabay

Collaborative Leadership Sparks Competitive Advantage: #TChat Preview

We weren’t supposed to win. And early on in the game it looked that way as we were down by 14 points. We were one of the best in our high school league, but our cross-town rivals were just a little bit better.

Right before halftime of our big rivalry football game, with 4th down and inches to go to the goal line on a rain-soaked, muddy field, we scored a touchdown.

It was risky. Our coaches wanted to just go for the field goal, but our quarterback and the entire offensive team wanted the touchdown (I played right guard) — we wanted to recapture the competitive advantage and turn the momentum around.

Any momentum we could get. Well, we got it and won the game 28-14.

I could wax poetic for hours about my high school football glory days, but of course I won’t. Thank goodness it is football season again, though.

My point is that you have to take chances to fail, fail, fail, then succeed. That takes stalwart personal and professional leadership, to be able to gain the trust of your team, to motivate them, to be empathic and emotionally intelligent and embed that same level-headed collaborative adaptability into each and every team member to have the foresight in taking strategic risks from the trenches.

Breathe, but then blink, and where are we now?

Right now the global economy is still an interwoven hot mess. In the U.S., about 46.2 million people were in poverty in 2010, the highest number since the government began tracking poverty in 1959. Profitable companies are sitting on billions in profits while the unemployed become more unemployable.

It’s also too easy to be an armchair manager and leader in any organization and blame politics, economics, financial institutions, weather, hang nails, etc., on why businesses are laying low, especially when they are the real managers and leaders in the same said organizations.

I can’t tell you how many countless surveys I’ve seen in the past three years that validate over and over again how many organizations (leaders across departments and roles including talent management and human resources — especially talent management and HR) agree that leadership development, succession planning, coaching and mentoring, employment engagement and retention, and training and development are of the highest priority.

But yet when it comes to making the business case for the bottom line, we’re not doing so well and everyone is still holding their collective business breath. I mean, the world of work hasn’t come to a complete standstill and there are companies engaged in proactive, collaborative leadership — but still.

Listen, I get it. Too many business leaders are still scared of the collaborative and competitive touchy-feely and so they sit paralyzed pushing their people to do a lot more with a lot less.

But leaders, you’ve got to connect the dots between effective collaborative leadership development and business growth. That’s what leads to long-term competitive advantage.

Join us for #TChat next week, September 21, at 4 pm PT, 7 pm ET, where we’ll talk about developing collaborative business leadership today.

It’s 4th and inches, folks. Let’s go for it.

Of Gutter Slugs, Leaders and Love

“You boys are the gutter slugs; the front line leaders fighting in the trenches with all the guts and no glory. Be proud of that. Hold your heads high; love the game and each other. Each one of you is a leader, so let’s lead this team to victory. I love you guys!”

I remember those words well, one of many inspirational shout-outs my high school offensive line coach used to give us. A big ol’ Grizzly Adams of a man – SMU graduate and parole officer, Coach Sutton instilled in us a sense of belonging, of understanding our critical roles in the greater game.

Even after long, excruciatingly hot practices in the Central Valley of California where I grew up, when it was time to do the after-practice conditioning – and there was always after-practice conditioning – we complied with minimal grumbling and gave 110% no matter how dog-tired we were.

We loved him and the game. Tons.

That’s tons of love for a bunch of teenage Valley football heroes in the early 80’s. But the life lessons he taught us have stayed with me for decades:

  • Each of must learn to lead our self with love.
  • Each of us must learn to lead with others with love.
  • Each of us must learn to lead their teams with love.

Right on, brother. We knew no other way to play.

Segue – Why do we have such a hard time with leadership and love in the workplace? Lisa Earle McLeod from Forbes.com tells us why we don’t and why we should in an article titled Leadership: What Love’s Got To Do With It.

Myth No. 1: Feelings aren’t professional.

They are the embodiment of life and all things in the workplace. “Emotions are at the root of every human endeavor.”

Myth No. 2: Love is too mushy to measure.

Enough with the measuring; the bottom line will grow when we own our behavior. “It’s about taking responsibility for creating the conditions that will bring out the best in others.”

Myth No. 3: Love means no accountability.

Now that’s just a bunch of garbage. Love is the ultimate accountability. “Love is all about mutual accountability. When you love someone, you expect them to give you their very best.”

Lastly, Lisa writes: “The real secret of lasting success is taking a good, long look in the mirror and deciding that your people and your organization deserve a leader who has the courage to stand up and love them.”

Whether on the front lines or the team captains, everyone can be empowered to lead responsibly with love. Know no other way to play.

Image Credit: Stock.xchng