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#TChat Recap: Email Productivity A #NewWayToWork

“Email is the oil that runs the enterprise” – Carolyn Pampino

This week’s guest Carolyn Pampino, Design Director for IBM Social Business, focuses on designing better ways for business people to receive, act on, and share information – something that is vital in today’s virtual, social and hyper-connected society.

Let’s be honest, email can be overwhelming and painful at times. When Carolyn’s team researched email end-users, they found that there were a number of people walking around feeling guilty that they would miss that one extremely important message, buried somewhere in their inbox.

Email is unpleasant simply because it’s a method of communication that was invented in 1971, and has not changed or evolved to deal with an increased flood of communication. Messages that are not created as equals are treated as such, categorized by name, date, and subject.

To add fuel to the fire, we can access the overload of messages at all times through any of our devices.

Yet, traditional email it’s one of our most indispensable methods of communication, used across generations. So what can we salvage?

The goal is to make the end-user more productive and increase happiness. Instead of creating a new mail client, the amount of email that we have to deal with needs to be reduced, showing us what to focus on. Basically, make it relevant or make it go away.

So, can technology ease the burden that technology itself has created for us?  Will email be able to act like our personal assistant, streamlining our life? If it transforms to be more collaborative and intuitive, maybe, but it’s unclear how good.

https://twitter.com/cpampino/status/575805860900962304

See What #TChat-ters Said About Email Productivity A #NewWayToWork

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The New Workplace Social Contract of Go, Go, Go

I remember the fear of actually finishing something. Then the fear of executing that something. And then the fear of never quite being good enough. And then the fear of being crushed under the weight of overcritical judgments again and again.

And then again, I remember the pleasure of being pushed to perform, even in the face of failure, to reach for the sky.

Get to 80 percent and go, go, go.

No words have ever been sweeter for employees today. I heard them recently. Have you?

I certainly hope so, because if you work in a risk-adverse, top-down-tyranny culture where entrepreneurial employees who are adaptive and innovative are not welcome – well, you are in a world of personal pain. And if you’re one of the high performers, even in the face of tyranny, then you’re more than likely to go, go, go.

Away.

Yes, we keep talking incessantly about how bad the relationship is between employees and employers. Yes, we get it. It’s bad.

But even with the limited solutions that are offered today in the world of work, none has been actionable enough; we just keep playing misery shuffleboard.

Unless your company moves beyond its misery and doesn’t worry so much about getting the go-to-market branding strategy 100 percent perfect to market and sell your stuff. (Your company does market and sell stuff, even you’re a non-profit, you know.)

Combine iterating over and over until you almost never get it right with working for a leadership team that punishes you either way you go, go, go, and again, you’re gone.

Employers aren’t going to succeed long term in such an increasingly competitive environment. Instead, they must feverishly work on keeping their employees engaged, something that has become all the more difficult in recent years (and most of whom fail).

And that means encouraging continuous adaption, innovation and good old-fashioned failure. Because within a highly communicative and collaborative culture, regardless of how dispersed your workforce is, getting to 80 percent of go-time is where it’s at.

That’s why the continuous impetus to improve engagement is clear and is the new social contract between employees and employers; the fact that we need to move fast, fail together, and ultimately excel tangibly and intangibly. This is how companies will drive long-term business outcomes and retain high performers.

The 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research report found that the vast majority (78 percent) of business leaders rate retention as either urgent or important. Moreover, research from many sources continues to show that employee engagement is still a major issue for companies around the globe, with only 13 percent of employees worldwide considered to be actively engaged.

This is likely due to the traditional and transactional “contract” between employees and employers; employees are expected to do their job, and they get compensated for it – no questions asked or else. However, this approach does little to actually engage employees who increasingly want to feel that they are valued and have a bright future with the company – a paycheck isn’t enough.

If individuals don’t receive the experience they increasingly want – where they feel the employer is committed to their ongoing development and helping set the stage for a long and successful tenure of reciprocal growth, they will seek to go elsewhere. In order to truly engage and encourage continuous collaborative execution without fear of failure to succeed, organizations must evolve their talent performance management practices to drive talent engagement strategies and determine how they can provide a more rewarding experience.

Exactly what Marla Gottschalk, Ph.D., Industrial & Organizational Psychologist and Director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, and Chip Joyce, CEO and Co-founder of Allied Talent, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show.

The fact that building a new bridge between employees and their employers starts when we take the time to understand each others’ needs. Helping each other manage priorities that ultimately propel the business in a positive direction (on most analytical accounts) will make all difference. Part of what makes an organization healthy is keeping organizational goals aligned with employees’ goals.

But it’s not just about work; it’s about making a difference through the belief in what we’re doing. Employees want to know that they have an opportunity to make a difference at work and perhaps in the world. This can’t happen until employees and employers have the necessary “relationship” in place, and we can’t get there unless we can adapt, evolve and advance – i.e., change for the better.

Our PeopleFluent marketing team recently had the opportunity to meet with Claire Schooley, principal analyst for Forrester Research on Application Development & Delivery Professionals. We discussed a variety of topics, but the most insightful one was on change management. The fact that the speed of business leaves most companies and their workforces in the dust shall we say, and they need to be able make changes quickly and keep employee continuously developed and aligned with company goals. This is how we stay “frosty” and competitive in today’s complex global economy. One of the keys is that HR professionals actually play a leadership role in managing this critical organizational change in order to drive successful business outcomes.

We can talk all we want about creating a new workplace contract, but unless we invest in changing the culture and sustain change management, we’re not go, go, going anywhere.

It’s time for the new workplace social contract of go, go, go. Hey, I’m feeling blessed at 80 percent.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman is currently a Marketing Director at PeopleFluent, where he’s responsible for content marketing, product marketing, and social media outreach. Kevin also co-founded the TalentCulture “World of Work” community and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro.

photo credit: Gavin Craigie via photopin cc

Workshifting Will Get Better Working Together

These days, I work from home. Mostly.

My “workspace” is upstairs in a special section of our master bedroom I call my corner office nook, complete with a window backyard and neighborhood view. My workspace is fluid as well, flowing into the living room, the backyard, even the bathroom sometimes.

What? You’ve never participated a conference call sitting on the toilet in the wee hours of the morning with your phone on mute? C’mon.

I used to have coworking space (leasing office space shared with other entrepreneurs, consultants, contractors, remote employees and startups). Plus, I did have my home office in the garage that doubled as a guest room, but then my mother-in-law moved in with us a few years ago. It’s okay, though. We’re close. Really. Really. Close.

Today if you ask my daughters where I go to work, they respond proudly:

“Daddy goes to work on an airplane!”

And this week, that would be true. I do, in fact, travel regularly. Not every week thankfully, but when I do, I use the same collaborative communication tools I use working from home for being a remote daddy and husband – the phone, FaceTime (video calls), texting and social media.

Yes, e-mail as well, that horribly inefficient communications tool; like playing air hockey blindfolded and you don’t even know when you’ve been scored on until the score is 100 unread messages to zero returns.

Screw the zero in-box. How about zero e-mail initiatives?

Sigh. Whatever. I know we’re still going to use e-mail for years to come, but my goodness, can’t we leave on the webcams and see the whites of each other’s eyes?

KWG UnicornAt least I have my magical unicorn on this trip, one of many delightful stuffed creatures my daughter’s have me take on my business trips. In fact, as soon as I get to my hotel and I fire up FaceTime, they cry out, “Show us [this trip’s creature]!”

And so it goes. I’ve worked in offices, commuted in arterial chokeholds, leased coworking space, worked from home in my pajamas, worked from parks (but not in pajamas), worked at the beach, practically anywhere (fully clothed, I promise), including Wi-Fi high in the sky at 36,000 feet. More of my peers, friends and colleagues – entrepreneurs, consultants, marketing and sales professionals, customer service professionals, programmers and engineers, artists and writers – are also working remotely these days.

Speaking of my peers, friends and colleagues, TalentCulture #TChat Show guest, Simon Salt, author of Out of Office, shared with me the following data points on what he calls “workshifting,” another term for virtual, remote or telecommuting work:

  • Self-employed workers were nearly three times more likely than wage and salary workers to have done some work at home on days worked—56 percent compared with 20 percent.
  • Self-employed workers also were more likely to work on weekend days than were wage and salary workers—43 percent compared with 31 percent.

Not a shocker for those of us who do it, I know. Plus, the Global Workplace Analytics and the Telework Research Network estimate that 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week and 3.1 million people (about 2.5 percent of the employee workforce) consider their home their primary workplace. SHRM research shows that nearly half (46 percent) of all companies have at least some contractors, freelancers, or remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office.

According to an HBR article by Tammy Johns and Lynda Gratton, many experts have also projected that within a few years, more than 1.3 billion people will work virtually. They actually lay out the virtual workforce progression very neatly:

  • Wave 1: Virtual Freelancers: through home computers and e-mail
  • Wave 2: Virtual Employees: through mobile technology and global expansion
  • Wave 3: Virtual Colleagues: new ways of providing community, collaboration and shared space

The reality is that, if you are a remote employee, or manage remote teams, workshifting is messy, and I’d argue we’re somewhere in the riptide of Wave 2. Mostly.

Even when companies source for the right virtual fit – reliability, good communication skills, sound collaborative skills, emotional intelligence, cultural sensitivity – expectations and priorities can be unclear and incomplete from the start on both sides of the employment aisle. This can lead to confusion, frustration, unhappy contractors, employees and managers alike.

And that leads to Nowheresville, Daddy-O.

Thankfully there are many great frameworks to consider when hiring and managing a virtual workforce, including Tuckman’s Team Development Stages, Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Belbin’s Nine Team Roles and others, but I’ll give you my simple two-step approach that I’ve learned working through all the combinations:

  1. Start With Face-Time Framing, Then Repeat Regularly. While it may not always be realistic or necessary when working with contractors (depending upon role and scope), companies should always try to onboard new remote part-time and full-time hires in person, even if it’s only for a few days. It’s invaluable to all parties to sit down together in the same rooms and set clear, actionable priorities; discuss how exactly everyone’s going to fulfill those priorities as well as how they’re going to report on them and review them; meet and mingle with their co-workers, managers and peers (if possible); and review all the equipment and systems at their disposal like WiFi hotspots and laptops and mobile devices (fluid virtual engagement), internal social networks (real-time virtual engagement), and collaborative talent management systems (continuous formal engagement) that will be used to enable work and connection. The face-time framing should also have some frequency throughout the year – monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or at a minimum annually (although since tenure is shorter these days, you should consider more than once per year).
  2. What Have You Done For Me Lately? Oooo, oooo, oooo, yeah. The push for continuous feedback must be redoubled for your virtual workforce and those managing them. Regular check-ins must be scheduled and adhered to – no constant cancelling because managers are just to “slammed.” Everybody’s friggin’ slammed and making the time to touch base, review projects and progress is critical to driving discretionary effort and business outcomes. And whatever you do, avoid defaulting all communication to e-mail; so much is lost in translation and cultural sensitivity is usually at an all-time low in electronic memos. Pick up the phone or jump on a videoconference, preferably the latter. In fact, I even recommend keeping the webcams on, at least during agreed upon times, so co-workers and managers can stop by and disrupt you collaborate with you on whatever.

Yes, I crossed out “disrupt you,” but remember, it is messy. There’s something to be said about the collaborative nature of working together in the same office, but the dark side of that can include more disruption than productivity (you know, the gotta-minute goblins – “Hey, gotta minute?”).

Pinch me – I didn’t really need to finish this, today, at my desk. Instead, I’ll just take it home because I don’t have a life. Many of you have probably experienced the fact that your most productive times are before work, after work, and on the weekend. Not really the way most of us want to hum the work-life mantra.

But those of us working from home feel a pain of another kind in the lopsided pinch, having lots of uninterrupted productivity while feeling an invisible expectation that we need to be available anytime since we have the distinct pleasure of conference calling in our pajamas. And yet, our employers are paranoid that we’re not actually doing anything.

Yes, messy mostly, but workshifting will get better working together because we’ll all figure it out, improving engagement and productivity while all parties reap the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of the way we’ll work and the why of it all.

Daddy’s flying home from work now, girls. Keep the corner office nook warm for me.

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The Halves And Wholes Of Leadership

“Love is born with solar flares
From two magnetic poles
It moves towards a higher plane
Where two halves make two wholes…”
–Neil Peart

We simply made it up. Neither of us had really had any formal lessons; I know I never had them. My stiff “pin-hips” as my mom and dad had always pointed out were no match for any boogie-woogie, hustle or swing, not even the tipsy white-boy sway I recalled trying to pull off one too many times. Also, rock and roll air guitar and drums do not count. Ever.

Leadership

On the other hand, my now wife, then fiancée, had always, and still has, the disco-lemonade rhythm. In other words, she can dance. Naturally. With uninhibited hip-shaking bliss. So with my sweat and perseverance and pin-hips, and her with her rhythmic flow, we proceeded to put our very own wedding dance together to our song “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia.

We also wrote our own vows based on mutual respect, but we weren’t all about two becoming one, we were all about two halves making two wholes, reveling in our individuality and differences just as much as our shared values.

A few years after we were married we took dance lessons for a while, really pushing me, and even my lovely wife, out of our comfort zones to learn different dances. Which is why we became and still are such huge So You Think You Can Dance fans, the dancing competition show that gives change management new meaning, each week pushing the young dancers to learn other styles, regardless of how much training they had prior to making it on the show. (Do note that a few of the SYTYCD dancers have eventually become choreographers.)

That’s why the biggest part of leadership is me. I mean you. And me.  It’s starts “here” – inside [hand to heart]. We now have a family and are its leadership, and although we’re still individuals with differences, we have developed a healthy amount of collaborative codependence, one partner leading the other and then switching roles, knowing when to delegate, when to make collective decisions, and when to go forth confidently alone.

Yes, it takes two to tango. And 200 can, too. And even 200,000. As Mark Fernandes put’s it:

You gotta find your dance floor when it comes to leadership.

And that takes a whole lotta practice and continuous learning and leading. Mark is the Chief Leadership Officer of Luck Companies, a global Values Based Leadership (VBL) organization, and he knows as well as I that leadership development isn’t anything new.

In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, US companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development, and it’s a top-three human capital executive priority.

However, “around 30 percent of US companies admit that they have failed to exploit their international business opportunities fully because they lack enough leaders with the right capabilities.”

Where too many halves make no wholes.

That list goes on, and I’m sure you’ve read other articles and research on “why leadership fails.” What’s clear today is that all employees (i.e., learners as future leaders) today care about different things and their expectations from business in their roles as associates, customers, investors, and community members are changing rapidly.

All organizations and their leaders have to push themselves constantly to bend without breaking the break dance floor. Mark Fernandes also shared that the culture of any organization is an extended shadow of leadership. For business leaders to successfully transform themselves and bring others along with them, they must come from a place of passion, purpose, competency and authenticity.

Ballroom spinners caught in a serious moonlight.

But now we’re doing too many solos. According to a recent HRE article by Peter Cappelli, organizational leadership has shifted emphasis from committee-based, collaborative decision-making systems, too much greater individual accountability. This in turn has impacted leadership’s ability to delegate decisions and they have transformed into are “judges” where employees may make suggestions, “but they, the leaders, decide.”

You can only imagine what this does to morale, employee engagement, productivity, innovation, all the business bingo buzzwords being swept away from a dark and dirty empty dance hall floor, which is why we must always:

  1. Prep the halves. We fall in and out of love with our jobs all the time. Some more than others. You may not want to love your job or the company you work for, but you gotta want to love what you do, when you do it, how you do it, who you do it with and for, and how you get better at it. The ability to celebrate our differences with ourselves and others, while challenging ourselves to be better, is where personnel leadership starts – and where long-tail leadership follows.
  2. To make the wholes. Even with all the pressures of the marketplace, shareholders, attracting and retaining talent, leadership today should return to a greater union of collaborative codependency and continuously developing and making one another better. We all gotta find our dance floor and then let our teammates walk across that junior high gym floor to ask them for the pleasure of making some business magic, being literal leaders, project managers or individual high performers.

You may not want to call it a marriage, but that’s why staying in love is hard work and at the very heart of business, the halves and wholes of leadership.

“Let’s sway – under the moonlight, this serious moonlight…” —David Bowie

photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin cc

Kill Them With Kindness: Ineffective Motivational Tactics

Office break rooms are often riddled with “you can do it!” style posters. You know, the ones that have a picture of Sequoia trees in California with something about how long they took to grow. These are great posters with great (and albeit cliché) sayings and quotes, but what do they really do for your employees? Honestly, absolutely nothing. While it’s interesting that Sequoia trees take 3,000 years of trying weather conditions and sustained effort to grow 300 feet, your employees don’t care. In fact, only 19% of employees are happy with their jobs. The other 81% would rather not see your motivational posters while they begrudgingly work for 8 hours to bring home the bacon.

Sometimes it is just another job.

“Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” –Confucius

Especially in rough economic times, your employees may feel stuck. This doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged. They might very well be engaged in fear of losing their job, however, this doesn’t imply they are happy. Stagnancy creates an atmosphere of disengagement. Even though it is easy to fall into the habits of stagnant behavior in the office, giving programs and advancement opportunities keep employees engaged while they are at work. Workplace giving programs, like donating to a charitable organization, motivate employees to make an impact, and that often will translate into their work. With the growing number of benevolent Millenials entering the workforce, 90% of companies offer a wide range of diverse charities to donate to in order to foster an atmosphere of community.  Opportunities for growth can increase engagement as well, so they begin to see it as more than just another avenue for a paycheck. The more employees value their place in your company, the more engaged they become.

An engaged employee isn’t necessarily a happy employee.

“It is the working man who is the happy man. The idle man is the man who is miserable.” –Benjamin Franklin

Engagement and happiness in a company are two completely different aspects of an employee’s attitude. Simply saying your employees are happy with their jobs, so they must be engaged, or even that your employees are unhappy so they must be disengaged, are false equivalencies that will only result in furthering their detachment. There are over 70 million employees who are disengaged from their jobs. This isn’t to say they aren’t happy, in fact they could be extremely content in the security your employment offers them. However that doesn’t mean they are fully dedicated to the projects you’ve left on their plate. It is expected of American employees to work until we can’t anymore. A lot of disengagement can be attributed to this. In a study of 21 developed countries, the United States was the only country that doesn’t consistently offer 10 to 30 days of paid vacation. Regardless if a U.S. employer gives their workforce vacation, they don’t use it because they are trained to work hard no matter the cost, even the costs to their health. In fact, middle-aged men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for 5 consecutive years are 30% more likely to have a heart attack.

Employees won’t always like their jobs.

“Do not hire a man who does work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” –Henry David Thoreau

Truth is, they don’t have to like their jobs to be engaged or motivated. Now, those 24% who are actively disengaged find reasons to not be at work while in the office because they honestly hate their jobs. The majority of the workforce does not fall into this category, however. The workforce is primarily disengaged, with 63% of employees sleepwalking through the workdays. Although they are disengaged, it’s not so drastic they can’t be “checked back into” their work. Effective motivation doesn’t come from overplayed sayings on pictures of nature. It just simply doesn’t work the way you hope; all you’re doing is evading the hard work. “Nothing worth it was ever easy,” or so they say. So, engaged employees may not be an easy goal to achieve, but when you take the time and the effort to find what motivates your workforce, it’s worth it.

(About the Author: Sean Pomeroy, CEO of Visibility Software, has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.)

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The Authentricity of Mr. Pixie

Authentricity

 

“If I could wave my magic wand, I’d set everybody free.”         —Neil Peart

Call me Mr. Pixie.

That image, now delightedly (or unfortunately) burned into the memory of nearly every one of my colleagues and cohorts, is a special one for me. It was another Fun Friday team theme recently at work where I got to pick the theme.

And that was “Fairy Friday.” Seriously. In honor of my two little girls, who love all things Disney and fairy related (think Tinker Bell). The parameters were that our team, if so inclined, should dress up fairy-like, to symbolize the marketing magic we created for our recent PeopleFluent Mirror Suite™ launch.

I’m comfortable going all in when I commit to something – work, fun and all in between. It’s taken time to get there, but here I am, pixie dust and all, and anyone who knows me knows all this all too well. Pulling off any product and/or solution launch in global scope is incredibly stressful and painful at times whatever the industry is no easy trick, especially on time, fairly error free and within budget. Our entire team was totally all in making this a highly successful launch.

During high-pressure collaborative world of work activities, you can’t (and shouldn’t) help but to put your entire self out there, on the line, for all to see, with laughter, tears, face breakouts, sweat, belly aches, IBS, hairballs and all. Notice the first ingredient is laughter, though.

If you’re like me (and the PeopleFluent team I work with and my TalentCulture family) you want nothing less that true authenticity of those around you during stressful times and mellow times, including leadership, co-workers, direct reports, and volunteers if you have them.

Yes, authenticity. To be comfortable being yourself and to be celebrated bringing yourself to work (responsibly of course). Authenticity empowers diversity and diversity encourages authenticity – and both drive innovation and positive business outcomes. According to recent diversity research featured on HBR, six behaviors unlock innovation across the board:

  • Ensuring that everyone is heard
  • Making it safe to propose novel ideas
  • Giving team members decision-making authority
  • Sharing credit for success
  • Giving actionable feedback
  • Implementing feedback from the team

The research went on to say that leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a “speak up” culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential.

Mercy me, doesn’t that just get you jazzed? It does me. This kind of electricity is palatable and powers inspirational and aspirational productivity, to be the best you can be. That’s the feeling I get when I’m around my girls, Bea and Bryce, the Bhive as they’re known around our house.

Authentricity

Authenticity truly is more than a buzzword today and has powerful significance to both employee and employer. Authenticity is hard work and usually involves some risk, but the payoff potential is huge. It’s an inside job – you have to start with yourself – something we learned recently from Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt on #TChat.

“Fly your freak flags,” say Jason and Joe.

But it’s not that simple either. It’s not neat and orderly, it’s not always safe, it takes time and patience and tolerance, and it’s certainly not as common as we’d like to see, especially in the workplace, which is why:

  • Fairies Rule. Business leaders who allow their employees to bring their whole selves to work, to find solutions to workplace problems together, magical things can happen. That’s because when we’re all encouraged to advance our skills, strengths and passions, we learn to create, seize and transform business opportunities into business outcomes – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (think the “magic song” from Cinderella). In authentic diverse environments, people usually have stronger social relationships that again produce greater results.
  • And Fairies School. Again, employees want ongoing growth opportunities, workplace flexibility, tools and systems that encourage collaboration. They also want a commitment to a reciprocal climate of support and encouragement, all of which lead to payoffs in employee retention, satisfaction, and overall business performance. Leaders that plug into while enabling these power sources know it’s ultimately the key to success of HR and to the business.

If I could wave my magic want, I’d make everything all right. Anything is possible with the power of authenticity. Some might call this the eccentricity of Mr. Pixie, but I prefer authentricity.

Photo Credit: Βethan via Compfight cc

Cultural Diversity: Not Just For Large Corporations

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often start with a good idea and then become successful when they learn to do it well.  This often involves tight synergies amongst their early employees, who may have very similar visions, attitudes and specific ways of doing things.  Sometimes, these come from a shared background.  Perhaps they started out as a family owned business.

SMEs must eventually turn to more innovative ideas as they continue to grow.  This is often an area where early success stories can turn quickly into failure, or as a minimum, failure to thrive.  Growth challenges can be complex, especially if the SME has saturated their original market.

Raising cultural awareness in an SME can occur in many ways.  Hiring employees from a different background to those responsible for the original core business can bring a different perspective to their initial success.  For example, employees from diverse backgrounds may be able to see what worked well in the core business but also see missed opportunities and what could have been done better.  Broader perspectives such as these may mean the original market isn’t saturated after all, but defined in a narrow way.  Diversity allowed the organization to see the true total market.

Additionally, employees from diverse backgrounds may also be in a position to understand how to open up entirely new markets, building on the core business that the original employees may not have considered or understood.  Addressing these markets may require new skills, which may range from language to understanding different purchasing motivations in various customer groups.  They may also be able to leverage markets empathetic to their own backgrounds, such as someone from an ethnic minority who has maintained family connections from their original country of origin.

Raising cultural awareness can be achieved in many ways.  Variation in employee background should not be considered purely as diversity of ethnicities or nationalities, although these can be part of the equation.  Gender, sexual orientation and disability should also be considered sources of additional cultural values, even in very small companies and can introduce innovation, both in the SME’s core business as well as spawning ideas for appealing to new demographics.

For example, ignoring gender could mean that you have just written off up to 50% of your total available market.  Sometimes, these mistakes can be made simply by implementing a poorly worded marketing campaign.  Other organizations make assumptions that their product or service would only appeal to a specific gender whereas the reality may be very different.  It is also important to keep in mind that gender roles and expectations may vary substantially from market to market and may be more pronounced in some markets abroad.

Nor should generational differences be ignored.  Many experienced employees may have accepted the tools of technology but may never have grown completely comfortable using an ever changing array of gadgets, software programmes and a reluctant acceptance of enforced office enhancements.

Younger, more flexible employees are much more likely to be comfortable with quickly evolving technology and, more importantly, can see and enable a fuller extent of their benefits to the SME and their employees.  Their value may be widespread, from streamlining processes to facilitating research across new markets.  Younger employees may also have much more experience in understanding how technology appeals and is used across various cultures, thus possibly opening entirely new gateways to doing business in more innovative ways.

For example, many older employees may dismiss the commercial value of social networking websites.  However, many younger employees use them for many reasons, including gaining information that can be used to decide on whether or not to use a product or service.  SMEs in particular can profit from utilizing social networking websites as they are also generally very cost effective – especially if you have enlisted the skills of a young employee who understands the wider impact of social media on your targeted market.

Different work experience can also bring in different knowledge on how to do things more efficiently and effectively.  Whether it’s an innovative idea for an enhanced product or a more effective control of financial practices that directly contribute to the bottom line, different corporate cultures and the benefits of hiring people from these different backgrounds are often overlooked.

Well run SMEs that prioritize cultural diversity may be positioning themselves favorably for the time when they may no longer be so small.  If and when the time comes to expand their marketplace across new cultural horizons, they will have their corporate mindset in place from which to continue to develop their employee talent.  Employees who are culturally aware in their small or medium organization have probably already developed many of the necessary best practices to take their business to the next steps, including to a wider, even more diverse global market.

Declan-Mulkeen(About the Author: Declan Mulkeen is Marketing Director at Communicaid a culture and business communication skills consultancy which provides cultural awareness training.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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Ignore The Dream Stealers

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

Do you have dream stealers in your life? You know, those people who think they are doing you a favor by ripping apart your aspirations and sharing their more “realistic” point of view with you? If your dreams are large enough, chances are good that you will make others around you uncomfortable.  Many of the people in your life want you to stay at their level – they want you to do well, just not better than them.

There’s a story about putting crabs in a bucket. If you put one crab in the bucket, it will easily climb out. However, if you put two crabs in the bucket, the second one will hold the first one back so it can’t escape.  Think about the people you hang out with most, do they encourage or discourage you?  Do they hold you back or let you soar? See how blogger Scott Williams shares how he benefits from his mother’s encouragement.

Your goals and desires are yours and yours alone. If you see yourself reaching the pinnacle of your personal and professional pursuits, you can achieve them. How many stories have you heard of people that went against the odds and achieved extraordinary success? How many more people do you know who are stuck in “woulda, coulda, shoulda” land? The “woulda, coulda, shouda’s” will give you every excuse in the book as to why they didn’t make it. Why they HAD to give up. How they just couldn’t continue. They don’t want to admit that they simply gave up.

Sometimes you also have to make difficult choices about the people in your life. If you are not encouraged and supported by others regarding the goals that you are totally passionate about, you may have to leave those people behind. Joe Barton shares helpful “quick and dirty” tips for getting rid of the toxic people in your life. When you are on the path to your destiny, it’s important to associate with people who see you accomplishing your dreams. Your vocation may not be right for everyone, but it’s perfect for you.

Take out a piece of paper and draw two columns.  On the top of one column put a (+) and the other column, put a (-).  Think of the people that you associate with on a regular basis.  Put the names of the people who leave you feeling better about yourself when you are around them on the PLUS side, and those who make you feel worse about yourself on the MINUS side.  Which column has more names?

If you find that you need to change your associations, go where others with your same interests hang out. Meetup.com is a terrific place to start. You’ll find kindred spirits – or at least people who know what the heck you’re talking about.  You can also join your industry association and go to their meetings.  Attend networking events and talk to “friends you haven’t met yet.”  Get out of your comfort zone and consciously look for new ways to meet people.  You’ll be surprised and pleased with the quality of friendships that develop when you meet people on a similar path.

What is your passion? What spurs you on? What will you do TODAY to move closer to your goal? Take a teeny-tiny baby step today, and then one tomorrow. As you inch closer to your calling, you will meet with fabulous success in unexpected hours.

(About the Author: Employee Engagement Expert and Motivational Speaker, Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She achieves this through personalized employee engagement and customer retention keynotes, workshops and seminars. She is the author of six books, and is featured in two films including the award-winning, “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For more information, please connect with Lisa at her website: www.grategy.com or email her at lisa@grategy.com.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Collaborative Learning: Web Conferencing Tools Made Easy

Computer technology has progressed in amazing ways, providing a seemingly endless list of tools to make life, work, and even learning easier and more available. In reference to education, electronic learning (e-learning) successfully utilizes electronic media in the pursuit of higher learning. E-learning takes advantage of such media technologies as typed text, imagery, audio bites, video, and animation to teach its diverse lessons.

Although television and audio/video tapes have been successful e-learning outlets, the internet has revolutionized distance learning, mainly due to its interactive attributes. One of the most popular forms of internet e-learning lies in networking through a variety of platforms which allow the advanced sharing of information. Through such means, collaborative learning can occur which places a group together for the purpose of sharing and interacting, thus increasing learning time and effectiveness while reducing costs. 

Web Conferencing Features

Web conferencing technology is the driving force behind collaborative learning. Meetings, classes, and training sessions that used to only be accessible through person-to-person, telephone, email, or online chats are now available in face-to-face settings from great distances over the internet.

The value of a visual and audio presence will always hold its edge in any learning or training environment. The power to drive home a message relies on an acute ability to offer a winning presentation, and the visual and audio capabilities of web conferencing delivers these qualities to its audiences. 

Benefits of Web Conferencing

Web conferencing, therefore, offers a wide selection of benefits for those pursuing collaborative learning goals. A large number of people can get together from around the world to give and receive information. Through webcams and web microphones, interaction takes place in real time so that ideas, solutions, questions, and answers can all be shared with all who are in attendance.

Web conferencing platforms also allow users to interact through websites, pictures, charts, files, notes, recordings, videos, whiteboards, and more to present what is needed–all through a computer screen. These meetings can also be recorded and experienced over and over again to gain more from the information provided.

Both time and money is also saved through web conferencing technology. Great amounts of time are saved by bypassing travel. Meeting can be set up within minutes, shared through email, text, or phone and attended from wherever there is a computer and internet connection. Not having to travel to distant lands or even across town to attend meetings also saves a lot of expense as well as reduces one’s carbon footprint. 

UberConference Makes It Easy

UberConference is a top web conferencing application that allows its users to partake in stellar audio conference calls. Once the application is loaded, connection is made automatically through a dialup feature. Attendees are then selected and receive an email, text, or call to meet. No registration or PINs are required by attendees to be present at the meeting which has been initiated by the original user. The UberConference app is available for iPhone or Androids as well as computers.

Practically every feature necessary to create and attend a high quality web conference is included in the UberConference software. For instance, a visual overview is provided on every attendee so that everyone can be viewed which drastically reduces confusion of who said what. A variety of filtering features are also included so that users can mute, remove, add, or ‘earmuff’ (temporarily block) other callers. Meetings can even be recorded in a popular MP3 format.

The company of UberConference has taken their service to the next level by merging with Google which has a well established video platform, but suffers from limited voice call participation. The merger allows UberConference, with its limited video abilities, access to Google’s powerful video platform while enhancing it with its wide calling capacity (up to 100 people). The two companies integrate their technologies via the Google Hangouts platform which provides a conferencing experience that excels the expectations of any collaborative learning or other web conferencing requirement. 

Conclusion

The power of the internet has opened a wide and beneficial door for those seeking collaborative learning opportunities. By utilizing the latest web conferencing technologies, such as UberConference, knowledge can be obtained and skills honed easily, conveniently, and without wasting time and money.

(About the Author: Norah Abraham has been a freelance writer since 2005. She attended the University of Boston and graduated with a Bachelor in English Literature. She loves public speaking and motivates people in her own comic style. She loves gadgets and techie stuffs. In her career, she has written dozens of Press Releases, Articles, and Essays.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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How Transparency Positively Impacts Your Workplace

There’s a basic social contract that exists between workers and their employers. Employees rely on their companies for their living and for a stable work environment where they can thrive. Businesses depend on their workforce to provide the talent and manpower necessary to develop products, serve customers and generate revenue.

It sounds simple, but this arrangement actually requires quite a bit of trust on both ends. For their part, corporate leaders must count on their workers’ honesty and integrity as they give employees access to a whole range of company resources, put them in direct contact with clients, set them to work with sensitive customer information and give them the keys to the office. For the most part, this contract works, and the corporate world keeps on running.

In fact, openness and honesty with employees – which is a natural offspring of this trust – might be even more significant than a foundation that allows basic business operations to occur. According to Fortune, transparency is a key factor in developing positive customer relationships. Part of the reason it’s so important is that greater information about the way the company is running and what its goals are can empower employees to do their jobs better, and this capability leads to better products, higher-quality service and engaged workers.

Transparency In The Workplace

In addition to being open with customers and the public about company operations, fostering greater transparency within a business can contribute to a positive employee culture. Simply demonstrating that executives and stakeholders trust their workers with information about the organization’s successes and failures, strategies and goals helps to build up that social contract of trust and responsibility. Of course, there must always be prudence in determining how much and which information to divulge to the entire company, but greater transparency tends to make a positive impact on workers.

Fortune explained that transparency involves factors such as practices, policies, algorithms, operating data and future plans. It means giving staff members the information they need to develop a deep understanding of what their company stands for and what its objectives are. This, in turn, can foster work pride and inspire innovation, loyalty, independence, positive co-worker dynamics and passion to meet common goals, the source added.

Supervisors who think their company is plenty transparent might want to reconsider. Referring to a recent poll, Forbes magazine noted that 71 percent of employees felt that their managers failed to spend enough time explaining goals and 50 percent said that their organizations were held back by a lack of transparency.

Sharing More information 

One place to start is with employee engagement survey results. Many leaders collect information about their workforce by distributing questionnaires and analyzing the responses, but workers are rarely informed about the results. Sharing this data not only helps create an environment of inclusiveness and teamwork, it also brings staff members on board to help solve some of the problems they identified. Letting them know the enterprise’s strengths is a great idea, too, since it can encourage them to continue doing whatever makes the company strong.

Fortune observed that technology makes it easier for leaders to employ resources like surveys and use them as tools to increase transparency. Rather than merely soliciting feedback, the point is to develop constructive conversations about ways to improve. Welcoming employee ideas and providing avenues for them to contribute to problem-solving initiatives builds a strong business community and enables companies to benefit from the collective wealth of knowledge and brain​ power in their workforces.

As Forbes put it, every organization must determine how much transparency is right for its unique situation, but ignoring transparency completely is most likely a costly error.

(About the Author: David Bator is passionate about programs that move people. As Vice President of Client Strategy at TemboStatus he works with growing companies everyday and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action. For the last 15 years David has worked with the leadership of companies large and small to build programs that leverage strategy and technology to deliver extraordinary value for employees, customers and partners.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Ditching Your ATS? You’re Not Alone

Having been in the HR tech business for a number of years, I have spoken with countless HR and recruiting experts about their technology moves. As applicant tracking systems have grown in popularity over the last several years, larger companies are looking for new, more effective software and smaller companies are looking to make their first ATS decisions. Regardless of which group you fall into, there are a few things you should consider when shopping around.

Software Advice used the information that they gathered about past clients’ issues with their ATS and their reasons for switching, to create their 2013 ATS BuyerView report. Let’s look at the top three reasons that today’s software buyers are in the market for a new ATS:

1) Need More Robust Software

The applicant tracking software of less than a decade ago won’t have some features that have become pretty standard, and totally necessary in today’s recruiting climate. As other forms of HR and recruiting tech have advanced, each other type has to keep up. For instance, LinkedIn’s “Click to apply with LinkedIn” button has become wildly popular with applicants and recruiters alike, yet this option is not available with some of the older software.

Furthermore, social sharing and the ability to post listings on job boards directly from the secure platform is a relatively new function that only more current software will have. Many companies with free or outdated software are also finding that they need cloud-based software to keep up with the competition.

2. Current System Too Complex

Seeing this at #2 on the list isn’t surprising at all. I actually run into this a lot. A company is sold on a vendor that offers it all…except for user-friendliness, support or training. The most robust, all-inclusive and up-to-date software is going to be useless if no one can, or will use it. Recruitment expert Randall Birkwood said:

“You will find vendors will offer a number of bells and whistles, which may be confusing.  Ultimately, what is most important is whether it is easy to set up, intuitive, and requires minimal maintenance.”

3. Improve Efficiency/Effectiveness

This is sort of a broad category, but I have some solid hunches on what these users were unhappy with, given my experience in the industry.

Searching and Matching

An ATS that easily imports, parses and organizes all of the data you can shoot at it is great, but the user has to be able to access that data effortlessly. Poor search functionality can render an ATS useless.

Internal Candidate Portals and Referral Portals

HR is tired of being the middleman. Internal movement and career development is crucial to engagement and retention. Allow internal candidates to easily view and apply for listings. Additionally, your ATS should have a portal for employees to make referrals. These portals will provide all information that the candidates and referrers need, while decreasing the burden on HR and recruiting resources.

Reporting

Metrics are vital to the continued success of any recruitment team, and they aren’t easy to gather without the right tools. Companies are looking for reporting tools that effortlessly gather information on important metrics like time-to-fill, source of hire and diversity. RecruiterLoop provides more information on important recruiting metrics.

Cloud-based

Many companies quickly realized the burden on their IT team after purchasing their non-cloud-based software. The cloud is where it’s at now. With cloud-based options, your vendor is tasked with maintaining and updating the system, instead of using your own resources.

While there is plenty more to picking out the right software for your company’s unique needs, I think it’s important to hear from software buyers who have already spent the money and found the issues. That way, you don’t have to do it!

It is also important for software buyers to ask questions about updates and upgrades before deciding to make any purchases. These might come with hidden costs, but they might be simple changes that your vendor can make for you. One last piece of advice: Don’t buy until it’s right!

(About the Author: Raj Sheth is the CEO and co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, Sheth founded two other web start-ups — a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He graduated from Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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Ditching Your ATS? You’re Not Alone

Having been in the HR tech business for a number of years, I have spoken with countless HR and recruiting experts about their technology moves. As applicant tracking systems have grown in popularity over the last several years, larger companies are looking for new, more effective software and smaller companies are looking to make their first ATS decisions. Regardless of which group you fall into, there are a few things you should consider when shopping around.

Software Advice used the information that they gathered about past clients’ issues with their ATS and their reasons for switching, to create their 2013 ATS BuyerView report. Let’s look at the top three reasons that today’s software buyers are in the market for a new ATS:

1) Need More Robust Software

The applicant tracking software of less than a decade ago won’t have some features that have become pretty standard, and totally necessary in today’s recruiting climate. As other forms of HR and recruiting tech have advanced, each other type has to keep up. For instance, LinkedIn’s “Click to apply with LinkedIn” button has become wildly popular with applicants and recruiters alike, yet this option is not available with some of the older software.

Furthermore, social sharing and the ability to post listings on job boards directly from the secure platform is a relatively new function that only more current software will have. Many companies with free or outdated software are also finding that they need cloud-based software to keep up with the competition.

2. Current System Too Complex

Seeing this at #2 on the list isn’t surprising at all. I actually run into this a lot. A company is sold on a vendor that offers it all…except for user-friendliness, support or training. The most robust, all-inclusive and up-to-date software is going to be useless if no one can, or will use it. Recruitment expert Randall Birkwood said:

“You will find vendors will offer a number of bells and whistles, which may be confusing.  Ultimately, what is most important is whether it is easy to set up, intuitive, and requires minimal maintenance.”

3. Improve Efficiency/Effectiveness

This is sort of a broad category, but I have some solid hunches on what these users were unhappy with, given my experience in the industry.

Searching and Matching

An ATS that easily imports, parses and organizes all of the data you can shoot at it is great, but the user has to be able to access that data effortlessly. Poor search functionality can render an ATS useless.

Internal Candidate Portals and Referral Portals

HR is tired of being the middleman. Internal movement and career development is crucial to engagement and retention. Allow internal candidates to easily view and apply for listings. Additionally, your ATS should have a portal for employees to make referrals. These portals will provide all information that the candidates and referrers need, while decreasing the burden on HR and recruiting resources.

Reporting

Metrics are vital to the continued success of any recruitment team, and they aren’t easy to gather without the right tools. Companies are looking for reporting tools that effortlessly gather information on important metrics like time-to-fill, source of hire and diversity. RecruiterLoop provides more information on important recruiting metrics.

Cloud-based

Many companies quickly realized the burden on their IT team after purchasing their non-cloud-based software. The cloud is where it’s at now. With cloud-based options, your vendor is tasked with maintaining and updating the system, instead of using your own resources.

While there is plenty more to picking out the right software for your company’s unique needs, I think it’s important to hear from software buyers who have already spent the money and found the issues. That way, you don’t have to do it!

It is also important for software buyers to ask questions about updates and upgrades before deciding to make any purchases. These might come with hidden costs, but they might be simple changes that your vendor can make for you. One last piece of advice: Don’t buy until it’s right!

(About the Author: Raj Sheth is the CEO and co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software and applicant tracking system designed especially for growing companies. Prior to Recruiterbox, Sheth founded two other web start-ups — a classifieds portal and an ecommerce site. He graduated from Babson College and spent the first three years of his career as a financial analyst with EMC Corporation in Boston.)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

Do you have great content you want to share with us? Become a TalentCulture contributor!

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6 Ways To Build A Better Team

Every company wants increasing employee engagement. Engaged employees are good at communicating and putting forth extra effort to fulfill expectations. I’ve recently seen articles about student athletes becoming great employees. Therefore, having an athletic mentality can help grow employee engagement. You may not want flag football in your office hallway or field hockey in the foyer. Still, it’s worth translating athlete mentality to worker mentality in your workplace.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 1: Communication

Success in any sport depends on communication. Same is true of business. Communication between the coach and the player is critical in the game’s final minutes when victory is on the line. To execute the play perfectly, team members must talk, listen to and understand one another. The same applies at the workplace: communication matters, in every direction.

Coach To Worker Mentality: Practice the skill of collaborative conversation. Then provide opportunities for your people to learn the skill as well.

Athlete Mentality - Jim LarrisonAthlete / Worker Mentality 2: Achievement

Rarely does the team that does not want to win, win. Desire to achieve is the fire in the athlete’s belly. Running an extra mile at practice, taking another 50 free throws, swinging at 25 more baseballs feed that fire. Ignite and fuel that same fire in employees and they will engage in striving to accomplish. An individual who wants quality in her work brings quality to her work. An employee who seeks improved performance calls out actions and resources to better skills.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Support and celebrate accomplishment. Make clear to the entire team what individuals/teams are working to accomplish. Publicize progress as it happens. Hype the publicity as achievement gets closer.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 3: Loyalty

A familiar sports phrase is “no I in ‘team'”. It’s putting ego aside for team success. Notable are athletes who utilize their skills and talents for the team. They put stardom lower on the priority list than victory. Loyalty to the company shows itself in full-fledged engagement employees. This leads to success that is greater than the sum of each individual’s efforts.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Encourage frequent, pragmatic discussion of loyalty. Examples: WIIFM related to work assignments, personal relevance of company values, individuals’ comfort with corporate culture. Verbalizing causes of and reasons for loyalty keeps loyalty in front of mind.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 4: Resilience

The team loses. Players learn from mistakes. Successful team moves on, preparing to win the next contest. Power to bounce back is essential to success. Resilience in the face of business setbacks is key to successful employee engagement, too. Consider how many events can knock someone off track, if not for a loop. Imagine the shortstop who’s bumbled a hot grounder or the halfback who’s fumbled a handoff. Each has to shake it off before next pitch or next play. Same with workers: shake it off, bounce back, get ready for the next play.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Learning from mistakes builds resilience. Make discussion of error and/or failure a regular behavior. Ensure this discussion emphasizes what can be learned, rather than finger pointing and blame shoveling.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 5: Confidence

Confidence boosts resilience. An athlete’s can-do belief spurs the “try again; do it better; on to victory” commitment. Confidence in ability and dedication stimulates confidence in the team. And confidence in the team increases self-confidence. A pitcher believes she will throw a strike. She also believes that if it’s hit, one of her teammates will make the out. That seamless confidence between individual and team produces wins. At work, too.

Coach to Worker Mentality: Demonstrate your trust and confidence in workers. Recognize their success and link to future possibilities. Encourage creative ideas and procedures.

Athlete / Worker Mentality 6: Awareness

Every player on a football team, a softball team, a basketball team – on any team – has specific expectations to fulfill. They are aware of these expectations. The more explicit their awareness, the better. Victory tells them they’ve performed as expected. Loss tells them the opposite. Workers need the same clear awareness of what managers, supervisors expect of them. The more clearly they know these expectations, the more likely they are to engage in fulfilling them.

Coach to Worker Mentality: When giving an assignment to new hire or veteran, be explicit in what’s expected. Ask for validation that expectations are heard and understood. As assignment progresses, verify expectations with the worker, especially if the expectations are tweaked.

Those coaching suggestions are normal behaviors a good manager possesses. It pays to keep them in mind. It pays more to put them in action. It pays to have your worker’s mentality similar to the athlete’s mentality.

Play on!

(About the Author:  As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit www.wrightresults.com or connect with Tim here: tim@wrightresults.com)

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…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Road To Reinvention: The 2.0 Of Your Career

“Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.” – Tennyson

For those of us who are not employed, life can quickly become a very unhappy place because being unemployed is a soul crushing experience. The misery and the angst never seems to lift. Not on Saturday morning when we can sleep in a bit, not on Thursday at 3 a.m. when we are restless in our beds and not on Wednesday evening after dinner. When we see the wise old sayings on Facebook or the religious teachings promising that God has a plan for us start to fall short, how do we cope with the madness and the pain in our lives? How do we deal with the effects of a brutal technology that screens our resumes out, the phone calls left unreturned and the interviews that do not pan out? How do we survive when there is so little to show for the endless effort and time we’ve put into the search. Maybe the answer lies, as Shakespeare said, “not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Perhaps the answer lies in reinvention.

I believe that the second act is upon many of us and the 2.0 of our careers and of our lives is calling out. I can’t help believing that a large part of the cure to what ails us is contained in our ability to adapt and be flexible (think willow tree) as opposed to simply doing the same things and being strong (think oak tree.) I believe that our ability to change who we are and what we are is essential to our survival and our ability to lead meaningful and productive lives. Just how to do this is shrouded in mystery but I have some thoughts that just might help. Far from being a complete list, I present a few ideas for the transition as we move from being the people we are to the people we need to become:

Play To Your Strengths.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Many people spend endless time trying to become strong in the areas in which they are weak. I see that as a bad idea and a waste of time. Take me for example; I am a writer and a speaker and a relationship person. I deal with ideas and concepts and words and trust. Conversely, I am not a math guy. I will never, ever be a math guy. I can try to shore-up that very real weakness until the cows come home but it will simply never happen. Even worse, it is a waste of my talents. Cope with your weakness and learn what you need to get things done as required but play to your strengths. As an example, I can be a biz dev person as opposed to a recruiter. I might be able to be a big-time writer or a public speaker as I have done that before. I will never become an accountant or an actuary and that is all right with me because no one is good at everything.

Move Three Things Forward.

Many of us in the hunt for new jobs and new lives wake up with endless things we want to do and not enough focus on making a difference in any one area. We try to do too much, too fast and in a manner that is too dispersed. According to the great Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting, we are far better off to move three things forward a mile in one day than 100 things forward one inch in a day. My suggestion for tomorrow’s plan is to pick three things that need to be done and write them down tonight. (Two things is fine as well. Four things is not fine.) When you wake up, focus on them all day. Check email when you wake up, at 1:00 and again at 5:00. Shut down your phone. (Believe me, if someone really needs you, they will find you.) Try this and you will feel the real results of being truly productive. For example, if you want to build your online presence, understand that this is a huge and daunting task. My suggestion is to pick one thing on which to work such as your LinkedIn profile and spend the entire day doing just that. The next day, work on something else. Can you see the logic?

Find A Partner Or Two. (Or Three)

I hear from Bill B—— every single day. If not by email then by phone and at least once a week in a face-to-face over lunch. Bill is my good friend and he and I have joined forces to provide leads, support, connections, ideas, and all other things positive to make the misery of the search a bit more palatable, and at times dare I say, a bit more fun. Having two or three partners is a very good thing because the collective effort of people working together is infinitely better than the individual efforts of a soloed existence. The isolating misery of the search does nothing to help our state of mind and there is no medal given out for going the battle alone. I can assure you that Bill ____ has been there for me in a host of ways, and at times, for the occasional 10:00 PM call to express my rage and frustration. Please consider trying this because I really believe it can help in a very big way. Remember, suffering is mandatory but misery is optional. Can you see the value in a partner?

Get A Coach.

I have had more coaches in my life than anyone I know. I have had them for my public speaking life, my writing life, my clarinet playing life, my trying to learn the piano life and at endless junctures in my career. I seldom venture out and do new things unless I get some ideas and counsel from others. Do I always listen? No. Do I always agree? No again, but I get perspective and insight from those individuals who I trust and it helps me to fight my natural inclination to believe that I have all of the answers and am the smartest guy in the world. This is painful at times but necessary if you are in the reinvention business, because regardless of what it is you are trying to accomplish, those who are already doing it can help you big time. For example, you are a CPA who wants to become an Actuary. Find an actuary and get the lay of the land. Tell them what you expect. Tell them your plan and explain where you want to be and how you intend to get there. Then listen really hard to the things with which they might disagree and find out why. You might just learn something and soon afterwards, become the smartest person in the world, just like me.

Help Others.

How sad that number five is the last bullet, but in reality it should be the first. Helping others to get what they need is as old as time. Helping others does not stand so tall in importance because it is a nice thing to do. It stands tall in importance because it is a necessary thing to do. It is a requirement of being human. It is, as Mohamed Ali once said, “The rent you pay for the place you inhabit on this earth.” As a rule, I try to help everyone possible with all that I can do to support them. Is this easy? No but I have gotten far more in return than I have given out and that seems to be a very good deal. Is there the occasional person who never reciprocates? Of course but they are far and few between and in reality, who cares? Zig Ziggler once said, “you can go as far in life as you want to go if you are just willing to help enough people get what they need in life.” This seems like a very good deal to me.

I can assure that the reinvention of you and quite frankly, of me, is not going to be fun or easy anytime soon. It is a day-in and day-out practice of working smart, imagining the possibilities and sharing the journey with others. I struggle to reinvent myself every single day by saying “yes” to the magic that can arise from hard work and hope. Honestly, it really is not too late, to seek a newer world.

Written by: Howard Adamsky

(About the author: A consultant, writer and public speaker, Howard Adamsky, works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years’ experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent.

An internationally published author, he has written Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) and Employment Rage (Norlights Press.) He is a regular contributor to ERE.net. )

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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Want Success? Ask Questions.

By Raj Sheth

I was talking with some friends over a few drinks about an acquaintance that we all have in common on social media. He always seems to be where the action is, trying out fun new products and schmoozing with a lot of pretty awesome people. Yes, a large part of his envy-worthy lifestyle has to do with his profession, but as we talked, we realized that much of his success came because he’s simply not afraid to ask –for just about anything.

Now if you’re like me, your fear of being presumptuous or even rude will often override your urge to ask for things of others, especially those we work with. As I mulled over that conversation with my friends, I got to thinking about how many opportunities I’ve probably missed out on because I didn’t ask; situations that I could have improved, if I had spoken up.

Why don’t we ask for help when we need it?

Harris Interactive polled 1,019 employed Americans in their third annual Work Stress Survey, and found a 10% jump in workplace stress compared to just a year before. 83% of respondents are stressed at work, with “unreasonable workload” as the second top stressor. We have to get rid of this stifling idea that asking for help at work is a sign of weakness or failure. Start asking, and here’s why:

  • Here’s a fact that will blow your mind –No one expects you to know everything.
  • Showing everyone that you’ve put in extra effort, resources and work to still wind up needing help doesn’t get you any extra points, it means you’ve wasted time.
  • Managers love hard work, but they hate inefficiency.
  • Collaboration is plainly and simply a beautiful thing. Be a part of starting it.

Muse author, Jennifer Winters wrote a great piece on how to ask for help at work. Here’s what she said:

“The trick here is knowing when it’s time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit you’re stuck. My general rule of thumb is basically the “Three Strikes” rule. If I can’t figure something out after I’ve exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, it’s time to admit I need a little inspiration.”

Why don’t we ask for perks?

Whether it’s time off, flex work or even a bump in salary, everything is negotiable. That is to say, you also have to bring something to the table. When you honestly feel as though you have earned a freedom of some sort, you owe it to yourself and your hard work to inquire about incentives that would solicit the continuance of such hard work. This isn’t a, what came first, the chicken or the egg? scenario; the hard work and dedication is going to have to come first. If you get a big fat “No”, you have at the very least started the dialogue on how to get there. This conversation should be directed toward how your individual goals can align with the organization’s goals to obtain whatever it is that you’ve requested.

The old saying, “You never know unless you ask” is far truer than a lot of us anticipate. In an article on stay interviews and best retention practices, HR Director at Webroot, Melanie Williams reveals just how easy it can be for employees and companies to get on the same page when open communication is at play. Williams said:

“We’ve had very few stay interviews come in with pay being the thing that makes them stay or want to leave. There were not any requests that we haven’t been able to fulfill.”

Going back to the story –the opportunities that guy snags through his networking and willingness to inquire have all set him up with the experience he has needed to go onto the next endeavor. He’s experience and skill hungry, and that’s what drives him to ask.

Ask and see what happens. If what comes of it instead is collaboration or goal alignment, those are a couple of pretty great things to work with. You will either get what you ask for, or gain the knowledge on how to get it; neither will come by staying silent. While most organizations or even co-workers are out to please, they aren’t mind readers and they won’t know what’s important to you, unless you speak up and just ask.

raj_sheth2Raj Sheth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Recruiterbox.com, a web-based recruitment software that helps growing companies manage their incoming job applications.

Visit Raj Sheth’s web site →

 

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How Do You Embrace Culture Change In Your Company?

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. ~Arnold Bennett

Change is hard. We all know that. Changing anything in an organization can seem like a daunting task; changing the culture of an organization can seem like an impossibility. Fear not. Others have done it and so can you. This week on #TChat guest, Tim Kuppler, co-founder of The Culture Advantage and CultureUniversity.com, will share his experience on the subject.

Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges according to Steve Denning, author of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace.
Why is it so hard? Because an organization’s culture is made up of an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. Changing the culture requires a combination of organization tools for changing minds.

A successful shift in organizational culture begins with leadership tools, including a vision or story of the future. It includes cementing the change in place with management tools, such as role definitions, measurement and control systems, and it requires the pure power tools of coercion and punishments as a last resort, when all else fails.

Consultant Brad Power advises, “If You’re Going to Change Your Culture, Do It Quickly.” Power describes the way Trane, an $8 billion subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, changed their culture quickly by using a combination of a culture survey and an employee engagement survey. The results of their assessment are used to help determine if they have created their desired culture which includes three essential elements:

  • Vision: where the organization wants to go together
  • Mission: what they do together
  • Guiding behavioral principles: how they expect all associates to behave

By Implementing these changes, Trane North America grew year-over-year operating income by over 20 percent, without any new products or services and very limited market growth.

How does one lead change? Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter cites the following six success factors that are the keys to positive change.

  • Show up
  • Speak up
  • Look up
  • Team up
  • Never give up
  • Lift others up

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The Road To Organizational Transparency [Infographic]

The past few weeks, #TChat has been focused on leadership and the best ways to keep an organization running like comfortable clockwork. Whether it be wholehearted, authentic or optimistic leaders, one characteristic #TChatters valued was that of transparency. A majority of employees (60%), however, feel as though they aren’t receiving enough feedback.

Of course, transparency goes beyond the honesty of CEOs and managers. Sometimes it comes right down to goal alignment and communication. Only a small portion of companies (14%) have employees who understand the organization’s strategy, goals, and direction. When a company or organization doesn’t have set in stone guidelines, employees have little direction and, in turn, could lack involvement.

ClearCompany compiled this infographic demonstrating the rocky, but pivotal road to organizational transparency.

OrganizationalTransparencyInfographic

This infographic was originally posted on the ClearCompany blog on April 3, 2014.

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Make Your Meetings More Successful (And Shorter!)

It’s 9:15 a.m. and you’re just getting into the rhythm of your day. The phone rings, and on the other end of the line, one of your colleagues unexpectedly asks you to attend a meeting that starts in 45 minutes. Although you respect your colleague and would like to support her, you had plans for your morning and are getting closer to a few deadlines of your own. How would you respond to the meeting invitation?

  1. Stick to your existing plan and graciously say “no.”
  2. Be a “team player” and let your colleague know that you’ll attend the meeting, but clearly set a boundary that you won’t stay longer than one hour because of your own deadlines.
  3. Ask a few questions about the anticipated goals and importance of the meeting, then evaluate whether your own priorities match and if the specific contributions you could make are likely to impact the outcome of the meeting. Make a committed yes/no decision based on those factors.

If you chose response one or two, you may be an over-collaborator. Response three is the preferred answer because it focuses your decision around two critical factors: your highest priorities and your value-added contributions. To get more done at work, these are the two factors that can help you escape the inertia of unnecessary collaboration and join your efforts with others only when it counts.

Routine collaboration drains time

Of course, collaboration by itself isn’t bad. Problems occur when routine collaborative efforts and unclear mandates produce a toxic sludge known as meeting soup. On a bad day, we may view meetings as the biggest waste of time in our working lives. On a good day, we may look at meetings as the chance to connect with people and discuss important matters. The reality for most of us is that the quality of our meetings falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. According to most estimates, managers and employees spend anywhere between 25 and 80 percent of their time in meetings. (Click here to tweet this stat.)

For a full-time employee, this translates to time spent in meetings that ranges from 520 hours to 1,664 hours (or 65-208 full working days). What’s the rationale for all the meetings? It’s the “need” for collaboration.

Selective collaboration boosts performance

To reduce your meeting clutter, make it a priority to collaborate in the right way, at the right time, with the right people. This kind of selective collaboration is about intentional partnering that boosts the chance of success by aligning the required strategic skill or resource with the essential contributors in the simplest way.

Think of selective collaboration as a career move for you, not just a chance to escape the unproductive, routine meetings and conversations that fail to push your goals forward.

Moving away from routine collaboration — even when professional or cultural norms dictate it — can deliver a greater return on your efforts because it aligns with your highest priorities and features your value-added contributions. Getting great work done by delivering clear and consistent contributions is one of the best ways for you to stay at work.

The first step is learning how to choose when, how and who you collaborate with. Yes, you’ll have to learn how to say no. Yes, there may be some short-term negative reactions to this. But your elevated contributions to top priorities should ease those concerns quickly.

Instead of relying on partnerships that are dictated by circumstance and opportunity, you’ll seek out collaboration opportunities that serve a specific purpose.

Sometimes the missing piece is motivation, and that can be found through a partnership with some individual or group who’s driven, focused and inspired. Other times, the missing piece may be technical, strategic or organizational. In these instances, the mix of skills, abilities and access to resources serves as the driver for selective collaboration.

Selective collaboration gives you a tool to accomplish tasks that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible alone. The restraint of choosing high-potential collaboration allows you to avoid wasting time when collaboration itself is a substitute for lack of creativity, vision or accountability.

There’s reciprocity with this as well. When invited to collaborate with others, accept the invitation only when the best mix of skill and contribution can be aligned in an effective way. It’s not about being selective because you “have better things to do”; you choose the moments where your impact can be the greatest.

When in doubt, you can use the following list to confirm the opportunity for selective collaboration. If you can agree with each item, it’s time to schedule a meeting.

  • I have identified a clear learning and performance outcome for this collaborative effort.
  • The outcome will clearly support one of my priorities.
  • I know what I can contribute to make the collaboration a success.
  • I understand what my collaborator(s) can deliver and their contributions make it better than going it alone.

Jesse Sostrin is the author of Beyond the Job Description. He writesspeaks and consults at the intersection of individual and organizational success. Follow him @jessesostrin and visit his site here.

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#TChat Preview: How Employee Assistance Programs Engage And Nurture Talent

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. #TChat Radio starts at 6:30 pm ET (3:30 pm PT) and the convo continues on #TChat Twitter chat from 7-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about employee engagement, and this week we’re going to talk about how employee assistance programs (EAP) are today help organizations engage, nurture and retain talent.

EAP services aren’t the first thing you hear when you’re talking about talent management, but these programs are critical for businesses. They help manage costs by reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, health care costs, accidents and by freeing manager time from dealing with employee personal issues.

They mitigate risks by reducing likelihood of litigation, workplace violence and training managers to deal with complex emotional, cultural and diversity issues.

EAPs also encourage employee engagement, improve the capacity of employees and families to respond to work-life challenges, and develop employee and manager competencies in handling workplace stress and improving team performance.

Join #TChat co-creators and hosts @Meghan M. Biro and @Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about EAP’s with this week’s guest: Mark Sagor, President of Comprehensive EAP, an employee assistance program focused on technology, life sciences, service, manufacturing and non profit sectors.

Sneak Peek: Employee Assistance Programs Actually Work

We spoke briefly with Mark in a G+ Hangout to get a better look at EAPs and how they help nurture and engage employees:

Related reading:

Meghan M. Biro: 5 Ways To Reinvent Your Recruiting Strategy

Chris Boyce: Workplace Wellness: The Story Starts With Healthy Culture

Matt Krumrie: Take Advantage Of Your Employee Assistance Program

Ellen Galinsky/Anne Weisburg: How One Company Contained Health Care Costs and Improved Morale

Team Ceridian: 5 Trends To Watch In Human Capitol Management In 2014

This topic is vital for talent-minded professionals everywhere, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas!

#TChat Events: How Do EAPs Engage And Nurture Talent?

TChatRadio_logo_020813

#TChat Radio — Wed, April 9 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Mark Sagor Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, April 9 — 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.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How do EAPs help companies engage, nurture and retain talent?
(Tweet this Question)

Q2: What complex emotional, cultural and diversity issues are you seeing in the workplace today?
(Tweet this Question)

Q3: Statistically what are the advantages to having an EAP?
(Tweet this Question)

Q4: What are the most basic work-life benefits companies should provide?
(Tweet this Question)

Q5: What are the alternatives to EAPs and how are they different?
(Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, 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: BigStockPhoto

Start Your Own Engagement Revolution, Today

Too often we hear the term “employee engagement” and think of it as corporate wide initiative led by HR. Or maybe it’s why we need to train the managers better, so they’ll do a better job of engaging their team members.

I’d like to humbly suggest that employee engagement is something you can lead, right now.

You can dramatically increase your own engagement at work, and even lift the overall engagement of those around, and the effects will be seen almost immediately.

First, you need to understand your own motivational triggers. Based on surveys of over 10 million workers in 150 countries, we know that Growth, Recognition, Trust and Communication are the top four drivers of engagement. But what about the individual level? Someone who is early in her career may desire growth, but another who is closer to retirement might value recognition more. To help you understand your own motivational triggers at work, I developed a free online assessment at www.MyEngagementProfile.com that reveals your personal engagement profile.

Second, be mindful of what your company and boss are already doing for your engagement. Come to work with an attitude of gratitude. Reflect on what is already being done to give information and to seek your ideas. Think about the learning and training opportunities available to you. Consider the organizations mission and goals. How do they recognize employee accomplishments?

Finally, you need to proactively partner with your manager (even if he stinks as a boss) to create a great workplace culture. You must be sensitive of busy schedules, be professional in your approach, and be positive. Consider these conversation starters:

  • “Hey, Teri, I was thinking about how we communicate on the team and had some ideas that I think can really improve my effectiveness. Do you have a few minutes over the next couple of weeks to chat about them? Would love your feedback…”
  • “Hi, Sudha, was wondering if you we could grab coffee sometime this month…I’ve been thinking about my career goals lately and want to get your thoughts on my strengths and limitations, and what career path options you think are in my future.”
  • “Hey Carmen, don’t mean to interrupt…wasn’t sure if you knew that Linda pulled an all-nighter finishing up that design work for the team. We wouldn’t have been able to hit the deadline without that. Just wanted to make sure you knew…see ya.”

Life is too short to be unhappy at work. Don’t wait for the HR department to improve engagement. Be grateful for the good stuff; become the change agent to make your culture great. You might start alone, but you will quickly friends.

by Kevin KruseKevin Kruse

Serial entrepreneur and bestselling author, Kevin Kruse, used a relentless focus on talent and employee engagement to build and sell several, multi-million dollar technology companies, winning both Inc 500 and Best Place to Work awards along the way. Kevin is also the author of several books including the NY Times bestseller, We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement, which was named one of the top leadership books in 2011 by 800-CEO-Read. When not writing or speaking, Kevin is busy juggling life as a single Dad, with three kids, in Bucks County, PA.

This article is based on the new book Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work byNew York Times bestselling author, Kevin Kruse.

photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc

Employee Engagement: Is There a Strategic Advantage?

According to a recent Gallup study, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work. In a 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace, that amounts to about one in eight workers — roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied — are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

Companies that understand the value of employee engagement know that motivating high performance and aligning talent with business strategy requires getting to the heart of what matters to employees. Employee engagement is largely about social connections happening in organizations and aligning work experiences with employees’ cultural needs.

How do the best places to work succeed at employee engagement?

  • They understand what employees are thinking.
  • They create an intentional culture.
  • They demonstrate appreciation for contributions big and small.
  • They commit to open, honest communication.
  • They support career path development.
  • They engage in social interactions outside work.
  • They know how to communicate the organization’s stories.

Rob Markey, coauthor of the book, The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, believes he knows the Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.

Direct supervisors who set their teams up for success, observe them in action, ask for feedback, identify the root causes of employee concerns, and then follow through with meaningful improvements have happier, more engaged employees.

Bain & Company and Netsurvey analyzed responses from 200,000 employees across 40 companies in 60 countries and found that organizations that invest heavily in creating a culture of employee engagement have the following characteristics:

  • Line supervisors, not HR, lead the charge. It’s difficult for employees to be truly engaged if they don’t like or trust their bosses. Senior leaders must give supervisors the responsibility and authority to earn the enthusiasm, energy, and creativity that signal deep employee engagement.
  • Supervisors learn how to hold candid dialogues with teams.
  • They also do regular “pulse checks.” Short, frequent, and anonymous online surveys (as opposed to a long annual survey) give supervisors a better understanding of team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers’ experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue.
  • Teams rally ‘round the customer. Companies that regularly earn high employee engagement tap that knowledge by asking employees how the company can earn more of their customers’ business and build the ranks of customer promoters. And they don’t just ask; they also listen hard to the answers, take action, and let their employees know about it.

Join the TalentCulture community this week to share your ideas on the topic of employee engagement. Radio show co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman will be joined by expert Kevin Kruse on Wednesday at 6:30 PM EST followed by the Twitter Chat at 7 PM.

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Behavior In Business: 8 Human Insights Leaders Should Know

It’s impossible to be in the business world each day and not feel psychology at work. Each of us brings our human nature to a job — regardless of our title, expertise or organizational setting.

Leaders who value the psychological aspects of work life are much more likely to gain trust and inspire top performance from their teams.

These concepts may seem simple, but they can complicate workplace dynamics, and their impact is often measurable. That’s why they deserve attention from anyone who works with and through others to achieve business goals.

Are you thinking today’s leaders already “get it”? If so, this may surprise you…

Leadership Has Evolved? Not So Fast

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article, “Now You Know Why Your Boss Is Such An Ape.” It reminds us of how strong and predictable the force of nature can be — especially in a business context. It can be easy to forget that we’re animals — yet we share 99.9% of our genes with apes. In fact, if we compare their behavioral patterns with ours, the similarities are striking.

For example, in both cases, leaders often act cold, or even show disrespect to subordinates in an effort to claim dominance as the “alpha male.” On the other hand, those same leaders are likely to display an incredible amount of respect when interacting with their superiors.

8 Key Behavioral Concepts For Leaders

Psychology offers many more striking insights. Here are 8 that should serve every leader well. It’s not important to remember the terms — but if you remember the concepts, you’ll have a clear advantage in the world of work:

1) Observational Learning

Human learning begins with observation. This is vital for leaders to remember, because employees tend do what you do, not what you say. Those who look up to you will want to model themselves after you. And if your words and actions don’t align, the consequences can harm your organizational culture.

This kind of behavior starts early in humans, as was illustrated in the famous Bobo doll experiment — where children were asked to spend time in a room with an adult. After witnessing the adult display aggressively and verbally abusive behavior toward the doll, children acted in a similar way.

2) Social Contagion

This is the theory of how ideas and emotions spread and go viral. It’s important to recognize this tendancy, especially within a company culture. If a few employees become disengaged, the negativity can spread across the entire company quicker than you might expect.

This concept was illustrated in a University of Michigan study that monitored the spread of eating disorders throughout college campuses. It’s important to look for early signals and work proactively to reverse the impact.

3) Groupthink

Groupthink can be particularly dangerous, so it’s important to remain alert. It’s tricky, because team building activities are beneficial, but too much cohesion can be detrimental.

Groupthink tends to surface when teams take on a mind of their own — usually because members want to avoid conflict within the group. This leads to poor decision making, because groups don’t fully evaluate circumstances, and members are influenced by the rest of the group to comply.

Sometimes groupthink can be an unintended consequence of brainstorming. Rather than creating an atmosphere where multiple participants are inspired to generate a broader spectrum of creative ideas, the brainstorming process itself dampens the creativity of each member.

4) Minimal Group Paradigm

We’ve all seen “cliques” develop in schools and other social environments — that’s essentially minimal group paradigm in action. It’s about arbitrary distinctions between groups (for example, differences in the color of clothing) that lead people to favor one group over another.

Of course, harmful cliques can develop among adults in corporate cultures. However, leaders can avoid this by encouraging team building that reaches across arbitrary boundaries, and supports everyone as part of the same larger group.

5) Social Loafing

Initially I assumed this was about people who lie on the couch while browsing on Facebook — but it’s really much more interesting than that. Over 100 years ago, a study found that people put in 50% less effort when playing tug of war in a team of 8 compared to playing it alone. In other words, we tend to slack off when our efforts can’t be distinguished from the efforts of our teammates.

As important as team building is, autonomy and individuality is an important way to keep people motivated. This sounds counter-intuitive to need for humans to feel they belong to groups. However, there’s a delicate balance between motivating humans as individuals and as team members.

6) Stanford Prison Experiment

This is one my favorite lessons from the realm of psychology. In a Stanford University experiment, participants were assigned roles as prisoners and prison guards in a pseudo prison environment. Guard adapted to their new roles much quicker than expected, and guards became very authoritative and abusive toward prisoners.

This is obviously important for leaders to understand, because job roles clearly have an effect on our perception of ourselves and others. Be careful how you assign titles and responsibilities, and how you manage those expectations within your ranks, over time.

7) Prisoner’s Dilemma

This is another famous psychological experiment that underscores the importance of accountability within teams.

The prisoner’s dilemma is a game where the “rewards” are prison terms. There are 2 prisoners, A and B. If both prisoners betray each other, they each serve a 2 year jail sentence. If prisoner A betrays prisoner B, prisoner A goes free and prisoner B gets 3 years (and vice versa). If they both remain silent, they each serve only 1 year. Of course, it’s in both players’ best interest to stay silent. However, typically, the fear of betrayal leads both to betray each other.

This reminds us that trust and communication is essential for individual and team success — and that the definition of “success” is influenced by self interest.

8) Halo Effect

The halo effect is a popular concept among brand marketers, but it also can apply to perceptions of an employee. In marketing, humans develop positive perceptions of a product when respected sources describe it in positive terms, or when the brand develops strong associations with other attractive brands.

In the workplace, the halo effect involve bias that is either positive or negative. For example, when a leader likes an employee, they may attribute other positive traits to them (e.g. they’re smarter or more committed than others) even if it’s not accurate. This can obviously become a problem, if it affects the leader’s decisions. The best way to avoid this trap is to focus on objective measures of performance.

Obviously, this is just a taste of the behavioral research that can inform workplace leadership. But anyone can learn more — there are tons of great learning resources available online.

How do you see psychology at work in your organization? What has worked for you and what hasn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

JacobShriarAbout the Author: Jacob Shriar is the Growth Manager at Officevibe, an employee engagement platform. He’s passionate about company culture, and he blogs regularly on productivity, employee engagement, and career tips. When he’s not reinventing the world over a glass of scotch, he likes to find new skills to learn. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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.

 

Putting a Face on Remote Work #TChat Recap

Say, “Good Morning.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAT 1/11:

Mike Hostetler

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout

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

SUN 1/12:

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

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

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

WED 1/15:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

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

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

#TChat Insights: Virtual Workplace? For Real!

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Telecommuting Tools: What's Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s 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 weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

(Editor’s 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 weekly events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Pixabay