The TalentCulture Corner Office With Jim Fields, VP, SAP

In our first Corner Office article, Cyndy Trivella, Events Manager with TalentCulture, spoke with CEO, Doug Coull. In this second installment, she sat down with Jim Fields, VP of Customer Experience Marketing at SAP to talk about leadership and the future workplace. As in keeping with the theme, this interview will highlight the perspective and experience of someone who has made the move to the “corner office.”

Cyndy: I, recently, had the great pleasure of interviewing Jim Fields at SAP. Jim is a serial entrepreneur, a very innovative thinker and someone who believes settling for the status quo is one of the biggest downfalls any company can make. So Jim, as a forward thinking executive and someone who believes that great leaders are critical to business success, what advice can you offer to first-time leaders?

Jim: It’s funny that you ask me this question now. A colleague who recently became a people manager for the first time just asked me, this week, what she should do to be a good manager. Here’s the advice I gave her:

First, always be yourself and don’t try to act a certain way just because now you’re “the boss.” Be your authentic self. That’s what got you here in the first place. Second, understand the difference between being a manager and a leader. People endure managers, they follow leaders. Managers assign work, leaders inspire it. Be a leader. Third, make sure your team knows that you will not ask them to do something you, yourself, wouldn’t do. Find opportunities to work alongside them, versus just directing them. Be a player/coach. Fourth, stay connected by doing regular team meetings/calls (weekly or biweekly) and one-on-ones with your direct reports (biweekly). My fifth bit of advice was, don’t be afraid to have the hard conversations when necessary. If someone is having performance problems, you owe it to them and the rest of the team to deal with it rather than ignoring it, as so many managers do. A team knows when one of their peers is underperforming and will consider you a weak leader if you don’t address it. Lastly, recognize and celebrate great performance, and make sure that your team’s successes are seen as theirs, not yours. I always tell my team that if your fingerprints are on something, your name doesn’t have to be, because people will know whose work it is.

Cyndy: That is great advice. You really stressed the importance of being approachable, reasonable, accessible, and setting the stage for how her behavior and actions are going to shape the behaviors and actions of her direct reports. Jim, you have a reputation for being a great mentor with sound advice for people coming up in the ranks, but how should leadership as a whole, mentor up-and-coming generations?

Jim: Let’s turn that question on its head. I’m a big believer in what some people call reverse-mentoring. That’s where an early talent (don’t call them young!) partners with a more seasoned leader to expose them to the world of the up-and-coming generation. For example, some of our new hires, at SAP, who are just out of school have worked with our executives to help them update their LinkedIn profiles, to start blogging and tweeting, and to understand the pervasiveness of mobile technology and social networks among the emerging workforce. Engaging in this type of reverse mentoring can really change a senior leader’s view of how their less-experienced employees actually think and work and will help them understand how they might need to adapt their own leadership styles as a result. It also gives the early talent employees access to, and visibility with, senior executives.

Cyndy: I love this answer! It reminds me of the saying, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” This is when the pretenses stop and we just communicate with each other rather than putting up the “us versus them” walls and by doing so, create a two-way learning opportunity for both the early talent and seasoned professional. So keeping on the topic of generations, do you believe there are generational differences in the workplace, or is this a perception cooked up by the media and others?

Jim: I think that people of any generation can and should be innovators and agents of change. Conversely, they can also choose to be complacent and resistant to change. Your age or experience level is not a determinant of which category you fall into. It’s more about attitude and motivation. In fact if you talk to a “millennial” worker, they will tell you that they are tired of being labeled as such. What is different across the generations is that recent entrants into the workforce are what might be called digital natives. They never lived in a world without the internet, smartphones, social networks, etc., so their expectation of how work gets done, how people communicate, and the level of connectedness is different from prior generations, and is in fact changing the nature of work for all of us.

Cyndy: I totally agree. Staying current and business-ready has nothing to do with age. It’s how you manage your own sense of motivation to stay in the game. Jim, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, you believe leaders can, often times, be their own worst enemy. So how do they rise above this stigma?

Jim: Leaders need to provide their teams with the air cover and support they need to do their jobs successfully. The worst thing a leader can do is pass the pain on to their teams. Leadership means sometimes saying, “No” to or reshaping the requests that come from other leaders, so as to protect your team. Other times, it means that if things go wrong, you take the hit on behalf of your team instead of passing down the blame.

Cyndy: Sage and, if so chosen, quite doable by the leader. Jim, thank you for speaking with me. It was fun to dive into these topics and I’m sure our readership appreciates the advice and direction you’ve shared.

Jim: Thank you. I love to talk about these topics and share what advice I have.

Be sure to look for our next article, coming soon, from The TalentCulture Corner Office.
Photo Credit: sara_moseley via Compfight cc

TalentCulture's #TChat: The Evolution Of A Successful Chat

TalentCulture and #TChat. The evolution of a successful Twitter chat…

Meghan M. Biro and I have done something amazing here, something we are so very proud of. We started over five years ago in November of 2010. With only Meghan’s TalentCulture site and its early followers and readers, a handful of early-adopter Twitter friends and followers, and a hashtag by the name of #TChat — the TalentCulture Twitter Chat was born.

We never thought it would last a month. But it did. Then, two years later we launched the #TChat Radio Show, and eventually merged the two together to form the TalentCulture #TChat Show, the one many of you have come to every Wednesday from 1-2 pm ET. The one where we invite insightful guests to discuss a myriad of hot topics about  and workforce.

And, with the help of our Cyndy Trivella, our tireless production manager, as well as many other remarkable people, and of course our generous sponsors, thousands of knowledge-thirsty professionals join us every week from across Twitter and the entire social business universe — including business leaders, HR and recruiting thought leaders, technology innovators and social marketing leaders.

But now it’s time for us each to evolve into something bigger–and we’re so excited about that. Meghan and I are going to end this amazing story we started together, and Meghan is going to move forward supported by her amazing team at TalentCulture team focusing on what it is she’s passionate about: the Future of Work.

Don’t get me wrong, Meghan and I are still going to collaborate and support one another. Absolutely. She’s a dear friend and that will never change. But I’ve got some things of my own that I’m passionate about that I want to redirect my efforts to. I have the Talent Board and the CandEs and future podcasts coming and you’ll definitely be hearing more from me. Meghan will continue her focus on TalentCulture and reimagining the future of work and she’ll be debuting a new show of her own very shortly. We’ll both continue to do amazing things in 2016 and beyond and we hope you’ll be a part of them.

Only #TChat is going away. But it will be replaced by something equally as exciting, and you’ll continue to hear from and interact with both of us, on a regular basis!

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…” —Semisonic, Closing Time

The success of all this was truly because of you, our loyal community and friends. We can’t thank you enough. Please keep making that incremental happy workplace magic however you can and we know we’ll be seeing more of you.

And remember – middle initial always count.

Photo Credit: hiremarketer via Compfight cc

#TChat Preview: Looking Back on Some Favorite Chats

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, December 9, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about how social recruiting makes the talent business case, and this week we’re going to share a few of our favorite #TChat shows from 2015!

No, we’re not doing a production of Sound of Music — but since it’s nearing the end of the year and the holidays are upon us, the TalentCulture #TChat Show co-hosts and co-founders Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, along with their amazing #TChat event manager and show producer Cyndy Trivella, wanted to share some favorite shows from this year.

It wasn’t an easy task; there are just too many great shows to pick from. But, to make it easier, we broke them down into three categories:

  • The favorites that made us think
  • The favorites that made us learn
  • And the favorites that made us laugh

So stroll with us down memory lane with us, all aglow with holiday cheer. It will surely be a #TChat to remember.

#TChat Events: Looking Back on Some Favorite #TChats

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Dec 9 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman along with their amazing #TChat event manager and show producer Cyndy Trivella, as they share some favorite shows from this year.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, Dec 9 — 1 pm ET

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wednesday, December 9 — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT
Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. We invite everyone with a Twitter account to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What were your favorite #TChat shows that made you think and learn? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q2: What were your favorite #TChat shows that made you laugh? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What topics do you want to see us cover in 2016 and why? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

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

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