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Why The Oscars Diversity Issue Matters to All Employers

Sunday night was the 88th broadcast of Academy Awards. And, even if you didn’t watch it, then you know that not one person of color was nominated for an Oscar in the categories of best actor or actress in either a primary or supporting role.

The host was Chris Rock. And, with humor and perspective, he nailed it…effectively by reframing it.

The absence of award nominations for actors of color was less about the nominations themselves and more about the absence of acting opportunities for actors of color. If you don’t have access to the opportunities, then it goes without saying you cannot win.

To quote Chris Rock:

“What I’m trying to say is it’s not about boycotting or anything. It’s just we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. And not just once. Leo gets a great part every year. All these guys get great parts all the time. But what about the black actors?”

Rock’s comments apply not only to black actors but also to Asian American and Hispanic American actors. Why are there not more roles for actors who are Asian American or Hispanic American?

Now, you may be tempted to say: who cares about Hollywood! Avoid that temptation; access issues are not limited to the entertainment industry.

Outside of Hollywood, we see a glaring absence of diversity in many senior leadership teams. And, there also is a clear gender pay gap in many organizations, even if people debate the degree of the gap.

I would suggest that, in many situations, what we see is the symptom of the underlying problem: the absence of meaningful access to assignments and opportunities that create the credentials for promotions and higher pay. How do we address the access problem?

Well, that goes beyond the scope of this brief blog. But the first step is acknowledging the root of the problem so that we can focus our corrective action there.

Yes, this is about fairness. Fairness always matters.

But there also is the business imperative. Diverse leadership teams are more successful, and you cannot get to the top unless you have had equal opportunity to access along the way.

Sunday night, Chris Rock rocked it with his root cause analysis. The success of our own organizations will depend, in part, on how we respond to the clarion call to focus on equal access opportunity.

A version of this post was first posted on The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) blog on February 29, 2016.

photo credit: the giant Oscar statue at the Kodak Theater  via photopin (license)

Care For, But Don’t Coddle, Millennials

Spend about half an hour Googling for articles on millennials and the workplace, and you will find more written in the last year alone than you will be able to read in a week. How do we attract millennials? What do millennials want? How do we make millennials happy? How do we make millennials feel valued? How do we make millennials feel comfortable?

Then, there are the less public discussions about millennials. In these private conversations, Generation X, baby boomers and traditionalists (and sometimes even older millennials) grouse about what they perceive as an entitlement mentality among some young millennials. Some go as far as to forget the “some.”

From what I have witnessed, there is a jarring juxtaposition between the public and private discourse. This disconnect is disturbing, at best.

Millennials are now the largest part of our workforce. Make no mistake about it; they are an important part not only of the future but also of today. So, we should be thinking about them. A lot.

The problem is that we seem to focus on them to the exclusion of other groups. This boomer worries not enough time is spent on Generation X, for example, the Sheryl Sandbergs and Michael Dells of the world.

Do a Google search focusing on what we need to do attract and retain Generation X. Are you done reading?

From a legal perspective, millennial myopia in the workplace may be evidence of age bias. There is one expression for almost all non-millennials: older workers protected by federal law.

The first year of Generation X turned 50 last year. Soon, all members of Generation X will fall in the federally-protected age group (40 and over).

I also worry that we talk about millennials as though they have monolithic needs and wants. We ignore the substantial diversity among millennials, engaging in the kind of stereotyping we would never do about any race or religion (or, at least, I pray not).

Finally, I worry that the almost obsessive focus on millennials is creating in some millennials that about which some complaint. If leadership mavens worry about your every want and need, it should be no surprise that “I want to be successful” may trail “I want to be comfortable.”

Regarding comfort, no one should have to endure harassment, abusive conduct or even subtle bias or true micro-aggressions. But not every moment of discomfort gives rise to a feeling we needs to articulate, let alone address.

And, for this, I blame those millennials who exhibit such behaviors less than those who have created the expectations giving rise to the actions. No sacred cows, here.

I start with helicopter parents of my generation that have involved themselves too often in their children’s education. And now, some are doing the same in the workplace. “Why did my son not get an A” has become “why did he not get the promotion.”

But it does not stop there. Some of our colleges and universities have gone so far to protect anything that could make anyone feel uncomfortable that that they have not only oppressed dialogue, but they also have infantilized these young adults. As one College President said in exasperation, “This is not a daycare. It’s a University.”

When these young people go from the safe places created for them in the educational space to the real world called the workplace, they sometimes struggle with this reality. When someone does not meet their needs or makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable, they feel microagressed or bullied.

The message is not that we should care less about millennials. The message is that we should apply a more calibrated and balanced approach.

We need to listen to millennials concerns. But we also need to make clear to them what we expect from them.

We need to appreciate the greater focus on life outside of work. But we need to make clear that without happy customers and clients there is no work.

We need to ensure that they do not endure unacceptable conduct. But we need to be clear that feeling uncomfortable does not always mean that someone has done anything wrong.

We need to understand this generation probably has it harder than any preceding it and, with that, a different perspective. But we need to focus on millennials as individuals and not merely the embodiments of generational stereotypes.

Perhaps, and most importantly, we need to care about millennials so that they genuinely feel valued and are productive and entrepreneurial as a result. But we need to be careful not to allow caring to slip into coddling.

When we coddle, we unconsciously satisfy our needs, but we rob millennials of the opportunity to grow. And, in doing so, we limit the growth potential of our organizations.

 

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The Benefits Of Success Measured By The Effectual Stretch

It wasn’t exactly the romanticized version of backpacking through an exotic land, especially if you consider a cheap roller suitcase a backpack, which unfortunately I did. But that was me then in 1998, when my then girlfriend (now wife) had bitten me with the travel bug. Prior to that my travel was limited to North America. When I was 13 I went to Hawaii, which I actually thought was another country.

My wife had traveled extensively prior to us meeting, including the romanticized version of backpacking through Europe after college, only to get most of her belongings stolen in Prague after only two days into her trip. She could’ve got home after that, wanted to go home after that, but regrouped, bought a few new things, and went on to travel for another few weeks.

Mama and Me Costa RicaAnd so our first big journey together was to Costa Rica. A lovely country, it was the first time I had been to such an exotic land, and to travel with someone else who lived boldly, to experience such visceral sensations I had never before experienced was amazing in and of itself. But the meeting of people I had never met before, some of whom had alien worldviews compared to mine, and exchanging those worldviews with one another, was the epitome of the “effectual stretch.”

The “effectual stretch” meaning pushing oneself to learn and expand beyond what’s known and comfortable in a way that’s produces desired yet diverse effective results, whatever those results may mean to each person. It could mean the literal extremes of success or failure, or that fatty layer in between that gives sustenance to our tenuous journey of sinew and bone.

We’ve attempted to impress the same approach and attitude on our daughters, teaching them to be bold yet aware, to protect themselves but not live in fear, to keep getting back on the bull like they own the beast, horns held tightly in hands. This includes exposing them to travel, new locales and people, experiences that we hope will shape their adult lives and those they interact with for the better.

Listening to a recent Freakonomics podcast about empowering a better workplace and the cities where those workplaces are, I had to smile when I heard American economist and Harvard University professor Edward Glaeser talk about how he was taking a sabbatical while “…attempting to civilize my children by taking them to a variety of different cities.”

Glaeser believes that encouraging industrial diversity would contribute more to economic growth. Cities that embrace a people-centric view of community (around infrastructure, education, services, etc.) means that businesses are more likely to thrive in said communities. The same podcast includes commentary from Glaeser on Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s ambitious Downtown Project, which is primarily an urban revitalization effort, but also an effectual stretch project on a grander community scale due to the emphasis on business and workforce diversity. It’s a “collision” strategy that encourages others to live and work together, continually exchanging ideas in order to create positive and effectual change while powering sustainable business.

Which brings me to the live TalentCulture #TChat Show we did from Cork, Ireland for the IT@Cork European Technology Summit of over 400 attendees, as well as the tech talent diversity panel session that Meghan and I moderated at the summit. The panelists and guests included a diverse group of business leaders, an academic and one inspirational young student: David Parry Jones, VP UK and Ireland VMWare; Noelle Burke Head of HR Microsoft Ireland; Michael Loftus, Head of Faculty of Engineering and Science CIT; student Ciara Judge, one of the Kinsale winners of the 2013 Google Science Award; and Caroline O’Driscoll, Tax Partner at KPMG, and Vice Chair of IT@cork.

ITCork Diversity panel

Not only is the city of Cork (and much of the Republic of Ireland for that matter) investing in business-friendly infrastructure and creating competitive tax codes, they embrace the above collision strategy. The not-for-profit IT@cork European Tech Cluster, the organization behind the European Tech Summit, represents the interests of the IT industry in Ireland. This includes indigenous and international IT professionals, executives, multinationals, government leaders, public sector, academia, entrepreneurs, investors and the legal and financial professional services community joining together to drive thought leadership, collaboration and global strategic alliances.

ITCork15 TChat Show

Amen. The good news is that IT@Cork is being replicated in various iterations throughout communities worldwide. Even less formal, but no less impactful, events take place, including the likes of Event Santa Cruz in my own backyard, founded by Matthew Swinnerton, brings together local entrepreneurs and the community every month, again to facilitate the effectual stretch and diversity of ideas.

Although our core theme of the IT@Cork panel session and #TChat Show was gender diversity, what became crystal clear was the theme of broader diversity and inclusion. It’s all about attracting a wider array of backgrounds and worldviews of both women and men who support one another. This is what can lead to a competitive advantage in business and an equitable advantage for cities and communities around the world.

According to PwC’s 2015 CEO Survey, talent diversity and inclusiveness are not just the softer issues only given lip service, but instead are now considered crucial to being competitive. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved their bottom line. They also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.

So it’s clear for me and many others today that the best business outcomes for organizations today can only be achieved through diversity and inclusion growth collisions. However, it’s also important to note that no matter progressive and elevated organizations are, complex regulatory changes and an increase in Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audit frequency and intensity abound. This means many organizations need assistance to ensure diversity programs and Affirmative Action plans are documented and compliant, while at the same time magnifying their overall diversity impact.

Ever since my wife and I had met one day at the beach nearly 18 years ago, it’s been one growth opportunity after another. Not always travel related, and certainly not always successful, it’s been more about having an explorer’s mentality and approach to mindful and agile living both at home and at work. Business and community leaders who invest and sustain this approach will reap the benefits of success measured by the effectual stretch.

Avoid The Echo Chamber: Build Diverse Teams

It is election season, and with it comes all of the dreaded debates and political ads that make many people cringe. Continuously having your opinions challenged can be stressful, and you may find yourself increasingly flocking toward like-minded people.

You may start to get more use out of your unfollow button on social media as users make their previously hidden political stances known. You might also find yourself reading articles or watching the news stations that you agree with.

Mostly, these are relatively harmless aside from making you a less informed voter. However, it may be a problem if this behavior is bleeding over into how you’re hiring new employees. For the same reason that reading only bloggers that you agree with stifles your learning, building teams of like-minded individuals can hinder your company’s performance.

Notably, research has found that companies led by diverse teams are better performers than those that aren’t. While the effects are best seen at the C-suite level, it is just as important to focus on diversity in your team-building practices at lower levels.

Why Diverse Teams Thrive

The main reason for the value of diversity is that diverse teams have a wide variety of perspectives and experiences that inform and craft their outputs. In other words, opposing opinions and viewpoints are the bedrock of strong ideas. While this can lead to conflict and difficulty in forming consensus, it also ensures that your team’s ideas have gone through the wringer before they see the light of day.

Building Diverse Teams

Diversity goes beyond races and genders. While these are the most important and provide the most productive contrasts, other aspects of your employees’ lives also shape their experiences such as their industry experience, regional heritage, political views, age and religious beliefs.

By building teams that are as heterogeneous as possible in these areas, you can also increase the variety of challenges that your team is prepared to face. By having a wide spectrum of experiences and beliefs, your team will in turn have what’s needed to adjust to new tests, especially as your company targets new markets.

Foster Productive Debate

Just building teams in this way, however, only gets you halfway there. You also need to foster the debate that will fuel your idea factory. Try these tips to encourage worthwhile discussions:

  • Play Devil’s Advocate: As a manager, the best way to teach this behavior is to lead by example. Without being disrespectful, occasionally offer viewpoints that challenge the prevailing opinions within your team. Even if these are just straw men arguments meant to strengthen an original idea, it will help demonstrate the behavior that you desire.
  • Acknowledge Dissenting Opinions: As your team members begin to adopt this behavior of their own, make sure to call attention to the fact that they are contributing in a way that helps the team. This positive feedback will encourage them to continue to speak up moving forward.
  • Stay Calm: There is always the potential that a debate can turn into an argument. Protect your team against these damaging effects by staying calm, and projecting a relaxed demeanor during the discussion.
  • Assign a Decision-Maker: If neither side of a debate is able to definitively make their case for a way forward, a debate can continue indefinitely. Avoid this situation by ensuring that someone fills the role of decision-maker during these discussions. Even better, set a deadline for forming a consensus.

Building homogenous teams can be holding your team back. Bringing in new perspectives and backgrounds is a strong catalyst for the kinds of discussions that generate fresh, new ideas that have shown to grow businesses. Just make sure to encourage the productive debate that is fueled by diverse teams.

photo credit: Cauldron Graphix via photopin cc

Developing A Workplace Diversity Initiative

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements and verityespecially the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.

In the last decade, the face and make-up of the workplace have had significant changes. Many organizations, such as Google, have embraced diversity; at the same time many other organizations have not addressed diversity in their workplaces. Without having a formal diversity initiative, many workplaces may already be more diverse than they realize.

Diversity encompasses a plethora of characteristics that make each person a unique individual that may include, but is not limited to: race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age, personality, employment history, education, and background. However, diversity is more than the sum of characteristics that make up an individual; diversity also involves how people perceive themselves as well as others and how these perceptions affect the day-to-day interactions in the workplace.

Some items to consider when developing a diversity initiative:

  1. Ability: Does the organization have the people and resources in place to assess the needs, and if so, develop and implement the initiative? If not, is the organization able to commit the resources, in both time and money, to bring in a consultant to facilitate the process?
  2. Commitment: Are the owners and/or management invested in developing and maintaining a long-term diversity initiative? This commitment is imperative to the success of a diversity initiative, and in not only shifting the culture of the organization but also maintaining that shift.
  3. Evaluation: Once the resources have been allocated and owners/managements are committed, it is necessary to evaluate existing diversity in the workplace. This assessment is an integral and invaluable step in the process, as you want to make an inclusive, diverse workplace for those who may feel diversity is lacking, while at the same time not alienating those that feel the workplace is fine as is.
  4. Development: The assessment above should highlight any obstacles that are present, and with that knowledge it can be determined how to best overcome those obstacles. A strategy then needs to be determined; to best affect those changes needed, to ensure the new culture of diversity flows through every department and function, in addition to becoming a permanent presence in the organization.
  5. Dedication: Once the diversity initiative has been fully implemented, regular reassessments should be conducted to determine the success of the program and identify areas that need to be tweaked. Maintaining a diversity initiative is a long-term commitment that can yield many beneficial results if executed properly.

Diversity will continue to increase considerably in the coming years and failing to recognize and address diversity may have substantial negative repercussions.

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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.

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More Minds: How Diverse Ideas Drive Innovation

Is it me, or has 2013 been an extraordinary year for stories from the forefront of social business, leadership and organizational culture? For every new book I finish, it seems that 3-4 more find their way to my “must read” list. There never seems to be enough time to take it all in.

Among the books I’ve had time to complete, several have made a lasting impression. One of them is Ekaterina Walter’s Think Like Zuck: Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO. Of course, we all know another book that speaks to Mark Zuckerberg’s success. What more is there to say, right? Wrong.

Diversity of Thought: Rocket Fuel For Business?

Ekaterina looks beneath the surface of Facebook’s founder in an engaging assessment of why his company is so successful. Along the way, she uncovers something that many other leadership books seem to miss — the power of diversity in innovation.

I’m not just talking about demographic diversity. Don’t get me wrong — demographic diversity is absolutely vital to innovation, and organizations still have a long way to go in that regard. But since we know that diversity is strength, it makes sense to expand the classic business understanding of workforce “diversity.” This isn’t a counterpoint to the demographic meaning, but an extension of it. A flourish. An embellishment. In the same way that jazz performers rely upon flourishes to add unique depth and character to their music, diversity has the potential to elevate the business innovation process in unique and valuable ways.

How can leaders put this insight into practice? Here are three factors to consider:

1) Yin Needs Yang

In Think Like Zuck, Walter defines five “musts” for business success: passion, purpose, people, product, partnership. It was her thought-provoking chapters on people and partnerships that made me really sit up and start thinking about diversity, and why it’s vital.

Because of Zuckerberg’s passion and smarts, Facebook did well nearly from the start. But it didn’t go into orbit until Zuckerberg picked Sheryl Sandberg as his COO. Walter writes:

She had a completely different style from his. I think their differences are what make the Zuckerberg-Sandberg duo such an extraordinary team. They complement each other very well. What Mark lacks in experience, Sheryl brings to the table in abundance. When he doesn’t feel like stepping into the limelight, she steps in for him masterfully. The difference in age, as well as gender, contributes various perspectives and capabilities.

“Yeah,” I thought, “that makes a lot of sense. So why don’t more companies get this? Isn’t it obvious?” Nailing the point, Walter quotes Leslie Bradshaw of JESS3 (a social media firm that serves world-class companies like Nike, MTV, Samsung, NASA, Twitter, ESPN and Google):

In our partnership, Jesse Thomas is the yang, and…I have enough yin to balance it out. If you look beyond our personalities, the fact that our genders are different also adds diversity. The perspective I bring as a woman is very different from what he brings as a man, and that helps balance out the way we hire, the way we treat our employees, and the way we approach strategies when we execute for clients.

“Of course!” I shouted. (Luckily, I was alone. HA). Of course diversity allows you to do more — to think more, think differently, think better! It seems self-evident, really. Yet it can be incredibly hard to convince CEOs and managers to hire or involve people who are different from them. People who do things differently, who think differently. It’s a perceived risk. And it’s wrong. “Everyone needs to be talking about this” I insisted. I was pretty fired up — but with good cause, don’t you think?

2) It’s Proven: Two Brains (and Personalities) Are Better Than One

Inspired by Walter’s book, I dove into Hutch Carpenter’s article “Diversity and Innovation: Improve the Person, Improve the Idea.” Pacing back and forth, I searched for past threads that would push my current thought process forward:

A key aspect of the next generation of innovation is the ability to tap a much larger set of minds in pursuit of valuable ideas. The historic method of innovation relied exclusively on a designated few. (“So true!”) Diversity is the key element here. That is, engaging a broad set of different perspectives to generate something better than one could do individually. Cognitive and heuristics diversity — that’s what benefits innovation. People who see things in a different way, and bring a different practice to solving problems.

“Good, good, yes,” I thought, still talking to myself. “Of course — put people together, you get more ideas. Like one plus one, right?”

Not quite. Instead, we need to think one of this kind, plus one of another kind. Carpenter cites a study by Ron Burt of The University of Chicago, finding that “people with more diverse sources of information generated consistently better ideas.”

So. It’s not just about more sources. It’s about more more diverse sources.

3) E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One?)

Then I found out something totally cool. Are you ready for this? Group diversity leads to better innovation than a genius inventor working alone (or a group working in isolation) — even when that solo entity gets input from others. Although the “lone inventor” may come up with great innovations (okay, we’re all thinking Alexander Graham Bell) it’s less likely that will happen than with communities of diverse thinkers who freely explore ideas together.

It’s true: Zuckerberg didn’t work alone. And neither did Alexander Graham Bell. Facebook and the telephone may have been visions of “lone inventors,” but those visions became world-changing products only because Zuckerberg and Bell worked well with others who thought differently from them.

As Ekaterina Walter makes abundantly clear, Mark Zuckerberg, along with many others, has created a platform more powerful for letting our voices be heard than anything since the invention of the printing press. It’s the basis for social community on a grand scale.

Social Networks and Innovation: The Bigger Business Picture

Okay, then. So the tools are there to connect our diverse dots. Why not use social networks to create a new world of work? All of us, together, representing a spectrum of talents, personalities, styles, backgrounds, brains, ideas, experience. All of us focused on contributing to a common purpose. A diverse community — an orchestra, of sorts.

We could be riffing together like jazz musicians to create organizational cultures that are more responsive, resilient, energized, engaging and innovative. Diversity playing in unison isn’t only music. It can, in fact, inform the future of work.

What are your thoughts about the power of diverse thinking in the workplace? What’s the best business book you’ve read this year? And what did it teach you?

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

(Also Note: This post is adapted from Forbes.com, with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Making Teams Work: Is There a Better Way?

For many of us today, teaming is an integral aspect of professional life. Yet, although we may see value in collaboration, many of us also struggle with various aspects of the team process.

Sometimes, issues arise from our self perceptions. For example, we may have reservations about sharing our opinions publicly, or insecurities about our ability to contribute effectively.

However, concerns also stem from inherent weaknesses in the teaming process, itself. Issues surrounding coordination and motivation tend to reduce a team’s effectiveness. For example, even when participants freely generate many valid ideas, those suggestions may be overlooked or underutilized. It’s no surprise that many of us become cynical about teams when our attempts to add value fail.

Cracking The Collaboration Code

How can we turn this around, so more of us are comfortable bringing ideas to the table, and confident that our efforts will make a difference? One possibility is to rethink the role of brainstorming, so teams focus on identifying and combining worthy ideas to formulate stronger solutions.

I have been involved with a variety of teams over the years. The “personality” of each group was truly unique — influenced by the dynamic of the selected members, the teaming process and the team leader’s experience. Some teams hesitated to cross or effectively challenge the opinions of those with seniority — a common problem. But in many situations, the real challenge wasn’t that individual voices were unheard. Instead, the root issue was that contributors’ ideas weren’t used wisely. In every scenario, as soon as this became apparent, that’s the moment when things went awry.

Often, multiple proposed ideas were worthy of exploration, but we were focused on choosing only one “winning” idea. This “either/or” decision filter is a potentially fatal flaw in the collaboration process. Instead, we should have focused on a different goal.

Insights From Collaborative Leaders

At some point, every team must move from generating ideas to assessing their value. The process used to evaluate those ideas is critical to the team’s overall success. So, how do we effectively address this challenge — the “we-have-numerous-great-ideas-but-what-do-we-do-with-them” issue? Here are several sources of insight:

•  Dr. Ed Catmull, President, Walt Disney Pixar Animation Studios:  In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Dr. Catmull describes how Pixar development teams routinely combine ideas to excel. It’s not necessary for one idea to “win” or “lose.” Instead, numerous viable concepts can be incorporated into a plan, a product or a process. This approach may lead to healthier outcomes. After all, game-changing products and processes often integrate multiple features.

•  Mike Krieger, Co-Founder, Instagram: At Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner, Mike Krieger discusses his perspectives on the value of combining ideas when developing innovative solutions. In Krieger’s opinion, this integrative approach is the driving principle behind the best startup companies. Instagram is compelling evidence.

Three Ways To Achieve Better Results, Together

Of course, this approach may not be appropriate for all teams, or in every circumstance. However, it deserves consideration — especially when teams are struggling. To move the collaboration process forward, consider these three “ideation” guidelines from brainstorming best practices:

•  Share ideas sooner. Move beyond the requirement that an idea must be perfected before you share it. Allow colleagues an opportunity to develop your concept more fully.
•  Cut the cord. Strive to give up emotional ownership of your idea. Stay invested and serve as a guide, but allow the team to invest in it, too, so you can maximize its potential, together.
•  Nurture a different perspective. Stay open to pairing ideas that can produce a novel product or process. Expect the unexpected. Explore diverse combinations. And try not to jump to conclusions too soon.

What are your thoughts about combining ideas to collaborate more effectively? Have you tried this approach? What were the outcomes?

(Editor’s Note: This article is adapted from a LinkedIn Influencer post, with permission.)

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Age Bias At Work: Bad Business #TChat Recap

“Discrimination due to age is one of the great tragedies of modern life. The desire to work and be useful is what makes life worth living, and to be told your efforts are not needed because you are the wrong age is a crime.” Johnny Ball

Who wouldn’t agree with that statement, in theory? But in fact, age discrimination persists. Why? And what should talent-minded professionals do about it? These were the core issues we tackled at this week’s #TChat Twitter forum.

To help us take a collective look at the impact of age discrimination on today’s workforce, two of the HR community’s sharpest thought leaders joined our moderator, Cyndy Trivella:

Steve Levy, a prominent workforce sourcing expert and popular recruiting blogger.

Heather Bussing, an employment law attorney who is also a founding editorial advisory board member and contributor at HR Examiner.

Here are some top takeaways, followed by resource links and the #TChat highlights slideshow:

Ageism “Sniff Test”

TChatTwitter_logo_020813Age discrimination is often not as overt as other forms of bias. When interviewing for a position, older candidates may be told that they’re not the right “fit” for an organization, or they’re “overqualified” for a job. Younger job seekers may be told to pursue unpaid internships to “gain more experience.” Either scenario may be appropriate — but when a pattern emerges, it’s most likely a systemic problem. Similarly, if employees “of a certain age” are consistently left out of communication loops, meetings and business decisions, discrimination is a likely culprit.

Ageism can be a factor at any stage in our lives — and tension seems to be mounting at both ends of today’s workforce, as the economic slowdown continues and more employees are retiring later in life.

What’s The Source?

Discrimination based on age (or other arbitrary criteria) stems from our need to categorize the abundance of information that surrounds us each day. Classifying information helps us process the world more efficiently — but not always effectively.

Fear seems to be a common factor in age discrimination. We tend to feel more comfortable with things that are familiar, and we fear things that we don’t know or understand. An older worker may fear that a younger counterpart is more energetic, or offers more creative ideas. While a younger worker may fear that an older employee contributes more depth of knowledge in a particular area, or resists fresh ideas. These feelings may not be rational, but the fear can be very real. Yet, ironically, no one likes to be stereotyped.

Keeping Age Discrimination Out Of The Office

To move past age discrimination, we need to embrace diversity, in all of its forms. A culture of  inclusion starts with leaders who leave age at the door. Smart leaders know that a diverse workforce contributes to innovation, and adds to a company’s value in the marketplace. It creates a “virtuous cycle” effect that encourages more collaboration among teams and employees. On the other hand, a one-dimensional workforce can breed “group think” that weakens a company’s competitive position.

How Can Leaders Foster Workplace Diversity?

Start with the hiring process. Hire the best candidate for the job. Use performance based hiring to avoid age discrimination. Consciously strive for a fair, inclusive, transparent recruitment process.

Create a cross-mentoring program. This makes sense for employers in the face of today’s talent shortage. It encourages knowledge sharing and helps support succession planning. It can also boost employee engagement.

What Can Each Of Us Do?

Consider listening and inquiry your personal weapons in the war against age discrimination. Never stop learning — no matter what your age. Embrace technology and use it as a tool to network with others and learn from them. Look for opportunities to grow personally and professionally, and share ideas with others at social forums, like #TChat Twitter — where diverse thinking is always welcome!

For more inspiration, see resource links and #TChat event highlights in the Storify slideshow below. If this post inspires you, be sure to add a comment below or jump into the #TChat stream any time. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, at any age!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Age Discrimination Perception + Reality

SUN 10/6:

SteveandTim

Watch the #TChat Preview video now

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald set the stage for this week’s event in a preview post that featured a fun G+ hangout video with guest Steve Levy. Check it out: “Old Dogs + New Tricks: Will HR Learn?”

TUE 10/8:

Related Post: This week’s other special guest, Heather Bussing, offered a very human perspective on discrimination in a post at HR Examiner. Read: “Why Age Discrimination Should Matter to You.”

WED 10/9:

Related Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 steps that business leaders should take in overcoming workplace age stereotypes. Read: “How To Break The Age Bias Habit.”

#TChat Twitter: This week, we by-passed #TChat Radio. Instead the entire community set the #TChat Twitter hashtag on fire, as our guests joined moderator Cyndy Trivella in a lively discussion about 6 key age discrimination issues. The hour flew by, as thousands of ideas and opinions hit the stream. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Age Discrimination Perception + Reality

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-age-discrimination-in-the-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

 

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Steve Levy and Heather Bussing for shining a light on workplace age discrimination. We welcome your enthusiasm and perspectives anytime!

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week we focus on next-generation workplace leadership with our special guest, YouTern CEO, Mark Babbitt! Watch for more details in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues! So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Tim Tyrell-Smith at flickr

How To Break The Age Bias Habit

Want to know a deep, dark secret? OK then. Just between us — there’s some truth in all those stereotypes that swirl around about Baby Boomers, Millennials and other generations. That’s actually why they became stereotypes in the first place.

But wait. There’s another truth that no one in the workplace can afford to ignore. Discrimination is a career killer. Age bias may be as old as the hills, but that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or even legal to let it poison your company culture. And in today’s transparent world of work, that kind of behavior is bound to be exposed, sooner or later. So let’s step back and re-frame this issue.

Smart Leaders Know Age Is Not A Factor

Today’s global economy is highly competitive. Successful organizations need all the creative, useful ideas they can get. It doesn’t matter if the source is old, young or in between. As French playwright Moliere said, “I take my good where I find it.”

Yet the labels persist. You’ve heard it before: Gen Yers are lazy, entitled, and preoccupied with digital connections. Gen Xers are cynical, alouf, and make lousy team players. Baby Boomers are stodgy, inflexible, and can’t relate to younger people. Can you find individuals who perfectly fit these descriptions? Sure you can. But can you find many other people who smash these cliches to pieces? I certainly hope so! I’m one of them.

Removing Age From The Workforce Equation

If you’re serious about your success — as well as your organization’s success — you’ll reach to the best and brightest no matter how old or young they are. But how can you avoid the trap of generational stereotypes? Here are 5 steps to consider:

1) Be aware and be vigilant. Take a quick personal inventory. Do you see some signals that shouldn’t be there? You’re not alone. All of us let age stereotypes creep into our thought patterns and behavior. It happens more than most of us want to admit. Come on. Own up. Face it by formalizing it. List the age-related assumptions you make about people. Become mindful. You can’t stop stereotyping until you’re willing to recognize how you do it.

2) Disprove the stereotype. Now that you have your list, find people who make a mockery of it. The Gen Xer who has worked 80 hours a week at the same company since college; the Gen Yer who created a cohesive, winning team; the Boomer who invented a wildly exciting new technology product.

3) Retrain your brain. Now that you know who and how you stereotype, and you know how false and limiting your “reality” is, train yourself to stop believing the lie. Be prepared to practice. Making snap judgments about people based on obvious attributes is deeply ingrained in us all. Unlearning this behavior takes time, but every step is a move in the right direction. When you meet someone, pay attention to your internal response — both intellectual and emotional. If you stereotype them, consciously tell yourself to look past it, and instead look at other characteristics that are more relevant.

4) Be open to “see” the person “in 3D.” There’s a word for someone who doesn’t measure individuals by their unique strengths and talents. That word is “fool.” You’re working to build a successful career, project, or enterprise. Why in the world would you limit yourself by refusing help from willing and able contributors? Embrace the talent that is available to you. Judge people by their past performance and potential to add value in the future. Age is irrelevant in that context. You need everyone to deliver their best effort. Stay open to possibilities and reach out.

5 ) Make it a habit. The goal is to build a network that transcends stereotyping. Make a conscious effort, at least once a week, to spend time with someone whom you would have stereotyped in the past. If you’re a Gen Yer, take a Boomer out to lunch. Listen to their story and soak up lessons from their experience. If you’re a Boomer, seek out a Gen Yer to mentor. Ask what’s on their mind and how you can help. Then listen closely to how they respond. No matter what age you are, be willing to discuss personal limitations and ask for input and feedback. Too often we assume it’s a sign of weakness if we admit our concerns and shortcomings. But actually it’s a strength. As Moliere suggested, take your good where you find it. I’m not sure how old he was when he penned that advice, but honestly, it doesn’t matter!

Bottom line: In the workplace and in every other aspect of life, stereotyping is self-destructive. It denies our basic humanity, and the ability we all have to transcend superficial categorization. Smash stereotypes, celebrate individuality, and you will learn, grow, and build stronger relationships. You’ll also be a business leader that others will want to follow.

(Editor’s Note: Join the TalentCulture community tonight, Oct 9 from 7-8pm ET, at #TChat Twitter,  where we’re discussing age-based discrimination in the workplace. Everyone is welcome! Learn more in the preview post…)

(Editor’s Note: Meghan M. Biro is an active contributor to Forbes.com. This article is adapted from her Forbes blog, with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Old Dogs + New Tricks: Will HR Learn? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for complete highlights and resource links from this week’s events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Age Discrimination At Work: Bad Business”.)

This week, the TalentCulture community action is truly nonstop, with a trifecta of #TChat events! Let me help connect the dots between these three elements — old dogs, new tricks and HR lessons to live by:

1) HR Celebrates New Tools: Today Oct 6, TalentCulture’s intrepid founders Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman hit the ground running at this week’s HR Tech Conference — which promises to be the biggest and most mind-blowing ever. Meghan explains what all the buzz is about at Forbes.com: “7 Hottest Trends In HR Technology.”

2) HR Learns New Tricks: Tomorrow Oct 7, LIVE from the conference, Meghan and Kevin host an Expert Roundtable Discussion on Employee Engagement. If you’re not at the conference, you can follow the action from a distance on the #TChat Twitter stream from 2:30-3:15pmPT (5:30-6:15pmET).

3) But Are “Old Dogs” Willing? Perhaps too often in today’s digitally driven workplace, it’s suggested that innovation is a young person’s game. But is that perception realistic? Is it fair? And is it even legal? Those questions inspired us to focus on age discrimination at our weekly #TChat Twitter chat, this Wednesday Oct 9.

Youth Code: Age In Today’s Workplace

If you’re familiar with TalentCulture, you know our community has no fear about taking on deeply human workplace issues. In the past year alone, we’ve explored the relationship between “thought diversity” and business innovation, we’ve considered the value of reverse mentoring, and we’ve discussed the need to remove age-related stereotypes as Millennials enter the workforce.

Now we invite you to fasten your seat belts as we take a realistic look at age discrimination, and its implications for an aging workforce. We’ll be guided by two respected HR community leaders:

Steve Levy, a prominent workforce sourcing expert and popular recruiting blogger.

Heather Bussing, an employment law attorney who is also a founding editorial advisory board member and contributor at HR Examiner.

I sat down briefly with Steve in a joint G+ Hangout to frame this topic. Watch now, and I’m sure you’ll won’t want to miss what should be a lively and helpful social learning opportunity this Wednesday on Twitter!

#TChat: Age Discrimination at Work: Perception and Reality

#TChat Twitter — Wednesday, Oct 9 7pmET / 4pmPT

This week, we’ll skip the #TChat Radio interview and jump right into the #TChat Twitter stream, with event moderator, Cyndy Trivella. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to join us as we discuss these 5 questions:

Q1: Do you see age discrimination at work? Describe it.
Q2: If a company hires or fires with age in mind, what does that say about its culture?
Q3: Which is more prevalent / problematic: discrimination of young or old?
Q4: How can we improve the perception and reality of age at work? Laws? And…?
Q5: What role can technology play in empowering older workers?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So feel free to contribute your thoughts. Please join us and share your ideas, opinions, questions, and concerns!

We’ll see you on the stream!

It's All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

It’s All Good: Employees Are People Too #TChat Recap

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
–Elbert Hubbard

This week, the TalentCulture community pushed some buttons — as well as some boundaries — by exploring a topic that is seldom addressed openly in the world of work.

In some ways, we all struggle personally. And some of us struggle more than others. But what does that mean for our professional abilities? And why don’t organizations work more proactively to leverage the strength that can flow from our human weakness?

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

Knowing how tricky it is to navigate these mostly uncharted waters, we asked two of the HR community’s most respected thought leaders to guide us through this week’s #TChat events:

John Sumser, editor-in-chief of HR Examiner.
William Tincup, CEO of HR consultancy, Tincup & Co.

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

“All of the stuff that traditional organizations consider taboo — what if you bring it into the workplace, and figure out how to turn it into creative assets?”

William offered a business case that supports John’s premise. He noted that the process of talent acquisition is designed to eliminate outliers, in favor of a more homogenous workforce. This may make onboarding and talent management easier — but at what cost? If everyone feels obliged to conform for the sake of getting and keeping a job, are we sacrificing the diversity needed to drive world-class innovation?

Obviously, there are no simple answers — but these ideas certainly were conversation starters! After the radio show, the #TChat Twitter stream was blazing with ideas about workplace transparency, professional authenticity, and how to bring our whole selves to work.

(Editor’s Note: For highlights from this week’s discussions, see the resource links and Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

I realize that this week has been devoted to issues that are often repressed or rejected because they’re perceived as “negative.” But does positivity have a place in this discussion? How can leaders introduce constructive changes to create a more supportive culture for everyone? What would you do?

Alexa Thompson, a writer interested in workplace transformation, suggests these 5 ways to apply “positive psychology” principles. The goal isn’t to roll out sweeping corporate initiatives, but to initiate incremental enhancements, tailored to your particular environment. It’s about making small, simple, consistent improvements that build over time. Imagine the sort of progress we might see in personal fulfillment — as well as business innovation — if most organizations lived by these standards:

1) Practice Thankfulness the Smart Way  Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise.

2) Introduce Exercise for Fewer Sick Days and a Healthier State of Mind  Physical activity has long been known as a stress-reducer, and companies who include fitness and exercise as a part of their corporate perks generally register higher when it comes to work/life balance satisfaction.

3) Embrace Creativity  When employees are allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts, business processes can become better streamlined, new products can emerge, and communication can improve.

4) Make Use of Mentoring  Workers who feel like their company invests in their development and cares about their progress usually are more productive. They’re also more likely to remain than those who feel like just another cog in the wheel. A small effort to build knowledge-sharing connections can go a long way.

5) Engage a Happiness Trainer  Happiness trainers draw on psychological research and ancient traditions to teach inner peace, gratitude, kindness and resiliency in the face of adversity — of which there is plenty in today’s workplace.

Has your company tried any of these suggestions? What might work best in your environment, and why? For more ideas from this week’s #TChat interactions, see the resource links and Storify highlights below. This is clearly a topic we’ve only begun to explore, so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your ideas in the comments below, or post in the #TChat stream. In our world of work, everyone is welcome, all the time!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed the topic in a post and a brief video interview with guest, John Sumser. Read the #TChat Preview: “Finding Daylight In The Dark Side Of Talent.”

MON 9/30:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro outlined 5 issues for business leaders should be more open and authentic to achieve better business performance. Read: “5 Ways To Keep It Real At Work.”

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman sat down with John Sumser and William Tincup for an unstructured discussion about norms and biases that keep organizations from making the most of employees who are struggling personally. Listen to the radio recording now

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream for an open-ended conversation about these issues. As you can imagine, the topic sparked a broad range of opinions, questions and ideas. For highlights from the event, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-engaging-the-dark-side-of-workplac.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to William Tincup and John Sumser for shining a #TChat light on this topic. We look forward to continuing to explore this topic in more depth along with you in the future!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how to organizations can be more effective at accepting and empowering employees as “whole” humans? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week is a very special week for the HR community, and for #TChat Events, too! If you’re attending the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas, join us for a LIVE #TChat Roundtable, as a panel of experts gathers to take on employee engagement!

And next Wednesday we won’t host a radio show — but we will be hitting the #TChat Twitter stream for a lively chat about Age Discrimination in Today’s Workplace, along with Steve Levy and Heather Bussing. Watch for details here in the coming days.

Until then, we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap

Meeting of the Minds — Leaving Age at the Door

It can be done. Really. I’ve experienced it first-hand. I imagine you have, too. Many different people of all generations, gender, race, shapes and sizes can come together to create a unique, powerful and separate “whole.”

Think of industry conferences. Birds of a feather — flying in from near and far — converging in tiny groups — gathering around tables in a gigantic ballroom. We arrive brimming with energy and ideas to share. We offer attention and interest to others. We flock together — eager to exchange, to learn, to expand our perspective, to imagine possibilities.

Together We ARE Better

We’re united by our passion for world-of-work topics. Topics that touch us all, everyday — in the main office, the home office and the office-like locales in between. This is the beauty of social learning environments. But, of course, like all things social, this is not a homogeneous pack, and our behavior reflects that reality.

Some cluster with peers from their current work groups. Others gravitate to colleagues from long ago in their careers — reconnecting and catching up. Still others seem slightly disconnected, as they focus intently on real-time smart phone connections. On occasion, we hear a witty quip that hints at generational differences, like, “What if I’m really not Pinterested in that social site?”

Some managers and subordinates sit side-by-side, joking with one another about why they’re so afraid to tweet on behalf of their company, even after receiving formal permission. And there are thought leaders and panelists of all generations, discussing the value of trading isolated metrics for integrated analysis that can elevate business by driving growth, engagement and the bottom line.

No, we don’t all work together in the same mother ship. But then again, we kinda do. After all, with all of its many variations, there really is only one world of work.

A Collaborative Conference Snapshot

SourcingRecruiting_Summit2013_Logo-700pixelsThis model came to life for me this week at the Recruiting Trends Social Sourcing and Recruitment Summit in Washington, DC. An eclectic room, for sure, although many participants work for government agencies, or government contractors — not the first thing that springs to mind when we think of organizations at the forefront of open, transparent, social business models. However, Meghan M. Biro and I moderated a discussion with some very smart folk about social business and social HR trends and issues. And the end of the day, we all agreed that a sound social recruiting strategy comes from understanding how different social sites complement one another, not how they compete.

In many ways, it echoes what we learned from this week’s #TChat conversations about age bias in the workplace. Organizations are comprised of many people who span multiple generations. Through workplace collaboration, we can dispel harmful stereotypes, while simultaneously gaining business value by leveraging the complementary strengths of team members.

#TChat Week-in-Review: Guests

It truly takes a “village” to run a professional community — and this week proved the point, as we took on “The No Labels Workforce.” Experts from across all generations helped us examine myths and truths that perpetuate workplace stereotypes, and helped us consider how to move beyond those perceptions.

WilsonHCGVidShot

Watch videos with Ashley Lauren Perez & John Wilson

The common thread throughout this week was Ashley Lauren Perez, a WilsonHCG Sourcing Specialist, who is also a valued #TChat Ambassador and a highly regarded HR blogger in her own right. Thank you Ashley, for your contributions to the TalentCulture community – not just this week, but on an ongoing basis! And thanks to everyone else who participated!

#TChat Week-in-Review: Resources

SAT 4/6  Google+ Hangout “sneak peek” videos:  Our community manager Tim McDonald, briefly framed the week’s issues with two human resources management experts from WilsonHCG John Wilson, Founder and CEO, and Ashley Lauren Perez.

SUN 4/7  Forbes.com column: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, tackled generational bias head-on in her poast, 5 Ways to Smash Generational Stereotypes.

MON 4/8  We outlined the week’s theme and key questions in the #TChat Preview: Age at Work: Just a Number?

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording now

TUE 4/9  #TChat Radio: Host Meghan Biro examined workplace age bias with three talent management experts — WilsonHCG Recruiting Director Cynthia Cancio and Sourcing Specialist Ashley Lauren Perez; along with Recruiting Trends’ Sr. Director, Anna Brekka,

Ashley also contributed a thoughtful blog post about this topic: Age at Work: Moving Beyond Birthdays

WED 4/10  #TChat Twitter The whole community came together on the Twitter stream to talk about age in the workplace — similarities and differences, strengths and weaknesses, myths and realities. As you can imagine, there was no shortage of personal opinions, professional perspectives and ideas for how we can let go of stereotypes and leverage talent, across generations. In

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “Age at Work: Just a Number?”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-age-at-work-just-a-number.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Ashley Lauren Perez, John WilsonAnna Brekka, and Cynthia Cancio for contributing your time and expertise to help us dig deeper into generational biases in the workplace. Your insights and expertise brought depth and dimension to the discussion.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we’ll take a look at the trends and technologies that are defining today’s world of work, with our special guest, Elliot Clark, CEO & Chairman of SharedXpertise, the publishers of HRO Today.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

Age at Work: Moving Beyond Birthdays

“How old are you?”

What do you feel, think, and say when you hear that question in the workplace? Do you suddenly get tense, wondering how others will perceive your answer? You’re not alone.

No matter when you were born or what kind of upbringing you’ve had, you’ve likely dealt with some sort of label. And regardless of the situation, we can all agree that no one likes to be unfairly stereotyped. Despite attempts by organizational leaders and HR to reduce discrimination and adversity, it still lingers in some forms. Not surprisingly, age-related stereotyping is on the rise, now that more organizations have a multigenerational workforce.

Generational Generalizations

As recent studies illustrate, every generation is affected by damaging biases. For example, do profiles like this sound familiar?

  • Baby Boomers = materialistic, technologically illiterate micro-managers
  • Generation Xers = cynical, disloyal and skeptical of authority
  • Generation Y “Millennials” = lazy, entitled and self-serving

Although these generalizations may have emerged for a reason, why should we assume that they are widely applicable or even relevant? Perhaps some high-profile individuals have displayed these characteristics, but their actions shouldn’t be the basis for defining a whole generation.

The Price of Stereotypes

More often than not, typecasting like this comes from lack of awareness, communication or understanding. It’s important to identify this issue quickly and bridge the gap, before it destroys our talent pools. Otherwise, organizations are at risk of missing out on the strongest talent — internally or externally.

What Can Individuals Do?

As I continue to progress in my career and become more involved in networking opportunities, I make it a point to avoid conversation about my age. Quite frankly, it’s not important. And, as a Millennial, the last thing I want others to do is marginalize my capabilities upfront. I don’t want them to presume I am a lazy or cynical person — I want them to evaluate me for my skills, abilities, goals and accomplishments. Isn’t that how it should be?

The workplace is rapidly developing into a collaborative environment, where everyone is expected to step up and contribute toward common goals. To do this effectively, employees must avoid animosity toward one another that starts with preconceived notions about age. We need to let go of misplaced biases and instead focus on the thing that matters — an individual’s capacity to contribute something valuable to the team and to the organization.

I look forward to engaging the TalentCulture community in a dialogue about this topic — not just at this week’s #TChat Twitter forum, but beyond. It’s important to every one of us. So, I ask you to consider one simple question:

How are you creating a “no labels” workplace?

(Editor’s Note: Want to hear more from Ashley? She was a featured guest last night on #TChat Radio “The No Labels Workforce.” Listen on-demand, anytime. She also moderated #TChat Twitter this week. To read the full recap of this week’s events, see “The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap”)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Age at Work: Just a Number? #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap)

What’s the truth about the interplay of generations in today’s workplace? Are we moving forward, or do “generation gaps” still hold us to the past?

Is this topic old news? I feel like it might be. Not sure if it’s just me. Perhaps I’m just wishfully thinking we should have moved on by now. But it’s important. And it deserves another look.

Age Stereotypes: A Reality Check

So, just between us, let me ask: Do you still catch yourself making snap judgments about people based solely on their age? Boomers, Gen Y, Gen X…whatever.  We fret over how to recruit Millennials. We wonder how to manage them versus others. Does all this conscious attention to generational differences help or hinder progress?

Age-based stereotyping is deeply ingrained in our history, our culture and our collective social psyche. Now, in the 21st century world of work, it holds back individual advancement, business performance and innovation. But how do we move past reactions that seem almost second-nature? That’s the topic we’re tackling this week, in the TalentCulture community.

Getting Over Generational Bias: Growing Pains

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Watch the #TChat “Sneak Peek” videos now…

To begin the conversation, I suggested ways to smash age-based stereotypes in my Forbes.com column yesterday.

Rethinking stereotypes requires some deep internal soul searching. Gaining self awareness is the first step — and it’s not necessarily easy.

Facing your biases is an emotional exercise, as well as an intellectual one. But the process can be highly rewarding for professionals and the companies they serve. Fortunately, now there’s strength in numbers, as our #TChat forums take on generational stereotypes as a collaborative effort.

#TChat Weekly Topic: The “No Labels” Workforce

Leading us through this week’s conversation are two human resources management experts from WilsonHCG John Wilson, Founder and CEO, and Ashley Lauren Perez, Sourcing Specialist. Both John and Ashley helped us set the stage for this week’s topic in brief Google+ Hangout “sneak peek” videos. Check them out now!

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Tune into #TChat Radio live on Tuesday or on-demand after

I hope you’ll plan to join us at #TChat events this week, where we’ll take a closer look at labels in the workplace, and how to build cultures that value diversity in all of its forms:

As always, throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter stream and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us and share your thoughts, concerns, opinions and ideas.

#TChat Weekly Questions

Why not start now? Take a moment to consider this week’s discussion guide and tell us what you think. Your comments are welcome, early and often:

Q1:  In the world of work, how are the generations the same? Why?
Q2:  With Millennials, we have myriad misconceptions. But for all generations, what are the most pervasive?
Q3:  What is the role of leaders in helping to smash stereotypes about generations in the workforce?
Q4:  Does tech facilitate cross-generational interaction? Why/not? How can we forge more connections?
Q5:  Innovation and free-thinking go hand-in-hand. But does innovation ever encourage age stereotyping? Why?

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Flickr – Mark Turnauckas

 

"No Labels" Workforce: Sneak Peek Videos

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap)

Age discrimination. Sometimes it’s very subtle. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious. Either way, it still can play a role in workplace culture. How can organizations move beyond the labels that hold back individuals, teams and corporate performance?

That’s our focus this week in the TalentCulture community. Our guests sat down for several minutes in Google+ Hangouts with me to discuss several key issues. Check it out:

One of our very own #TChat Ambassadors, Ashley Lauren Perez, defines key terms and offers advice for professionals who are considered part of “Generation Y”…

Next, Ashley’s boss, John Wilson, Founder and CEO WilsonHCG.com briefly explains why labels don’t make sense in the world of work…

It promises to be a fascinating week! The more voices who join the conversation, the better.

So join us at #TChat events this week, where we’ll take a closer look at labels in the workplace, and how to build cultures that value diversity in all of its forms:

NOTE: If you don’t see the G+ Hangout videos above in this post, you can watch them on YouTube:

“No Labels” Workforce: Sneak Peek Videos

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See The Best-of-All-Ages Workplace #TChat Recap)

Age discrimination. Sometimes it’s very subtle. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious. Either way, it still can play a role in workplace culture. How can organizations move beyond the labels that hold back individuals, teams and corporate performance?

That’s our focus this week in the TalentCulture community. Our guests sat down for several minutes in Google+ Hangouts with me to discuss several key issues. Check it out:

One of our very own #TChat Ambassadors, Ashley Lauren Perez, defines key terms and offers advice for professionals who are considered part of “Generation Y”…

Next, Ashley’s boss, John Wilson, Founder and CEO WilsonHCG.com briefly explains why labels don’t make sense in the world of work…

It promises to be a fascinating week! The more voices who join the conversation, the better.

So join us at #TChat events this week, where we’ll take a closer look at labels in the workplace, and how to build cultures that value diversity in all of its forms:

NOTE: If you don’t see the G+ Hangout videos above in this post, you can watch them on YouTube:

Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #TChat Recap

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By our very evolutionary nature, humans polarize. We’re hardwired to sense negativity, so we can counter it quickly and efficiently.

In fact, millions of years of this response to negative elements in the environment helped our ancestors survive. Not all of them, of course. And not for long, until more recent history. But staying alive and propagating the species was the goal.

Clearly, it wasn’t pretty. In the name of prehistoric progress, factions formed, mostly controlled by violent, fear-mongering leaders who greedily focused on their own survival, at the expense of weaker tribe members. And now after many generations, we’re here to tell about it.

Growing Into Our Collaborative Skin

Thank goodness for the frontal cortex. In more recent centuries, Enlightenment, the scientific revolution and humanitarian movements helped fundamentally shift the way we react to one another, and how we work with one another for the betterment of all.

That’s the value of every human life in a civilized society — the fact that we now can and do empathize with our global brothers and sisters. When we empathize, we can collaborate — and collaboration can elevate us all.

Collaboration: What is it and Why is it Here?

It’s not about 50-50 compromise. It’s not a winner-take-all confrontation. Nor is it merely a warm, fuzzy all-hands group hug. In its highest form, collaboration is an opportunity to create an entirely new “whole” that is larger and more effective than the sum of its parts. Ideally, a common goal is served, and everybody wins. As someone said at this week’s #TChat Twitter discussion, it’s like making a good paella.

Of course, as we see each day at work, in our communities and in the headlines, collaboration isn’t always the tool of choice, even among “civilized” humans. It hasn’t replaced polarizing negativity or self-serving violence. But we’ve “come a long way, baby,” as the 60’s commercials used to say. Violent fear-mongering is so last millennium anyway, right?

We’ve experienced first-hand how empathy, diversity of thought and respectful engagement motivate us to skip childlike together down yellow brick roads toward that magical land of Oz — from the highest levels of government, to corporations, to non-profits, to start-ups. Well at least that’s what we aspire to achieve — as it should be.

Learning Together, One Step at a Time

Of course, in reality, while we skip in sync with others on one foot, we still tend to shoot ourselves in the other. It’s not easy. But it’s human. And it’s progress.

Fortunately, for those of us in the TalentCulture community, as long as we have collaborative #TChat first aid within reach, we can rest assured that our corner of the work world is covered. Thanks to your participation, we are better, together.

And thanks to this week’s special #TChat events guest, Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner, for helping us gain a much deeper understanding of collaboration’s roots, and how to apply it more effectively in the workplace. Jesse is a brilliant business consultant, executive coach and author, focused on helping companies improve their performance through collaborative strategies.

If you missed any of this week’s events – or if want to revisit insights anytime – just follow the links below…

#TChat Week-in-Review

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Listen to the #TChat Radio interview with Jesse Lyn Stoner

SUN 3/3  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro framed the week’s discussion with her Forbes.com post: “Smart Leaders and the Power of Collaboration.”

MON 3/4  #TChat Weekly Preview “Smart Leaders Collaborate” laid out key questions for the community to consider.

TUE 3/5  #TChat Radio Show: Our hosts sat down with Jesse to define successful workplace collaboration. It was a helpful look into the human drivers that contribute to collaboration – or block its progress – and how leaders can be more effective by recognizing those underlying motivations.

WED 3/6  #TChat Twitter: Jesse returned to moderate our dynamic weekly Twitter forum – as a living model of mass virtual collaboration in action! Check out these highlights from the conversation…

#TChat Recap: “Smart Leaders Collaborate”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-smart-leaders-collaborate.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow

THANKS: One more round of applause, please, for Dr. Jesse Lyn Stoner! We appreciate you sharing your deep understanding of collaboration. Your insights sparked ideas that will help us work more effectively with others.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week – SPRING BREAK at SXSW! No scheduled #TChat events March 12/13. But please SAVE THE DATES the following week, March 19/20, when HR/talent/learning industry expert Josh Bersin, Founder/Principal at Bersin by Deloitte joins us to discuss key trends, and their implications for organizational culture, development and leadership.

Until then, we’ll continue to tackle World of Work discussion each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. And feel free to explore other areas of this redesigned blog/community website. TalentCulture is always open and the lights are always on.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Smart Leaders Collaborate: #TChat Preview

EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #TChat Recap 

We’ve all seen what polarization does to a country — especially recently, in our own country, the United States of America. Extreme polarization hobbles our ability to improve processes and social ills, to progress as a global business leader, and to just plain get things done.

Collaboration Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

According to our talented guest this week, Jesse Lyn Stoner (@JesseLynStoner), collaboration is the remedy for leadership and culture polarization.

“Collaboration is not about giving up your individuality. In fact, successful collaboration depends on speaking clearly and honesty about what you stand for. Collaboration is about valuing and mobilizing diversity as a force toward the common good. It is about recognizing and respecting the humanity in each individual, even those who are stuck at a pole.”

This is tough for leaders and individual contributors to do in the heat of polarization, but it’s critical for the world of work to advance, as well as the world itself. This is the very heart of productive communities online and off.

#TChat Weekly Agenda: Focus on Collaboration

This week on TalentCulture’s #TChat Radio and #TChat Twitter, we’re going to discuss the benefits of community collaboration in every incarnation and entity we belong. Here are the questions we’ll cover:

Q1: First, let’s define both collaboration and polarization. What are they?

Q2: Why has polarization across all facets of business and life been on the rise?

Q3: Diversity of thought is a very important part of effective collaboration. Why is that?

Q4: What can business leaders do to encourage more collaboration than polarization?

Q5: Does technology enable more collaboration than polarization? Or both? Why or why not?

This Week’s Guest Expert

The TalentCulture Community is very excited to welcome our radio and Twitter chat guest this week, Jesse Lyn Stoner.

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Hear the #TChat Radio recording now

Jesse is a consultant, former business executive, and co-author with Ken Blanchard of the international bestseller Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision, which has been translated into 22 languages.

For over 25 years, Dr. Stoner has worked closely with hundreds of leaders using collaborative processes to engage their entire workforce to improve business impact. Her clients range from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits worldwide, including Honda, Starbucks, General Electric, Marriott, Edelman Public Relations, and SAP to name a few. Jesse writes an award winning leadership blog and is also published in the Harvard Business Review. You can connect with her on Twitter at and Facebook.

This Week’s Events

#Tune-in to TChat Radio Tuesday March 5 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT when Jesse will join myself, Meghan M. Biro (@MeghanMBiro) and Kevin W. Grossman (@KevinWGrossman) for a collaborative discussion about collaboration. How exciting is that? Very!

And as always, don’t forget to join us on the Twitter stream for an all-hands #TChat Twitter event, on Wednesday, March 6, from 7-8 pm ET. Jesse Lyn Stoner will again join us, this time as the chat moderator.

In the meantime, we’ll be talking about this topic nonstop on the #TChat Twitter stream and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group.

So come on over and bring your best ideas about how to make collaboration work in today’s world of work!

***EDITORIAL NOTE: Did you notice a new look and feel to the TalentCulture site? Jump in and explore our new surroundings! This is just the beginning, so look for more exciting changes and innovations coming soon!***

The Creative Power of Diverse Ideas: #TChat Recap

Diversity: The art of thinking independently together. – Malcolm Forbes

The notion of diversity has evolved tremendously through the years. Historically, workplace diversity translated into hiring goals focused on racial and sexual equality. But today’s organizations are recognizing that there’s sustainable strategic value in diversity that reaches beyond demographics.

Diversity of ideas, perspectives and life experiences enables organizations to innovate and compete more effectively in today’s global marketplace. Bringing together a broad spectrum of skills, expertise and problem solving approaches enhances outcomes in collaborative environments. However, for this kind of diversity to take hold in the workplace, it must be woven into an organization’s culture. And, like any aspect of corporate culture, it must start with leaders who embrace inclusive attitudes and behaviors.

Dialing Into a Different Kind of Diversity

How can organizations foster innovation by nurturing the “new” diversity? It’s a question on the minds of our own diverse TalentCulture community. And it’s a central lesson in a new book “Think Like Zuck,” by Ekaterina Walter, which examines successful business principles of corporate leaders like Mark Zuckerburg.

This week, we asked Ekaterina to join us, along with Silicon Valley product development executive, Rob Garcia, who leads diverse organizations in creating breakthrough HR technology products. The conversations were rich and lively – peppered with nuggets of wisdom that anyone can use to collaborate and innovate more effectively.

NOTE: For complete highlights from yesterday’s #TChat Twitter forum, be sure to watch the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.

#TChat Week-in-Review

SUN 1/27
TalentCulture Founder, Meghan M. Biro set the stage in her Forbes.com post: “Think Like Zuck: How Diversity Sparks Innovation”

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Listen to the #TChat Radio interview now…

MON 1/28
#TChat weekly preview post: “Diversity in a New Key”

TUE 1/29
#TChat Radio Show:
Our hosts sat down to examine the “human” side of innovation with Rob Garcia, Director of Product Strategy and Marketing at RiseSmart, the leader in next-generation outplacement solutions.

To frame the conversation, Rob wrote a thoughtful blog post, Intentional Diversity: 3 Ways to Create Organizational Strength and Talent Diversity.

WED 1/30
#TChat Twitter: Rob again joined us – along with Ekaterina Walter – and hundreds of #TChat participants, as we opened the Twitter channel to a dynamic conversation about how to leverage diversity for better business results. Key tweets are featured below…

NOTE: For more highlights from yesterday’s #TChat Twitter forum, be sure to watch the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.

What are your unconventional definitions for workplace diversity?

“Different backgrounds. Different approaches. Different solutions. Shared success.” @talemetry

“Diversity of thought & experience gives ‘average’ a chance to be ‘great.'”@alliPolin

“More than statistical differences. Creative diversity, thought diversity just as important.” @LexieFO

How do leaders nurture and cultivate diversity?

“Be open to the unconventional. Note: Everything was unconventional at one point.” @SJAbbott

“Leaders nurture diversity by recognizing the value of “different,” publicly and decidedly.” @RobGarciaSJ

How does conventional diversity play into this?

“It happens organically, but diverse people must be brought together intentionally.” @martinamcgowan

“Diversity in the workplace is necessary to create a competitive economy in a globalized world.” @WeGoodify

What role does HR technology play?

“Digital villages are the now-next community of collaboration inside and out of organizations.” @ReCenterMoment

“HRTech puts too much focus on finding candidates’ keywords instead of their passion and company fit.” @MarcCibulka

“What current resume screening has in speed, it LACKS in ability to see diversity & potentiality.” @N_BarryJansson

How can leaders encourage this “different” diversity?

“Break away from your dept. Ask someone outside your dept to brainstorm ideas once in a while. You never know.” @LukiKit

“Leaders need to educate their teams and organizations about the value of including many different views.” @TerriKlass

“Celebrate success. Celebrate failure. Challenge inaction. Foster diversity. Gain innovation.” @aldampier

Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow

SPECIAL THANKS: We’re grateful to Rob Garcia and Ekaterina Walter for bringing your understanding of diversity to TalentCulture events this week! Your ideas have inspired our diverse “world of work” community to reflect and and interact in ways that that we hope will make a difference in their respective organizations.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week – as Valentine’s Day approaches, we’ll look at how employer/employee relationships have been redefined – and what it means for the future of work. Don’t miss “The Employment Romance is Over. Now What?” on #TChat Radio, Tuesday, Feb 5, at 7:30pm ET. And then #TChat Twitter Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 7pm ET. Look for more details next Monday via @TalentCulture and #TChat.

Until then – we’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Ortonesque

#TChat INSIGHTS Slide Show: “Innovation Through Diversity”

#TChat INSIGHTS: Diversity in a New Key

Storified by TalentCulture World of Work· Wed, Jan 30 2013 17:40:43

Hey #Tchat’ers… are we sexy or what? http://pic.twitter.com/HGwkWGYo w/@KevinWGrossman talking #diversity #HRRob Garcia
For my #TCHAT community! @MeghanMBiro http://pic.twitter.com/C2hLskAaLeAnna J. Carey
Doing work from couch, dealing with sinusitis, watching the tube, and getting deep into #TChat http://pic.twitter.com/cF2RUwAOAshley Lauren Perez
@MeghanMBiro checking in from another rainy day in Hilo HI http://www.twitpic.com/bt57rn #TChatSylvia Dahlby
Q1: What are your unconventional definitions for diversity in the workplace? How is it more than demographics? #TChatKevin W. Grossman
A1: We need to think of workforce diversity beyond accepting or respecting, but as a competitive advantage. #TchatJohn R. Bell
A1. I want it to mean diff in thought, experience and perspective. I still feel that the focus is on race, ethnicity and gender. #tchatMichael Danubio
A1: Diversity comes from education, not only culture! #TchatBenoit RIBE
A1: Seek “fit” in terms of shared commitments and seek diversity to expand perspective and open possibility #tchatSusan Mazza
A1. Diversity is now a conversation about the collective, not about individuals working together. #tchatSalima Nathoo
A1: What qualifies as unconventional diversity constantly changes at work. What is the next viewpoint that will strengthen our team? #TChate.c. stiles
A1. how about those people who OWN who they are- nerd, businessman, fashionista, etc, instead of trying to fit in #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A1 Diverse teams make for great innovation teams – its more than men/women – but sector focus as well (psychology, engineering) #TChatLeAnna J. Carey
a1 Letting people express themselves & who they are at work instead of drawing a hard line between ME at home & the office #tchatAlli Polin
A1 diversity is about all the ways we’re similar and different from another #tchatMelissa Lamson
A1 Diversity is what makes people stronger, more educated and ultimately more capable. #tchatWeston Jolly
A1 Coming from different “industries” ~ with different “mindset” ~ like Design Thinking #tchatCASUDI
A1. Diversity can mean encouraging alternative opinions and perspectives. #TChatKit Lukianov
A1 Diversity allows for unique POV’s to cross-pollinate ideas :) #tchatRobert Moore
#tchat A1 Diversity opens the door to shocking ideas! that’s creativityMichael Leiter
A1: “Workplace diversity” unconventional definition? Demographics + dif bkgrounds. Goes below surface, takes work. #tchatAnne Messenger
A1: We all have different experiences that we bring to the mix. Utilize those for maximum benefit! #tchatRob McGahen
A1: You have to be open minded to be diverse. Respect those from other cultures & experiences. #TchatLori~TranslationLady
A1: Diversity is experience, age, gender, ethnicity, motivation coming together for a common goal #tchatRichard S Pearson
A1: experience level, family situation (single, married, kids or not) and a mix of full and part-time workers is nice. #TChatchrys peterson
A1. Diversity is a bringing together of all the different talents and gifts in an organization or community. #tchatTerri Klass
A1. “Thinking outside of the box” diversity- someone who doesn’t just go with the flow and sees things differently #tchatBridget Webb
A1 I work in the for profit sector Diversity makes sense & Money $$$ #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A1: Diversity should include consideration of insight, experience, opinion, motivation… #tchatMark Salke
A1: Diversity = more than quotas & surface criteria; entire purpose = rich discussions, varied views leading 2 superior #brands. #tchatEvelyn Eury
A1: Diversity in workplace equals multiple people with multiple ideas with a centered org purpose. #TChatJon M
Q2: In the world of work, how do leaders nurture and cultivate diversity in its many non-demographic forms? #TChatKevin W. Grossman
A2. Manage yourself. Lead others. #tchatMichael Clark
A2 Remember that diversity is not something that you are. It’s something you respect and desire to be part of. #tchatStephen Abbott
A2 Cultural Awareness, Effective Listening, Body and Teleconference Language, Emotional Intelligence #tchatTim Collins
A2 Think “swarming” when you staff a team, with varied functions present. #TChatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A2 – Celebrate the value of constructive challenges to the status quo. #tchatDave Birckhead
A2: Shameless passion for what we do everyday! #TChat #TChatJoseph Tatulli
A2. Encourage mistakes and taking risks and helping them grow with choices. #tchatTerri Klass
A2. Leaders could benefit greatly from reverse-mentoring (especially middle-aged white guys). Ideas will come from new perspectives #tchatBob Lehto
A2 Ask for everyone’s opinion. Encourage everyone to challenge each other. Keep open lines of communication and collaboration. #TChatMarc Cibulka
A2: diversity success is directly related to the leaders level of emotional self awareness #tchatEd Hennessy
#TChat A2 Having people present another person’s viewpoint and have that person echo their own promotes inclusive diversity.Kris Marie
A2: Strategic planning during the recruitment process. #tchatbillallemon
A2. When the vision of goals of a company grow and change in sync with society diversity is automatically nurtured and cultvated. #TchatShay M. Lawson
A2: #Tchat, good leaders learn to see, hear different perspectives. It’s hard work!al dampier, dph
A2 For diverse opinions, leaders should establish psychological safety #tchatChristopher Yeh
A2. Diversity impacts the bottom line. The business case is there – it’s up to the leader to realize its implications. #TChatTalent Generation
A2 A diverse leader is a diverse individual. It is important to find ways to grow, educate and expand past your “norm” everyday. #tchatWeston Jolly
A2: Leaders need to create culture that inspires diverse input from all sides #tchatJen Olney
A2. You’ve got to have guts of steel to look another in the eye and engage-connect-communicate. #tchatMichael Clark
A2. Good leaders create environments where each person has a chance to lead. Enabling diversity & creativity. #TChatLexie Forman Ortiz
A2. Smart companies are the ones who realize they need to nurture this in order to retain their #diverse #talent #tchatKimPope
A2) Active listening – be part of the community and not just being reported to about it – be the model – be social #tchatnancyrubin
A2: Empowerment. Patience. And leading by example. #tchatEkaterina Walter
A2 One way is to poll everyone in an organization therby promoting self expression and the brainstorming of new ideas #TChatEnzo Guardino
A2: Leaders should strive to hire people that are different than themselves and their team. #tchatBright.com
Q3: How does conventional diversity (i.e., diversity of demographics) play into diversity of ideas? #TChatKevin W. Grossman
a3: it’s tough when companies tip-toe on tough issues like #diversity, #culture and the #organization #tchatal dampier, dph
A3: Talent who grows and struggles out of poor neighborhoods may have differing approaches from those who don’t need to. #TChatJanis Stacy
A3. It doesn’t. Stereotypes are being broken everyday like bones in the Extreme Sports Olympics #TchatRob Garcia
A3: Watch #UndercoverBoss-CEO ALWAYS has an “A-ha” idea moment from the worker bees. EVERYONE has potential 2 contribute great ideas. #TChatchrys peterson
A3 it happens organically, but diverse people must be brought together intentionally #tchatMartina McGowan
A3 A conventionally diverse team will have many different experiences, approaches and skill-sets which ultimately let ideas blossom. #TChatMarc Cibulka
A3 Diveristy brings new ideas to the table constantly, challenges status quo, improves brainstorming & provides a broader perspective #tchatSuzanne Chadwick
A3 Diverse people bring colloquialisms and different cultural “norms” to the conversation, and all should be celebrated #tchatMartina McGowan
A3. Demographic diversity brings the opportunity to learn about and experience different cultures beyond the work place. #TChatKit Lukianov
A3. Demographic diversity can remind us that the world has a lot more to offer and can even challenge the status quo #tchatBridget Webb
A3: The braintrust that comes from personal experiences, coupled with demographic #diversity, creates instant impact for a company. #tchatDiversitree.com Jobs
A3 We bring our whole selves to work. Our passion, trauma, humor, insecurity and confidence. Often those are attached to demographics.#TChatMelissa Lamson
A3: Our history, our education, our culture, our expertise, our thinking style makes us who we R. Growth thru environmental learning. #tchatEvelyn Eury
A3: Cultural diversity is the womb of innovation. #tchatDave Birckhead
A3: Let’s reward those who nurture diverse thinkers from all walks and talks #TChatMeghan M. Biro
A3: Without care it can hamper true diversity. With a cosmetic diverse feel it’s easy to stop pushing boundaries. #TchatKris Marie
A3 Decision making starts with option generation, and you get more options when you have more diverse team members #tchatGoldbeck Recruiting
A3: Diverse backgrounds yields diverse experiences which yields diverse ideas. #tchatRob McGahen
A3: Ldrs should look within their organization to see what type of LI footprint their “A” players have for guidance #TchatDan Schultz
A3: Most definitely have been asked to endorse/recommend someone and did not. If I wrote it, it is not for just showing up #TChatTom Bolt
A3: Online endorsements are almost the price of admission. If you want “front row seats” you’ll need a lot more than that though. #tchatmatthew papuchis
A3 with caution and a healthy cynicism #tchatAidan Daly
A3: UR brand-indv/otherwise is never about what u say about urself–it’s what’s being said when u leave the room that counts #TChatAngela Maiers
A3 Rather than seeing a ‘click’ I’d rather hear about the experience, from candidate, that resulted in endorsement #TChatClaire Crossley
Q4: What role does #hrtech play in encouraging or discouraging #innovation & diversity of ideas in the workplace? #TChatKevin W. Grossman
A4 As a jobseeker, getting my application through #hrtech screening is a priority. But I want work ethic and dedication to shine too. #TChatMarc Cibulka
A4 To some degree there is something wrong with us looking for HR Tech to figure out a human problem. Let’s not overdelegate. #TChatJanine Truitt
A4: Tech is helpful in locating individuals who may be hard to find in your locale. #TChatchrys peterson
A4.Sometimes I wonder if HR in HE uses #tech, forwarding resumes who have not worked in the profession in 15 yrs, is that using #tech #TchatGuy Davis
A4. Future resumes will be more pictures-videos than words. #tchatMichael Clark
A4: #HRTech that embraces #Social #Mobile #collaboration encourages #innovation & diversity of ideas #TChatSean Charles
A4 Seeing a lot of HR teams own employee recognition budgets and processes. Strategic recognition (thanks) spurs valued behaviors. #TchatAndrew Grossman
A4 There are some very cool “tools” that can help gather a diverse set of ideas from a diverse set of contributors. #TChatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A4. I see a ton of #social #HRTech that promotes collaboration, cross-company and helps foster individual skills to be useful #tchatBridget Webb
A4 #HRTech does prioritize learning and development, that helps breed Diversity of thought. #TChatMelissa Lamson
A4: What current resume screening has in speed, it LACKS ability to see diversity & potentiality #TChatNancy Barry-Jansson
A4 Social business enterprise platforms coupled with culture change can provide a forum for (far) better idea exchange #TchatTim Collins
A4. Hmm.. Technology CAN open possibilities, but it surely can shut stuff down, too…. so, really depends on how it’s used. #TChatCrystal Miller
A4 I love #hrtech but I can see older generations shying away with new tech and not sharing their great ideas and experiences. #TChatEnzo Guardino
A4 Tech can only amplify what is already going on #NoMagicBullet #TchatDave Ryan, SPHR
A4: Any tech will amplify good or bad issues within any organization. #tchatJen Olney
A4: If the firm doesn’t utilize different voices/ideas, then people will stop speaking up. #tchatRob McGahen
A4: Open collaborative tech platforms can and do facilitate and encourage #innovation and #diversity. #TChatKevin W. Grossman
a4 Tools that are designed for collaboration only work when people engage – not pop in, drop off and run #tchatAlli Polin
A4: #HRTech makes it easier to find diverse talent in this great, big world – and, in return, have more innovation and ideas #tchatBright.com
A4: #hrtech can help but no substitute for human connection: the phone call, the lunch, the f2f meeting, the hand-wrtitten note, etc. #TchatDave Birckhead
A4 #hrtech can help because I think it can put the focus on the ideas and conversation and off the org lines and levels #tchatSusan Mazza
Q5: How do we exercise unconventional notions of diversity in our approach to #leadership? #TChatKevin W. Grossman
A5: Unconventional diversity is treating all contributing people, diffs and all, as valued respected members of the team. #TChatJanis Stacy
a5: Celebrate Success, Celebrate Failure, challenge inaction… foster #diversity, #innovation #tchatal dampier, dph
A5: unconventional diversity is allowing people the freedom to have a life outside of the workplace. #tchatGreg Marcus
A5 Unconventional diversity means you have to be willing to be an unconventional thinker-which means going against the grain at times #TChatJanine Truitt
A5: Define and articulate roles. Provide the right tools. Allow freedom. Watch magic happen. #tchatMark Salke
A5 Don’t silo creatives – get them right into the traditional mix. #TChatMarla Gottschalk PhD
A5. Break away from your dept. Ask someone outside your dept to brainstorm ideas once in a while. You never know what others can add. #TChatKit Lukianov
A5 your employees are your customer base. #tchat keep them engaged.John Kosic
A5: Leaders need to get out of the way and let their teams do what they do best #tchatJen Olney
A5: Interact with people in the workforce in a completely different industry, travel, reflect, ask questions #TChatMegan Rene Burkett
A5 – GET out of the way! and let the team collaborate and do its job – give feedback when needed to keep moving forward #tchatRichard S Pearson
A5: The old rule book needs to go out the window. We are re-writing the new one right now. #tchatDawn Rasmussen
A5. Stop making things seem so concrete- welcome people to bring in fresh new ideas and follow through #tchatAshley Lauren Perez
A5: Best diversity-savvy #leaders I know are listeners, models, encouragers. They’re humble, w/ a sense of humor! #tchatAnne Messenger
#tchat A5 Leaders promote idea diversity by deeply cherishing creative solutionsMichael Leiter
A5. Leaders need to educate their teams and organizations about the value of including many different views. #tchatTerri Klass
A5 Not tolerating those who buck the system and create negative energy. Important for a leader to know enough they can distinguish. #TChatMelissa Lamson
A5 Wipe clean our emotional and prehistoric notions of top down leadership and open our eyes to the talent within each person #TChatEnzo Guardino
a5 Leaders shouldn’t be afraid to build teams of people that don’t have every skill a-z but have ooph & passion for the work #tchatAlli Polin
Community building — encourage employees from different walks to exchange ideas. #Tchat A5Andrew Grossman
A5. Encourage your staff to be curious-to take a step back and see what else is emerging in the world-they can bring back useful info #tchatBridget Webb
A5: Companies must foster, cultivate, and invest in unconventional diversity. It will take time b/c it requires a shift in culture. #TChatDeryle Daniels, Jr.

Diversity in a New Key: #TChat Preview

EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? Read “#TChat Recap: The Creative Power of Diverse Ideas”

INNOVATION. Where does it start? It begins with diversity. Not just diversity of cultures. Diversity of perspectives and personalities. Diversity of ideas. A recent Forbes research report underscores that point:

“Diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.”

When asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation. Senior executives and employees alike are recognizing that a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas in and outside the workplace, as we find our career passion.

This week, expanding on ideas inspired by the book “Think Like Zuck,” by Ekaterina Walter, the TalentCulture community wiill explore how innovation grows from diversity. Research, as well as experience from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and other innovators, is teaching us just how desperately we need to include all voices to achieve more effective outcomes. Does crowd-sourcing help innovation? Are all voices and ideas equal? How can Zuckerberg be an example of innovation through diversity? (Doesn’t he represent the ultimate lone inventor?)

Diversity isn’t just about demographics — although that is a first and a key component, without which our companies cannot move forward. Starting with demographic diversity as our foundation, we propose an expanded definition of diversity — not a counterpoint to the demographic meaning, but a flourish upon it. Let’s embrace diversity even more, and explore its power to lead to innovation in the world of work and beyond. This week, relying on diverse views to help us think about this, we’ll seek your voices in exploring these questions:

Q1: What are your unconventional definitions for diversity in the workplace? How is it more than demographics?

Q2: In the world of work, how do leaders nurture and cultivate diversity in its many non-demographic forms?

Q3: How does conventional diversity (i.e., diversity of demographics) play into diversity of ideas?

Q4: What role does #hrtech play in encouraging or discouraging #innovation & diversity of ideas in the workplace?

Q5: How do we exercise unconventional notions of diversity in our approach to #leadership?

Click to see the preview or listen to the show live, Wednesday 1/30, 7:30pm ET

As per the new usual, the #TChat goodness happens twice this week. First, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, there’s #TChat Radio from 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT. Our guest is a long-time member of our community, Rob Garcia (@RobGarciaSJ), director of product strategy & marketing at RiseSmart, a company that is delivering innovative next-generation outplacement solutions.

Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 30 — from 7-8 pm ET (6-7pm CT, 5-6pm MT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are) — we’ll tackle this topic on #TChat Twitter, where Rob will return, along with our other guest, Ekaterina Walters (@Ekaterina), herself.

It promises to be a fascinating week. So, please add your voice to the conversation and let’s see what a diversity of ideas can do to move our community forward!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? Read “#TChat Recap: The Creative Power of Diverse Ideas”

Image Credit: PeopleDaily.com

Get Back to Work with Generation Now: #TChat Recap

And then there’s this:

The term was used in a 1964 study of British youth by Jane Deverson. Deverson was asked by Woman’s Own magazine to interview teenagers of the time. The study revealed a generation of teenagers who “sleep together before they are married, were not taught to believe in God as ‘much’, dislike the Queen, and don’t respect parents.” Because of these controversial findings, the piece was deemed unsuitable for the magazine. Deverson, in an attempt to save her research, worked with Hollywood correspondent Charles Hamblett to create a book about the study. Hamblett decided to name it Generation X. (Whatever happened to the original Generation X?. The Observer. January 23, 2005.)

That’s part of my generation’s namesake. A proud moment indeed, although I was taught to believe in God and I respected my parents. Just sayin’.

For us to better understand the generations around us, we’ve named, we’ve labeled, we’ve classified, we’ve categorized, we’ve stereotyped. We’ve taken date ranges and created generational groups and aligned specific traits with each, knowing that the long tail on either end will have fewer of those shared traits.

And as it applies to the workforce today, we’ve created a booming industry around how best to assess and place the generations in the workplace, because we all know how unmanageable those wily Millennials are (i.e., Gen Y, those born somewhere between the mid-1970′s and the mid 1990′s). Plus, there’s these Gen Z kids today with their digital nativism and hyper-connective collaboration while us Gen Xers and Boomers destroy the global economic engine.

Right, that last part is already in play unfortunately; it’s not just the younger generations that shred the societal fabric.

It’s been said that Millenials will have at least 7-8 careers in their lifetimes. Again, I’m a Gen Xer and I’ve already had 7 to date. Many of my peers can relate to the path of “I wanted to be this but I fell into that, and that, and that.” There are now five generations in the workplace who are scrambling to stay afloat in this post-apocalyptic economy, even with the hot spots in emerging economies such as Brasil, India and China.

Months ago I wrote that some of the most exciting business startup activity in over a decade is coming from a mixed generational group, young and old alike, all re-imaging the way and why of work within an emotional connectivity and cultural inclusivity. I still say that’s the trend, as well as the fact that contingent workers, consultants, and independent contractors of all ages will make up as much as 35% of the total U.S. workforce within a decade.

But it’s the bucket generalizations that bother me the most, because if we’re truly focused on getting the job engine started again, and hiring and promoting for the highest quality of fit and productivity, then each individual needs to be assessed on their own merits including experiences, skills, education, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, collaboration, adaptability and the like, not based on a broad-stroke labels that help sell books and create media soundbytes, but aren’t going to help businesses thrive.

Stop the name calling. Let’s just call us all Generation Now and get the world back to work.

Read Matt Charney’s precap here as well as the questions.

The #TChat Twitter chat and #TChat Radio are created and hosted by MeghanMBiro and KevinWGrossman, and powered by our friends and partners:  TalentCultureMonster_WORKSMonsterCareersHRmarketer, and of course Focus.

Business, Fairness Need Not Apply: #TChat Recap

The diversity perception is much different in practice. The reality is, we discriminate; we stink at giving folks a fair shake, especially when they’re not familiar.

Many of us in the world of work try to be fair, try not to choose one applicant or an internal candidate over another because of attractiveness, ethnicity, religious affiliation, physical capacity and many other attributes, including innovative like-mindedness, which isn’t the same as diversity of thought.

But we prefer the attractive familiar, however subjective, both physically and mentally.

According to a new study by a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston University and Proctor & Gamble, makeup makes women appear more attractive and competent.

“The research reveals that when viewers saw a female face for 250 milliseconds, women who wore color cosmetics rated more highly in the categories of attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness. However, when participants were allowed to look at the faces for a longer period of time, while the ratings for competence and attractiveness stayed the same, the ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.”

Yep, we’re superficial like that. The heroines are pretty and competent and the villains are ugly and incompetent.

Sarah Palin is hot, but Hillary Clinton is not. Right?

Psychological theory suggests that we often rely on the recognition heuristic, choosing the option that we recognize over the one we don’t. If we interview two job applicants, one of which is more similar to us physically and mentally, that applicant will usually get the edge.

Personally, I’ve tried to break through that practice in previous hiring incarnations. I would like to think that I’ve hired based on quality of fit, not familiarity. Maybe I have at times. I hope so. If you and you organization feel that you’ve broken the discrimination barrier, then show us your diverse employed huddled masses on your career sites, not stock photos of airbrushed pretty models wearing makeup.

On the other hand, while I’m all about the best talent working for me, regardless of background, businesses aren’t social programs and shouldn’t be treated as such. In fact, the best business leaders could give a hoot about tolerance and diversity when they want their folks to be the very best they can be — for the themselves and the business.

Encouraging diversity of thought for driving innovation and growth regardless of background should be the best practice, but fairness need not apply. Get the edge by becoming familiar with the unfamiliar, if there’s a quality of hire fit.

We appreciate everyone who tackled a difficult topic with us in 140 characters! We appreciate our talent community. Each of you for you.

1)      Does diversity still matter in the new world of work?  Should it? 

2)      What are some of the benefits of building and maintaining a diverse workforce?

3)      What are some of the biggest misconceptions or myths surrounding diversity & inclusion?

4)      Who should be responsible for driving diversity in an organization?

5)      What does a diverse workforce look like?  How can its business impact be measured?

6)      What’s the future of diversity?  How do you see attitudes or approaches evolving over the next 10 years?

The #TChat Twitter chat and #TChat Radio are created and hosted by @MeghanMBiro @KevinWGrossman and powered by our partners @TalentCulture @Monster_WORKS @MonsterCareers @HRmarketer @Focus and our community.

 

If Work isn't Fun, You're Doing it Wrong: #TChat Recap

Also known by the less fun title of:  The Business Heresy of Uninterrupted Power Supplies….

Are we having fun yet?

On Tuesday of this week at the fourth annual National Clean Energy Summit, Vice President Joe Biden said, “Our country has a choice — what kind of country are we going to be? Are we going to rise to the challenges, like our grandfathers and grandmothers did? Or are we going to be a follower? It’s sad that we’re having this debate [about investing in clean tech initiatives] — in the past America has always led.”

And then a day later, in the heart of innovation-leading Silicon Valley, solar panel manufacturer Solyndra shut its doors and laid off all 1,100 of its employees, without any severance packages. This isn’t a political post either way; fierce global competition continues to knock the wind out of manufacturing in this country, and losing money on every solar panel you sell isn’t the way to stay in business, regardless of how much investment you’ve received.

In the past America has always led…

There are times when it’s hard for me to listen to the passionate Zappos social media hippie lovefest of culture-centric companies that focus on the customer and strive to create an emotional connection between product/service and consumer.

[Chuckle] Hey, if it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong. Tell that to the millions of professionals out of work and scrambling to reinvent their relevancy in a world looking more and more like the surface of Mars.

However, there is life on Mars. According to the latest ADP jobs report, 91,000 new private sector jobs were created in August. It won’t move the unemployment needle, but there’s still a heartbeat out there. The ADP report said the majority of the job gains in August came from small business. Employers with under 50 workers added 58,000 jobs.

Thankfully many of us are reinventing our relevancy; sparks of innovation are flying all over the world like lighting bugs at dusk. The new lovefest of business leaders are helping to rebuild a world where culture and human connectivity are queen, and recombined business models of sustainability are being applied to industries new and old.

Of course not everyone’s going to make it. Businesses will fail and the lights will go out. Those that do keep the power on want self-powered and empowered employees who help drive the business from the top down, the bottom up and side to side like power lines stretched from here to…

Mars maybe. Or at least the UK, since Borri UPS Systems starting following me on Twitter today, manufacturer and distributor of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

We can use more of that business heresy.

A very special thank you to 12 Most for being our special guests last night, including Ted Coine, Chris Westfall, Sean McGinnis, Steve Woodruff, Anthony Iannarino and Daniel Newman. 12 Most is a business and social media blogger collective of amazing credentials and savvy. And thank you to our very own Matt Charney for rounding out the special guest list as well.

You can catch the #TChat precap here as well as relive last night’s 2nd #TChat Radio show, The Realities of Business Heresy.

The #TChat Twitter chat and #TChat Radio are created and hosted by @MeghanMBiro @KevinWGrossman and powered by our friends and partners @TalentCulture @Monster_WORKS @MonsterCareers and of course @Focus.