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Connecting With Collaborative Leadership #TChat Recap

Early in March, I wrote a column for Forbes.com, focused on the consequences of collaboration. It was based on a simple but powerful premise:

Collaboration is the keystone of leadership success.

By coincidence, only days later I met Dan Pontefract, who introduced me to a theory he brings to life in his new book, “Flat Army: Creating a Connected And Engaged Organization.”

From the moment I skimmed the pages of Flat Army, I knew that this would be a profoundly rewarding “mind meld” relationship. That seems to be happening more frequently these days. I guess it’s one of the perks of spending most of my waking hours connecting with people who are on missions to unleash the best of human potential in the world of work.

During the months that have followed since I met Dan, he and his “Flat Army” open leadership model have validated what I have always believed:

Collaboration isn’t about being best friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you work with. It is about putting your baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table, and focusing on a common goal — a higher purpose.

Finding Proof: What’s On Your List?

Here’s why collaboration can make a difference. Take a quick moment, and make a list five products or services that you that you never want to live without. No rush — I’ll wait. OK. Got your list? Here’s mine: The iPhone. Downton Abbey. Pinterest. Kit-Kat Bars. Twitter.

Now, guess what? Every one of those items is the result of a successful collaboration. And I bet there’s a team effort behind every one of your “must haves,” too. Sure, some half-crazy genius like Steve Jobs may bring inspiration to the table. But inspiration without collaboration is just a lot of great ideas that easily vaporize before they see light of day.

Collaboration: Why And How

Hopefully, I’ve made a convincing case for WHY collaboration counts. But that’s only part of the equation. We also need a roadmap for HOW to make it happen. And Dan’s “Flat Army” is just the ticket. Together, our vision is complete. “Just like peas-and-carrots,” as Forrest Gump might say. Or at least that’s how I see it!

So this week, it seemed natural to fire-up the TalentCulture social engine, and ask all of you to weigh-in with your ideas about both the “why” and “how” of collaborative leadership. And as always, we weren’t disappointed!  I invite you all to review this week’s highlights and resources below. And I thank you all for your collaborative contributions — this week and every week.

As I said in closing my Forbes post (and as I believe even more strongly now), if you want to see what the potential for collaborative success looks like, you don’t need to look far, my fellow community members. Just look in the mirror. It starts with you.

#TChat Week In Review

WED 6/5

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Watch the G+ Hangout now

Introductory Post: Our guest, Dan Pontefract, Senior Director, Learning & Collaboration at TELUS and author of Flat Army, framed the week’s topic in a special post, The Future of Work: An Army Of Open Leaders.

SAT 6/8

#TChat Preview + Sneak Peek Videos: Our Community Manager Tim McDonald, briefly interviewed Dan in a G+ Hangout. See the video in Tim’s post: “Open Leadership: Going Deep.”

SUN 6/9

Forbes.com Post: In my weekly Forbes column, I examined some ways leaders can effectively connect with their teams. Read “Open Up and Lead.”

TUE 6/11

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Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: I sat down with Dan to discuss in more detail the power of open leadership — not only in the office but in society as well. Listen to the recording now: How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds.

WED 6/12

#TChat Twitter: #TChat-ters joined us on Twitter to share opinions and ideas about the role and impact of open leadership in today’s world of work. If you missed the event, or want to review highlights, watch the slideshow digest below:

#TChat Highlights: Open Leadership, Going Deep

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to guest Dan Pontefract! We’re inspired by your example and your passion for learning and leadership.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about your experience with workplace collaboration, learning and leadership? We’d love to share 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, the Society For Human Resource Management annual conference takes Chicago by storm (#SHRM13)! That means we won’t have a Tuesday Radio show. But fear not! #TChat co-creator, KevinWGrossman and I will be reporting from the floor throughout the week — and we’ll drive two #TChat LIVE events:

1) A special “Margarita Meetup” panel discussion on Monday at 3:15pm in the Achievers booth;
2) A related #TChat session at our regular 7pm time on Wednesday.

For more details, see our related post: “Feeling The Future Of Work: #TChat Meets #SHRM13.” And join us anytime on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. The gears are always turning at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you — if not at #SHRM13, then most definitely on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: To see the original Forbes.com article by Meghan M. Biro, read  Smart Leaders And The Power Of Collaboration.)

Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for The Rest of Us

Recently on a trip to Seattle, I had an opportunity to visit Amazon.com headquarters — one of the many remarkable corporate campuses located in that region. I’d never explored a “corporate campus” before. But I’ve always been extremely eager to get a first-hand experience after reading many articles about the concept. This was my shot.

Needless to say, I was impressed! But it isn’t just the size of this sprawling facility that blew me away. I was also struck by the branding that is present throughout the environment. It made me think about the whole “employer branding” thing.

Branding From the Inside Out

I know HR practitioners struggle to implement a strong public brand that will attract and recruit top-notch external candidates. It’s one of HR’s primary functions in today’s world of work. But what about the internal brand? It’s also vital to retain talent that is already onboard. What are we doing to keep existing employees engaged and loyal to our organizations? Competitive compensation isn’t the only way to stop an employee from walking.

You may not be an enormous company like Amazon, Google, or LinkedIn. You may not have deep pockets for internal branding initiatives. But you certainly can be inspired by the way the “big boys” cultivate their brands, their work environments, and their corporate cultures. What’s more, you can leverage and adapt some of those heavy-hitter concepts to fit your organization’s circumstances.

Four Key Questions

1) What’s the vibe in your workspace? When I think about world-class employer campuses, one of the most notable characteristics is that many workspace options are available. Yes, I said OPTIONS. Their offices are not set up with jail-like cubicle rows, and an occasional office or conference room here or there. They have open spaces, co-working options, lounge areas, and unique personalities. Perhaps you don’t have the space or budget to create luxurious common areas, but there are plenty of ways to create an open environment that seems welcoming and non-restrictive.

2) Are you committed to internal recruitment marketing? While riding in one of Amazon’s elevators, I noticed a vibrant poster promoting a department that is recruiting Software Engineers. One side of the poster showed a man sitting at a computer with the saying, “This is what it looks like to work on my team.” The other side showed an imaginative, creative, fun scene surrounding the man at the computer with the saying, “This is what it FEELS like to work on my team.” Below that, removable tags featured contact information for the team manager. I absolutely love that. Amazon is huge, so internal communications like that can make it easy to recruit for internal candidates who wouldn’t otherwise know about your team. Makes sense for a company that large, right? Here’s the kicker — even  in small organizations, employees say that they aren’t aware of other jobs or openings. This can be a huge issue, especially since many employees leave their company because they feel like they have no internal mobility options. That situation might not be true — their perception may simply come from lack of information.

3) Are you too scared to adapt? I understand the phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” And that phrase is perfectly reasonable. If your company is functioning fine, there is no reason to fix it. But what about offering more options? Compensation isn’t the only thing that can retain your employees. Sometimes other options can be the deciding factor: telecommuting; flex work; tuition reimbursement; on-going training; co-working; employee engagement initiatives, and so on. Your competitors are coming out with really cool options to retain their employees. Don’t let them beat you out because you were too scared to adapt to the changing world of work.

4) Is it a place of hierarchy or community? There most definitely needs to be order within an organization, but top down communication doesn’t really work as well as it did in the past.  Employees want their voices to be heard — they want to make suggestions, they want to contribute, and they want to build relationships. I have worked in an organization where the president and directors are extremely open to two-way communication. They make it very easy to initiate a conversation — even to the point where interns aren’t scared to make suggestions or casually chat with one of the company’s leaders. It has created a strong sense of community — which has helped position the company as a progressive work environment.

Your employer brand isn’t just about convincing external candidates that your organization is a great place to work. It’s also about making sure your current employees love working there — so much so that no other company or job offer seems more attractive.

(To read Ashley’s original post, visit The Social HR Connection blog.)

High Tech or High Touch? #TChat Recap

Epic Times in HR Innovation

For geeks in the TalentCulture community, this was a red-letter week. We saw an impressive spectrum of innovative technology solutions roll through the HRO Today Forum in Philadelphia.

As planned, TalentCulture founders, Meghan Biro and Kevin Grossman were on-hand each day — sharing photos, updates and color commentary, live on the #TChat stream. It was like opening a virtual window into the state of HR innovation — and along with it, a perfect springboard to discuss promising “world of work” technologies and best practices.

I dialed-in from a distance, and couldn’t help feeling drawn to the energy of the iTalent innovation showdown (which Connect6° won, by the way), as well as the enthusiasm of #TChat-ters who openly exchanged ideas about HR tech at our Wednesday Twitter discussion. (See complete highlights in the Storify slideshow near the end of this post.)

Key Takeaway: Seek Balance

So, did we reach consensus about technology’s role in acquiring and nurturing talent? Did we agree on what matters most — high tech or high touch?

Wait. That’s not the right question. This isn’t a zero-sum game. Instead, shouldn’t we ask something more useful? Try this:

How well are we balancing the natural tension between “high tech” and “high touch,” for best results in our organization?

Truth is, there will never be a “final answer.” In an ever-changing business environment, we’ll always be seeking true north. A commitment to continuous improvement can help. But even with constant recalibration, it’s easy to miss the mark. So, for future reference, maybe we should tuck this tiny nugget of #TChat advice into the back of our minds:

Whatever helps us go THERE should be good. Thanks for the reminder, Zachary!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SUN 4/28

Forbes.com: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, set the stage for the week in her post: “HR Technology: A Revolution for the World of Work.”

MON 4/29

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Watch Tim’s G+ Hangout videos in his #TChat Preview

Meghan on Monday: To start the week, Meghan expanded on her Forbes commentary in a message to the TalentCulture community: “HR Tech as High Art and Deep Science.”

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, outlined the theme and key questions in a preview post: “Live From the Edge of HR Innovation,” featuring brief video interviews with four of the five finalists in this year’s HRO Today Forum iTalent Competition.

WED 5/1

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Listen to the radio show recording now

#TChat Radio: In a special 1-hour “open mic” roundtable live from the HRO Today Forum social media lounge, Jessica Miller-Merrell (Blogging4Jobs), Matt Charney (Talemetry), and a variety of other conference attendees talked with Meghan and Kevin about the changing role of HR, and technology’s role in supporting that shift.

Partner News: Speaking of innovative HR technology, we announced a partnership with Achievers this week — our first formal business alliance in TalentCulture’s 3-year history. Exciting stuff. Learn more in “TalentCulture + Achievers: Better Together!”

#TChat Twitter: Our expanding community gathered around the #TChat Twitter stream, as Achievers Community Manager, Katie Paterson, led us in a real-time exchange of ideas about innovation in HR practices and technology. The feed lit-up with great ideas and interaction throughout the hour. Watch highlights below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “Live From the Edge of HR Innovation”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to the HROToday Forum social media team for sharing their perspectives live from the conference, and thanks to Achievers Social Community Manager, Katie Paterson, for spearheading this week’s #TChat Twitter conversation. You brought insight, humor and energy that everyone could feel.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about HR Innovation 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, education and social learning advocate, Angela Maiers, returns to talk about how our nation can prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s business and technology leaders. Stay tuned for a “sneak peek” video in our preview this weekend!

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

How to Get Ahead in the Talent War

I’ve frequently talked not only about the necessity of creating a personal, humanized brand statement for job seekers and employees in general, but also about how a company’s employer brand becomes key in the talent acquisition and retention process.

NOTE this post is mine from 2010. I’m still here talking about this topic I’m passionate about. Why – You ask? Because we have more work to do. Our next Social Talent Show is tomorrow with the one and only Libby Sartain, former HR executive for Yahoo and Southwest, who will focus on these topics and share tips on how to align employee and company brand. One of my very favorite topics for many reasons.

Very often, leaders believe a company’s brand is just a marketing tool, and that it doesn’t have to do with the people working for the company. That’s exactly the opposite. The best talent will be attracted to your business because of its appealing brand, the image it conveys to the public, and your employees will want to stay and give their best because of your workplace culture.

The big tech companies understood that very early: The talent war is rampant in technology, and engineers are now attracted not only by financial aspects, but mostly because of a brand’s name, and when they do join these companies, the workplace culture is so strong, every little detail embodies what the company stands for –  that employees all feel part of a kind of family.

Now I’m not saying you need to build a cult or anything like that, but workplace culture and the employer’s brand go hand in hand, becoming the best ways to attract and retain talent that is slipping away.

And that leads me to my second tip: If you have both, great, but it’s incredibly important for the employer’s brand benot only to be appealing, but also to genuinely reflect “what it’s like” to work there; otherwise, after a few months or weeks, employees will feel fooled and start looking elsewhere.

In the same manner, when a company “oversells” their employer brand in the recruiting process, leaders run the risk of losing talent in the long run due to poor communication in the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding process.

So how to avoid that? As a company, build a brand that is true to you, to what the company is really about, nothing more, and then LIVE your brand. It will be that much easier if it’s genuine, and workplace culture will get reflected in everyday life at work.

It’s a little bit like the story of a pet store that wouldn’t allow employees to bring their dogs in. Not very authentic. But if the pet store’s brand promise is the love of dogs, then everybody working there should feel that love: The company can even have a dog sitting system, or employees’ dog contests, to truly live the brand.

Build a workplace culture that is consistent with the brand displayed to the public. You can win!

That’s my take. For more on these topics, join us tomorrow with Libby Sartain, HR expert and employer branding guru, at 2pm EST and 11 am PST – Register here! Share your story and join the conversation to build the future of work!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Global Technology Stepping Up Workplace Collaboration

For anyone that can remember the time that a latest and greatest technology emerged to bring business to the next level, we can say that it is profoundly interesting the impact that these advancements actually make on companies.

Some can probably remember the days before email and before cell phones when letters were either typed by hand and traveling sales people had to actually stop at a pay phone to verify an appointment or call home to check in.

More than ever management need to be watching technology trends and making sure their organization is equipped.

Times are changing, the proliferation of technology is moving faster than ever, and businesses are the ones that are benefiting.  At least they should be!

There are many ways that technology is leading to better business practices.  There are systems for managing customers, accounting, communications, and operations.  We are connected 24×7 if we so choose and we are able to reach all ends of the world instantly via the click of a button.

As a proponent of successful businesses being comprised of people that use technology and not just technology alone, I believe that nothing in business may be affected by emerging technology than Human Resources.  Recruiting, talent development, and employee retention are all seeing a significant boost based upon what advances in technology have to offer.

Two of the specific technologies that are revolutionizing talent and professional development more than any are IP (Internet Protocol) Based Communications such as Skype, VoIP, and Video Conferencing as well as the rapid emergence of Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+).

Let’s take a look across the scope of Talent Management and explore how the aforementioned technologies as well as a few others are facilitating success for so many companies.

Recruiting New Talent

It used to be a newspaper ad or a sign in the window.  Your audience was narrow and your options were thin.  It was difficult to reach the best talent leaving positions to be filled by less than ideal candidates.

  • Communications – With the ability to inexpensively bring employees in via the network  either by voice, video, or perhaps a combination such as Webex, employees can now be sourced from and potentially located anywhere.  Productivity tools allow companies to hire the BEST candidate from any location and get them integrated with the team whether they are near or far.
  • Social Media – Depending on the specifics of the job, talent can be sought through massive global social networks such as Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter.  These networks allow a help wanted ad to reach millions of users who may or may not be actively seeking employment.  Recruiting and searching for talent has also never been easier due to profiles, recommendations, and other affiliations that can be easily found online using Social Media.  As an aside, Social Media has also helped many companies decide who not to hire.

Talent Development

It used to be a quarterly or yearly trip to headquarters for remote employees and or classroom learning for those already in town.  Coordinating training was intensive and time consuming.  With technology advances now learning can be routine, meaningful, and completed on demand.

  • Communications – Similar to the recruiting process the continued education of employees can be accomplished using technology tools.  Webinars, Distance Learning, and E-Learning platforms all pave the way for continued education for employees regardless of where they are located.  On top of being able to create content and have employees learn and develop on demand, it also helps companies to utilize global resources to provide the education.
  • Social Media – Intranets have existed for companies for some time however they were rarely used all that effectively.  With professional usage of social platforms employees can learn from one another as well as competitors by following, reading, and embracing the information that is widely available.  Content is created and shared regularly and it allows company talent to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry and any important changes within.

Employee Retention

It has been discussed to no end the impact that turnover has on a business.  Whether near or far from headquarters, companies need to focus on how they can keep people satisfied, growing, and engaged.  In the past when companies would hire remote employees they oft felt isolated and/or disconnected from the organization.  With emails and phone calls perhaps being the only regular communication eventually the employee may choose to be with an organization where they feel more involved.  Technology has changed that, and if used correctly it can assist the organization with retention allowing it to focus on strategy with key employees rather than on replacing them.

  • CommunicationsHearing a voice on the line is fine, it is practical, but like long distance relationships in life, eye contact means a lot.  With offerings from Free (Skype) to immersive telepresence costing millions ( Cisco, Polycom) and everything in between companies and their employees can now sit across the table and make eye contact with the click of a mouse.  Now as easy as a phone call, video can be accomplished and the quality is really good.  Video is not only beneficial for the employee, but also for the company as it forces focus and regular collaboration (We all know how easy it can be to multi-task on the phone).  Another item that is critical to many employees is flexibility, with tools that allow productivity anywhere and everywhere, (pending signal) companies can be more flexible with their resources allowing both parties  to benefit.
  • Social MediaSocial is a medium for even smaller companies to build their brand and create an identity for their employees. This effort can often aid in the development of company community and in some cases successful out of work friendships.  While peoples out of work activities generally don’t bare much success for the organization, happy people tend to generate more productivity.  People that feel connected to their brand and feel that they are a part of something special tend to work harder and drive greater results.  Social Media is a growing vehicle for accomplishing this.

For as long as business has been business, companies have only been as good as their people.  In almost all cases where a great product or service fails it isn’t the product or service at all, rather it is those behind it.  With emerging communication technology and proper social media integration you have the chance to be ahead of the curve.

Now technology of course isn’t all free, and choosing the technologies that are best for your organization may take some work, however, it is time well spent.   You can all but assume that the competition are looking at all the options too, some are integrating, some are watching and waiting, and you can only hope that a few are oblivious.  Nevertheless, technology will continue to advance making companies faster, smarter, and of course full of better talent.

The question is, are you embracing it, or are you hoping to ride to prosperity on the tired old horse that got you to where you are today.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Is Employer Branding Best Practice or BS? #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charney on MonsterThinking Blog

The average worker today has more brands to deal with than a Texas cattle rancher, but one that most never really give a whole lot of thought to, at least compared to the ubiquitous (if ambiguous) concept of “personal brand” is that of employment branding.

Which makes sense; after all, many talent acquisition and HR professionals don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, either, with many companies often outsourcing or ignoring this brand management function.  By contrast, other employers spend millions of dollars a year building and managing carefully crafted and focus group tested campaigns that look more like a Super Bowl ad than a classified employment listing.

With practitioners seemingly split on the importance, or even existence, of employment brand, it begs a few questions: which side are you on?  What side should your company be on?  And, most importantly: does it matter to the workers to whom these efforts are targeted in the first place?

We’ll be exploring these questions, and their implications for the evolving world of work, in tonight’s #TChat: “Is Employer Branding BS?” No matter which side of the fence you’re on (or, like most, neutral or undecided), if you’ve ever visited a company career page or read an industry blog (like this one), you’ve been exposed to employer branding – that is, if it really exists.

Join moderator Meghan M. Biro (Twitter: @meghanmbiro) of @talentculture along with #TChat co-hosts @kevinwgrossman @monsterww @monster_works and @focus tonight at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT and let us know: is employer branding B.S.?

#TChat Questions & Recommended Reading (07.12.11)

To help prepare, and inform, your participation in tonight’s conversation (or even if you can’t make it), here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some recommended reading designed to give you background – and perspective – on employer and company culture branding.

Tonight’s sure to be a lively discussion; we look forward to seeing you (and your brand) for #TChat at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT!

Q1. What’s your definition of company or employer brand?

Read: The Employer Brand Experience by Dr. Jesse Harriott & Doug Hardy

Q2. How does employer brand differ from a consumer brand?  Personal brand?

Read: Why Employer Branding Matters More Than Ever by Bob Kelleher

Q3. What makes a strong employer brand?  A weak one?

Read: The Taylor Guitar Story: Fine Tuning A Successful Corporate Brand by Bob Taylor

Q4. How does employer brand play into talent acquisition?  Retention?

Read: Attract the Right Candidates With Consistent Company Branding by John Rossheim

Q5. What effect does social media have on employer branding?

Read: How to Use Social Media To Build Your Brand by Susan Kuchinskas

Q6. Who controls employer brand: the company, employees, public, etc.?

Read: Tactical Corporate Transparency: Build Your Brand From The Inside Out by Shel Holtz & John C. Havens

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

Trends from The HREvolution Frontlines: #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Matt Charneyone of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

No one grows up wanting to be a “human capital strategist” or a “talent acquisition consultant” or, really, any of the litany of titles that add to our profession’s mystique of mistaken identity (at least for those professionals who aren’t HR professionals).

Because no one really knows what HR does. And, most of the time, that includes HR itself.

See, for people in the people business, there are some instances where HR is seen as, by employees at least, more of an antagonist than an ally. If employees work in a global company, it’s likely they couldn’t pick their HR business partner out of a line-up.

And it’s easy to ascribe blame to a faceless group who many employees think are responsible for their career development and job satisfaction. Particularly when that group writes policies and governs things like promotions and compensation.

If employees could really see what HR does, if they could put a face to the signature on their annual reviews, they’d likely be surprised.  And maybe, just maybe, they’d understand that HR and talent professionals are just like them, a diverse group of people from a confluence of backgrounds.

People whose careers happened more by happy coincidence than careful planning. People whose professional passion and purpose is to help improve the work, lives, and working life of their employer’s employees.

But the HR trenches have a protocol. HR is rarely visible, by necessity, design or choice, and operates beyond closed doors and self-service HRIS, employee relations resolutions and miles of red tape.

While HR professionals are rarely understood, the truth of the matter is, they’re also not fully appreciated for doing the mission critical work they do. It’s not an easy job, but it’s an important one, and one that touches the lives of every employee, every day. That goes for you, too.

The HR and recruiting professionals converging on Atlanta this weekend for the third HREvolution represent a cross-section of specialties, companies and geographies. They also share a belief in transparency, in sharing best practices, solving problems and driving real change, not in a theoretical vacuum, but on the front-lines Monday morning, at an office near you. Hope you’re paying attention.

According to the official website, HREvolution “is an event for human resources professionals, recruiters, and business leaders to come together and talk about the problems facing businesses today. This is where thought leadership and action meet.”

Another big surprise that’s very un, well, HR: “The format for HREvolution encourages interaction and every participant has the opportunity share ideas and opinions in an open manner.”

Obviously, #TChat shares a similar online format and supports HREvolution’s mission of facilitating interactions and creating an open, democratic platform where all voices are heard. That’s why tonight’s #TChat theme is: “Trench HR: Trends on the Frontlines from HREvolution.”

As always, we’ll be joined by a diverse group of employers, job seekers, HR thought leaders and social media mavens.  We’ll take a candid look at HR perceptions vs. realities from a variety of perspectives, and explore some of the topics and themes that are on this year’s HREvolution agenda.

Join HREvolution presenter Kevin W. Grossman as he leads tonight’s discussion before heading to Atlanta.  If you weren’t one of the 150 people lucky enough to get tickets, don’t worry. Tonight’s #TChat is a way to make your voice heard about the issues that matter to both HR professionals…and the employees they support.

Help shape the HREvolution conversation with tonight’s #TChat at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT and let HR and recruiters know what’s really on your mind…and what should be on theirs.  And maybe, just maybe, see the real people behind the policies.  We’re pretty cool.

Trench HR: Trends from the Frontlines of HREvolution: #TChat Questions and Recommended Reading (04.26.11)

To get you thinking and to help you get ready to #TChat, here are tonight’s questions, along with some recommended reading to help inform, and inspire, your participation in tonight’s conversation about trench HR and trends affecting the front-line – and the bottom line.

Q1: Employees: What does HR need to do differently to be an effective people manager and business partner?

Read: Employee Engagement: Top Trends in 2011 by Kevin Sheridan

Q2: HR Pros: What can employees do differently to be a better business partner and collaborator with HR?

Read: HR: 10 Things Employees Want Most by Issie Lapowsky

Q3: Is HR finally seen as a strategic executive partner in business today?  Why or why not?

Read: Finding A Seat at the Table by Ed Newman

Q4: In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge facing HR today?  How can it be overcome?

Read: Superstar Leadership: Workforce Culture Damage Control by Meghan M. Biro

Q5: How is technology today improving the HR and talent acquisition functions?

Read: Recruitment Strategies: Virtual Recruitment Tools and Tactics by Melanie Berkowitz

Q6: Is education and intellect enough to be a great people manager? What about emotional intelligence?

Read: For Good or Ill Will Come the EQ Skills by Kevin W. Grossman

Q7: What’s your biggest HR pet peeve? What about your biggest HR thrill?

Read: Top 5 Recruiter Lies (And How to Avoid Them!) by Matt Charney

Visit www.talentculture.com for more great information on #TChat and resources on culture fatigue and how to overcome it!

Our Monster social media team supports the effort behind #TChat and its mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate – the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

We’ll be joining the conversation live every Tuesday night as co-hosts with Kevin Grossman andMeghan M. Biro from 8-9 PM E.T. via @monster_works and @MonsterWW. Hope to see you tonight at 8 PM ET for #TChat!

Superstar Leadership: Workplace Damage Control

I’ve written lately about various aspects of workplace culture…People are always the number one consideration in my opinion. This topic always directly relates to recruitment and employee retention. It’s inescapable. It’s part of your workplace DNA. Performing a workplace culture audit of a prospective employer and how to nurture company culture, both as a manager and as an employee are so key.  Let’s keep tackling the dark side – repairing a damaged corporate culture.

Every workplace culture/organization (and employee) has good and bad days. Culture takes little hits on the bad days, but a string of bad days or months can turn into permanent damage. Unfortunately as those days and months grind on it can become easy to miss the signs of damage. A stressed management team may be focused on keeping the company afloat; a stressed manager with personal issues or job challenges may turn a deaf ear to rumblings of dissatisfaction.

In the first example, if management fails to communicate its trials, distrust will flower and thrive. In the latter example, also, a failure to communicate, compounded by a lack of responsibility on the part of the manager, creates a breach between employer and employee. Into that breach will creep distrust and its close cousin, unwillingness to believe anything management says. This is not good and should be stopped in it’s tracks.

Communication and trust are the underpinnings of healthy workplace culture. Other culture markers – a shared sense of mission, shared goals, respect – are rooted in trust and communication.

When trust goes, so also goes culture, that valuable mix of the personality of the workplace and its brand and the collective experience of what it means to work in the organization.

A simple measure of damage to a company’s culture is employee turnover. One local small company I know has had 95 percent turnover in the past three years. Yep, almost 100 percent. This happens.

The managers’ reaction? A tone-deaf range of comments, from ‘It was time for those people to move on’ to ‘We’re glad they didn’t go to competitors’; even the suggestion that the massive turnover is a ‘sign of growth on the part of employees fostered by the unique culture at X Company.’

Once you’ve pulled your jaw off the floor, let me assure you this example is real. Not surprisingly, this particular workplace culture is in dire need of repair. The company’s survivors are hardened and sour and new recruits into the organization are often bewildered and leaderless.

Here’s the basic prescription I would suggest to the executives if asked and from there I would refer them to my list of colleagues who specialize in this specific arena of employee retention and engagement (although this culture is so damaged they haven’t sought advice):

First, assess what’s really happened:

  • Make a list of those who left and when. Review notes from their exit interviews and look for repetition of words and themes. These repetitions are the top-level clues to what is wrong with the organization.
  • Correlate reasons given for leaving. I predict there will be very few ‘uniques’ in this group.
  • Cross-reference the above data with time of year as well as acquisition (or loss) of business.
  • Review every email sent to the company announcing a defection and look for patterns describing the person’s reason for leaving.

Now you have a lexicon of words, a vocabulary of loss of culture and cohesion. The next step is to assess what remains. This step is best taken with the help of a third party, a neutral coach or consultant.

Survey the remaining employees and any new employees on basic measures of job satisfaction:

  • Is compensation competitive? Benefits?
  • Is training adequate?
  • Is the work challenging and rewarding?
  • Do employees have a reasonable level of autonomy and responsibility?
  • How are initiative and excellence rewarded?
  • Is the physical work environment adequate? Are tools and systems in place that improve productivity and reduce drudge work?
  • Do employees feel comfortable talking to managers? If not, why?
  • Do employees feel that management tells the truth?
  • How frequent and relevant are communications?
  • Is feedback used to improve the work environment? Is it ignored?
  • Would you recruit a friend?

Now it’s time to step back and look at what employees and line managers said.

At this point, it’s imperative to commit to, and communicate, intent to change.

  • Communicate results of the survey.
  • Take ownership for the issues, and do not try to deflect responsibility.
  • If something can’t be changed or fixed say why.
  • Create a change action plan with dates, asking employees to help prioritize change items.
  • Implement the change action plan, honoring dates and milestones.
  • Communicate at every step.
  • Re-survey in three months and again in six months, and communicate the results.

Then tackle the hardest part:

  • Assign team leaders and give them responsibility and power to enact change. Support them (or they may fail.)
  • Meet with team leaders regularly and listen to them. Don’t talk over them or challenge what you hear, listen.

Without thoughtful intervention, a broken workplace culture with disheartened people can’t really be repaired. This is often the sad truth. Retention and recruiting will fail too. Employees will continue to head for the exits, and customers may even follow.

Take a look here to read about three companies using workplace culture for retention. This is a very useful case study for all to absorb.

What steps would you take to rescue a damaged corporate culture?

IMAGE via Flickr

4 Employee Engagement Drivers: Workplace Social Technology

We’ve heard the term “employee engagement” a gazillion times, and one could even say it’s now just a buzzword.  If you ask me, it is the most critical aspect of any successful organization….without a doubt!  A positive correlation exists between employee engagement scores and business results (via Right Management – “Employee Engagement, Maximizing Organizational Performance”).

I have worked with a dozen plus diverse organizations on their employee engagement strategies, not only identifying their top engagement drivers, but facilitating strategy design and execution.  I can see how it could be a buzzword to many because they have not the slightest clue how to take employee engagement beyond just simply talking about it.

Regardless, my definition of employee engagement is, “an intimate emotional connection that an employee feels for the company they work for that propels them to exert greater discretionary effort in their work.”  Take note that their are many definitions that exist, and whichever one you favor, remember this…it all comes down to the positive emotions that employees possess, individually and collectively.  In my experience the top 4 engagement drivers are the following:

  1. Strength of leadership capabilities of direct managers.
  2. Perception that advancement opportunities exist, and are attainable.
  3. Opportunities for personal growth and development.
  4. Appropriate recognition for the good work that I do.

The “What” Versus the “How”

I just listed what I have seen to be the top 4 common engagement drivers.  The next natural question would be, “now what?  How are we supposed to improve engagement if we now know where our focus needs to be?”  There is no cookie-cutter response because it depends on each organization, because each organization is unique due to the distinctive make-up of their workforces.  But, I will say this…the “how” (i.e. executing an employee engagement strategy) is as important, if not more so, than the “what” (i.e. what we need to focus on).

This is where social technology could theoretically play a huge impactful role.  I say theoretically because again, the success of strategy execution does not lie in the technology/platform itself, but in how it’s executed.  At the top of my head, key things that are required for successful execution are strong leadership, people change management, communication, trust, authenticity, and ultimately a strong perception of competence in the eyes of employees.  Notice how this is nothing different than any other major organizational initiative?

One Step Further

You need to also recognize that workforces in North America are more diverse than ever before.  Work is now fully integrated into our personal lives, rather than being completely separated like it was just a few decades ago.  We value customization, personalization, flexibility, variety and choice.  Organizations need to understand this, and find a way to fully integrate these characteristics into how employee engagement strategies are executed.  Now enter social technology!

Where Technology Could (Really Should) Play a Role

Keep in mind that technology by itself means very little.  It’s a very similar concept to strategy, which I’ve said many times before, “is just a piece of paper with words on it” (see Strategy = A Piece of Paper…).  If you don’t execute it well, it doesn’t matter how great the technology/strategy is.  All technology does is enable organizations to be flexible, offer variety and choice, enable personalization and customization.  It’s a vehicle, albeit a very effective one ONLY if you actually get the “how” part and focus on executing.

Having made my point about what technology is I will say this.  The market has just been bursting with new niche social technology platforms that aim to help make business easier, more effective and efficient, and ultimately more successful.  The mainstream platforms include the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google and others.  Example niche HR platforms include Rypple, ZuzuHire, SurgeHire, Yammer, Yackstar, ClearFit, Success Factors and I Love Rewards.  Thousands more exist out there, but you get my point.

Tying it All Together…

So, I have talked about the following:

  1. Employee Engagement, Maximizing Organizational Performance
  2. How employee engagement strategy is executed is more important than what you’re executing.
  3. Impact of workforce demographics on our preferences for customization, flexibility and personalization.
  4. Work is now fully integrated into our personal lives—no longer separated.
  5. Social technology is a huge part of our lives, and social platforms are highly effective vehicles to support strategy execution.
  6. The key in all of this is that leveraging technological platforms within traditional HR functions, particularly as it relates to employee engagement strategy will enable organizations to optimize their ability to drive positive employee engagement results.

(Note: The next post in this series of 3 posts will explore a case study of an organization that integrated social technology into its employee engagement strategy to drive positive results.)

Image Credit Flickr

http://jeffwaldman.ca/?p=86St

Taking Over the World With Social, Mobile & Video Rock Stars

Yes, we want to take over the world.  Our monster end-of-year #TChat show about how social, mobile and video as rock stars impact workplace culture and predictions for 2011 was a rousing success.

Over 1,500 smarty pants tweets in the hour alone.  A hat tip and a thank you to all of you who did.

Top Contributors included:

  1. @talentculture – 315
  2. @meghanmbiro – 147
  3. @KevinWGrossman – 120
  4. @LevyRecruits – 73
  5. @dawnrasmussen – 67
  6. @jillianwalker – 64
  7. @tedcoine – 57
  8. @DrJanice – 53
  9. @IanMondrow – 50
  10. @EmilieMeck – 47

We referenced social, mobile and video as “rock stars” — even though we meant they are figurative rock stars and wanted to discuss their impact on workplace culture.

But some of the discussion morphed to literal social media rock stars in organizations today, and that’s okay.  In fact, much of the conversation was about how companies could better perform by allowing social to permeate.

And video and mobile are the two dots they’re connected to with dotted lines to us all…

Companies that don’t allow social media are killing their brand ambassadors.

Amen to that.

Here were some of everyone’s 2011 Predictions:

  • Mobile/virtual workforce on the rise. Video conferencing and coworking are where it’s at in 2011.
  • Companies will wake up and develop more inclusive SM policies at work.
  • HR will have to ROCK in 2011 if it wants to remain relevant. It will and the gap between SM and practitioner will shrink.
  • I am expecting that Role-Based Assessment will rock and roll in 2011.
  • Google to buy FB. FB to be Google. Googling your employees now unravels their whole life & danger zone commences.
  • Closer joining up of social networks. less engagment in channels. More use of 3rd party apps.
  • Lines moving between trad. old school ‘work’ continue to get erased as more people stay connected.
  • Companies are going to go to their legal dpt to define ‘privacy’ as lines between work / play get blurred.
  • Increased buy-in & participation from corp. leaders to join the conversation (social media).
  • Traditional workplaces will continue to un-teether and ppl will have to find new creative ways to connect via SM. Hello cloud!
  • More tools will become available to consolidate our SM.
  • Global concerns about privacy will slow personal SMV growth as companies trip over themselves to push out more “relevant” content.
  • Companies incorporate multimedia interviews in their hiring strategy!
  • In 2011 LinkedIn will reveal more strategies that require people to purchase premium memberships.
  • SM for the team – coming soon, because first you have to measure networking quality!

Meghan added at the end:

“My 2010 prediction held true. Workplace Brands = An intricate collection of Personal Brands :-) So much more to talk about!”

So let’s do that next time on Tuesday, January 4, 2011, from 8-9 p.m. ET.  We’re going to continue workplace culture predictions for 2011 and talk more about what they mean!

#TChat wouldn’t be what it was without all of you, so thank you again!  Happiest of Holidays to you all!

The 'Whys' for Gen Y: Workplace Culture Considerations

Today’s young professionals want different things than previous generations before them. Organizations are learning they need to adapt in order to attract these talented Millennials to their workplaces. What does Gen Y seek in an ideal workplace culture?

Flexibility

Gen Y values a high starting salary and financial security, but they also value flexibility in their work schedule and benefits. According to statistics, about 85% of Gen Y members want to spend 30-70% of their time working from home. In order to attract top talent from Generation Y, an organization’s workplace must provide some degree of flexibility.

Mentorship

Young professionals need someone to help guide them through their first years as entry-level professionals. When choosing an ideal workplace, their number one request was to work with a manager they could respect and learn from. Not sure where to start? Read my previous post about how to create and sustain a mentorship program.

Professional Tevelopment

Members of Generation Y thrive on ongoing learning and professional development opportunities. They typically are already thinking beyond their current role and realize they need con

State-of-the-Art Technology

According to statistics, Millennials rank working with state-of-the-art technology number six on their list of ideal workplace environment. Because young professionals grew up in the age of quickly evolving technology and trends, they expect the same in their place of work.

A Challenge

Although many people peg Gen Y as “job hoppers,” they often leave their jobs because they’re simply bored. Provide a challenge for them in the workplace by giving them more responsibility or the lead on a new project to keep them interested in their work.

Opportunity for Advancement

Show Gen Y employees they’ll have more than just a job if they work for you—they’ll have the opportunity to have increased responsibility, gain new skills and make more money if they stick around.

For more on what Gen Y expects in a workplace, check out this infographic loaded with statistics here.

Culture Brand: Create Magical Distinction to Attract the Very Best Talent

I’ve been thinking a lot about brand abandonment lately. My next series of thoughts immediately go to how creating and maintaining a brand-based corporate culture can help businesses avoid brand abandonment, and help recruit and retain the very best talent.

I will refer way back yonder back to my post on building culture, which requires a company to establish several modes of interaction with employees, job seekers and customers. These modes of interaction – transactional, transformational and tacit – build trust with employees and candidates, enable competitive advantage, and may even facilitate the establishment of a social community within a larger organization.

A company that sees the benefits of building a brand-based corporate culture has a very distinct advantage in the hiring marketplace. Say you are running a small business. How do you attract talent? By creating a strong, desirable culture brand. A recent post at the Wall Street Journal speaks to the steps a small company might take to attract talent: communicate your success, share your excitement about the business’s potential, make a point of linking that potential to the applicant’s interests. Link corporate culture and brand with your people and the magic really starts.

Think you can’t compete on benefits and salary? Remember that your brand and culture are your biggest attractions. As Tim Hackett writes at MonsterThinking, most candidates want to work for a brand they admire. People love Nike because it’s cool, IBM because it’s a leader, Google because it’s an innovator. We can’t all work at those places, but we can observe their brands and cultures, and learn. Be your brand, treat people well, and don’t waiver or abandon your position.

Treating people well and running an ethical business is the secret sauce for really good brands. Bill Taylor says brand is culture, and culture is brand in a recent article at Harvard Business Review. When there’s a tight link between the two forces, customers will know, employees will know, job seekers will know. No risk of brand abandonment in this scenario: it’s baked right into the workplace culture as a foundation.

As the economy rebounds, employees may become restive. Job seekers may start flooding well-known brands with resumes in the hopes that finally someone will open the envelope, click on the email, or even a tweet. Your best defense, as an employer, is to have culture and brand in place. Be irresistible to your employees. Be desirable to candidates. Be your brand, revel in your culture, and never abandon either. The price is just too high.