8 Actions You Can Take To Survive A Shift

When do you know a shift is occurring that will significantly alter the competitive landscape and terms of play?

There are some people who lead a shift and determine its direction. Steve Jobs engineered a series of discontinuities that not only changed the world of communication and social engagement, they also vaulted his company to another level.

But for most of us “mere mortals,” a shift is experienced after is has begun and marketplace changes are being felt.

Most retailers waited to see how online buying was going to evolve before morphing their brick-and-mortar business into virtual stores with cyber-selling.

The traditional media world is another example where the players are gradually incorporating digital and mobility capabilities into serving their customers and marketing their services.

It is rare that one is able to “see the forest for the trees” when discontinuity strikes; it is virtually impossible to see ahead and predict how it will all play out.

What is certain, however, is that those that decide to stand on the sidelines and observe the action forego any opportunity to influence the shift and have any control over the outcome.

Willing and active participants stand a chance of surviving; you either lean into a shift or be subsumed by it.

8 Actions You Can Take To Be a Shift Survivor

1. Be a learning organization, always listening for changes taking place in customer behavior. Study adoption rates of new technologies and customer solutions. Pay special attention to Millennials and women; they both wield the power to make you or break you.

2. Create a risk-taking culture. Shift survival = (doing) (lots of) (imperfect) (stuff) (fast). If you are not experimenting in the shift, you won’t survive it. Judge your survival competency on the number of failures you create.

3. Disrupt your current direction. Aggressively intervene on yourself and push for order of magnitude change. Modest change won’t satisfy the shift; monumental change might.

4. Apply “extension thinking” to overlay a trend in other industries on your business. Digital shift creates new value for people by connecting and controlling smart devices through cloud-based software platforms. What opportunities does this capability make possible for you? Study the trees and consider the broader implications.

5. Get your plan “just about right.” Reduce precision in the plan; increase precision in execution. Don’t try to create a perfect plan. It doesn’t exist, and while you are trying to discover it, you are not doing anything. Take an imperfect plan, execute it flawlessly, learn from the results you achieve and adjust it along the way.

6. Cut the crap that gets in the way of engaging in the shift. The projects and activities that may have been important in the old world may be grunge in the new, shifted version. How much stuff in the traditional print media business is crap in the digital world? How many resources are deployed in print vs digital? Preserving print robs you of the ability to engage the shift. Honor but expunge the old; you don’t have sufficient bandwidth to take on the new if you don’t.

7. Create VALUE that is relevant and unique for the customers you serve. Stop flogging products; start delivering experiences. Address the key wants and desires of the customers you choose to serve. Be the ONLY one that does what you do in order to stand out from the herd.

8. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS. Do the few things critical to your shifted direction; avoid the possible many. Failure (and survival) is directly related to the amount of unproductive activity you have going on. Pick three (or four) projects and do them brilliantly.

Surviving shift requires different thinking and different action. if you presume that what got you here will get you to where you need to go, you’re fooling yourself.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

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What Talent Management, Engagement And Culture Share

Company success links directly to what talent management, employee engagement and organizational culture have in common. The causal link among the three elements is powerful. It’s much like a rowing crew’s connection among rowers, oars, and scull.

Previously defined, talent management is an organization’s commitment to recruit, retain, and develop the most talented and superior employees available.

That commitment is enhanced by effective employee engagement, a buzz-phrase for the past several years. Employee engagement is the individual’s investment of her/his time, energy, skills, knowledge, and creativity in the efforts and directions set by the organization.

Organizational culture contributes to a business’s employee engagement. We define organizational culture as the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization.

Your company’s culture offers critical engagement factors. These factors impact the three talent management components: recruitment, retention and development.

Talent Management: Recruitment

Recruitment currently targets those in Generation Y, the Millennial generation. Recruitment is a talent candidate’s first contact with your company. Recruitment should positively engage that candidate from the get-go. Organizational culture has a say in how you recruit, and therefore in how (well) you engage. Consider this about Millennials:

  • They seek work that is social. They are technologically savvy. They want jobs that motivate by time off and job satisfaction, rather than just by compensation.
  • They appreciate recruitment via use of social media. They expect personalized attention. They anticipate internet-speed responsiveness.

How does your company’s recruitment process and procedure measure up?

Talent Management: Retention

Retention remains the money-saver to talent management. It is costly to hire, onboard, and bring a new hire up to speed. Strong employee engagement delivers stronger employee retention.

The SilkRoad Talent Talk Report 2014 states: “…in an unpredictable financial climate, companies need loyal, productive, and engaged employees more than ever. Employee engagement emerged as the most pressing concern…” Indeed, 53% of the 3,700 survey respondents indicated their company lacked an attractive culture to engage employees.

A company culture that offers, encourages, and maintains engagement by employees impacts every individual. Baby Boomers savor a workplace in which they can engage their energies and values. Gen Y workers relish a company that recognizes their independent skills. Generations in between approve of the chance to engage for their own reasons.

What salient employee engagement factors does your business culture provide?

Talent Management: Development

Development is significant action played by talent management. Developing employees from Day 1 throughout their time of service demonstrates company commitment. That commitment, perhaps greater than any other offering, stimulates employee engagement. The commitment to such development can be a cornerstone value of a company’s culture.

Employees have always requested, accepted and appreciated training, education, mentoring and development. They have asked welcomed opportunities to engage in personal and professional improvement. Consider the variety of ways an organization may satisfy that engagement:

  • Training that is job-specific or professionally generic.
  • Coaching and/or mentoring.
  • Formal education through university partnerships, tuition reimbursement, and online credits.
  • Professional associations and conferences.

Does your company offer developmental opportunities in each of these categories?

The connection is clear. Organizational culture can generate employee engagement. Employee engagement can support the three legs of talent management. They have in common a shared contribution to your business’s successful competition.

About the Author: Tim Wright is a professional speaker/coach/facilitator with expertise in employee engagement and culture improvement.

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Creating Company Culture Irresistible To Millennials

How do you create an atmosphere that keeps top performers at your organization? How do you keep your competitors from plucking your best talent? How do you minimize top performers leaving for opportunities elsewhere?

Gone is the “you should be grateful to work here” paradigm. It has been replaced by Millennials with, “Why should I work (or keep working) for you?” Leadership expert John C. Maxwell says, “Your ability as a leader to find, develop, and retain the best people is the single greatest factor in determining your success.”

The key to retaining young top talent is to cultivate a company culture that is hard to leave. Company culture starts with the leader. By leveraging these three guiding principles you can create a workplace irresistible to Millennials.

1) Connect With Your Team

More than ever before, it’s acceptable to be yourself in the workplace. These days, letting your hair down won’t undermine your authority but rather will boost the connection with your teams. The erosion of many of today’s workplace formalities has caused a rise in more and more people bringing their authentic selves to work.

Because they place a high value on transparency, Millennials respond well to authentic leaders. They won’t want to leave a culture where diversity is celebrated, one-of-a-kind experiences are shared, strengths are valued, voices given, and stories are shared.

At the end of the day, people leave people not companies. Invest the time and energy to create personal connections with your team.

Related Read: 30 Retention Tactics To Passionately Engage Millennials At Work

2) Coach For Development

The No. 1 reason Millennials leave an organization is due to lack of career opportunities. In my experience, it’s not because these opportunities didn’t exist within the company, but rather because the leaders didn’t communicate those opportunities. They were too busy bossing their talent that they forgot to coach their talent.

Leaders will receive more valuable feedback at all levels of the organization if they value each person in the organization regardless of their position or generation. D. Michael Abrashoff, former captain of the Navy destroyer USS Benfold, says it best: “Every leader needs big ears and zero tolerance for stereotypes.” If you’ve taken the time to create a personal relationship with your talent, you’ll know what uniquely matters to them and will be able to coach them beyond their perceived potential.

Boss less. Coach more.

3) Strive For What Matters

It’s easy for someone to quit a job, but it’s much more difficult for them to quit a cause …especially Millennials. They are suckers for significance. They long for meaningful work.

Lean into their quest for good by casting the vision of the net impact your organization is having in the world. And remember, vision leaks, so be sure to cast vision as often as possible and find creative ways to keep the vision front and center and top of mind.

Creating a culture dedicated to fostering authentic personal relationships, developing talent, and focusing on a cause will result in Millennial loyalty.

Retain on.

Question: What other workplace elements have you seen that attract young talent?

About the Author: Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized Millennial keynote speaker and author. Ryan runs a blog and podcast at where he inspires audiences with practical next generation leadership,communication, branding, and productivity advice.

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It’s Time For A New Job-Skills Training Model

I attended a presentation by Mary Owens at a local financial advisory firm. In her well-presented talk about the return of manufacturing to the U.S., she articulated a number of facts that got me thinking:

  • Manufacturing was returning because North American fuel (read: natural gas) is now becoming cheaper than the combination of diesel and Asian labor.
  • U.S. factories are utilizing the most advanced technologies.
  • And last, we can put millions of people to work.

This is good news, right? I think so. But we still have a major gap in fulfilling the training that these factories need. She described quite succinctly these additional points that I have been thinking a lot about:

  • Many industries are beginning to (re)grow, and they are using new technologies to do it.
  • In many industries, employers can’t find “locked and loaded” employees who have the skills to perform the jobs they need filled.
  • The current higher education and vocational system isn’t serving the employment needs of employers or job seekers.

Mary’s plea, as I understand it, is to invite the wealth community to invest in an educational system to feed these employers’ needs. I like Mary’s pluck. She is not the first to say it or practice it. It makes sense to see the need and fill it.

But … not so fast. Since writing about workplace apprenticeship a few weeks ago, I’ve continued to ruminate about these additional convergent problems:

  1. Trade schools and career colleges, while making a comeback, are not prolific enough to be a relevant source of fulfillment for these factory and other supporting jobs.
  2. Higher education has too many of the wrong students and isn’t coming close to fulfilling its pledge to any students or fulfilling its own historical role.
  3. Job seekers can no longer afford to create the debt that higher education is demanding.
  4. The public can no longer afford to support this Herculean effort in the form of needed government subsidies.
  5. Employers want to shift responsibility away from themselves and blame everything else—from schools to generational birth year, from government to parents.

If business wants “locked and loaded” workers, then where should it get them?

In his post, “How Education Is Failing To Serve Business’ Needs,”  Mark Lukens  discusses this very topic. His analysis of the raging debate about education not serving humanity’s need to think creatively is extremely relevant. To that point, I agree.

Then he says,

“If the education system is to serve the needs of business, then we need to start by asking what those needs are.”

 Ugh. I cringe. Education should not be the bitch of business. Education should be its own system and its own reward. And yes, I agree, it should shift its focus to help us to learn the needed skill of creative thinking; however, I envision a world where we get to learn for a variety of reasons, at a variety of times, and not always for job skills.

This bears the question, “Where do we learn the skills needed for a rewarding job?”

The answer keeps pointing me to employers. If they are the ones with the needs and they want a consistent, customizable result, then it is on their shoulders.

I believe that it is time for a new model. A model of efficiency and fairness. Let’s take the burden off of higher-learning institutions and the public. Let’s take the financial burden off of the individual as well. Let’s institute a model that allows business to serve itself. The model would allow people with the right behavior profiles to enter into paid apprenticeships to learn the absolute needed skills, aptitudes, and values needed by the employer.

We have hundreds of years of history filled with examples of an apprenticeship model. The last 100-plus years have taken us off track and placed the “burden” elsewhere. I expect that employers are going to rebel against this responsibility. But when they see that it actually MAKES them money through efficiencies rather than turnover costs, possibly the whining will stop.

I envision higher education rebelling because it will see its head count retreat. But it is time to stop the churn of unsuccessful, unhappy, and broke students overfilling our colleges and universities. It is only in the last 50 years that “everyone” went to college. Now “everyone” doesn’t get a result. So let’s stop it.

If we are to get out of our current morass, grab opportunity by the nose, and get back to work, it is time for employers to see themselves as training organizations. Profitable training organizations.

The future of work is dependent upon it.


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How To Avoid The New-Idea Trap

More technology. More suppliers. More products and services. More social media tools. More business tools.

New opportunities to improve our bottom-line performance are constantly “raining down” on us these days, making it a challenge to decide which to seriously consider and which to just let slide by.

Here are four skills that standout leaders use to successfully deal with the seemingly unlimited number of “potentially amazing” things that come their way.

1. They have a game plan for their business. Your game plan represents the CONTEXT for evaluating the new stuff that comes along. Think about your game plan as your touchstone from which you determine which new options you should consider. For example, a new digital technology will make sense to consider only if it is a better fit to achieve the revenue growth targets in your game plan than the technology you currently use.

2. They avoid “the chase” activity trap. It’s real easy to get caught up in running down every new thing that people present to you. And the chase never ends because there is ALWAYS something new being thrown at you. It’s not about what cool things the new stuff can do. It IS about how the new stuff fits your game plan and how it can better enable you to execute it. Let the dogs chase the cars. YOU thoughtfully sift through “the new” using your game plan as the criterion for applying your resources to evaluating new possibilities.

3. They set priorities for looking at “the new.” Remember, this evaluation activity will disrupt your focus on executing your game plan, so you have to be very careful not to waste precious time and effort. Pick no more than three “new” possibilities; rank them in order of positive potential impact and have a go at number one. And decide what you are going to give up if you take on something new. “Piling on” new work on top of existing work will drag you down and prevent you from achieving your goals.

4. They put the stop watch on new evaluations. If you don’t, evaluations could go on and on and on and on; “creeping incrementalism” in my words. And you may never make a decision as a result. The objective is to BE QUICK in your assessments, so you can then move on to the integration and execution phase. I have seen people on “the chase” with NO stop watch that NEVER returned to their game plan. They disappeared in “the new” analysis do-loop and never got out of it.

New stuff is potentially dangerous. It can take your eye of the ball. It can distract you from execution. And it can gobble up your precious resources of time and money.

Be disciplined in how you handle it.

You don’t have to chase everything that comes your way like many do.

It’s ok to pass up new sexy stuff that isn’t a fit for you.

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Redefine Culture By Leaving The Jerk Zone

Would you tell your other half, your housemate or your child not to tell you what they think? Or to rearrange their day for you without telling them why? Or order them out to buy you a sandwich?

Those might sound like stupid examples, but they’re real cases of ways people behave in the workplace, and they raise questions about the power of corporate culture.

A colleague of mine was once sent out to buy a sandwich by an executive in her organization. This colleague wasn’t his PA or an administrative assistant. It wasn’t her job to smooth out his day. She was a trained project leader, a change manager and responsible for training hundreds of colleagues in technical skills. But this executive expected that, because he was more senior, the needs of others should come second to his need to avoid a three-minute walk to the shops.

Where do these attitudes come from, and how can we free ourselves of them?

Welcome to the Jerk Zone

Why are attitudes like this allowed to flourish in the workplace? Why is entitlement, selfishness and ego allowed, even encouraged, in some of the leading workplaces of the modern world?

Some slither of it probably comes from the dog-eat-dog capitalism that was idealized in the 1980s. Triumphal egoists were idolized as value makers and we were told that greed would build a better world. But anyone who’s worked in reality knows that this is not the case. Cooperation, collaboration, and humility – these are the ways to build lasting working relationships, to get the real work done. That ‘80s template of macho management should have died with the financial disasters that followed in its wake, taking traditional unthinking deference to seniority in its wake.

But much of that behavior remains, discredited as it has become, and for much the same reasons it was allowed to rise. Because the rest of us are too timid to say no.

Part of this comes from humility. Uncertain of our own value we accept the assumed value of others, even when it becomes over-inflated with their egos. We feel insecure in our own value, and so lack the confidence to challenge the more confident. We accede to this culture, which can turn a workplace into a Jerk Zone, a place where it is acceptable to behave with unchecked selfishness.

But worse than this, if we’re not careful we help build the Jerk Zone. We worry about being seen as perfect in our roles, even though perfection itself is an impossible dream. This feeds our anxieties and insecurities, leading us to put on an over-compensating front. We inflate our own egos, like birds puffing up their chest feathers in an act of display. We too start to act the role the Jerk Zone creates for us.

Would you act like that at home?

We’ve all heard it at some point in our lives, the eternal cry of teachers faced with unacceptable behavior – ‘would you do that at home?’

If we want to get rid of the Jerk Zone, to change the corporate culture that can drive us mad, then we should ask that question again – of ourselves and of the people around us.

Our work and our lives aren’t separate. The same set of values that we hold up at home and in the public sphere should hold in the workplace. After all, do honesty or consideration stop mattering when we step through the office doors? Of course not. If we act lie they do then we are building a toxic space that can do no good for anyone within it. That’s the Jerk Zone, that takes decent people and turns them into objectionable egoists.

Would that executive have got away with ordering someone at home to go out and buy his sandwich? At home we expect respect, consideration, explanations. We can expect the same at work. To do any less is to treat ourselves and those around us with less dignity than we deserve.

I want to break free

How can we liberate ourselves from this toxic culture? How can we leave the Jerk Zone far behind?

Part of it, as with any management challenge, is asking ‘why?’ It’s a question so simple and so powerful that it crops up again and again in leadership thinking, from the Toyota Production System to the work of Simon Sinek. Look at where selfish behavior is strongest in your organization, ask why it is happening there and then work to root out the causes, whether it’s unhealthy processes, inappropriate measures or simply unchecked bad behavior.

Empower your workers to speak their views, and stand up for them when they challenge the big egos, even when they challenge you. Believing you are too important to be wrong is a step deep into the Zone. Empowering everyone to constructively challenge each other is a way to battle it, to keep the egos in check and show everyone that they don’t need to over-assert their personalities to be heard.

Above all listen. If you listen to others’ views and treat them with as much weight as your own then they will learn to do the same. A culture of receptiveness, humility and cooperation will start to spread, banishing that Jerk Zone to the past where it belongs.

You can leave the Jerk Zone, and take your whole organization with you. All you have to lose is your ego.

(About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. He has 20 plus years of C-Level experience across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, government, and people and potential (aka HR). In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York. He also actively serves on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches in the School of Business and Economics; Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management, International Business and Information Systems. Mark holds an MBA and is highly recognized in the technology and healthcare space with credentials including MCSE and Paramedic. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity. Mark resides in New York with his wife Lynn, two children, and two Labradors. The greatest pursuit; “To be more in the Service of Others.”)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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Cultural Diversity: Not Just For Large Corporations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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How Transparency Positively Impacts Your Workplace

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

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

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

Transparency In The Workplace

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

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

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

Sharing More information 

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

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

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

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

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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The Flip Side of Employee Engagement

In a world where Gallup pollsters say 71% of American workers are “disengaged” from their work, “employee engagement” is clearly an issue needing to be addressed.  There have been numerous posts on TalentCulture about employee engagement, and Meghan M. Biro recently published an article about it in Forbes.  Dan Pink’s book “Drive” talks at length about the science of what motivates us. (Oddly enough, it’s not money, at least, money does not motivate the kind of work that really matters these days, like problem-solving and creative/visionary thinking.)

Since more and more of our work falls into “creative” categories, and emotional engagement is key to maximizing creativity and thus productivity, and money doesn’t motivate these tasks, how do we get to a place where employees are more engaged at work?

Instead of starting from zero and looking for fixes, I suggest looking at a workplace where “employee engagement” is already at 100% all of the time: a major symphony orchestra.

I once had the privilege of playing in the Boston Pops, where total “employee engagement” was standard procedure. In that culture, we weren’t concerned so much with “how to get it” as we were with making sure nothing got in the way of it. And the biggest issue was not employEE engagement, but “employER engagement.”

If you have ever wondered why major symphony orchestras take so long to find music directors, it’s not for a lack of applicants for the job. The issue is finding someone who can handle being a manager in a 100% employee engagement environment. This is a lot harder than you might think.

As an orchestral musician, I often observed young wannabe maestros as they were given their shot at the bigtime with a guest conducting stint. It was amazing just how many of them could not do the job. It wasn’t because they lacked musical talent or skill. What was lacking was an ability to accept the massive energy of the “engaged employees.”

You see, for many of these wannabe maestros, whenever the music got too loud or too exciting, amazingly, they just would slow things down, as too much excitement would exceed their need-for-control comfort level. Yes, this certainly sounds crazy; after all, in the music business, emotional excitement is itself the product. But I saw this self-defeating phenomenon happen over and over again. They actually resisted “employee engagement.”

You will see this “emotional fractal” occur in all kinds of situations.  Many people just assume that having things “under control” is equivalent to being productive and doing their job as manager, when in reality it saps energy and sabotages employee engagement. For example, in a recent 60 Minutes program, Sergio Marchionne talked about the previous regime at Chrysler having their executive offices in a far off penthouse suite. In rescuing the company, he moved the executive offices into the same area as the engineers, where they could get access to the CEO without any bureaucratic interference. Again, employee engagement can only occur if there is employer engagement willing to accept it, and not slow it down or prevent it.

You would think that the acceptance of massive employee engagement energy would be an easy and obvious thing to do, but for many people, it isn’t. When someone gets into a serious management role for the first time, it is rare that they have had any real long term gut-level preparation for the job. For example, they may not be used to trusting people on such a grand scale. They may be overly concerned about what their own boss thinks of them. They may be more concerned about loyalty to the past, “following standard procedure,” or “mistake prevention” than they are about overall productivity. They may not be able to handle the social discomfort stemming from their newfound power over former colleagues, or they may unwittingly abuse their power without realizing how it can affect worker attitudes. And perhaps most of all, the ability to graciously accept the gift of people coming to work every day and giving you everything they’ve got is not something we pick up in gym class. It’s a quantum leap in how one looks at the world.

Everyone who steps into a management role is a unique individual with their own set of past trust violations, issues with authority, shame issues about mistakes, confidence here and insecurity there, and inexperience with handling power, not mention just plain old fear and other human foibles. They may not be ready to handle the overwhelming amount of emotional energy that a team of “engaged” workers wants to throw at them. The natural response is always to slow things down.

Addressing these issues at their core emotional level gets into the realm of “touchy feely,” where many managers, especially those who have more technical skills than people skills, feel uncomfortable. But “engagement” is no longer a nice thing to have, it is now essential to your bottom line.  So if your issue is a lack of “employee engagement,” this is probably just an inevitable result of an emotional bottleneck occurring at the management level, and that is where the problem should be solved.

In many learning environments and business cultures, stress, anxiety, and bureaucratic distancing often lead to emotional numbness, so the trust, openness, connection, and personal recognition that so many workers seek from their boss are rare commodities. Leaders who inspire their team by offering these emotional responses (despite all the stress of their role) are generally seen as mystical beings who are “born with it,” but it is a skill that can be cultivated in anyone, given proper training.

(About the Author: Justin Locke spent 18 years playing bass in the Boston Pops, and his musical plays are performed all over the world.  As an author, speaker, and coach, he shares a pragmatic artistic approach to personal growth, “people skills,” and managing “top performers.” For more, visit his website at

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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

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Brave New World, Brave Business Leaders Needed

The first quarter of 2014 brought welcome optimism for some of the world’s major economies. On the face of things, it’s great news. However, businesses still face a battle to get back to the levels of pre 2008 performance and growth.

One thing that could be preventing them from doing so is if business leaders aren’t equipped for the brave new business world. Could Generation Y leaders hold the key?

Have Leaders Got This In Their Locker?

Concerns persist that many of today’s leaders lack the skills and knowledge needed to lead businesses in a rapidly-evolving corporate landscape. This is highlighted by the London Business School’s Lynda Gratton in her research.

The Future of Work Research Consortium, led by Gratton, found that half of the executives sampled across the world don’t think that leadership programs are currently equipping leaders with the right skills. This is a worrying trend which must be reversed.

Gratton offers great insight, setting out a clear and bold vision for the future of leadership. She explains the need to develop leaders that are able to leverage new technologies, take risks, build external relationships and champion creativity.

Failure to develop leaders with these skills and traits will stifle innovation and, with it, economic growth.

The Present: Developing Leaders Now

Companies must quickly recognize and respond to the changing business world. They’ll need to adjust talent and leadership development programs accordingly.

The first step is for businesses to identify what skills, behaviors and competencies their leaders need to possess in order to deliver strategies now (and anticipate how this might change in the future). They should measure leaders against a defined set of key skills, behaviors and competencies. Awareness of leaders’ strengths and development needs will then help companies to provide targeted support in areas where they need to shift behavior or change their approach.

Taking these steps will certainly better equip leaders now. However, the real change in leadership approach for business may only come about when the next generation of leaders take the top jobs.

The Future: Generation Y Leaders

Generation Y or ‘Millennials’ as they’re also known will, naturally, be more inclined to embrace and leverage new technologies and to champion innovation.

And, as others have noted, Generation Y workers are more collaborative and flexible in their approach. This makes them better able to build relationships and create strong, engaged teams.

I’d argue that this combined skill set and experience gives Generation Y the perfect foundation to be the bold, brave and forward-thinking leaders we need to drive future business success. Time will tell if I’m right.

(About the Author: Ben Egan is an experienced consultant specializing in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm. ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and RBS.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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

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Dating In The Workplace: An Employee Relations Primer

Dating someone you work with is frequently cited by workforce experts as a very bad idea. Yet 40% of workers admitted they did so in a 2013 CareerBuilder survey – and we have no reason to believe that number has gone down since then. As summertime rolls around, inevitably relationships will begin to spring up. After all, the average working American spends one-third of their lives at the office. So, what does the burgeoning office relationship mean for employers? Relationships gone sour have the potential to raise tension in the office. Couples that practice ODA (Office Display of Affection) make other employees uncomfortable. And there are bigger stakes for the employer.  The way you handle a new romance can expose the entire organization to risk or result in a great relationship you helped cultivate.

Rules Of Love

There are no hard rules when it comes to fraternization policies – but it is necessary to have something in place to guide appropriate behaviors.  Yet only 42 percent of companies have intra-office dating policies. These policies protect the company as well as the two individuals involved.  Make sure every person in your office understand the rules and how to report relationships should they become serious.

Some HR departments require written disclosures, making the involved employees officially state their relationship. Other companies “ban” fraternization. This is extremely hard to enforce because the term “fraternization” is difficult to completely define and policies that ban fraternization don’t really work. It seems great on paper, but it doesn’t account for the human condition. Your employees will date someone if they want and assume as long as they don’t display affection, no one would find out. That’s not a safe route for anyone in the office and can disrupt productivity and exclude other employees. It is best to keep HR and the supervisor in the loop to avoid your workers spending all their time trying to “hide” their relationship.

“More and more companies have implemented policies because they realize they aren’t going to stop people from having romantic relationship,” said Christine Amalfe, an attorney in Gibbon’s P.C. litigation and employment and labor law departments. Amalfe is correct, there are very few workplaces wherein HR or any other executives can forbid dating between coworkers. Nor would it be a reasonable policy.  However, if everyone on your employee relations team is briefed on the rules and communicates them to the team, both employees and management can breathe easier knowing how to deal with potential relationships.

“If you’re considering dating a coworker, finding out what the policy is before you initiate a romantic relationship will typically be better than springing it on your bosses six months in,” Eric Ravenscraft of said.

Conflicts Of Interest

What if the relationship ends? Even if the relationship leads to a marriage, 44 percent of every marriage in the United States ends in divorce. Employers have to deal with couples who can’t work together even though they have to work together. Failed relationships in the workplace damage morale and the individuals risk losing their jobs. Have a contingency plan if the former lovebirds can no longer bear to work together. It DOES happen and it is important to make succession plans and keep performance reviews up to date in case reporting is called into question.

Supervisors Shouldn’t Date Subordinates

If office dating happens, it should only happen laterally. Dating subordinates is a bad idea – period. Some companies allow dating coworkers as long as they are not your boss. But 99 percent of organizations get it right and ban intra-office relationships between supervisor and subordinate. It can compromise credibility and lead to subordinates disrespecting their supervisors.  It is also scary territory for potential legal action. Sexual harassment, favoritism, and other risky situations can all easily arise from a situation in which two people from unequal positions are involved in a romance.

“When a supervisor and employee are dating, it can potentially decrease morale in the department and raise suspicions by coworkers of preferential treatment,” said Kristin Bowl, spokeswoman for the SHRM. According to EEOC, one-in-four women are sexually harassed at work, half of them were harassed by a supervisor.

Companies who have a no tolerance intra-office dating policy try to control human nature. In reality, however, if employees want to date, they will… you may just not know about it until it starts to impact your work environment. The best policies are the ones that don’t ban the behavior. Don’t try to control human nature, guide it. Give employees guidelines for office dating: don’t date your boss, sign a relationship contract, etc. Workplace dating is inevitable. Intra-office dating is going to happen. You can’t prevent sparks from igniting, but you can avoid a legal flameout.

(About the Author: Deborah J. Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, a technology firm specializing in human resources applications like the HR Acuity On Demand family of applications. Muller brings more than 25 years of human resources and investigation experience to both the consulting practice and software development sides of the company.)

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

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

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4 Fundamentals To Elevate Employee Engagement

Did you know that when an employee leaves their job, 67% of the time it’s not the job, it’s the boss?  Of course you know the importance of keeping your best employees from becoming someone else’s top talent, but exactly how do you do that?  Here are four ways to build trust and earn their loyalty.

1.  Face Time Matters.

Personal contact is important as it creates an emotional connection with the organization.  Whether you have an onsite or a remote workforce, make sure you regularly connect with them.  It’s more than offering an “open door policy” – get out of your office and walk around.  Pick up the phone and talk to your team. Connect with your team members in the way they want to be contacted.  Some people prefer text, others email, while others still like to talk face-to-face. Personal contact matters. Take a hint from the television show “Undercover Boss” and put yourself in your employees’ shoes.  Understand what they deal with on a daily basis and they will be much more willing to give their job their personal best.

2.  Express Appreciation.

Catch your employees doing things right. What gets recognized gets repeated, so let them know specifically what they are doing well. It seems that organizations are spending a ton of money on “stuff” – providing employees with copious catalogs from which they can choose any number of rewards.  Although a nice gesture, it’s not the prize that creates an emotional connection. It’s the sincere verbal expression or handwritten note in appreciation for a job well done that is treasured. A woman in one of my programs recently shared that thank you notes she wrote to her staff members two years ago are still pinned on their bulletin boards.  Writing it down makes a difference.  Handwritten notes are tangible evidence that employees can refer back to whenever they need a lift.

3. Ask Questions.

Are you afraid to ask your employees what they want because you fear their “unreasonable demands?” Oftentimes what you’ll find is that it doesn’t take a lot to keep your team happy.  Once their basic needs are met, little tweaks make a big difference.  Check out this article for some great ideas. Asking for your staff’s suggestions and ideas can give you a perspective that you may not have considered. Inviting your staff members to share their opinion means a lot, acting on their suggestions seals the deal.

4. Welcome Complaints.

Marshall Fields said, “Those who buy, support me. Those who come to flatter, please me. Those who complain teach me how I may please others so they will buy. The only ones that hurt me are those who are displeased but do not complain. They refuse me permission to correct my errors and thus improve my service.” This quote is just as applicable to employees as it is to customers.  The office grapevine is not going away, however you can circumvent its negative consequences by making it safe for employees to express their opinions.  When you know what is really going on within your organization, you can take the steps necessary to correct what needs to be fixed and not suffer long-term negative effects. Remember – if you’re asking the question, be willing to be open to the answer, no matter what it is.

Using these four simple strategies not only increase employee engagement, loyalty, and retention, they lead to the big 3 “P’s” – productivity, passion, and profits.  The best part?  These ideas are not going to cost you an arm and a leg to implement.

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

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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

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#TChat Recap: It's All About Gratitude People!

Taking Thanks To The Bank

Employee engagement doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, one of the simplest ways to start engaging your fellow employees is with gratitude, which is just what we discussed last night at the ever busy, and FUN #TChat with Lisa Ryan and Teresa Andreani. How can being grateful actually drive your organization forward?

While those of us who have been on the receiving end of gratitude in business realized how important it is to thank the people who work with and for you, it seemed that just as many #TChat-ers had suffered at the hands of a nitpicky, downright ungrateful boss or coworker. And you guessed it! The work always suffers.



It sounds like a lot of the responsibility lies with leaders but employees have responsibility too.



#TChatters Agreed That…

  • Leaders must show gratitude from the top down.
  • Nothing is less expensive than a smile.
  • Employees can benefit from showing gratitude too.
  • Gratitude is useless when not sincere.
  • Gratitude may just be the first step in becoming a better leader.

 Want To See The #TChat Replay?


Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to guests Lisa Ryan and Teresa Andreani for introducing us to gratitude as a building block for leadership. Click here to see the preview!

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: Create A Vocabulary That Inspires Employee Engagement

Susan Gaier: Three Steps to Improve Employee Engagement

Melissa Dawn: The Best Ways to Reward Employees

Damon M. Banks: A Positive Workplace Culture Is Simply Good Business

#TChat Events: Employee Engagement And Putting Thanks In The Bank


#TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time?

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to Employee Engagement and Putting Thanks in the Bank!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on gratitude and employee engagement? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We Want To See You On TalentCulture! Become A Contributor NOW! (ummm, click)

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be talking about how a better candidate experience can create ROI in your organization with Dice! Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save The Date: Wednesday, April 30!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!

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#TChat Recap: The Culture Advantage. Quantified.

Building a Cultural Advantage with Tim Kuppler

Culture has long been thought a nice to have by stakeholders and HR pros alike, but how much of a business advantage is it really? Last night, the bright minds and leaders of #TChat worked together with special guest Tim Kuppler to answer THAT very question.

We started at the top…literally asking how leaders knew that cultural change was in order.

@TalentCove said:

A1. When they see their employees only doing the bare minimum and not going the extra mile. #TChat


@marksalke said:

A1: If every action requires someone’s approval, you might need a culture makeover.

Isn’t that the absolute truth?

These #TChatters are preaching to the choir, so how to get the message of real culture change to everyone? In fact, where would one start changing an entire culture?

A2. Monitoring employee engagement on a regular basis will help you discover what works and what doesn’t.  said HerdWisdom, quickly echoed by Clear Company who stated:

A2. Monitoring goals closely and rewarding for the completion of them.

Okay, that makes sense. Goals and engagement are both extremely important, not only from the perspective of changing the culture and really making employees feel heard.

But coming down like a hammer was NOT recommended by our culture warriors:

@lotus-yon said: A3 A punitive environment is detrimental to innovation. Leaders at all levels should empower employees to take risks.

#TChatters Agreed That…

  • Leadership is ultimately responsible for cultural change.
  • Each employee could take responsibility for their own “corner” of culture.
  • Confidence is essential for culture building
  • Failure must be allowed
  • Employees must be allowed to take ownership and lead in some cases

Want to see the #TChat replay?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Tim Kuppler, co-founder of The Culture Advantage and for taking us on this company culture overview! Click here to see the preview!

Related reading:

Nancy Rubin: Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside

William Powell: Focus On Your Employees, Key To Workplace Culture Success

Damon M. Banks: A Positive Workplace Culture Is Simply Good Business

#TChat Events: What is the Cultural Advantage?


#TChat Radio — Are you plugged in to #TChat radio? Did you know you can listen live to ANY of our shows ANY time? 

Now you know. Click the box to head on over to our channel or listen to Engagement and Putting Thanks.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!

If you recap #TChat make sure to let us know so we can find you!

We want to see you on TalentCulture! Become a contributor NOW! (ummm, click)

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be talking about building a cultural advantage and how they can help both engagement and workplace happiness. Sign up for the newsletter to get the scoop on next week’s guest, topic and questions!

Save the date: Wednesday, April 23!

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels!

How Do You Embrace Culture Change In Your Company?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Deep Does Engagement Really Go?

A recent Gallup poll found that engaged employees display an unexpectedly strong commitment to their work. Almost two-thirds (63%) of workers whom Gallup classified as engaged in their jobs would not leave their current position if they won $10 million in the lottery. This commitment did not translate as strongly with those workers disengaged counter-parts. Only 42% of disengaged workers, and 20% of actively disengaged workers polled say they would continue to work in their current job.

Beyond the Paycheck

Looking at those numbers, we can safely say that the majority of engaged workers embrace the benefits of having a job they love, beyond the paycheck. Although the number of engaged workers who would stay is impressive, there really isn’t that many engaged workers. So, we’re really left with a slice of a slice of the workforce who would stay.

What can employers offer to make that slice bigger –to increase commitment beyond the paycheck? Companies can get extremely competitive with their compensation practices, but that won’t necessarily translate to commitment, engagement or retention. Pay is merely one piece of the puzzle.

Shared Values

The 2012 Global Workplace study by Towers Watson revealed that 27% of employees who plan to leave in the first year on the job, cite feeling disconnected to the organization. In order to establish shared values, the organization has to make it a priority to establish and communicate those values. Values, culture and mission should be a part of all recruiting initiatives, from branding efforts to the hiring process.

Workplace Relationships

67% of employees say that good workplace relationships are a reason they would stay in their current position. This has a lot to do with the environment, communication and culture that employers should be creating and fostering for their workers.

  • Employers need to put a strong emphasis on cultural fit in the hiring process.
  • Provide a safe social collaboration platform to their workforce.
  • Create an environment free of judgment and full of questions. One that is conducive to learning from one another.


Immediate and varied recognition can impact effort and retention by up to 87%. That’s a pretty drastic increase that comes along with the cheapest and easiest piece of the engagement puzzle. Recognition is so simple, it has proven benefits and it feels good to give and receive; yet leaders are notoriously stingy with their acknowledgements.

Employers at all levels of the organization need to first recognize the benefits of creating a culture of recognition. Simply acknowledging and rewarding workers can have such a dramatic affect on the entire organization. HR pro and founder of Blogging4Jobs, Jessica Miller-Merrell said:

“It Starts at the Top. Any type of culture shift within an organization must have senior leadership support. It’s that simple because without them walking the talk, the change won’t happen. No way no how.”


Soliciting feedback is considered by many employee engagement experts to be the most effective tool in increasing engagement. Employers make some valiant effort and spend some serious dough on improving the things they think are the issues.

Well, how about working on the known issues? They will only be identified through the solicitation of employee feedback on a regular basis. 33% of employees said that a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale.

Don’t get me wrong, competitive compensation coupled with effective and relevant benefits are vital to keeping great talent in-house, but there’s so much more to creating an engaged, committed workforce. Honestly, compensation is the easy part, and that’s why so many companies aren’t going beyond the paycheck to ensure that their workforce is satisfied and heard.

The idea of winning the lottery is a pretty cool barometer for workplace commitment. Would you stay in your current position if you won $10 million tomorrow? We want to know! Leave a comment –would you stay or would you go?

How I Got Schooled On Culture

I had the good fortune of having my interest in the power of culture sparked nearly 20 years ago when I was a VP with a major automotive supplier.  We wanted to foster a positive environment and build an “involvement culture.” I had great mentors and read everything I could find on leadership and culture.

I learned about “building culture muscle” through rigorous feedback and prioritization to foster ownership with groups, transparent and regular communication habits, proactive resolution of major employee frustrations, and consistent tracking of strategies, goals, and measures.

The Main Learning Years – Trial and Error

I moved through a series of roles with different regional and global groups over the next eight years, each with a different sub-culture and urgent performance priories.  One exciting principle was further building ownership with the goal of having every employee feel like they were part of team “running their own business.” We implemented extensive cross-functional team structures to support this goal.  The same fundamentals worked across the world but customization was needed for communication, and different aspects of the operating model were emphasized based on the local culture.

I learned about the importance of understanding the history of an organization, a documented vision and strategy, large group “involvement meetings” to keep a team on the same page, and innovative group reward and recognition. The learning continued through regular community service activities and employee wellness improvements to support a deeper purpose, leveraging technology to streamline work, and proactively using feedback to refine communications and drive clarity.  I also learned about the incredible power of strengths-based employee development.  

The Financial Crisis – Fear, Uncertainty & Failure

Next, the financial crisis hit, automotive volumes tanked, and my responsibilities changed to focus on managing an urgent restructuring plan in North America.  The same operating model was implemented as in prior roles but there was an incredible focus on performance.  We were bought by a private equity firm, managed a massive downsizing, restructured the global business, and I lost my job at the end of it all.

I learned about urgently driving improvement because peoples’ lives are at stake, relentlessly emphasizing performance metrics, and confronting reality in extremely difficult times.  I also learned about fear, self-doubt, sadness, and regret.

Moving to a New Organization

I was out of work for a year before landing a role as president of a great family-owned business.  It was a massive turnaround effort but most aspects of the same operating model worked in an organization where I had no history.

I learned about the importance of having only one “top” priority at a time, focusing on 1-2 key values or behaviors to improve (discipline, teamwork, etc.), and about how to hold off on sharing my ideas or proposed plans in favor of starting with a vested group and a clean sheet of paper.  I also learned about eliminating fear, growing pride, phasing improvements, hiring for cultural fit, and proactively communicating with a board / owners so they feel involved.

A World of Culture Education

I moved to consulting as president of a culture assessment and consulting firm, before a transition to independent consulting and business coaching.   It’s been an amazing experience to see cultures across a wide variety of organizations.

I learned extremely effective organizations, small or large, apply relatively similar habits to support their purpose, values, and performance priorities. The vast majority of those organizations did what I did – they pieced things together over a period of many years without following a clear framework, model, or guide to help them sequence or prioritize the work.  

The Problem

It doesn’t make sense to me that leaders should have to go through a long learning process to deal with the complex subject of culture with confidence.   Culture is a hot topic but we’re buried in the popular press of disconnected tips, keys, and levers that over-shadow fundamentals about culture and the direct impact it has on performance. Sustainable culture change takes time but the initial efforts to build clarity, alignment, and leverage your unique culture will often have a rapid impact on performance as momentum builds.

I learned the lack of understanding the subject of culture is dramatically impacting results in the vast majority of organizations. There is also a huge social impact (think about organizations in education, healthcare, government, non-profit, etc.) where meaningful change could be accelerated.

The Bottom Line and a Predication

Leaders need to:

1) See through the popular press and understand culture fundamentals

2) Focus on specific problems, challenges, or goals and identify very specific values or behaviors to evolve that have been holding back performance

3)   Apply culture fundamentals as part of clear plan to engage their workforce in solving problems, achieving goals, and improving performance with a sense of urgency

4)  Connect the right set of improvements to get over the “culture tipping point” where momentum, results, and buy-in grows.

Culture will be widely accepted as the ultimate differentiator in organizations within the next 20 years.  The focus will over-shadow strategy, talent, technology, and all other areas.

What have you learned about the subject of culture? Is it the ultimate differentiator in organizations?

The Road To Organizational Transparency [Infographic]

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

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

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


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

photo credit: -Reji via photopin cc

Make Your Meetings More Successful (And Shorter!)

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

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

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

Routine collaboration drains time

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

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

Selective collaboration boosts performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: fmgbain via Compfight cc

The Authentic Side Of Leadership #TChat Recap

The Importance of Authentic Leadership

What is authentic leadership? Well, the answer to that question is a millionfold, as we learned last night on the latest #TChat. Everyone seemed to have a definition to go into the bucket when it came to leadership that was…real. In order to be authentic, some surmised you have to be true to your style of leadership and perfect THAT, not necessarily try to fit into someone else’s definition of what leadership could, should and would look like to them.

We’ve heard that leaders should be everything under the sun; from assertive to humble, servant to conqueror, honest to canny, tyrant to buddy. Where does the aspiring leader look to find their answers? One answer may come from inside the team:

@lori~translation lady said:

A1: Authentic leadership means collaborating and empowering because you can accomplish so much more with teamwork and community. #TChat

That was echoed in many sentiments. Your team often informs just what kind of leader you need to be. In fact, the authentic leader would do well to study the “following” styles of his or her team before settling on a “my-way-or-the-highway” leadership style.

@terriklass said:

A1. Authentic leadership means being able to share all sides of us. Being truthful of who we are. #tchat

What Bubbled Up:

Regardless of varying ideas of what defined authentic leadership, there were qualities that no one could argue with (or at least no one did!). They were:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Empathy or Heart
  • Team-oriented or holistic
  • Action-oriented

What’s not in there? Careful attention to share prices and nary a mention of productivity. Efficiency is a KPI to which many leaders are held. How do we emulate the above characteristics (or allow our leaders to emulate them) while still ensuring we get our gosh-darn jobs done? That too, nearly always falls to the leader:

  • The leader is usually the most selfless person in the room.
  • A leader ensures that her team is reprimanded in private.
  • A leader keeps the workload manageable for his team.
  • True leaders use honesty to motivate the team, rather than hiding crucial information from them.

Stuff You Can Do

Didn’t have time to attend? Try these five-minute new tricks to make baby steps toward authentic leadership:

  1. Try to figure out what your team needs by watching them take criticism and/or praise. Take notes.
  2. Write down your strengths (honesty, empathy etc.) and try to trace a path to how you can use those to reach specific KPIs in your organization.
  3. Check the recommended reading and add Cy Wakeman’s books and blogs to your reading list.
  4. Make a list of leaders who have inspired you personally (3) and mentors in the public eye you admire (10).
  5. Invite someone from the first list to coffee or dinner. Pay.
  6. Watch a speech or video of a person on the second list and write down what it is that makes you admire their leadership qualities.

Did you miss all the #TChatty goodness?

Well you can catch up by listening to this week’s #TChat Radio Show or taking a look at our Storify of the #TChat conversation.

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Todd DeWett for giving us an inspiring look into authentic leadership! Check out his site at!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!! If you recap #TChat make sure to use this link so we can find you! 

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be talking about wholehearted leadership and employee engagement. Kevin Kruse is going to be our radio guest and Nancy Rubin will be our moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, April 2!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Think you have what it takes to write for TalentCulture? Submit an application to be a contributor NOW!

photo credit: Steven | Alan via photopin cc

Employee Engagement Is No Picnic

Seriously, employee engagement isn’t spurred by casual Fridays or company picnics. Effective engagement efforts aren’t perks thrown at the workforce dartboard in hopes of hitting a bull’s eye. Employee engagement takes constant communication, change and growth.

We can talk about the benefits of employee engagement all day; but what it all boils down to in business, is the Engagement Profit Chain, as outlined by Forbes contributor and serial entrepreneur, Kevin Kruse (@K_Kruse).

Engaged Employees Lead to…

Higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…
Higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…
Increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…
Higher levels of profit, which leads to…
Higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price)

I believe that’s an end goal that we can all agree on, but many are going about it the wrong way. Picnics aren’t necessarily doing anything in the way of harming employee engagement efforts, but to be honest, they aren’t exactly doing anything to build it either. You can throw all the perks in the world at an employee and they’ll probably stay, but those perks alone won’t increase engagement.

Stop confusing engagement with happiness.

Too many employers are walking around believing that employee satisfaction and employee engagement are synonymous; and they’re definitely not. This is a critical distinction for employers to make. They can have a workforce of the happiest folks you’ve ever met, that doesn’t mean that any one of them are engaged in their work.

Ryan Scott, blog author on CauseCast, a corporate philanthropy and volunteering platform said:

“A satisfied employee might be perfectly content to punch in and out, performing his assigned job and nothing more. Alternatively, an engaged employee is emotionally invested in the success of her organization and brings a certain level of passion and commitment to her job. An engaged employee looks for meaning in her work and strives for a legacy of achievement.”

Now does that sound like something a picnic, or company logo t-shirt will do? Nope, sure doesn’t.

It is measurable.

So many employers are left in such a predicament. How, oh, how will we ever figure out our employee engagement issues? As a professional in the employee engagement field for some years now, I will share with you the most helpful and best kept secret about measuring employee engagement. Are you ready? Ask!

Employee engagement is completely measurable, with continuous feedback. That’s right –ask questions, collect data and make changes based off of it.

This always makes me think of the little kid who doesn’t want to mow the lawn. They don’t know how to get it started. It’s too big. They don’t know how to make it go. Many of the organizations that I have worked with in the past, don’t take on serious engagement efforts because they are concerned about just how big of a project they’re taking on. Then they start the mower, and realize it’s not all that bad.

It shouldn’t all come from the top.

No offense, but the top is usually where the “throwing perks at the workforce dartboard” tactics come from. Workers and managers at all levels of the organization should be involved in engagement initiatives. While it’s important for execs to lead they way, they could do a much better job at that with some real, front-line insights. Ideas that will make a change in the middle- and lower-level workforce, are going to come from them.

Employee engagement speaker Dave Zinger outlined 21 contemporary employee engagement tools and concepts. He recommends co-creating survey questions with employees. This practice will not only generate more relevant questions, it will also ensure that questions are not phrased or crafted to sway, or influence the answers.

Speaking metaphorically, employee engagement is definitely a picnic –a feast, in fact! However, company picnics aren’t getting us there. Employee engagement efforts can’t be a shot in the dark at making a few people happier, they have to be strategic and purposeful in order to be effective.


photo credit: Florian SEROUSSI via photopincc

Prospecting LinkedIn For…Everything #TChat Recap

The Power of Professional Prospecting

If you’ve been working in the recruiting, workforce, HR or leadership space, you’re well aware of how LinkedIn can be used for…work. But there is more to the professional networking behemoth than sourcing and recruiting (not that it’s a slouch in that department either).

Professional prospecting, or “panning for sales gold” as I like to call it, was the subject of last night’s #TChat and our guest Viveka von Rosen had some incredibly interesting tidbits to share. The CEO of LinkedIn to Business and a published author (nab her book, LinkedIn Marketing in an Hour a Day, here) gave #TChatters inside information about how to use LinkedIn to unearth new deals and create additional opportunities from sales, leadership and yes, employment perspectives.

The Mainstays

“Dynamic LI profiles are ones tended to like a growing garden: with care & frequent watering” @DawnRasmussen is right. You get out of LinkedIn what you put into it. There are countless ways to update your LinkedIn profile and all of them add value to getting you MORE sales, more leads…more connections. So get in there!

Nearly everyone agreed that LinkedIn is a powerful tool, but the cons listed had to do with lack of visibility, frequent pulled support for favorite tools and an ever changing user experience. But in #TChat as in life, there were a whole lot more pros. Included in the list?

  • The breadth of information available on LinkedIn
  • The ability to find anyone via one’s own network
  • The third-party tools built to work with the platform (shout out to @rapportive)
  • The new and improved search UX

Stuff You Can Do

Didn’t have time to attend? Try these five-minute new tricks to make baby steps toward using LinkedIn for prospecting:

  1. Find and connect with those who have “viewed your profile”
  2. Search out people in your area
  3. Create buyer personas and make a target list and send personalized emails (you get 5 free!)
  4. Ask and answer questions in your chosen fields
  5. Join groups to get the inside track in your industry (you have up to 50!)
  6. Of course, change your profile URL to something recognizable
  7. Put keywords you think your target market or candidate will be searching
  8. Connect your Slideshare account and keep it updated

For the organization: Check out this article from our friends at Social Media Examiner on how to make the most of your company page. Jonesing for the unique #TChat interactions or want to see who said what?

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Viveka von Rosen for enlightening us on LinkedIn! Check out her full site at LinkedIn to Business

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!! If you recap #TChat make sure to use this link so we can find you! 

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be talking about authentic leadership. Todd DeWett  is going to be our radio guest, and Kevin Grossman will be our moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 26!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Think you have what it takes to write for TalentCulture? Submit an application to be a contributor NOW!

Optimism: A Workplace Necessity #TChat Recap

Bring Your Smile

Pharrell is always on the brink of what’s in and he knew that 2014 was the time to be “Happy.” Last night’s #TChat featured everyone’s (and Pharrell’s) favorite contagion: optimism.

The majority seemed to be on the same page with this one. Who knew that people like positivity? Our guest Shawn Murphy and his bright side of life attitude brought us right to the heart of the issue: “Optimism is about believing that good things are possible in the work we do.”

Bright Smiling Selfies

“Collaborating and allowing everyone to win.” @CASUDI makes a great point. All parts of an office must feel like they have brought something great to the table. Having an optimistic workplace starts with the attitude an individual brings to the office, but creating a positive work environment takes a whole team.

What can we do to bring the good vibes on? Breanne Harris of said, “Finding solutions and innovating. Stop pointing out the problems and offer solutions. Optimism is everyone’s jobs.”

And this seemed to be a recurring suggestion. While the first (and sometimes hardest step) is learning to admit to problems, what a workforce really needs is possible solutions to the issues being faced.

Transparency and Communication

And as always, creating an honest environment leaves more room for managers and employees to share all challenges being faced. Alli Polin agrees: “When people see all the cards on the table, optimism isn’t blind. Share and communicate with each other.”

Start with Your Attitude

Sure, it’s easy to say you want a more positive workplace, but when it comes down to it, if you aren’t working to make a difference, then it’s all just a pretty dream. Christopher Lind may be talking about employees, but the truth is that everyone could stand to hear this bit of advice: “Ask questions and engage leadership. Sometimes you have to make your own way and not wait on others.”

Check out Megan’s article How To Make Work Matter to learn the ways to get started in your office. Speaking of making your own way, take a peek at all that was discussed last night on last night’s #TChat with our Storify presentation!

#TChat Insights: Creating a Culture of Optimism

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Shawn Murphy for joining us! Learn more about Shawn Murphy at Switch&

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!!

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll be getting down to what you really need to know about social media. Nancy Rubin is going to be our guest moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 19!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Notice a difference in this week’s recap? That’s because we’re on the verge of launching our newsletter. Stay tuned for sign up details and you can receive #TChat questions before anyone else, get insight from Meghan on the week ahead and more!


photo credit: peyri via photopin cc

Disrupt HR…NOW! #TChat Recap

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

Muppets. Cake. And Disruption.

What do those three things have in common? They were all featured on last night’s #TChat.

We knew the topic would be controversial just as much as we knew the host would be her gracious self. But despite her Southern cool, Jennifer McClure is here to change the game and she wants to take #TChatters along for the ride.

Jeremy Ames seemed to crystallize the evening when he said: “In some ways, HR is becoming more organization-specific, which means that the most important skills vary company to company.”

The very definition of what we do is changing. So we might as well bring on the chaos of disruption!

Learning to be OK with Chaos

“Complacency is definitely the work place killer.” We can’t even count how many times this gem was retweeted. (I mean, we can. We have stats, but still, it was quite the belle of the ball statement.) First uttered by 15Five, it’s so true. Complacency kills pretty much all relationships, why not the ones we experience at work?

How can we avoid complacency? You’ve got it. Change. And change is the very thing HR is usually brought in to manage. Change = Chaos in the minds of many of our most prevalent practitioners. The trick then, is making change a good thing.

While it’s nice to talk about potentially changing our workplaces, it must be more urgent than that, as the workforce is not-so-slowly changing around us. Emilie Meck said: “You can’t use yesterday’s ideas today and expect to be in business tomorrow.” And it’s not just a slide in a presentation, people, change is afoot! But speaking of presentations….


The first step towards true disruption is authenticity. And not the tired old authenticity that is really just more energetic corp-speak, but true authentic experiences within the enterprise, being shared by employee ambassadors because they are AWESOME and not because management said you have to tweet 5 times a week.

@VirginPulse Being authentic is really important – it’s how you start to build cultures.

As you pursue authenticity are you paying attention to those around you? Disruption is inherently IDEA driven and no man is an island when it comes to those. Pay attention to what your colleagues are proposing or maybe, what they are too shy to put forward.

@IgloooSensei Ideas are disruptive by nature. Consideration might be the most undervalued interpersonal resource #tchat

In fact most of the solutions presented to our questions (check out the preview here) were more systemic and low-tech. Look at the reasons HR should embrace disruption (we could get left behind) and the ideas to do so within an organization (giving employees an involvement in the success of the business).

#TChat Insights: Disrupting HR

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Jennifer McClure for being an amazing moderator! Learn more about Jennifer and Unbridled Talent here.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about trends on the workplace talent frontier? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we may feature it!! Check out this recap from Amanda Sterling.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week at #TChat Events, we’ll figure out how to create optimism at work and why it matters. Switch and Shift’s Shawn Murphy is going to be our guest moderator. See more information in the #TChat Preview this weekend, and save the date: Wednesday, March 12!

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on #TChat Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our NEW Google+ community. So join us anytime on your favorite social channels.

Notice a difference in this week’s recap? That’s because we’re on the verge of launching our newsletter. Stay tuned for sign up details and you can receive #TChat questions before anyone else, get insight from Meghan on the week ahead and more!


Hiring? Promoting? How to Pick an A Player

(Editor’s Note: Last week at #TChat Events, the TalentCulture community explored best practices in candidate screening with Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care. Afterward, some of our participants expressed interest in learning more about how the Topgrading method works. In response, Chris shared this post.)

Do you have difficulty determining if a job candidate (or existing employee) is an A, B, or C Player? If so, you’re not alone — only companies with highly sophisticated HR methods have perfected that process. However, this article helps by providing an explanation of how Topgrading experts evaluate current and prospective employees. These distinctions offer a measurable way to assess talent and build a winning team.

In many companies, “A Player” refers to someone highly promotable. Topgrading definitions of A, B, and C are different. “A, B, and C” grades refer to current ability, not promotability. However, Topgrading takes a deeper look within the A Player category to assess promotability. Here’s how:

A Player: The top 10% of talent available for a position. In other words, an A Player is among the best in class. “Available” means willing to accept a job offer:

At the given compensation level
With bonus and/or stock that corresponding to the position
In that specific company, with a particular organization culture (e.g. Family friendly? Highly political? Fast paced? Topgraded and growing?)
In that particular industry
In that location
With specific accountability levels and resources, and
Reports to a specific person (e.g. Positive A Player or negative C Player?)

In other words, if you’re a terrific leader, many more candidates will be “available” to you than a lousy leader.

A Player Potential: Someone who is predicted to achieve A Player status, usually within 6-12 months.

B Player: The next 25% of available talent below the A Player top 10%, given the same A Player criteria listed above. These employees are “okay” or “adequate,” but they’re marginal performers who lack the potential to be high performers and are not as good as others available for the same pay. B Players are unable, despite training and coaching, to rise to A Player status. If they can qualify for a job as an A Player, they should be considered for it.

C Player: The next 35%, below the A Player 10% and B Player 25%, of talent available for a job. C Players are chronic underperformers.

The only acceptable categories are A Player and A Potential. We further categorize A Players by promotability:

A1: Someone who is promotable two levels
A2: Someone who is promotable one level
A3: Someone who is a high performer, but not promotable

Example: The not-promotable store stocker, sales rep, or first-level supervisor who is an A3, is a high performer, an A Player — but just not promotable. These employees are high performers because they achieve their A-Player accountabilities, plus they’re terrific with customers, they’re totally reliable, they achieve excellent results, they’re highly motivated, super honest, and very resourceful at finding ways to be more effective in driving the company mission.

It’s important to value all of your A Players, including the many who are the heart and soul of your company — including the A3s who are terrific, but are just not promotable.

How Do A, B and C Players Differ On Key Competencies?
The following chart is a bit simplistic, because not all A Players are this great on all competencies, and not all C Players are this bad on all competencies. Also note: for management jobs, Topgraders look at 50 competencies — this chart features only 8. However, it provides some insight into the methodology:

Topgrading_Competencies Example

The Best Way to Identify As, Bs and Cs:
If you know the story of Topgrading, you know that this methodology has long been considered one the “secret weapons” Jack Welch used to improve General Electric’s success at picking A Players. In fact, the company’s success rate improved from 25% to well over 90%, using Topgrading to assess candidates for both hire and for promotion.

The methods are similar. Two trained interviewers conduct a tandem Topgrading Interview — and if there are internal candidates for promotion, rather than talking with outside references, the interviewers talk with bosses, peers and subordinates in the company.

It’s important to look for patterns of success. Bottom line, the “magic” of Topgrading comes from understanding how successful a person was in job 1, job 2, job 3, and so on, with the greatest weight given to the most recent jobs.

Summary: Extensive research shows that 75% of people hired or promoted turn out NOT to be A Players or A Potentials. Yet, Topgrading methods regularly achieve 80%+ success. For more real-world understanding of how this approach is applied, see case studies that demonstrate how companies improved from 26% to 85% on average, in hiring and promoting A Players.

Have you used Topgrading or other methods of assessing employee potential? What did you discover in your experience? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments area.

Mursau Bio Photo(About the AuthorChris Mursau is Vice President of Topgrading, Inc. He has been practicing, teaching and consulting with companies and individual managers on how to pack their teams with A Players since 2001. He has conducted over 2,500 in-depth assessments for internal and external candidates, helped hundreds of people achiever their A potential, and trained thousands of people in all things Topgrading.)

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng