Posts

Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work

The Business Value Of Positive Psychology

Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” and “human capital” — two fundamentals of modern business. But what about the notion of “psychological capital,” and its role in driving individual and organizational performance?

Researchers have been studying the application of Positive Psychology in the workplace, and a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset affects our attitudes toward work, as well as the subsequent outcomes. As Dr. Fred Luthans explains in the video at the end of this post, our “psychological capital” can, indeed, have a significant impact upon work and career.

Previously, I’ve discussed how the tenets of positive psychology hold great potential as a guide to help individuals and organizations elevate workplace happiness. Overall, the movement focuses on identifying and building on what is “right” with our work lives — emphasizing our strengths, celebrating smaller successes, expressing gratitude. Central to this theory is the mechanism that helps us build our “psychological resources,” and use this collected energy to digest and cope with our work lives.

Finding Your Workplace “HERO”

To provide a practical framework for this concept, researchers have developed what they aptly call the Psychological Capital (PsyCap) construct. It features various psychological resources (a.k.a. “HERO” resources) that are central to our work life experiences. We combine these resources in various ways to meet the challenges of our daily work lives.

What are HERO resources?

Hope: Belief in the ability to persevere toward goals and find methods to reach them
Efficacy: Confidence that one can put forth the effort to affect outcomes
Resilience: Ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or failure
Optimism: A generally positive view of work and the potential of success

Finding Your Workplace HERO

Notably, studies have established (Avey, Luthans, et al., 2011) a clear positive relationship between PsyCap and multiple desired workplace outcomes, including job satisfaction, organizational commitment and psychological well-being. Moreover, the construct correlates negatively with undesirable organizational behaviors, including cynicism, anxiety, stress, and the intention to resign.

If you’re an employer, you’re probably wondering if you can improve the strength of an employee’s HERO resources over time. On a promising note, PsyCap appears to be a “state like” quality that is open to change. This contrasts with traits that tend to be largely stable over time, such as the “Big 5” personality traits — extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

Assuming that psychological capital can be developed and strengthened over time, there are broad implications for key workplace behavior conventions, such as the nature of performance feedback, modes of learning and development, role design and leadership style.

Do you feel that focusing on PsyCap could enhance your work life or organizational culture? How would you apply this concept in your world of work?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTCU80iiaeM

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

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

Image Credit: CGArtiste (Superman is © DC Comics)

Engagement As Energy: #TChat Lessons From #HRTechConf

“Employee engagement?”

She furrowed her brow and challenged our use of the term. And that’s when things got interesting.

Or maybe that’s when things got accurate. Historically accurate. Holistically accurate. Painfully accurate.

Meghan and Kevin LasVegas HRTechConf 2013 (2)“Why are we using that word? When employees meet each other in the hallway, do they ask each other ‘Are you engaged today?'”

All of us on the panel shook our heads and smiled. She continued, “No, they don’t. What we’re really talking about is improving individual and organizational energy, drive and focus.”

We all nodded.

The “she” in this story is Marcia Conner, collaborative learning thought leader, author and Principal of the SensifyGroup. She was one of five panelists at a very special “live”  #TChat roundtable in a jam-packed Peoplefluent booth at this year’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. (And by the way, thank you, Peoplefluent for hosting the event!) Others on this stellar panel included:

Employee Engagement: Why Should We Care?

TalentCulture at HRTechConfMy TalentCulture co-founder Meghan M. Biro and I gathered this panel of smart HR executives and industry influencers to look closer at employee engagement employee energy, drive and focus, which has become the holy grail of HR and business leaders, through every aspect of the talent lifecycle — from recruiting and onboarding, to continuous development and performance management.

Again we ask the question: Why? And why so much fuss over something so seemingly out of HR’s control? We’ve seen the dismal research results for years. We keep sharing industry jargon surrounding this issue. And yet most initiatives designed to improve the status quo haven’t moved the needle much, if at all.

Engagement — energy — whatever you choose to call it — is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. Nor is it likely to be resolved without continued awareness and dedicated effort. But there’s a lot at stake for those who crack the code, and that’s why the smartest employers remain focused on finding solutions.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that employee engagement is a top priority for all three of the practitioners on our panel. They recognize that emotionally connected individuals simply perform better, day to day. In turn, this increases productivity, improves performance, reduces attrition and boosts overall business results.

Employee Engagement: What Matters Most?

But clearly the best answers won’t come from a one-size-fits-all approach. We know that more emotionally committed employees invest more discretionary effort at work — and some individuals are more committed than others. It’s always been that way. A myriad of variables determine commitment. But if employers pay attention to the most important factors, perhaps commitment (and by association, energy, drive and focus) will improve. That’s the goal.

Meghanandfriend (2)All three of the practitioners on the panel shared examples of how they’re addressing key factors to influence engagement levels across their organizations. The initiatives range from community building, to culture immersion (at Buffalo Wild Wings, one restaurant at a time), to coaching and mentoring, to performance-specific rewards and recognition, to highly configurable collaborative communication platforms.

None of these ideas were lost on the TalentCulture community, as the #TChat Twitter stream lit up with questions and comments throughout the live discussion. It was truly an engaging meeting of the minds.

And that’s when Meghan and I suggested we focus all of that energy and drive into one grand, collective #TChat hug. A figurative hug of course — but a group hug nonetheless. C’mon, bring it in…

 

 

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

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

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

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

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

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

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

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

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

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

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

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

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

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

MON 9/30:

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

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

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

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

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

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

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

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

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

Celebrating The Fully Human Side Of Business

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

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

John challenged us with a compelling premise:

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

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

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

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

Starting Small: Accentuate The Positive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUN 9/29:

JohnSumser

Watch the preview hangout with John Sumser

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

MON 9/30:

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

WED 10/2:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio Show

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

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

#TChat Highlights: Engaging The Dark Side Of Workplace Effectiveness

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust

If you could define business success, what would it look like to you? Would you focus on market share? Growth rate? Revenue? Profitability? Or something else?

At young companies, conversations tend to revolve around how to raise seed funding, where to invest capital, and how to compensate key contributors. Often, it seems that our perception of business success (or failure) largely revolves around money.

While it is true that a well-run company requires appropriate funding and sound financial management, I would argue that there is something even more vital to the sustained growth of any venture. It’s not something you can buy or sell — nor does it come prepackaged on a shelf.

I’m talking about trust.

Broken Trust: Good Examples Of Bad Behavior

From the Enron debacle to the Madoff scandal, stories of insider trading and fraud have captured headlines far too frequently. Our nation is losing faith in corporate leaders, and there’s a growing demand for corporate accountability and transparency.

The only way to turn this around is for those at the top to take responsibility and lead by example. We must create open, transparent cultures that promote accountability, integrity and honesty.

The truth of the matter is that employees need to know what’s going on in order to feel connected with their work and perform at their highest level. Staff concerns about the stability and the health of the company are a distraction that can erode trust, inhibit productivity and have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Creating an environment of trust goes far beyond releasing quarterly reports. It requires a daily commitment to transparency that’s infused into all aspects of business operations, and reaches all levels of the organizational chart. Most importantly, it requires team coaching and open communication across all functions, with management that listens and responds to constructive criticism.

Trust Is The Cornerstone Of Culture

Leadership legend, Stephen M. R. Covey said:

“High trust is a dividend; when it goes up you’ll find that everything happens faster and cost goes down. It’s that predictable.”

Although trust can take a long time to build, once we have achieved a state of trust, we often take it for granted. But the fact of the matter is that trust is at the core of the daily work activities that collectively make up company culture. As Deborah Mills-Scofield explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission that makes ‘work’ bigger than oneself.”

When it comes to trust, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. For example, many startups have created cultures based around staff perks like a ‘no vacation policy’ vacation policy, providing employees with top-of-the line equipment, offering flexible hours, and letting staff work from home. While benefits like these may attract and retain top talent, there’s also a higher mission. Companies that offer these unique self-directed work options are sending employees a message that says, ‘I trust you, and I trust your judgment in using these privileges.”

Earlier this year, HubSpot released its long-awaited Culture Code – a presentation that summarizes the organization’s nine core beliefs. The document is remarkable because it emphasizes that trust is at the center of Hubspot’s organization. Rather than creating binders full of company policies, HubSpot has created a simple three-word policy for nearly everything: use. good. judgment. From social media activity, to travel expenses, to sick days, HubSpot understands that a healthy company starts with trust.

The Trust/Time Ratio

Of course, trust is a two-way street. Not only is it essential for employees to trust management, but leaders must trust their teams, and feel confident in their ability to move the company forward.

As Stephen M.R. Covey explains in his book, The Speed of Trust, trust is the great liberator of time and resources. It’s also an essential condition for growth. He notes that “when trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down,” and that “when trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.” Therefore, he concludes that the speed at which you can grow a business is directly proportionate to the time that you invest in creating trusting relationships.

Leading By Letting Go

One of the most important lessons I learned as a CEO was the importance of trusting your team. As the leader of any organization, large or small, your primary job is to communicate the vision; give your people the information, tools and resources to move toward it; and then get out of the way. This frees your staff to be as productive as possible, while allowing you to focus on your responsibility to drive the company forward, strategically.

The truth is plain and simple: if you’re a leader who wants to grow a company, you must have faith in your staff to get the job done – without you hovering around their desks. It is impossible to innovate while being bogged down in the daily minutia of your company. Trust allows you to remove yourself from the details and create necessary space to focus on long-term growth.

Trust is a natural human instinct, yet we tend to over-complicate it when we try to apply it to the business world. The best way to create a culture of trust is to begin by being open and honest with ourselves and those around us. By committing to being transparent in all our interactions, we will gradually create a culture of trust around us. And as trust grows, we should expect to see business results follow.

How do create and sustain trust within your organization? What results do you see?

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

Showing Workplace Competition Who’s Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Showing Workplace Competition Who's Boss

“How will I stand out in the crowd?”
“Do I really have what it takes to succeed?”

These classic workplace questions cross everyone’s mind from time to time. No matter where our profession leads us — sales, engineering, consulting, service — we must continually navigate through a sea of highly qualified talent. As our careers progress, so too, does the level of talent that we encounter. (We all experience secret moments of panic.)

Knowing this, I’d like to pause for a moment and pose a different question: “Is the way we traditionally view workplace competition getting in the way of our career progress?” For many individuals, this could be the case. So, let’s take a look at common barriers and consider how to deal with them.

Put Professional Competition In Its Place

Competition can be healthy. It does have the potential to drive us forward to excel. But if the very thought of competing derails us, we have a serious problem. Ultimately, we must face facts. We are likely to cross paths with individuals that seem more capable or successful than ourselves. (We may actually covet their role or career.) However, the very notion of competition doesn’t have to evoke debilitating stress and self-doubt. We need to remember that successful career journeys are built by capitalizing on our strengthswhile maximizing the opportunities that we encounter.

To master workplace competition, we ultimately must deal with our own feelings (and issues) with the concept of competition, itself. Here are some suggestions:

7 Ways To Deal With Workplace Competition

1) Accept its presence. Competition is ubiquitous. No matter where your career leads you, there will be ample competition to keep you on your toes — and it is ever present. Try to become comfortable and make peace with it.

2) Recognize it’s not a “zero sum” game. Opt for an “abundance mentality.” Don’t take the stance that if someone else succeeds, you are doomed to fail. Another individual’s promotion or good fortune doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.

3) Identify your “comparison other.” How you gauge your career has much to do with those against whom you measure yourself. Who are your role models? Choose individuals that motivate you and possess skills that you wish to emulate. (This is one of my favorite techniques.) Learn from your competition. Ask yourself: What are they doing right?

4) Be the “best of you.” We’re not required to be all things to all people (and shouldn’t feel pressured to do so). Instead, find a way to acknowledge your strengths and create your own brand. Find a niche that makes you indispensable — create value and build on this strength. Take control of your own career and find paths to showcase your own talent. You’ll find that you focus less on the paths of others when your work aligns with the best of what you have to offer.

5) Build alliances and collaborate. Network without staying too close to the cuff (Use the 70-20-10 rule here.) Spread your wings to develop depth within your workplace relationships — be the “linking pin” between other departments or functions and solve problems.

6) Get a mentor or a sponsor. Many successful people speak of a mentor that has either inspired or guided them. However, you also need a sponsor. This is an individual that will help you gain exposure and facilitate “stretch assignments” that test your abilities.

7) Be aware. There is no greater confidence builder than becoming your own advocate. Of course, there is a dark side to workplace competition. Watch for individuals who “fight dirty” and have an unhealthy relationship with competition. (Remember, there is no shame in protecting your own interests.) Document your accomplishments, if you feel it is necessary — and take credit when it is owed to you. If an environment causes you troubling levels of stress, seek a change.

How do you handle the pressure of workplace competition? What has worked most effectively for you and why? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.

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

(Also Note: This article originally appeared as a LinkedIn Influencer post. It is republished with permission.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

101 Ways To Save The Day With A Paperclip #TChat Recap

“Better is possible. It does not take genius … It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”-Atul Gawande

When I bumped into this quote, it stopped me in my tracks. It seems like the ideal way to summarize key insights from Wednesday’s #TChat events. However, the source isn’t a #TChat participant. This isn’t even a tweet. And it wasn’t written in the recent past.

Actually, it’s a quote from the 2007 book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. The author is a practicing physician, whose riveting narrative focuses on finding creative ways to be more effective as a professional within a complex, bureaucratic environment. (Does that sound familiar to some of you? At least you know you’re not alone!)

Of course, in Atul Gawande’s profession, a creative approach can mean the difference between life and death. With such serious consequences hanging in the balance, fear of failure is always a factor. But unless medical practitioners are willing to take clever, calculated risks, the standard of care will never advance. As Dr. Gawande explains in an interview, “In The Belly Of The Medical Machine”

“…I work in a bureaucracy with 10,000 employees. Functioning in such a world is not all that pleasant. But there are things that you can do only if you are in such an organization. So you just need to find the patterns of what has worked. Like Warren Warwick, of Fairview University Children’s Hospital in Minnesota – he’s a great example. He lives in the machine. Through sheer force of will and creativity, he makes it work – and the patients in his clinic live longer than in any other cystic fibrosis clinic in the country. It’s stunning. It’s inspiring.”

Pioneering doctors like Warren Warwick and Atul Gawande aren’t exactly saving the day with a paperclip, MacGyver-style. But in my view, they’re the closest thing we’ll see in real life.

They’re also shining examples of the ingenious spirit that we explored this week with #TChat expert guest, Marcia Conner. Marcia is Principal of SensifyGroup, a management consultancy that specializes in elevating workplace culture, learning and collaboration. A highly regarded social business thought leader and author, Marcia is developing a book focused on the the power of ingenuity in transforming our lives at work and beyond.

Marcia challenged us all to take a fresh look at the world around us to create better ways to work. And our community responded by storming Twitter with a rush of ideas and insights to kick-start that process. In case you missed any of the action, we invite you to review #TChat highlights in the slideshow, along with other related resources listed below.

If this week’s events inspire you to put ingenuity into action, let us know where that effort leads. Who knows? You may be surprised to find that a small, smart shift in your approach can make a huge difference. The evidence shows that we don’t need to be super-human to be ingenious. We just have to be willing to try.

#TChat Week in Review: The Transforming Power of Ingenuity

SUN 8/5

MarciaConner

Watch the G+ Hangout now

#TChat Preview: Our Community Manager, Tim McDonald, outlined the week’s topic in a post that feartures a brief G+ Hangout with Marcia. See the preview: “Transforming Culture: The Force Within.”

MON 8/5

Forbes.com Post: In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered advice about why listening is more important now than ever, and how leaders can improve their listening capabilities. Read “5 Leadership Lessons: Listen, Learn, Lead.”

WED 8/7

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the radio show now

#TChat Radio Prior to the week’s Twitter chat event, Marcia joined our hosts, TalentCulture founders and radio hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, to talk about what it means to be ingenious in our personal and professional lives. Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, the entire TalentCulture community came together for an open conversation on the #TChat stream. In case you missed the action, check out the highlights in our Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights: Transforming Culture: The Force Within

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-transforming-culture-the-force-wit.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Marcia Conner for sharing her expertise and enthusiasm about how we can tap into ingenuity in our personal and professional lives. You inspire our community to keep pushing the collaborative envelope.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, technology analyst, Jim Lundy, joins us to look at innovations that are redefining the world of work! Stay tuned to TalentCulture social channels for details.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or on other social channels. And feel free to explore our redesigned website. The gears are always turning here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: ABC / HenryWinkler-JohnRich Productions

 

The Steep Cost of Poor Management

Written by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

How do you feel about your job? Do you love it, hate it, or feel like you’re drifting in neutral? If you’re “checked out,” you’re not alone. According to the latest Gallup workplace research, 50% of today’s employees are disengaged. Another 20% are actively disengaged (in other words, openly miserable). That means 70% of today’s workforce is operating under a cloud! The business implications are staggering.

Key Issue: Bad Management

What are the core factors driving workforce disengagement? Gallup says that managers from hell are the primary reason. Poor managers are not only an obstacle to employee engagement — they actually drive employee disengagement. The net effect on business is huge — an estimated cost to U.S. organizations of $450-$550 billion a year. Yes, you read that right. The bottom-line message is clear. Managerial incompetence is not just annoying. It is potentially catastrophic.

What’s The Problem?

The stage is set for disengagement when employees don’t understand their organization’s mission, or see how their efforts contribute to that mission. Poor managers typically don’t emphasize big-picture context, or help employees understand the meaning of their work. They tend not to offer positive feedback when it’s deserved. And they fail to provide constructive criticism or coaching to help employees improve and develop professionally.

Weak managers don’t see value in helping their employees succeed. Why? Often they lack the insight, tools and competence to motivate others, and align their activities with business objectives.

The Upside of Manager Influence

However, there’s another side to this managerial coin. As Gallup’s research reveals, great managers have a highly beneficial impact on business results. Specifically, when leaders focus on building employee engagement and leveraging team strengths, their organizations outperform others across key indicators — earnings per share, profitability, productivity and customer satisfaction.

Every Organization Is Unique

Of course, the right employee engagement strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. As Gallup notes, employees come in a spectrum of generational and other shapes and sizes. Jobs are equally diverse. From blue collar factory workers to call center representatives, every situation demand an engagement approach that fits.

Research reflects a variety of issues. For instance, women tend to be slightly more engaged than men. And on average, Millennials are more likely to leave a job within 12 months than their counterparts from other generations. Also, interestingly, employees with a college degree aren’t as likely to report a positive, engaging workplace experience as those with less education. This suggests that more managerial involvement may be appropriate to keep highly-educated employees engaged.

Another point worth noting — engagement is even more important than workplace perks in boosting employee performance. In other words, benefits are no substitute for a personal connection with work. Engagement initiatives must take these realities into account.

Turning Disengagement Around

So, what can your company do to improve employee engagement? The Gallup findings are undeniable. Success starts with business managers. It’s important to select the right managerial talent, right from the start. And once managers are on board, coach them, support them, and hold them accountable. Help them understand why employee engagement is essential to business success. Work with them to connect with employees on an individual level. After all, your workers are human beings, not robots. Both effective managers and effective engagement strategies recognize and respect this fact.

For more ideas about the role of today’s manager in driving employee engagement and business success, read the Achievers 2013 Guide to Recognition.

What do you think about the findings summarized above? Do you believe managers from hell are destroying employee engagement? Leave a comment below and join the discussion.

Tatiana Beale (427x640)(Author Profile: Tatiana Beale is a Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Achievers. She is passionate about changing workplaces for the better and inspiring Employee Success™ through insightful content. Tatiana believes that employee happiness is the key to a wildly successful company, and means it when she says “I love my job.”)

Republished with permission from Achievers Employee Success Blog.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Employee Communication: 4 Ways to Engage

A Too-Familiar Story

Let’s say you’re trying to buy a jacket online. There’s a problem with your purchase, so you call customer service, and they put you on hold. (Waiting…) Finally you reach a robot voice informing you that the call center is closed. You really want the jacket, so you persist.

Hours (or perhaps even days) later, you connect with a live representative who is unable to offer the assistance you need to resolve the problem. What seemed like an easy problem to fix has become a headache, a time-suck, and a shadow over your relationship with the company. Not only is this jacket transaction in jeopardy, but the next time you’re in the market for clothes, you’re likely to shop somewhere else.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

So, what really happened in this scenario? The company failed in a critical way — it did not provide clear pathways of communication and support to resolve your issue, at the moment of need. The brand has lost credibility with a “ready-t0-buy” customer, the company has damaged its relationship with you, and the outcome will translate into lost revenue now and perhaps in the future.

How does this customer experience story translate to the human resources side of business? The audience may be different, but the takeaway is identical: For both customer and employee engagement, communication is vital — especially when issues arise. Just like customers, employees want the ability to ask question, discuss problems, offer constructive feedback and propose suggestions. They want to feel that their concerns and ideas are heard and addressed.

These are the fundamentals of employee engagement. It is HR’s job to support engagement in the workplace, from end-to-end, and clear lines of communication are the most effective way to accomplish that.

4 Workplace Communication Strategies

When I think about my own experiences, both as a customer and as an employee, it’s easy to remember the times when I felt I was heard — or not. Based on those experiences, here are my top four communication strategies for boosting engagement:

1) Be Available:  To improve the way an organization works, employees need a champion — someone on the inside to share suggestions with. It doesn’t matter whether this ambassador is a manager, an HR representative, a colleague, or event a group of peers. What matters is that there is clearly a door through which individuals can bring questions, concerns and opinions.

2) Listen To My Needs:  Don’t be too quick to dismiss new ideas. Every employee has a unique perspective, and although every suggestion won’t be feasible, each one should be valued. Suggestions reflect your employees’ individual experiences, and therefore, represent part of your company’s culture. Validate ideas by acknowledging contributions, as well as the spirit behind them.

3) Be On My Side:  Every team needs a leader whom they can trust to represent their best interests. And every employee needs a champion who will be their advocate, even in their absence. When you demonstrate support for others, you reinforce their value within the organization. No one likes to feel unimportant — from there it’s a short step to disengagement.

4) Find A Solution:  Not all feedback can be put into action — sometimes for very good reasons. However, leaders and employees can work together to examine the root causes of a key issue, or to integrate appropriate elements of a suggestion, or to brainstorm and investigate other solutions. This follow-through shows employees that their voices matter.

Have you tried these or other communication techniques to improve employee engagement? What worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments area below.

Image Credit:Stock.xchng

Future Of Work: An Army Of Open Leaders

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled that business collaboration and learning expert, Dan Pontefract, will be a featured guest soon at #TChat events. To set the stage, Dan shares insights below, adapted from his new book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization.)

Flat Army? What the heck is a Flat Army?

Work environments need not feel like a military camp or a ruthless command-and-control operation. The process of work should be fun, innovative, creative and very engaging. I believe that the best way to create a connected and engaged organization is by invoking a “Flat Army” mindset. Why? Let’s unpack that analogy:

To be flat is to be on a level surface, not in a hierarchy. To be in an army (from armata, the Latin term referenced in 1533, meaning a flotilla of vessels) is to be part of a large group of people who are committed to similar aims or beliefs.

An organization with a Flat Army ethos benefits from an unobstructed flow of coordinated, constructive, creative behaviors that arise from the common interests of employees, leaders, partners and customers. It is a shift from “me” to “we,” using collaborative, participative and growth behaviors. Flat Army is a playbook that moves organizations toward increased engagement and innovation.

Profile Of A Flat Army Leader

flatarmy_frontcoverIn our Flat Army model, a harmonious, connected leader creates a situation where both the team and the leader are as open as possible to performing business tasks and achieving objectives. In an environment where even mundane day-to-day tasks are conducted in this open manner, there is harmony among all contributors, regardless of rank.

Openness — both as a quality of the leader and an expectation of the team — fosters a harmonious relationship among all parties. It’s arguably a step in the right direction towards higher levels of engagement, productivity and business results. A harmonious, open leader connects with the team — parlaying the culture as if it can only be successful when all parties are united, equal in nature and committed to openness. And if we agree that leadership is for all, we also wish that everyone in an organization will participate as a harmonious, open leader.

Getting Under The Hood With Open Leaders

I define open leadership as the act of engaging others to influence and execute a coordinated and harmonious conclusion. Therefore, open leadership is essential for every Flat Army organization.

A.G. Lafley comes to mind when I think of stellar Flat Army leadership. His name may not ring a bell, but I can assure you, he sets a standard of excellence for openness and collaboration. Between 2000 and 2010, Mr. Lafley was the highly successful president and CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) — the consumer products conglomerate with over $80 billion in revenue and over 125,000 employees worldwide.

Throughout his decade at the helm, he helped double total sales and quadruple profits, while increasing P&G’s market value by over $100 billion. Furthermore, he helped grow P&G’s portfolio of billion-dollar brands (such as Gillette, Pampers and Tide) from 10 to 24. How did he do it?

In his book The Game Changer: How Every Leader Can Drive Everyday Innovation, co-written with management thought leader, Ram Charan, Lafley refers to the unique relationship between openness and ideas:

Open architecture is the organizing principle that enables a business and its people to open themselves up to get ideas from anywhere at any time. P&G collaborates with anybody, anywhere, anytime. P&G likes unusual suspects. It will even compete with a company on one side of the street, and cooperate with it on the other. In an open innovation system, anything out there is fair game, even if competitors are sitting on it. And that’s fine with both partners because it works.

At P&G, Lafley opened up everything. He wanted his leaders to be more collaborative, and just as importantly, he wanted his employees to be open. As a results, magic happened. He branded this open architecture “Connect and Develop” or “C&D.” The framework reached across all employees, regardless of title, and it drove not only revenue and profitability, but also employee engagement.

Lafley and Charan explain:

The single characteristic of C&D is the willingness of all people at P&G to be psychologically open and to seriously consider new ideas, whatever the source, thus building a truly open global innovation network that can link up — and be first in line — with the most interesting thinkers and the best products to “reapply with pride.”

Lafley’s leadership example demonstrates what’s possible when a harmonious environment is created through a culture of open initiative. That is Flat Army in action. And perhaps that’s a key reason why P&G just rehired Lafley last month to lead the company forward.

The Open Leader Toolkit

Hopefully now the concept of open leadership is clear. But what are these social business and collaboration tools everyone keeps talking about? An open, Flat Army environment can’t thrive if leaders suffer from technology blindness or ignorance. In truth, tools for communication and collaboration are as integral to a Flat Army mindset as they are to employee engagement and productivity.

If your organization doesn’t embrace tools that support dynamic exchange of knowledge and ideas, then be a catalyst for change. Look for ways to integrate capabilities such as blogging, micro-blogging, expert networks, discussion forums, video sharing or instant messaging into existing platforms and workflows. Start using them to demonstrate that you are a connected, collaborative and participative leader who assists your team (and your organization) in achieving their goals and objectives — even as you strive for a high level of employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

What are you doing to help your organization embrace a Flat Army ethos? I invite you to share your ideas and experiences.

Photo: Dan Pontefract, author and head of learning and collaboration, TELUS(Author Profile: Dan Pontefract is the the author of “Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization.” He is also Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS where he is responsible for the company’s overarching leadership development, learning and collaboration strategy. Visit www.danpontefract.com for more about Dan’s professional experience, and his thoughts on the future of leadership and organizations.)

 

Image Credit: Pixabay

Create A “Small Company” Culture Anywhere

What is it about small companies? Like a good restaurant or an undiscovered band, they often tend to attract a devoted following that can’t imagine going anywhere else.

Is it the quality of work? The people? The hours? The pay? What is that magical difference that makes small companies so attractive to top talent?

Does Size Matter?

The secret is culture. A strong company culture unites employees and gives them a larger purpose beyond their individual responsibilities. That’s why employees — especially Millennials — gravitate toward start-ups. They crave that “small-company” feel and want the chance to make an impact on culture.

That’s great news if your company is one of the little guys. But what if you’re at a large corporation? How can you offer employees the chance to make an impact if a reputation for process and procedure precedes you? Rules aren’t all bad, of course; structure helps turn chaos into order. But all too often when companies grow, they sacrifice cultural strengths along the way. What to do?

In today’s tough business environment, as large companies struggle to recruit, retain, and inspire top talent, you can’t afford to miss the cultural mark. Instead, why not approach culture as an ace up your sleeve?

Sustainable Advantage

A strong corporate culture can create a huge competitive edge. Driven by organizational values, business objectives, and employee engagement, it aligns your employees, creates fluid communication, and helps build resiliency that adapts to change. If you develop a unique, authentic culture, your employees can reap the benefits of a “small-company” feel, while driving “big-company” results that advance your business goals.

Want the best of both worlds? Here are 5 tips to create a unique culture:

1) Develop corporate values to align employees with business objectives and the bigger picture. Employees need to be inspired by something greater than themselves, so help them understand how their contributions affect the overall strategy.

2) Create a recognition program to reinforce behaviors that drive results. By consolidating recognition efforts with an online program, geographically dispersed employees feel more connected with your company. Recognition helps reinforce company culture — not the other way around.

3) Abolish the top-down hierarchy that’s typical at most corporations, and encourage leaders to be more approachable. When it’s clear that leaders are listening, it facilitates communication and creates an environment where employees feel free to voice their opinions. Host “lunch-and-learn” sessions or fireside chats where leaders and employees can discuss topics in an open, informal environment. Soliciting employee feedback often yields insights that help organizations operate more efficiently and effectively.

4) Let employees know their contributions matter. In “10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You,” leadership consultant Mike Myatt noted that more than 70% of employees don’t feel valued by their employers. You can turn this around in your company by introducing public recognition into your culture. Create monthly luncheons to recognize top performers. Encourage leaders to recognize employees during team meetings. These are simple steps that can make a big difference.

5) Reconsider “years of service” programs that aren’t tied to business objectives or employee engagement. Annual feedback doesn’t cut it anymore. Ideally, employees should receive recognition or feedback at least once a week, yet almost 60% of employees say that doesn’t happen. Create a positive culture of reinforced behaviors by introducing frequent feedback to complement the annual review.

Beyond The Basics

Don’t stop with only 5 steps! While these tips will put you on the right path, you won’t gain that “small-company” feel without also recognizing that culture happens organically, over time. Ultimately, your people will create your culture. Give them the freedom to express themselves. Commit to an evolving process, and see how your culture takes shape.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Create A "Small Company" Culture Anywhere

What is it about small companies? Like a good restaurant or an undiscovered band, they often tend to attract a devoted following that can’t imagine going anywhere else.

Is it the quality of work? The people? The hours? The pay? What is that magical difference that makes small companies so attractive to top talent?

Does Size Matter?

The secret is culture. A strong company culture unites employees and gives them a larger purpose beyond their individual responsibilities. That’s why employees — especially Millennials — gravitate toward start-ups. They crave that “small-company” feel and want the chance to make an impact on culture.

That’s great news if your company is one of the little guys. But what if you’re at a large corporation? How can you offer employees the chance to make an impact if a reputation for process and procedure precedes you? Rules aren’t all bad, of course; structure helps turn chaos into order. But all too often when companies grow, they sacrifice cultural strengths along the way. What to do?

In today’s tough business environment, as large companies struggle to recruit, retain, and inspire top talent, you can’t afford to miss the cultural mark. Instead, why not approach culture as an ace up your sleeve?

Sustainable Advantage

A strong corporate culture can create a huge competitive edge. Driven by organizational values, business objectives, and employee engagement, it aligns your employees, creates fluid communication, and helps build resiliency that adapts to change. If you develop a unique, authentic culture, your employees can reap the benefits of a “small-company” feel, while driving “big-company” results that advance your business goals.

Want the best of both worlds? Here are 5 tips to create a unique culture:

1) Develop corporate values to align employees with business objectives and the bigger picture. Employees need to be inspired by something greater than themselves, so help them understand how their contributions affect the overall strategy.

2) Create a recognition program to reinforce behaviors that drive results. By consolidating recognition efforts with an online program, geographically dispersed employees feel more connected with your company. Recognition helps reinforce company culture — not the other way around.

3) Abolish the top-down hierarchy that’s typical at most corporations, and encourage leaders to be more approachable. When it’s clear that leaders are listening, it facilitates communication and creates an environment where employees feel free to voice their opinions. Host “lunch-and-learn” sessions or fireside chats where leaders and employees can discuss topics in an open, informal environment. Soliciting employee feedback often yields insights that help organizations operate more efficiently and effectively.

4) Let employees know their contributions matter. In “10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You,” leadership consultant Mike Myatt noted that more than 70% of employees don’t feel valued by their employers. You can turn this around in your company by introducing public recognition into your culture. Create monthly luncheons to recognize top performers. Encourage leaders to recognize employees during team meetings. These are simple steps that can make a big difference.

5) Reconsider “years of service” programs that aren’t tied to business objectives or employee engagement. Annual feedback doesn’t cut it anymore. Ideally, employees should receive recognition or feedback at least once a week, yet almost 60% of employees say that doesn’t happen. Create a positive culture of reinforced behaviors by introducing frequent feedback to complement the annual review.

Beyond The Basics

Don’t stop with only 5 steps! While these tips will put you on the right path, you won’t gain that “small-company” feel without also recognizing that culture happens organically, over time. Ultimately, your people will create your culture. Give them the freedom to express themselves. Commit to an evolving process, and see how your culture takes shape.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Engage Your Workforce, No Coddling Required

“Doesn’t everybody love their job?”

During the heat of a #TChat event last week, our partners at TalentCulture challenged the Twitter community with that tongue-in-cheek question. And now I suggest an appropriately tongue-in-cheek response: The answer is no.

So, how do we fix it? And should we fix it?

Employee engagement moves business forward, and should be a priority for any human resources professional. But as the prevailing sentiment among #TChat participants indicated, coddling disengaged employees is not an HR function. Nonetheless, if your employees feel that they aren’t respected or their work doesn’t matter, you need to deal with larger issues than engagement scores.

It’s important to recognize employees for their contributions — in part to increase engagement, but mostly because it’s a vital factor in business success. Several years ago, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $370 billion annually. High employee disengagement leads to high employee turnover — which, in turn, means increased recruiting and training expenses.

So, if your company is looking to increase overall engagement in a sustainable way, it’s essential to help your workforce understand the meaning and importance of their contributions.

3 Sources of Positive, Tangible Engagement

1) Executive Sponsorship  If your C-suite dismisses the importance of engagement, that will ultimately be reflected in the attitude of managers and employees. Engagement needs to be a priority at the highest levels. Executives who live company values are leading by example. Prove to all levels of the workforce that workplace culture is purposeful — not accidental — and everyone becomes invested in making it the best it can be.

2) Clear Communication  Get the team on the same page by articulating company goals and clarifying how individual goals relate to the bigger picture. True engagement — the result of a satisfying job and not office perks — can only be achieved when employees see how their individual contributions fit into the organization’s mission, values and objectives.

3) Individual Relationships  A great first step in helping employees feel respected is actually demonstrating respect on a personal level. Employees who feel anonymous are at risk of becoming disengaged, and dragging down others’ productivity and engagement. In large companies, it can be challenging for leaders to build relationships across their span of control, however this is essential. Different people respond differently to different motivators. The key to motivating employees is to understand each person well enough to recognize the factors that will help them develop and perform at their best.

For more information on building a culture of engagement, download our 2013 Guide to Recognition.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback

“First we shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill

What a wise observation. I love the idea that we have a hand in creating a world that eventually influences us.

When I first heard this quote during last week’s “World of Workspaces” #TChat Radio show, I was fascinated. Workplace design expert, Chris Congdon of Steelcase, shared the concept as she talked about developing work environments that support organizational goals.

Among other things, Chris explained how physical workspace influences the way we feel and act. For example, if a company wants to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, merely filling an office with tall cubicles and fluorescent lighting just isn’t going to cut it.

Great Workplaces: Beyond Tangibles

Her primary message was this:  The best places to work are designed from the inside-out. It’s not enough to consider only the tasks that must be accomplished in a space. Nor is it enough to focus on ergonomics that make those workflows more comfortable or efficient. Before we can build business spaces that optimize performance and engagement, we must understand human motivation and behavior in workplace settings.

Actually, on a larger scale, isn’t that how leaders approach corporate culture? Our mission is to create not just physical space, but complete ecosystems that bring out the best in every contributor. And in turn, that ecosystem rewards us in ways that reflect and reinforce our brand vision and values. It’s a continuous loop.

“First we shape our culture; thereafter, our culture shapes us…”

So, just as color schemes, work surfaces and lighting must be carefully considered when developing any physical workspace, we must be equally deliberate in developing organizational culture, piece by piece.

Snapshot Assessment

That conclusion triggered a reality check for me. I quickly took a mental inventory of the physical environment and the organizational “vibe” at Achievers. Here are several highlights, and the intentions behind them:

Achievers Toronto1) Open Design:  Our workspaces are based on open floor plans and are surrounded by lots of natural light. There are very few individual offices. That’s intentional. We want our environment to encourage the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we hope is synonymous with our product.

2) Visual Cues:  Our Toronto office features a giant red wall inscribed with our company values. It’s one of the first things you see as you enter the front door of the building. Such a public display of company values may not guarantee that all employees internalize them, but it’s a constant reminder to employees, customers and business partners of what we want to represent.

3) Flexibility:  Steelcase reminds us that individuals prefer to structure their own tasks throughout their day. That’s why we offer a variety of options — group seating for collaboration, as well as various quiet and private areas. The more options we offer, the more likely our employees will feel they “fit” into the environment — regardless of their mood or work requirements. Actually, this philosophy aligns with employee recognition best practices as well (our area of expertise at Achievers). It’s human nature. Under some circumstances, a person responds best to public recognition. Other times a private, sincere expression of gratitude is more effective. Variety is the solution.

4) Reinforcement:  We believe that the most critical step any company can take in creating a workplace is to build a culture of “thank you.” Of course, employee recognition isn’t as visible as desks or chairs, but it is likely to be the most durable investment you’ll ever make. If you reinforce behaviors that move business goals forward and encourage employees to embrace core values, these intangibles will become as integral to your organization as the furniture.

Bottom line: When designing a workplace — don’t forget to decorate early and often with recognition!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Recognition Done Right: 9 Points of Light

(Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to share this excerpt from the book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Engagement and Reinforce Culture” by Stan Phelps. For more information about Stan and his “Goldfish” series of business management books, see the end of this post.)

On the 9 INCH journey to the heart of your employees, the 4th INCH involves RECOGNITION.

“You matter. These two words can change your mood, change your mind, and have the power to change lives and the world if we understand and leverage them in the right way.”  –Angela Maiers, TED Talk, June 2011

Recognition fuels a sense of worth and belonging in individuals. No rocket science here. As humans we crave acceptance. Dale Carnegie spoke of the importance of recognition nearly 80 years ago, in his landmark guidebook, “How to Win Friends and Influence People:”

“Be lavish in your praise and hearty in your approbation. A drop of honey gathers more bees than a gallon of vinegar.”

Recognition Resonates

In a recent survey, 35% of workers and 30% of chief financial officers said frequent recognition of accomplishments is the most effective non-monetary reward. Thanking people for their hard work and commitment is key to making them feel appreciated.

Shifting a Mindset

Most managers take an, “if, then” approach to recognition. Positive psychology expert, Shawn Achor believes this paradigm needs to change, “…from thinking that encouragement and recognition should be used as rewards for high performance as opposed to thinking that encouragement and recognition are drivers of high performance.”

9 Examples: Recognition Done Right

Let’s look at 9 companies who give a little extra when it comes to employee recognition:

Kudos and Shout-Outs

Every week The Nerdery agency compiles a video of shout-outs, with employees publicly praising their fellow nerds for going above-and-beyond. Five shout-out recipients are chosen for free lunches the following week. The weekly shout-out video is played for all at the Friday afternoon Bottlecap Talk, where the agency celebrates the successful launch of a recent project with a show-and-tell demo led by the rockstar developers who made it happen.

Custom Awards

Rackspace created a special award for employees who are fanatical about serving customers. It’s simply called The Jacket. It signifies fanaticism and hence is a straightjacket. Only one employee wins the jacket at a time.

Decision Lens awards top-performing salespeople with custom-made action figures designed to resemble the employee.  According to Co-Founder John Saaty:

“It’s a humorous way to acknowledge the great efforts of our sales team, and something that’s more memorable than the usual plaque or something like that.”

Executives at Zappos pick a monthly “hero” and award them with a parade, covered parking spot for a month, a $150 Zappos gift card, and a cape.

Immediate Recognition

American Express has a Prize Patrol. A group of four or five leaders get together and surprise their coworkers with flowers or a gift in front of their colleagues to celebrate their accomplishments.

Take Note: The Best Things In Life Are Free

A recent study confirmed that the cost of recognition awards has only minimal impact on employee perception of appreciation. 57% reported that the most meaningful recognition is free. Just look at some of these quotes to judge the impact:

Former CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant, is a big proponent of the power of handwritten notes. In Doug’s words,

what's your green goldfish cover“Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I would spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell’s. Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments. (I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don’t use a computer). I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It’s the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.”

Long before he became CEO of iProspect, back as an analyst at Bain Capital and KPMG, Robert J. Murray had an idea on how you should run a services business.

“One thing that always surprised me in prior work experiences is when your assets walk out the door each day, why aren’t companies doing more to value the people doing the business?”

Mr. Murray thinks he’s found the answer to that, and many of his employees agree. His formula:  hire competitive people, promote early and often, and give constant feedback — including  notes of encouragement he calls “iProps.”

Recognizing Milestones

The tenure program at Sweetgreen called Shades of Green has blown up into a competition and become a status symbol among employees. Every teammate gets a free shirt — the longer you’re with Sweetgreen, the darker your shirt. Who knew a free t-shirt could help shape company culture? After you’ve been with Sweetgreen for a year, you also get a pair of green high-top Converse sneakers. At two years, you get a t-shirt and a neon green iPod Nano Touch. After three years, you get a lime-green Sweetgreen bike.

The diamond program Brady, Chapman, Holland encourages generosity in daily work life. When a BCH employee does something exceptionally well for a client, a fellow employee or the community, an acrylic diamond is tossed in a jar. When the jar is full, they celebrate by playing a game or going to a sports bar.

Do these ideas inspire you to think creatively about recognition in your organization? How could recognition be more meaningful where you work?

stan phelps headshot with ruler(Author Profile: Stan Phelps is the Founder of 9 INCH Marketing, an organization that inspires leaders to think differently about business — challenging them to value customer experience as a competitive differentiator and the importance of employee engagement in building a strong corporate culture. Stan helps brands explore new opportunities, showing them how to be more successful in tomorrow’s changing world, and working with clients to create experiences that are memorable, meaningful and on-brand. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan and his team get results through programs that win big. Visit Amazon.com to learn more about his books “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” (employee engagement insights) and “What’s Your Purple Goldfish?” (customer engagement insights).

 

Office Space: Work in Progress #TChat Recap

Every organization needs the right balance of caves and commons. What that precise balance is depends on what the organization’s particular goals and challenges are, and more granularly, what the immediate situation of a work team is.
Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review

This week, the TalentCulture community took on “The Office” as our primary topic. No, we didn’t talk about today’s finale of the long-running TV show. Instead, we focused on real-world workspace — what our physical environment means to us, how it influences our mood and behavior, and the role it plays in our creativity and productivity as individuals, teams and organizations. (For highlights from the #TChat Twitter event, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Special Guests: Workspace Wizards

Perhaps no other company understands the concept of workspace better than Steelcase. That’s why we invited experts from that company to share their insights at this week’s #TChat events. If you think of Steelcase as a file cabinet manufacturer, think again. It’s now a global leader in design and furnishings for business, healthcare and education markets. I’m familiar with Steelcase from its work with schools. Just as office space shapes business behavior, classroom configuration has an impact on student learning.

This brief video of the Steelcase “Learning Lab” is a great way to see how Steelcase views workspace:

Key Takeaway: “Place” Matters

Yesterday’s #TChat Twitter conversation was the live-action conclusion to our deep dive into workspace issues and ideas. We seemed to agree on one key point:  These days, “workspace” is often determined by our location at any given moment. Many of us are in constant motion, and we take our work along for the ride — for better or worse. That means flexibility and choice are essential.

But all of us have a primary spot that we call “ours” — even if it’s in a bedroom corner. So, throughout the Twitter chat, many participants (including me) shared pictures of our workspace, or our vision of the ideal setting. Not surprisingly, those images are as diverse as the hundreds of #TChat participants who join us each week! One of my favorites is the Pons Huot Office, shared by Katja Matosevic. (Check out the #TChat Highlights Slideshow below for more, or look at this Forbes gallery of 10 Cool Office Spaces.)

Are you inspired yet? Read on!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/11

Sneak Peek: Organizational Pyschologist and #TChat Ambassador, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, helped us frame the week’s theme in her TalentCulture blog post, “Your Workspace: How’s It Working For You?”

SUN 5/12

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro identified “5 Habits Of Leaders Who Create Workspace Culture” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/13

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio recording now

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a detailed the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk.”

TUE 5/14

#TChat Radio: Chris Congdon, Director of Research Communications at Steelcase, offered fascinating perspectives about the human psychological and physical factors that influence workspace design. In particular, she focused on the importance of choice in satisfying diverse preferences and multiple work modes.

WED 5/15

Related Post: Sourcing specialist and #TChat Ambassador, Ashley Lauren Perez, offered another spin on workspace design — specifically its role in supporting talent acquisition and retention. Read her post, “Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for the Rest of Us.”

#TChat Twitter: The community conversation was so fast and furious that once again, we trended on Twitter! Did you get in on the action? If not (or if you want a refresh), see highlights in the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-if-these-workspace-walls-could-tal.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Chris Congdon and Steelcase for sharing your perspectives on workspace design and organizational culture. It feels like this discussion has only just begun!

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week — reward yourself! Join us for events focused on recognition and employee engagement, with special guests, Stan Phelps founder of 9 Inch Marketing, and S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

 Photo: Thanks to Tom Bolt for the Einstein inspiration

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

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

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

Branding From the Inside Out

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

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

Four Key Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

Why in the world of work would anyone sit online for an hour and share serious answers to a list of questions – along with random bits of wit and wisdom that come to mind?

No, I’m not talking about watching “Game of Thrones” and tweeting with my friends. I’m talking about our chat — #TChat — the weekly Twitter chat where TalentCulture community members come together to talk about today’s “world of work.”

Learning Together: A Surprise Inside

No subject is off limits, except maybe “Game of Thrones” (which, by the way, trended lower than #TChat on Twitter last night). No offense to that show, or to this week’s historic #MarriageEquality trend line (which also was less active than #TChat during our session last night). In fact, we’re honored to trend with both of these popular topics.

But I digress. Once again, I ask, why would anyone devote an hour each week to a Twitter chat like ours? I remember asking myself that question when we launched #TChat over two-and-a-half years ago. I never thought it would last a month. I love telling that story because, well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Collective Knowledge: Sharing Adds Value

This week, the TalentCulture community dug deep into the concept of “learning.” In particular, we’ve been exploring social learning — that amorphous, organic, continuous, “knowledge sharing” activity that was originally ignited in the Garden of Eden. (“Adam, would you like a bite of this juicy apple?”) Or if you prefer, that point in human evolution when our frontal lobes sparked cognitive thought, we began hunting for information, exchanging it with others, and making decisions on behalf of ourselves and those in our social circles.

Social learning can be as simple as a single moment: an incremental yet transformative interaction where one person shares a piece of information that another receives, absorbs, adopts and applies in a new context that propels him or her forward. This process of information exchange, reinforcement and transformation lights up pleasure centers in the brain, as ideas pass from one person to another in an “additive” way. With each hand-off, information evolves, and is modified by the next person who absorbs, adopts and applies…

Layers of Learning That Live On

And so it goes. This is the beauty of social learning. And this is why I participate in #TChat forums.

It is why I’ve found value in showing up nearly every week for over two-and-a-half years. Participants offer ideas that continue to build on one another. As I step back and look at this community’s body of work it’s similar to the formation of rock over a geological span of time.

We can dig through #TChat archives and see the layers of growth and progress. We can see how continuous interaction has created a context that helps our community evolve – absorbing the bad with the good, and establishing more useful understanding as we move forward. It’s a community where a better world of work emerges every week from the layers below — generating a new level of wonder and wisdom.

The beauty astounds.

#TChat “Social Learning” Week-in-Review

MichaelClark

Watch the sneak peek interview with Michael Clark

To dig deeply into organizational learning and talent development issues this week, we joined forces with two brilliant experts: Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, and Justin Mass, Sr. Manager of Learning Technology & Design at Adobe. The richness of their contributions added tremendous value throughout the week.

We invite you to revisit insights on this topic anytime! Just follow the links below…

SAT 3/23  “Sneak Peek” Video: ReCenter’s Michael Clark kicked-off the week by defining key terms with our community manager, Tim McDonald.

SUN 3/24  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, outlined 5 ways that professionals can leverage learning in her column at Forbes.com.

MON 3/25  #TChat Weekly Preview “Igniting Social Learning” laid out the week’s premise and questions.

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the recorded #TChat Radio show

TUE 3/26  #TChat Radio: “The Social Learning Show.” Our hosts joined forces with organizational development experts, Michael Clark, and Justin Mass, to examine social learning innovation and its role in optimizing talent in today’s workplace. It’s a fascinating 30-minute session for anyone interested in improving professional and organizational performance through learning.

WED 3/27  #TChat TwitterJustin and Michael gathered around the Twitter stream with hundreds of other participants to expand and amplify key issues in workforce learning and development. See highlights from the conversation in the slideshow below…

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: Igniting Social Learning

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: We extend our gratitude to Michael Clark, and Justin Mass for leading our community through the social learning discovery path this week. Your expertise in learning tools and techniques is inspiring and invaluable.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we move to yet another level of talent discovery, as we explore the notion of “Humans as a Service (HaaS), with Jason Averbook, Chief Business Innovation Officer at Appirio, and Richie Etwaru, Group Vice President of Cloud and Digital Innovation at Cegedim Relationship Management.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Stock.xchnge

 

Developing Talent in a Social Business World

(Editorial Note: This is post 1 of 2)

Now more than ever, talent development is a life-long process, transcending education, career, technology and social media. It cuts to the core of why we’re here and what it means to be human.

We are here to become more — to maximize the development of our talent by improving performance in every aspect of living. And, we are here to guide and support others in doing the same.

Consider the countless number of hard and soft skills it takes to navigate a single day of living in the 21st century. We’re swimming in a contextual field of opportunities, challenges, goals and choices!

Social Business: What’s New?

Business has always been a social endeavor. Despite relentless change — including the recent arrival of revolutionary social media tools — many of the essential skills for business success have remained the same throughout history. No mystery there. Business is and will always be about creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships.

So what’s changing at a revolutionary level? According to “Social Era” author, Nilofer Merchant, the most successful businesses are adapting and integrating traditional relationship-building skills and processes into the digital landscape.

Professional Life and the New Social Norm

Of course, the implications of social business don’t stop at an organizational level. Work and personal life are merging, as workloads increase, and mobile technology and social platforms grow more prevalent. The traditional boundaries and walls that separated life roles are being erased. Social and mobile channels are morphing work-life balance into a work-life blend.

Our diverse roles are becoming synthesized into a single life style. We work, we play, and we live — engaging anywhere, anytime, with anyone we choose. Many people now live in a blurry space between “real” life and digital life, professional and personal, internal and external.

Filtering the Social Clutter

IBM estimates that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. What does that mean for social learning? We have too much information, not enough transformation. Despite extensive learning, education, training and development, people think, feel and react in the same ways over and over. Think about the volume of content you absorb on a daily basis. What percentage of that information actually helps you create a positive impact in your life, or the lives of others?

Here’s a tool to help cut through the fog and chaos of today’s deafening social noise. I call it the “social business contextual field.” This filter helps brings clarity and precision to individual and organizational goals, strategies, learning, development, communication and transformation. It is based on six core components.

Social Business Contextual Field

These six concepts represent all the complex relationships within social business. We can draw endless connections between words. For example, we think about how we feel. How we feel impacts how we think. Our thoughts and emotions largely determine our reactions and choices. We think about people, spaces and technology. We’re emotionally connected to people, spaces and technology. We physically engage with people spaces and technology.

Social business success hinges on learning how to develop and continuously improve connections, communication and collaboration among all aspects of the contextual field. Specifically, when individuals and organizations align, integrate and transform both sides of the contextual field, success follows.

Engagement-Performance Transformation

As I explained in a recent TalentCulture video, engagement-performance transformation is an essential social learning skill. It’s a  solution to seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges, boosting productivity, realizing goals and amplifying social business success.

In our work, we mash the two words “engagement” and “performance” into a single word, “engagement-performance.”

  • Engagement: The moment we recognize and seize opportunities to improve parts of the social business contextual field.
  • Performance: Everything that happens intellectually, emotionally and physically from the moment we engage, and as we move thorough the experience.

Engagement-performance transformation is above and behind all skill development. Consciously or unconsciously, we are engaging and performing every moment. Social talent development centers on transforming our capacity to engage-perform-produce more, better, faster, now — no matter what’s happening in or around us.

Three Steps for Engagement-Performance-Transformation

A culture of social learning, backed by engagement-performance transformation, does not happen by accident or good intentions. We must do three things to create and sustain engagement-performance transformation:

  • Take personal responsibility for transforming intellectual, emotional and physical engagement-performance.
  • Learn, practice and apply real-time power tool strategies for engagement-performance transformation in the midst of intense situations, persistent challenges and diverse people.
  • Proactively embrace the process of engagement-performance transformation, in self and others, from moment-to-moment, day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year.

Editorial Note: This is Part 1 in a series by Michael Clark. Part 2 will be published soon. Sign-up for TalentCulture.com email updates or via RSS feed, to follow Michael’s posts.

Image credit: Stock.xchng

Igniting Social Learning: #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap)

Social learning. Two simple words with so many meanings.

The TalentCulture community understands one meaning very well. After all, we exist is to encourage social learning among talent-minded professionals. But this week, we want to look more expansively at the role of learning in today’s social business environment.

Our mission is to unpack this concept collaboratively – sharing ideas and information about how and why social learning can make a meaningful difference for individual careers, as well as organizations.

We even have some heavy-hitter experts to help us see how leading-edge learning tools and techniques can transform business.

MichaelClarkWhat’s Your Learning Goal?

Yesterday, I started the conversation on Forbes.com by thinking aloud about 5 ways anyone can jump-start social learning. As I fleshed-out these thoughts, a key question kept coming to mind: When you pursue learning, what’s your purpose?

  • Are you learning, so you can teach?
  • Are you teaching so you can learn?
  • Are you learning for learning’s sake?
  • Or do you have other intentions?

What’s more, does your goal really matter? I think it does. Arguably, the most powerful learning experiences are fueled by purpose-driven passion.

Truth is, learning should propel us not just through school, not just through work, but through life. And when our personal quest for knowledge, skill and competence aligns with business goals, the results can make a meaningful difference.

#TChat Focus Topic: Let’s Get Social About Learning

Life is a continuous process of learning and skill development. And by nature, learning is a social activity. Throughout our lives we look to others – parents, teachers, mentors, managers, experts, peers and others – for information, instruction, insight, guidance and validation. It’s all part of the learning process.

So, what does it mean to apply emerging social tools and techniques to the process of continuous learning? And why does it matter? Let’s talk about it!

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio

#TChat Radio – Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT

Tune-in online and discover new ways to ignite professional and organization learning, as we interview Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, and Justin Mass, Sr. Manager of Learning Technology & Design at Adobe.

#TChat Twitter

#TChat Twitter – Wednesday, March 27 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. Join our weekly online forum, and share your thoughts with others about these key questions:

Q1: How & why should we define social learning & talent development in the world of work?
Q2: How can we bridge today’s skills gap by connecting business with education?
Q3: We equate social learning with online learning, but is that view complete? Why/why not?
Q4: What are the most important technology platforms for social learning today?
Q5: What critical metrics should leaders should use to measure social learning & talent development?

Want to see more about this week’s topic? Watch Michael Clark, talk with TalentCulture community manager, Tim McDonald in this preview video on YouTube, or read Tim’s “Sneak Peek” blog post now.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

 

The Business of Talent: Magic? #TChat Recap

A Really Big Show…

Sleight of hand. Misdirection. Levitation. The Grand Illusion. Sounds like a great Vegas act. But is this any way to describe “people” practices in today’s world of work?

Truthfully, we’ve all seen it and felt it. Many of us have developed mastery at it. Even when it’s unintended, a bit of smoke-and-mirrors comes in handy when working the crowd on the “talent” side of the house.

No worries. Your secret is safe here. #TChat isn’t a confessional, but those of us who’ve been responsible for aspects of talent acquisition, development or performance management have learned what works well enough to comply with business rules and get the job done. But how well is that working for the organization?

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

It’s not that we’re not trying to be more accountable and transparent. Besides, new social tools and technologies are shining light up our sleeves, for better or worse.

However, we are naturally stalwart creatures of comfort and habit — we don’t adapt easily. Incrementally perhaps, but not easily. It’s tempting to fall back on the same old tricks of the trade, even as external catalysts are forcing us to change for the better. Progress isn’t necessarily linear movement.

For example, consider the conversation we had this week with #TChat Radio guest, Josh Bersin. Josh is the Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, leading provider of research-based membership programs in human resources (HR), talent and learning.

Among other things, Josh shed light on factors that are driving the global disparity between skills demand and supply. One point in particular — new talent selection, mobility and succession planning have long been determined primarily by gut instinct.

A Capable Workforce = Sustainable Magic

But saying that talent strategies should focus on hard skills is no longer magical enough. The softer skills — communication, empathy, team-building — are just as integral to selection and development, if not more so.

Josh looks at challenges in human capital management through this more strategic lens. It’s what he calls capabilities development, where both hard and soft skills are addressed in a holistic way. As organizations reinforce and expand these combined capabilities in real-time, and provide flexible context that responds to workforce competencies, we can expect business performance to improve.

The foundation is solid – we’re now able to glean useful talent insights from powerful tools that help us process and analyze the disparate “people” data we’ve held in cold storage for decades. And other technologies are enabling continuous learning and development, across business functions, and throughout the entire employee life cycle. High art, indeed.

Showtime!

Of course, magic shows still have their place — marketing spin helps to attract, retain and entertain. Meanwhile, we can feel confident relying more on science than art to inform our instincts as we move forward with workforce decisions. Talent-minded professionals are limited only by our willingness to adapt. We can lead by example.

#TChat Week-in-Review

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

SUN 3/17  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, kicked off the week by looking at how strong leaders are strong learners in her Forbes.com post: “The New Rules of Leadership.”

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the recorded show with Josh Bersin…

MON 3/18  #TChat Weekly Preview laid out key questions for the week: “Learning, Leadership and Talent”

TUE 3/19  #TChat Radio Show: Josh Bersin discussed how market factors and technology innovation are leading organizations to dramatically shift fundamental “people” practices – including talent acquisition, development and performance management. The 30-minute show is packed with insights for HR and learning professionals, as well as business managers.

WED 3/29  #TChat Twitter: The TalentCulture community showed up in full force at our weekly Twitter forum to report from the trenches about their experiences and ideas. Check out these highlights from the conversation…

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: Learning, Leadership and Talent

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-learning-leadership-and-talent.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

THANKS: Again, thanks to Josh Bersin for joining us this week, to help us understand how organizations can better leverage talent in today’s world of work. Your expertise and insights are invaluable to our community.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week – fasten your seatbelts as we take the community for a spin into the brave new world of social learning, with our very own community leaders, Justin Mass (learning technology evangelist at Adobe) and Michael Clark (leadership development expert at ReCenter).

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Learning, Leadership and Talent: #TChat Preview

EDITOR’S NOTE: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See The Business of Talent & That Old Black Magic: #TChat Recap

Yesterday, while gathering research and pondering my thoughts on trends for my latest Forbes.com post, “The New Rules of Leadership”, I was reminded that perhaps the single most critical success factor for individuals or organizations, leaders is the ability to learn.

When we make learning a cultural imperative, it can lead to a sustainable business advantage. Examples are all around us of companies that flourish because they embrace learning, adaptation and innovation as a way of life. < A culture.

It sounds simple enough in theory. But it’s not easy to accomplish — especially in today’s rapidly changing world of work, where a broad chasm continues to divide employers, educational institutions and the culture of your social communities.

We can no longer afford to ignore that chasm – or the key questions that follow:

  • Who is responsible for professional career development?
  • How do we get there from here?
  • And what other talent-related issues are driving the future of work?

That’s the focus of this week’s TalentCulture events.

#TChat Focus Topic: Learning as a Strategic Practice

We’ve invited one of the most highly recognized experts in enterprise talent, learning and performance to help us connect the dots. Josh Bersin is Founder and Principal at Bersin by Deloitte, the leading research and advisory firm focused on human capital management.

According to Bersin, 2013 is presenting multiple challenges for HR, talent and learning organizations. Research shows that companies are struggling to create a global leadership pipeline, to train leaders locally, to develop strategic mobility programs, and to deepen core technical skills across industries. In fact, the imbalance between supply and demand for skilled workers is expected to grow even more sharply this year.

So, in this environment, where and how can continuous learning make a difference?

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio

On Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30pmET, Josh will sit down with my #TChat Radio co-host, Kevin W. Grossman (@KevinWGrossman) and me, Meghan M. Biro (@MeghanMBiro), to discuss the latest issues and trends.

#TChat Twitter

And then we’ll continue that conversation with the entire TalentCulture community on Wednesday, March 20, at 7pmET, during our weekly #TChat Twitter forum.

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

#TChat Weekly Questions

Join us this week, as the TalentCulture community focuses on connecting the dots among talent, leadership and learning. Here are the questions we’ll cover:

Q1: Josh Bersin has written a lot about the global skills disparity. What can employers do to improve this? Employees?

Q2: What’s the difference between informal and formal learning? Why has there been such an emphasis on blended learning?

Q3: What’s right and wrong with most company succession plans today? And what about internal mobility for employees?

Q4: What is BigData in HR and how will it help to predict and implement strategic workforce changes?

Q5: Are we experiencing social recruiting technology fatigue? What are the emerging HR technologies and processes coming?

We hope you’ll come on over and bring your best ideas about how to leverage learning and human capital in today’s world of work. See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Collaboration Mojo Meets Basic Instinct: #TChat Recap

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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

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

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

Growing Into Our Collaborative Skin

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

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

Collaboration: What is it and Why is it Here?

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

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

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

Learning Together, One Step at a Time

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

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

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

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

#TChat Week-in-Review

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio interview with Jesse Lyn Stoner

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

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

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

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

#TChat Recap: “Smart Leaders Collaborate”

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

Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Smart Leaders Collaborate: #TChat Preview

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

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

Collaboration Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

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

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

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

#TChat Weekly Agenda: Focus on Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Guest Expert

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

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Hear the #TChat Radio recording now

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

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

This Week’s Events

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

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

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

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

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