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5 Remote Work Productivity Tools You Didn’t Know About (But Should)

The COVID-19 pandemic severely wounded the traditional workplace, causing an even greater need for productivity tools. Even when the pandemic recedes, the workplace will not go back to what it used to be. Employers have a huge task to create an environment where your employees are happy and productive. Undoubtedly, recovery and renewal will require significant innovation. Thankfully, much of that innovation–in the form of remote work productivity tools–already exists.

There are many already known tools out there; each promise to change the world of work. But what about those not mentioned as much in leadership and HR circles? No worries! Here we have a list of some of the productivity tools that you might not have heard about–but you should.

10to8 Meeting Scheduling Software

Scheduling activities and meetings with either employees and clients/customers contribute to improved output. That’s why the first on our list is 10to8 Meeting Scheduling Software! When it comes to arranging meetings, daily standups, or weekly team meetings, this is the right tool for you.

In cases where a team is spread worldwide, the time zones are not a problem for 10to8. But the ability to integrate other existing calendars I have created in Google, Outlook, or Exchange is what I like the most about this tool. When you want to talk to your colleagues, you don’t have to ask them when they are free. Instead, you can check whether they are available at a specific time in their booking calendars. Another welcome feature is the hardworking reminders, making it nearly impossible to miss a meeting.

Communifire by Axero

Enhancing communication not only improves the productivity of your employees but the credibility of your company. A well-streamlined communication system helps decrease unmet expectations, reduce stress, and boost morale. An intranet, a centralized portal that ties together communication and enables people to send files so employees are all on the same page, is a must-have communication tool for remote-based businesses. Most users can tailor intranet software to meet your organization’s unique requirements while promoting transparency and eliminating communication bottlenecks.

Communifire by Axero is one of the most easy-to-understand intranet software choices around. Each department within your company is provided separate sections for supplying and updating communications; however, Communifire allows sharing information between all groups. Each team can add articles, blogs, wikis, photos, videos, and everything else relevant to work for teams. What I found especially useful with Communifire is the many options for customization–an essential element of any intranet platform.

Mattermost

The chances are that many of your employees will continue to work from home well after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us–which means group messaging tools will remain important to work teams. Mattermost promotes collaboration among your employees, enabling work to get done efficiently and effectively with a short turnaround time. In many ways, Mattermost replaces internal emails and substitutes messages in an inbox with a more agile and tool.

This digital space helps teammates communicate with each other, share ideas, comment, or give feedback as if it were happening in person. It offers threaded discussions and supports more than a couple of different languages, making it very useful for global teams–and a worthwhile competitor to the more well-known Slack. Like Slack, Mattermost’s freemium pricing plans for small teams feature unlimited message history and integrations.

Celoxis

A year-plus into the pandemic, companies are still looking for a way to collaborate effectively with others on project-based tasks through productivity tools. To fill this void, the tool we recommend most often is the all-in-one platform Celoxis.

This software provides updates to all relevant users about anything related to a specific project. Through timely prompts, it also urges users to complete their tasks on time. Celoxis has a range of useful project management functionalities, such as allowing project mapping via Gantt charts. With its project planning and project tracking feature, it offers automatic scheduling, multiple resources per task. Celoxis is very easy to use and affordable, making it a perfect choice for businesses still struggling to find just-the-right remote PM platform.

Scoro

Because of more flexible working conditions, many remote workers find themselves struggling to stay focused. They just aren’t getting enough work done–and we can’t blame it all on Netflix. Maybe it is time to employ time and work management software like Scoro.

Industries like advertising, consulting, and information technology are just some of the sectors drawn to Scoro. Time management and work automation, collaboration, scheduling, quoting, sales support, and billing are just some of the features Scoro offers. The platform even provides a project management component, like Celoxis. The control hub from which users obtain customer account information, key performance data, and calendar events are one of the main benefits of using this comprehensive platform in your arsenal of productivity tools.

Invest in Remote Work Productivity Tools

The longer the pandemic lingers, enabling higher productivity among employees is increasingly necessary. Introducing these tools to your employees will help them stay focused and engaged–and will undoubtedly help your business achieve its goals. Yes, there is a learning curve associated with any new technology. And, yes, the benefits of utilizing these tools may not be immediate. But, your investment in these platforms–and your people–will pay off in the long run.

 

Company Culture Philosophy: Which PM Style Is Right for Your Team?

A business’s ability to hire and retain talent largely depends on its company culture. But company culture isn’t just about how we get our work done or treat people. And it isn’t all about enjoying our work while we engage and collaborate with colleagues. In fact, many factors influence company culture philosophy, including project management styles.

Deciding which project management style works best for your team, and which results in the highest possible levels of productivity, depends on your company size and business type. After all, what works for one business or department team may not work for another.

Here’s a look at three popular company culture – and project management – styles and how they interact with various business settings.

1. Kaizen

Kaizen means “change for the better” or “improvement.” Companies worldwide recognize and utilize this philosophy within many sectors of business.

Perhaps most notably, Toyota uses Kaizen as a pillar within their production system. With this strategy, employees at all levels work to achieve regular, incremental improvements. People can apply this philosophy to their personal, social, and professional lives to slowly but surely better themselves and their situation.

While it became popular within the manufacturing environment, businesses of all sizes and industries can incorporate this philosophy within their company culture; many see positive results. The focus is on small, realistic changes and growth rather than extensive visionary alterations, which are challenging to incorporate. To incorporate this philosophy within your own company, you’ll want to make gradual changes and encourage leaders to act as role models.

Within this culture philosophy, workers can utilize apps relating to health and wellness, productivity, and learning to work towards continuous improvement every day. Additionally, feedback and incremental change will lead to waste elimination and process improvement.

2. Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a variation of traditional Six Sigma methodologies. While the exact definition varies, the general goal is to reduce process variation and eliminate waste to improve efficiency. Employees can receive statistical thinking training and earn “belts” corresponding to their training and expertise relating to Lean Six Sigma strategies. In the workplace, the higher your belt, the more responsibility you will have.

While all industries can benefit from Lean Six Sigma methodology, it’s most prominent in manufacturing and sectors that can improve their process efficiency by evaluating inputs and outputs. From a philosophical perspective, all work can be defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled using this process.

This translates to a hierarchical environment in the workplace culture that strives for continuous process improvement using qualitative and quantitative techniques.

While a small or medium-size team may use this methodology, the entire company will feel its effects. The Lean component of this framework will prioritize eliminating anything that does not add value to the process in order to provide the greatest benefit to the customer. From an employee standpoint, this could lead to increased responsibility to meet demands.

3. Scrum

Scrum is a framework derived from agile project management. It follows a set of values and has distinct team roles and steps. More specifically, it has five events and three artifacts within its framework.

Managers can scale this philosophy to use at a product, team, or organization level. Ultimately, its purpose is to allow teams to collaborate effectively on complex problems and deliver and sustain valuable products. While it’s popular in the software industry, other fields have begun implementing it as well.

This culture philosophy is best for small teams and organizations that can embrace the values and empiricism fully. Each team utilizing Scrum needs one product owner and one Scrum master as well as developers. Groups that do not follow these roles or frequently disregard empiricism and the five events are likely to fail.

If you intend to implement Scrum within your organization, you must adopt transparency, inspection, and adaptation and welcome experimentation while following the Scrum values.

The five Scrum values include:

  • Respect
  • Openness
  • Focus
  • Commitment
  • Courage

Why Is Project Management Important to Company Culture Philosophy?

Now that you know three of the most popular project management styles that impact company culture, you may be wondering why it’s important to select one at all. And the answer is simple.

Despite many efforts to do so, you can’t make company culture better by adding ping-pong tables and nap pods and supplying hot lunches and snacks every day. But you can develop a healthy and productive environment by implementing positive project management strategies that help people feel their work matters – really matters. And employees who feel valued, useful, and happy at work are more likely to produce high-quality work and improve performance.

Adopt one of these project management best practices as part of your overall company culture philosophy. You’ll see improvement in employee satisfaction as you boost morale. You’ll be able to hire and retain the best talent. And you’ll soon improve your company’s bottom line.

 

HR Software: 10 Must-Have Modules and Features You Need

The HR software an organization uses should not just be beneficial for the employer but should have added features so that employees can also benefit from it. It must be chosen with such intent that the company grows as its employees grow with it. Many organizations find themselves stuck in a limited functionality software which consumes valuable time because they do not know which modules and features the software they use should include. Here are some of the most essential and must-have modules you should be certain your HR Software includes.

  1. Recruitment Module: – Statistics say about 22 percent of employees hired leave their jobs in the first 45 days. The statistics say it all, the hiring process tops the list in the field of human resources. Include a strong Recruitment Module in your HR Software, which provides support for creating a database of the talent who will add to the company’s progress. The recruitment Module helps in creating advertisements, manages applications, administers documents, etc. The module saves time, ensures that there is no repetition of the same process and also provides following features:
  • Application Sorting System
  • Easy entry of the details with different kinds of forms
  • Configurable user access to various areas of the Application Tracking System
  • Integrated workflow management system
  1. Onboarding: Most new hires find it intimidating to interact with the management, which can leave a new employee in confusion about the new organization. This module helps familiarize staff and new hires with all onboarding requirements and allows new employees to find all the relevant employer and organization information on one platform. Here are some of the features that Onboarding module provides:
  • Automated delivery of Important details to new hires
  • Immediately sends Team-Based Tasks regarding new employees
  • Real-time paperwork tracker
  1. Performance Management: Monitoring the performance of each worker when it comes to overall efficiency is vital. Organizations should have a system that carries the detailed performance data of every employee. The Performance Management Module provides monitoring functionality and also contains the following features:
  • Manages all the reviews and feedback to the system
  • Guides for creating and filling forms
  • Provides necessary notifications to employees
  • Delivers a selective review system for individual
  1. Administration: The Administration Module manages all the details of a company’s employee benefits including healthcare, welfare, tax benefits, and other finance related options.
  2. Workforce Management: This pretty much affects the schedules within the organization. This module cannot operate alone and should be linked to another system. It makes more sense when the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning) are linked to the module. The employee’s attendance records and leave schedules also make an important aspect here as they should be lined too so that the workforce management can be run efficiently with this human resource software.

HR Module

6.  Absence and Leave: This module works in alignment with the company policy. The leave schedules can be automated using the module. Booking, tracking and approving any form of time off work becomes easy. Some other features this module provides are listed below:

  • Information on leave balance for any kind of time off
  • Online application with easy access
  • Granting rights to HoD and HR department.
  • Allowing all employees to view their leave history
  1. Time and Attendance: The timings regularities, biometric information, and attendance, etc., are the parts of this module. It keeps track of the employee attendance and keeps the data secured for the future reference. Some of the most important features this module provides are mentioned below.
  • Integration with various kinds of attendance readers like biometric readers etc.
  • Calendar appearance for better visualization of employee attendance
  • Shift management platform for flexible scheduling
  • Application facilities for holidays and Short leaves
  • Management for overtime
  1. Learning and Development: Working closely with the performance management module, this module works as a base where individual training, bookings, requirement, and feedback are operated. The module also automates the process of allocated budget and the actual training expenditures. Here are some of the important features this module provides.
  • Centralization of all learning data
  • Easy to set up training sessions, schedule exams and assignments
  • Lowers the training cost
  • full visibility into the training process
  1. Talent Management: With an eye on attracting and retaining fresh talent and skilled employees, this module provides support to the HR during recruitment and succession planning. This module helps streamline the learning and development and performance management as well. This module contains details of fresh talent and their details like types of training taken, work experience, and institution from which they graduated.
  2. HR Analytics: – HR Analytics integrates with other modules of the HR Software and Other Systems to generate reports. These reports give a larger view on the overall performance so that relevant strategies can be designed to improvise the performance. This module also provides the most suitable steps to be taken and favorable predictions so that the organization can take the most suitable decision.

In addition to these important modules in the HRMS  described above, there are some crucial features you must ensure are included in your HR Software. Here are the top ten features you must have in your HR Software.

Top Ten Must-have Features in HR Software:

  1. Data Management: The Data Management feature includes employee’s complete data like medical history, leave management, PPF and EPF forms, Grievance history, and other payroll related information. The Data Management feature ensures that the HR has full employee record of anything that is relevant to the organization or the employee.
  2. Job Opening Management: This feature includes all the information for current vacancies. This feature includes Job descriptions, skills requirements for the job, and the status and number of vacancies. The Jobs are linked to various departments and followed by print media which displays the information regarding the opening.
  3. Application Management: This feature includes records and contact information of applicants related to a job opening, progress in the interview process, the line up of the interview process, Audit records and finally, employment form which may include acceptance letter and details required before joining.
  4. Company Documents Management: The human resource software also ensures that all relevant company’s information is well managed. The legal documents, Holiday lists, business documents, policies, benefits and insurance related information are the features covered under the software.
  5. HR Related Documents: The main feature of any HR software is to ensure consistency and compatibility. This feature manages employees and applicant information in PDF format under the employee’s name and number, and ensures data transfer in secure and easily convertible format.
  6. Project Management: Every project requires attention and separate tracking for Project sheets, Task management, Team management, progress analysis, etc. The Project Tracking feature allows a business to analyze a project’s effectiveness at a later stage—allowing a company to make relevant decisions about the project with access to the data.
  7. Employee Termination Process: Employees that leave the organization should be send-off with a process to ensure that no problem is faced at a later stage. All companies follow a code of conduct and a distinct process as far as employee termination is concerned. The management of employee process checklist, generation of the start of the process, tracking the whole process, status change, etc., are undertaken by the HR software and executed properly.
  8. HR Checklist: The HR software helps the HR managers to execute their daily activities efficiently. The daily tasks may include certain reminders, updates on events, training scheduling, and integration amongst department, resource sharing and many more. The software allows a checklist with some inbuilt activities along with an option to add to this list so that the daily activities and emails or reminders send out in time. Amidst the bigger activities, the small and medium sized business sometimes overlooks the importance of these daily tasks which is ensured using a great software.
  9. Shared Database: HR Software features of integration makes the database complete. The employees can fill their own information related to the leaves taken, working schedules and any other using a login designed especially for them. This allows the accuracy of data, and also cut down on dependency, adding to the HR checklist a daily reminder for such activity can be made so that the efficiency and effectiveness can be maintained.
  10. Safety Management: Cloud-based services undertake safety as a profoundly serious activity. The management of these databases on a virtual and shared platform raises doubts in the minds of the users. The software works under high protection, there is a security process that is followed, and the codes and passwords are created with great precision. The data that is transmitted or received is done in encrypted form, and there is a continuous update that ensures that there is no threat to the system.

Photo Credit: alpconsult Flickr via Compfight cc

Effective Project Management: Working From 5 to 9

When I was younger and entering the workforce I quickly understood that I do my best work at 5 AM.

I have the best ideas, I am the most focused and I’m able to perform miracles.

While doing some experiments on myself to test my abilities, I found out that working 4 hours, from 5 AM to 9AM , I could achieve more than by working in the office from nine to five.

Unfortunately It’s hard to explain it to a manager who measures how many minutes you’re late in the morning and if you’re still in the office at 4.59PM.

For each of us the best hours for working are a little different. There are a lot of people like me, who like to work in the morning, there are also a lot of people who do their best creative work after midnight when I prefer to be asleep. Yet most offices still demand a 9 to 5 commitment from everyone.

Of course there are a lot of areas where working during business hours is essential. I’m not going to argue the benefits of keeping a bank open at 4AM or barbers and cashiers who should cater to the needs of night owls.

Yet, for a lot of fields these “office hours” are just there due to hundreds of years of traditions.

If the job, in most part, requires an employee to sit on the computer and write, then demanding strict working hours is a waste of precious potential.

As I’m writing this article, it’s 6.45 in the morning. By the time I get to the office, I’ll probably have finished it. I will probably leave the office around 2PM when I’ve been there for 4 hours, while being productive for 9. Everybody wins.

As a manager you might be afraid that if you don’t keep an eye on everyone from 9 to 5, he wont work at all. You can’t walk into his house to check if he’s really doing something at 5 AM or is he watching cat videos at Facebook.

However, Jeff Boss, a leadership coach and a former Navy SEAL, said that “it’s certainly a manager’s role to breed the right working environment that gets results. So, if that means letting his or her people work virtually so they can tend to personal appointments, do it.”

He added that a manager has to “find the right temperature at which to set work processes and adapt from there.”

I’d welcome having a coffee or a meeting with my boss at 6AM, I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping at this time.

So how can we work together?

Keeping The Leaders Happy

If we can know what all our friends are doing, what they’re eating or thinking due to Facebook and other social networks, then surely implementing an application or a program that measures our work is not too hard.

To keep your leader happy you need trust. Luckily or unfortunately, trust is based on experience and that means it takes time to form.

If I’ve been working with someone for years, I know what he’s doing and I don’t worry. Yet you can’t wait years to get your teams to maximum productivity.

You need help.

There are a lot of project management tools that help with that. You could use Basecamp for project management or just have a chat based system. But you need to have an online system that everyone can contribute 24 hours a day.

We’re using our own Weekdone’s weekly progress reporting application that is based on the PPP (Plans, Progresses, Problems) methodology. This gives both the manager and an employee a daily overview about everything going on in a company or a team.

This means that with a quick look at my company’s feed, I always know what’s going on.

A lot of people use Excel based shared documents or e-mail but this is actually not structured enough and gets confusing really quickly.

We, in addition to main tools, use Skype chats where everyone can contribute. When our sales team gets a new big client, they can share it with everyone. People will see it, if they come online to start their workday. Even if it’s 4 o’clock in the morning.

If our designer finished the SlideShare presentation I need at 3AM, I’ll find out the moment I wake up and I can react to it. And our manager knows everyone is doing their job.

The same system works not only for unconventional office hours, but for handling remote or international teams.

At the same time, using progress reporting or project management in you’re downtown office gives reassurances to your internal communication and increases your productivity.

In the end, I think, the most important thing is that keeping tabs on progress and achievements is more important than keeping tabs on time.

 

Photo Credit: Bigstock

Telecommuting Tools: What's Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?

Virtual teams are truly gaining ground in today’s workplace, thanks to the convergence of three factors:

1) More employers recognize the value of flexible work models,
2) Workers are open to remote options, and
3) New cloud-based technologies make it easy to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Many employers now allow members of their workforce to operate entirely from home — while other companies support more limited forms of telecommuting.

Telework = Serious Savings

There are compelling business reasons why organizations and individuals should evaluate this trend. According to research compiled by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 million U.S. employees have jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, and are willing to pursue it at some level. It’s estimated that, each year, if all those who are able and willing worked from home even half of the time, a typical employer would save $11,000 per person, while the typical telecommuter would save $2,000-$7,000.

But regardless of how much money telecommuting can save, one thing is certain — it’s essential to invest in viable technology to ensure that remote workers can succeed in their role.

110727_GIST_The_Mobile_Worker4

See the infographic and more details at Mashable

3 Keys to a Telework Technology Plan

Before assuming which tools are ideal, it’s wise to look for helpful insights from workstyle studies. For example, a 2011 study by GIST profiles remote work behavior across multiple dimensions — identifying locations remote workers prefer, and revealing how they accomplish tasks on the go.

Of course, every business is unique, but when you develop a detailed technology plan for virtual workers, it’s essential to consider three key elements: communication, collaboration and connections. Here are some ideas to kick-start your process:

Communication: There are many technologies remote workers can use to stay in touch with team members, managers, customers, and others. Email probably remains the most common communication channel, but text messaging, chat, and instant messaging are also useful when people need to discuss projects, status and other issues in real-time. The good news is that many of those tools work in tandem or on top of popular workplace communications applications.

Skype and similar audio and video conferencing tools are highly affordable, reliable and are easy to deploy and support. They’re ideal for everything from small group meetings and business presentations, to more formal conference-like events. Google+ Communities and Hangouts are also gaining popularity as simple, freely available tools to help groups connect and discuss topics and projects via audio and video, with file sharing and social tools that enhance and extend those discussions.

Collaboration: Remote workers need tools that help them work together with others to generate ideas, solve problems and manage group projects. Google Docs is a great way to co-create content and share information among team members on an ongoing basis. Also, Dropbox and other cloud storage services are popular for exchanging, organizing and archiving content (especially larger files), and for easily accessing content while on the go.

Connections: With today’s vast array of freely available social media and cloud software solutions, keeping your workforce securely and reliably connected is becoming remarkably easy to do. Intranets provide dedicated virtual spaces that help distributed teams work together asynchronously, using embedded social tools to interact. And integrated suites of cloud-based tools like Google Apps for Business help workers easily create, share and manage all kinds of business documents and communications. To learn more about Google Apps for Business, watch this video overview:

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Whether you tap into new web-based tools, or you extend applications that your company already uses in-house, a technology plan is one way to be sure that all your remote contributors stay focused and productive, no matter where or when they’re working. The pace of cloud software innovation is so rapid, your biggest challenge may be staying ahead of new technology developments. However, your efforts should pay off, with telecommuters that are highly efficient and engaged in their jobs.

Your Turn

Does your company encourage telework arrangements? What tech-related issues do your remote teams face? What tools do you recommend to others?

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

Image Credit: Pixabay

Making Teams Work: Is There a Better Way?

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

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

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

Cracking The Collaboration Code

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

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

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

Insights From Collaborative Leaders

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

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

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

Three Ways To Achieve Better Results, Together

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Intrapreneurial Talent: How Do You Find the "X" Factor?

Written by Susan Foley, Managing Partner, Corporate Entrepreneurs & Hans Balmaekers, Founder, SA.AM

Recently, we’ve seen a groundswell of interest in intrapreneurship – the process of developing organizational cultures that unleash entrepreneurial innovation from within.

Although intrapreneurship can be a powerful engine for business innovation and growth, it’s really not about generating ideas — it’s about turning ideas into profitable ventures. Intrapreneurs are the instigators who make that transformation happen.

Where can you find this special breed? We suggest that you start by taking a fresh look at your existing workforce. Even if you don’t recognize these innovators as they roam the halls of your company, we can assure you, they are there — and they’re likely to respond favorably when you offer support. But before you can move forward, you must first identify the right talent.

How can you spot the best bets? You may actually know some contenders. However, if your organization is large, you may not have crossed paths with some of your most promising candidates. They’re not typical high-potential or C-level mavericks — although they do possess traits that distinguish them from the usual corporate soldier. Keep these attributes in mind as you look for the right match with your initiatives…

7 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs

1) Intrapreneurs tell us that they feel like they don’t fit. Their organizations don’t understand them or appreciate what they do or how they do it. They see the world through a different lens. They’re independent spirits and independent minds. They think, act and make decisions differently. They often find themselves championing the opposite side of issues.

2) Intrapreneurs are a distinct group of individuals. They have a unique combination of competencies that set them apart from more traditional workers. They are self reliant, they like to explore new things, and they’re totally engaged in their heads and hearts. They actively seek out new challenges, effectively manage limited resources and stay focused on getting things done.

3) Intrapreneurs make significant leaps in thinking that are not always linear or fact-based. They’re able to connect the dots. They work with what they’ve got, not what they think they need. They rapidly test and refine ideas, to push them through each stage in a decision process. They make sense of uncertain and complex situations more quickly than most. And they’re resilient — tending to fail and recover quickly.

4) Intrapreneurs think differently. They view situations from a more holistic, “systems” oriented perspective. Many are “whole brain” thinkers who embrace both their analytical and intuitive nature. They’re integrative problem solvers who can consider two totally opposite concepts, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, they creatively combine ideas to form a new solution. They balance thinking and action, and they learn from the outcomes of those actions.

5) Intrapreneurs approach decision making differently. They resist diving into data too early. They don’t simplify things too quickly. They linger in complexity because it presents more options. However, they are decisive. They don’t allow caution to paralyze them. They will change direction or even shut down a project when new data suggests a different course of action. They effectively balance short term and long term demands. They’re willing to base decisions on insufficient data, rather than waiting for perfect data to become available.

6) Intrapreneurs have different motivations and aspirations than others. They are not interested in a traditional career path. They are self motivated and good at motivating others. They like to build things. They’re energized by the excitement of creating anything that moves their company forward. They want to work on the big stuff — the bigger and more challenging, the better. They like to start with a clean slate, because it gives them more freedom to be creative. They are highly curious, avid learners, and they constantly ask themselves if there’s something else they need to know. This also means that they’re restless and may easily become bored.

7) Intrapreneurs operate through action. They’re inherently creative. They typically don’t generate ideas — however they recognize the value in others’ ideas, and turn them into viable business options. They find iterative planning useful, because things are continually changing. They embrace the unexpected. They like surprise because it refines their understanding. They take calculated risks — looking at both the upside and downside of a decision. They deal with uncertainty by acting on it, rather than sitting back and waiting to see what happens.

Finding the right kind of talent is essential to developing an intrapreneurial culture. These are just some of the characteristics that successful intrapreneurs display. Of course, every individual is unique, but if you look for these traits, you’ll be well on your way to creating a team with the strength you need to move your organization into the future.

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

To better understand the relationship between corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, or if you’re looking for ways to implement intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

Susan Foley Intrapreneurship-001(Author Profiles: Susan Foley is Founder and Managing Partner at Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC where she helps companies leverage intrapreneurship strategies that accelerate business growth. An experienced corporate entrepreneur herself, Susan has guided organizations through intrapreneurial endeavors that have generated millions in revenue. She is also a professional speaker and author of the book “Entrepreneurs Inside.” She teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Executive Education program at Babson College, and is a Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership at Suffolk University. Connect with Susan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hans-Balmaekers-founder-sa.am_-001Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of SA.AM, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. Recently, SA.AM launched an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)

Image Credit: Marginal Boundaries

Intrapreneurial Talent: How Do You Find the “X” Factor?

Written by Susan Foley, Managing Partner, Corporate Entrepreneurs & Hans Balmaekers, Founder, SA.AM

Recently, we’ve seen a groundswell of interest in intrapreneurship – the process of developing organizational cultures that unleash entrepreneurial innovation from within.

Although intrapreneurship can be a powerful engine for business innovation and growth, it’s really not about generating ideas — it’s about turning ideas into profitable ventures. Intrapreneurs are the instigators who make that transformation happen.

Where can you find this special breed? We suggest that you start by taking a fresh look at your existing workforce. Even if you don’t recognize these innovators as they roam the halls of your company, we can assure you, they are there — and they’re likely to respond favorably when you offer support. But before you can move forward, you must first identify the right talent.

How can you spot the best bets? You may actually know some contenders. However, if your organization is large, you may not have crossed paths with some of your most promising candidates. They’re not typical high-potential or C-level mavericks — although they do possess traits that distinguish them from the usual corporate soldier. Keep these attributes in mind as you look for the right match with your initiatives…

7 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs

1) Intrapreneurs tell us that they feel like they don’t fit. Their organizations don’t understand them or appreciate what they do or how they do it. They see the world through a different lens. They’re independent spirits and independent minds. They think, act and make decisions differently. They often find themselves championing the opposite side of issues.

2) Intrapreneurs are a distinct group of individuals. They have a unique combination of competencies that set them apart from more traditional workers. They are self reliant, they like to explore new things, and they’re totally engaged in their heads and hearts. They actively seek out new challenges, effectively manage limited resources and stay focused on getting things done.

3) Intrapreneurs make significant leaps in thinking that are not always linear or fact-based. They’re able to connect the dots. They work with what they’ve got, not what they think they need. They rapidly test and refine ideas, to push them through each stage in a decision process. They make sense of uncertain and complex situations more quickly than most. And they’re resilient — tending to fail and recover quickly.

4) Intrapreneurs think differently. They view situations from a more holistic, “systems” oriented perspective. Many are “whole brain” thinkers who embrace both their analytical and intuitive nature. They’re integrative problem solvers who can consider two totally opposite concepts, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, they creatively combine ideas to form a new solution. They balance thinking and action, and they learn from the outcomes of those actions.

5) Intrapreneurs approach decision making differently. They resist diving into data too early. They don’t simplify things too quickly. They linger in complexity because it presents more options. However, they are decisive. They don’t allow caution to paralyze them. They will change direction or even shut down a project when new data suggests a different course of action. They effectively balance short term and long term demands. They’re willing to base decisions on insufficient data, rather than waiting for perfect data to become available.

6) Intrapreneurs have different motivations and aspirations than others. They are not interested in a traditional career path. They are self motivated and good at motivating others. They like to build things. They’re energized by the excitement of creating anything that moves their company forward. They want to work on the big stuff — the bigger and more challenging, the better. They like to start with a clean slate, because it gives them more freedom to be creative. They are highly curious, avid learners, and they constantly ask themselves if there’s something else they need to know. This also means that they’re restless and may easily become bored.

7) Intrapreneurs operate through action. They’re inherently creative. They typically don’t generate ideas — however they recognize the value in others’ ideas, and turn them into viable business options. They find iterative planning useful, because things are continually changing. They embrace the unexpected. They like surprise because it refines their understanding. They take calculated risks — looking at both the upside and downside of a decision. They deal with uncertainty by acting on it, rather than sitting back and waiting to see what happens.

Finding the right kind of talent is essential to developing an intrapreneurial culture. These are just some of the characteristics that successful intrapreneurs display. Of course, every individual is unique, but if you look for these traits, you’ll be well on your way to creating a team with the strength you need to move your organization into the future.

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

To better understand the relationship between corporate entrepreneurship and innovation, or if you’re looking for ways to implement intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

Susan Foley Intrapreneurship-001(Author Profiles: Susan Foley is Founder and Managing Partner at Corporate Entrepreneurs, LLC where she helps companies leverage intrapreneurship strategies that accelerate business growth. An experienced corporate entrepreneur herself, Susan has guided organizations through intrapreneurial endeavors that have generated millions in revenue. She is also a professional speaker and author of the book “Entrepreneurs Inside.” She teaches Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Executive Education program at Babson College, and is a Fellow at the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership at Suffolk University. Connect with Susan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Hans-Balmaekers-founder-sa.am_-001Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of SA.AM, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. Recently, SA.AM launched an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)

Image Credit: Marginal Boundaries

Who's On Your List? Advice For Rising Stars From Yum! CEO

Written by Bob Burg

In his excellent book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen,” iconic Yum! Brands Chairman and CEO, David Novak explains the importance of getting inside the heads of those we wish to influence. In other words, it’s not enough for us to want or desire a goal — we must know what motivates and drives the people we wish to take along with us.

It starts with genuine interest and caring about their needs, wants, goals and desires. But even that is not enough! Why? Because the following error can render our ideas nearly useless. According to Mr. Novak:

“One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not thinking through all the people they have to lead to get where they want to go.”

He recommends that we ask ourselves who we need to affect, influence or take with us in order to be successful. As a former marketing executive, he compares this to a marketer trying to identify potential customers. And he believes that this list is absolutely essential.

When suggesting likely candidates, he casts a broad net: “your boss, your coworkers, people on your team, people from other departments whose help you’ll need — even people from outside your organization, such as shareholders, vendors, customers or business partners.”

Implications for Intrapreneurs

What does this mean for those among us who operate as “intrapreneurs” — those who work in an entrepreneurial way as employees of larger organizations? If you’re determined to make things happen as a leader (whether you have a formal title or not), but you don’t take Mr. Novak’s advice to heart, be prepared for a sudden halt in your progress.

His advice reminds me of a leadership failure or two from my past. In those situations, I’m fairly sure I persuaded those I targeted. However, my list was too short. I left out key “needed people,” and never even tried to obtain their buy-in. This wasn’t intentional; it was more a matter of not thinking things through and considering all the people whose commitment I would need. And inevitably I paid the price.

Network Relations: Connecting The Dots

Those were painful lessons, but I needed to experience them in order to grow. Or perhaps I could have avoided the pain, if Mr. Novak’s book had been available at the time. I’m not sure I would have understood without my first-hand experience as a reference point. But if there’s one thing better than learning from our own painful experience, it’s learning from someone else’s wisdom (which, most likely, was based on their own painful experience).

So, in that spirit, I encourage anyone who is on a path to intrapreneurial success to be sure and dot the I’s and cross the T’s — not just in terms of selling your vision, but in selling it to everyone who needs to be sold.

BobBurgHRHeadshotLearn More! Listen now to Bob’s 1-on-1 chat with David Novak, “Taking People With You,” where he shares numerous hard-hitting, valuable ideas from his book.

(Author Profile: Corporate speaker, Bob Burg, is coauthor of the International bestseller, “The Go-Giver.” His newest book, “Adversaries Into Allies” is scheduled for a late October release. Bob was a featured guest on #TChat events in early September, where he helped our community focus on ways that intrapreneurs can create business value within organizations. To learn more about Bob and connect with him on Social Media, visit www.burg.com.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Who’s On Your List? Advice For Rising Stars From Yum! CEO

Written by Bob Burg

In his excellent book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen,” iconic Yum! Brands Chairman and CEO, David Novak explains the importance of getting inside the heads of those we wish to influence. In other words, it’s not enough for us to want or desire a goal — we must know what motivates and drives the people we wish to take along with us.

It starts with genuine interest and caring about their needs, wants, goals and desires. But even that is not enough! Why? Because the following error can render our ideas nearly useless. According to Mr. Novak:

“One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not thinking through all the people they have to lead to get where they want to go.”

He recommends that we ask ourselves who we need to affect, influence or take with us in order to be successful. As a former marketing executive, he compares this to a marketer trying to identify potential customers. And he believes that this list is absolutely essential.

When suggesting likely candidates, he casts a broad net: “your boss, your coworkers, people on your team, people from other departments whose help you’ll need — even people from outside your organization, such as shareholders, vendors, customers or business partners.”

Implications for Intrapreneurs

What does this mean for those among us who operate as “intrapreneurs” — those who work in an entrepreneurial way as employees of larger organizations? If you’re determined to make things happen as a leader (whether you have a formal title or not), but you don’t take Mr. Novak’s advice to heart, be prepared for a sudden halt in your progress.

His advice reminds me of a leadership failure or two from my past. In those situations, I’m fairly sure I persuaded those I targeted. However, my list was too short. I left out key “needed people,” and never even tried to obtain their buy-in. This wasn’t intentional; it was more a matter of not thinking things through and considering all the people whose commitment I would need. And inevitably I paid the price.

Network Relations: Connecting The Dots

Those were painful lessons, but I needed to experience them in order to grow. Or perhaps I could have avoided the pain, if Mr. Novak’s book had been available at the time. I’m not sure I would have understood without my first-hand experience as a reference point. But if there’s one thing better than learning from our own painful experience, it’s learning from someone else’s wisdom (which, most likely, was based on their own painful experience).

So, in that spirit, I encourage anyone who is on a path to intrapreneurial success to be sure and dot the I’s and cross the T’s — not just in terms of selling your vision, but in selling it to everyone who needs to be sold.

BobBurgHRHeadshotLearn More! Listen now to Bob’s 1-on-1 chat with David Novak, “Taking People With You,” where he shares numerous hard-hitting, valuable ideas from his book.

(Author Profile: Corporate speaker, Bob Burg, is coauthor of the International bestseller, “The Go-Giver.” His newest book, “Adversaries Into Allies” is scheduled for a late October release. Bob was a featured guest on #TChat events in early September, where he helped our community focus on ways that intrapreneurs can create business value within organizations. To learn more about Bob and connect with him on Social Media, visit www.burg.com.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Clouding: Can it Cross the Job Chasm? #TChat Recap

“See the lonely man on the corner.
What he’s waiting for, I don’t know.
But he waits everyday now.
He’s just waiting for something to show.”
–Genesis

Contract Work Wears Many Faces

They wait on street corners and in parking lots, flanking big box home improvement stores and local hardware stores. They cluster in groups to keep one another company, hoping together for better opportunities ahead. They keep their distance from the entrances, waving their hands low or snapping their chins back in earnest as cars pull up and in to park. They smile hopefully and wait for a sign that work awaits in your front yard, around your house, at your construction site or at your business office.

We call them “day laborers.” They’re mostly men, who may also be illegal immigrants. They have low-wage skills and are willing to toil in high-risk work environments for cash on an “as needed” basis. (This assumes that they will actually be paid at the end of the day, but there are no guarantees.)

I’ve never hired one of these workers myself. However, I know others who have, and who’ve thankfully paid them for their labor.

Talent Supply Meets Demand: Old School

What does this have to do with TalentCulture? Actually, in many ways, the classic “day labor” model is starting to seem closer than ever to a professional career path.

This week in #TChat forums we’ve been talking about on-demand talent, the rise of the contingent workforce, Humans as a Service (HuaaS) and talent “clouding.” It’s been a fascinating ride; however we’ve focused primarily on how it applies to specialized skills and talent, including business services, marketing and IT — and how this approach can help companies reduce fixed costs associated with headcount. It’s considered edgy — and it’s supported by emerging technologies and innovative business practices.

But there’s another world of work that operates in parallel each day. The one defined by low-wages, high risk and physical labor. Its an on-demand labor market that has become commoditized over thousands of years. Yardwork. Household maintenance and repair. Household chores. Cash and carry.

Can you perform these tasks well? Some of us are handy with DIY projects, but don’t ask me to install a sprinkler system (found a friend to help with that one) or clean my rain gutters (my lovely wife forbids me to climb ladders). Could you fix your own plumbing or electrical systems? Not me — although I did install a dimmer switch once with great pride (and a fair share of sweat and cursing).

Talent Supply Meets Demand: A New View?

While powerful new talent software platforms and freelance online clearinghouses now help us manage today’s on-demand, fluid “professional” workforce, let’s not forget that we’ve been clouding humans for a long, long time. But if we’ve learned anything from history — especially with more recent worker protections and employment laws — we should be mindful that this new world of specialized project work could eventually be commoditized — and not for the better.

Yes, the economics will fluctuate with supply and demand, and business will find efficiency in digital pathways to just-in-time talent. Yes, many are choosing to offer their talent independently — not because they must, but because they prefer operating as free agents. But many others are not so comfortable in that zone.

For now, those who have the skills, the savvy, and the determination to package and promote themselves professionally will help drive their own opportunities, while the corporate world rethinks vendor management.

I just hope that this kind of talent clouding doesn’t arrive on my corner anytime soon.

#TChat Week-in-Review: “Cloud Talent” Guests

Because “Talent as a Service” is a new and complex concept, we invited two experts in HR innovation to inform and guide this week’s discussion:

Also, by popular demand, we’ve captured below links to the week’s various activities and resources, to help you easily find, review and share information now and in the future. We look forward to hearing from you early and often as the conversation continues to evolve within the World of Work.

#TChat “Cloud Talent” Resource Links

VidImage

See the guest videos on Tim McDonald’s post now…

SAT 3/30  “Sneak Peek” videos: In bite-sized interviews with our community manager, Tim McDonald, both Richie Etwaru and Jason Averbook weighed in with a definition of “Talent as a Service.”

SUN 3/31  “Will Leaders Embrace Talent in a Cloud?” TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, offered her perspective and advice in her weekly Forbes.com column.

MON 4/1  #TChat Weekly Preview  “Cloud Talent: Gaining Ground?” outlined the week’s premise and core questions.

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show recording now…

TUE 4/2  #TChat Radio Show  Both Jason and Richie joined our radio hosts to clarify the business issues and opportunities associated with talent “clouding” strategies. It’s a fascinating 30-minute session for anyone interested workforce trends and their impact on global business management, as well as individual careers.

WED 4/3  #TChat Twitter  Jason and Richie returned — this time to connect directly with the TalentCulture tribe live on the Twitter — for a dynamic discussion about the realities and possibilities of “clouding” as a talent strategy. See highlights from the conversation in the slideshow below…

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: Cloud Talent: Gaining Ground?

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

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Jason Averbook, and Richie Etwaru, for contributing your time and expertise to help inform and inspire our community. We look forward to continued dialogue with you both on “talent clouding” and other World of Work topics.

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we shift gears to consider how to understand and move beyond workplace stereotypes, with guest experts John Wilson, Founder and CEO of WilsonHCG, and Ashley Lauren Perez, a WilsonHCG Sourcing Specialist and highly regarded HR blogger.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

Cloud Talent: Gaining Ground? #TChat Preview

(Editorial Note: Want to read the RECAP of this week’s events? See “Clouding: Can it Cross the Job Chasm? #TChat Recap”)

Over the past decade, the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) has transformed the way we work, learn and live. Individuals and organizations, alike, have welcomed the convenience, flexibility and efficiency of on-demand applications – delivered from “the cloud” over digital networks.

Not surprisingly, business strategists now wonder how this “cloud” model can transform other aspects of business management. And in the World of Work community, we wonder — can this “on demand” model be extended effectively to human resources? How?

#TChat Focus Topic: Talent as a Service

First, let’s be sure we’re on the same page. What exactly do we mean by “Talent as a Service” (TaaS)? As I explained yesterday in a Forbes.com post, “Will Leaders Embrace Talent in a Cloud?” think of it essentially as recruiting on an as-needed basis from a cloud-based talent pool.

Of course, this already happens, as contingent workers are sourced for temporary assignments and projects via online freelance clearinghouses and similar services. But I can’t help wondering if this approach will scale effectively and efficiently for the global enterprise, as well as smaller companies and consultants? What does this mean for professional skills development and knowledge sharing? And what are the implications for  corporate cultures, everywhere?

#TChat Guests

Some of the most innovative minds in human capital management and cloud technology are now focused on these questions. And I’m thrilled to say that two of those experts are joining the TalentCulture Community this week!

As we revealed along with their “sneak peek” videos last weekend, we are welcoming two brilliant guests:

I expect a week filled with both future-thinking predictions, as well as actionable advice. And I’m sure that this is only the start of a conversation that will continue to resonate with our community for a long time to come! Join us for this week’s events, and let’s talk about the possibilities!

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio

#TChat Radio — Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30pmET (4:30pmPT)

Both Jason and Richie will join Kevin Grossman and me to tackle key issues that come with “clouding” strategies.

#TChat Twitter

#TChat Twitter – Wednesday,  April 3 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT.

Join our weekly online forum, and share your thoughts with others about these key questions:

Q1: Do you think that “Human as a Service” models will really take hold? Why or why not?
Q2: How can the process of “clouding humans” create competitive advantage for business?
Q3: Could “clouding” humans be immoral? Unethical? Do you see HR compliance issues?
Q4: What processes should business leaders put in place to scale true on-demand talent, globally?
Q5: What kinds of HR technology requirements will facilitate on-demand talent now? In the future?

Want to see more about this week’s topic? Read Richie Etwaru’s blog post, “Go Beyond Everything as a Service.” Or see the “sneak peek” blog post from TalentCulture community manager, Tim McDonald, where both of our guests offer quick video definitions of “Humans as a Service” concept.

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

Managing Virtual Teams: #TChat Recap

You’d think that those of us who collaborate online have already mastered the virtual workplace. And for the most part, we have.  We communicate via a variety of tools and services:

  • E-mail
  • Phone
  • Instant Message
  • Video Chat
  • The Big Social 3 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Other Online Networks
  • Webinar
  • Podcast
  • Blog
  • Wiki
  • Intranet

All being done via:

  • Landlines
  • Cell phones
  • Smart phones
  • The Internet
  • Tablet computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Desktop computers
  • Carrier pigeons
  • Two cups connected with string
  • Telepathic messages

Maybe not the last three, but if you do use any of those, do please let me know.

Beyond the tools and services, the true measure of working virtually is the fact you are autonomous, accountable, personally responsible, self-managed and productive — but not in the “time put in” sense, more the productivity in aligned business output over the course of the day and week.

Those of us who have worked virtually for years within organizations and/or with clients not in the backyard don’t think twice about what it means to work alone in a home office.

Maybe, although I think we need more live interaction throughout the year.  So whether than means formal company gatherings a few times a year, meeting at events a few times a year, leasing space in a coworking facility like I do, we all still need a little face time.

And that’s what helps to keep your company culture solidified — the face time — look me in the eyes, baby.

Last night during #TChat, where the topic was — Managing virtual teams and dispersed global organizations while maintaining workplace culture.  Is it possible? — Amy Ruberg mentioned: Trust is earned, fragile, and travels in both directions.

That really sums up the daily workplace transactions, together in a shared office or at home in a virtual one, and for me solidifies culture as well.

Unfortunately many companies don’t trust well and still have archaic policies that don’t jive with the realities of the mobile/virtual workforce.

Can you imagine conducting a virtual meeting across a variety of devices while still having a no-electronic-device policy during meetings?

Wouldn’t that make everyone vanish in thin air?

Another defining point from last night — if you can’t manage virtual teams should you be in a managerial position at all?

Probably not.

The good news is that according to a recent post by Sharlyn Lauby titled What the Best Places to Work Have in Common:

82 of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work listed the fact that they offered telecommuting.  So, the key concept behind workshifting – being able to work productively from anywhere – are embraced by the companies considered to be the crème de la crème in Corporate America. This comes right after the Federal Government implemented the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, mandating Federal Agencies to implement telework policies.

Here is the transcript from last night’s #TChat and these were our questions:

  • Q1: How are virtual teams presenting challenges for leaders in a workplace culture?
  • Q2: Reality Check: Can leaders engage and handle workplace conflicts virtually?
  • Q3: What are ways we can improve communication for teams that are primarily virtual?
  • Q4: In person meetings will always be necessary for employee engagement – how much is enough for true team collaboration?
  • Q5: Is recruiting, hiring for “self-management” “innovation” skills a must for telecommuting roles? Globally?
  • Q6: What does employer trust have to do with virtual – both from the inside and outside of an employer’s brand?
  • Q7: Why are some innovative companies considering VTs to be their most important asset?

A special thank you to Meghan M. BiroMatt Charney and Eric Winegardner from Monster land, Ian Mondrow the team at Sodexoand all the other fantastic usual suspects and new folks who stopped by last night to share their wisdom.

Next week’s topic:  Workplace Culture Clash or Party? Multi-generational diversity and the innovation factor.

Join us every Tuesday night from 8-9 p.m. ET (5-6 p.m. PT) on Twitter via hashtag #TChat. Remember we welcome global input! Join in from wherever you might be. Our live chat is hosted by @KevinWGrossman @MeghanMBiro@TalentCulture, and @Monster_WORKS. Please Tweet or DM us for more scoop!