Developing a Training Program With Better ROI

Despite the economic downturn, training and professional development expenses in large companies rose from an average of $17.17 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020. Similarly, small businesses also increased their investments in training by over $100,000. With so much money being spent, it would be easy to assume that companies of all sizes are seeing clear returns on their investments (ROI). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. One study found that only 11% of employees actually end up applying the training they receive to their day-to-day work. Why is there such a disparity between spending and results? Is training at work even worth it? The answer is yes, and it’s time for companies to shift their focus to developing a training program with better ROI.

How Training Programs Fall Short

The problem isn’t with training so much as the way many organizations approach developing and implementing a training program. All too often, companies rush into these programs without reflecting on what’s really needed to support their objectives. Consequently, not enough work is done to understand the challenges employees face, how they learn best, and what sort of follow-ups are required.

As an HR leader, you must transition from implementing professional training for training’s sake to analyzing each program’s effectiveness and ROI. Even moving the needle a few percentage points could have a significant impact on employees’ success and your company’s bottom line.

Achieving Better ROI in Professional Training

Putting the focus on ROI isn’t as difficult as you might think. Actually, it just requires a little more planning before rushing into training implementation. The goal is to figure out what training methods work best for your organization and calculate the true costs of that training ahead of time.

Set up key performance indicators to measure the success of training programs. Additionally, employee assessments can be used during the training process to more accurately analyze organizational data and the benefits of training and development. The important thing is to turn training from something good in the abstract to a practical, measurable, and mutually beneficial process.

Focusing on ROI will help you create effective training strategies. With this in mind, here are a few steps that can help you focus on developing training programs with better ROI:

1. Develop an integrated education and talent management framework

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect training program, but the right framework can ensure a strategic alignment of objectives and outcomes. Select and align programs to the specific needs of your organization. If you currently have training programs that don’t fit into this new framework, cut them. Every initiative should be moving your employees in the right direction for your business.

2. Create a digital strategy.

Up to 77% of organizations in the U.S. already use e-learning. A digital approach to training is more flexible, easier to access, and more engaging. Today’s digital learning platforms incorporate a variety of different techniques to keep employees interested, including interactive quizzes, videos, and games. Tailor E-learning to each employee’s specific needs as it pertains to their position or role. Using assessments prior to training can better determine individual learners’ needs, motivations, and preferences. Far too often, the learner’s perspective is not captured when it comes to training. The right digital strategies can fix that.

3. Favor flexibility.

Training needs to adapt fast to the changing needs of consumers and the economy itself. The ability to rapidly adjust resources to serve learning needs as they arise is crucial. Locking into a top-down formal approach doesn’t accommodate this. Instead, emphasize flexibility in your content and delivery modes to stay agile.

4. Keep an eye out for silos.

Silos in training can result in duplicate programs and inefficient use of data. So, be sure to thread learning throughout the day-to-day operations of a business so it works alongside its objectives. Many training programs use what’s known as a 70:20:10 learning framework to address this. This means 70% of training occurs while working, 20% happens during collaboration, and 10% takes place through more formal means, such as classroom sessions.

You can reduce the silos that pop up by fostering intentional connections between training programs among different business units and HR programs. This will promote learning networks and help ensure stakeholder alignment when it comes to rollouts. You should also remove the silo between theoretical training and practical application by implementing real-life applications and leadership encouragement.

The Importance of Resiliency

Be sure to implement resiliency alongside other strategies in order to make the most of training. This has become a key human skill across HR departments as agility and adaption have become essential to survival.

Resiliency in the business world means drawing actionable insights out of a variety of different sources. The goal is to be ready to change course quickly while also planning for a longer-term evolution. Effective training strategies should incorporate resiliency in order to prepare employees for real-world work.

Teach your employees resiliency through individual virtual training and group activities. These methods not only help employees learn resiliency, but they also give you a better idea of how each person handles tough situations. From there, you can apply additional training where necessary.

Training is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Therefore, employers must reevaluate training regularly and adapt it accordingly so that it remains applicable to both your company’s and your employees’ goals. By emphasizing resiliency and focusing on creating flexible, practical training programs, you’ll see better results.

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Get a Strategic Disadvantage

Every organization seeks to gain a strategic advantage over their competitors.

However in my experience many of the more common practices used by organizations are actually counterproductive to the intent of achieving an unmatched position in the marketplace.

These 5 actions create a strategic disadvantage for the organizations employing them.

  1. Copying others; looking to another organization for new ideas.

The copy process is quite simple: find a best in class organization and incorporate what they do into how you do business.

The problem is — strategic advantage is achieved by innovating and by being different than the competition.

The best practices approach may help improve operational processes but it will never produce strategic benefits.

All copying does is increase the size of the herd who does the same thing.

  1. Treating the frontline as if they were at the bottom of organization.

Applying modest recruiting standards. Accepting minimum skill and competency requirements.

The problem is — strategic advantage is determined by how well an organization executes, and this is largely in the hands of frontline employees.

Treating them as second class citizens encourages them to deliver second class results.

On the other hand, honour them and they will catapult any organization ahead of any competitor.

  1. Managing call centers as a cost center.

Maximizing throughput and productivity. Rewarding employees who take the most number of calls and spend the least amount of time on each call.

The problem is — strategic advantage is achieved by creating memorable experiences for customers; this is rarely achieved by imposing internal productivity constraints on the customer transaction.

Rather a WOW! experience happens when the customer is amazed with the outcome of the call.

Treat the call center as a customer loyalty center to create an advantage.

  1. Searching for opportunities in mass markets.

Pushing solutions to as large a market cross section possible. Looking for lowest common denominator solutions that apply to the masses to maximize competitive market share.

The problem is — strategic advantage is earned by discovering and satisfying the unique wants and desires of individuals not by flogging products to the masses. It’s gained by maximizing share of wallet not share of market.

It’s the result of serving the chosen customer group so they never leave.

  1. Prioritizing new customer acquisition to fuel revenue growth.

Trying to gain new customers by enticing them from their current suppliers through special deals and promotional offers – “With every purchase of our internet service you will receive a free flat screen TV.”

The problem is — strategic advantage requires a healthy base of existing customers who are loyal and willing to be an active source of new business referrals.

Offering deals to new customers while ignoring current ones can lose business and destroy market position.

Take a close look at the portfolio of tactics used in your organization to gain strategic advantage; make sure you’re not fooling yourself.

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Have a Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech is the Key to Success

Collaboration tech is making waves this year, allowing teams to be more efficient by streamlining workflows and more connected by facilitating comradery both on and off line. Collaboration platforms aren’t just for those uber-techy, ever-mobile, digital-loving Millennials, though. In fact, that’s the point here: Collaboration tech brings generations of workers together on common ground, giving them the tools they need to thrive together and elevate a business. If you have a multigenerational workforce, let’s examine why collaboration tech is the key to success.

The Value of a Multigenerational Workforce

Before we can talk about how collaboration tech can help your multigenerational workforce become a more cohesive and productive team, let’s first hone in on the value of having a multigenerational workforce in the first place.

According to Helen Dennis, a specialist in retirement, aging, and employment, different generations bring different strengths to the table. As she mentioned in this TechRepublic piece, Millennials are considered digital natives and often want to tackle new projects head-on. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are generally more accustomed to the corporate world and experienced with the inner workings of enterprise organizations. Who, then, are Gen Xers? According to this expert, they’re “a blend of the older and younger,” bringing what can often be the best of both worlds into the mix.

It might be hard to nail down habits of entire generations into just a few words. In fact, it depends on who you ask. One recent study, for example, found older workers were just as tech-saavy as their younger counterparts. Still, it isn’t hard to tell what the underlying benefit is to bringing them together: More knowledge and more perspective, which can inherently lead to more and better innovation. In fact, as Dennis said, “Leading—and successfully managing—an intergenerational workforce is becoming a business imperative that few organizations can ignore.”

To get to that place of heightened innovation, though, multigenerational teams must first feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together. That’s where collaboration tech comes in.

How Collaboration Tech Can Close the Generation Gap

It’s no secret I am a fan of collaboration tech, having just sung its praises as an HR tool. In addition, my colleague, Shelly Kramer, recently discussed our team’s deep dive into Cisco Spark, a collaboration platform that’s essentially a one-stop-shop for all things collaboration (yes, including video). Now, I’d like to put a laser focus on three key reasons collaboration tech can help close the generation gap:

  • It can connect team members with similar interests. Think of collaboration tech as a sort of virtual water cooler. As company culture becomes increasingly important from both a hiring and employee retention standpoint, building a community is just as important as getting work done on time. Collaboration tech allows those with similar likes to connect. For example, you can have virtual rooms or threads dedicated to those who dabble in outdoor sports, appreciate cinema, take part in community activities—you get the picture. The possibilities for connection are there if you look for them.
  • It can make onboarding and training a snap. Onboarding and training are made simpler and more efficient with collaboration tech. Whether it’s a Millennial or a Boomer on the other end of the screen, materials can be presented in one location and across a variety of channels (videos, documents, etc.) that convey the same information in ways that best resonate with the viewer.
  • It can attract employees who want to work remotely. Remote work is on the rise. The most recent Gallup poll on the subject shows 37 percent of U.S. workers have telecommuted, and that number is surely higher today. Take, for instance, Vincent Brissot, the Head of Channel Marketing and Operations at HP. He recently wrote that he manages 150 people. Of them, 140 are remotely located across a whopping 70 countries. Vincent isn’t the minority here, either; many workers across a broad spectrum of ages want the option to log in remotely, and collaboration tech can deliver.

What’s Next?

We live and work in a world that’s increasingly digital. With more reasons to connect and ways to connect than ever before, collaboration tech just makes good sense for organizations large and small. While it is possible to have collaboration overload—I’ve discussed that in the past on our sister site, Converge—it’s also true that effective (not all-encompassing) collaboration is table stakes for modern companies that want to be innovative and stay out in front of industry trends.

If you have a multigenerational workforce with different preferences, work styles, and interests, a cohesive collaboration platform can serve as the glue that binds everyone together, streamlining communication and workflow in a way that’s good for both employee morale and your bottom line.

How would you describe the generational make-up of your team? Do you currently use collaboration tech in your business? If not, now is the time to get on board. Tell me your plans in the comments, and I’d be happy to offer tips to help you succeed.

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This post was first published on FOW Media.

How Memorable Leaders Create Their Legacy 

I see most leaders at the finishing line of their career or tenure looking back over their journey to think about what they accomplished; what they will be remembered for.

Politicians are famous for this. They reflect on the programs, policies and legislation their administration introduced and hope something will resonate with historians and be remembered by their constituents.

CEO’s like to think about the strategic move they made that created an order of magnitude increase in shareholder value or that significantly changed the competitive landscape for their organization.

This is a traditional view of determining a leader’s legacy; it assesses their past achievements and concludes which were noteworthy enough to be remembered.

Memorable leaders don’t look back to determine what their legacy might be, they look forward and plan what they WANT it to be.

THEY, not the historians or external observers and analysts, control their outcome.

How do “the crazy ones” create their own legacy?

  1. They have a long term strategic view of where they want to go in the time they believe they have available.

They focus on a single issue that they believe represents the tipping point for their organization; that will make the difference between mediocrity and greatness.

  1. They avoid looking at short term tactics which, at best, define a more reactive approach that produces hit and miss results. Unforgettable memories are not created by tacticians who flit from here to there.
  1. They think about HOW they achieve results not just the result delivered. Often an amazing result is overshadowed (and eludes notice and mention) by a disruptive leadership style that offends an audience.

A legacy is always a double edged sword: the achievement coupled with the behaviors enveloping it. Separate one from the other and the legacy disappears.

  1. They are relentless in the pursuit of their goal; they are not dissuaded by opposition or setbacks.

When progress is impeded, they “take the punch” and continue with the tenacity and perseverance required to get their plan back on track.

  1. They gather followers; people that believe in and care about what they are trying to achieve.

Legacies are never realized by a single person; the leader supplies the vision but its achievement takes the “blood sweat and tears” of many others who are willing  to throw their emotional energy behind it and see it to its conclusion.

  1. They are incredibly adept at tweaking the execution of their plan to respond to unforeseen events along the way, without disrupting the end game they pursue.

Their eye is always on the ultimate destination even though the journey to get there may require a number of alternate paths.

Remarkable leaders predetermine their own legacy; they look forward to create it rather than back to observe it.

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How Employee Empowerment Impacts Culture  

Employee empowerment is a powerful strategy. Used properly it can energize a company’s culture, increase profitability, and positively impact the customer experience. Yet, far too many organizations fail to empower their employees adequately, leading to frustrated teams and even more frustrated customers.

So, what is employee empowerment and how can it have a positive impact on organizational culture?

At its core, empowerment is about giving employees the freedom and authority to adapt and respond in real-time with solutions that help the customer. Empowerment requires organizational decision-makers to share information, resources, and power so that employees make decisions and solve problems on the spot.

Many of the greatest customer experience brands are known for their empowerment. Ritz-Carlton famously empowers its employees to spend up to $2,000 to make a customer happy, and you’ll likely never find a Starbucks barista who’s not empowered to give you a free drink or coupon if you have a service issue.

These companies understand their customer’s lifetime value. They know that the risk that a strategically empowered employee might give away too much pales in comparison to the potential loss of a customer.

These organizations also understand the internal impact that empowering employees can have on a customer-centric culture. Here are a few ways empowerment impacts organizational culture:

Empowerment Makes for More Loyal Customers

If your company ethos is centered on providing value for your customers (and why wouldn’t it be?), then it makes perfect sense to give your employees all of the tools and authority they need to make that happen.

A study by the Gallup Organization found “that organizations that empower employees experience 50% higher customer loyalty.”

Empowerment Makes Experiences Hassle Free

No customer is happy when a frontline rep says, “Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you. I’ll need to check with…” Customers today are more rushed and stressed than ever. They want effortless, hassle-free experiences and will seek out organizations that are easy to do business with.

Every time an organization has to call someone back, transfer someone, or tell a customer “no” simply because an employee is not empowered, that organization is damaging the customer’s experience as well as its relationship with the customer.

Empowered Organizations Are More Profitable

Pepperdine University identified 40 of the most empowered companies and compared their financial performance across over a dozen categories to S&P 500 averages; their results clearly indicated that empowerment correlates with financial success.

But what does profitability have to do with culture?

While being profitable is certainly no guarantee of an empowering, positive culture, being unprofitable virtually always guarantees a disempowering, unpleasant culture. Budget cutbacks, staff layoffs, and people jumping ship generally don’t make for very empowering environments.

Empowered Employees Are More Satisfied

One study surveyed 1,168 employees from 31 different foundations and found that “foundation staff members are most satisfied in their jobs when they feel empowered in their day-to-day experiences at work.”

Employees don’t want to work handcuffed; they don’t want to have to tell customers “no.” Empowering employees gives them more autonomy and tells them that they are trusted to make decisions, which leads to more satisfaction.

Empowered People Have Pride In Their Work

When you endow your employees with trust and authority it contributes to an increased feeling of pride in their work and in their workplace. Workers who are proud of their company report feeling more engaged and satisfied with their jobs, meaning that employee engagement is a path to all of the benefits that tend to follow a highly-satisfied workforce: less turnover, better teamwork, increased productivity, etc.

Think of the organization as a community. When residents are proud of where they live, they are more likely to keep areas clean, socialize together, and work toward improving things for the neighborhood as a whole.

Instilling a culture of empowerment requires dedication from every level of leadership; if those at the top don’t believe in it, there’s no way to get buy-in throughout the organization.

Like everything, empowerment has its limits and should be applied strategically and with an eye toward risk and reward; but if you can empower more employees to help deliver your customer experience, you’ll find that your culture and your customers will both benefit.

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5 Most Important Decisions a Leader Can Make

As a leader, you do have a choice as to how you spend your decision-making time; there are numerous possibilities when it comes to which decisions to make yourself and those that you leave for others.

How do you determine the “my decision” areas?

The criteria I used was payback. Where could I add the greatest value to the organization?

It’s not about what you enjoy doing or where your strengths are; it’s about where OTHERS will realize the maximum benefit if you focus your decision-making time there.

You may be amazing at financial analysis and enjoy dabbling in numbers, but if marketing is a critical element of the organization’ strategic plan, for example, you need to leave financials to someone else and re-vector your decision-making efforts.

Decide on these 5 strategic issues. These must be owned by the leader and no one else.

  1. The strategic game plan for the organization. Leadership value starts with deciding on the organization’s future. And it should be created by the leader and not chosen from a number of options submitted by management. What business you intend to be in and how you intend to differentiate yourself from your competition can only be decided by the leader who is directly accountable to ownership. It’s not something you can delegate to business development folks.
  1. The values that shape culture. Values describe how employees behave with each other “on the inside” and externally with customers. The leader must decide on the values critical to their strategic success and they must make the call on eliminating the traditional values that are no longer appropriate.
  1. The talent that gets recruited. Strategy and values are the determinants of the people you recruit. The leader must have their fingerprints on the “people strategy”. They must decide if it will do the job; it can’t be delegated to human resources. The wrong people in critical roles will drive your strategy to fail. I used to participate in candidate interviews; an excellent way to monitor how your expectations are being met, as well as a great learning experience for the other managers in the room.
  1. The “customer moment” architecture. If the leader isn’t personally involved in defining what the customer transaction with the organization “looks like”, dysfunction results; everyone does their own thing and offers up their own version of serving the customer in an exemplary manner. The leader must decide what the moment looks like at the frontline level where customer perception is controlled. Leaders don’t like to engage at this level of detail, but this micro-managing is essential.
  1. Aligning activities with the game plan. Aligning activities is where most things go wrong. The strategy says one thing but the people in the various functions behave in a manner inconsistent with the chosen direction. The leader must decide on an alignment plan developed by every department in the organization; it’s the only way synergy is guaranteed.

Strategy, values, people, customers and organizational synergy. What could be more important to decide on for a leader?

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Don’t Have an HR Technology Strategy? Four Tips for Building One

Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School professor, author, and expert on competitive strategy defines strategy as “the creation of a unique and valuable position involving a different set of activities” (1996). A 2012 article published in strategy + business explains that strategy is, “the result of choices executives make on where to play and how to win to maximize long-term value.” Both definitions emphasize the importance of making decisions aimed at creating long- term value for an organization.

Strategies exist at all levels of the organization; an HR technology strategy should be born of this and support the overall strategic objectives of HR and the organization. HR must take ownership of their HR technology strategy and ensure that it aligns with the HR strategy (which should be in alignment with the business strategy). Additionally, they should emphasize more than just efficiency and effectiveness as a driver for the adoption of technology and choose solutions with agility in mind to allow for future growth and flexibility while focusing on deploying solutions that meet the current and future needs of the organization is paramount.

  1. Take ownership of your HR technology strategy

Technology has changed the way HR does their job. In David Ulrich’s book, HR Transformation: Building Human Resources From the Outside In, Mr. Ulrich explains that HR needs to become a “technology proponent”. He emphasizes the importance of HR’s role in leveraging technology to improve efficiency, to connect employees, and the need for HR to leverage new communication channels (e.g., social media) to engage with their employees.

HR should be responsible for setting the HR technology strategy in partnership with IT, and both should work together to make sure that HR is approaching business problems with the right solutions. While IT can certainly help inform the selection process and partner with HR during the implementation phase, HR needs to take the lead. HR has the employee perspective and an intimate understanding of the practices that support an effective workforce.

The new wave of HR technology (driven by the growing popularity of cloud-based HR) does not require much heavy lifting, and the space is ripe for a few wide-eyed technically savvy HR employees to help shape the future of their function. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms can be deployed much faster and are highly configurable. With SaaS, HR now has the keys to the technology and no longer needs to call upon IT to make changes to the software; enabling HR to quickly improve the design of HR systems and processes quickly to meet the needs of the business. To effectively own the strategy, HR must:

  • Understand technology and be able to liaise with IT on a regular basis
  • Lead the creation, implementation, and maintenance of the HR technology strategy
  • Understand how your employees interact with their work on a daily basis and how technology can be leveraged to support them
  1. Align your technology strategy with the key HR and Business Goals

Not having alignment to the business strategy is like putting up drywall without first framing the house. Without a shared vision or understanding of how HR technology supports the business, implementations will likely fail, and the full benefits of technology will never be reaped. The lack of alignment may even have negative repercussions for your organization.

To create an HR technology strategy or plan, it is imperative to become intimately familiar with your organization’s short and long-term goals (as well as those of HR), which means more than just reading them off of a PowerPoint slide. To gain a better and more holistic understanding of the importance of these goals HR should conduct interviews with stakeholders in their organizations that includes HR leaders, members of the executive leadership team and business line managers. The information and knowledge that can be gained from these interviews can add color and bring greater awareness of the strategic direction of the organization and the challenges that need to be overcome to be successful.

As is the case with any human capital management technology, no single application will drive effectiveness; rather it is important to align programs and actions that go together. Additionally, creating alignment not only provides a focus for your plan but also a means to assess or measure the success and impact of your strategy.

Aligning your HR Technology strategy should go beyond just aligning to the overall organizational goals but should also include alignment to critical business units. Creating a strategy that is aligned with multiple parts of your organization allows you to adapt to changes in the market better and ensure that you are focusing on the right things. To ensure alignment with the business strategy:

  • Understand the current business environment – internally and externally; know what forces are at play
  • Document the organization’s short and long-term objectives
  • Take stock of the unique needs of each function and critical business areas
  • Clearly understand how technology can/can not facilitate achieving your strategic objectives

However, merely having an HR technology strategy isn’t enough. Neither is having the best technology. What matters more and provides real differentiation is effectively executing that strategy. Effective execution requires having the right resources (software and human), creating a roadmap that is agile and change ready, and one that is focused on both short and long-term strategic goals.

  1. Build agility into your HR technology strategy

“Agility is the new currency of the economy” (Source: The Changing World of HR Technology: 2012 Report Card) and technology plays a crucial role in an organization’s ability to remain competitive and better able to deal with an ever-changing business environment. Technology that supports the management and development of an organization’s human capital needs to be agile enough to respond to both external and internal factors.

The strategy should be multi-year, spanning several years and be frequently revisited to assess progress. Continually monitoring internal and external business conditions and linking those back to the strategy is vital to remaining agile and ready to adapt when needed.

In most cases, being agile with workforce technology means – having it in the cloud and being able to reconfigure offerings quickly or switch technologies (neither is possible with perpetual licensed software or ASP providers (on/off-premise). Technological innovations, like software-as-a-service (SaaS), have the ability to make the world smaller and organizations more efficient. Through standardization of processes, SaaS applications can reduce complexity and take upgrades quicker. In a unified and/or integrated global SaaS system this can facilitate much greater simplification and enable the organization to react more quickly to the changing business environment.

By implementing SaaS (cloud-based), HR technology organizations can become more agile in the management of people, their most valuable assets. However, for some organizations, like Nationwide, taking a hybrid approach is the right way to go. As a result of heavy customizations to their PeopleSoft system, they decided to keep their HRMS on-premise while moving their talent management processes to the cloud.

Consider the following:

  • Implement technology that facilitates (not inhibits) the organization’s ability to change
  • Build in scenarios to factor in changes to both the internal and external business environment (i.e., downsizing, M&A, regulatory changes)
  • Create a 5-10 year rolling HR technology strategy that has yearly check-ins and evaluations as a part of the process
  • Select technology that is scalable and flexible; vendor dependability is an important factor to consider when selecting solution providers 
  1. Think beyond efficiency and effectiveness

For HR to be able to make a direct contribution to the long-term success of the organization the function must stop thinking about HR technology as solely a means to automate. Automation alone does not drive organizational success. Human capital applications that help to attract, retain and develop the right people, with the right skills and the right cultural fit are the things that can begin the strategic transformation of the HR function. To support strategic initiatives, organizations should be able to answer the following two questions:

  • How does technology enable the effectiveness and efficiency of our people, programs, and initiatives? Remember, technology is not the solution but rather an enabler (and in some cases a distracter). Focus on the role that technology plays in the management of your human capital and not on any one particular vendor or type of tool; keep an open mind as you begin to find the answers to all of these questions. Once a tool (or tools) has been selected, involve employees of all types to help identify which features make the most sense to implement and to assess how user-friendly the interface is and workflow is for all employees who will be customers of the system.
  • How can technology improve the effectiveness of how your organization manages its talent? According to research from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) (see: The People-Profit Chain) high-performance organizations effectively manage talent by creating an environment that maximizes employee productivity and performance. High-performance organizations understand that success does not rely on the inner workings of talent management processes but rather by making better evidence-based workforce decisions via workforce planning and workforce analytics, and equipping managers (and leaders) to manage the workforce. Technology that supports rather than hinders the effectiveness of managing talent should be simple, easy to access (mobile) and allow for faster, more accurate decision-making.

Consider the following:

  • Employ HR technology as a strategic tool to help drive performance in your organization; not solely as a means to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Technology should only be implemented where it adds value (or where required by law)

Developing an HR technology strategy begins with taking a deeper look at business priorities and validating how current systems are and are not supporting the organization’s goals. This helps create a path toward synchronizing the organization’s priorities with the HR technology strategy. A successful HR technology strategy should be aligned to the needs of the business, agile, focused on strategic enablement rather than just efficiency and effectiveness, and should be owned by HR (in partnership with IT).

Recommendations for Building an HR Technology Strategy

HR Tech Strategy


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10 Things Smart Business People Do

Smart business people:

  1. Understand that the way to serve customers in an exemplary way is to serve employees in the same manner. If dazzling service doesn’t happen on the inside it’s unlikely to happen on the outside.
  1. Have a strategic game plan for their organization and use it as THE context for all tactical activity. Chasing tactics that don’t have direct line of sight to strategy is a characteristic of non-performing organizations.
  1. Don’t over-analyze everything. The degree of study depends on the risk associated with the decision to be made. They don’t get mesmerized with the tools of analysis; they use them appropriate to the level and risk inherent in the decision to be made.
  1. Don’t look for perfection. The quest for the perfect solution (which doesn’t exist in any event) only takes valuable time away from execution. They understand that success is a function of doing lots of imperfect stuff fast.
  1. Are known champions of change which gives them currency in the organization and the ability to garner resources to get things done.
  1. Are “mindless” about execution. They are comfortable with loosening up on the plan; get it “just about right”, and bear down and focus on execution. They understand that performance depends on how well they execute, not on the efficacy of the plan.
  1. Spend copious amounts of time with the frontline; “on the coal face” where customer meets company. Learning what’s really going on. Make meaningful change. They don’t have an ivory tower mentality.
  1. Are contrarian by nature. They believe that the source of opportunity lies not in copying what others are doing, but rather charting a course that no one else is on. They are “180 degree thinkers”.
  1. Place a priority on meeting with customers regularly. There is no substitute for getting feedback on performance directly from a customer. They make it a priority and schedule it weekly on their calendar.
  1. Are relentless and voracious learners. Standing still intellectually isn’t an option in a world changing every instant. Value added to the organization depends on business people “keeping up”. They believe staying ahead requires learning leadership.

The smart generation of business people know that success doesn’t come from an academic pedigree.

Smart business people know that brilliant performance is the result of practicing the fundamentals of being different, staying close to customers, serving employees and executing strategy in the trenches.

Are you one of the smart business people?


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How To Create A Competitive Claim That Is More Than Hot Air

Most companies struggle with defining what makes them unique; different from their competitors. They can’t answer the question “Why should I do business with you and NOT your competition?” in a succinct meaningful way.

There are two traps they fall into.

First, they generally speak to the internal capabilities an organization has (what leadership believes are the differentiators) rather than being explicit about how they compare to others in the market. “We provide the highest quality products.”; “Our people are our greatest asset.” They stress technology. They talk about their size and claim market leadership.

Second, most competitive advantage statements are high level and aspirational in nature. They are not precise and specific enough to communicate how an organization is special among the choices available. “We provide the best value.” “We have been in business for 100 years.” “We offer the lowest prices out there.”

The use of helium filled adjectives often abound. Overused and eye-glazing descriptors like: better, best, top, #1, excellent, great, greatest, lowest, most and so on pervade the advertising airwaves.

A competitive claim must declare the difference between your organization and your competitors AND it must be precise enough so that people can “see” the difference. You can’t see “greatest” for example and you can’t see “most”. They mean different things to different people.

As the solution, create The ONLY Statement as an element of the Strategic Game Plan

“We are the ONLY ones that…” is its form.

ONLY must be brief. If it takes you a page of narrative to define your competitive advantage, you don’t have one.

ONLY never includes the “P” word. Claiming a price advantage is a slippery slope as price can be easily copied and it says nothing about value provided. “The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about. “ – Seth Godin

A couple of ONLY examples:

“We provide the ONLY solution that permanently stops people from depositing biohazard contaminants through manhole covers”— MUG Solutions, Vancouver

“St John Ambulance is the ONLY provider of First Aid, Health & Safety Solutions Anytime, Anywhere”— St John Ambulance, Vancouver

Test ONLY with your customers to ensure it addresses something they care about, and you consistently demonstrate 24/7. The ONLY Statement works. It can be observed. It can be measured. People get it.

Start your ONLY journey today….

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

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

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

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

photo credit: Len Radin via photopin cc

Hiring: A Winner Every Time #TChat Recap

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

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,
Know when to fold ‘em,
now when to walk away,
And know when to run…”
–Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”

I knew something was wrong the moment the two men sat in front us on the bus. I was only a freshman in college, but I knew that feeling in my gut — the pinch of danger.

One asked, “You want to play a game? You’re a winner every time.” The other acted like he didn’t know the guy, but I had seen them laughing together at the bus stop before they got on.

I didn’t respond, but my friend did. “Sure, I’ll play,” he said.

“Eric,” I muttered, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

The instigator persisted, “C’mon man, he’ll be a winner for sure. I promise.”

The other man chimed in. “Oh, I’ve played this before. You can win. I’ll help you,” he said.

Eric ignored me and unsuspectingly dove into a round of three-card Monte, a classic street con in which victims think they’re teaming-up with a stranger to cheat the dealer — when the stranger is actually conspiring with the dealer to cheat the victim.

In less than 15 minutes, Eric lost $80. I kept telling him to stop, but between his own belief that he could win, and the dealer’s encouragement, he kept right on losing.

Hiring Decision or Jedi Mind Trick?

Time and time again throughout life, we all learn that our gut isn’t a very accurate decision maker. Yet we tend to think we can beat the odds — even when it comes to hiring the best candidate for a job. Of course, applicants don’t think of their job search as three-card Monte, but many hiring managers and recruiters assume we can pick the best candidate in a heartbeat.

In reality, recruiting and hiring data reveal a different story — the gut actually steers us wrong most of the time. Maybe empathic, balanced decision makers have a better track record (when guided by reliable data), but recruiters really can’t predict the future.

Trusting More Than Your Gut

There are better bets than soothsayers. For example, consider the Challenger sales model, from a powerful new book by CEB. Based on a survey of more than 6,000 individuals, The Challenger Sale explains how sales professionals tend to fit one of five profiles:

Hard Worker
Problem Solver
Relationship Builder
Lone Wolf

If you’ve been responsible for sales or marketing, you know that most of us focus on building customer relationships. It makes sense to assume that the best salespeople are relationship builders, right?

The CEB study suggests otherwise. In fact, “Challengers” are sales rock stars — they’re the only ones who consistently outperform in complex selling environments. They push customer thinking, they introduce new solutions, and they illuminate problems customers overlook.

Lessons From #TChat: Hiring Guts and Glory

This insight supports what we learned this week at #TChat events with our guests, Chris Mursau VP at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care. Recruiting success depends on both:

1) Guts: We all bring intuition to the hiring table. But the real guts of recruiting comes from valid, reliable data and methods that inform our human nature. The more we know about the skills, competencies and characteristics that lead to stellar job performance, the better our decisions will be — for recruiting, hiring and retention.

2) And Glory: Hiring top performers is a process. It demands continuous review and adjustment, based on performance and retention data. It takes rigor to understand who to hire next — whether candidates are external or internal. Ultimately, that’s the critical challenge: the more you know about employees who “go all in” — those who consistently elevate their performance for your organization — the better prepared you’ll be to find a winner in your next hire.

Want to know what the TalentCulture community recommends about how to improve hiring decisions? Check the #TChat Storify highlights and resource links below. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas — let’s keep the conversation going on Twitter and Google+.

#TChat Week-In-Review: How to Make Better Hiring Decisions


Watch the #TChat sneak peek hangout now

SAT 2/15:
#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a brief G+ hangout, where he and Chris Mursau discussed why it’s so tough for companies to choose talent. See the #TChat Preview: “Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide?

SUN 2/16: Post:
In her weekly Forbes column, TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, discussed why and how recruitment should rely on more than instinct: “Hiring Success: Beyond the Gut Check.”

“Applicant Assessments: Testing the Waters” — by Dr. Nancy Rubin
“Job Auditions: Secret to Successful Hires?” — by Matt Mullenweg

WED 2/19:


Listen to the #TChat Radio show replay

#TChat Radio: Our hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talked with Chris Mursau, and Jean Lynn, about effective job candidate evaluation methods. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay now…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Chris and Jean moved over to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin lead our entire TalentCulture community in a dynamic open discussion focused on 5 key questions about candidate evaluation practices in today’s workplace.

See highlights from the Twitter stream the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Hiring Great Talent: How Do You Decide?

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Chris Mursau VP at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care for sharing your perspectives on improving hiring quality. Your expertise and guidance brought depth and dimension to the #TChat discussion!

#TCHAT TOPGRADING DISCOUNT: Interested in trying Topgrading? #TChat participants receive a discount of 10%, on a 2-day Topgrading Workshop. Just use Code TC213 on checkout by 2/28/2014.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about candidate selection methods? We welcome 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 at #TChat Events, we’ll take a very special look at 2014 “The Year of the Employee” with Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte. See more information at #TChat Radio, and save the date: Wednesday, February 26!

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editor’s Note: CONGRATS to Paul Thoresen — winner of the recent Pebble smartwatch giveaway from Dice! And thanks to all the #TChat contributors who shared tech recruiting ideas and questions with Dice and #FutureofTech.)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

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

TC Digest: Culture Beats Strategy, User Adoption and Transform HR

If you haven’t noticed, has been going through a lot of changes. We’re introducing a new editorial calendar, we’re hard at work on a media kit and the core team is working on a redesign! Why not introduce a new column at the same time?

While it’s not consistent yet, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on our TC Digest and want to keep bringing them to you as often as we can. If you simply can’t wait for the next installment, I highly recommend following @talentculture on Twitter or our Facebook page! (email is coming patient Jedi). We also are putting together new writing and contributing guidelines, so if you’ve always wanted to be a TalentCulture writer, here’s your chance!

So without further ado (or excuses) here’s all the news about the world of work:

Did you miss #Tchat last week? We had a fantastic time on Focus Radio, talking about HR Tech Innovation in 2012. Our guests kept up On-Air with what must have been a record-breaking twitter stream. Here’s the recap.

If you’ve ever wondered what #Tchat was, or how to participate, we’ve got you covered. One of our most loyal and fascinating participants Dave Ryan gave us the lowdown on how to do Twitter Chats, and why they help you move forward in your professional life. Follow Dave here.

Dirty Jobs. Someone has to do them but why are Americans less and less inclined to? We explored some of the answers in this week’s #Tchat and it was a remarkably eye-opening discussion. The recap’s live already and it’s a doozy! Check it out for great resources, some immigration info and a fantastic video from “more than just a pretty face” Mike Rowe appealing to Congress.

Less Pay for More Freedom? Harvard Business Review takes a look at just how many folks would trade in that big paycheck for a say-so in how they work, where they work and some access to social. Titled “The Days of ‘Managers Know Best’ Are Ending” the article hones in on what’s important to workers NOW.

RecruiterPoet chimes in with “Keys to Workplace Happiness“, an easy quiz that helps folks figure out how they’re feeling about their current position and what to do about it!

Whether you’re an HR Professional trying to get your team to work with a new product or a vendor hoping you can get mainstream attention within your target market, User Adoption should be something you’re paying attention to! Don’t know where to start? How about this webinar by William Tincup and Julie Lecomte? It’s free and it’s what these smart people do every day.

We didn’t name this blog TalentCulture for nothing. In this Fast Company article..culture eats strategy for lunch. Profiling constantly gabbed about companies like Zappos, Southwest and more, it offers tips on how to make your workplace a little better and then a little better than that!

Finally, we have Blogging4Jobs’ take on the changing market. It’s happening right under our noses. Is your recruiting team ready?

TOMORROW is when we’ll be announcing the winner of our Transform HR Contest! Haven’t heard about Transform, the new conference by TLNT? Check out this post by editor John Hollon and then enter the contest. Don’t you want to say “I was there when…”? Enter to win a free ticket! See below for details.

Want a chance to go to TLNT Transform in Austin? Well we’ve got it for you! You can win a ticket to TLNT Transform to see Billy Beane, Libby Sartain, Jason Lauritsen and Tim Sackett. TLNT and TalentCulture have teamed up to give you a great discount but ONE LUCKY PERSON will be able to win a free pass to this inaugural event! Here’s what you have to do: Simply TWEET the discount code: #TF12TCH with the reason you want to go! The winner will be chosen Friday.


New Years Resolution For The "Over-Thinker"

My personal strategy is doing lots of evaluation on important things throughout the year to gauge what’s working and not working. These regular progress and results checks suggest a range of adjustments to make (along with their potential impacts). Afterward, I decide what to change.

Given this ongoing process, I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions; they seem too point-in-time to be effective. Handed the assignment of doing a December 31st TalentCulture post though, it’s a topic begging to be addressed.

Based on a recent panel discussion I attended of successful entrepreneurs, I think the perfect area for a 2011 New Year’s resolution is my penchant for systematic consideration, thought, and planning in business.

During the breakfast session, four entrepreneurs on the panel shared their strategies for innovation and planning. It was clear from hearing them that careful, systematic consideration about business decisions is WAY overrated.

How OVERRATED you may ask?

Here are some of their comments from my live tweets of the event:

THAT’S how overrated planning is according to these four.  Based on their track records, it’s hard to dispute what works for them.

Listening between the lines, four factors trigger their collective willingness to trade a lot less pondering for much more rapid implementation:

1.  An intuitive understanding of their businesses, customers, and markets

2.  Unwavering confidence in their abilities to sense, execute, succeed, recover (when they don’t succeed) amid opportunities that present themselves

3. A risk-embracing orientation

4. The flexibility start-ups can enjoy over bigger competitors

Looking at the list, I’m good at dissecting business situations, but my planning orientation comes from the need to anticipate multiple potential downsides (counter to #2) and risks (counter to #3) to minimize them. Having spent most of my career in a corporate setting, flexing ample resources is central to most business strategies (counter to #4).

So to challenge myself and develop my weaker skill sets, I’m entering 2011 with a new acronym emblazoned on my brain: BITP.

It stands for “Better Implementing Than Planning.”

Or “Pondering.”

Or both. You decide…RIGHT NOW!

I’m making 2011 the year of “Smart Immediacy” for me. If you’ve also been labeled an “over-thinker” in your career, I’d encourage you to join in.

The focus will be getting much better at quickly perceiving, evaluating, and deciding on opportunities to begin implementing on them much more rapidly and decisively. What will we do to improve?

  • Fully trust ourselves where we’ve already demonstrated success.
  • Limit the time allowed for planning for contingencies almost certain to never happen.
  • Look for opportunities to slice several steps from existing processes.
  • Embrace that decisions once made can be reversed if they don’t pan out as anticipated.

What do you think? Are you up for joining me on this new approach in 2011? Or if this is already your orientation, are you willing to share your guidance and suggestions?

Join in the year of “Smart Immediacy” starting RIGHT NOW!

Leadership Principles Learned in Military: Communicating ‘Why’ is Key

Today’s guest post is by our talented colleague and friend Joe Sanchez. Joe is passionate about making a difference in government, business, and communities. He is focused on strategy, communications, marketing, performance management, and information technology. He loves cycling (I know this as we swap bike stories) and is a sports enthusiast. Joe’s special interests include public education, Special Olympics, and Veterans. You can follow him on Twitter @sanchezjb for more valuable insights.

I consider myself honored to have served with our nation’s finest young men and women in our Armed Forces.  It was an absolutely fantastic learning experience from many perspectives, the most important one being from a leadership perspective.

One of my early lessons was that while there are a number of foundational aspects of leadership often referred to as leadership principles, how these principles are applied and made “real” can and should vary based on environmental and situational factors.

In recognition of this Veteran’s Day, I focused on four leadership principles (among many) that I learned in the military and have tailored and applied in the private sector.  Their application is not limited to commercial enterprises; they are equally applicable to government, non-profits, and other NGOs.

These principles are focused on the relationships between leaders and the people that they are responsible for.  Effectively applied, they can help leaders establish a culture that values communications, leader and talent development, learning, and recognition.  Such a culture in turn should serve as a springboard for achieving organizational goals.

Emphasize the Importance of Communication

Encourage, and perhaps most importantly, respect and acknowledge the value of candid communication within your organization; this is a risk mitigator and an innovation multiplier.

Communicating the “Why” is just as important, if not more so, than the “How.”

When your people are challenged with decision/action points for which there was/is no specific guidance, understanding the “Why” can enable them to take the right action.

Communication is the foundation of innovation – and just about everything else the organization does, therefore, communicate early and often.


Do not underestimate the value of “breaking bread” with people in your organization; find opportunities to do this with people at all levels in the organization.

Above all, communicate confidence in your organization, enthusiasm about what your organization has achieved and is focused on achieving, and a passion for your role, to your employees, customers, and stakeholders. To paraphrase, General Colin Powell, these are force multipliers for success.

Develop Talent and Grow Leaders

Surround yourself with people smarter than you and leverage their experience and knowledge to the nth degree possible.

Challenge up and coming leaders with positions of increased scope and responsibility (“stretch” them as well;” this is another form of recognition) but make sure they have a mentor to assist them.

Advancing and promoting people within your organization should not be based on their past performance but on their demonstrated potential for positions of increased scope and responsibility.

Developing future leaders is one of a leader’s most important responsibilities.

Value Learning

Be a continuous learner and emphasize the importance of this in word and deed to your organization so that it values continuous learning.

Provide opportunities for cross-training your people in functional disciplines within your organization; besides contributing to their professional development, this will enable them to see the bigger picture and understand the “Why.”

Emphasize the importance of collaboration but make sure that people understand “Why” collaboration is important by linking that collaboration to specific goals or outcomes.

Seek diversity, not sameness, in collaboration.

Establish a systemic means of capturing and evaluating insights from your people on the front lines that interact with customers and stakeholders on a daily basis; these insights may present new opportunities and may impact your strategy and goals.

Reinforce success; get your people and teams to discuss and learn “Why” goals were achieved and what can be done to expand on that success.

Likewise, use failure as a learning opportunity.

Recognition Begins with Accountability

Leverage collaborative decision-making but at the end of the day, recognize that you, as the leader, are and will be held accountable for what’s accomplished and/or not accomplished.

Credit your people publicly and privately when goals and objectives are achieved and acknowledge responsibility if they are not.

Authority can be delegated but not responsibility.

Find ways to meaningfully recognize people in front of their peers when they excel.

Don’t just recognize individuals; find ways to recognize teams and organizations as well.

People want to believe and feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves – that they are making a difference; look at how everything you do as a leader will address and support this need.

Challenge your organization with “stretch goals” and most importantly, prepare and enable them to achieve those goals.

Set aside a designated time each month to brief new personnel on where your/their organization has been, where it’s going, and the values that are going to enable it to get there.

Use organizational get-togethers to introduce new personnel to the larger organization.

Use storytelling to recognize people’s accomplishments and reinforce the organizational culture that you, as a leader, want.

If you’re interested in reading more about “Leadership Lessons from the Military,” that happens to be the title for the current issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR).

Lastly and most importantly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2010, the unemployment rate for Veterans was 10.2% vs. the national unemployment rate of 9.6%.   I have again been fortunate to have worked with a good number of Veterans since leaving the military.  I have seen these Veterans successfully apply these leadership principles (and others) to foster organizational success.  Consider hiring a Veteran, they have alot to offer your organization and are driven, as they were in the service of our country, to make a difference.