Yes, Your Employees Are Probably Looking for Other Jobs. Stop Trying to Fight It.

With low unemployment and growing demand for talent, it’s absolutely a job seeker’s market out there right now.

A survey last year found that 82 percent of workers were open to new employment opportunities, and Gallup data from 2015 and 2016 indicated that half of all employees in the U.S. were actively seeking new jobs. The ongoing talent crunch means a huge percentage of job applicants are actively employed at other companies.

So how do you keep your talent from leaving? For starters, by knowing that cracking down on job seekers within your company isn’t going to help. Smart organizations are focusing more on retaining talent than on hindering their workers’ ability to search for other jobs.

Last month, I wrote in my column on Forbes that you should probably stop worrying so much about retention. Let’s take it a step further — here’s my advice for how to stop panicking about retention and start focusing on what matters.

Focus on Incentives and Culture to Retain Talent

All the data shows that companies that demonstrate they believe in the professional and personal growth of their employees are much more likely to attract and retain top talent.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by clearly celebrating each and every accomplishment and achievement by employees. It’s also quite important that employees and managers remain in close contact on accomplishments, which also means having clearly established goals and milestones. Generating accurate data on employees hitting their target goals and also showing the trajectory of their performance and improvements is always helpful.

And companies should offer as much training as possible, particularly beyond employees’ current job description. Work with employees on their current and stretch goals, offering guidance about next steps.

If an employee can continue to grow by staying within the company, that’s great. But if they can’t, don’t try to maneuver the situation so they’re afraid to leave. Instead make sure they leave on good terms and know they always will have a home in your organization.

They may return sooner than you think — either as a boomerang employee or an independent contractor. Employers can’t afford to burn bridges any more than employees can.

Don’t Try to Stop Employees from Interviewing with Other Companies

I was asked recently — by someone who expected me to say what a good idea this was — if they could request that their employees not interview with another firm.

Here’s the truth: It’s a terrible idea to make such a request. Instead, I strongly suggest you invite your employees to interview with other firms. It’s a remarkable incentive for employees to stay, actually. If you encourage them to explore their free will and free choice, you’re sending a message that:

  • You’re confident enough as a company to be compared with others.
  • You’re confident enough as an employer to know you can replace an employee.
  • You’re confident enough in that employee to give them the privilege of making up their own mind.

Given the statistics, it’s highly likely employees will be interviewing. You might as well make it a part of your non-restrictive management policy to recognize that change and growth — even out the door — is inevitable. Make it clear that an employee’s career growth is considered a win for the company, even if the employee grows right out of the organization.

This comes with one important caveat. Encouraging employees to interview with other companies can be done by a brand that has plenty of confidence, as well as stellar compensation and benefits packages. A company that’s trying to hold on to its employees by the fingernails should probably steer clear of this approach.

There’s No Point in Blocking Job Portals in the Office

People look for work and jobs 24/7, and, yes, that probably means in your office. But there’s not much you can, or should, do about it. Even if you did “lock out” job portals on your organization’s PCs, intranet or network, some employees will find a way.

Glassdoor statistics from 2015 indicated that 45 percent of job seekers used mobile devices to search for jobs at least once every day. Unless you’re going to act like a grade-school teacher and confiscate mobile devices, it’s going to be nearly impossible to prevent a sneak peek at a job portal. Plus, such rules smack of retrogressive management policies and are begging to be broken. For example, what, exactly, should be the consequences for breaking such a rule?

Instead, trust your workers and show confidence in them and the strength of your organization. The reality is that job boards and portals can be random and overwhelming, and many employees are smart enough to take a personal day to focus only on job hunting.

There’s no doubt that today’s workforce landscape is challenging for organizations of all types. But accepting this reality as it truly is and focusing your resources on what matters most to employees will help you retain more talent over the long run.

Performance Management: It’s Not a Product, It’s a Partnership  

For winter, here’s a cold-weather metaphor any homeowner can relate to. But it’s a model that, as you’ll see, has to do with any major shift in a big system. Imagine you’ve finally made the plunge and opted to spend a whole lot to invest in a brand new heating system for your house. It’s super high tech: state of the art, energy efficient, entirely customized to your needs, with digital thermostats and a cognitive design that will not only remember your heating needs but anticipate them. You can control it from your smartphone and, theoretically, coach family and guests on how to use it. The installer walks you through it all, and it seems incredibly simple. And then the installer leaves.

And you realize you haven’t a clue how to use it.

What do you do?

You call the installer. Come back and show me again. Or my family will be furious with me, because I made them give up the old furnace that may have clunked and roared, but it worked.

Workforces are not heating systems. But as with any other essential part of the infrastructure, you can’t make a massive, systemic change to how you manage the workforce and then let it run itself. What we’ve also found is that in terms of performance management, 88% of companies want to rethink how they do it, according to a 2015 study by Deloitte. But of those, only 8–12% stopped relying on performance reviews.

Here’s one simple reason: they don’t get enough help. To revise one of the very foundations of an organization — one that blends culture with process and strategy with system, and has an impact on the single most valuable asset, people —  there should be a partnership guiding the change. Just as we set expectations for our employees, it’s time to set them for our consultants as well. What do we need to drive successful change? Here are five key behaviors companies can ask for:

  1. Don’t just hold our hand. Inspire us. This is one instance where handholding is not just appropriate, it’s necessary. No matter how sophisticated an organization’s knowledge of the software, or how savvy the HR team is, there are going to be gaps in that intelligence. It’s not just about software and tech issues, either. It’s about the very role performance management can take as a driver of organizational success. You want a consultant who sees the role of performance management as a catalyst, not a punishment, to enable employers to grow and thrive. It’s part technician, part coach.
  2. Don’t make it too complicated.  There are too many instances of plug and play applications that are not fully utilized due to poor support and overcomplicated mechanics — yes, and that can adversely affect both successful ROI and next steps. A badly conceived change could cancel out the value of future initiatives. Innovation only drives innovation when it works. Not only do we need dedicated human beings as well as chatbots to help troubleshoot, there should also be a point when a complicated problem is handled back on the consulting end, freeing HR to go back to its other tasks.
  3. Craft alignment with the customer. I recently wrote about the need to revise the foundational culture underpinning how companies manage performance: “Without the engagement and alignment of our workforce, all the big plans in the world won’t amount to much.”  The same can be said of a support system. If a company has committed to changing its performance management, it’s made the cultural shift. But without the engagement and alignment of the provider / consultant from which it’s sourcing its new performance management system, that cultural shift won’t amount to much. The new system may not function smoothly or seam into the existing organizational culture, and may drive disengagement and resentment among the workforce.
  4. Partner, don’t just provide. The tremendous shifts transforming the world of work point back to the same need again and again for teamwork not just within organizations, but outside of them. Success depends on positive collaboration — working together to facilitate the change, initiate the change, train the change, and then maintain the change. Innovative companies will not only customize the software and elements like the dashboard or the portal, they also tailor the entire process, managing not just the moment of change, but the continuum from initial adoption to fully integrated use.
  5. Act a bit like a startup. There’s a recent, compelling article on organizational change by friend and colleague Josh Levine. He breaks organizational culture into 5 Ps: package, potential, people, purpose, and perception. It’s also an apt way to look at how an organization handles a profound change such as a new performance management system. Just how the system works — what’s in the package has to be clear: its platforms, check-ins, surveys, self-assessments, and more — so employees know what to expect. But they also should see the merits and potential — for instance, if management is going to be based on motivation instead of separation (as happens in stack rankings and badly designed peer reviews), or performance reviews are going to happen more often and with less stress involved and more flexibility.

Presenting the potential is up to the people involved, and may be more effective when it’s conveyed by those who created the system. They don’t need to sell it anymore, whereas the organization may feel compelled to pitch it to the workforce to facilitate a smoother adoption. And is the workforce given the chance to really see the purpose of this new model from their own point of view? It’s as critical to manage perceptions as it is to carefully manage change — but to do that transparently and authentically. That needs to come from both provider and purchaser.

We talk a whole lot about the need to change our performance management systems, and how they’re already changing for the better. We focus on how best to engage rather than evaluate, how to use feedback to empower, how to stop treating employees like numbers whose performance simply checks off desired boxes. The specifics of a system can vary widely. But the bottom line should be a sustained, agile, responsive and scalable partnership.

This article was sponsored by Reflektive.  All opinions are that of TalentCulture and Meghan M. Biro.

The Best Performance Management Puts Humans First

It’s one thing to decide to revise your performance management approach. It’s another thing to successfully re-engineer the mindset that embraces the change — and then manage that transformation across the organization. Too often, performance management is still stuck in an old framework that conflates human performance and business performance as one. If there’s anything we know now — illuminated by revealing data — it’s that humans must come first.

Why intentions get derailed

Yes: our business or organization is only as good as its people: to a certain extent, that’s true. But confusing how we measure what people do and how the organization is doing often results in our people feeling devalued and their efforts overlooked. We know what happens next. While many companies say they want to change how they evaluate performance, 9 out of 10 still use numerical performance scores to not only to rank employees but also determine compensation. A recent HR strategy roundtable focused on plans versus reality: Most organizations average a mere two hours a year on performance management per employee. Meanwhile, half (48%) of employees surveyed in a recent study felt that a performance review helped them improve their performance.

Without the engagement and alignment of our workforce, all the big plans in the world won’t amount to much. The organization is likely too busy spinning its wheels to just sustain a workforce. We’re in a talent crunch: good talent is hard to find. Great talent — even harder. Facing churn and constantly forced to train and rebuild new teams, some managers are understandably going to fall back on the systems they already well know, and resist the prospect of yet more change. The complex fabric of today’s workforces will only exacerbate that sense of being under siege.

As the business performance suffers, it seems to underscore the need to better oversee how the people are doing, which can turn into a review of the mistakes or lapses they made in the past turbulent year. Some exasperated managers may want to point the finger at employees not ‘pulling their weight.’ Competitive rankings, awkward peer reviews, accusations of unfairness, a long future of compensation based on a half-hour meeting, surveys that start with key weaknesses — there go any plan to retool the workplace culture. There, then, go some of your best people. It’s crisis HR: forget redesigning the house at least until the fire’s out. Newsflash: the fire isn’t going to go out.

Change requires better tools

Here’s what must happen instead. Empower everyone. The role of managers is to enable the organization to work to keep it working: their loyalty must be to productivity. They may know full well there’s a better way but simply not believe it’s viable given the current turbulence they’re trying to navigate. But it’s exhausting, managing by crisis mitigation. It’s not engaging for anyone. So, if you can pry your captains’ hands off the wheel for a moment, it’s an ideal time to make the change — if it’s done right. Successfully initiating and seeing through a complete shift to a culture of collaboration, innovation, and empowerment — for everyone, including managers — means capitalizing on the powerful tech and innovative systems now available.  That way all levels of the organization, particularly management, is secure in knowing nothing will fall between the cracks.

In with the new

This new model of performance management functions on technology that frees manages to play a far more frequent and connected role in the overall performance of employees. And here’s what happens: the value is put back into people. On the human side, we get to be — human. Whether a meaningful debriefing when a project is still fresh in everyone’s mind, team feedback given by request, individual check-ins through a day or a week, or exchanges around goals and targets, the mindset is freed of a transactional imperative. There’s no need for human effort to be flattened into a spreadsheet and numbers. Replacing that is a far more collaborative and ongoing conversation that’s far more responsive to the needs of everyone involved and thus more productive in terms of the data and knowledge it creates.

On the tech side, the difference is a sea change. Goal alignment and attainment, for instance, can be measured on a granular level for employees and managers — to see specially and immediately how they’re working and what kind of progress is taking place. What skills need to be deepened, what training needs to be added, what improvements can be made — all is based on information, not an onslaught of impersonal rankings. Performance reviews, whatever time period they do cover, are based on tangible and real data that, in turn, is connected back to the employee’s own experience of the work. The tech integrates into existing systems and platforms, becoming part of the workplace — within the workplace, not outside of it. And every action can be measured to provide data that empowers improvement. The bottom line is responsiveness. The right performance management system is responsive the organization’s needs as well as human needs — and acts as a bridge between the two.

Organizations are only as good as their people, it’s true. We also know that employees do far better when they can take ownership of their own success and invest in their own excellence. The key difference is that people need to feel like that paradigm’s not a liability, but an advantage. To drive true change in performance management, there must be a powerful set of tools in place to keep it from going off the rails, set it on its course, and let it gain momentum from within. The right tech can effectively free managers from the relentless administrative pressures that tend to, by necessity, narrow their focus — when what they need is to be freed to connect with their workforce. The best tools put humans first — all of them.

To learn more, check out the webinar, “Making Performance Reviews More Human.”  from Reflekive.  Enjoy.

Photo Credit: Ravennanotizie Flickr via Compfight cc

How to Turn Your Employees into Brand Advocates

This article was written by Roy Maurer and published on SHRM.

Empowering employees to publicize and promote your organization as a brand advocate can give you a clear edge in the war for talent, experts agree. The recent trends toward marketing employer brand and leveraging social recruiting have opened up the possibilities of expanding engagement with passive talent and allowing employees to become an essential part of the mix. Employee advocacy programs prompt a company’s most trusted advocates—its employees—to share their stories over social channels, significantly expanding brand awareness and job opportunities, all while building the employee’s personal brand.

Once an organization has crafted an employer brand, employees identified as brand advocates should be charged with activating that brand, said Jess Von Bank, vice president of business development at Symphony Talent, a recruitment marketing software company based in New York City. “Your employees are powerful megaphones for your employer brand,” she said. “They’re natural storytellers with authentic voices, and they’re living personifications of your culture and mission.”

Done right, this can be a profitable way to attract talent. “Employee advocacy is a recruitment marketing channel based on your employees’ enthusiasm,” said Carrie Corbin, head of talent attraction, employer brand and diversity recruiting for American Airlines, based in Dallas. “It’s not enough just to be a great employer; people on the outside have to know that.”

The Benefits of Cultivating Employee Advocates

Enlisting employees to advocate on behalf of the employer lends authenticity to recruitment marketing and expands the company’s social presence.

“The No. 1 reason to invest in employee advocacy programs is to build trust with candidates,” said Charlotte Marshall, vice president of digital, social media and employer brand at Magellan Health, a health care services company headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. “The data shows that people trust their peers and employees more than just about anyone else when it comes to learning about a company, so it’s essential that you involve your employees in spreading the word.”

A recent study from research firm Gartner found that only 15 percent of people said they trust posts made by companies on social networking sites, compared with 70 percent who said they trust recommendations from people they know.

“You’re getting trusted guidance from the people you are connected to and would trust the most,” said Chloe Rada, senior marketing manager for talent acquisition at Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company headquartered in Paris. “Corporate careers channels are often not humanized, and messaging can be hard to decipher. Is the story coming from the employees, or is the brand speaking?” The corporate channel is still important, she said, but people outside the organization relate better to its employees.

In addition, the people who work for you “have huge networks of family and friends at their social fingertips,” Von Bank said. “The average employee advocate has a combined 1,100 connections across their respective social media channels.”

Testing has shown that corporate brand channel followers barely overlap with employees’ networks, significantly expanding the company’s social audience. Dell found that there was only 8 percent overlap between its employees’ Twitter followers and the brand’s Twitter followers, for example.

And due to the trustworthiness and personal nature of employee networks, content shared via employee advocates will perform 24 times better than content shared by corporate brand channels, according to Von Bank. “Do both, of course, but advocacy pays massive dividends you shouldn’t ignore,” she said.

Sodexo shared about 600 pieces of content during fiscal 2016, a majority of which were not job-related. The effort produced more than 43 million impressions. “We’ve seen a huge shift from leveraging our employees’ networks, to have that exponential reach,” Rada said.

Employees Benefit Too

Allowing employees to serve as brand advocates can also help establish their leadership potential and personal brand. “In many cases, you can build a better leader and achieve your talent acquisition goals by mapping someone’s upward mobility in the company with their ability to become an advocate for the company,” said Don Charlton, founder and chief product officer at JazzHR, a recruitment software platform based in Pittsburgh.

“Aside from your talent acquisition professionals, look around your organization for high-performing employees who are connected, engaged and represent the personas you’re looking to attract,” Von Bank said. “Give them the WIIFM [what’s in it for me?] and they’ll be happy to amplify your brand message.”

Charlton believes that employees with leadership potential and the potential to become company advocates should be involved in brand strategy from the start. “This involves allowing them to be as involved with shaping how the world experiences the company as possible,” he said. “The best way to create advocates in the organization depends on building a great culture that co-opts employee involvement. Don’t just sanction culture from HR. Ask your employee advocates to have an ownership stake in uncovering the culture.”

In that same vein, Charlton said employee advocates should be proactive participants in the recruiting process, from helping to write job postings and assisting with sourcing to being involved in interviewing and final decision-making.

Advocacy also drives engagement. “If you ask me to tell my network about my job and where I work, my chest puffs out a little bit,” Von Bank said. “I’m proud, dedicated, more closely committed to making sure what I say is true. The employee advocacy and engagement relationship is a chicken-or-egg scenario where you win either way.”

Tips to Get Started with Employee Advocates

The following tips can help you turn your employees into effective advocates for the organization.

Encourage participation. This could be a culture change for some companies, but you’re going to have to trust your employees, Corbin said. “If you micromanage them about what they share, they will not be engaged.”

Corbin also recommended tapping into the company’s employee resource groups to disseminate information and tying incentives to advocacy. “We would create competitions to see who could drive the most referrals or opt-ins to our talent network,” she said.

Charlton recommended that people tapped to be advocates go beyond social sharing and develop their public speaking skills. “Set a goal where they must find an event in their profession and speak at the event, and in effect promote the company and its job opportunities.”

Offer coaching. There is some coaching that needs to take place, Rada said. “Review their social channels and help get them be consistent in the way they are portraying the company first before you get them set up with a shareable content program.”

Employee advocates will also need to be trained on compliance with the same rules and regulations that any recruiting professionals must comply with. “Root advocates in the responsibility they are taking on and overtly explain the dos and don’ts of being a company leader,” Charlton said. “Let them know all the ways that the organization can be sued.”

Be creative and strategic about content. Creating a content marketing strategy may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be, Von Bank said. “You have content everywhere. Ask your employees for their stories and suggested content; repurpose brand content from your marketing counterparts; capture the things happening around your company every day; and leverage free editing, branding and collaborative tools.”

Rada said that her team tries to reimagine content the company already has by putting a recruitment spin on what the organization is doing. “I align with different departments and try to understand what initiatives are being pushed that might be attractive to candidates,” she said.

Just ensure that advocates are able to retain their creativity and authenticity when it comes to what they share, Charlton said.

Have advocates go beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of the job to focus on why they do what they do, and why that matters to them, Marshall said. “We launched a #WeDoGoodWork campaign to share with candidates. The campaign focuses on employees’ stories of passion and purpose in carrying out our mission. Those stories are recruiting gold. Powerful stuff,” she said.

“The best-performing content is not branded,” Von Bank said. “It’s job seeker tips or throwback logo Thursday. It’s not necessarily ‘why you should work here.’ The point is you need a steady stream of interesting, engaging content that is relevant to your audience, and every once in a while you throw in a company-related story of why the company happens to be a great opportunity.”

Have an employer-review response strategy in place. Requesting reviews of the company on employer-review sites is another great way employees can add to employer branding efforts. “Because all reviews require both pros and cons, employees can reaffirm positive attributes, while expressing thoughtful concerns,” Marshall said. “Focusing on selected responses that address more realistic experiences is important. In my last role at Thermo Fisher, we looked to address responses that fell within the middle 80 percent of reviews, steering clear of those at the extremes which did not attempt to reflect our culture.”

Don’t forget to measure results. This step is critical to driving adoption, optimizing your approach, and measuring tangible business outcomes, Von Bank said.

Metrics will show how employee advocacy efforts are helping the company reach its goals, Marshall agreed. “Did the Glassdoor ratings improve? What was the reach and engagement that week? What was the highest performing piece of content? Who were your super-users? Make sure you call out and celebrate successes to keep the momentum up,” she said.



4 Reasons Not to Base Hiring on Skills

The competition for talent isn’t going away. Nor is the need to hire people who know how to do the job and won’t leave. With the average life expectancy of an employee on the job in the U.S. shrinking — from 4.6 percent in 2014 to 4.2 percent in 2016 — we’re all looking for that perfect way to predict hiring success.

Among the questions hiring managers face: Rely on the old standby and hire based on gut? Or go straight to the science, and if so, what data? Skills tests do give a crisp, black-and-white reality as to what a candidate can do the moment they walk in their new employer’s door — such as make spreadsheets or program in Java. And hiring employees who have already learned the specific skills a job requires, so they can roll up their sleeves and get straight to work, is always a key objective.

But both approaches are a myth. Recruiters spend an average of 6.25 seconds reading each resume, in large part because some 250 resumes are submitted for every corporate job opening, and only 50 percent of those applicants are even qualified to apply. But locking into skills to hire gives not only an incomplete picture, it’s short-sighted. There are many reasons why, but let’s start with these four essentials.

  1. Hiring on the basis of specific skills is no guarantee of success on the job.

Even in positions that require very specific skills, hiring for specific competencies — sometimes known as micro-skills — is not a prediction of success. While skills tests measure for very focused and specific purposes — such as operating a particular production line or handing a software program, they are not a good indicator of long-term success.

The reason is so simple it’s easy to overlook: Tests that measure present-day proficiency are designed to do just that. Retention is based on many factors, but all have to do with how the employee experiences their work and their workplace. What engages an employee, and promotes retention is not their ability to crunch an excel sheet, and what keeps them productive may have to do with everything from ability to learn to having a personality that fits their job. The bottom line here is that you need a fuller way to predict success.

  1. You may not even be hiring for those skills next year.

Everything about how we work is undergoing a transformation right now, and that’s affecting nearly every single industry. You may not be using that same machinery or software next year. You may not even be using employees if you do. We don’t really know how radically work is going to be altered by AI and robotics, but we do know they are coming to our workplace soon.

And that’s certainly not the only change. As we transition to a blended workforce economy, your employees may soon be combined with gig workers and freelancers as well — that is, if they’re not already. 93 percent of companies are already relying on a workforce in which freelance workers team up with employees. One key reason, according to employers, is that freelancers have stellar niche skills, often better than your own employees. Depending on the project, you may want to bring in a crack team and shift your own personnel to a different project, requiring different skills.

  1. Emotional intelligence and aptitude may be more important than specific skills.

There are too many examples these days of companies who clearly didn’t hire for emotional intelligence, the ability to deal with people, or the awareness that their actions would trigger a cascade of consequences for their employer. The fallout in this digital and social era is instant—and devastating. The takeaway to me is that you need to hire for more than skills. But even outside the news cycles, and even in companies that are not providing a people-centric service, screening for the right behaviors, cognitive aptitudes, and basic skills is clearly a best practice with a long payoff.

A recent study by LinkedIn found that nearly two-thirds of employers surveyed look for two key qualities in their hires first: Problem-solving skills (65 percent) and the ability to learn new concepts (64 percent). Along with critical thinking and the ability to apply new information, these qualities can be effectively screened in a cognitive aptitude test. And according to Criteria’s research, there’s a clear correlation between cognitive aptitude and job performance: Testing for cognitive aptitude is twice as accurate a predictor as a job interview and three times as accurate a predictor as experience. And the higher up the ladder the position, the more accurate these tests are.

  1. Training on the job has more value than you might think.

There’s another, overlooked magical ingredient to the secret sauce of retention: On the job training. 94 percent of manufacturing executives viewed training problems as one of the best ways to close the skills gap, according to a recent whitepaper by Criteria Corp. But training has additional benefits, and these benefits also speak to the question of testing for skills. The answer: Keep it basic, and use training to not only develop the specific skills but also enhance the connection between employer and employee.

How? On the one hand, training can function as an extension of the employer brand, framed and presented to reflect company mission and message. On the other hand, it becomes a key facet of employee experience, a demonstration that an organization values its employees enough to invest in their growth. As cited by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), success on the job is determined in as little as two weeks to three months. Onboarding is a key factor in the outcome, according to SHRM’s report. Including skills training in an effective onboarding program may come to be even more of a critical and practical step for any company that wants to retain its talent. Seen in this light, screening hires for their innate aptitudes and behaviors makes even more sense.

So, What to Do?

Understandably, no hiring team wants to send new employees to the work site who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s true that many organizations are still wedded to screening for skills for that very reason. But in this transforming world of work, we need to hire employees who can learn and want to grow and develop.

The best hiring decisions are formed after considering the whole spectrum of employee behaviors and performance, by blending aptitude with the appropriate behaviors and then adding in education and experience. Given the pressure to retain our human capital, that’s the best way to protect our strongest investment—people.

This post is sponsored by Criteria Corp.

Photo Credit: midwest.communications Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Recap: The New Digital Workplace: Four Key Trends

As technology advances and changes our workplaces, many pundits speculate on the trends that we need to be mindful of.

Companies are developing global footprints and with that employ people based in different countries with varying cultural nuances, the need for better digital tools and accessibility to remain connected continues to rise.

This week on #WorkTrends, host Meghan M. Biro was joined by Igloo Software VP of Product Strategy Stephen Rahal to discuss the four key trends every company needs to know today to better prepare for the future workplace.

Stephen shared about how companies can make the most of technology advancements to create an inclusive workplace even though employees might be spread across the globe.

Here are some other key points that he shared:

  • Technology acts as an enabler for Collaboration
  • Bringing people, apps, data, information, and processes together to drive business results is the key to success
  • Leaders must be willing to get their hands dirty

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). On Jan 25, I will be joined by Kurgo CEO Gordie Spater to discuss the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace.

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo Credit: caprightmarketing Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Preview: The New Digital Workplace: Four Key Trends

Many pundits in the HR and tech space are speculating on trends we need to be mindful of. Many anticipate the workplace as we know it today will be a great predictor of what’s to come.

As more and more companies develop a global footprint and with that employ people based in different countries with varying cultural nuances, the need for better digital tools and accessibility to remain connected continues to rise.

Join this week’s special guest Igloo Software VP of Product Strategy, Stephen Rahal and host Meghan M. Biro as they discuss the four key trends every company needs to know today to better prepare for the future workplace.

The New Digital Workplace: Four Key Trends

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Join Stephen and me on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Jan 18 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How can digital create an inclusive workplace for remote workers? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can companies be better at attracting desired talent?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: How can the Intranet create a collaborative culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Recap: The Candidate Experience

The employee engagement experience. The candidate experience. Both very valid and important topics to be considered in today’s business world. Gone are the days of companies ignoring their employer brand, reputation as an employer of choice and with that conducting interviews and onboarding new employees in a haphazard fashion.

With the jobs market leaning more towards the job seeker, now is the time for companies to invest in their reputation management and discover where additional attention is needed.

This week, Meghan M Biro was joined by her former co-host Kevin W. Grossman to discuss the importance of why all companies should conduct discoveries of how they are perceived by job seekers and candidates.

Here are a few key points Kevin shared:

  • When the candidate experience is great, candidates recruit on your behalf through referrals!
  • The companies that are taking a hard look at their candidate experiences are proactive and innovative
  • It’s important to survey all candidates, not just those that were hired when looking to improve the candidate experience

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Join me on Dec 21 for our final chat of 2016. I will be joined by Sugarwish CEO Elisabeth Vezanni to discuss gratitude and giving back.

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

Photo Credit: coupletsin2010 Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Preview: The Candidate Experience

The employee engagement experience. The candidate experience. Both very valid and important topics to be considered in today’s business world. Gone are the days of companies ignoring their employer brand, reputation as an employer of choice and with that conducting interviews and onboarding new employees in a haphazard fashion.

Join Meghan M. Biro and her former co-host Kevin W. Grossman on Wednesday, December 14 at 1pm ET as they discuss the importance of why all companies should conduct discoveries of how they are perceived by job seekers and candidates.

With the jobs market leaning more towards the job seeker, now is the time for companies to invest in their reputation management and discover where additional attention is needed.

The Candidate Experience

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Join Kevin and me on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Dec 14 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What are the business benefits of a great candidate experience? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can candidate behaviors make an impression during the interview process? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: How can brands and candidates better relate? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!


Photo Credit: thienan01 Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Recap: Millennial Attraction Factors

There are more millennials among today’s applicants than any other generation, and they’ll be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. On this week’s #WorkTrends show, we were joined by CEO of The Muse, Kathryn Minshew, who shared insights on what attracts millennial talent.

Kathryn discussed the challenges all businesses face in finding what resonates with millennials. She helped the audience set aside common misconceptions and shared what to focus on in order to engage the Digital Generation.

Here are a few key points Kathryn shared:

  • Millennials are looking for the 3 Ps for their future business. People, Purpose, and Path. They want to know about the people they will work with, what their value will be to the company, and what growth opportunities they will have within the organization.
  • Instead of just telling prospective employees about your company’s greatness, give the megaphone to your employees and have the employees explain what they love and why.
  • Potential employees need to demonstrate that they’ve done their homework on the company and come prepared to describe what they bring to the table and why they would love to work there.

Missed the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next week, on Oct 19, best-selling author and speaker Michelle Tillis Lederman will join host Meghan M. Biro to discuss “The 11 Laws of Likability.”

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members, or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

photo credit: jeffdjevdet Millennials Scrabble via photopin (license)

#WorkTrends Preview: Millennial Attraction Factors

There are more millennials among today’s applicants than any other generation, and they’ll be 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about what attracts millennial talent. The challenge all businesses face is finding that sweet spot between the myths and the truth — and what resonates with millennials may surprise you. Time to set aside those misconceptions and focus on the must-haves: an optimized mobile portal, social media-linked application processes, and an authentic employer brand to pull it all together. That’s what it takes for this Digital Generation to engage, apply, interview and ultimately, perform.

Host Meghan M. Biro will be joined by special guest Kathryn Minshew, CEO and Founder of The Muse, a career platform used by 50+ million people to advance in their careers.

Be sure to tune in to get an expert view of what’s millennials what to see from companies, where to find top talent and much more! Millennials are the future of business so this live podcast and Twitter chat should not be missed!

Millennial Attraction Factors

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Oct 12 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro and guest Kathryn Minshew as they discuss how to recruit top millennial talent.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, Oct 12 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What misconceptions do companies have about new talent?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can millennials showcase their talent to prospective companies? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: What actions should companies take to highlight their value proposition to new talent? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!


Photo Credit: stocknewsusa Flickr via Compfight cc

5 Attributes Of A World-Class Workforce

There’s a technology-driven revolution happening in HR these days. It’s called self-service and it gives employees more power over their careers. In a nutshell, self-service gives people control over many functions that used to be handled by HR. With a private log-in, employees can now manage their own payroll and retirement plans, request time-off and other schedule adjustments, book on-line courses and other learning and development tools, engage and be social with colleagues on intranets, and just generally manage their own work lives to an extent that was previously impossible. This leads to more engaged, empowered and productive teams.

Self-service is a key development in building and retaining a work-class workforce. It is a key leadership and learning tool. It is what the future looks like. And it’s here today.

But, wait! Before you walk away from your computer and start doing cartwheels down the hallways, there is a major caveat!

Self-service is no substitute for savvy hiring. It can take smart hiring to a new level, but never ever forget that hiring is the bottom line in HR and leadership. Hire wrong and all the self-service in the world will be worthless.

So, let’s do a quick refresher on the five most important attributes to look to for when building a world-class team of talent:

1) Talent. There is simply no substitute for talent. Talented people bring ideas, spontaneity, innovation, spark, and inspiration to your organization. Talent is invaluable, it is the heart and soul of a great company. Learn how to recognize talent. Hint: talent in one field is a predictor, if not a guarantee, of talent in another. Look for amazing accomplishments even if they’re not directly related to what your company produces.

2) Passion. Passion drives greatness. Passion is contagious. A passionate employee will go the extra mile – and then some. When hiring, look for people who have interesting quirks in their resumes, who are passionate about mountain climbing, Russian literature, recycling, whatever. A passionate person brings fire, heart and inspiration to your organization and culture.

3) Attitude. There is nothing as refreshing and uplifting as someone with an upbeat, kind, generous personality. They are one of the foundations of a world-class workforce. People with a positive attitude are teachable, eager to grow, develop, expand their skill set and deliver stellar performance. Plus, a can-do attitude, sense of fun and generous spirit are contagious, and lift morale and workplace happiness.

4) Aptitude. For some jobs, skills are the bottom line. IT and other complex systems demand up-to-the-nanosecond expertise. Yes, talent can be trained, but to stay ahead of the game you need a workforce infused with hands-on know-how, filled with people who are plugged into what is happening now and have their pulse on tomorrow. They must have the ability to quickly master the newest innovations. This requires aptitude and the confidence it spreads. A confidence that permeates an organization and leadership, that signals to everyone – employees in other departments, customers, social communities, and stakeholders – that you know what you’re doing.

5) Fortitude. A great company and great leadership never rests. It is never quite satisfied. It is always looking to better not only the competition, but itself. This takes a lot of good old-fashioned hard work. Hire people who are have a track record of delivering results, even it means pulling an all-nighter now and then. Look for people who love to get their hands dirty and nail down the details. You want to create that synergy between inspiration and perspiration. And hardworking people set an example that infuses energy into a workplace culture.

Hire people with these five attributes and then empower them with self-service technology – and you will soon find yourself on the way to building an ever-evolving, stellar-performing, world-class workforce.

A version of this post was first published on

 Image credit: Pixabay

The New Rules Of Leadership

Spring is in the air, the days are getting longer and the crocuses are poking up their hopeful heads. Yet, these remain bleak times for too many job seekers, even leaders and managers with impressive resumes. The reason? The demands of a collaboration-based, talent-hungry, global, wired economy are evolving so quickly that success depends on nothing less than continuous learning. Fall behind and you may find yourself disqualified from the race.

A while back, I had the eye-opening experience of reading a report written by the analyst Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte, in which he made his predictions for the coming year. This post is inspired by his research and insights.

One senior innovation advisor at a major energy company told Bersin, “In today’s economy there is no way anybody can be an expert in a substantial part of their total field. The modern ‘renaissance man’ is one who understands how to learn.” This is huge and so important.

Companies of all sizes in all industries are still trying to meet the new imperative. At that time, learning and Development (L&D) spending was up 12 percent, the largest jump in almost a decade. The goal is to integrate learning into a company’s culture and processes. There are also training sessions, workshops, conferences, and retreats, but the most successful strategies are those that make learning a continuous process, hardwired into a company’s metabolism.

For leaders this is both a daunting challenge and an exciting opportunity to engage and retain top talent. You have to keep your eye on the horizon, your ear to the ground and your nose in the wind. Your company’s needs are ever-changing, and you must stay one step ahead.

How? Start by understanding that change is happening at unprecedented rates, that new technologies can disrupt the best-laid plans, that competition is fierce. These days, laurels aren’t for resting on, they’re for leaping from. Complacency = Extinction.

Leadership by walking around may sound Paleolithic, but there’s no substitute for getting out into your organization and seeing how things actually work, talking to people, making sure you understand what everyone is doing. You’d be surprised how many leaders, even in this day and age, hide out in the executive suite. Not smart. Get out there and learn what’s happening.

Understand and master the borderless future world of work. Technology has rendered borders largely meaningless, not only between counties, but between companies and their stakeholders, including employees, partners, customers and at times even competitors. It’s a diverse, cross-cultural new paradigm with a flatter structure. Engage with all the new technologies and social media.

Talent is priceless. There’s a tremendous competition to hire the very best, especially people with superb and specialized technology and creative skills. Traditional career paths and job descriptions can turn these people off. Be flexible and work with talent to design jobs that allows them maximum freedom and productivity. If you don’t, they will likely move to a company that does.

Embrace emerging markets. There’s tremendous energy and excitement in India, China, Brazil and Eastern Europe. Make sure you understand these economies and are engaging them in every way possible. These days, we need them at least as much as they need us. Humility can be a great business tool.

The rules of leadership are ever-changing. Staying engaged, open-minded, technologically savvy, and embracing continuous learning, not only individually but as a core organizational imperative, are the hallmarks of 21st century leaders.

Make a list of everything that you’re doing to learn and develop. Be specific. Then examine the list for areas where you should be doing more. Take actions to up your proficiency in those areas.

Thank you, Josh Bersin, for inspiring me to share some of this trendy wisdom.

A version of this post was published on

Image credit:

Gardening Season: Nurture a “Blooming” Talent Pool

Spring is the kind of season that floods the senses – in a good way. After a long, wet and cold winter, many of us look forward to getting outside in our communities and breathing in the scent of freshly spread mulch. Neighbors tend to their beds, with attentive watering and weeding. Soon, they reap the rewards of their efforts, with the colorful and fragrant blooming of azaleas, forsythias, herbs and assorted veggies.

I believe one of the main reasons many people enjoy gardening is because it requires constant care. You can’t simply stick some seeds in the dirt and walk away. You must nurture your plants, every day. And when they start sprouting, you feel a sense of achievement and pride.

Developing an enriched talent pool is much like this. You can’t apply a “set it and forget it” mindset to your recruiting, onboarding and training programs. As with gardening, you need to “get your hands dirty” (again, in a good way!). You must proactively seek out internal and external position candidates with the most in-demand skills and match them to anticipated openings. These openings may surface immediately, or weeks or even months down the road. So you have to engage candidates for extended time periods. In succession planning, for example, a Baby Boomer who hints at retiring soon might change her mind after realizing she’s not ready for the transition. Thus, her position stays filled for a year or even longer. Until she leaves, you should provide routine status updates to her possible successors, so they don’t get discouraged about being kept “in limbo” indefinitely.

This level of high engagement can drain time and resources. But it doesn’t have to be that way, not when people analytics can capture and maximize the value of your HR data, in a consolidated, streamlined manner. Through analytics, you improve the visibility of all of the key information related to your pool, such as names, personal interests, employment history, professional contributions/goals, contact preferences, educational background, etc. Your subsequent command of this intelligence will lead to an excellent “harvest,” especially when you incorporate analytics into the following best practices:

Conduct a continuing conversation. Talking to your plants on an ongoing basis can result in healthier growth, some experts say. Similarly, a continuing conversation with candidates will build a vibrant talent pool. Take advantage of newsletters, social media and even old-fashioned emails to keep in touch with internal and external candidates. Highlight recent milestones, as well as accomplishments of your staffers, to convey the message that your organization recognizes individual achievements. For more personalized engagement with outside prospects, send occasional emails to say, for instance, “We’re still very interested in your availability for a future opening … Is there anything you’d like to know about our organization or the potential position? Please feel free to update us about any new professional experiences/milestones you’d like to share.”

The continuing conversation can involve plenty of legwork if you rely solely upon manual processes to conduct it. That’s why people analytics proves essential. You can customize these solutions for proactive alerts, for example, to remind you to send personalized emails on a regular basis.

Update webpages. First impressions matter, of course, which is where your organization’s website home pages and employment pages enter the picture. In-demand millennials get turned off quickly when they click on a site that looks like something out of the last century, with static pages and an over-reliance on text. These Millennials are drawn to interactive, multi-media experiences. According to research from the Talent Board, 44 percent of job seekers say that they need time to evaluate an employer before applying for a position. By investing into the design and engineering of a modern, dynamic site, you ensure an immediate, appealing impression of your organization’s culture. Analytics will assess quantitatively whether you’re enhancing the user experience through your efforts (by providing traffic, “share” and other user activity data).

Commit to training. Clearly, this refers to your internal pool. Deploy analytics to find out which promising, current staffers are requesting training/professional development. Then use analytics to dig deeper, to explore whether these employees are looking to hone specific, vocationally focused “hard” skills, or “softer” skills related to communications and leadership. In addition, analytics can identify which training formats (in-person or online) work best, not to mention “out-of-the-box” opportunities such as the cross-training of targeted talent pool members on department-wide capabilities/needs and/or offering them temporary assignments that expose them to a new area of your organization.

Unlike gardening, it’s always “in season” to tend to your talent pool. Year-round, you should come up with well-researched and thoughtful strategies, and then pursue them with effective, proactive execution. Fortunately, you don’t have to devote an abundance of time and resources in “nurturing the plants” here. Analytics solutions will eliminate steps while strengthening your connections to internal and external candidates, extending your capacity to engage. That’s when your talent pool “bed” grows into a constant source of value, transforming job contenders into critical contributors to your organization’s strategic goals.


Photo Credit: upc_agronegocios1 via Compfight cc

The Talent You’re Looking For Doesn’t Have a Resume

A recent expedition into a client research project gave me a sudden “A-Ha” about creating a Fiercely Loyal internal culture. While I can’t share the specifics of the project, I can share what I learned and how it is directly linked to creating a Fiercely Loyal culture, the kind where amazing work gets done and no one is job hopping.

First let me share a significant framework: According to Gallup research, lost productivity due to employee disengagement costs more than $450 billion in the U.S. annually. This staggering statistic says there is something very very wrong in the workplace. Organizations know it. One of the ways they are trying to fix it is in the hiring process.

Looking for the best talent that’s looking for a job would seem to solve the problem, yes? No.

Because here’s what I can tell you. Most of the best talent isn’t in the job hunting market. They aren’t officially looking. They may toy with the idea from time to time, but they aren’t about to engage in a “Talent Acquisition Process”. Which means that most hiring managers are starting from the wrong end of the telescope.

A recent Fast Company article titled “How to Get a Job Using Social Media When You Aren’t Looking for One” underscores this idea. According to Fast Company “a survey published by the Society for Human Resource Management that says some 84 percent of companies now use social media to recruit “passive” job candidates”. The article goes on to share specific tips for beefing up social media profiles so that these passive candidates can be found by perspective employers.

And yet, a quick scan of the top job posts on the LinkedIn Job Board, Indeed, Monster, and the Ladders still end with “submit a resume”. While some companies allow a candidate to import a LinkedIn profile, the application process also asks for a resume. Great candidates who aren’t actually looking won’t make it past this point and you will never know they are interested.

Another important thing to remember about these potential job candidates is that many of them have established lives. They’ve put down roots. Their children may be in a great school system. They may live near important family members. Upending all of that may be too unpalatable to even consider applying for your position.

Many organizations are answering this challenge by drastically expanding the concept of telecommuting. Research from Global Workplace Analytics found that 3.7 million Americans work from home at least half of the time. Tele-commuting isn’t a trend that stops at the C-suite either. The head of the entire financial services division at SAP, the enterprise application software maker, tele-commutes from Maryland to the division hub in New York. That’s what it takes to recruit and keep the very best talent.

If you want access to this vast pool of job candidates who aren’t officially looking, you have to shake up your hiring process. Here’s what I mean:

  1. Are you asking for a resume just to get the conversation rolling? You’ve just eliminated 75 percent of your best candidates because they not only don’t have one, they aren’t going to go to the time and expense of putting one together.
  2. Are you 100 percent sure that your position MUST be location specific 100 percent of the time? The best talent out there already have established lives somewhere. Starting the conversation with “You have to uproot your entire life” is a sure way to keep the conversation short, if you ever have one at all.
  3. Bonus question: Do you call your hiring process anything like “Talent Acquisition”? Pens and pencils are acquired. People, especially highly talented ones, are not, nor do they want to be. How you talk about your hiring process will either attract or deflect the top talent you want for your organization.

I know that I’m talking about disrupting an ingrained approach to hiring. In today’s incredibly competitive market, isn’t having the best talent you can find working on your team worth that extra effort? If you don’t think so, I’m betting you’ve got competitors who do.

photo credit: Accept Reject via photopin (license)

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?

photo credit: arrows via photopin (license)

Talent: Long-Term Perspective Pays Greater Dividends

There are two ways to think about an organization’s talent, one that takes a short-term perspective and another that takes a long-term perspective. In choosing which approach is preferable, it’s important to take a deeper look at the evidence and data.

In the first approach, the focus is on deriving as much value from workers as possible within as short a time frame as possible, knowing that an employee is likely to leave within two years. In the other, the long-term perspective, the focus is on a much longer time horizon, in which an employee is expected to learn, grow and develop into a valued long-time employee and future leader.

As recently as 20 years ago, the long-term perspective was in ascendancy. The idea was that employees would fully commit to an organization and, in turn, an organization would fully commit to an employee. It was a natural symbiotic relationship, in which personal growth led to corporate growth. The goal for many of us was to work at a large Fortune 500 company that offered the best benefits and a guaranteed retirement.

That all changed, as companies began to adopt a mentality of cost-cutting, that employees were largely interchangeable, and that maximum productivity needed to be derived within as short a time frame as possible. This placed a premium on appraising employees according to certain metrics, to measuring every input of an employee to maximize performance.

So what do the numbers say?

The data appear to suggest that the long-term perspective pays greater long-term dividends to the organization. That’s because certain approaches – lifelong learning, or a focus on creativity and innovation – can only be truly fostered by taking a long-term perspective. It is almost impossible for today’s modern organization to emphasize creativity and innovation without simultaneously putting in place the long-term framework for innovation and creativity to thrive.

What does a long-term look at talent mean in today’s modern world?

First of all, it means that corporate values matter. Employees, tired of chasing higher compensation, are attracted to organizations that place a premium on values and mission statements. They want to work at companies that care about the environment, or that enable them to live a certain type of lifestyle. That’s especially true of today’s millennial workers, who have a different perspective on the corporate world than their older co-workers.

It also means that a plug-and-play approach to talent, in which corporations look for ways to outsource talent at competitive levels, can also play a role over the long-term. That’s because today’s employees are working at home in the global gig economy, in which short-term assignments and the freedom to work on different client assignments are actually seen as a positive rather than a negative.

The numbers say that employee performance actually increases in direct correlation with how highly an organization values the work of its employees, and how greatly they assist them in pursuing lifelong learning opportunities. This means that, there is perhaps a counter-intuitive finding: a long-term approach to human capital actually has the potential to yield significant results over the short-term as well.

What are your numbers telling you?

photo credit: 02-01-20-19-18 via photopin (license)

Talent Trumps Everything!

Billions are invested in the latest sales and marketing automation tools. Billions are spent on training of all sorts. We spend countless hours looking at the right processes, the right systems, the right tools, the right metrics.

Managers spend countless hours developing strategies and making sure plans/goals/programs/metrics are in place to execute the strategies as effectively and efficiently as possible.

If managers are doing the right job, they are investing time in coaching and developing each person on their teams–getting them to reach the highest levels of performance.

All of this is meaningless if you have the wrong people!

Peter Drucker is credited with the quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

But talent trumps everything!

Having the right people in the right jobs is the foundation for success in everything we do. However, I’m constantly amazed at how casually managers treat “talent” issues.

Too many are very causal about what they are looking for in talent. They haven’t taken the time to have a rich understanding of the critical competencies–not just skills and experience, but behaviors, attitudes and other competencies required for top performance.

Too many think, a great sales person can sell anything.

Too many don’t pay attention to bad fits within the organization–either changing the job or the requirements to fit the individual, or ignoring people that are simply bad fits.

Many are afraid or slow to address talent problems. They say, it’s better to have a poor performer in a job than to have an open headcount. They ignore the costs of that poor performer—both in lost business (current and future), the adverse impact that individual has on others in the organization and the management time involved in dealing with the poor performance.

Some are fast to fire and hire, thinking people are commodities, not recognizing the costs–real and opportunity, for this kind of churn and burn approach to talent.

Still others don’t recognize the needs change, and don’t invest the time, resources, or money in developing their people to make sure they fit both current and future needs. It takes time to determine your specific talent needs–not just job descriptions or requirements. It takes months to find the right person, more months to onboard them, and still more for them to be fully productive. There aren’t a lot of things that enable you to compress that cycle, so getting it wrong or not paying attention to it costs millions. Getting it wrong organizationally, can threaten the viability of the organization.

VC’s care as much (sometimes more) about the quality of the “team,” or the talent than they care about the idea. They know the right talent can adapt or pivot if necessary, but the wrong people will doom the organization to failure.

Talent problems are one of the slowest and most difficult things to fix–and too often we first recognize we have talent problems when we are in crisis–we have to fix the problems yesterday.

The best leaders I know set finding, developing, nurturing talent as one of their very highest priorities. They recognize the best strategies, plans, programs, systems, tools, and processes are all meaningless if you have the wrong people.

They invest in finding the right people, maintaining a deep bench, continually developing talent, and constantly valuing it.

Talent trumps everything!

How much time do you invest in understanding your talent needs, making sure you have the right people in the right jobs, continuing to develop them so they meet your future needs?

It’s should be at the top of your priorities.

This post was first published on the Partners In Excellence blog on November 16, 2015.

Image credits:

Perception Is Reality: Talent Magnets Attract The Best People

‘We don’t much care about having you as an employee. Move along.’

I’m hearing a lot from top performing talent at leading technology companies jumping ship in droves. When it’s an AOL or a Yahoo facing tremendous uncertainty, dropping stock price, and competition on all fronts, it’s not difficult to understand. At some point you have to look out for number one. When it’s a LinkedIn, which negotiated its IPO with reasonable grace, it’s also not hard to understand – stock option lockups are expiring and people are finally free to look for the next big career thing. When it’s a Microsoft or an IBM, the reasons may be more about company culture, bureaucracy, or lack of leadership vision – also not hard to understand.

Not everyone is a top performer, though. Not everyone can be in the top one percent with nearly limitless opportunity. Most employees are distributed somewhere on the curve between the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent that Jack Welch made famous. For these employees – and for those new to the job market – candidate experience matters. Candidate experience relates to how a company handles the recruitment, interview and hiring dance and influences everything that follows. I mean everything.

For today’s social-media empowered candidate, it’s not trivial to pan a company for a bad candidate or work experience. Sites like do more than give salary ranges and titles to job seekers – they provide the tools to strike back at a former employer or critique a prospective employer’s hiring process. That’s why it’s more important than ever for HR and hiring executives to manage the candidate experience very closely.

A report by The Talent Board revealed the results of a series of surveys the organization ran as part of its CandE Award, an annual (2011 was the first) competition designed to let companies benchmark their candidate experience against peer companies and organizations. This is worth a read, the report can give Leaders and HR new perspectives on what it’s like to be on the other end of the hiring experience – and where to improve. Something I’m passionate about of course. Not surprisingly, 2011 CandE winners proved to be extremely financially successful. Adidas ADDYY +% saw stock prices soar by 38% over that year, Herman Miller stock climbed 20%, and State Farm stock grew by over 11%. These companies are attracting – and keeping – top talent, so it stands to reason that their success will not be short-lived.

I came away from reading the report again thinking about my top 5 reasons for improving the candidate experience as this notion finds a wider audience each year. While many leaders might not believe it matters, with far more candidates available than jobs, it does. Someday unemployment will drop below eight percent and the economy will recover. When it does, you want employee prospects to have a productive candidate experience, or you may find hiring and retention of your talent to be problematic.

Here are my top 5 reasons why candidate experience matters to hiring leaders and recruiters alike:

1) First impressions are lasting impressions. If your career website is clunky, or if it takes an hour and 50 mouse-clicks to find a job listing and apply, you’re sending a not-so-subtle signal to job prospects: ‘We don’t much care about having you as an employee. Move along.’ Does anyone really want to work for this type of company?

2) Employees who like their jobs often try to get their friends on the same team. Many companies weight the hiring process toward employee referrals. Some even have a hiring bonus system in place. But if you force all candidates to go through a poorly thought out career website, even when their resumes have been hand-delivered to hiring managers, you haven’t optimized the process at all. And employees may begin to question the company’s culture or motives if people they recommend fall into the hiring black hole.

3) Job seekers want feedback. If you’re not going to hire a person, tell him or her quickly, and if possible tell the candidate why so he can improve his approach – or resume. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge the receipt of the resume or application and then drop all communication. You’ll create a negative impression – one which might find its way to Twitter or Facebook.

4) People move around in the course of a career. It’s inevitable. People are hired, work, and then something more exciting, challenging, meaningful, or profitable comes along. In the process they’re talking to lots of colleagues, people your company might be interested in hiring. If they had a bad experience during your hiring process or as an employee, the word will spread.

5) People want to believe they made a good choice. If you make the hiring process difficult it will be less likely, even if an offer is made, that you’ll be able to retain the employee. The hiring process sets expectations. It’s your opportunity to convince candidates your company is well-managed, fair to employees, and a good place to work.

Think about your first experience applying for a job. Was it frustrating, embarrassing, demoralizing? Odds are high you’ve had that experience at least once. Odds are it still stings. Don’t be that person, and don’t be that company. Be better now. Don’t wait until your talent slams the door.

A version of this post was first published on on June 18, 2012

photo credit: magnetic field shown by compass needles via photopin (license)

How to Build a Competitive Talent Advantage

How can your company attract and retain the best talent? Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, says it’s crucial to recognize upfront that “our career model is hopelessly dated.” In many ways, the corporate world is still stuck in the 1960s and 1970s, she says, but both the demographics and the needs of the workforce have changed dramatically. So what are the most successful companies doing?

First, they’re re-evaluating the trend toward “extreme jobs” that require punishing hours and 24/7 availability. “What we’re finding is that many cohorts of people would really like to take some kind of a break,” says Hewlett. “It’s nothing to do with childcare anymore; it’s because of the extraordinary weight and scope of a job these days. In our research on the extreme workplace, we identified a trend toward ‘brownout.’ It’s not burnout; people aren’t literally collapsing in front of you. But there’s significant physical distress and a sense of being below par in what you can deliver, because you’re depleted.”

In addition to greater workplace flexibility – from flextime to job-sharing to telecommuting – Hewlett suggests another possible solution: offering unpaid sabbaticals, which she calls “odysseys.” Increasingly, she says, people “need a break of three months, or six months, to refresh your soul. It’s not just not having conference calls at 11 o’clock at night, but a refreshing of the spirit that’s needed. It’s a massive opportunity for people to invest in themselves again.”

Second, Hewlett notes that the best companies are increasingly understanding and embracing demographic change. “If you take the global talent pipeline – that’s everyone in the world with a BA degree – only 17% of the pool is Caucasian males,” she says, while 83% are women or people of color. “We have a whole different set of opportunities in front of us, and we’ve got to figure out how to leverage our talent pool much better.”

As Hewlett discussed in her recent book Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women Are the Solution, despite the West’s penchant for “equal opportunity” rhetoric, some of the greatest strides for female executives have come in the developing world. “There are winners and losers in this game,” says Hewlett, “and one reason [the talent pool] doesn’t shift very quickly is, if you take seriously the mandate that you have to get this rich diversity into your leadership groups, it means your best friends, your sons, your neighbors, and maybe you will lose out, because in the mature world, it’s a flat-lined economy. It’s very difficult to shift power when it’s a static universe – a zero-sum game.” Meanwhile, the growth in emerging markets is, at least for now, lifting all boats: “One reason why 15% of CEOs in India are now female is because there are so many opportunities, you can be generous. You can give all kinds of opportunities to highly able women because it’s not encroaching on your stuff; it’s new stuff. Power is never given up easily.”

Indeed, says Hewlett, “the default thing to do, unless there are tremendous forces that encourage you to do something else, is to tap on the shoulder someone whom you’re the most comfortable with. So if you grew up in Greenwich, it’ll be someone who belongs to the same club, someone who’s also white and male – that’s the person you’ll trust most readily, and the person you’ll imagine will have your back. But if you had an Asian woman in charge, she’ll do the same thing; it’s the human instinct, not a problem just white guys have.”

Unfortunately, however, that human instinct may be preventing us from tapping the best talent and leveraging real business opportunities. “Our business case rests on innovation,” says Hewlett. “The power of diversity on teams unlocks innovation and drives growth, and that’s why a leader might find the courage and the clarity to shift what power looks like at his or her company.”

What is your company doing to attract and retain talent? Are you embracing flextime, sabbaticals, or other “work-life balance” strategies? How are you harnessing the power of diversity?

A version of this article was first published on Forbes on 8/20/12

photo credit: 20160120_104606 via photopin (license)

Three Ways To Distinguish A Killer Culture

Workplace culture is everything. It’s how work gets accomplished (or avoided); it encompasses the systems, processes and decision-making space to work effectively and efficiently; and incorporates the values, beliefs and behaviors exemplified (or not) by leaders–and by “leaders” I am referring to yesterday’s new hire up through the CEO.

Without the right workplace culture, you’re misaligned. There’s emptiness inside your heart; a hollow feeling of belonging because it isn’t getting the attention it needs. Without the right culture your craving to optimize your potential is thwarted and you become less of who you want to be.

After spending 13 years in the SEAL Teams, there was a lot I learned about organizational culture – good and bad – that is transferable no matter what industry you work in. The principles for success are the same no matter what job or market to which you dedicate yourself. The only difference is the tools you use. Here’s what I mean.

There’s a simple formula to ensure your culture is “right:” have the right people; make sure those people have the right tools; ensure those people keep having the right tools. It’s that simple. Below is a more thorough explanation of these three simple ways you can ensure you build a killer culture:

Hire for character. Values, personality, habits. Nobody wants to work with a social hand grenade – those toxic personalities that make you question why anybody would ever choose to be friends with that person since they do everything unimaginable to repel a conversation rather than build one.

When you hire for character, start by taking a lesson from Ernest Shackleton. If you don’t know who this unsung leader is, Shackleton wanted to be the first person to trek across Antarctica (why anybody would want to do this is beyond me). He knew that the upcoming voyage would entail hardship to say the least, so he needed a certain kind of person. To ensure he didn’t waste any time in the hiring process, his “pitch” for attracting talent looked like this:

Men Wanted: for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constand danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.

While the epic display of leadership by Ernest Shackleton was certainly a deciding factor in his crew’s survival, but the crew itself—and specifically, the types of people they were—was the other deciding factor. The lesson: Brand the right message that attracts the right people.

Train For Competence

Once the seeds of character are planted (and onboard), it’s time to define what success looks like and build the competencies to achieve it. Modeling, excel templates, and the “art” of delivering feedback can all be learned; honesty, integrity, and the willingness to have difficult conversations for sake of bettering the company aren’t as easy.

I’m going to go way outside my Navy lineage and cite Delta Force (yes, the secret squirrel Delta Force led by Chuck Norris–that’s a joke) as the shining example here. Once candidates pass the physical selection process, they begin training on the technical aspects of commando-ism. In other words, Delta ensures that it has the right character and the right fit before it invests time and money into training their soldiers to be all they can be. The result? The second most effective counterterrorism unit known to man (please forgive my Navy bias).

Coach For Performance

Everybody needs a little realignment once in a while. When you have a competent, motivated person who is both able and willing to execute daily tasks (and I mean that not in the commando sense), the only limiting factor is the information he or she receives to stay on track. In other words, as long as meeting updates, agendas, objectives, roles, and responsibilities are clear, opportunity for growth abounds.

Of course, this is life, and I’m well aware that sometimes “the memo” fails to get passed. When this happens it causes frustration, animosity, even jealousy between those who received the memo and those who didn’t.

To mitigate the potential of an emotional time-bomb erupting, use coaching to increase people’s self-awareness. After all, can you think of anybody who couldn’t benefit from learning more about how their behaviors impact others? Didn’t think so.

The goal of coaching for performance is to align individual behaviors with organizational goals. If there’s a discrepancy, the question becomes, “why?”

Culture is everything. A strong workplace culture will attain, retain, and train its people to the extent that it believes in the power of human capital. How will you grow?

Image: Big Stock Images

Is There An “Encore” In Your Career’s Future?

I live in New York City in Midtown Manhattan, within easy walking distance of world-class performing arts venues Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Encores are highly prized and sought after in my neighborhood. When it comes to your career, or the recruiting you and your firm are doing, is there an encore in your future?

I’m not referring to curtain calls, grateful bows or curtsies, or a bouquet of roses. Who wouldn’t love any of those? I’m talking about encore careers. The Wikipedia definition is “work in the second half of life that combines continued income, greater personal meaning, and social impact. These jobs are paid positions, often in public interest fields, such as education, the environment, health, the government sector, social services, and other nonprofits.”, a non-profit organization focused on this movement describes it more succinctly as “second acts for the greater good.”

I am a walking commercial for encore careers because I’m in one and loving it. You could have one too. Your employer could also benefit greatly from accessing the talent pool of mature, mid- and late-career people who are looking for an encore, or the next phase of their working lives. According to Money magazine in The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50, many organizations are discovering and focusing on this population.

Here’s my story.

I spent 30 years working for two large for-profit firms, P&G and IBM. For several years, my plans have been to join an organization with a mission focused on making the world, or at least a small corner of it, a better place. I wanted to more fully live my life in service to others, with a focus on education, social justice, equality or other issues that matter to me — as a servant leader, utilizing social to engage and connect people, both passions of mine.

I was ready to make a move and start my encore career.

I considered a handful of very interesting positions, in HR and not, all found through my personal network or my Twitter feed (really).  My decision was to accept a newly created position in Alumni and Development at my alma mater doing fundraising work.

My new role is Director, Foundation Relations and Regional Advancement Officer at Transylvania University, a private, nationally-ranked liberal arts college in downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

Yes, I can hear you snickering. Transylvania is Latin for “across the forest.” The college was founded in 1780 by Thomas Jefferson when he was Governor of Virginia (and Kentucky was not yet a separate state). Later President, Gov. Jefferson recommended Transylvania over Harvard back in the day, and it remains a fine institution. I continue to live in New York City, working with foundations, alumni, parents and friends in this northeast and around the country to support the liberal arts, Transylvania, making the world a better place one student and one graduating class at a time.

Is there an encore career in your, or your organization’s future? Here are a few ways to learn more, and take action.

  1. Follow encore career-related Twitter feeds, including @NextAvenue @EncoreOrg @nonprofitorgs @Idealist @IdealistCareers @cgcareers and @DRGSearch
  2. Purchase and read The Encore Career Handbook, by Marci Albohor
  3. In your recruiting, target and seriously consider mid- and late-career professionals for open positions. Help them find an encore and contribute their years of talent and experience to your organization’s success.

I plan to share more with you in this blog from time to time, on HR, work culture, social business, travel, encore careers, and connections between people and cultures. Please share my post, and let me know what you’d like to hear from me in the future. I’ll see you on #TChat!

Attracting and Growing Talent: Skillpreneurs

Skillpreneurs – Your Company’s Secret Weapons

I’d like to make a proposition: let’s stop focusing on the Millennials and look at the bigger picture of people who have the potential and talent to make waves in business.

I’m talking about highly skilled, self-driven people of all ages – Skillpreneurs – who are simply not motivated by traditional employer value propositions. They’re people that have specific, unique skills and talent and will go to the highest bidder. It’s just not about the employer that pays the best, however, its also where they can build their reputation, make an impact, enhance their resume or just get excited about a new challenge. If you hook these supernovas for your company you’ll be able to harness their energy and slingshot your business ahead.

PWC published a paper, The Future of Work – A Journey to 2022 in which it talks about the “Orange World Concept”.

The Orange World desire for autonomy is strongest in China, especially among young people, indicating a generational shift towards greater freedom, entrepreneurship and specialist skills in this rapidly evolving economy. Over half of participants in China believe that traditional employment won’t be around in the future. Instead, people will have their own ‘brands’ and sell their skills to those who need them.

I believe that the same is true for other parts in Asia where people don’t believe in the Western concept of “cradle-to-grave” is that important to people when it comes to work. In these cultures, personal entrepreneurship is welcomed and encouraged.

What Is A Skillpreneur? 

Skillpreneurs are definitely not your low maintenance employees. Consider the following traits that they all have:

  • Value flexibility and autonomy
  • Prefer short-term, quick rewards – not necessarily money
  • Thrive with change
  • Get bored from daily, repetitive tasks
  • Need challenges to keep their thinking juices flowing

You can’t micromanage them which means you can’t keep telling them what to do. If you’re not one for thinking out of the box, you might want to reconsider having a Skillpreneur in your team. They can be quite challenging but when motivated correctly, provide great results for themselves and the team.

Why Are They So Valuable?

The value of a Skillpreneur may be boxed by the size of your company and the amount of red-tape that they need to go through to do something new. If you’re a small, relatively flat organizational hierarchy, your company is more likely to have more space for a Skillpreneur to make an impact. The larger the distance between the bottom and top of your org chart, the less value you’ll be able to extract from them.

So why does it matter anyway? All people are a piece of a large puzzle when it comes to any organization right? Kind of. But what if a single puzzle piece could branch off and create a puzzle of their own that connects to the original source? What if, rather than just solving your business solution, you have these hidden people who can solve other problems that could expand your business? Now that’s power. Power for a person, power for the company.

How Do You Find, Retain And Engage Them?

Like I said, they’re not low maintenance. They’re people who need challenges and opportunities to keep growing. They also take pride in the company they work at. Here are a few things you have to keep in mind if you’re going to get the most out of your Skillpreneurs:

  1. They value their company’s reputation so stay on top of your employer branding initiatives.
  2. They’re not going to be looking for opportunities on traditional job boards so tap into the networks that they hang out in.
  3. You need to attract them with just the right bait so strengthen your employer value proposition and be clear about what you offer them.
  4. They value the “Why” of a business so have a company vision that they can’t ignore. 
  5. Make sure your HR policies and processes aren’t going to suffocate them and provide the flexibility that they require.

It’s a fast changing world with incredible opportunities from which to gain advantage. I bet you’ve got some Skillpreneurs in your company that are just waiting for some freedom. Find them, use them, let them use your company resources and let the sky be the limit.

#TChat Recap: Authentic Storytelling & Talent Strategies Define Your Culture

Authentic Storytelling & Talent Strategies Define Your Culture

Authentic storytelling. Sounds like another buzzword, doesn’t it?

Or is storytelling the new tenet of talent focused business in 2015?

I believe stories build thriving communities and engage people to share. One might say #TChat is an example of a homegrown community of engaged people. A metaphor for what many future thinking brands see as a valuable form of communication for employees and customers alike.

Authentic storytelling can be an amazing way to impact talent strategies. It takes commitment from leaders and teams to make this a reality.

From leadership to employees, authentic storytelling gives organizations a defined and meaningful purpose: a crucial element of a successful talent strategy.

Talent strategies have never been more valuable to the World of Work. Talent not only dictates business success, it dictates organizational culture.

This week, our #TChat community was joined by Christoph Trappe, career storyteller & journalist, who explained why authentic storytelling should be leading your talent strategy.

Authentic storytelling isn’t content marketing. Storytelling is alive, real, and organic. 

Great storytelling inspires and ignites the kind of motivation and action that attracts talent.

Integrating effective storytelling into talent strategies builds bridges for talent to cross. Stories create opportunities for people to connect and relate to an organization.

When you’re authentic, and your talent is your reference, your reputation can fuel recruiting, productivity, and your bottom line.

Storytelling is about sharing goals, expectations, and experiences. For an organization’s talent strategy, storytelling has a multi-tiered payoff.

Are you ready for it? 


See What #TChat-ters Said About Authentic Storytelling! 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Next Wednesday, Feb. 4th!

TChatRadio_logo_020813-300x300#TChat Radio Kicks Off at 7pm ET / 4pm PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well. The topic: Should HR Be Split Into Two Branches?.

#TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date! 

The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on Twitter, in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!


Photo credit: Incase  via IM Free cc

Want Success? Ask Questions.

By Raj Sheth

I was talking with some friends over a few drinks about an acquaintance that we all have in common on social media. He always seems to be where the action is, trying out fun new products and schmoozing with a lot of pretty awesome people. Yes, a large part of his envy-worthy lifestyle has to do with his profession, but as we talked, we realized that much of his success came because he’s simply not afraid to ask –for just about anything.

Now if you’re like me, your fear of being presumptuous or even rude will often override your urge to ask for things of others, especially those we work with. As I mulled over that conversation with my friends, I got to thinking about how many opportunities I’ve probably missed out on because I didn’t ask; situations that I could have improved, if I had spoken up.

Why don’t we ask for help when we need it?

Harris Interactive polled 1,019 employed Americans in their third annual Work Stress Survey, and found a 10% jump in workplace stress compared to just a year before. 83% of respondents are stressed at work, with “unreasonable workload” as the second top stressor. We have to get rid of this stifling idea that asking for help at work is a sign of weakness or failure. Start asking, and here’s why:

  • Here’s a fact that will blow your mind –No one expects you to know everything.
  • Showing everyone that you’ve put in extra effort, resources and work to still wind up needing help doesn’t get you any extra points, it means you’ve wasted time.
  • Managers love hard work, but they hate inefficiency.
  • Collaboration is plainly and simply a beautiful thing. Be a part of starting it.

Muse author, Jennifer Winters wrote a great piece on how to ask for help at work. Here’s what she said:

“The trick here is knowing when it’s time to suck it up, swallow your pride, and admit you’re stuck. My general rule of thumb is basically the “Three Strikes” rule. If I can’t figure something out after I’ve exhausted at least three other solutions on my own, it’s time to admit I need a little inspiration.”

Why don’t we ask for perks?

Whether it’s time off, flex work or even a bump in salary, everything is negotiable. That is to say, you also have to bring something to the table. When you honestly feel as though you have earned a freedom of some sort, you owe it to yourself and your hard work to inquire about incentives that would solicit the continuance of such hard work. This isn’t a, what came first, the chicken or the egg? scenario; the hard work and dedication is going to have to come first. If you get a big fat “No”, you have at the very least started the dialogue on how to get there. This conversation should be directed toward how your individual goals can align with the organization’s goals to obtain whatever it is that you’ve requested.

The old saying, “You never know unless you ask” is far truer than a lot of us anticipate. In an article on stay interviews and best retention practices, HR Director at Webroot, Melanie Williams reveals just how easy it can be for employees and companies to get on the same page when open communication is at play. Williams said:

“We’ve had very few stay interviews come in with pay being the thing that makes them stay or want to leave. There were not any requests that we haven’t been able to fulfill.”

Going back to the story –the opportunities that guy snags through his networking and willingness to inquire have all set him up with the experience he has needed to go onto the next endeavor. He’s experience and skill hungry, and that’s what drives him to ask.

Ask and see what happens. If what comes of it instead is collaboration or goal alignment, those are a couple of pretty great things to work with. You will either get what you ask for, or gain the knowledge on how to get it; neither will come by staying silent. While most organizations or even co-workers are out to please, they aren’t mind readers and they won’t know what’s important to you, unless you speak up and just ask.

raj_sheth2Raj Sheth is the CEO and Co-Founder of, a web-based recruitment software that helps growing companies manage their incoming job applications.

Visit Raj Sheth’s web site →


photo credit: Oberazzi via photopin cc