Image by Arturs Budkevics

Workforce Development: Using AR and VR to Strengthen Your Company

The 21st Century has seen enterprises across all industries scramble for the latest technologies and team-building strategies to enhance workforce development. For a good reason: It’s no secret that efficiency begins with an efficient workforce.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become popular powerhouses for employee training, recruitment, and several other HR processes. These new technology waves have made it easier to evaluate employees’ performance, test their knowledge, improve training and strengthen their teams.

What are AR and VR Technologies?

Simply, augmented reality is a highly interactive experience of a real-world environment. It enhances objects in the real world by computer-generated perceptual information. Think Snapchat filters, Pokemon Go, and even Waze.

Virtual reality, a similarly interactive experience, is a simulation of a completely different environment from the real world. The computer-generated simulation of a 3-D image or environment can be interacted with in a seemingly real way. For a truly immersive sensory experience, users must wear appropriate electronic equipment, such as a headset and gloves fitted with sensors.

Using AR and VR in Recruitment: A Two Way Street

Companies are deploying AR/VR technologies in their recruitment processes to maintain a competitive edge in the market. They need the best talent the labor market has to offer, and these technologies can help filter candidates by the most relevant skills. However, it works both ways; the best talent will look for the best and most inspiring work opportunities. And VR, in particular, helps candidates experience work environments remotely.

Recently, Lloyds Bank implemented VR into its assessment process for the Graduate Leadership Program. During the screening process, Lloyd’s asks candidates to solve puzzles in a simulated environment. Based on their results — which clearly demonstrated their strengths and weaknesses — the company more easily made recruitment decisions.

By providing a simulated view of the company, AR and VR can play another vital role in the recruiting process. After all, prospective employees can spend considerable time commuting to and from, as well as being in, a company’s workplace during the interview process. Virtual reality-based simulated environments can reduce that time and expense by providing candidates with a virtual yet holistic understanding of the working environment and team they could join. With AR and VR, a candidate can now be sitting in Shanghai as they gain a genuine feel for a company’s culture in Manhattan.

Gamification for Job Applicants

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, it’s never been more important to use innovative ways to engage with the best talent in a limited pool of qualified workers.

The use of gamification has proven to stand firm against the traditional application process since it offers something new, exciting, innovative, and — perhaps most importantly — efficient. Gamification significantly increases the interactivity of the recruitment process. Consider this, rather than gather essential candidate information through manual forms and resumes — such as qualifications, experience, and skills — a gamified approach can interactively reveal this information.

Innovative augmented reality platforms have grown to serve this growing application in recruitment screening. ActiView, for example, uses AR technology to help recruiters detect various behavioral habits and attributes required for the job.

AR and VR for General Training

Once employees are on board, training them can be costly, time-consuming, and ineffective. Virtual reality (VR) can help orient employees with all the technical skills related to their roles. By providing an immersive environment for new employee induction and training, new team members can familiarize themselves with new processes without wasting resources. Additionally, companies naturally expect employees to become more efficient in their roles with time. VR can help speed up these processes, and workforce development in general, as they get new employees more engaged and efficient faster.

For example, the hands-on training experiences opened up by VR allow employees to enter an immersive environment and gain experience using and navigating complex machinery and technical parts within a training room. By eliminating the boundaries between the real and virtual environments, employers take advantage of both realities in one setting — generating efficiencies and enabling faster learning.


corporate trading trade-off


As the graph above shows, the trade-off associated with traditional corporate training is offset by VR technology and immersive training. As illustrated, one-on-one expert mentor training is indeed an effective method. However, it’s time-consuming and expensive, which hinders a company’s ability to scale. On the other hand, reading a quick manual and watching a 2D video might be cost-effective. But precedent shows us this is the least effective training method.

AR and VR for Safety Training

Many industries, more than we initially imagine, operate to some degree in unsafe environments. This is particularly true within plants and facilities with heavy-duty machinery, chemicals, and life-threatening procedures. Virtual reality can play an essential role in facilities where safety is key.

For example, in the firefighting industry, VR-based training on new challenges has been massively beneficial. Specifically, it curbs training accidents and helps eliminate underperformance while demonstrating real-life scenarios. Trainees can apply the lessons learned anywhere an associated risk is part of the job spec.

Employers and organizations can provide a virtually created life-threatening or risky situation within an immersive environment to trainees. There, they can learn best practices and remedies and be better prepared to take on the challenge in real-life.

AR and VR for Team Building

Business managers, HR specialists, and young entrepreneurs have long since recognized the importance of building and maintaining company culture. Themes have shifted towards connectivity, embracing differences, inclusivity, and team-building strategies. Now, more than ever, they have turned to remote options to sustain a culture in a forced work-from-home environment.

When planning an in-person team-building event, of course, there are many options — from bars to restaurants to bowling alleys and pub quizzes. In these relaxed environments, team building can take many forms with different goals. Of course, these venues also come with their own sets of challenges — especially during a pandemic.

On the other hand, virtual reality is a notable and powerful team-building tool where anything is practically possible. Hang out with the team in virtual gathering rooms where everyone can join in playing games, get competitive and collaborate — from anywhere. The Rec Room is an excellent example of a multipurpose VR-based gaming resource. The platform provides companies with access to thousands of user-generated and custom gaming events that enable team building.

Workforce Development in a Nutshell

Ultimately, AR and VR eliminate the workforce development challenges faced — from recruiting to team-building — in a pre-technological world.

To strengthen your company, start leveraging the immense capabilities of AR and VR today.


Photo: Margaret Weir

Training Your Workforce for Data-Driven Decision-Making

The power of business driven by data insights is undeniable. But no matter how clear we are about the importance of being able to base key decisions on a clear framework of data analysis, actually applying this approach is another story for many organizations. From leaders to managers to workforces, what’s needed is a program that encompasses all the knowledge, skills and strategies to enable our people to become data-fluent and data-confident, so they can apply the right data to their decision-making across the board.

Just why some organizations fall short on this is partially a matter of culture: we may embrace the concept of “data” in our work cultures, yet we fail to commit to developing the analytics skills our teams need to harness the data. It may also be a matter of infrastructure: many organizations simply will not have the means to create, manage, and implement a multidimensional training program on their own. And for some, it is the inability to assess our own limitations: we may not even realize where the gaps are in terms of competencies — or even the technology needed to carry them out. On all these fronts, however, there is no reason to go it alone.

To effectively empower our workforces, it’s a best practice to establish a partnership — one that provides the vision, structure, tools, and collaborative energy to turn our people into data-driven decision makers. If we’re going to transform our work culture to be competitive going forward, that’s what we need to instill data-driven decision making as a core competency. And we need to be able to capture the imaginations and drive the engagement of a diverse and multi-generational workforce — who may want their learning delivered in a whole range of ways, across different channels, and at different speeds. 

Recently I sat down with Donna Trice, Sr. Mgr., Education and Training Division, and Katie Whitley, Education Account Executive, of SAS for a roundtable about just this challenge. We discussed how SAS works with organizations to shape effective, ongoing  partnerships, embarking on a collaborative journey around data literacy and analytics training that carries through from planning to adoption to refinements. It’s a dynamic that thrives when all parties are actively involved. What SAS brings to the table is a level of expertise, perspective and also flexibility that most organizations don’t have, and likely need, to equip and train our workforces to become data-driven decision makers. 

What follows are highlights from our conversation:

Assessing Needs

Meghan M. Biro: Something I see in terms of technology now is that it’s not about simply selling and buying. There’s no “one and done” with software and tools that are this powerful and this sophisticated. Learning the technology is also a huge part of being a modern company. True learning partners can’t position something and then walk away. They have to create an ongoing partnership and be responsive to a company’s evolving needs. 

Can you talk about how you assess the individual needs of each company — and what some of the distinguishing factors are? You may be working with a company that wants to be in front of the most cutting-edge skills, and another company that is a bit more traditional. So how do you determine the best route for skills training for each of these workforces? And what are the various methods for coaching and learning that work for one work culture versus another? How do the approaches differ, and what tools do you use, such as learning portals?

Donna Trice, SAS: We start by having conversations, qualifying and understanding their learning goals. We work with our clients to look at their skills today and where they want to go. Together, we create a training plan that works for them and their employees.  This may include a learning needs assessment, some may prefer public classes; others may want us onsite; others prefer e-learning. We can bend and flex to cater to customer needs.

It’s all about meeting the customer where they are. So, for companies that aren’t as ready to take a large leap, those that prefer a more traditional approach to learning, they may schedule multiple onsite training sessions up front on multiple topics versus a company that comes to us and says “I want to build out a data science team.”  For that company, we may lay out a six-month plan with different training modalities complete with a custom learning portal and reporting to track progress and outcome metrics. 

Creating the Foundation for Skills Development 

Meghan M. Biro: I’m going somewhat high level here, but do you think part of the gap regarding training and skills has to do with how we envision skills development? We hear a lot about the training that employees themselves need. But it seems like companies also need to take a clear look at the big picture. 

In other words, how can we better equip our leaders and managers and learning teams to make the right decisions for their workforce, and develop that 20/20 vision? What’s the right approach for working with leaders to develop a real base of knowledge — so they can set a course for learning and development that fully utilizes the capabilities of their own technologies?

Katie Whitley, SAS: This is such an interesting question — and there are many sides to the answer. We need to look at skills development with our customers two ways: macro and micro. And we need to give customers the confidence that we can help tackle both.

The macro is important so organizations can see the big picture of skills development — how it will affect and benefit the entire workforce. It’s not just getting their people trained. It’s understanding their jobs, the skill set needed to be successful and exceed beyond that, and their current ability to meet those expectations. In other words, where are they now and where do they need to be to meet their business objectives? It’s also important to understand how making these advances forward will not only benefit one group but create efficiencies company-wide.

But not everyone will need the same plan to succeed. Once you have the big picture of how skills development will benefit your organization at the macro level, you need to look at the individuals and get a true understanding of the current skill levels and not only understand their gaps, but their ability to learn, and the format in which they learn best. Creating role-based plans specific to an individual’s learning needs will ensure the employees are getting a tailored, prescriptive plan — where success can be tracked and measured.  

And, the most critical piece to success is ensuring knowledge and skills are building up. Because, let’s face it, there are lots of e-learning platforms out there. SAS pays critical attention to this part, and issues completion badges and globally recognized certifications to validate skills gain. We’ll even step in with mentoring and coaching if it’s needed to advance knowledge gain. 

Mentoring hours and certifications are a great way to achieve this. When you combine this with role-based plans that look different for a business analyst versus a data scientist, administrator or model manager, that’s where you get success. As a business, you have to prioritize these plans according to your goals and find the right learning partner to get you there.

The Future of Work

Meghan M. Biro: Looking forward, we want to make sure our workforce masters in-demand software and tools. I know certain careers are starting to really pick up, like data science, where jobs are growing by 29% this year. Given the job starts at around six figures, I’m not surprised it was LinkedIn’s most promising job for 2019. But skills in data science require a lot of very specific learning — and we see a lot of gaps in our current workforce. 

What will it take to better train our workforce — and ensure the next generation is ready to work with AI and machine learning? I’m also thinking of education: How does learning cross over from the workforce into the academic arena?  

Donna Trice, SAS: SAS’ approach to building the next generation of data scientists, programmers, and AI and machine learning experts is rooted in building collaborative relationships between businesses and academic institutions to ensure there is an analytics talent pipeline that businesses so desperately need. 

This can take the form of free training and enablement, such as course materials and workshops, to help faculty build their curriculum, along with low and no cost SAS software options. We also work with academic researchers, providing them with access to powerful SAS Analytics so they can extract deeper meaning and insights from large amounts of disparate data.

All of that said, in order to truly fill the analytics skills gap, there has to be a partnership between analytics companies like SAS, universities, and industry. SAS is finding creative ways to be there to support universities who want to give their students a competitive edge in the labor market, while also helping commercial customers find and hire the early-career talent they need. The key is building collaborative relationships between SAS’ industry and academic partners — to ensure alignment between the analytics skills that faculty teach, and that students learn, and what industry needs to grow and succeed.

This post is sponsored by SAS.

Photo: Bek Greenwood

Soft Skills: In Demand in the Corporate Space

With advancements due to automation and globalization, the outlook of employers has changed significantly. To know if a candidate is a right fit for their organization, they gauge their capability not from a degree, but from the attributes that they display — i.e., soft skills. 

According to a survey by Talent Q, 9 in 10 employers look for effective soft skills in the applicants. These abilities are critical in any environment that requires interaction and collaboration. They define the various attributes of personality that help us complete a job successfully, including how intently we listen to others, how empathetic we are towards colleagues, and how we approach a problem.  Among the most important soft skills potential employees should possess:

  • Communication skills — such as the ability to communicate effectively within teams and with clients
  • Interpersonal skills to resolve conflicts without hurting anyone’s feelings
  • Confidence — to be able to effectively present ideas
  • Teamwork and leadership skills— such as the ability to participate and lead within a team
  • Critical thinking and decision-making skills — to make strategic decisions despite uncooperative clients, tough deadlines, or issues within the team 

As well as:

  • Networking skills
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Flexibility

Soft Skills in the Age of Automation

In the past, employers hired candidates based on degrees, certifications, and domain-related skills. The competition was tough. With the introduction of automation in almost every industry, the competition has become even tougher: for some of these tasks, we are competing with robots. A McKinsey Global Institute report says that around 375 million jobs will be lost to robots by the year 2030, and two million jobs that require human skills will be created. 

Though automation is only here to make our lives and work easier, businesses are still in dire need of professionals with unique human skills. After all, bots can make transactions, but they can’t make deals. Despite the emerging importance of automation, job positions that require soft skills can only be filled by humans. We still need skilled professionals who use their emotional intelligence to make strategic, profitable decisions. 

Essential for 21st-Century Employers 

A study by Wonderlic found that  93% of employers consider soft skills ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ in their potential employees. Moreover, according to a report by  Burning Glass, more than a quarter of all skills mentioned in the US job postings (for even the most technical job roles) were baseline or soft skills. Further, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 90% of organizations are undergoing a structural and cultural transformation in order to be more dynamic, connected and team-centric. And employees or candidates who can’t keep up with the changing requirements may not be eligible for growth-oriented, high-paying jobs. 

Can Soft Skills Be Taught?

In a recent trial aimed to find out if soft skills can be taught, soft skills training was offered at 5 factories in Bangalore over a period of 12 months. Researchers found a 250% increase in productivity within 8 months of the trial’s conclusion Employees or job candidates who want to develop their soft skills can work with various soft skills trainers who offer structured training or frequently conduct soft skills training workshops. At the corporate level, some employers are hiring a certified corporate trainer. It’s imperative in either case to ensure that the training addresses the given objectives. And as the demand for soft skills continues to increase, soft skills training is on the rise as a career choice as well: those with a passion and aptitude for training and coaching are finding that opting for a role as a soft skills trainer offers both high pay and a great deal of flexibility.

Today’s organizations need human professionals with uniquely human skills, or they can’t flourish. Employers should be proactive and analyze their organizational and employee needs, conducting soft skills training to fill in the gaps. It’s the best way to keep up in this changing corporate scenario. 

Photo Timon Studler

To Access the Data Goldmine, Workforces Need to Be Data Literate

We are in the midst of a data revolution. Businesses and organizations across all sectors collect, store and analyze huge amounts of information. However, they often struggle to realize data’s full potential. According to a recent report from Accenture, Closing the Data Value Gap, only 32% of business executives surveyed said that they’re able to create tangible and measurable value from data. 

Why? Because many companies struggle to fully utilize the capabilities of their entire workforces. 

That’s why Qlik and Accenture commissioned  The Human Impact of Data Literacy. The 2020  global survey of over nine thousand workers found that businesses at the tipping point of their journey to become data-driven are investing heavily in data-ready skills to help enhance individual and organizational performance. 

The majority of workers surveyed said that they read and interpret data as part of their roles, and communicate with data, making data-driven decisions at least once a week. But only 25% of these employees believe they were fully prepared to use data effectively when entering their current role.  

There is much progress to be made. With technology developing far more quickly than the typical employee’s ability to harness data insights, some employees feel they do not have the right tools or support, and are starting to feel overwhelmed. The research found that just 21% of global workers are confident in their data literacy skills — the ability to read, understand, question and work with data. 

This can have significant consequences for their overall performance and, in turn, have an impact on the organization’s bottom line. 

Empowering workers to fulfill their potential

Organizations with a workforce fully invested in the effective use of data are already seeing a competitive advantage. According to the 2018 Data Literacy Index, they have benefitted from increased performance and a higher total enterprise value of between three and five percent, equating to US $500 million. In contrast, the Human Impact of Data Literacy study found that companies lose an average of more than five working days (43 hours) per employee each year due to procrastination and sick leave stemming from stress around information, data and technology issues. This ultimately would equate to billions in lost productivity around the globe.

In order to realize that opportunity, organizations need to unlock their people’s potential with five key steps:

  1. Set your data expectations.

Setting clear expectations means that everyone — whether in product development, marketing or business intelligence—understands what is expected of them. By clarifying how data is going to be used, employers can start to define how different roles across the organization will align with and contribute to overall business goals. 

To do that, organizations need to understand how their employees actually work with data and educate them on how data supports organizational goals. This empowers employees to see how their actions directly contribute to creating value for the business. 

  1. Map the way to achieve data goals.

The next step is to assess the state of data within the organization. That covers everything from measuring individual levels of data literacy, to understanding the availability and adoption of technology and tools and defining who needs access to what data. 

This has to be accurate – currently, there is a gap between what leaders think and what might actually be the case. Three-fourths (75%) of C-suite level respondents in our Human Impact report believe that all or most of their employees have the ability to work with data proficiently.  Even more (79%) believe that their employees have access to the tools they need to be productive. But middle managers and below are less optimistic: half feel that all or most employees have the right abilities, and the same number echo the sentiment when it comes to access.

  1. Arm your employees for data-driven working.

Organizations must provide employees with the tools, processes and methodologies that enable them to use data as required and meet business goals. This includes not only tools, but training and continued support to advance skill sets.

  1. Close the data literacy skills gap.

However, simply having the right tools is not enough. Workers need to be data-literate. No matter how accessible data is, employees need to be capable of understanding, questioning and taking the right action based on the insights delivered. This  improves their experience of and confidence in using data; employees who identify as data-literate were at least 50 percent more likely than their data-novice peers to say they feel empowered to make better decisions and trusted to make better decisions.

  1. Create a culture of co-evolution.

The way we access and use data is constantly evolving, and so must a workforce’s understanding and ability to use data — there is no fixed endpoint. That’s why businesses need to build a culture comfortable with this state of continual change. Regularly assessing abilities, skillsets, tools and overall requirements will help employees persistently gain skills in their data literacy and is a fundamental aspect of empowering them to use data effectively and appropriately. 

Your most powerful data tool? Your people.

As Sanjeev Vohra, group technology officer and global lead for Accenture’s Data Business Group, put it:A workforce comfortable with data is a powerful asset; forward-thinking employers that prioritize their teams’ data literacy will reap the rewards.”

Education and empowerment will be the true determining success factors in the data-literate world. Technology may be creating data and giving workers the means to harness it, but organizations can only realize its full potential. by establishing and building understanding of what data can do, how it should be used, and who should be using it. 

This post is sponsored by Qlik.

Help! My New Hire is Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Remember a short while ago when you were beyond happy that the stellar candidate you interviewed, let’s call him Henry Jekyll, accepted your offer of employment? A month or two has passed since Henry started his employment and now, you are scratching your head wondering where the person you interview is and feeling like Edward Hyde has been reporting for duty at the office. At first you chalked it up to a slow adjustment to a new work environment, now you are realizing it is much more than that. Henry was hired, but the Edward showing up has had many attendance issues, has yet to meet one deadline and doesn’t have the skills necessary to do the job for which he was hired. You are pondering how you thought Henry was the answer to your hiring dreams, wondering how this can be avoided this in the future and hopeful there is a way to rectify the situation. Don’t be too hard on yourself, this scenario has been experienced by everyone with the responsibility of interviewing and hiring something in their career.

Carefully review all documents submitted for consideration prior to bringing someone in for an interview. Many times there can be indicators on those documents that are easily overlooked such as:

    • Gaps in employment history
    • Numerous short term jobs. (Note: In certain industries short term assignments are the norm.)
    • Majority of previous employment has been through temporary/staffing agencies.
    • Does the information on their resume match the information on a job application?
    • Does their resume mirror the job posting? (Strongly suggest the entire job description not be used for a job posting for this reason.)

Once the resume pool has been narrowed down, it is prudent to conduct phone interviews where any items from the list above can be addressed. Phone interviews help to determine if the candidate is a good fit for what the company needs, are they in the salary range you are offering, is a position a good match for their skill set or will they be bored quickly. After the phone screenings are complete and the pool narrowed to those who will have an in person interview, it will be helpful to identify another manager that can conduct the in person interviews with you. They may pick on something you did not, they may ask a great question that is not one of the usual questions you ask and at the end they will be able to provide you with their impression of the candidate. Once the final candidate has been selected and the employment offer made a background check should also be completed prior to the first day of work.

Unfortunately it is still possible, using the tips above, for Henry Jekyll to be hired and have Edward Hyde show up on the first day. If this happens it is imperative to address issues as soon as they arise. If Edward doesn’t have the skills listed on his resume/application bring this to his attention and let him know those skills were one of the reasons he was hired. If Edward is having attendance issues meet with him and let him know the expectation in this area; make sure this done for any and all areas Edward is not up to par. Edward should be given a chance to step up and if he fails to do so quickly the employment relationship should be ended. Keep in mind, the longer the period of employment the higher the duty to have documentation to support termination.

(About the Author: Michele O’Donnell joined the team in January 2007 and currently leads MMC’s elite team of HR Consultants. Ms. O’Donnell has been involved in the Human Resources industry for more than 14 years, bringing vast training and management experience to the MMC leadership ranks. Her experience spans the broad scope of labor law, regulatory compliance and HR Best Practices, drawn from her rich experience as Director of HR for several firms throughout her career. She currently works to ensure that MMC’s consultants forge long lasting relationships with our clients, fostered in exceptional service and unsurpassed HR expertise. Ms. O’Donnell earned her baccalaureate degree in Business Administration from Auburn University before receiving her Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University.)

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Intrapreneurial Spirit: Cultural Alchemy

Written by Renée Warren, CEO, Onboardly

Perfection is hard to define — especially when it comes to finding the right talent for your company. I know this all too well. Running a small communications agency in Canada would seem like an easy next step, after my success as a freelance consultant. But finding the right people to join me and believe in my vision was a tough sell.

Striking Intrapreneurial Gold

I needed to recruit intelligent, resourceful, self-motivated individuals — people who could easily see the big picture and ‘read the play.’ People who didn’t need an employee manual, hand-holding or a perfect office environment to be creative.

So, I hired a few ambitious young people and was surprised at what happened next. They actually helped define the company culture. It blew my mind.

At the time, I wasn’t seeking help to clarify our “why,” or establish our organizational culture. I figured those things would come in time. Little did I know, in recruiting these mavericks, not only would my job get easier, but a unique culture would also emerge.

I learned that these individuals aren’t just hard working employees. They actually are all intrapreneurs — professionals who build businesses from the inside out. And that has made all the difference.

Intrapreneurs Onboard

How did this intrapreneurial crew help create the perfect culture for our growing agency? I’ve identified 5 essential contributions:

1) A Sense of Ownership

Intrapraneurs tend to have a better understanding of the big picture, and their ideas often reach beyond their day-to-day tasks. Our team members are strong believers in the work they do and they embrace responsibility for the results they achieve. They believe they are integral to the organization’s success — they’re not merely working in a position for a paycheck. This passion and attachment only grows stronger with time.

As living, breathing examples of the company culture, the team attracts others to our sphere. They set out to make sure that our culture is heavily entwined with day-to-day operations, and their ambitious attitude becomes contagious. It’s a deciding factor for customers, partners and additional employees, when committing to our organization.

2) Things You Can’t Teach

Intrapreneurs have a way of transforming an organization beyond expectations “because they are self‐motivated free thinkers, masters at navigating around bureaucratic and political inertia,” explains Vijay Govindarajan in a Harvard Business Review post.

Sure, some of these skills can be learned. However, the way this magical mixture comes together is often the product of innate characteristics, rather than the result of training. Members of this special breed either use company culture as a means to excel in a role, or they commit to crafting a culture that will elevate the organization as a whole.

Sounds too good to be true? There is some bad news: It’s often hard to identify this aptitude in a typical job interview. Intrapreneurial aptitude actually can take time — months, or even years — to surface. But if you have a knack for identifying human potential, you’ll be able to recruit ambitious, creative, self-directed individuals who are intrapreneurs at the core.

3) Always Adding Value

Some people go to work to make money, while others go to serve a purpose. Money is important to make ends meet, but it’s not the only reason why people stay with a company and love their careers. When someone is genuinely invested in their work, they will go to great lengths to contribute their best effort. They will work harder and longer to produce the results they seek.

More often than not, this “extra effort” comes from those with an intrapreneurial mindset — from people who refuse to stop until the job is done well. They are exemplary at shaping and contributing to cultures that create business value. Their work is not only self-fulfilling, but something that supports performance across the entire team.

4) Leaders Without the Title

Intrapreneurs are clearly leaders in their own right. They will proactively seek ways to cut costs and increase revenues, even beyond a CEO’s expectations. Regardless of the significance associated with change, an intrapreneur takes on the responsibility as though they own the company — and they make decisions, accordingly.

Perhaps more importantly, these people are visionaries who are willing to challenge the status quo. They “have a dream, and overcome obstacles to achieving it by selling the dream to others” (Hisrich, Peters, and Shepherd, 2010.) Their support of the company often is on par with upper management’s level of commitment.

5) Follow the Magic

No doubt, you already have natural intrapreneurs within the walls of your company. You may know and work side-by-side with some already. But you may not recognize others yet. Surprisingly, these “hidden gems” are not always your classic top talent. However, they are unique. And when you uncover them, if you encourage and nurture them, magic can happen.

How so? Intrapreneurs have a way of making complex processes into something more simple. They see the light at the end of a tunnel that others would abandon. They can think creatively inside and out of the box. They aren’t afraid of taking risks, and they are tenacious problem solvers. Magic? I’d say so.

Letting Your Inner Entrepreneurs Shine

Don’t ignore the signs of an intrapreneur. When you spot them, help them understand that you’re aware of their potential, and then support them throughout their journey. That “go” signal and encouragement from you may be just the thing to kick-start their mission — or keep them on course. Remember, these individuals may not “look” like the typical “CEO” candidate, but can (and will) create magic for you and the company.

It has happened for me. I know it can happen for others. Find the gold in your ranks and let it shine. Give them freedom to make choices and see things through to the next level. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll never regret it.

Are intrapreneurs actively driving your organizational culture? How do you support them? And how are they contributing to your organization’s success?

Learn More: “Business In Your Business” Conference

For more insight about how to foster intrapreneurship in your organization, check out the “Business In Your Business” International Intrapreneurship Conference in Barcelona, Spain, December 12-13, 2013. Experienced intrapreneurs and inspiring experts will share how the process works for them and explain how you can implement it, too. BONUS DISCOUNT: Get 10% off on your attendance fee — enter the code “TalentCulture“ when you register online.

reneewarren(About the Author: Renée Warren is the CEO of Onboardly, a company that works with early stage startups to help them with customer acquisition and to gain visibility. She has worked with companies such as Udemy, Manpacks, and Beaucoo, helping them create an online presence that consistently gets their products in front of thousands of potential customers. Often referred to as a ‘geek in stilettos,’ Renée is passionate about creating a life that allows her to be the world’s best mom and build a company that continues to create value for its customers through inbound marketing.)

(Image Credit: Dan Brown on Flickr)

Going Social: Learning In Action #TChat Recap

“Learning is more effective when it is active rather than a passive process.”
– Euripides

One of the most active learning environments I know is #TChat.

In fact, sometimes it’s truly hyper-active, as the TalentCulture community meets on the Twitter stream to exchange ideas about the world of work. That’s certainly how it felt this week, as we gathered to celebrate three years of #TChat events and continuous online knowledge sharing.

It was fitting that our conversation focused on social learning. And it was equally fitting to welcome an HR executive who’s responsible for (among many other things) leveraging social tools and techniques to foster learning across her fast-paced, global organization.

Our guest this week was Ambrosia Humphrey, VP of Talent at HootSuite. And the insights she shared on #TChat Radio are instructive for any organization striving to elevate its learning culture.

(Editor’s Note: See full event highlights and resource links at the end of this post.)

Social Workplace: Learning Everywhere

As social media weaves itself deeper into daily life, organizations are searching for effective ways to blend social behaviors with learning methodology. There are good reasons for all the interest.

Social channels remove the hierarchy found in most organizations. With traditional roles de-emphasized, everyone has more freedom to contribute, interact, experiment and develop personally and professionally. It’s collaboration at its best. When organizations channel this collective energy, there’s great potential to boost innovation and business performance.

However, many companies are still only testing the waters in their cultural commitment to social learning. Twitter chats such as #TChat provide a low-risk model outside organizational walls; bringing together experts and talent-minded professionals to discuss today’s workplace — what works, what doesn’t, and how to address key issues.

#TChat: Social Learning Slice Of Life

As #TChat proves, social tools and techniques are an attractive way to develop and sustain learning communities. The immediacy, flexibility and availability of social media make it possible for people with common interests to connect and contribute easily in real-time, from all corners of the globe.

Imagine the possibilities when this approach is applied within organizations! Employees feel more appreciated and valued for their input. Engagement increases. And employers signal a commitment to employee development and growth. It’s a win-win. Companies gain a more engaged, productive workforce, and in turn, employees are challenged and become more competent.

This is why I look forward to many more wonderful years for #TChat and TalentCulture — an open, ongoing learning environment that is helping us all shape the world of work for the better!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Online Communities and Professional Growth

Kevin Grossman Tim McDonald TChat (2)

Watch the #TChat hangout now

SAT 11/16:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Editorial Director, Kathleen Kruse framed this week’s topic in a post that features a special 3rd Anniversary #TChat hangout video with co-founder, Kevin W. Grossman. Read the Preview: “We’re Turning Three! Let’s Celebrate Community.”

SUN 11/17: Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro looked at 7 ways leaders can foster a high-octane social workplace culture. Read: “7 Characteristics of a Social Leader.”

MON 11/18 — THU 11/21

Related Posts:
Read: “What Drives Social Influence? Insights From Recruiting Circles” by Carter Hostelley
Read: “#TChat Road Trip: Going to the Next Level Together” by Meghan M. Biro
Read: “Community Heart + Soul: #TChat Favorites” by Kevin W. Grossman

WED 11/20:


Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guest Ambrosia Humphrey , VP HR at HootSuite, about why and how organizations benefit by committing to social learning initiatives. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and team Hootsuite joined the entire TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open conversation that centered on 5 related questions. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: The Growth of Online Learning

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Ambrosia Humphrey for sharing your perspectives on social learning and organizational culture. We value your time, enthusiasm and expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about social learning in the workplace? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, #TChat Events go quiet, as we celebrate the Thanksgiving week in the U.S. However, we’ll be back on December 4th, with a special double-header, featuring two of our community’s most beloved HR experts, Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers! Look for more details next weekend.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream,  our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Employee Engagement: Why Is Gender (Still) A Factor?

Written by Elyssa Thome

Fact: Men are more likely to be engaged in the workplace than women.

Does that surprise you? If so, you may want to take a closer look at recent research by Human Capital Institute and Acheivers. The survey was designed to find out more about the factors that correspond with high employee engagement. And the results indicate that today’s most engaged employees are males, age 50 or older, who hold senior-level positions, and have been with an organization for at least 15 years.

Implications For Women

What explains these results? There is no single answer that applies to all companies. Also, employee engagement varies from person to person, for multiple reasons. However, for any of us to engage in our work, we must feel a sense of control over the workload, and believe that our efforts have a direct impact on the company mission.

Not surprisingly, the higher we climb within the workforce, the more likely we’ll experience those key factors of control and meaningful contribution. And employees who have been in the workforce longer and have risen in the ranks to executive levels tend to be males who are 50 or older. The truth is, despite huge progress in gender equality among college graduation rates and even in the level of entry-level jobs, women are still absent from top leadership at most companies.

What To Do?

I work with powerful, fierce, dedicated women every day. They may not be top executives (yet), but they are valuable contributors, and they have tremendous potential. Imagine the impact on business performance if employees like these were more invested in making their company better.

As the U.S. Census Bureau points out, there’s a long way to go before we reach a truly equitable workplace. But we won’t arrive at that goal unless we continue to work toward progress. For example, we can rethink business practices that may erode engagement among women employees. Here are three options:

1) Support Flexible Schedules

While it may not elevate more women to the corner office, schedule flexibility does offer employees of both genders a sense of control that translates to higher engagement. Building in options to work from home or to arrange flexible hours provides a level of personal freedom and responsibility that leads to increased productivity and deeper investment in the company.

2) Promote From Within, When Possible

Don’t overlook existing talent when filling open positions. There is nothing quite as demoralizing as having an unproven manager hired over you, when you’re confident that you can be effective in that role. Investing in the development of current employees and giving them the opportunity to demonstrate return on that investment allows for individual and company growth.

3) Advocate For One Another

More opportunities for female advancement are unlikely to arise unless women proactively champion the concept. My friends and colleagues point to female mentors that provided support, confidence and guidance that led them to high-potential roles. As Sheryl Sandberg points out in her provocative book, Lean In, women have a harder time talking about their own successes, but easily promote the work of others. Use that trait for a greater good. Open the door for employees to recognize one another, and listen carefully.

Addressing women in the workplace more effectively can have a huge pay-off. You’ll likely stop losing top female talent to issues you were overlooking. Also, with a more diverse workforce, your company can expect to be more effective at driving creativity and innovation. Ensure that your organization isn’t unintentionally limiting voices. It all starts with an environment where everyone believes there’s an equal opportunity to contribute.

For more information on what makes an engaged employee, download the full report here.

ElyssaThome-blog(About the Author: Elyssa Thome is a copywriter at Achievers. She has developed expertise in numerous topics, and currently focuses on the human resource space — specifically how to create Employee Success. She has worked with and for powerful, talented, inspiring women, and she hopes to be one herself someday.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Social Learning: The New Business Edge?

A recent #TChat Radio show really piqued my interest. The topic was collaboration and social learning, with guest, Nick Kellet. Nick is one of the innovative minds who founded Listly — a service that nurtures individual and collective growth by enabling people to discover, filter and share content easily within their digital communities.

Obviously, social learning isn’t a new concept. As Nick noted, it’s not really even “actually a thing” in itself. Rather it’s a by-product of the fact that we are social beings. Learning through interaction with others is naturally built into our work lives. And now, with content and tools that make it incredibly easy to collaborate online, social learning is gaining tremendous momentum in the digital space.

In fact, according to Bersin by Deloitte, U.S. companies spent 39% more on social learning initiatives last year than in 2011. That’s a huge jump, and it indicates how swiftly business is embracing the need to provide infrastructure for collaborative business processes.

Why Social Learning Is Essential: 3 Reasons

So what’s the big deal? Why is social learning suddenly such a hot business topic? Actually, I think it boils down to three fundamentals:

• Employees want to learn and grow.
• Growth contributes to engagement.
• Engaged employees stick around.

It’s just that simple.

Consider this: The Cornerstone OnDemand 2013 U.S. Employee Report indicates that 1 in 3 employees would stay at their company longer if their employer helped them develop their skills. That’s a significant number of employees you could retain — not to mention recruitment costs you could save — just by providing today’s workforce with better paths to learning.

Social learning options are an ideal way to respond to employees’ desire for development, because in addition to providing the knowledge and growth they crave, it also builds a sense of connection and belonging within your organization.

Building Competence and Connections

In responding to performance review questions, have you ever been asked if you have a best friend at work? Did you wonder why that question was relevant? It’s because employees who form bonds with their peers feel much more engaged and comfortable in the workplace. And connections that are good for individuals are also good for organizational culture. Social learning helps employees to connect — not just within their workgroups, but with peers around the globe — expanding their networks and strengthening their sense of belonging. That’s no small feat.

While the technology may be ever-changing, the concept of social learning is clearly here to stay. It’s wise to take a cue from the companies that increased their social learning spending last year, and make it a priority in 2013 and beyond. Your employees will thank you for your investment in their future — and ultimately, so will your bottom line.

Tell me: How is your organization enriching or expanding the learning experience? What hurdles have you faced? And what kind of difference do you see in your workforce? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s learn from one another.

(Note: If you’re not yet one of Listly’s many ardent fans, we recommend you take a closer look. We love it at Achievers. We’ve even created a Listly-powered Achievers resources collection.)

Image Credit: Niharb via flickr Creative Commons

Recognition: Meaning and Motivation #TChat Recap

(Editor’s Note: Please welcome one of Team TalentCulture’s new editorial interns, Ana Mijailovic. She’s an accomplished university student with mad writing skills, and we’re thrilled to add her perspective on the “world of work.”)

After a week focused on recognition in the workplace — what have I learned? It’s clear that today’s workforce is increasingly disengaged, and lack of recognition is a primary culprit.

So, how can we turn that around? On one hand, a simple “thank you” is free and easy to share, anytime or in any situation. On the other hand, it’s not so free or easy for organizations to practice recognition consistently and effectively.

Case In Point

My first job was at a hospital as an office assistant. At first, I loved working there. I was excited to start making my own money, to cash my own paychecks. The tasks were fairly simple — filing patient charts, filling out medical billing sheets, making copies, everything you would expect from an administrative assistant. The repetition was actually relaxing at first, and my boss constantly acknowledged my speed and work ethic. However, after after several years, my productivity slipped. I met expectations, but without the original energy and speed.

A Problem of Motivation

What’s my point? Even when recognition “looks right” on the outside, it doesn’t necessarily empower employees. Although I loved my boss, my work environment and my colleagues, I was bored. Why? To quote the movie “Office Space,” it was “a problem of motivation.”

Motivation is largely intrinsic. In that situation, no salary increase or external encouragement could motivate me further. What I needed was a challenge. I had mastered the required skills. I had proved my competence. I was ready to reach for the next level, but that option wasn’t made available.

This isn’t uncommon. Managers are often so focused on immediate goals, they forget that many employees want to grow and develop. Offering them a new challenge is a form of empowerment. It demonstrates trust. It demonstrates good faith in the future. It demonstrates commitment to employee success. For those of us who value growth, it’s a promise that helps us keep striving to reach our full potential.

Key Takeaway: Be Mindful and Meaningful

The larger lesson is this:  Every individual is motivated by something. For recognition that really matters, managers should consider what each employee values most, and tailor recognition accordingly.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check the ideas below from this week’s guests and #TChat events. There’s inspiration and advice for employers and employees, alike!

#TChat Week in Review

SAT 5/18

Stan Phelps and Max Brown

Watch video hangouts in the #TChat Preview post…

Setting the Stage:  “Recognition Done Right: 9 Points of Light.” One of our expert guests, Stan Phelps, framed the week’s topic with real-world recognition examples from his new book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish – Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Engagement and Reinforce Culture.”

SUN 5/19

#TChat Preview:  Our community manager, Tim McDonald, served up “sneak peek” video interviews with Stan and our other guest, S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute. See what they think matters most about recognition now in “The Business Wisdom of Recognition: #TChat Preview.”

MON 5/20 Post:  TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro examined startling workforce statistics and suggested remedies in her Forbes column, “Employee Engagement is Every Leader’s Imperative.”

TUE 5/21


Listen to the #TChat Radio show

Related Post:  Achievers CEO, Razor Suleman, brought a unique twist to our blog by bridging two back-to-back topics in his post, “Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback.”

#TChat Radio: Stan and Max joined our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman for a 30-minute deep dive into issues and opportunities surrounding recognition and organizational culture, while #TChat-ters chimed in on the Twitter backchannel.

WED 5/22

Related Post:  Career management blogger, Ritika Trikha, offered different point-of-view, with advice for employees who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, in “Where’s the Love? Recognition DIY.”

#TChat Twitter: The highlight of every week! With Stan and Max leading the way, hundreds of community members gathered around the #TChat feed for an open, thoughtful exchange about workplace recognition. The conversation was so popular that we trended on Twitter again. (It’s becoming a habit!) Were you along for the ride? If not (or if you want a refresh), see highlights in the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “The Business Wisdom of Recognition”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Stan Phelps founder of 9 Inch Marketing, and S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute. We’re inspired by your insights and passion for the power of recognition!

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week — if you are fascinated by social business practices (who among us isn’t?), you won’t want to miss this! We’re exploring enterprise community management, with special guests, Maria Ogneva, Director of Product Marketing at Salesforce Chatter Communities, and Jeff Willinger, Director of Collaboration, Social Computing and Intranets at Rightpoint.

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

Ana Mijailovic-001Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend…and we’ll see you on the stream!

(Author Profile: Ana Mijailovic is a student at Boston University studying Economics and Business Administration. Her experiences in the classroom and in the workplace have taught her the importance of teamwork, collaboration and leadership in organizations. She is one of four bright, community-savvy interns who are contributing to the TalentCulture mission this summer.)

Photo Credit:  Stock.xchng


HR What Are You Waiting For? #TChat Recap

HR is the only department that asks for funding and C-level approval. Why?

Launch your powerful “world of work” initiatives and help the business grow.

Ask for forgiveness later!

Cy Wakeman passionately and matter-of-factly shared this sentiment about reality-based leadership at the SHRM Talent Management Conference and Exposition this week. It’s an unapologetic challenge to business leaders — especially those in HR — to stop the company coddle. In other words:

  • SHRM LogoStop coddling unhappy employees;
  • Focus on developing those who want to work for you, and expanding their strengths;
  • Accelerate development changes;
  • Encourage differentiation by using “benefits” as a reward for results.

Stop the company coddle, indeed. HR professionals have an opportunity today to truly make a difference in the ongoing success of their organizations. It comes from lifting performance across all members of the workforce — from contingent to full-time. It comes from tapping deeply into individual and collective strengths, and elevating performance to new levels.

It’s not about gaining a “seat at the table.” HR is already there. It’s about making the most of HR’s natural ability to support business strategy. So let’s get to work!

#TChat Topic: “World-Class” Workforce

Cy’s perspectives are very timely — aligning with discussions we had in #TChat events with Elliot Clark, CEO & Chairman of SharedXpertise, publisher of HRO Today and creator of the HRO Today Forum, which is coming up soon in Philadelphia.

HRO TodayElliot echoed Cy’s call for HR to help make organizations flatter, and more agile, and to leverage data for decisions that drive better business results. In the quest for competitive advantage, today’s bravest and most business-savvy HR leaders are building organizations that that are more flexible, more engaged and more resilient. It’s about focusing on mission-critical core talent, while outsourcing other responsibilities to reliable partners who deliver highly responsive business process services and technology infrastructure.

This is what it means to have a “world-class” workforce. “World-class” may have become a buzzword in our industry. But if we don’t aim high, what are the consequences? An underutilized, unhappy workforce undermines the very essence of innovation, drive and success.

#TChat Week-in-Review: Resources

SUN 4/14


Watch Elliot Clark discuss HR issues and trends

Google+ Hangout video:  Our community manager Tim McDonald, briefly framed the week’s issues with HRO Today Forum creator Elliot Clark.

#TChat Preview:  We outlined the week’s topic and key questions in the #TChat Preview post: “Building a World-Class Workforce”

MON 4/15

Meghan on Monday: To kick-off the week, our community CEO, Meghan M. Biro challenged use to look at “The Human Side of Self Service” — which provided context for her column.


Listen to the #TChat Radio recording Meghan brought meaning to popular HR buzzwords in her post: “5 Attributes of a World-Class Workforce”

#TChat Radio: Hosts Kevin and Meghan talked with Elliot Clark about key workforce management trends, and what’s on the agenda for the HRO Today Forum.

WED 4/17

#TChat Twitter The TalentCulture community came together on the Twitter stream to talk about the realities that today’s organization’s face in developing a high-performance workforce. For insights from the stream, watch the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “Building a World-Class Workforce”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Elliot Clark for joining us to discuss workforce management trends, and the agenda for the HRO Today Forum. Meghan and I are excited to be participating in this year’s Forum, managing and judging the iTalent Competition, as well as running #TChat Twitter live from the conference. We hope #TChat-ters will save the date – and join us live in Philadelphia, or via social streams!

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we’ll look at the role that social networks play in facilitating corporate responsibility and “social good” business initiatives. Stay tuned for “sneak peek” video and a full preview this weekend!

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Stock.xchng


Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap

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

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

Learning Together: A Surprise Inside

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

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

Collective Knowledge: Sharing Adds Value

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

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

Layers of Learning That Live On

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

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

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

The beauty astounds.

#TChat “Social Learning” Week-in-Review


Watch the sneak peek interview with Michael Clark

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

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

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

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

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


Listen to the recorded #TChat Radio show

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

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

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: Igniting Social Learning

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Stock.xchnge


Social Learning in Business: Sneak Peek

(Editorial Note: For the full preview of this week’s topic, read “Igniting Social Learning.” Or to see the weekly recap, read Digging Deep into Social Learning #TChat Recap)

Engagement performance. It’s a key to learning in today’s world of work. But exactly what is it, and how can we leverage this concept to achieve desired business results?

As Michael Clark, CEO of ReCenter, suggests in this video, it starts by aligning engagement with business goals, and applying social tools that help us perform more effectively.

Michael views “engagement performance” almost as one word – performance is everything that happens after the moment we decide to engage. And in today’s social workplace, it means that individuals and organizations can transform the way they conduct business in profound ways.

During the coming weeks, TalentCulture will explore this concept and offer opportunities for hands-on social learning skills development.

Join us this week, and let’s explore the potential of social learning skills together:

If you don’t see the video window above, watch the sneek peak on YouTube.

Career Moves: An Unconventional Payoff

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” -Emily Dickinson

I sat along the far front corner of the partner’s desk, trying not to sulk in the chair. This particular partner, an attractive Chinese woman in her mid-30’s, sat quietly behind her desk while she studied my professional profile like an archeologist attempting to decipher an ancient scroll. She even put her glasses on at one point. The partner’s sister — also a partner, and just as attractive but a few years younger — smiled at me like I was a special child about to get on the short bus for the very first time.

They asked me a series of questions about my experience and skills. They finally warmed up to me as we continued to talk about career aspirations, Silicon Valley, VC’s and HR-related tech startups.

Finally the older sister took her glasses off and said, “You know, you’re very unconventional. You’ve done a lot over time, and have been quite diverse in a short time, especially on paper. Now you’ve engaged with us to help give it all context. And it’s a pleasure, by the way. But still, it’s hard to put you in a…bucket. You know?”

I do. And so do many others who have carved and crafted their way into unconventionality by learning new skills, making career transitions, job hopping, consulting, freelancing, starting business endeavors and any combination thereof.

Professional Mobility Goes Mainstream

Nancy Friedberg, president of New York City executive coaching firm Career Leverage, recently said in a Fortune article, “Partly because of all the economic instability lately, and partly due to the entry of Gen Y into the workforce, people increasingly see themselves as free agents. It’s all about the portfolio of skills you bring, not loyalty or security. Moving around has become the new norm.”

This was a recent candidate experience I had with an executive search firm in Silicon Valley. Lovely, smart women who knew their business and understood the power of the professional skill portfolio. But as I noted earlier this week, we are naturally stalwart creatures of comfort and habit. Talent selection, mobility and succession planning have long been determined primarily by literally matching hard skills and experience to a job description, and of course gut instinct.

This is not to disparage any search professional working today, but saying that talent strategies should focus on hard skills is no longer enough. The softer skills — communication, empathy, team-building — are just as integral to selection and development, if not more so. The partners I met with understood this and made it clear during our conversation.

Looking at Talent Through New Eyes

This week on #TChat Radio, Josh Bersin emphasized the importance of looking at human capital management challenges through a more strategic, holistic lens. Rather than emphasizing the need for hard skills alone, high-impact organizations seek people with a full spectrum of capabilities — and develop both hard and soft skills. As organizations reinforce and expand these combined capabilities in real-time, and provide flexible context that responds to workforce competencies, we can expect talent selection, talent mobility and business performance to improve.

Those of us who pursue unconventional paths should take heart – it seems the tide is turning in our direction. If only unconventionality paid better, right? Actually, for the progressive individuals and companies propelling themselves and the enterprise forward, it does.

I’ll tell you more about my new bucket soon…

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

HOW TO: Build & Maintain A Talent Community

What is a talent community?

According to Wikipedia:

A talent community is a collection of social cliques (or talent networks) of people that are part of the job seeking process. These people may be seeking a job themselves, offering career advice to others, recruitment professionals, college campus recruiters, sourcers, and friends seeking jobs or advice. Talent communities inherently provide 2-way interaction between the individuals.

A talent community is not a list of candidates on a web page or in a spreadsheet; it is an environment consisting of people who can share ideas for the purpose of career networking or social recruiting of candidates.

Employers can interact and communicate with prospective employees as well as inform candidates about employment opportunities, receive referrals, and handpick qualified individuals from inside the group. A talent community can include prospective candidates, past applicants, current employees, and past employees. Talent Communities are managed by recruiters and/or hiring managers.

The benefits of building a talent community

  • Qualified candidates at your fingertips
  • Less dependence on expensive, ineffective job boards
  • Less money spent on job advertisements
  • Increased interaction with potential candidates in order to help them understand what your organization does
  • Better quality of applicants to job openings
  • Creates a talent pipeline for future job openings
  • Attracts passive candidates

How to build your talent community

Turn your “careers” page into a central hub for past (“alumni”) employees, interested candidates, recruiters, hiring managers and current employees. Incorporate tools for communication and interaction to drive conversations in your talent community. Provide an exclusive look into your organization, its employees and the culture behind the company. Use video, multimedia, photos, testimonials, etc.

Create smaller talent “networks” within your talent community to target specific audiences.

Social recruiting solutions (such as Cachinko) provide separate plugins or an overall solution for managing talent.

Maintaining your talent community

When you start engaging candidates through a talent community, it’s important to continue to provide value on a regular basis. There are a variety of ways to do so, such as sending updates or an e-newsletter, providing additional information on new job openings and internship programs, creating contests, writing blog posts, or connecting via social media. author Kevin Wheeler said in an article about talent communities, “Communities of candidates are powerful and reduce the need for special sourcing or the use of outside recruiters. They can increase the number of positions a single recruiter can handle and provide higher quality candidates in a shorter time. They always trump databases.”

What do you think? Ready to start building your talent community today?