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Those Employees With Financial Wellbeing Keep The Workplace Pumping

“Big money got a heavy hand
Big money take control
Big money got a mean streak
Big money got no soul…”

Rush, Big Money

Throughout commencement on that warm May morning over two decades ago I thought, I did it. Not the traditional seamless timeline of 4ish years, but I did it nonetheless. The first one in my immediate family to do it in fact. I did it and received a Bachelors of Arts degree in psychology with a minor in anthropology from San Jose State University. I financed most of it myself, working full-time at SJSU during the latter half of completing my degree.

But there were loans involved in bankrolling my degree. Not an excessive amount, but somewhere north of $15,000 worth of loans during those frenetic college years. In economic comparison, the full time job I had at the time with the university paid about $30,000 annually.

The future looked brighter than ever. I had my degree, I left the university job for one in the exciting world of high-tech marketing and the dot.com boom – all was well in my world.

Until it wasn’t and I was swimming in other debt plus the student loans and lots of other life choices hitting the skids.

As the saying goes – life happens and not all the choices we make work out – but I made it and fortunately many people with similar stories did and do as well, especially since we’ve had two economic busts within the booms since. But today student loan debt had increased dramatically. With smaller savings (if any) and continually rising tuition, there are over 40 million Americans with at least one outstanding student loan, which is up from 29 million consumers in 2008.

Of those, the average student loan balance is about $30,000 per borrower. For those who finish graduate school the total can be over $80,000. Medical school debt is twice that or much more. Today the nationwide student loan debt is at an all-time high of over $1.2 trillion, an 84% jump since the great recession, according to a study from Experian, which analyzed student loan trends from 2008 through 2014.

Plus there’s the fact that “student loans surpassed home equity loans/lines of credit, credit card and automotive debt.” Yet, for the millions who struggle with student loan debt, not many loan relief and repayment programs have been available to these borrowers, unlike those with underwater mortgages over the past seven years.

There is the Federal Student Aid website that provides resources and recommendations on how to manage and repay federal loans, which accounts for the majority of student loans, but otherwise repayment and refinancing programs have been limited.

Dan Macklin, co-founder and vice president of the nation’s second largest marketplace lender called SoFi, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that the student-lending market is a very strange one indeed. When he and his co-founders started SoFi about four years ago – which offers mortgages, personal loans, student loan refinancing and more including free services for employers and employees – they looked into the market and there was no one refinancing federal student loan debt at the time. In fact, they almost didn’t launch the company because they thought there must be a reason there weren’t any lenders offering these services.

Financial wellbeing has finally gained traction in the workplace and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few startups in the space years ago, GuideSpark being one of them. According to a survey by benefits consulting firm Aon Hewitt, more than 90 percent of 250 large employers said they want to introduce or expand their financial wellness programs this year. These programs have been on the rise and help employees understand and manage their personal finances, save money for emergencies and employ strategies for dealing with economics ups and downs.

The impact of debt can be overwhelming. Add to that the instability of the job market and the world of work and life become a pressure cooker affecting productivity, psychological and physical wellbeing. Too many student loan debtors are delaying saving for retirement until they’ve paid off their debt, which seems like it’ll never happen and exacerbates helplessness exponentially.

More and more companies obviously do great things (and creative things) around 401K, retirement planning, financial wellbeing and other healthcare benefits, with HR taking the lead here. Cost-benefit analysis of higher education aside, the reality is that when you come out of college with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt, you’re probably more worried about that for the first few years or even decades and getting that off your back until you’re really able to think about starting a family, buy a house, retirement and so on.

Big money may have no soul, but it’s always been a means to beginnings, middles and ends. Those employees with financial wellbeing keep the workplace pumping.

Diversity and Inclusion Drive the Road to Remarkable

“Half the world is
Half the world was
Half the world thinks
While the other half does…”

–Neil Peart (writer and musician, “Half the World”)

The nightlight burned brighter. It didn’t make any sense at the time because it was the same nightlight we always used in the hallway for our girls, and it was never usually that bright.

As usual I tossed and turned earlier in the night, with the weight of my world raining down like meteors in the night sky, cratering my sleep with burning questions.

I woke at 3:45 am, 45 minutes before I really had to, the nightlight lighting up our white bedroom door. It seemed to pulse slowly like a sleeping heart rate, calming and warm. I knew it was really 4:45, because of daylight savings time – Spring forward and all. What a day to be heading East when time heads West, I thought.

When I deleted the alarm time I had set the night before, I noticed the text. I rubbed my eyes to ensure I read it correctly.

Kevin, it’s Kevin – call me.

I went downstairs and texted back: Who is this?

I’m you. In the future. Please call me. It’s important.

I set the phone down on my desk. Then, another text.

Please, call me at…

The number texted to me, from whoever it was on the other end, was my cell phone number.

What the hell?

I didn’t have to leave for the airport for another hour, so I called it. This is crazy; it’s just going to give me a busy signal.

But it didn’t. The ring sounded warped, slowing down, then speeding up. A somewhat familiar voice answered.

“Hello?” the man said, again slightly distorted. I also heard what sounded like the ocean, the ebb and flow of surf crashing on the beach.

“Hello,” I answered. “Who’s this?”

“Listen, Kevin, I don’t know how much time I have, but I have a gift for you.”

I didn’t answer.

“Really, it’s not a joke. You’re calling the future and I have great news.”

“Who is this?” I asked.

More ocean sounds, moving in and out of tinny monotone and digital clarity.

“I’m you. Trust me. I can’t give you many details, but know that your girls are happy and have grown into strong and empathic women who are leaders in their fields. In fact, there are more women from various cultural backgrounds in leadership roles worldwide than ever before. And men are more supportive peers and colleagues who shoot themselves in the feet much less often.”

“How did you know I worry about that for them?” I asked.

“Because I’m you,” came the answer. “Your world today is still very male dominated, but that will change. Trust me.”

“Right on,” I instinctively replied. “Wait, I can’t believe I’m listening to this, I’m hanging up now.” Time inched closer to my airport departure. I readied myself to disconnect the call.

“You and your wife did a remarkable job, Kevin. You’re…I mean…we’re the better halves of doing and making things whole,” the familiar voice on the other end added, as clear as if it were in my own head. “Be grateful for girl power.”

I found myself compelled to respond. “Nothing’s that easy. There’s still too much to do and we can’t do it alone.”

“You’re right, it wasn’t easy, but the world figured it out and we finally evolved socially and economically. A little here, a little there. Spring forward and all that, you know.”

I shook my head and closed my eyes. I must be dreaming.

“Oh, and also in the future there’s free Wi-Fi and power everywhere in the air, letting us work from anywhere at anytime, all from sustainable clean energy and pretty sweet wireless quantum physics technology.”

“That’s great. The future’s so bright we gotta wear shades, right?”

No response to my Timbuk 3 1980’s song forever lost in time, but it was time for me to head out. Or wake up.

“Are you still there?”

Nothing. He was no longer there, whoever he was, or wasn’t. Nothing left but ocean sounds. I left for the airport.

Of course this was all a self-fulfilling prophecy; a forward-thinking daydream fantasy of what I hope the world and the workplace become someday for my children, and how they might help transform it.

Something much more remarkable than today. Yes, it has been something that weighs on me, but the good news is that diversity and inclusion are hot topics today and rightly so. Hopefully this all becomes the road to remarkable.

Bersin by Deloitte research shows that 71% of companies “aspire to be fully inclusive.” However, when you look at what actually is practiced, only 11% truly demonstrate an inclusive culture, of embracing being yourself and really bring your “authentic self” to work every single day, wherever and whatever that work is.

And that means for men and women alike. Unfortunately gender equality for women has a ways to go, and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy to improve the landscape is still in the early days. Having two girls has given my wife and I front row seats to this disparity show and how pervasive bias is, but change is in play, however painful and slow.

According to “What Is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance?” report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a teams’ collective intelligence rose with the number of women in the group, possibly because of the women’s higher performance on tasks that required social sensitivity. Plus, Gallup research shows that women leaders tend to have significantly happier, more highly engaged teams.

PwC’s 2015 CEO Survey revealed that overall talent diversity and inclusiveness are not just the softer issues only given lip service, but instead are now considered crucial to being competitive. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved their bottom line. They also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.

I’ll be at our PeopleFluent WISDOM 2015 customer conference this week and am proud of the fact that helping customers leverage diversity and inclusion programs is a top priority of ours. This and facilitating equal employment practices and compliance at every stage of the talent management lifecycle that create and sustain high-performing workforces.

Among many other powerful speakers and sessions, Dr. David Rock, the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, will keynote our conference and speak about “Breaking Bias: Why Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Are Good Business.” Companies everywhere are struggling to significantly move the needle on the diversity and inclusion challenge, and Dr. Rock’s research suggests how exploring the biology of bias will help us ultimately and authentically mitigate it at a whole new level.

Lastly, I did actually talk with the future recently on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, about 18 hours into the future to be exact (from one time zone to another across the Pacific). It was with Mandy Johnson, best-selling business author of Family Village Tribe and Winning the War For Talent, and an active speaker, advisor and executive educator. Mandy lives in Australia and discussed with us her “Six Steps To Building A Remarkable Workplace,” the first of which includes having CEO buy-in and HR champions prioritizing and supporting people-centric initiatives.

These initiatives, which include diversity and inclusion programs, not only drive our better halves when it comes to organizational change and positive business outcomes through intelligent and transparent HR practices, they also drive the road to remarkable for both genders and generations to come.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

Photo courtesy of Kevin W. Grossman

#TChat Recap: Brand Ingredients: Are You Fascinating?

Brand Ingredients: Are You Fascinating?

I’ll admit it. I’m a little jaded about the topic of branding. Does it still matter?

For successful branding, how you see the world used to be enough. Today, a thriving “Brand You” requires knowing how the world sees you: a fascinating new perspective.

Knowing what makes your brand fascinating helps us stand out and show others our unique value proposition. I see this topic from two unique POVS – personal and employer brand. Cowbell, anyone?

This week, our community was joined by Sally Hogshead, creator of The Fascination Advantage™, and expert on personality assessments & branding. Sally helped our community understand what makes branding a fascinating skill for winning talent management strategies.

We must shift our focus from talent skills and experience, to their unique values:

Discovering what someone does best is how you’ll find their passion. So why not take a similar approach with job ads?

Instead of writing a boring job description, why not answer one of the most important questions a candidate has to ask? After all…

If you know your brand is fascinating, you must communicate it to others. Tell people about your mission and goals. Show candidates inspiration is on the menu and it’s there if they want to have it. Don’t forget…

We’re all working to achieve personal and professional goals, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bridge the two together and create a fascinating workplace.

Maybe branding matters after all. 

See What #TChat-ters Said About Branding 

 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Next Wed., Feb. 18th!

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: This Year We’re Gonna Recruit Like It’s 1999.

#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!

Passive-Recruiting

Photo credit: Todd Quackenbush via Unsplash cc

The Body Language Business And The Now of You

“You’re sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen…”
— R.E.M. (“Exhuming McCarthy”)

Look at me. Eyes right here. Watch my face, my arms and my hands as I talk. In fact, watch my entire physical demeanor. What does it tell you?

Now, imagine that you’re on your way to a job interview. The grueling commute of only inching along has take its toll on your already fragile job-searching soul and you take a deep breath when you finally park.

You enter the building and the interviewer escorts you to the interview room. You’re asked to sit and the interview begins.

It’s then you notice the interviewer’s facial expressions changing rapidly – happy, sad, angry, surprised, confused – over and over again.

“You do know why you’re here, right?” the interview asks, hands fidgeting and doing a tabletop dance.

“Yes,” you answer. What’s wrong with this person, you think.

“If you were a bicycle, what part of the bike would you be and why?” the interviewer asks.

Are you for real?

“Well, I’d be the gear shift, so I could help my team and the company be agile in a such an ever-changing—”

The interviewer interrupts and slams both fists onto the table and shouts, “Why do you want this job?!?”

You actually jump in your seat. Anger flashes off and on the interviewer’s face like a series of poorly lit red-eye stills.

The interviewer, with arms now crossed, eyes rolling, speaks again, “It’s a business imperative that you understand the difference between right and wrong and all things in between.”

“Um … okay?” you say.

You squirm in your seat but keep your line of sight focused on the interviewer, fighting with your face not to betray your confusion and fear.

“We all know the difference and meet our business objectives every single day. We really do. But we need to ensure you can do the same,” the interviewer says, arms outstretched and palms up.

You nod and twiddle your thumbs. The interviewer gives you a “thumbs-up,” then just sits stone-faced at the table in front of you, waiting for you to respond.

You choose your words carefully, your confident gaze never wavering from the interviewer, your hands clasped together in front of you on the table.

“I do understand the difference,” you say.

“You’re hired!”

Wow.

Sure this is a nonsensical scenario, but I’ll bet some of you have experienced your share of bizarre workplace encounters. Plus, we’re always in workplace situations where body language and facial expressions contribute greatly to the “now” of you, and the other person, in the moment.

In fact, we’ve actually been reading each other’s outward appearance and disposition for thousands of years, or at least trying to, in order to discern what we should do next in these contexts:

  • To Befriend
  • To Berate
  • To Educate
  • To Elevate
  • To Hire
  • To Kill (in case of emergency)

Yes, a brutal oversimplification, but it’s even more complicated with the micro-expression nuance that science has tried to explain in recent decades. For example, how Ekman and Friesen introduced the notion of “micro-affect displays” in a 1969 article in Psychiatry, but it wasn’t an extensive study and this subject has been mostly ignored.

Except, of course, the hundreds of millions of dollars that governments have dumped into the study of body language and facial expressions to uncover spies and terrorists, with some success, but also a big waste of money when it comes to “reading” passengers at airports, according to one expert referenced in an Economist article. Also in 2013, the U.S. General Accountability Office “deemed facial cues worthless as a way of detecting people with bad intentions in airports” according to a New York Magazine article.

Closer to workplace home, however, there are those who are applying the science of reading “face” to screening and hiring. For example, Dan Hill, a facial coding expert, was hired by the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team to read faces. This includes the faces of college prospects and NBA players in order to determine if they have the right emotional attributes that will give the Bucks the competitive edge.

In the New York Times article linked above, Dan Hill states that our faces betray our true emotions and can predict our even truer “intentions, decisions and actions.” He uses the psychologist Paul Ekman’s widely accepted FACS, or Facial Action Coding System (I referenced Ekman above about “micro-affect” displays). The FACS is used to decipher “which of the 43 muscles in the face are working at any moment.” This includes seven core emotions: happiness, surprise, contempt, disgust, sadness, anger and fear.

But there’s an entire litany of researchers and experts who warn that reading too much from body language and facial expressions is dangerous and misleading; too many liars are too good at being bad without anyone “seeing” it. Many of you in HR and recruiting have experienced hiring “train wrecks” time and again to know how unfortunately true this is. And many of you have interviewed with HR and recruiting train wrecks.

What is clear is that individuals not only need to be aware of those around them and be able to read body and face in context, they also need to be self-aware enough to manage their own emotional reactions to the reading.

In other words, you need to be able to be flexible and fluid enough in your speech and physical reactions to what happens around you, in the workplace and the “homeplace,” to convey honest conviction, confidence and definitive decision-making without betraying your fears or discontent. That doesn’t mean you don’t betray some in the name of personable transparency, but again, it’s all about clarity of context.

Deborah Thomas-Nininger, founder of DTN Productions, a training company specializing in business etiquette and reputation management, expressed on the TalentCulture #TChat Show that body language conveys everything from confidence to approachability; it’s more honest than the spoken word. Literally in the blink of an eye, we can make someone feel quite valued or unceremoniously dismissed.

That’s why developing our softer skills is today’s differentiator and managing our “emotional intelligence” is so critical in the workplace (and the homeplace). This is the body language business and the now of you, so manage it well.

Unless you’re one of the liars too good at being bad; in that case, keep your hands and face to yourself.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

photo credit: LaVladina via photopin cc

10 Things About Work I Wish I Had Been Told

It always amazes me the stories I hear about people who are new to the world of work.

The guys with jeans around the back of their thighs, the girls not dressed much better, headphones plugged in while they eat breakfast and gulp down an entire can of energy drink to get over their heavy night. “Waddup?!” Well I guess at least this demonstrates that they can multi-task! Now, I’m reliably informed that this greeting is actually a concern for how my morning is going. But it doesn’t quite have the same empathy as “Morning, Jim. How’s your day going?”

One manager told me she cannot believe the amount of time the young people in her team spend surfing the web and sending text messages. She was also shocked by how young people in her team empower themselves to take breaks whenever they feel like it, which often involves standing discussing their conquests from the night before. We both concluded that had they behaved like this 30 years ago, then they wouldn’t have a job.

Am I being harsh? Well, yes I guess I am, to an extent. Firstly, not everyone new to work is like this and there are people who have been in the workplace for years who also act like this. This said the world is evolving and along with it the acceptability of certain behaviours in the workplace; and we’ve all been there to some degree or another, entering a new job and needing to adjust in some way to make it work. This got me thinking about what I wish I knew before I entered the workplace, and if I were writing a letter to the then me from the now me, what advice would I give myself?

1. Start thinking about work earlier

It’s no good leaving it until the last minute when you’re 15/16 years old. The last six years of your school/college career will shape the kind of role you will get when you leave. Consider your options, look at your growing strengths and think about the kind of jobs you would like to do.

Play the Plotr game to find a career that will play to your strengths and that you will love.

2. Research and get advice

Not every job is described well in a formal job description/by its title. You need to consider the skills and experience that the role requires and then find ways of obtaining them. Go out and talk to people in different roles – speak to employers, recruitment specialists and career advisors. Use your friends and family and look at websites like Plotr to gather as much knowledge on the working world as you can.

3. Get work experience

Use your summer and winter holidays, weekends or evenings to look for a basic job, or do some voluntary work to help develop your skills. When you obtain a role, look for the bits you like and that play to your strengths – focus on these. Develop the areas you want to develop, but chase the development – it won’t fall on your lap. Experience pays.

4. Good pay does not always = a great job

Few entry-level jobs pay good money, and the meaning a role holds to you is more important when you start out. The more you put in the more you will get out over time.

5. University isn’t the only way to get a job

Remember, university isn’t the only route in to a decent job. Consider apprenticeships and similar schemes; again, the starting money may not be great, but you’re gaining skills and building a platform.

6. Attitude and commitment

It’s all about attitude and commitment — the more commitment you put in at the start the better your career will be and it will make selling yourself much easier.

7. Research the company you’re applying for

One question you’re bound to get asked is: “Why do you want to work for us?” If you have researched the company properly and you have a clear answer as to why you want to work for them above anyone else, then it will impress. There’s nothing worse than not having a proper answer to this question or “What do you know about our business?” If you can’t answer these questions, it doesn’t demonstrate any commitment to them.

Also, check the company matches up to your expectations. Look for them in the news, check to see whether they have won any people related awards and see what other people have to say about working for them – glass door is always a good reference point to find out what other employees think.

8. Have fun

It’s important to have fun and enjoy work. Look for a job that will tap into your strengths – not all of us will necessarily end up in our dream job, but we all have the power to find enjoyment in what we do.

9. Stand out

No job is a dead cert, and as time passes there are more and more people out there fighting for the same job you are. Be unique, stand out, but above all else present yourself well and show you are aware of work ethics like how to act, dress and behave in work.

10. Learn to sell

This brings me nicely on to my final point – selling yourself. Learn to tell a story; learn to be able to build a picture in someone’s mind because this is vital when it comes to most entry-level job interviews. You have to sell yourself, and in such a way you stand out over the others that are going for the same role.

photo credit: William Brawley via photopin cc

Developing A Workplace Diversity Initiative

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements and verityespecially the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.

In the last decade, the face and make-up of the workplace have had significant changes. Many organizations, such as Google, have embraced diversity; at the same time many other organizations have not addressed diversity in their workplaces. Without having a formal diversity initiative, many workplaces may already be more diverse than they realize.

Diversity encompasses a plethora of characteristics that make each person a unique individual that may include, but is not limited to: race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, age, personality, employment history, education, and background. However, diversity is more than the sum of characteristics that make up an individual; diversity also involves how people perceive themselves as well as others and how these perceptions affect the day-to-day interactions in the workplace.

Some items to consider when developing a diversity initiative:

  1. Ability: Does the organization have the people and resources in place to assess the needs, and if so, develop and implement the initiative? If not, is the organization able to commit the resources, in both time and money, to bring in a consultant to facilitate the process?
  2. Commitment: Are the owners and/or management invested in developing and maintaining a long-term diversity initiative? This commitment is imperative to the success of a diversity initiative, and in not only shifting the culture of the organization but also maintaining that shift.
  3. Evaluation: Once the resources have been allocated and owners/managements are committed, it is necessary to evaluate existing diversity in the workplace. This assessment is an integral and invaluable step in the process, as you want to make an inclusive, diverse workplace for those who may feel diversity is lacking, while at the same time not alienating those that feel the workplace is fine as is.
  4. Development: The assessment above should highlight any obstacles that are present, and with that knowledge it can be determined how to best overcome those obstacles. A strategy then needs to be determined; to best affect those changes needed, to ensure the new culture of diversity flows through every department and function, in addition to becoming a permanent presence in the organization.
  5. Dedication: Once the diversity initiative has been fully implemented, regular reassessments should be conducted to determine the success of the program and identify areas that need to be tweaked. Maintaining a diversity initiative is a long-term commitment that can yield many beneficial results if executed properly.

Diversity will continue to increase considerably in the coming years and failing to recognize and address diversity may have substantial negative repercussions.

photo credit: OregonDOT via photopin cc

7 Tips To Earn A Promotion

Promotions can be hard to achieve. While we would all like to be promoted, it can seem hard when you have worked at a firm for a long time and the prospect of promotion has never quite materialized. Or when people around you are getting promotions and you are alone in not getting one. If this is the situation you find yourself in, you have to channel your frustration into getting a promotion. It is possible, provided you think carefully about it.

Here are 7 tips to help you get a promotion:

1. Be friendly with the boss

It may sound cynical, but at times there is nothing more you can do than get really friendly with your boss. It may seem like a trite tip, but it is a worthy one. If you are on good terms with your boss, he/she is much more likely to consider you for promotion and you likely will be first to know when promotions arise.

2. Put the hours in

Someone who is well known for being hard-working is much more likely to receive a promotion than someone who just doesn’t put a lot of effort into their job. Make sure that people KNOW you are working hard, so you receive recognition for it.

3. Be friendly with everyone

Don’t jump on people’s backs in an effort to get a promotion as this could come to haunt you down the line. The thing to do is to get along well with everyone, so people will not resent you when you do get promoted. This is a philosophy that I have always subscribed to and it always served me well. When I worked at a school — which can be a hard place to work — I learned that if I was nice to people, eventually they would be nice back. This served me well, and I was subsequently promoted from an assistant to a proper teacher.

4. Be determined

“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful”
— Eric Thomas.

The above quote is very apt. It shows that those who are really determined to meet their goals will do so eventually. If you want a promotion, work hard for it and it will definitely come one day.

5. Don’t give up

“Never give up on anything that you cannot go a day without thinking about”
— Winston Churchill.

We all experience failure in life, but the important thing is to rise from it, for failure often drives us on to better things. If you do not get one promotion, it may mean that you are in line for a better one.

6. Be innovative in your job

Bosses like a lot of initiative, so try and look beyond your job requirements and think about how to contribute to the company outside of what you are paid to do. You would be surprised at how far a little effort goes in the long run.

7. Be patient

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so if you consistently work toward getting a promotion, it is likely that it will happen in the end. You just need to have some patience, which is again something easier said than done, but being patient will allow you to feel better in the end about yourself. Often in life the hard things are worth waiting for, and a promotion is definitely one of those things.

About Mary Isabale

Mary Isabale is a career expert and experienced hiring manager. She’s written more than 100 articles on career advancement and unemployment issues.
photo credit: juhansonin via photopin cc

The Great Rated! Interview: Andy Khawaja On Creating A Workplace For Millennials

Andy Khawaja is young at heart. That may be the simplest way to explain how the card payment company he founded and leads, Allied Wallet, recently ranked as one of the 10 Great Workplaces for Millennials according to a Great Rated! study. Khawaja, 39, started his Los Angeles-based credit card processing company in 2002 after a decade in retail on glamorous Rodeo Drive. As formative to him was a childhood growing up in war-torn Lebanon, which gave him a carpe-diem yet compassionate mindset. He now leads a team of about 1,000 employees, the vast majority of whom are under 35. And while he agrees with Great Rated! research that fair pay, a say in decisions and competent leaders matter to Gen Y, Khawaja says his secret to success with the younger set boils down to giving them a thrill ride at work. “I like to take risks,” says Khawaja, who expects to take his company public someday. “If you don’t take risks, you never get anywhere in life.” Great Rated! Editor Ed Frauenheim recently spoke with Khawaja about Millennials, the Allied Wallet workplace, and his own youthful heart.

Ed: Most of your employees are under 35. Why is that?

Andy: Age isn’t a factor for me. You can be a grandpa here, if you can deliver. A lot of the people skilled in the business of e-commerce are at a young age.

Ed: One of your strengths at Allied Wallet is your bosses—96 percent of employees give leaders at your firm a positive rating. What are you like as a boss to Millennials?

Andy: They’re my teammates. They’re my partners. Without them, I’m nothing. I hate it when they call me ‘boss.’ I like it when they call me ‘buddy.’ Everyone in the company calls me buddy.

I grew up in Beirut until the age of seven. I got a taste of civil war, and realized you can’t count on living tomorrow because you never know when your time is up. So I live a life where you have to be really nice, very kind, and take care of your people—especially the people that work for you. We’re probably the highest paying company in our industry in the world. The same position in another company will get paid three times less.

Ed: That fits with part of our research on Millennials. We found that they really care about fair pay, a say in decisions and competent leaders. Do you see those other factors at play among Allied Wallet’s young employees?

Andy: You have to listen. You have to give them a chance to speak. I visit other companies, and it’s only the decision-makers deciding. You as an employee execute their decisions. It’s only about one-way communication.

Let them share ideas. We listen to them, and we understand what they want. Sometimes their idea is better. That creates more of a dream-come-true environment. And if someone comes up with a brilliant idea, they get rewarded. They can get $2,000-$3,000 checks. Some of them get nice vacation packages. Some of them get gift cards.

Ed: Work-life balance is another factor Millennials are said to prize. But at Allied Wallet, you seem to want an intense commitment from your folks, and to offer them a quest to conquer the global payments industry. True?

Andy: Absolutely. I give them dreams. And then we accomplish those dreams and they’re so proud of it. They feel like they’re part of something big.

Ed: As you expand globally you’re taking significant risks along the way. Does this way of doing business appeal to young people?

Andy: Are you kidding me? It’s like a motivational film. All young people love risk. It encourages them. They want to taste it. It makes them feel good. It’s like a business drug.

[divider] [/divider]

(About Andy Khawaja: Andy Khawaja is CEO and Founder of Allied Wallet, a global payment processing company that connects merchants and consumers in over 190 countries, processing 164 currencies and nearly every payment method. With the securest PCI Level 1 technology and a proprietary black list and fraud scrub method, Allied Wallet has established itself as a brand of excellence in the world of online payment services. Prior to Allied Wallet, Khawaja reached several milestones in the retail industry working with the Bernini brand. Khawaja was able to grow Bernini from two stores to sixty stores in nine years, taking it from a million dollar business to a 100 million dollar business.)

(About the Author: Ed Frauenheim is editor at workplace research site Great Rated!™, where he produces content and reviews companies.)

Building Trust In The Workplace

Trust in the workplace is more important than ever as it drains productivity and eventually leads to costly turnover

Many experts agree that trust is perhaps the most important element of a successful workplace. Companies whose employees trust them tend to have a more engaged workforce and a high efficiency work environment. On the flip side, organizations that have lost employee trust are not as successful. It is not uncommon in times of economic distress for trust to be lost with employers, government and our fellow man. This was seen during the depression of the 1930’s and it is being seen again with the current global economic situation. The meltdown on Wall Street has exposed many stories about executive greed, non-ethical behaviors and decisions. Government has made attempts to encourage corporate integrity by passing legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Dennis Reina and Michelle Reina, authors of numerous books on this topic, contend major betrayals in the workplace from corporations grossly mismanaging worker layoffs to CEOs committing crimes and misdemeanors. While these events make headlines, other betrayals such as finger-pointing or taking credit for others’ work erodes trust over time. In addition, their research indicates “90% of employees report they feel the effects of eroded trust daily.” In 2010, Deloitte LLP conducted an Ethics & Workplace survey which showed the following:

    • 30% of American employees plan to look for a job when the economy turns around
    • 48% of the group mentioned above cite a loss of trust in their employer as the reason
    • 65% of Fortune 1000 executives believe trust will be a factor in voluntary employee turnover in the near future

There are many factors that can erode employees trust in their company’s leaders, and the experts agree one of the biggest factors is communication. This includes not being open or honest with employees, especially when there is “bad news,” not sharing information such as why a decision was made, and speaking and/or acting inconsistently. In addition to communication, lack of accountability and abuse of management status are also given by employees as a reason for loss of trust. Organizations that have a low level of trust for management tend to have low productivity rates. D. Keith Denton, Department of Management at Missouri State University, states “that it is essential for companies that wish to survive economic strife to create an atmosphere of trust in these untrusting times.” You may ask at this point what can we do to not only avoid losing trust, but how can we build trust with our employees?

The ability to build and maintain trust in an organization starts at the very top and then must be fostered through the rest of the company. Management must set the example and the standard for all employees to follow. Integrity is crucial to building an environment of trust in any relationship, including those between an organization and its employees on every level. Excellent and open communication also very crucial in the development of trust; employees must know the company’s vision and its plan to achieve the vision. This type of communication includes sharing information (including negative information), which should not be minimized. Employees should be considered and treated as equals in the company to foster a sense of community, and all ideas should also be considered equally. Employers should also be able to empathize with their employees, as it is hard to trust someone who cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Employees also very much appreciate when a company leader can own up to a mistake they have made. Employers that take the time and care to develop trust in their organization will reap the rewards.

Apply Now

(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.)

 
photo credit: citirecruitment via photopin cc

 

How To Attract Tech Talent (Infographic)

Some of you may have already noticed that the battle for the best Tech Talent has already commenced and the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are hogging all the great candidates. So how do you compete and attract tech talent to your organization? It’s simple… give these candidates what they want. Inc.com produced a list of the most absurd ways companies try to attract tech talent which certainly has some very wacky/creative ideas.

For more realistic tips, then here are my top 3 tips on how to attract tech talent:

1.  Employee Referrals

If you already have a successful company with a great team then chances are they know people that could fit the bill. It’s unlikely that they would recommend someone that wouldn’t fit in well with the team. If you have 100 employees and they know 150 people that’s 15,000 contacts you didn’t have access to before.

2.  Perks and Benefits

Tech talent already earn a lot of money, so what else can you offer? The most sought after benefit is career advancement and development, following that telecommuting and flexible hours also goes down well. These perks aren’t necessarily costly or difficult to implement.

3.  Contract

If you were lucky enough to attract some great talent the chances of them staying in a permanent position is pretty slim. Instead offer a fixed term contract for the duration of the project. If you happen to have the best onboarding setup then they might stay even longer.

For a more comprehensive look at attracting Tech Talent check out this infographic created by TalentPuzzle.

How To Attract Technical Talent Infographic

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Interviewing Best Practices & Problem Solvers

Would it be surprising to know that in many cases the determination to hire someone happens within five minutes of meeting them? What happens when a charming applicant gives all the right answers? Many times, applicants are hired for their charm instead of their job related knowledge, skills, and abilities. This also happens when the applicant’s personality is similar to that of the interviewer. It is not uncommon that a few months after hiring someone they are left wondering what went wrong. The new hire was not what they expected and didn’t have the skills necessary for the position.

The foremost reason to invest the proper amount of time in hiring the right person – from the start – is simply: cost. Turnover can be expensive. Some report that the cost of hiring a replacement is equal to 500 times the employee’s hourly rate of pay. Numerous studies also suggest that most employee relation problems are a consequence of hiring the wrong person for the job, which can result in poor productivity.

The interviewer should be prepared before the applicant is offered an interview. Was the application/resume reviewed? Are there gaps in employment?  Was the entire application completed? What were the reasons given for leaving prior employers?  It is not recommended to hire an applicant that does not provide phone numbers and contact names for reference checking purposes.

One of the most fruitful suggestions that can be offered is the telephone interview. Once a pool of potential applicants has been selected, a quick telephone interview should be conducted before anyone is brought in house for an interview. This step can help narrow the pool considerably and presents the opportunity to address any resume/application items that may be unclear, such as gaps in employment and duties and responsibilities of their previous positions. The same questions should be asked of all applicants during the telephone interview process.

Steps to a successful interview

  • Be prepared. Review the job description for accuracy.
  • Prepare interview questions in advance and anticipate probable responses to the questions.
  • Provide a comfortable environment for the applicant.
  • Explain the hiring procedure at the start of the interview.
  • Encourage the applicant to open up and talk.
  • Ask the right questions and let the applicant do most of the talking. The applicant should talk 80% of the time and the interviewer only 20% of the time.
  • Close the interview by asking if there are any questions, and thank the applicant for their time.

Common interview mistakes

  • Explaining the job before completing the interview. This gives smart applicants answers to all of the questions and makes it easy for them to match their answers to the job description.
  • Taking notes during the interview can cause the applicant to “freeze up”.
  • Always ask open-ended questions to ensure that the applicant does most of the talking.

How to get applicants to talk

  • Avoid interrupting the candidate.
  • Paraphrase and reflect upon the candidate’s comments.
  • Use silence. It is especially useful for the evasive candidate or one that is holding back information.
  • Communicate on the level of each applicant. Language & terminology used should match the job being filled.

Handling problem applicants

  • The Professional Interviewer is an experienced interviewer who knows all of the “right” answers to most interview questions. Pin the individual down to determine their true qualifications. Ask specific and probing questions about what this applicant has done. Don’t be fooled by buzzwords.
  • The Motor Mouth continually wanders off on different tangents and needs to be led back on track to avoid wasting time. Interrupt this person with key questions.
  • The Perfect Candidate believes they are perfect and will make that belief known, continually emphasizing how they are the right person. This is an applicant that you want to avoid.
  • The Politician never gives a straight answer and will evade an issue and bring up another topic.  They must be forced to be specific by using clear and probing questions.
  • The Questioner will try to turn the tables and ask his or her own questions. The interviewer must assert control over the questioning.

Behavioral Interviewing is another technique which can be very helpful for gauging the candidate’s response to stress in certain situations. Here are some sample questions:

  1. Tell me about a time that you missed an important deadline.
  2. How did you handle missing the deadline?
  3. What steps did you take to inform all interested parties that the deadline would not be met?
  4. What were the consequences of missing the deadline?
  5. Did you receive disciplinary action for missing the deadline?
  6. If yes to the last question, did you agree with the disciplinary action?

Additionally, you may want to schedule interviews during the work shift of the position being filled; this will allow a first hand glimpse of how the applicant will function when they are in their “zone”.  Also, group interviews are a great way to get others’ perspective on a candidate and they may notice things you missed, such as body language or a change in the applicant’s tone of voice.

It is very important to remember that there are federal and state restrictions on what a potential employer is allowed to ask an applicant during an interview. These prohibited questions are designed to protect applicants from potential illegal discrimination. To protect yourself from facing charges of discrimination in the workplace, you need to focus the job interview on job related areas. Ignore references to race, sex, age, religion or national origin. Any question during the interview that could relate to any of the areas mentioned is seen by the courts as “extremely unfavorable.”

(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.)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 7-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

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

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

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Workplace Bullying: Bully Be Not Proud

As we all know, Congress is dysfunctional.  But legislative activity at the state and local level is hot, particularly in the employment arena.

State and local governments across the U.S. have passed a spate of recent bills on myriad issues ranging from protecting the right of employees to carry a concealed weapon in their vehicle to limiting when employers can do criminal background checks to prohibiting employers from asking applicants or employees for their social media password.

Yet, there are no laws in the U.S. prohibiting bullying in the workplace.  Since 2003, anti-bullying bills have been introduced in 25 states. Everyone has failed.

Puerto Rico almost became the first jurisdiction to pass legislation in this area. But the Governor vetoed the legislation just last month.

But the absence of legislation specific to bullying does not mean that it is lawful.  If someone is bullied because of his or her membership in a protected group, such as gender, race or sexual orientation, then the bullying may be unlawful harassment (depending on, among other factors, severity).  But bullying unrelated to a protected group status generally is lawful.

For example, equal opportunity bullying is not unlawful.  Nor is bullying based on personal animus so long as the animus is not related to a protected group.

The problem is huge. A study published by Career Builder published 2012 indicates that 35% of employees feel they have been bullied at work.  Other studies show similar statistics.

The cost of bullying – both emotional and physical – on its victims can be substantial.  It can affect witnesses too, who may fear that they may be next and quite often leave.  Simply put, bullying is bad business.  Engagement cannot exist where bullies roam.

What are some of the steps leaders can take relative to their organizations?

1. Training

a. When training managers on harassment, include bullying, too. Tone at the top is particularly important when it comes to bullying.

b. Provide specific examples in training of what may be bullying; don’t rely on just the generic label.

c. Make clear that managers must do more than refrain from bullying; they must respond to bullying by subordinates. To ignore is to condone.

2. Evaluate

a. When we evaluate employees, particularly leaders, we should consider how they treat others.

b. Employees who engage in bullying or other disrespectful behavior should pay a price on their evaluation—and their compensation.

c. Indeed, sometimes bullying  should be cause for termination.

3. Complaint procedure

a. Employers may want to develop a procedure by which they can report what they perceive to be bullying behavior.

b. However, employers need to be careful not to include too specific a definition of bullying.  What is the difference between raising your voice and yelling? Sometimes, simply perspective.

c. Anti-bullying policies also may have quasi-contractual significance.  Don’t create expectations you cannot live up to.

d. An anti-bullying policy or procedure may collide with the NLRA as interpreted by the activist NLRB  so you may want legal advice to minimize (not eliminate) that risk.e. Make clear that bullying is what Company says it is.  By making clear that bullying is what the Company says it is, you reduce your risk of not adhering to your own policy.  You want to be progressive and protective but not a defendant for doing the right thing.

While bullies may appear strong, they are not.  They often need to make others feel bad about themselves to feel good about themselves.   We want to empower employees.  Sometimes that means un-empowering the bully.

(Author’s Note:  This Article should not be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to specific factual situations.)

(About the Author: Jonathan A. Segal is a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group. He is also the managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute. The Duane Morris Institute provides training for human resource professionals, in-house counsel, benefits administrators and managers at Duane Morris, at client sites and by way of webinar on myriad employment, labor, benefits and immigration matters.

Jonathan has published more than 150 articles on employment issues, and more than 50 blogs on leadership, legal and HR issues. A contributing editor to HR Magazine, he has published more than 100 articles for the magazine. Jonathan also is a frequent contributor to Fortune/CNN and BusinessWeek.)

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

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

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

 

#TChat Preview: The Legal And Moral Implications Of Workplace Bullying

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about the state of HR Technology, and this week we’re talking about workplace bullying and the legal and moral implications.

Wow. According to one recent study, 96% of American employees experience bullying in the workplace, and the nature of that bullying is changing thanks to social media and online interactions.

Even though the employment world is already heavily regulated, one major gap remains: workplace bullying. No state prohibits bullying, unless it relates to a protected group (such as race, sex or disability).

But workplace bullying has harmful, reverberating effects, not only on the victims, but also on the witnesses. The good news is that we don’t need to wait for a law to be enacted to prevent and respond to bullying.

Progressive employers who want to be successful ensure their cultures are bully-free. This week’s guest will talk about how.

Join #TChat co-creators and hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about workplace bullying with this week’s guest: Jonathan Segal, an employment lawyer and partner with the international law firm Duane Morris LLP, as well as an active TalentCulture #TChat community member.

Sneak Peek: The Legal And Moral Implications Of Workplace Bullying

We spoke briefly with Jonathan Segal in our video preview to learn more about this week’s #TChat topic. Check out our YouTube Channel for the full video!

Related Reading:

Jonathan Segal: Bullying At Work: Hard To Define, Even Harder To Ban

Meghan M. Biro: The Real World Implications Of Workplace and Cyberbullying

Emily Thomas: Being Ignored At Work Can Be Worse Than Being Bullied

Andrew Brushfield: Are You A Bully Boss?

Naomi Shavin: What Workplace Bullying Looks Like In 2014 — And How To Intervene

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: The Legal And Moral Implications Of Workplace Bullying

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, July 30 — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with our guest Jonathan Segal.

Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, July 23 — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What constitutes workplace bullying both legally and morally? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: If you witness workplace bullying or know of someone being bullied, what should you do? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What steps can business leaders take to ensure bully-free cultures? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

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Kill Them With Kindness: Ineffective Motivational Tactics

Office break rooms are often riddled with “you can do it!” style posters. You know, the ones that have a picture of Sequoia trees in California with something about how long they took to grow. These are great posters with great (and albeit cliché) sayings and quotes, but what do they really do for your employees? Honestly, absolutely nothing. While it’s interesting that Sequoia trees take 3,000 years of trying weather conditions and sustained effort to grow 300 feet, your employees don’t care. In fact, only 19% of employees are happy with their jobs. The other 81% would rather not see your motivational posters while they begrudgingly work for 8 hours to bring home the bacon.

Sometimes it is just another job.

“Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” –Confucius

Especially in rough economic times, your employees may feel stuck. This doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged. They might very well be engaged in fear of losing their job, however, this doesn’t imply they are happy. Stagnancy creates an atmosphere of disengagement. Even though it is easy to fall into the habits of stagnant behavior in the office, giving programs and advancement opportunities keep employees engaged while they are at work. Workplace giving programs, like donating to a charitable organization, motivate employees to make an impact, and that often will translate into their work. With the growing number of benevolent Millenials entering the workforce, 90% of companies offer a wide range of diverse charities to donate to in order to foster an atmosphere of community.  Opportunities for growth can increase engagement as well, so they begin to see it as more than just another avenue for a paycheck. The more employees value their place in your company, the more engaged they become.

An engaged employee isn’t necessarily a happy employee.

“It is the working man who is the happy man. The idle man is the man who is miserable.” –Benjamin Franklin

Engagement and happiness in a company are two completely different aspects of an employee’s attitude. Simply saying your employees are happy with their jobs, so they must be engaged, or even that your employees are unhappy so they must be disengaged, are false equivalencies that will only result in furthering their detachment. There are over 70 million employees who are disengaged from their jobs. This isn’t to say they aren’t happy, in fact they could be extremely content in the security your employment offers them. However that doesn’t mean they are fully dedicated to the projects you’ve left on their plate. It is expected of American employees to work until we can’t anymore. A lot of disengagement can be attributed to this. In a study of 21 developed countries, the United States was the only country that doesn’t consistently offer 10 to 30 days of paid vacation. Regardless if a U.S. employer gives their workforce vacation, they don’t use it because they are trained to work hard no matter the cost, even the costs to their health. In fact, middle-aged men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for 5 consecutive years are 30% more likely to have a heart attack.

Employees won’t always like their jobs.

“Do not hire a man who does work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” –Henry David Thoreau

Truth is, they don’t have to like their jobs to be engaged or motivated. Now, those 24% who are actively disengaged find reasons to not be at work while in the office because they honestly hate their jobs. The majority of the workforce does not fall into this category, however. The workforce is primarily disengaged, with 63% of employees sleepwalking through the workdays. Although they are disengaged, it’s not so drastic they can’t be “checked back into” their work. Effective motivation doesn’t come from overplayed sayings on pictures of nature. It just simply doesn’t work the way you hope; all you’re doing is evading the hard work. “Nothing worth it was ever easy,” or so they say. So, engaged employees may not be an easy goal to achieve, but when you take the time and the effort to find what motivates your workforce, it’s worth it.

(About the Author: Sean Pomeroy, CEO of Visibility Software, has worked in the Human Resources industry since he graduated from Radford University with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. After working in HR as a generalist for a government contracting company, he moved to the HR Technology arena and began assisting companies in the selection and implementation of HR software.)

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

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

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

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The War On Authenticity

(Editor’s note: The following article discusses the recent #TChat event: “Authenticity Is An Inside Job That Starts With Self” –  Click here to view the recap of this event. 

Did you miss out on last night’s #TChat event? Stay tuned for the #TChat Recap!)

A recent TalentCulture “TChat” on Twitter addressed the topic of “Authenticity.” “Authenticity” has become a very popular buzzword of late, much so that the New York Times did an article on the subject.

When we talk about authenticity in the workplace, well, while TalentCulture.com is a blog about workplace issues, let’s remember, workplaces do not exist in a cultural vacuum; they are inhabited by people who carry their pasts and personal lives into the workplace. Since broader cultural contexts impact “authenticity” in a major way, let’s add them to the discussion.

To start, let’s take a moment to reflect on historical context. We are only now just beginning to come out of the industrial era, where, since the dawn of the assembly line, individualism– one definition of “authenticity”– has always been seen as a hindrance to the smooth working of the corporate machinery. For the past century, in the industrial world, there has been a virtual war on authenticity, for the purpose of attaining the efficiencies of uniformity.

Along with the influence of industrial culture, your true unique “authentic” self is often suppressed and shamed by the popular culture.

Just two examples:

For both genders, we are constantly being presented with “ideals” of beauty. It’s all done for marketing purposes of course, but most images we see of male and female beauty are not at all authentic; they are unattainable photoshopped perfection. It is natural to want to conceal our shamefully imperfect selves in response.

Another quick example, when young men see a lite beer commercial, they are informed in no uncertain terms that if they are openly honest and “authentic” in their desire to, say, just drink seltzer water, they will not be seen as being masculine, or at all appealing to the opposite sex. That’s a lot of pressure. All too often, authenticity is abandoned in exchange for an illusion of quick social acceptance. We are constantly being asked to choose between authenticity and our primal need to belong.

Those are just two of literally thousands of possible examples of how we are pressured by school, standardized tests, family, and peer groups to conform to a norm. This is the war on “authenticity.”

So, how to survive it?

You can build an external “brand,” but, like a bad toupee, easy to spot.

Then there is the escapist route, of being a rogue independent, but for most this is not a reasonable strategy. “Authentic” human beings are far too fragile and socially needy to keep that up for very long.

What is far better is to accept one element of authenticity, and that is one’s vulnerability. In a unauthentic world where such an admission is often labeled as either “stupid” or “sissy stuff,” it is essential to have a support group that has grown into the greater consciousness of “authenticity” themselves, and thus are in a position to support you and to accept you as you are. This can be a best friend, a mentor, a coach, or all of these wrapped together into a personal board of directors. (Full disclosure, I am a coach myself, and I focus on authenticity, or at least my own definition of it, in my books and talks. Part of developing my own “authenticity” has been discovering how essential this kind of support is, how essential it is to accept my shortcomings, and how exhausting it was when I tried to do it all on my own.  In fact, the isolationist cowboy fantasy of going it alone turned out to be one more element of suppression– it had the ultimate effect of preventing real personal growth.)

There are also many people who help others to cultivate authenticity on a more spiritual level. There are holistic workplace health consultants who combine yoga, nutrition, and general support; other therapies, such as the Alexander Technique, not only deal with physical issues, they also lead you to “meeting and being your true self.”

This is collectively known in the holistic healing community as “energy work,” and since we are all made of energy, this is key to achieving authenticity. The reason someone has suppressed their true energy it is usually due to a past trauma, not a calm conscious decision.

In seeking change in your own workplace…

you can also make an argument for authenticity on very pragmatic grounds. For those who like to count beans, celebrating and (dare we say it) exploiting individual unique presence is actually far more efficient. It may not seem so at first, but that only applies (again) in narrow industrial contexts, where data is only measured in the short term, such as quarterly profits or recent graduation rates. If you see it in the long term, and factor in the cost of items such as turnover, burnout, and chronic health problems, cultivating “authenticity” is a much better system all around. It is also essential in the connection-driven online business world. And at some point it becomes a moral/ethical question as well, in terms of how workplace culture feeds back into the greater picture of life and society as a whole.

The fear that comes with being manager, e.g., having greater responsibility, tends to spawn intolerance for difference and dissidents. Human beings who are new to management need support and training in how to handle this challenge.  Changing this default loyalty to our industrial past requires proactive intervention. Absent that, most folks who have been through the standard industrial training mill will almost always default to what they know, of seeking a sense of greater control through obedience and conformity. “Authenticity,” to them, is a threat to their sense of control. This attitude, where it exists, needs to be, well, not changed, but healed.

As someone trying to share the marvelous culture of mandatory “authenticity” that was de rigueur in the performing arts world, this new emphasis on authenticity in the corporate workplace is most encouraging. It does, however, require an entirely different management mind set.  Modern  science shows us that every person is unique, genetically and otherwise. In the light of this relatively new information, the traditions of industrial management are obviously incorrect, not to mention terribly inefficient.  Retooling the culture will be a big job. Let’s get at it.  And if someone tells you that you need to be “more authentic,” take a moment to remember that you are a refugee in the war on your own authenticity.

(About the Author: Justin Locke spent 18 years playing bass in the Boston Pops, and his musical plays are performed all over the world. As an author, speaker, and coach, he shares a pragmatic artistic approach to authenticity, “people skills,” and managing people, especially your “top performers.” For more, visit his website at www.justinlocke.com and follow at @justinlocke.)

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

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

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5 Different Ways To Truly Support Your Workplace

Inner workplace support is an important characteristic that impacts the positive nature of your company culture. Once your workforce is given proper access to support, higher productivity flourishes naturally.

Support is something all humans want, need and crave. Support comes in many forms and can be given in words or actions. Workers spend more time at their workplace with their co-workers than anywhere else in a work week, which means the workplace is where many employees look for support on a daily basis. Employers can support workers in many ways, the most direct being financially as they provide the livelihood that allows an employee to provide for their life necessities.

However, there are many other ways that an employer can support employees at every level throughout the organization. Some of the major areas where employers can demonstrate support are:

Trust

One of the most important elements for a successful workplace is trust. Companies who have employees that trust them are found to have a more engaged workforce and higher productivity rates. Those organizations that have lost their employee’s trust are not as successful as their counterparts. Some of the main factors that determine trust levels are the availability of open communication, lack of accountability, and management abuses. If you find any of these being an issue within your organization make it a point to work with those who are willing to discuss trust and openness.

Morale

Just like trust, communication is key to developing positive long lasting employee morale. Employers need to know what drives each employee and their individual performance. Implementing a blanketed approach towards company morale does not work for all employees, as we know, no two employees are the same. What keeps your employees motivated, flourishing and willing to display their creativity in the workplace? Knowing these answers will help in developing an engaged workforce motivate to their best with a deeper sense of loyalty for the organization.

Well-Being

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), defines well-being as; “creating an environment to promote a state of contentment which allows an employee to flourish and achieve their full potential for the benefit of themselves and their organization”. The CIPD believes, “employee well-being at work initiatives need to balance the needs of the employee with those of the organization.” Fortunately this does not have to be a costly endeavor and can include items such as providing 15 minute breaks instead of 10 minutes, small incentive programs or providing a comfortable environment for employees to take their breaks. There are many things an employer can do to demonstrate to employees they are concerned for their well-being.

Pride in the Workplace

Vince Lombardi said, “The pride of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Satisfied employees lead to low turnover which can also lead to better customer retention. Being proud of where one works and appreciation of work done can inspire individuals and teams to achieve more. The renewed pride allows the networks within the office to have better communication and build upon strengths that exist. It’s important for employees to feel proud about the company they work for and the work they do, and it’s crucial for business owners and managers to realize the development of this pride begins with them.

Connections

Two major benefits of positive workplace connections are increased productivity and low turnover. It is important to develop a work environment that fosters the building of these connections. Business owners and management should be pro-active in encouraging and providing the opportunity for these connections to be made in the workplace.

Does your business have tried and tested methods to successful support methods? An organization with a strong support system can only benefit from an efficient and well-balanced team of employees. There’s no better time than today to start creating a company culture with lasting impressions.

(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.)

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

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

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Be Different Or Be Dead

BE DiFFERENT or be dead: the stand-out leaders’ mantra

NEVER has it been more important to carve out a distinctive and unique place for your organization in the market than it is today. The economy is unpredictable. Competition is intense as new competitors are entering the market at a blistering rate. New technology “rains down” relentlessly.

Markets are cluttered with sameness; products and services are undifferentiated and competitive claims are lost in the crowd. Customers are more empowered than ever before, establishing relationships with suppliers that deliver distinctive solutions and ignoring those that don’t. Which organizations are successful and survive this challenging business environment, and what separates them from the others that struggle, hang on and eventually fail?

Those that are able to win this battle are DiFFERENT from their competitors. They survive the scrutiny of the discriminating customer by providing relevant, compelling and unmatched value.

Those that have no distinctive identity simply don’t make it.

They die. How can organizations stand-out from the herd and distance themselves from it? It starts with reinventing how strategy is developed. The emphasis is shifted from strategic direction to execution. Many plans look good on paper but can’t be executed. They are theoretically pristine but worthless as they fall short of delivering results.

The BE DiFFERENT or be dead Strategic Game Plan is designed for execution and answers 3 questions:

1. HOW BIG do you want to be? – growth goals
2. WHO do you want to SERVE – target customers to achieve growth
3. HOW do you intend to compete and WIN – value proposition that gives The WHO reasons to buy ONLY from you. Being the best of the best is ignored; being the ONLY ones that do what you do is coveted.

Marketing is focused on creating experiences rather than flogging products. Investing in current loyal fans is given priority over providing special promotions and deals to acquire new customers. Mass markets are ignored in favour of concentrating on the individual and discovering their “secrets” that will unlock economic value. The world of “me” gains momentum.

Customers are looked at holistically; experiential packages are designed for each of them to satisfy their broad life desires. Creating happiness is the marketer’s end game. Customer Service is out; SERVING Customers is in with the end game to “dazzle” the customer and take their breath away. Internal rules and policies are re-vectored to make customer engagement a friendly process. The customer is brought in to the organization to get their fingerprints on how they want to be treated.

“Leadership by Serving Around” is the new culture. “How can I help you?” are the words leaving leaders’ lips not “Do this.”

The BE DiFFERENT Bottom Line:

To Stand-out from the Herd you need to provide value that people care about and that is unique. Failure to deliver and you’ll be ignored, invisible, common and dead (sooner or later).

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

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

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

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3 Bites To The Core Of Communication… And Engagement

At the core of successful employee engagement is communication. You likely think I mean communication between manager and employee. Your thinking is spot on. The most common reason an employee leaves a job is the employee’s manager. And the most common element is the communication — or lack of — between manager and employee. There are plenty of other aspects of communication and how it can boost employee satisfaction and engagement. But for this writing, let’s look at 3 core “bites” that will have communication contribute to employee engagement.

Share Expectations.

An employee who knows what is expected experiences less doubt, less confusion. Knowing the weekly report must include narrative as well as statistics precludes the risk of rework. Knowing what to do, the employee expends time and energy engaging in the job, rather than wondering “what?” and “how?” This applies to graphic design, garage mechanics,  IT deployment or training & development. Stating expectations to an employee early, frequently and consistently is an art of communication. Remembering to restate frequently is part of that art — either to verify or to vary the expectations.

Remove Obstacles. 

Most work has some degree of problem-solving. That does not mean we want employees focusing continually on unnecessary problems. Open line communication between employee and manager provides productive Q&A. This allows the manager to help the worker know priorities. This in turn leads to identifying obstacles quickly and easily. That allows fast application of efforts to move obstacles aside. Consider an employee’s inability to access onboarding e-learning. Recollect the glitch in a new procedure that brought it to a standstill. In such instances, communication is step one to remove the obstacle. When communication is fundamental to the business culture, you’ll look for the solution there first.

Offer Feedback and Recognition.

A good idea is to recognize an employee’s successful engagement in her assignments, with her team, and for the company. An equally good idea is to give feedback to the employee whose efforts are less successful. Both actions are communication-based. Both recognition and feedback have positive impact on employee engagement.  The manager speaks about what has been done well and why. The employee hears and strives to repeat. That is engagement. A manager speaks about what has been done, could have been done better, and how. The employee hears and strives to improve. The connection between communication and engagement is clear.

Don’t take this as an oversimplification of engagement culture and strategy. Both require substantial attention and effort. Just keep in mind that these steps can get you to the communications core and to better employee engagement.

(About the Author: As an Employee Engagement and Performance Improvement expert, Tim Wright, has worked with businesses and national associations of all sizes. His company, Wright Results, offers proven strategies and techniques to help businesses increase employee engagement, improve personnel performance and build a strong business culture by focusing on performance management from the C.O.R.E. For more information, visit www.wrightresults.com or connect with Tim here: tim@wrightresults.com)

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

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

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5 Steps To A Completely Aligned Workforce

“What on earth is Talent Alignment?”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that question, it honestly wouldn’t matter because it’s an answer I love giving.

Talent Alignment is a goal-based, totally transparent series of processes that will change every facet of how you recruit, onboard, manage and lead your employees.

Think of talent alignment as a playbook for your entire organization that everyone can see in real-time. In many organizations today, that playbook is hidden or non-existent and seeing results of your entire organization in real-time.

Right now, many organizations have a talent cycle but it’s a vicious one. Vicious is disconnected, fractured and frustrating to top talent – in short, it’s a talent management, communication and culture problem all rolled into one. Here are the ways you can take your talent cycle from vicious to virtuous:

Step 1: Recruit Smarter

Knowing you need to hire and knowing why you need to hire are two separate things. Using talent alignment within your company makes it easy to see which holes need to be filled. All of the sudden, your job requirements are more focused and specific, your onboarding process is streamlined and your employees aren’t threatened by the new addition, because they know exactly what she is working on…and towards. It also gives HR and recruiting a seat at the table in terms of the strategic mission and vision for the company.

Step 2: Communicate Better

The key is to link your teams’ everyday efforts to overall goals, and to make it easy for managers and employees to visualize how work flows up to larger company strategies. By aligning all the middlemen you can ensure your team gets the right message every time. This approach empowers employees because they know precisely how their daily tasks fit into the larger picture.

Step 3: Build Trust

Companies that show what the goals are and individual accountability to reaching them can more easily pick out all-start employees, connect their employees in ways never possible before and create an open and trusting environment. Gossip, backbiting and the glass ceiling aren’t issues when goals and achievements are out in the open. Performance and engagement become natural by-products when alignment and transparency are “baked in”.

Step 4: Get Rid Of Pointless Tasks

A recent survey of more than 2,000 workers showed a whopping 98 percent think annual performance reviews are unnecessary. About a quarter of that group were HR professionals. This is waste of time and money. Today’s workforce works faster, smarter and in more places than the workforce that implemented annual reviews. Stop this senseless practice and use the budget and time for transparent reviewing. A continuous feedback loop between colleagues, leadership, and employees allows your HIPOs to get even better and your less productive staff matriculate or “self-select”. Research suggests that transparent review processes and a continuous feedback loop between managers and employees may even make adequate performers up their game.

Step 5:  Nurturing, Training And Growth

Performance. Each team member should know their results compared to expectations. In “The 3 Signs of a Miserable Job,” Patrick Lencioni says that we engage in our work when we can measure it.

Behavior. Most leaders don’t subscribe to a Machiavellian approach to performance. We know that the means are often more important than the ends. We need to sustain performance, our health and our relationships.

Engagement. Emotional connection to the organization and to the team drives commitment, quality and culture. Team members who hide from tracking objectives are either scared or apathetic. Either reveals development opportunities and succession potential.

Alignment. Organizations need empowered and independent thinkers…within the framework of the organization’s goals. Structure brings freedom and innovation. In crew, each rower does his part by following the cadence of those ahead and modeling for those behind in the boat.

Our workforce needs empowered and independent thinkers…within the framework of the organization’s goals. Structure brings freedom and innovation. Just like memorizing a playbook before the season, a virtuous talent cycle based on alignment allows us to improvise, commitment to organizational goals allows us to be entrepreneurial, reallocating resources, budget and shifting goals whenever and wherever they are needed, coming full circle.

(About the Author: Andre Lavoie is the CEO of Clear Company, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the Clear Company team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

ClearCompany is the first Talent Alignment Platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. Our patent-pending portfolio technology empowers organizations to maximize the strategic contribution of hiring, learning and performance initiatives by realizing the potential of their most valuable asset: their people.)

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

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

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How Transparency Positively Impacts Your Workplace

There’s a basic social contract that exists between workers and their employers. Employees rely on their companies for their living and for a stable work environment where they can thrive. Businesses depend on their workforce to provide the talent and manpower necessary to develop products, serve customers and generate revenue.

It sounds simple, but this arrangement actually requires quite a bit of trust on both ends. For their part, corporate leaders must count on their workers’ honesty and integrity as they give employees access to a whole range of company resources, put them in direct contact with clients, set them to work with sensitive customer information and give them the keys to the office. For the most part, this contract works, and the corporate world keeps on running.

In fact, openness and honesty with employees – which is a natural offspring of this trust – might be even more significant than a foundation that allows basic business operations to occur. According to Fortune, transparency is a key factor in developing positive customer relationships. Part of the reason it’s so important is that greater information about the way the company is running and what its goals are can empower employees to do their jobs better, and this capability leads to better products, higher-quality service and engaged workers.

Transparency In The Workplace

In addition to being open with customers and the public about company operations, fostering greater transparency within a business can contribute to a positive employee culture. Simply demonstrating that executives and stakeholders trust their workers with information about the organization’s successes and failures, strategies and goals helps to build up that social contract of trust and responsibility. Of course, there must always be prudence in determining how much and which information to divulge to the entire company, but greater transparency tends to make a positive impact on workers.

Fortune explained that transparency involves factors such as practices, policies, algorithms, operating data and future plans. It means giving staff members the information they need to develop a deep understanding of what their company stands for and what its objectives are. This, in turn, can foster work pride and inspire innovation, loyalty, independence, positive co-worker dynamics and passion to meet common goals, the source added.

Supervisors who think their company is plenty transparent might want to reconsider. Referring to a recent poll, Forbes magazine noted that 71 percent of employees felt that their managers failed to spend enough time explaining goals and 50 percent said that their organizations were held back by a lack of transparency.

Sharing More information 

One place to start is with employee engagement survey results. Many leaders collect information about their workforce by distributing questionnaires and analyzing the responses, but workers are rarely informed about the results. Sharing this data not only helps create an environment of inclusiveness and teamwork, it also brings staff members on board to help solve some of the problems they identified. Letting them know the enterprise’s strengths is a great idea, too, since it can encourage them to continue doing whatever makes the company strong.

Fortune observed that technology makes it easier for leaders to employ resources like surveys and use them as tools to increase transparency. Rather than merely soliciting feedback, the point is to develop constructive conversations about ways to improve. Welcoming employee ideas and providing avenues for them to contribute to problem-solving initiatives builds a strong business community and enables companies to benefit from the collective wealth of knowledge and brain​ power in their workforces.

As Forbes put it, every organization must determine how much transparency is right for its unique situation, but ignoring transparency completely is most likely a costly error.

(About the Author: David Bator is passionate about programs that move people. As Vice President of Client Strategy at TemboStatus he works with growing companies everyday and helps them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action. For the last 15 years David has worked with the leadership of companies large and small to build programs that leverage strategy and technology to deliver extraordinary value for employees, customers and partners.)

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

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

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Working Remotely: Is Staying Connected 24/7 A Good Thing?

Technology has given us the ability to stay connected 24/7 which is a blessing and also a curse. One of the downsides is that the lines between work and down time have become increasingly blurred. Many companies feel that employees should be available nights, weekends and even on vacation. Some provide employees with smartphones with the understanding that they will be accessible whenever they are needed.

Not all employees object to this. The majority of respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said that being able to work remotely after hours was a good thing. With 42 percent saying that being able to stay in touch with the office during down time was a “strongly positive” development and 37 percent saying it was only “somewhat positive.” However, only about a third of respondents said that they “frequently” connected with work after hours.

Whether they object or not employees who spend more hours working remotely outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience stress. Despite this, for most of us being connected to our job almost constantly is the norm.

Still there are a few leaders speaking out again the current 24/7 work cycle. Earlier this year, Arianna Huffington spoke passionately at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference about the need to step back. She talked about waking up in a pool of blood after cutting her eye and breaking her cheekbone when she collapsed from exhaustion in 2007. At the Huffington Post, she established a policy of disconnecting from the office where employees are not expected to answer email after hours or over the weekend.

Some European countries have made radical changes. The German labor ministry voted in guidelines which prevent ministry staff from being “penalized” for failing to respond after hours. Some German companies, including Volkswagen, BMW and Puma, restrict after hours email. VW even stops forwarding emails to staff shortly after the work day has ended.

In France, employers’ federations and unions signed a “legally binding agreement” that requires employees to disconnect from the office after working hours. This agreement affects the French offices of some non-French companies including Google, Facebook, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Meanwhile, in Sweden the city council in Gothenburg voted to try out a six-hour workday with full-pay for its staff.

Are these changes a preview of what’s to come in the US? It doesn’t seem likely. Does this mean that employers should be forbidden from contacting employees after hours? In our culture of staying connected 24/7 that doesn’t seem likely either. But there should be some room for compromise.

Is it urgent every time our smartphone bleeps or buzzes? Probably not.

(About the Author: Annette Richmond, MA is a writer, optimist, media enthusiast and executive editor of career-intelligence.com. Having changed careers several times, including working as a career coach, she has a unique perspective on career management. When starting career-intelligence.com over a decade ago, her goal was to provide a one-stop online career resource.

In addition to being a writer, speaker and consultant, Richmond contributes career-related articles to various other sites including ForbesWoman. She holds a BA in English from Sacred Heart University and a MA in Applied Psychology from Fairfield University. She resides in Rowayton, CT, with her husband, Eric, and their four-legged kids.)

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

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

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Developing The Next Generation Of Leaders

Good Day! I’ll be the guest host this Wednesday, May 21, on the TalentCulture #TChat – show which includes #TChat Radio and #TChat Twitter Chat – Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 pm EST. The radio show is from 6:30-7:00 pm EST and the Twitter chat is from 7pm-8pm EST. Before I host I would like to share some information with you about myself.

I am passionate about…

developing emerging, enduring, and experienced leaders and teaching them how to develop themselves using a disciplined and deliberate approach. All leadership begins from inside a person and must be developed and grown as they grow into emerging and enduring leaders. I believe that leadership principles are timeless and apply across all spectrums of life. I believe leadership begins inside of you. Leadership starts with a condition of the heart – the desire and passion to make a difference before it moves to the brain to implement a plan to make a difference. It is an inside-out process and is shaped by your values, character, choices, opportunities, experiences, and your worldview. Leadership is about you, the people you influence, and a belief that you can make a difference and have an impact.

Second, my next passion is for developing the next generation of leaders who will be the leaders in the military, in government, in business and globally. These leaders will lead in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous or VUCA world and must be prepared for leading in chaos.

What do I mean by a VUCA?

  • Volatile means that the speed, size, scale of change in the world today has a great impact on events around the globe almost instantaneously. An example is the rate and pace of stock market changes and the effect it has on personal and corporate wealth.
  • Uncertainty means that world events are unpredictable and this unpredictability makes it impossible to prepare for unknown world events. An example is the effects of Arab Spring and governmental changes in the last four years.
  • Complexity means that the chaotic nature of the world combined with the volatility and uncertainty of global events creates an environment of confusion and difficulty for today’s leaders.
  • Ambiguity means that there is a lack of clarity or transparency surrounding world events. It is hard to predict what threats are in the world if you do not know the who, what, or why things are happening.

We will need leaders who can meet and adapt to new challenges, build strategic partnerships, build and sustain human capital organizations, and have the courage to act and react to the challenges. In addition to these requirements, we need to continue to develop leaders who are flexible, adaptive and are globally and culturally aware. This next generation of leaders must understand how to build and maintain trust, keep their integrity, and continue to build their credibility by developing their character.

An authentic character is the outward expression of our purpose, values, and beliefs. Your character comprises your beliefs, motives, values, desires, behaviors, and principles that drive and shape your actions as a leader. Character authenticity is living on purpose, keeping true to your values and beliefs, and not compromising them at the altar of Society. Your character is tested in the crucible of life and is forged through adversity.

I believe authentic leaders…

inspire people to greatness. Inspiration is the ability to breathe life into someone or an organization. Inspiration is a positive influence – a positive reinforcement – we give our people. It ignites desire, ignites creativity, and ignites innovation in inspired people. Leadership is not what I do it is who I am. There is no escaping who I am. My leadership is the embodiment of my heart, mind, body, and soul. It is an amalgamation of my life’s purpose, my values, my ethics, my core beliefs, my life philosophy, and my worldview.

One of the topics we are going to discuss on the #TCHAT show is the Inspire or Retire Theorem.

Inspire Or Retire Theorem

The Inspire or Retire Theorem wraps up my F(X) Leadership framework and my theory of you are the key to your leadership. The function of (x) is you.

InspireOrRetireTheorem

 What If The Leaders In Your Organization

•  Knew the organizational vision, goals, values and the impact their leadership had on the success of the organization
•  Knew success as a leader included knowing themselves, their team and the organization
•  Knew a leader must have high moral and ethical values and that character counts
•  Knew leaders are responsible for their actions and their words
•  Knew they needed to continuously develop, grow and reinvent themselves to meet the challenges of the future
•  Understood their role in developing other leaders
•  Understood character, courage, commitment and communication are key components of leadership
•  Understood they are responsible for their leadership development
•  Understood they are the key to their leadership

The Inspire or Retire Theorem answers all the above questions in a mathematical mnemonic that encapsulates my leadership responsibility to the people I lead and the organization I serve. It was designed as a visual representation for me to remember to always Inspire or Retire.

I look forward to sharing time with and discussing your views on leadership, leadership development, and developing the next generation of leaders.

(About the Author:  Thomas S. Narofsky is the Founder and Chief Inspirational Officer for the Narofsky Consulting Group, a leadership development, team effectiveness, and executive coaching consultancy. He the developer of the F(X) Leadership Model, the Inspire or Retire Leadership Theorem, and author of F(X) Leadership Unleashed!, and soon to be released book, You are Unstoppable!.

He also served on the United States Air Force Enlisted Board of Directors which focused on professional development, training concepts and long-range strategies to provide continuous, career-long enlisted deliberate development by integrating education, training and experience to produce a skilled and adaptive work force. He has conducted worldwide professional and leadership development seminars with U.S, Korean, Japanese, Australian, British, Canadian, Belgian and German enlisted forces. His military decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

Thom is an adjunct professor at Bellevue University in the Arts and Sciences Department. He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership, a Master of Science in Information Technology Management and a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies.)

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

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

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Brave New World, Brave Business Leaders Needed

The first quarter of 2014 brought welcome optimism for some of the world’s major economies. On the face of things, it’s great news. However, businesses still face a battle to get back to the levels of pre 2008 performance and growth.

One thing that could be preventing them from doing so is if business leaders aren’t equipped for the brave new business world. Could Generation Y leaders hold the key?

Have Leaders Got This In Their Locker?

Concerns persist that many of today’s leaders lack the skills and knowledge needed to lead businesses in a rapidly-evolving corporate landscape. This is highlighted by the London Business School’s Lynda Gratton in her research.

The Future of Work Research Consortium, led by Gratton, found that half of the executives sampled across the world don’t think that leadership programs are currently equipping leaders with the right skills. This is a worrying trend which must be reversed.

Gratton offers great insight, setting out a clear and bold vision for the future of leadership. She explains the need to develop leaders that are able to leverage new technologies, take risks, build external relationships and champion creativity.

Failure to develop leaders with these skills and traits will stifle innovation and, with it, economic growth.

The Present: Developing Leaders Now

Companies must quickly recognize and respond to the changing business world. They’ll need to adjust talent and leadership development programs accordingly.

The first step is for businesses to identify what skills, behaviors and competencies their leaders need to possess in order to deliver strategies now (and anticipate how this might change in the future). They should measure leaders against a defined set of key skills, behaviors and competencies. Awareness of leaders’ strengths and development needs will then help companies to provide targeted support in areas where they need to shift behavior or change their approach.

Taking these steps will certainly better equip leaders now. However, the real change in leadership approach for business may only come about when the next generation of leaders take the top jobs.

The Future: Generation Y Leaders

Generation Y or ‘Millennials’ as they’re also known will, naturally, be more inclined to embrace and leverage new technologies and to champion innovation.

And, as others have noted, Generation Y workers are more collaborative and flexible in their approach. This makes them better able to build relationships and create strong, engaged teams.

I’d argue that this combined skill set and experience gives Generation Y the perfect foundation to be the bold, brave and forward-thinking leaders we need to drive future business success. Time will tell if I’m right.

(About the Author: Ben Egan is an experienced consultant specializing in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm. ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and RBS.)

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

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

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6 Listening Lessons From The Experts

Calvin Coolidge once said, “No man ever listened himself out of a job”. As an employee engagement specialist, this quote really resonates with me. Solid and effective communication in the workplace is undoubtedly how we can start to turn around the $11 billion lost annually due to employee turnover.

When we talk about improving workplace communications most people will immediately think of ways to be heard more, to accurately get their point across and garner respect. However, effective communication has two sides, and the listening side very often gets neglected. Take some lessons in listening from the greats.

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

— Ralph Nichols, Father of the Field of Listening

This most basic of principles is often lost on corporate America. Decisions that affect everyone are made at the top, with little or no context from the remaining 95% of the organization. In order to create an engaged, satisfied and retained workforce, leaders have to ask and listen. True engagement demands that you really be in the moment with the person. Don’t think of what you will say next, really listen.

“Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.”

 Carl Rogers, Psychologist

How many times have you kept your mouth shut and let someone else talk, only to actually be formulating your response the entire time. How many times have you heard, “That’s not what I said”? Very often, we hear what we want to, or what our insecurities or personal agendas interpret. Listening isn’t simply keeping quiet. Whenever you feel the need to communicate what’s on your mind, instead shut up and ask a powerful question…such as “What about this is important to you? What do you really want? What else?” This will build a more meaningful conversation.

“Big egos have little ears.”

— Robert Schuller, Author and Pastor 

So many leaders have trouble with this one. Talking over people or interrupting doesn’t give your opinion any more weight; in fact, it makes you look like a jerk. Open, positive and genuine approaches at respectful workplace relationships are a catalyst for great things to happen. The difference you will find in how people respond to you and one another can be pretty astounding. The natural response to respect, is usually respect…who would have known?

“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”

— Lee Iacocca, Former CEO Chrysler Corporation

Couldn’t agree more –“People need to listen at least as much as they need to talk.” Why then are so many companies still performing quarterly reviews and annual employee surveys? There seems to be a huge imbalance between the talking and listening here.

“I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention.”

— Diane Sawyer, ABC Television Anchor

Everyone is guilty of it –getting caught up in the day-to-day and just “getting through” the workday. There’s a lot going on that matters, a lot that people are saying that counts. Are you paying attention?

Communication is the backbone of any successful relationship, and listening is a huge part of that. How much importance do you consciously put on listening? Is it equal to your need to be heard? It should be.

Being a good listener doesn’t come to any of us naturally. If our parents had a dime for every time they had to say, “Did you hear me?” or, “Are you paying attention?” we would have all had college funds bursting at the seams. Being a good listener takes a very conscious effort; one that will always prove to garner a great return. To end, please remember that there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth…so try to listen more and talk less.

(About the Author: Melissa, a marketing professional with over a decade of leadership, has led marketing teams in companies ranging from travel to fundraising to small business apps, always multiplying results with her contagious ambition. And while the pressure of being the marketing mastermind would be more than enough for most pros, Melissa is also VP of Talent Management of Herd Wisdom.)

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

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

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Take Action Now To Advance Your Career

If you want to have what others don’t, you must do what others won’t.” – Lisa Ryan

How often do you hear these types of conversations?

  • John: “I’d love to go back to college and get my degree.”
  • Jane:  “So, why don’t you go?”
  • John:  “I’m so tired when I get home from work, and it will take so long for me to get it. I just don’t have the time to do it.”
  • Sally:  “Wow, you’re so lucky that you have such an awesome job.”
  • Dan:  “I started in the mail room ten years ago, and just worked my way up through the company.  I’m pretty happy with where it’s gotten me.”
  • Sally: “The mail room?!  I would never even consider a job like that.  Wow,  it was pretty lucky that you did that!”
  • Charles: “I just got offered this really awesome job, but I’m not sure if I’m going to take it.”
  • Doug:  “Why not?”
  • Charles: “Well, it’s paying $1.00 an hour less than what I’m making now, and I don’t want to take the cut in pay.”

All of these examples are based on real conversations.  The one thing they have in common is a need for instant gratification.  The person going to college after work, giving up sleep and time with friends and family will one day receive his/her degree as a reward for their hard work. John, on the other hand, will stay stuck, never reaching his full potential until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. (The funny thing is he’ll be just as old with a degree as he will be without one.)

Dan, on the other hand, was willing to start in a menial job to learn the ropes and work his way up through the organization. He knew that the mail room would give him ample opportunities to get to know the people within the organization, by name, department, and title as well as in person when he delivered the mail. He worked hard, made connections, became the very best mail room person he could be.  His tenacity was noticed and his progression within the organization gave him everything he wanted in his career.

Sally believes that jobs, titles and corner offices should be automatically given to her because of tenure alone.  She does what she’s paid to do and no more.  She assumes that she is just not “lucky” and her career is at a standstill. Until she makes the effort and does more than she is paid to do, she will stay at the same level.

What about Charles?  Have you seen people get blindsided by a temporary step backwards and never take the opportunity to move ten steps forward in the long run?  We all have.  When you have long term goals, you are willing to do what’s necessary and invest the time to achieve them.  We generally overestimate what we can do in the short term, but we underestimate what we can accomplish over the long run.

In a time when training dollars are hard to find in an already right budget, human resource professionals have the daunting task of nudging, encouraging and cajoling their employees to take advantage of the opportunities offered for personal and professional development. Here are a few ways take action and communicate the importance of your staff members investing in themselves:

1.  To achieve your dreams and goals, you need to, as Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Set your sights on all of the things you would like to accomplish in your life and keep on target. Establish small, consistent steps that move you closer to your goal.

2.  Celebrate your little victories along the way.  Acknowledge yourself for your progress and don’t forget to recognize others for their support and encouragement.  Minimize the time you spend with people that want to keep you where you are, they will only continue to hold you back.  Associate with the people who are already where you want to be and learn from them.

3.  Realize that by doing the hard things now, your life will become easier in the long run. If you take the easy road now, your life will probably get much harder.  The time, money, and effort you invest in yourself can never be taken away from you.

(About the Author: Employee Engagement Expert and Motivational Speaker, Lisa Ryan works with organizations to help them keep their top talent and best customers from becoming someone else’s. She achieves this through personalized employee engagement and customer retention keynotes, workshops and seminars. She is the author of six books, and is featured in two films including the award-winning, “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For more information, please connect with Lisa at her website: www.grategy.com or email her at lisa@grategy.com.)

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

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

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