Posts

Dating In The Workplace: An Employee Relations Primer

Dating someone you work with is frequently cited by workforce experts as a very bad idea. Yet 40% of workers admitted they did so in a 2013 CareerBuilder survey – and we have no reason to believe that number has gone down since then. As summertime rolls around, inevitably relationships will begin to spring up. After all, the average working American spends one-third of their lives at the office. So, what does the burgeoning office relationship mean for employers? Relationships gone sour have the potential to raise tension in the office. Couples that practice ODA (Office Display of Affection) make other employees uncomfortable. And there are bigger stakes for the employer.  The way you handle a new romance can expose the entire organization to risk or result in a great relationship you helped cultivate.

Rules Of Love

There are no hard rules when it comes to fraternization policies – but it is necessary to have something in place to guide appropriate behaviors.  Yet only 42 percent of companies have intra-office dating policies. These policies protect the company as well as the two individuals involved.  Make sure every person in your office understand the rules and how to report relationships should they become serious.

Some HR departments require written disclosures, making the involved employees officially state their relationship. Other companies “ban” fraternization. This is extremely hard to enforce because the term “fraternization” is difficult to completely define and policies that ban fraternization don’t really work. It seems great on paper, but it doesn’t account for the human condition. Your employees will date someone if they want and assume as long as they don’t display affection, no one would find out. That’s not a safe route for anyone in the office and can disrupt productivity and exclude other employees. It is best to keep HR and the supervisor in the loop to avoid your workers spending all their time trying to “hide” their relationship.

“More and more companies have implemented policies because they realize they aren’t going to stop people from having romantic relationship,” said Christine Amalfe, an attorney in Gibbon’s P.C. litigation and employment and labor law departments. Amalfe is correct, there are very few workplaces wherein HR or any other executives can forbid dating between coworkers. Nor would it be a reasonable policy.  However, if everyone on your employee relations team is briefed on the rules and communicates them to the team, both employees and management can breathe easier knowing how to deal with potential relationships.

“If you’re considering dating a coworker, finding out what the policy is before you initiate a romantic relationship will typically be better than springing it on your bosses six months in,” Eric Ravenscraft of lifehacker.com said.

Conflicts Of Interest

What if the relationship ends? Even if the relationship leads to a marriage, 44 percent of every marriage in the United States ends in divorce. Employers have to deal with couples who can’t work together even though they have to work together. Failed relationships in the workplace damage morale and the individuals risk losing their jobs. Have a contingency plan if the former lovebirds can no longer bear to work together. It DOES happen and it is important to make succession plans and keep performance reviews up to date in case reporting is called into question.

Supervisors Shouldn’t Date Subordinates

If office dating happens, it should only happen laterally. Dating subordinates is a bad idea – period. Some companies allow dating coworkers as long as they are not your boss. But 99 percent of organizations get it right and ban intra-office relationships between supervisor and subordinate. It can compromise credibility and lead to subordinates disrespecting their supervisors.  It is also scary territory for potential legal action. Sexual harassment, favoritism, and other risky situations can all easily arise from a situation in which two people from unequal positions are involved in a romance.

“When a supervisor and employee are dating, it can potentially decrease morale in the department and raise suspicions by coworkers of preferential treatment,” said Kristin Bowl, spokeswoman for the SHRM. According to EEOC, one-in-four women are sexually harassed at work, half of them were harassed by a supervisor.

Companies who have a no tolerance intra-office dating policy try to control human nature. In reality, however, if employees want to date, they will… you may just not know about it until it starts to impact your work environment. The best policies are the ones that don’t ban the behavior. Don’t try to control human nature, guide it. Give employees guidelines for office dating: don’t date your boss, sign a relationship contract, etc. Workplace dating is inevitable. Intra-office dating is going to happen. You can’t prevent sparks from igniting, but you can avoid a legal flameout.

(About the Author: Deborah J. Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, a technology firm specializing in human resources applications like the HR Acuity On Demand family of applications. Muller brings more than 25 years of human resources and investigation experience to both the consulting practice and software development sides of the company.)

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

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

Photo Credit: Marta_Photo via bigstock

4 Fundamentals To Elevate Employee Engagement

Did you know that when an employee leaves their job, 67% of the time it’s not the job, it’s the boss?  Of course you know the importance of keeping your best employees from becoming someone else’s top talent, but exactly how do you do that?  Here are four ways to build trust and earn their loyalty.

1.  Face Time Matters.

Personal contact is important as it creates an emotional connection with the organization.  Whether you have an onsite or a remote workforce, make sure you regularly connect with them.  It’s more than offering an “open door policy” – get out of your office and walk around.  Pick up the phone and talk to your team. Connect with your team members in the way they want to be contacted.  Some people prefer text, others email, while others still like to talk face-to-face. Personal contact matters. Take a hint from the television show “Undercover Boss” and put yourself in your employees’ shoes.  Understand what they deal with on a daily basis and they will be much more willing to give their job their personal best.

2.  Express Appreciation.

Catch your employees doing things right. What gets recognized gets repeated, so let them know specifically what they are doing well. It seems that organizations are spending a ton of money on “stuff” – providing employees with copious catalogs from which they can choose any number of rewards.  Although a nice gesture, it’s not the prize that creates an emotional connection. It’s the sincere verbal expression or handwritten note in appreciation for a job well done that is treasured. A woman in one of my programs recently shared that thank you notes she wrote to her staff members two years ago are still pinned on their bulletin boards.  Writing it down makes a difference.  Handwritten notes are tangible evidence that employees can refer back to whenever they need a lift.

3. Ask Questions.

Are you afraid to ask your employees what they want because you fear their “unreasonable demands?” Oftentimes what you’ll find is that it doesn’t take a lot to keep your team happy.  Once their basic needs are met, little tweaks make a big difference.  Check out this article for some great ideas. Asking for your staff’s suggestions and ideas can give you a perspective that you may not have considered. Inviting your staff members to share their opinion means a lot, acting on their suggestions seals the deal.

4. Welcome Complaints.

Marshall Fields said, “Those who buy, support me. Those who come to flatter, please me. Those who complain teach me how I may please others so they will buy. The only ones that hurt me are those who are displeased but do not complain. They refuse me permission to correct my errors and thus improve my service.” This quote is just as applicable to employees as it is to customers.  The office grapevine is not going away, however you can circumvent its negative consequences by making it safe for employees to express their opinions.  When you know what is really going on within your organization, you can take the steps necessary to correct what needs to be fixed and not suffer long-term negative effects. Remember – if you’re asking the question, be willing to be open to the answer, no matter what it is.

Using these four simple strategies not only increase employee engagement, loyalty, and retention, they lead to the big 3 “P’s” – productivity, passion, and profits.  The best part?  These ideas are not going to cost you an arm and a leg to implement.

(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.

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

Photo Credit: dellm60 via bigstock cc

Persistence: It Pays To Be The Last One Standing

“No matter what you are trying to accomplish, maintain a firm belief in your ideas, bring the greatest amount of energy to them, and be willing to endure the indignities that may result. Being a mover and a shaker in (any) profession means sticking with an idea or system longer than anyone else.” – Author Unknown.

Or as I like to say, “It pays to be the last one standing.”

This mantra has helped tremendously in both my sales and speaking careers. No matter what business you’re in, persistence, kindness and gratitude pays off.

Persistence.

Here are the statistics: 44% of sales people give up after one “no”; 22% give up after two; 14% give up after three; 12% give up after four. However, most prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes.” It’s the fifth ask that gets the order. Persist!

A great way to stay in touch is to have some kind of newsletter or regular correspondence. When I was in the welding industry, I created a hard copy newsletter that I wrote, stapled, stamped and sent every month. While in medical sales. I switched to a monthly e-newsletter. Now I send a short, inspirational weekly message known as the “Gratitude Thought for the Week.” By providing weekly content, I am merely a “reply” away from connecting with my clients and I get to hear from them, without having to pursue them, when they read something that hits home.

Kindness.

Bring value to your prospects and clients. Just because you need four “NOs” before your “yes,” doesn’t mean that every call should be only about getting the order. Figure out what YOU can you do to make your prospect’s life a little easier.

To be considered “top of mind” for your clients, they must also be “top of mind” to you. In order words, look for ways you can be of service, without always having to the sale as your end game. When you see an article that you feel your client would find helpful, email it to them, even if you’re not the author. If you can’t help your customer, but you have a competitor that can, why not refer that customer to someone who can get them what they need? After all, there’s more than enough business for all of us, and when we help out a client, at the expense of our own good, they remember it.

Gratitude.

Make sure you express your appreciation – every sales call. Every order. Every referral. What gets recognized gets repeated, so thank early and often. Be specific, be sincere and you will be a success.

Thank your clients in a variety of ways. A hand-written thank you note is particularly effective since they are so rare. The funny thing is that everyone knows the value of a handwritten note, but not many people make the effort to send one. Keep a stack of thank you notes, a pen and stamps in your car. Immediately after each sale, program or visit, write the thank you note while you are still in the parking lot and put it in the next mailbox you come to. The meeting will still be fresh in your mind and the client will be impressed when they receive your note the next day.

(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.

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

Photo Credit: ShaneGross via bigstock cc

7 Ways To Become A More Effective Leader

Long-winded professionals make lousy leaders. You feel no inspiration hearing them tear through another management monologue. You can’t readily recall the most important messages from the last lengthy lecture you heard from senior leadership, and you’re tired of hearing executives repeat themselves over and over again.

The brutal reality in business today is that verbose leaders have few followers.

In today’s world of constant connectivity and endless information, brevity is now a leadership necessity, not a nicety. Getting to the point quickly is the new, non-negotiable standard for senior managers to climb through the ranks and lead in an attention economy.

The good news is there are specific steps you can take immediately that will make a difference and help advance your career. Here’s a list of seven practical pointers to improve your brevity at work:

1. Always prepare

Effective leaders take extra time to prepare the point they want to make before delivering it. Start by reviewing outlines and creating rough drafts of your key ideas in advance.

2. Control the flow

Be direct and say what’s on your mind; don’t carelessly or inadvertently unleash everything that’s in your mind. Be disciplined to know the story you want to tell and how it connects together beginning to end.

3. Avoid excessive detail

Know your audience and their appetite for detail. Some love lots of minutiae, while others get easily distracted by too much information. Trim out needless points that will only weigh people down.

4. Tell, don’t sell

Effective leaders are great storytellers who love to share good, short and relevant stories while always avoiding the hard sell. Illustrate ideas with the personal and practical anecdotes people crave.

5. Learn to listen

Active listening and asking pointed, open-ended questions is the key to unlocking many doors. An essential to saying less is letting others around you talk more.

6. Picture perfection

More than 70 percent of people are visual learners, so satisfy their preference to see pictures, not consume more confusing words. Showing short videos or sharing infographics is a powerful way to be clear.

7. Don’t over-explain

When you’re confident you’ve hit the mark, stop talking. Resist the temptation to say, “and one more thing.” Enough said.

Effective executives get to the point. A president of a Fortune 1000 manufacturing firm once confided to me that he evaluates up-and-coming managers by how confidently and concisely they communicate.

“When they interact with me, it’s more than just how they perform in high-pressure meetings and boardroom presentations, but how disciplined they are in variety of day-to-day scenarios like email, impromptu conversations, conference calls and progress reports,” he said. “There’s so much information at their fingertips, and it’s not easy for them to control it.”

Overcoming these obstacles can be daunting. An accomplished lawyer who works at the Pentagon recently complained to me, “Nowhere in grad school or in my lengthy military career was I instructed on how to be brief.” So, how can a talented and ambitious professional gain mastery of this valuable yet evasive skill other than through trial and error?

These are specific, real-world skills that accomplished leaders learn to master to be clear, concise and compelling when dealing with others. When any of these are missing, they lose their grip.

What’s more, effective executives are extremely aware of the moments in a business day where this brevity muscle needs to be exerted. Put your brevity to work not only in meetings and in emails, but also when interviewing, sharing bad news and making small talk with your colleagues. Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert in the subject at hand, be conscious that getting to the point is a clear indication of professionalism and respect.

Originally posted on Brazen Careerist on April 16, 2014 by Joe McCormack

(About the Author: Joe McCormack founded and serves as managing director of The Sheffield Company, and he founded The BRIEF Lab in 2013 with facilities in Chicago, IL and Southern Pines, NC. His new book, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less (Wiley & Sons, 2014), tackles the timeliness of the “less is more” mandate.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Sergey Nivens via Bigstock cc

4 Factors That Can Ruin Your Strategy

The function of top-level management is to devise strategy for the organization. This strategy defines and directs the activities of the organization, and in broader terms defines the character of the organization. This is the universal function of the high management all over the world.

The best defined strategies in the world are useless without an implementation phase. This phase is essential to try out the strategy in the real world, and provide vital feedback that is used to modify aspects of the said strategy to make it more efficient and effective in achieving the stated goals.

However, as many mid-level managers would tell you, there is a huge gap between what is written in the strategy implementation document and the actual implementation of the strategy. In many cases, things often go smoothly with no major issues rocking the boat. However, inadvertently things happen that cause minor issues to snowball into big problems. This is where strategy implementation fails to live up to the vision of the strategy document.

The following is a list of factors that could cause the best laid strategies to fail miserably. It should be noted that in all failed projects of strategy implementation, one or more factors are always present.

No Backing From The Top

The number one reason why strategies fail to translate from paper to real world is the absence of managerial backing. This often takes the form of total silence whenever the implementation reports problems to the higher management. This silence means that no further action could be taken in the first place. Even when implementation managers take things in their own hands, management fails either to support their decision or worse: countermanding the decision, thus destroying the whole process.

This lack of support comes as a surprise to many implementation managers. After all, upper management have decided upon the strategy in the first place. Given this, it is very uncomforting not to have the support for the implementation phase.

Unclear Goals

One common mistake that many strategy documents make is having unclear goals and outcomes. This unclear position is often ignored by the policy makers who devise the strategy because they are more focused on the ‘how’ of the strategy rather than the final outcome.

This ambiguity comes to haunt the implementation process when the team decides on the appropriate technology, processes and personnel for the accomplishment of the job. Another fallout of unclear goals are faulty timelines and implementation schedules. These muddle up the entire process, and cause the whole project to fail.

Lack Of Communication

Lack of communication could cause the best laid implementation plans to fail. In many cases, this is the second cause of strategy implementation failure, and lack of communication can occur on several levels and include external stakeholders. The responsibility of communication failure could be laid at the doors of implementation managers and their contact with the strategy makers. This is often the most important area where constant communication about the status of the project and clarification about policy points is essential.

Similarly, failure to communicate in a timely manner might result in implementation team members to feel isolated from the process. In this state, people make mistakes that could have project-wide implications.

Insufficient Groundwork

Any implementation project that takes its directions from a pre-defined strategy document requires extensive groundwork. Usually, this groundwork is the part of the initial phases of the implementation process. An important thing to understand at this point is that the groundwork has to be completed before any progress on the actual implementation can be made. Failing to do so will cause numerous small issues to arise during the implementation phase.

Proper groundwork includes appropriation activities such as acquiring technology, equipment and people for the job. It also includes meetings with designated managers and stakeholders to clarify points of strategy and alert them of the timelines and their roles in the implementation process.

Proper implementation of strategy is as important as devising the right strategy in the first place. It is important the managers selected for implementation have a fair amount of field experience and are well-versed in avoiding the above mentioned pitfalls.

(About the author: LSA Global has been a top business and executive coaching firm since 1995. We provide business development and organizational strategies. Our services make your business boost and sustain amongst your competitors. we provide business and executive coaching to our clients and also do business consulting services to provide assistance and build new strategies in business.)

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

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

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

Photo Credit: alphaspirit via bigstock cc

Make Your Monday More Productive Now

There’s a reason most people dread Mondays: They’re notorious catch-up days. You answer the dozens of emails you neglected over the weekend and attempt to make sense of your triple-booked calendar for the week.

By the time you actually start working, it’s almost lunchtime. How did that happen again? No wonder Tuesday is thought to be the most productive day of the week. But it doesn’t have to be.

A few simple changes to your routine can rock your professional world. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Here are three ways you can make your Monday more productive:

1. Prioritize Before You Prioritize

Write down the top three tasks you know you have to get done that day. These are three tasks you were thinking about in the shower or while you were making your morning coffee. They’re probably on the top of your mind because they’re the most important or time-sensitive tasks of the day. Do them first.

If they’re cognitive in nature, it’s especially important you get started before noon, when your ability to focus starts decreasing for the day.

When making your list, don’t look at your calendar or email. Glancing at your calendar may seem harmless, but you’ll instantly be flooded with dozens of seemingly important tasks. It’ll make picking the top three more stressful than helpful.

When you finish a task, don’t forget to cross it off the list. If it’s a task that involves someone else in the office, celebrate the win. Celebrating the little wins will make your day more rewarding. Take a moment to high-five a colleague or buy yourself a cupcake — or both.

2. Do An Email Sprint, Not A Marathon

Checking email in the morning has become a bit taboo lately, for good reasons, but let’s be real here: You’ve got to check your email. So do a sprint instead. You know what you’re looking for, and with a quick one-minute scan of your inbox, you can flag anything urgent that needs to be answered immediately and ignore the rest.

Don’t even open the email if you know it can wait until the afternoon. Most things don’t matter, at least not immediately, but doing an email sprint will catch anything that does. As soon as your one-minute sprint is over, answer the urgent emails and move on to the first task on your priority list.

Wait. It’s only 9:30 and you’ve already prioritized your day and checked your email? Professional world rocked yet?

3. Take A Break

A lap around the office, a quick read of the morning paper or even a nap if it’s allowed are all good ways to give your brain a boost. If you’ve been working on the same task for a while, but the ideas are no longer flowing freely, take a break. Listen to your brain telling you it can’t focus right now.

Short breaks can recharge your brain and help increase productivity. It may seem counterintuitive, but being unproductive in a constructive way (getting exercise, staying informed or sleeping) for a couple minutes will make you more productive for the next 60.

It’s possible to beat the odds and make Monday your most productive day. While these productivity hacks are especially important to implement on Mondays, they can help increase productivity at work on any day of the week. Start today.

Originally posted on Brazen Careerist on March 31, 2014

Written by: Emma Zimmerman 

(About the Author: Emma Zimmerman is a Marketing Associate at Startup Institute, an international career accelerator offering transformative educational experiences for career changers and recent grads. Her work with early stage startups in Chicago led her to a company @StartupInst that increases the impact of startup employees and helps people find their passion.)

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

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

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

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

Photo Credit: nadiayoungisblessed8 via Compfight cc

How Do You Embrace Culture Change In Your Company?

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. ~Arnold Bennett

Change is hard. We all know that. Changing anything in an organization can seem like a daunting task; changing the culture of an organization can seem like an impossibility. Fear not. Others have done it and so can you. This week on #TChat guest, Tim Kuppler, co-founder of The Culture Advantage and CultureUniversity.com, will share his experience on the subject.

Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges according to Steve Denning, author of The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace.
Why is it so hard? Because an organization’s culture is made up of an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. Changing the culture requires a combination of organization tools for changing minds.

A successful shift in organizational culture begins with leadership tools, including a vision or story of the future. It includes cementing the change in place with management tools, such as role definitions, measurement and control systems, and it requires the pure power tools of coercion and punishments as a last resort, when all else fails.

Consultant Brad Power advises, “If You’re Going to Change Your Culture, Do It Quickly.” Power describes the way Trane, an $8 billion subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand, changed their culture quickly by using a combination of a culture survey and an employee engagement survey. The results of their assessment are used to help determine if they have created their desired culture which includes three essential elements:

  • Vision: where the organization wants to go together
  • Mission: what they do together
  • Guiding behavioral principles: how they expect all associates to behave

By Implementing these changes, Trane North America grew year-over-year operating income by over 20 percent, without any new products or services and very limited market growth.

How does one lead change? Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter cites the following six success factors that are the keys to positive change.

  • Show up
  • Speak up
  • Look up
  • Team up
  • Never give up
  • Lift others up

photo credit: SomeDriftwood via photopin cc

How Deep Does Engagement Really Go?

A recent Gallup poll found that engaged employees display an unexpectedly strong commitment to their work. Almost two-thirds (63%) of workers whom Gallup classified as engaged in their jobs would not leave their current position if they won $10 million in the lottery. This commitment did not translate as strongly with those workers disengaged counter-parts. Only 42% of disengaged workers, and 20% of actively disengaged workers polled say they would continue to work in their current job.

Beyond the Paycheck

Looking at those numbers, we can safely say that the majority of engaged workers embrace the benefits of having a job they love, beyond the paycheck. Although the number of engaged workers who would stay is impressive, there really isn’t that many engaged workers. So, we’re really left with a slice of a slice of the workforce who would stay.

What can employers offer to make that slice bigger –to increase commitment beyond the paycheck? Companies can get extremely competitive with their compensation practices, but that won’t necessarily translate to commitment, engagement or retention. Pay is merely one piece of the puzzle.

Shared Values

The 2012 Global Workplace study by Towers Watson revealed that 27% of employees who plan to leave in the first year on the job, cite feeling disconnected to the organization. In order to establish shared values, the organization has to make it a priority to establish and communicate those values. Values, culture and mission should be a part of all recruiting initiatives, from branding efforts to the hiring process.

Workplace Relationships

67% of employees say that good workplace relationships are a reason they would stay in their current position. This has a lot to do with the environment, communication and culture that employers should be creating and fostering for their workers.

  • Employers need to put a strong emphasis on cultural fit in the hiring process.
  • Provide a safe social collaboration platform to their workforce.
  • Create an environment free of judgment and full of questions. One that is conducive to learning from one another.

Recognition

Immediate and varied recognition can impact effort and retention by up to 87%. That’s a pretty drastic increase that comes along with the cheapest and easiest piece of the engagement puzzle. Recognition is so simple, it has proven benefits and it feels good to give and receive; yet leaders are notoriously stingy with their acknowledgements.

Employers at all levels of the organization need to first recognize the benefits of creating a culture of recognition. Simply acknowledging and rewarding workers can have such a dramatic affect on the entire organization. HR pro and founder of Blogging4Jobs, Jessica Miller-Merrell said:

“It Starts at the Top. Any type of culture shift within an organization must have senior leadership support. It’s that simple because without them walking the talk, the change won’t happen. No way no how.”

Feedback

Soliciting feedback is considered by many employee engagement experts to be the most effective tool in increasing engagement. Employers make some valiant effort and spend some serious dough on improving the things they think are the issues.

Well, how about working on the known issues? They will only be identified through the solicitation of employee feedback on a regular basis. 33% of employees said that a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale.

Don’t get me wrong, competitive compensation coupled with effective and relevant benefits are vital to keeping great talent in-house, but there’s so much more to creating an engaged, committed workforce. Honestly, compensation is the easy part, and that’s why so many companies aren’t going beyond the paycheck to ensure that their workforce is satisfied and heard.

The idea of winning the lottery is a pretty cool barometer for workplace commitment. Would you stay in your current position if you won $10 million tomorrow? We want to know! Leave a comment –would you stay or would you go?

How I Got Schooled On Culture

I had the good fortune of having my interest in the power of culture sparked nearly 20 years ago when I was a VP with a major automotive supplier.  We wanted to foster a positive environment and build an “involvement culture.” I had great mentors and read everything I could find on leadership and culture.

I learned about “building culture muscle” through rigorous feedback and prioritization to foster ownership with groups, transparent and regular communication habits, proactive resolution of major employee frustrations, and consistent tracking of strategies, goals, and measures.

The Main Learning Years – Trial and Error

I moved through a series of roles with different regional and global groups over the next eight years, each with a different sub-culture and urgent performance priories.  One exciting principle was further building ownership with the goal of having every employee feel like they were part of team “running their own business.” We implemented extensive cross-functional team structures to support this goal.  The same fundamentals worked across the world but customization was needed for communication, and different aspects of the operating model were emphasized based on the local culture.

I learned about the importance of understanding the history of an organization, a documented vision and strategy, large group “involvement meetings” to keep a team on the same page, and innovative group reward and recognition. The learning continued through regular community service activities and employee wellness improvements to support a deeper purpose, leveraging technology to streamline work, and proactively using feedback to refine communications and drive clarity.  I also learned about the incredible power of strengths-based employee development.  

The Financial Crisis – Fear, Uncertainty & Failure

Next, the financial crisis hit, automotive volumes tanked, and my responsibilities changed to focus on managing an urgent restructuring plan in North America.  The same operating model was implemented as in prior roles but there was an incredible focus on performance.  We were bought by a private equity firm, managed a massive downsizing, restructured the global business, and I lost my job at the end of it all.

I learned about urgently driving improvement because peoples’ lives are at stake, relentlessly emphasizing performance metrics, and confronting reality in extremely difficult times.  I also learned about fear, self-doubt, sadness, and regret.

Moving to a New Organization

I was out of work for a year before landing a role as president of a great family-owned business.  It was a massive turnaround effort but most aspects of the same operating model worked in an organization where I had no history.

I learned about the importance of having only one “top” priority at a time, focusing on 1-2 key values or behaviors to improve (discipline, teamwork, etc.), and about how to hold off on sharing my ideas or proposed plans in favor of starting with a vested group and a clean sheet of paper.  I also learned about eliminating fear, growing pride, phasing improvements, hiring for cultural fit, and proactively communicating with a board / owners so they feel involved.

A World of Culture Education

I moved to consulting as president of a culture assessment and consulting firm, before a transition to independent consulting and business coaching.   It’s been an amazing experience to see cultures across a wide variety of organizations.

I learned extremely effective organizations, small or large, apply relatively similar habits to support their purpose, values, and performance priorities. The vast majority of those organizations did what I did – they pieced things together over a period of many years without following a clear framework, model, or guide to help them sequence or prioritize the work.  

The Problem

It doesn’t make sense to me that leaders should have to go through a long learning process to deal with the complex subject of culture with confidence.   Culture is a hot topic but we’re buried in the popular press of disconnected tips, keys, and levers that over-shadow fundamentals about culture and the direct impact it has on performance. Sustainable culture change takes time but the initial efforts to build clarity, alignment, and leverage your unique culture will often have a rapid impact on performance as momentum builds.

I learned the lack of understanding the subject of culture is dramatically impacting results in the vast majority of organizations. There is also a huge social impact (think about organizations in education, healthcare, government, non-profit, etc.) where meaningful change could be accelerated.

The Bottom Line and a Predication

Leaders need to:

1) See through the popular press and understand culture fundamentals

2) Focus on specific problems, challenges, or goals and identify very specific values or behaviors to evolve that have been holding back performance

3)   Apply culture fundamentals as part of clear plan to engage their workforce in solving problems, achieving goals, and improving performance with a sense of urgency

4)  Connect the right set of improvements to get over the “culture tipping point” where momentum, results, and buy-in grows.

Culture will be widely accepted as the ultimate differentiator in organizations within the next 20 years.  The focus will over-shadow strategy, talent, technology, and all other areas.

What have you learned about the subject of culture? Is it the ultimate differentiator in organizations?

Social Privacy: Workplace Myth Or Reality?

It’s no secret most of us either live on social media channels or have at least one profile available online.  It’s no surprise at all. So what is surprising about social media? Is it how we use it for entertainment? Building business leads? Or how recruiting has adopted talent acquisition through social networks like LinkedIn? It’s no longer a shocker that recruiters analyze our social media profiles and pass a quick assessment of whether or not we’re viable candidates. But the fun doesn’t stop there. The rabbit hole goes even deeper.

Organizations go as far as to monitor what your social activities online. It may never stop as the world becomes more socially invested. It’s eerie to think that your employer may be checking up on your “private life” on Facebook. There’s also the concern about what proprietary information is being freely clicked away or if any badmouthing of your company or employees is taking place.

Never the less, workplace privacy issues have to be dealt with. It’s a must these days.

Here are 5 suggestions:

1) Be careful before you check! There are multiple ways your employer can legally spy on you. Some organizations have tightened up their Internet usage polices. You need to read and understand what your organization’s rules are before you mistakenly violate any of them. It’s even gone as far as pressuring employees to sign strict policies that allow companies the legal right to access and monitor mobile devices.

2)   Have a firewall. You need to know where to draw the line. Employees need their privacy. It’s important and it matters to them. Nobody likes that big brother feeling. Drafting a lawful social media policy that maintains company goals and permit employee-protected activities.

3)  Be an example to all. Leaders need to set the tone. Engaging in social media means opening up, being transparent, and fostering communication to improve results. You don’t want to be an “oversharer” when conversing in social media, but you should show personality.

4)   Keep it cool. Social media and people are becoming one. Technology allows us to emerge ourselves into this giant digital world of social connectivity. It’s meant to be fun, engaging, and insightful. Don’t let company guidelines destroy the influential power it can have.

5)   The truth will set you free. Don’t let things go unsaid if you’ve done something that breaks company policy. This goes for employers and employees. It’s possible someone will make a mistake and break a social media rule. The best thing you can do is say what’s happened and move forward as quickly as possible.

Rules are changing. Privacy no longer has the same meaning as it once did. New boundaries have risen and it’s important to know where they lie.

 

Photo cred: BigStockPhoto

8 Leadership Lessons from Billionaires

Being rich doesn’t mean you’re wise, and it doesn’t mean you’re good. All it means for sure is that you’re rich.

With that caveat firmly in place, let me share some of my favorite leadership tidbits. I’ve gathered these nuggets of wisdom from some of our most famous business leaders with the notion that you can learn something from anyone. Often, all you need is one truly useful lesson, not the person’s entire worldview. Some people on this list fall into that category.

Titles don’t mean squat.

John Rockefeller never owned controlling interest in Standard Oil, and his official job title was vice president. Yet his partners deferred to him in all things. Why? Because they knew this Robber Baron’s business savvy was what was making them rich, and they were lucky to have him. I meet with leadership teams all the time, and I love to gauge the room for all the unspoken cues that tell me who the real leader is. It’s only occasionally the guy or gal with the title.

Promote talent to partner.

Think about your organization. Think about all the levels between the C-suite and the frontline workers. Now think about what life would be like if the CEO regularly elevated a particularly excellent worker-bee past all the managers, directors, vice presidents, and Chief-you-name-it-Officers to make them her peer. Sound unimaginable? Well, not to Andrew Carnegie, another Robber Baron who vied with Rockefeller for status as World’s Wealthiest Person. If you want a little success, don’t do this. If you want massive success, make this a regular part of how you do business. Elevate your talent before your competitor does.

Make decisions in 15 minutes or less. Then move on.

I’m not advising you to emulate Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, in most ways. But I really admire this one thing he is alleged to do. You may have noticed that Oracle buys a lot of companies – seems like ten a week, though that may be exaggeration. Story has it that Ellison will discuss a potential purchase with his staff for fifteen minutes, never more. They’ll either decide to buy or decide not to. Then, it’s on to the next topic. What could you accomplish if you took his cue and limited all your decisions to fifteen minutes?

Don’t gamble. Invest.

Warren Buffett is probably America’s most-beloved billionaire. Barring any skeletons in his closet I’m not aware of, this man is living proof that good karma is, indeed, very good business. And one of the many things he does that I admire is, he doesn’t buy stocks for a short-term gain and then sell them for a quick profit. Instead, this leader buys companies – to own. He isn’t a leech on the system, as so many speculators are. He’s a businessman. Full stop.

Work on your business, not in your business.

Richard Branson is my favorite example for what this saying means. Very early in his business career, Branson stopped going to the office and began holding meetings on his houseboat, away from headquarters. Often, he would just pick someone’s brain one-on-one for an hour or more, without interruption – and without interrupting his staff, either. This move doesn’t get the prominence it deserves in the Virgin story, but I’m absolutely convinced it’s how he built a teenager’s magazine experiment into an empire that today includes more than 400 distinct businesses. Owners, this is for you: let your staff do what you hired them to do, and get your hands off daily operations! It worked for Branson because he has attracted the right people, professionals he could trust to run his companies, and then he trusted them to run them!

Pay your fair share of taxes. It’s your duty as a citizen.

That’s Buffett again. See why I love the guy? How many business leaders do you know today who talk about duty and the moral imperative of good citizenship – or any moral imperative, for that matter?

Respect people. Love them, even!

That’s Oprah Winfrey. You can really tell she just plain likes people – all kinds of people. No one could fake a deep and abiding care for others that much for that long: signs would show if she were faking it. Oprah does not love people because that’s good for business. She’s good at business because she loves people. How do you feel about your fellow human?

Have fun.

In business as in life, if it isn’t fun you’re doing it wrong. I’ll defer to Branson again for this one. The man is pretty much always jolly, isn’t he? I can’t even say his name without smiling! Heck, he even named his business Virgin because, as he put it, “We were virgins at business.” How fun is that? People want to be around Richard Branson, to soak up some of his optimism, joy, and sense that life is one great adventure – this desire includes folks who buy from him, invest in him, and working for him!!

Do you have any lessons you’d like to share from the billionaires (or millionaires, or that guy in your neighborhood that has a Benz), something you’ve picked up that I missed? My favorite aspect of blogging is that it’s the best way I know to gather more stories – and leadership is nothing if not having the right story at the right time, and knowing how to use it. So I’m very eager to read what you’ve got to share in the comments below! Hit me: What is YOUR favorite leadership lesson?

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

(Editor’s Note: Want details from this week’s #TChat Events? See the Storify slideshow and resource links and more in the #TChat Recap: “Hiring: A Winner Every Time.”)

Think back for a moment.

What factors tend to drive your organization’s hiring decisions? Impressive candidate credentials? Hiring manager preference? Behavioral interviews? Gut instinct?

Now tell me — how successful has that method been?

Studies indicate that hiring by intuition fails as much as 75% of the time — so clearly there’s no easy answer. However, a more deliberate, structured approach can significantly improve the odds of finding a long-term fit.

What approach works best? That’s the focus of our conversation this week at #TChat Events. Leading the way are two HR professionals who understand the value of a solid hiring methodology: Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care.

Sneak Peek: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent

To frame this week’s discussion, I briefly spoke with Chris in a G+ hangout — where we talked about why it’s so tough for companies to find and keep the talent they need…

This topic touches all of us in the world of work, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat crowd this week and add your perspective to the conversation!

#TChat Events: Smart Ways to Hire Better Talent

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 19 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Chris Mursau and Jean Lynn about how companies can be more effective at hiring top performers. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 19 7pmET / 4pmPT 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 Dr. Nancy Rubin moderates a dynamic live chat focused on these related questions:

Q1:  How do we identify and attract high-performing employees?
Q2:  What processes and technologies impact quality of hire?
Q3:  Hiring via “gut” feel alone usually fails, so why do we keep doing it?
Q4:  Do reference checks really influence a candidate’s viability?
Q5:  How should employers communicate their culture to candidates?

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.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Leaders: Is Your "Work" Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Leaders: Is Your “Work” Self the Real Deal?

(Editor’s Note: This thought-provoking post was originally published by our valued content partners at SwitchandShift. We are republishing it for the TalentCulture community, with permission. Why? Not because we’re seeking more attention from Google — but because Ted’s message is important. It bears repeating.)

For years now, I have devoted my waking hours to interacting with leaders from all walks of life.

From bootstrapped young ventures to huge business conglomerates. Middle management newbies to C-suite veterans. Non-profits and for-profits, alike. You name it — if it’s about leadership, I’m there. Understanding what makes leaders tick is literally what I’ve been doing for a living for as long as I can remember.

A Troubling Trend

Along the way, I’ve seen a few patterns — and this is one issue that comes up again and again. Sooner or later, at some point in a conversation, a leader will say something like this to me: “I’m one person at home, but another at work.”

Sound familiar? Try this scenario on for size…

At home, I’m generous and giving.
At home, I trust the good intentions of those around me.
At home, with my friends, we let loose and simply enjoy one another’s company, typically with no agenda.
At home, when I volunteer, I get lost in my work. When I’m done, I feel good for hours afterward. It’s the highlight of my week!
At home, I’m joyful.
At home, I’m the real me.
I wish I could be the real me all the time. If only!

On the other hand…

At work, I’m analytical and objective. If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t count.
At work, if you can’t prove it with hard data, don’t bring it up!
At work, I’m guarded. You have to watch your back.
At work, I make the tough decisions. It’s simply part of being a leader.
At work, I only give to my peers in strategic ways, if it’ll benefit me, too. I don’t want to be taken advantage of!
At work, a lot of my time is spent on pointless tasks. That’s why they call it work, isn’t it?
At work, I work my tail off. It’s draining. That’s why they pay me, right?
At work, I’m a stripped down version of the real me.

Does any of this ring a bell? Maybe a little too close to home?

The fact is, we’ve all felt it. Actually, many of us have felt nothing but these feelings throughout our careers. Many of us (especially those who cut our business teeth in the 20th century) have internalized the Industrial Age management philosophy still prevalent today. Many of us who are in this boat don’t yet realize there’s a better way — and we don’t even recognize that some leaders are actually living this better way, right now.

Give Your “Work Self” Permission to Be Fully Human

It’s time to give yourself permission to be fully present at work. Why do I say “permission”? Because we need it. Many of us crave permission to be our whole selves, our real selves. We crave permission to be generous, trusting, giving, and joyful — at work, at home, wherever we are. Some people will always doubt and detract from your efforts, no matter what you say or do to show them that there’s a better way. Forget about them. It hurts me to say that, but it’s important to say. No one can help those who refuse to be helped — those who would rather be “right” than be happy.

Some people are already on board with this whole-self-all-the-time concept. They’re ahead of the curve. If you are, too, then there’s your chorus. Focus on them. It’s important to gain new insights from their experience and let them recharge your batteries.

Your Reality Is Your Story

The vast middle? Those are what I like to call the “willing skeptics.” They aren’t sold on your message, but they’re open to being convinced, if you can back your claims with examples. Gather those examples! Share them early and often! It’s what every compelling author and speaker and teacher and leader does. Be a storyteller. Statistics won’t get you where you need to go. Examples of thriving companies running on modern, human principles? That’s what the willing skeptics are looking for. Put your willing skeptics in the position to think, “If they can do it, and they’re like us, then I bet we can do it, too.” Then show them how, or find someone who can.

People are hungry for positive, uplifting change. The 70% of workers who are disengaged and disaffected? They know there must be a better way, and they’re on the lookout for companies that are living it. They’re polishing their resumes so they can make the leap. This is an existential crisis for the companies who refuse to modernize how they lead — the corporate equivalent of the dinosaur die-off 65 million years ago.

The thing that doesn’t show up in surveys (but should) is this: It isn’t just workers who are unhappy. Even leaders yearn for a better way. They yearn to bring their whole selves to work – to bring their souls with them when they walk through the company doors each morning.

Is that you? Would you like to be a complete you — the trusting, generous, moral, joyful you — all day, every day — and not just when you’re at home?

Here Is Your Permission

Bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness.

If you don’t want to take it from me, take it from the story of Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of the $500M+ clothing company, Patagonia. Chouinard is the author of Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It’s one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read hundreds). It’s a blueprint for how a company can grow to incredible success by embracing the “whole” of everyone in the organization — rather than just their backs, hands and left-brains.

Chouinard founded a company where bringing your soul to work is baked right in as an essential ingredient of the organization. It has served them well. Perhaps that is the permission you need.

And so I repeat — bring your soul to work. It’s essential to your happiness. It’s also essential to the success of your company, as we tread ever deeper into this more “human” century.

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Your Corporate Culture: What's Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Your Corporate Culture: What’s Inside?

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”-Jack Welch

Jack Welch isn’t alone in this opinion. Many of today’s most successful business leaders agree — culture is a powerful force that can make or break a business.

So, what is this elusive culture thing, anyway?

It is a topic the TalentCulture community obviously takes seriously. (After all, it’s at the core of our identity.) But even among culture specialists, the concept isn’t easy to define. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as an experience — created and shaped by the collective values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of your workforce.

You can’t necessarily “see” culture. But evidence of it is often easy to spot. Similarly, culture can’t be manufactured, manipulated or imposed upon employees. But without clarity, consistency and communication, it can rapidly erode.

Looking Closer Look at Corporate Culture

MIT Management Professor, Edgar Schein, presents culture as a series of assumptions people make about an organization. These assumptions occur at three levels — each is more difficult to articulate and change. Schein’s three-tier structure includes:

• Artifacts (Visible)
• Espoused Beliefs and Values (May appear through surveys or other narrative)
• Underlying Assumptions (Unconscious beliefs/values. Not visible; may be taken for granted)Culture 3 LevelsIllustration via Chad Renando

The Business Case for Culture: Zappos

In recent years, Zappos has become known for its deep commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, often speaks about the importance of workplace culture, and why it is his company’s chief priority. To understand Tony’s perspective, watch this brief video:

Below are Zappos’ “10 Commandments” — the core values that drive culture, brand and business strategies:

1) Deliver WOW through service
2) Embrace and drive change
3) Create fun and a little weirdness
4) Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
5) Pursue growth and learning
6) Build open and honest relationships with communication
7) Build a positive team and family spirit
8) Do more with less
9) Be passionate and determined
10) Be humble

What do you think of “commandments” like these? How does your organization articulate and reinforce cultural norms across your workforce? How effective are your efforts?

Beyond Zappos: 100 Great Company Cultures

Of course, Zappos is only one of many organizations that invest deeply in culture. Last week, Fortune Magazine offered 100 other examples in its 2014 “Best Companies to Work For” List, developed by Great Place to Work Institute.

Even before the list was revealed, Great Place to Work CEO, China Gorman, shared several key observations about the cultural characteristics that help great companies attract top talent.

And yesterday, China talked with us in greater detail about lessons learned — first in a #TChat Radio interview (hear the replay now), and then in a lively community-wide #TChat discussion on Twitter. (For a full recap of the week’s highlights and resource links, read: “Workplace Greatness: No Guarantees.”)

As the moderator of this week’s Twitter event, I’d like to thank the hundreds of professionals who literally contributed thousands of ideas about what makes organizations “tick.” Your input is always welcome — the more, the better. So let’s keep this conversation going…

Image Credit

Putting a Face on Remote Work #TChat Recap

Say, “Good Morning.”

Go ahead. Say it out loud. Oh, but say it to someone else. Preferably in the morning. In person. Or on the phone. Or even online.

If it’s later in the day, maybe you can say, “Good Afternoon.” Or “I’m going to grab a bite to eat” when you leave for lunch.

Or when you want feedback on an idea, simply ask, “Gotta minute?”

Face-to-face — keyboard-to-keyboard — whatever it takes. Human interactions are the glue that keeps us all grounded and helps us get work done. And these days more than ever, more of us are getting more work done remotely.

Collaboration platforms, video conferencing, social networks — even our phones — these are the tools that keep us connected and empowered, wherever we roam in today’s fluid world of work.

These technologies help us plan and problem solve more efficiently than ever. Of course, they can also help us interrupt and disrupt workflows. It may be harder to be a dreaded “gotta-minute” goblin when you work from home, but it still happens.

So seriously. Gotta minute? Because it’s those disruptive, frictionless human connections, those moments when we’re relating to one another personally and professionally – that’s what keep us moving forward, together. The connections may be virtual, but the results are real.

As we explored the virtual work frontier this week with #TChat guest Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo, two core themes emerged:

1) Be yourself: Whether you operate from home or a centralized office, it’s essential to “show up” and be authentic. Acknowledge me throughout the day. Keep me in the loop on the good, the bad and the ugly — and don’t be afraid to tell me why. That’s the stuff that binds us in a common mission, even through rough times. Paychecks are great, but there’s no substitute for genuine human connection and shared purpose.

2) See yourself: When you work virtually, don’t forget that, in the eyes of your colleagues and managers, you’re part of something larger than yourself. It’s smart to invest in that context. It may mean periodic in-person visits to the headquarters “mothership,” or catching up at conferences and training events, or even regular (perhaps awkward) team video conferences. It may not always be fun, but the effort can make a big difference in the quality of your performance and your team’s results.

So let’s learn from the wisdom of our talent-minded crowd, and let’s stay connected. OK?
“Good morning, #TChat. How are you doing today?”

#TChat Week-In-Review: Remote Work Continues to Rise

SAT 1/11:

Mike Hostetler

Watch the #TChat Preview hangout

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed the week’s topic in a post featuring a “sneak peek” hangout with guest, Mike Hostetler, Founder and CEO of appendTo. See the #TChat Preview now: “Virtual Workplace? For Real!

SUN 1/12:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro discussed what’s at stake for leaders as the future of work becomes increasingly virutal. Read “Telecommuting Is The Future Of Work.

RECENT RELATED POSTS:

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit” by Daniel Newman
Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?” by Dr. Nancy Rubin

WED 1/15:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen now to the #TChat Radio replay

#TChat Radio: Hosts Meghan M. Biro, and Kevin W. Grossman talked with entrepreneur Mike Hostetler about what it takes to create and sustain successful virtual teams. Listen to the #TChat Radio replay…

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Mike joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream for a dynamic open conversation, centered on 5 related questions. See highlights in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Virtual Workplace? For Real!

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/virtual-workplace-for-real.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Mike Hostetler for sharing your perspectives on creating and managing remote teams. We value your time, your thoughtful ideas and your expertise!

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

WHAT’S AHEAD: Our month of forward-thinking #TChat Events continues on Wednesday, January 22, when China Gorman, CEO at Great Place To Work, reveals emerging trends in employment practices, with illustrations from Fortune Magazine’s recently announced “2014 Best Companies To Work For” list. See the #TChat Radio preview now.

Meanwhile, the TalentCulture conversation continues daily on the #TChat Twitter stream, our LinkedIn discussion group. and elsewhere on social media. So join us anytime — don’t be shy.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

TalentCulture’s Greatest Hits: 2013 Edition

Lists! Lists! Lists! As we close the chapter on 2013, there’s no denying — the “best of” list season is in full swing.

And who can blame blogs for sharing top picks from the past year? After all, lists are incredibly easy to create, and there’s a certain seductive power in a headline that promises to deliver all the goods in just one single round-up post.

But for me, picking “best” blog posts is like picking “best” children — an impossible task. I’ve spent hours helping to envision, edit, implement and promote every one of the 200 posts we produced last year. And to me, each is uniquely relevant and valuable in its own right.

So please consider our showcase of 2013’s most popular content more than a “best of” list. It’s also our way of recognizing ALL of the many “world of work” experts who have contributed to our blog, our weekly radio shows, and our #TChat Twitter chats. For example:

Business leaders like Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse; Richie Etwaru, Group VP, Cegedim CRM; Todd Owens, President, TalentWise; Dr. Janice Presser, Founder, The Gabriel Institute, and Jason Averbook, Chief Innovation Officer, Appirio.

World of work observers and educators like Josh Bersin, Angela Maiers, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, and Dr. Nancy Rubin

Best-selling authors like Bob Burg, Stan Phelps, Marcia Conner, Jamie Notter and Ekaterina Walter.

To these contributors, and to the many others who participate in our community of purpose, thank you. We’re all better because you share professional insights that are relevant today, and will clearly stand the test of time. Need convincing? Check out the items below, and let us know what you think…

Top 10 TalentCulture Posts (Most Popular)

1) Employees Quit Leaders, Not Companies — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

2) Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

3) Are You a Good Fit? 3 Interview Questions — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

4) 5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

5) Considering a Career Change? Take a 360 Snapshot — by Dorie Clark, marketing strategy consultant, branding expert and author, Reinventing You

6) Brainstorming is Broken: Rethinking Group Dynamics — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

7) Gen Y at Work: Feedback Changes Everything — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

8) The Steep Cost of Poor Management — by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

9) Want To Be Your Own Boss? Try This First — by Hans Balmaekers, Founder and Director, sa.am

10) Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem — by David Smooke, Director of Social Media, SmartRecruiters

Top 3 #TChat Radio Shows  (Most Popular)

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to #TChat Radio replays

1) How Collaboration Unifies Polarization — featuring Jesse Lyn Stoner

2) The Big Deal With HR Data — featuring Andrew Courtois and Christene Pantalone

3) How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds — featuring Dan Pontefract

Top 3 #TChat Event Preview Posts (Most Popular)

Featuring G+ hangouts hosted by Tim McDonald, Community Manager, TalentCulture + Director of Community, Huffington Post.

1) Leadership + Influence, From The Inside Out — featuring Steve Gutzler

2) You 2.0: Reinventing a Personal Brand — featuring Dorie Clark

3) Should Work Be Fun? Really? — featuring Dan Benoni

Top 3 #TChat Recaps (Most Popular)

1) HR Data: What Really Counts? — by Kathleen Kruse

2) Mindfully Managing Your Personal Brand — by Kevin W. Grossman

3) Face-to-Face With Brand Humanization — by Megan Burkett

Of course, this is only a slice from the TalentCulture archives. There’s much more inside — over 500 posts with helpful ideas and guidance on workplace culture, innovation, leadership, learning, career strategy, HR and talent management. So feel free to stop by anytime.

And no matter what your professional interests may be, we hope you’ll continue to bring your ideas and opinions to the TalentCulture table throughout 2014. Because, no matter how “popular” our blog or events may be on any given day, it’s our community’s collective energy that will truly shape the future of work. So, together, let’s discover how we can be even better.

Your Turn

What topics were your favorites in 2013? And what issues would you like to explore in the year ahead? Share your ideas in the comments area — we’re listening!

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

TalentCulture’s Greatest Hits: 2013 Edition

Lists! Lists! Lists! As we close the chapter on 2013, there’s no denying — the “best of” list season is in full swing.

And who can blame blogs for sharing top picks from the past year? After all, lists are incredibly easy to create, and there’s a certain seductive power in a headline that promises to deliver all the goods in just one single round-up post.

But for me, picking “best” blog posts is like picking “best” children — an impossible task. I’ve spent hours helping to envision, edit, implement and promote every one of the 200 posts we produced last year. And to me, each is uniquely relevant and valuable in its own right.

So please consider our showcase of 2013’s most popular content more than a “best of” list. It’s also our way of recognizing ALL of the many “world of work” experts who have contributed to our blog, our weekly radio shows, and our #TChat Twitter chats. For example:

Business leaders like Chris Boyce, CEO, Virgin Pulse; Richie Etwaru, Group VP, Cegedim CRM; Todd Owens, President, TalentWise; Dr. Janice Presser, Founder, The Gabriel Institute, and Jason Averbook, Chief Innovation Officer, Appirio.

World of work observers and educators like Josh Bersin, Angela Maiers, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, and Dr. Nancy Rubin

Best-selling authors like Bob Burg, Stan Phelps, Marcia Conner, Jamie Notter and Ekaterina Walter.

To these contributors, and to the many others who participate in our community of purpose, thank you. We’re all better because you share professional insights that are relevant today, and will clearly stand the test of time. Need convincing? Check out the items below, and let us know what you think…

Top 10 TalentCulture Posts (Most Popular)

1) Employees Quit Leaders, Not Companies — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

2) Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

3) Are You a Good Fit? 3 Interview Questions — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

4) 5 Social Skills Business Leaders Must Master — by Meghan M. Biro, CEO, TalentCulture

5) Considering a Career Change? Take a 360 Snapshot — by Dorie Clark, marketing strategy consultant, branding expert and author, Reinventing You

6) Brainstorming is Broken: Rethinking Group Dynamics — by Razor Suleman, Founder + Chief Evangelist, Achievers

7) Gen Y at Work: Feedback Changes Everything — by David Hassell, CEO, 15Five

8) The Steep Cost of Poor Management — by Tatiana Beale, Achievers

9) Want To Be Your Own Boss? Try This First — by Hans Balmaekers, Founder and Director, sa.am

10) Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem — by David Smooke, Director of Social Media, SmartRecruiters

Top 3 #TChat Radio Shows  (Most Popular)

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to #TChat Radio replays

1) How Collaboration Unifies Polarization — featuring Jesse Lyn Stoner

2) The Big Deal With HR Data — featuring Andrew Courtois and Christene Pantalone

3) How Open Leaders Win Employee Hearts and Minds — featuring Dan Pontefract

Top 3 #TChat Event Preview Posts (Most Popular)

Featuring G+ hangouts hosted by Tim McDonald, Community Manager, TalentCulture + Director of Community, Huffington Post.

1) Leadership + Influence, From The Inside Out — featuring Steve Gutzler

2) You 2.0: Reinventing a Personal Brand — featuring Dorie Clark

3) Should Work Be Fun? Really? — featuring Dan Benoni

Top 3 #TChat Recaps (Most Popular)

1) HR Data: What Really Counts? — by Kathleen Kruse

2) Mindfully Managing Your Personal Brand — by Kevin W. Grossman

3) Face-to-Face With Brand Humanization — by Megan Burkett

Of course, this is only a slice from the TalentCulture archives. There’s much more inside — over 500 posts with helpful ideas and guidance on workplace culture, innovation, leadership, learning, career strategy, HR and talent management. So feel free to stop by anytime.

And no matter what your professional interests may be, we hope you’ll continue to bring your ideas and opinions to the TalentCulture table throughout 2014. Because, no matter how “popular” our blog or events may be on any given day, it’s our community’s collective energy that will truly shape the future of work. So, together, let’s discover how we can be even better.

Your Turn

What topics were your favorites in 2013? And what issues would you like to explore in the year ahead? Share your ideas in the comments area — we’re listening!

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

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

#TChatHoliday: Sharing Warm Wishes, Community-Style!

The holidays are a perfect time to reflect upon the past year’s experiences, and look ahead to new opportunities — something the TalentCulture community does continuously.

But earlier this week, Kevin W. Grossman joined me for a brief hangout to compare notes about what it has meant to connect with all of you this year, what our holiday plans are, and best of all, why we’re so excited for 2014!

Of course, we’re not the only ones with ideas, plans and goodwill to share with the community. We’d love to hear from you, too!

Just leave a comment below — or post a tweet, photo or video from Vine or Instagram, and include the hashtag #TChatHoliday. As we roll into the New Year, we’ll curate and share your greetings, memories and aspirations for all to see.

THANK YOU for being part of our growing, thriving, continuous world of work conversation! We appreciate everyone who is helping us explore this new form of community building.

We hope that you enjoyed Hanukkah and Thanksgiving holidays. And we wish you a Merry Christmas, Heri za Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

Looking forward to our next #TChat on January 8 — but until then, make the most of this time to catch-up with those who matter most to you. Stay safe, and be merry!

Image credit: Kirkland’s

Going Social: Learning In Action #TChat Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social Workplace: Learning Everywhere

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

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

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

#TChat: Social Learning Slice Of Life

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

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

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

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

Kevin Grossman Tim McDonald TChat (2)

Watch the #TChat hangout now

SAT 11/16:

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

SUN 11/17:

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

MON 11/18 — THU 11/21

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

WED 11/20:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

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

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

#TChat Insights: The Growth of Online Learning

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/from-the-virtual-wilds-the-growth-of-online-learni.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

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

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

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

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

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Community Heart + Soul: #TChat Favorites

When loss blots out all other light, that’s when the stars around you shine the brightest.

It’s counterintuitive, I know. The times when life is bleakest, what you’ve sown is reaped in the form of torches guiding you through the blackest labyrinth.

This time last year was tough for me, having lost my father in July and then my mother in December. Both were very ill, and it took quite a toll on me, my family, and my world of work. This included my usually dedicated participation in the TalentCulture community and #TChat Events.

There’s a kindhearted warming that can occur in times of desperation and need — like coming in from a freezing rain to thaw in front of a fire, surrounded by supportive family and friends. This reciprocal positive power moves us into lighted places, into rebirth, into healing, into growth, into bettering ourselves so we can better others, in turn. The economics are simple and powerful. Yet, they require transparency, authenticity, trust and love — essential elements that cynics squash like bugs underfoot.

Healing Power: Community To The Rescue

Thank goodness for the light (as we watch the bugs scurry into hiding – or their metamorphosis into believers). This uplifting energy is the heart of community — and the heart of community is you.

We see community spirit at work time and again, when help mobilizes after global disasters, disease, war, and injustice — or simply when we grant a child one magical wish. (Here’s to all Batkids in the world!) It’s okay to get good news once and a while, you know?

TChat_logo_colorAfter this rally from my greater Northern California community last weekend, I was uplifted. And coming on the eve of #TChat’s 3rd anniversary, it reminded me of the mutual support that comes from within our TalentCulture community — through bad times and good.

That’s one of the most powerful aspects of online communities like ours. They spring from the wild, virtual earth, in many different forms. They’re often vibrant and complex, even in their simplicity. Their roots are nurtured by the diverse individuals who come to learn, network, share and support one another around relevant topics, both personal and professional.

That’s what #TChat has become since its founding. The proof is evident after 150 Twitter chats, and 50 radio shows in the past year alone.

The first #TChat occurred on November 16, 2010, and the topic was emotional intelligence, which seems appropriate, since most of the time we try to be self-aware and manage our emotions — whether we agree with one another or not. Trust and mutual positive regard are just as important in our community interactions as they are in the larger world of work.

Best of #TChat

Since then, my favorite #TChat events include all of them. Although it’s tough to choose, I’ll list just 15 here that stand out:

  1. Moving, Schooling, and Finding Your Voice
  2. Community Beginning the Social Revolution
  3. Performance Reviews: Like Bad High School Movies
  4. IRL Networking Is Face-to-Face, not F2F
  5. Freelancers Make Better Business Biscuits
  6. Hobbits, Jedis, Fealty and the World of Work
  7. Getting Workplace Recognition Right
  8. Real Brands Humanize
  9. The Business of Talent: Magic?
  10. Office Space: Work in Progress
  11. Open Leadership: Going Deep
  12. HR Data: What Really Counts?
  13. 101 Ways To Save The Day With A Paperclip
  14. Engagement As Energy: #TChat Lessons From #HRTechConf
  15. Mobile Hiring Hits The Fast Lane

I’m so excited that #TChat continues to break new ground as one of the largest and longest-running online learning and networking communities in the “world of work.” A very special thanks to the thousands of loyal participants who have participated during the past three years.

And a very special thank you to those who keep the weekly wheels of #TChat turning each week:

New To #TChat? We’re Just Getting Started

If you’ve only just discovered #TChat, welcome!

The TalentCulture (#TChat) Community is an open online network of business leaders and innovators, human resource and recruiting executives, organizational development and learning professionals, HR technology vendors, industry consultants, job seekers and more who collectively create, curate, crowd source and share timely “world of work” news and information critical for all professionals to grow and succeed in business today.

And that means you and you and you and you…

What’s your role in the TalentCulture Community? Just as it’s always been since the beginning:

Sharing your real world expertise and candid perspectives.
Actively participating with others in expanding the depth and breadth of your reach.
Contributing as much as you benefit.

The conversation starts…wait for it…here!

This is an exciting milestone for #TChat — and we have all of YOU across our wonderful community to thank. So thank you again. We look forward to moving forward with you all!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Workplace Technology and Innovation: BFFs?

Technology and innovation. How do these terms fit together in your mind?

If you’re like me, you tend to lump them into a fuzzy “whole.” Yet in today’s fluid world of work, each plays a distinctive role.

How do they differ? Why does it matter? And how can they co-exist in ways that add value in modern organizations?

Technology vs. Innovation — Revolution or Evolution?

Some people define technology by focusing on tools and machines. But there’s a deeper view. Technology is based on processes and skills that we mobilize to control and transform our lives. Our goal is to create and manipulate physical objects, symbols and norms. It starts with cultures that are seeking pathways to progress, but ends with solutions that are, in a sense, forced. In this regard, technology seems “revolutionary.”

Innovation, on the other hand, has been described as a better solution that is readily available to society. On the surface, innovation may seem revolutionary. But the process of innovation is more natural than contrived. So perhaps it’s more “evolutionary.”

Regardless, there clearly is an intersection between these two concepts — a symbiotic sweet spot. Therefore, it makes sense to look at them in tandem, respecting the fact that neither can exist without benefit of the other.

Do We “Like” Innovation More Than Technology?

I find it curious that people from all walks of life tend to embrace and support the concept of innovation as a beneficial part of what keeps our world turning. Yet technology often is not as well received. In fact, in some circles, technology is feared and loathed so much, it’s considered a demonic presence that requires experts to eliminate it from existence!

While technology is often equated with concrete mechanisms, innovation is more abstract — and therefore perhaps more approachable. Innovation doesn’t require advanced design, engineering or scientific proof, but can simply be a clever idea that makes life easier or more satisfying. For example, this video demonstrates how innovative ideas can add value without necessarily requiring sophisticated technology:

Change Is Good. Maybe. Sometimes. Sort of.

For some people, technology may symbolize fear of the future. The element of uncertainty can be deeply disturbing to the human psyche. Perhaps reinforced by exaggerated imagery from powerful Hollywood icons, fear surrounding the “dark side” of technology seems to persist. Of course, pop culture isn’t the only reason why our society tends to be apprehensive about accepting technology.

Why do many of us struggle with actually translating an idea from concept to application? And what keeps us from seeing the direct connection between innovation and technology? Some people claim that innovation and its outcomes are driven by a basic human urge to continue learning and expanding our understanding of ourselves and our surroundings. And yet, we all know people who defy that rule — people who never seem interested in learning anything new.

So, why do people perceive innovation and technology so differently? They could be considered two “stops” along the same path — innovation is thinking “outside the box,” while technology is the result of putting those thoughts into action. Technology is what we “make” from our ideas. And sometimes in the space between thought and result, we find resistance that can derail our progress. But the process isn’t necessarily sequential. It’s the result of continuous and sometimes nonlinear inspiration and feedback loops. We can’t dismiss how previous and existing technology and innovation lead to advanced thinking, learning and ideation.

Innovation and Technology at Work

Despite natural human resistance to change, technology solutions increasingly define the world of work. Sparked by innovative ideas, we discover and develop new ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, speed communications, and stretch the physical and cultural boundaries that previously limited organizational performance. Since Americans work such long hours each week, don’t we owe it to ourselves to create a work culture that is not only more productive, but also connects us in ways we previously never imagined, and encourages us to dream of how we might improve tomorrow’s workplace?

If we don’t dream it, we can’t do it. Without innovation to ignite the imagination, and without technology to power these thoughts, silos can isolate and stifle us from advancing our quality of life, and our pursuit of happiness. So let’s honor both as we look to the future of work.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Another Kind Of Revolution: Social, Mobile, Cloud

“You say you want a revolution? Well you know, we all want to change the world.” –John Lennon

It’s deja vu on a grand scale — like the Beatles are arriving in America all over again. A huge culture shift is upon us, and the winds of change are blowing in ways that are simultaneously unsettling and exhilarating.

“Boomers” are transitioning out of their careers, and the leadership reigns are slowly-but-surely being handed to Millennials at start-ups, small businesses and enterprises everywhere. Much like when John, Paul, George and Ringo touched down in New York in 1964, at first there was some resistance, but eventually the new guard convinced skeptics and changed minds. In the 60’s, revolution was expressed through music and social change — while today, next-generation leaders are driving disruptive change in technology and business.

New Agents of Change

Cloud computing, mobile devices, “big data” and social media are now prominent fixtures across the business landscape. From solopreneurs to the global enterprise, companies are more connected than ever with their customers, employees, shareholders and stakeholders.

Enabled by connectivity and powered by the cloud, this is more than just “Marketecture,” this is the engine of our business future. Millennial leaders are strongly committed to embracing these technologies and putting them to use in a way that drives their organizations forward, leaning on cloud applications to keep employees connected with anyone, anywhere, anytime. This allows business to continue 24×7×365 if needed, yet provides employees ultimate flexibility to untether from their desks and remain productive.

I don’t see anything wrong with that, do you?

And then there is social media. This phenomenon isn’t just about tweeting #hashtags on Twitter and posting  “likes” on Facebook. Social media offers a whole new way for humans to engage and extend our communities through the most powerful business-building infrastructure in the world — the Internet.

Thanks to social powers, the timeline for building a global business has compressed from decades to days, because word can spread and new markets can be created at a such a dramatically accelerated pace. New ventures everywhere can instantly reach out to potential partners and target markets to ask questions and find solutions for the most simple and complex business problems.

Building the Future, Differently

When the Beatles came to America, they permanently redefined rock and roll. Adding their collective influence to the voices of their time, they made music better for all of us who followed. And today, through social synergy, Millennial leaders seek to do the same for business.

Leaning on the best ideas and innovations that have previously defined success across industries, the CEOs of the future are not content to settle for the status quo. The goals of next-generation leaders may be similar to those before us in some ways, but they are different enough, so our mark will be felt.

We will leverage breakthrough cloud and big data resources to develop businesses that are inherently social, and we’ll create cultures that thrive on collaboration. Like leaders throughout history, our goal is to solve business problems effectively, but we’ll approach those problems very differently. Building a smarter planet through technology is exactly what the Millennial CEO of the future is destined to do.

What role do you think technology plays in next-generation business success? What must Millennial leaders do to succeed in a hyper-connected marketplace? Share your ideas in the comments area.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from the Building a Smarter Planet Blog, with permission.)

Image Credit: Wikimedia Public Domain image archives

Fun Times! Work, Games and Culture #TChat Recap

“When a player feels ownership, she innately wants to make what she owns better and own even more. If you feel ownership over your job, you will work harder.”
Gamification Pioneer, Yu-Kai Chou

There’s no denying that work is serious business. When companies fail, everyone loses.

However, that doesn’t mean work can’t be enjoyable. And with employee engagement at an all-time low, adding game dynamics to an organizational culture could be a winning move.

That was the premise for this week’s #TChat Events, featuring two innovators in workplace engagement:

•  Dan Benoni, Co-Founder & Product Director at Officevibe, a social employee engagement platform
•  Mario Coculuzzi, Eastern Canada Regional Director at Microsoft.

(Editor’s Note: See the #TChat Twitter highlights slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

How Does Gamification Make A Difference?

When determining how to improve employee engagement, one solution obviously doesn’t fit all environments. Each organization has distinctive cultural attributes that should be a natural basis for change. The challenge starts with understanding the particular motivators that are meaningful and appropriate for your employees. The smartest approaches apply three simple strategies, as one of our community members noted:

Choose Wisely

Once you’re confident about relevant drivers, consider the type of gaming techniques that can shape those dynamics. There are multiple options — but all are designed to enhance human factors, so work “flows” more naturally. At its best, gamification makes work feel more comfortable, enjoyable, fun. It helps individuals and teams attain business goals faster and more effectively — while helping everyone feel more challenged and rewarded as they contribute to overall organizational success. According to another participant:

Games Don’t Cure-All

#TChat-ters agreed that, if the fundamentals are missing, no amount of gamification or other “engagement” devices can compensate. For example, employees deserve the same level of respect, regardless of their title or position. They also need clear, consistent communication — not only about what they’re expected do (objectives), but also about why their work matters to the organization (purpose). These basics can have a powerful impact:

https://twitter.com/ReCenterMoment/status/393161476007276544

Continuous Commitment Counts

Another important point: Engagement doesn’t stop when a hiring contract is signed. Instead, employees should feel like they’re being recruited on an ongoing basis. How?

“Engaging” organizations encourage employees to develop and challenge themselves and others. Mistakes are leveraged as learning opportunities. And gaming dynamics are woven into the workplace fabric as a way to support and reinforce these cultural strengths.

Leaders can help gamification efforts succeed, by treating employees as a team and yet knowing what makes each individual tick. Moreover, leaders must embrace game concepts, themselves. The more vulnerable and open leaders are willing to be — the more they share stories about their own failures and learning experiences — the more likely employees will engage.

Engagement is the fruit of ongoing relationships and healthy workplace cultures. Gamification merely turns up the volume — but can do so in a big way.

#TChat Week-In-Review: Should Work Be Fun? Really?

DanBenoni

Watch the Hangout now

SAT 10/19:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald framed this week’s topic in a post that featured a brief G+ Hangout video with one of our guests, Dan Benoni. Read the Preview: “Should Work Be Fun? Really?”

SUN 10/20:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro suggested how leaders can overcome generational differences. Read: “5 Fresh Trends to Fuse Fun and Work.”

MON 10/21:

Related Post: Industrial Psychologist and LinkedIn Influencer, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, explored the role of Positive Psychology in driving workforce performance. Read: “Where’s Your Inner HERO? Positivity at Work…”

TUE 10/22:

Related Webinar Announcement: We invited the entire world of work community to join Meghan M. Biro and Virgin Pulse President David Coppins at a very special webinar on November 7. Join us at “Empowering Employees in 3D.”

WED 10/23:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show now

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi about how gamification can help transform today’s world of work. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and guests joined the entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream as moderator Cyndy Trivella led us through a fun, freewheeling conversation about 5 related questions. For highlights, check the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: Fun In The Workplace

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-to-fun-or-not-to-fun-that-is-the-w.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Dan Benoni and Mario Coculuzzi for helping us explore the role of game dynamics in cultivating workplace culture. Your insights and enthusiasm captured our community’s attention and imagination!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about fun at work? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we dive into another emerging trend — how mobile tools are transforming the recruiting process — with guests Jessica Miller-Merrell and Rayanne Thorn. So save the date (October 30) for a double #TChat treat!

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your thoughts are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

(Image Credit: Stock.xchng)