With the qualified talent pool shrinking across the globe, the pressure on businesses to retain talent grows. In hopes of retention, companies across most industries are accommodating for generation X and Y’s desires by building a flexible, fun, informal environment that includes summer Fridays, remote work days, casual attire, and more. Start-ups are going to great lengths to mimic the Google and Facebook environments that attract and retain talent across the globe. I benefit from, and am a proponent of these environments. Some companies, however, particularly start-ups, must be mindful of, and guard against allowing informality to result in a lack of accountability, misalignment, and ambiguity. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep talent aligned with a clear company mission and hold them accountable. The flexible, fun, informal environment can only keep talent interested for so long. There must be something deeper for talent to identify with.
Talent must first identify with a company’s mission and core values. It is critical that veterans of the organization all understand, communicate, and embody the same message. Remember, Millennials look for guidance from those above them and as we know, businesses are constantly evolving to remain competitive. It is imperative that managers and executives keep these messages consistent. We cannot expect talent to feel secure and have the desire to commit to an environment that has a mission that continually changes, or a list of core values that is adhered to only when convenient.
Secondly, there must be a “fit to role.” When talking about a fit to role, most people will identify with qualified talent fitting the role; however, the fit to role actually starts with the role being appropriate for the department, division and company. Does the role benefit the company, and can it be successful within the current confines of the environment? With the ever-changing business environment, talent acquisition should ensure that an assessment of true business needs occurs or has occurred with each and every job requisition. It would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for someone to remain engaged in a role that doesn’t make sense for the organization and is not aligned with its mission.
After identifying the appropriate role for the company, the appropriate candidate should be determined for the role. Many companies focus on the technical skills of the candidate and hope for a plug and play that will ensure the business doesn’t miss a beat. However, hiring managers cannot omit the importance of assuring alignment and engagement with the role by determining what the potential hire enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and what drives her to achieve. This can be accomplished through conducting a personal assessment (such as the Harrison Assessment), as well as through technical assessments that assess her technical skill sets for the role.
Hiring the candidate is just the beginning of ensuring engagement and alignment exists throughout the talent’s tenure. There must be a clear relationship among the talent’s job description, career path and development. As soon as talent does not have clarity and understanding around their job descriptions and career paths, one can expect highly desired talent will begin their search for the next step in their career elsewhere. Generation X and Y have had information at their fingertips that allows them to learn; however, simply learning is not enough. It must have a purpose. Aligning short-term, tangible goals to reach the mission at hand will help ensure long-term engagement. Managers should anticipate the need for feedback and the desire to know how this newly acquired knowledge helps talent get from here to there in a career path.
In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to keep your talent aligned with your business and working for a greater purpose. Increased retention rates will be accomplished by creating an aligned environment that is buttressed by accountability across the organization. In addition to the fun, flexible environment that is permeating business places across the globe, leadership must establish and maintain a clear path and hold the talent accountable for accomplishing the plan. After all, how can they be recognized for their accomplishments if their objectives aren’t being established and tracked?
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About the author: Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.
With social media, what you don’t know can seriously hurt your organization. One 2010 survey found that employees estimate spending roughly four hours every day checking multiple email accounts, with up to two hours spent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. A 2012 Salary.com survey found that 64 percent of employees visit non-work related websites daily. And don’t think blocking employee access to social media on company networks is the answer; personal smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, and easily fill the gap.
The rub for today’s organizations is that while social media use at work has definite risks, it also is one of the best ways to empower and engage employees. Increasingly, in our connected 24/7 businesses, the line between work and personal time is blurring. This is especially true for Generation Y employees; as long as they meet deadlines and deliver, these employees don’t feel that it’s particularly useful to distinguish between time spent updating Twitter or engaged in team meetings. Organizations may beg to differ, especially when an offensive or inappropriate blog post or tweet can damage their brand, lower employee morale, and even lead to workplace lawsuits.
Yet, most organizations don’t really know how their employees are using social media, either personally or professionally, let alone what impact it’s having on employees’ overall levels of productivity.
That’s why it’s so important, before you set policy, to know how your managers currently handle social media use at work, as well as how its use by employees is effecting their management. Get at these fundamental issues by asking managers five key questions:
- Have your employees’ use of social media ever triggered a workplace lawsuit or regulatory investigation?
- What impact have your employees’ personal use of social media during work hours had, if any, on their productivity?
- How do you use social media, if at all, to help manage your projects and employees?
- Have you reviewed all applicable federal and state laws governing electronic data content, usage, monitoring, privacy, e-discovery, data encryption, business records and other legal issues in all jurisdictions in which you operate, have employees or serve customers?
- Could you comply with a court-ordered “social media audit”, by producing legally compliant business blog posts, email messages, text messages and other electronically stored information (ESI) within 990 days?
Social media can speed innovation and collaboration, but ONLY if your employees know how to both use it as well as steer clear of its many pitfalls. Start by asking managers these simple questions; they often surface extremely important information that, especially in larger organizations, you may not have been aware of. Finally, remember that for reasons of both confidentiality and fear, getting access to this sort of information is not always easy. It’s therefore important that organizations create mechanisms by which examples of social media use (and abuse!) can be regularly shared with the broader employee base.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Steve Miranda is Managing Director of Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS), a leading partnership between industry and academia devoted to the field of global human resource management. He is also a faculty author of the new eCornell certificate program,Social Media in HR: From Policy to Practice. Prior to CAHRS, Miranda was Chief Human Resource and Strategic Planning Officer for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest professional HR association, serving over 260,000 members in over 100 countries.
It happens to all of us in HR at some point in our lives. We find ourselves caught in an awkward position at work and we ask ourselves, “What is the best response here?”
I am talking about situations where compassion is needed, but with extenuating circumstances. You’ve encountered the scenario before. An employee confides something deeply personal:
- A health issue
- A break-up
- An unexpected pregnancy
She is coming to you not really as a friend, but as someone who she thinks can help her. She wants:
- A break
She doesn’t know or understand the awkward position this possibly puts you in. The information she provides may or may not be true. You know that:
- Her supervisor is at his wits end because her performance is so poor
- She was late again three times this week
- The organization doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy culture with flexibility
- There are impending layoffs and her employment is at risk
What are your responsibilities in this situation? How involved should you be? How do you protect company interests while being a human being?
Human resources practitioners are not registered psychologists or social workers. We are not “Mother Theresa”. For most of us, our employers do not want or expect us to be advocates for the downtrodden, but we are expected to be kind, helpful and looking for the win-win. We do not have a magic wand. Therefore suffice to say that there are no clear cut answers about the level of compassion we need to provide in these tough situations, only possible approaches.
Here are some things you can do:
- To the extent possible, help her find professional help. Does your benefit plan offer an EAP? Are there help lines or government services available? Is counseling a covered benefit? Keep abreast of the resources available to a person in need and share them freely. Short lists are better than single resources. Encourage her to make the call. That way, you don’t have to give advice or get overly involved.
- Are there small things you can do? Can she borrow your office for 20 minutes to get her composure or to make a private call? Is there some small token you have that you can give to her to show her that you and the Company care?
- Be clear about what you can and can’t keep confidential and your channel of communication within the organization. For most employees, the role of HR is unclear, which in many cases leads to the risk that an employee won’t come and see us out of fear or mistrust, even when it is prudent that they do so.
- Encourage her to be discrete about whom she confides in about the circumstances. The workplace is full of people who are your frenemies. Your Company has policies regarding fair treatment but you can’t control everything. While it has become commonplace for stars to rise out of their personal meltdowns, it is more difficult for the rest of us to do so. Also a privately-managed issue will likely result in less workplace disruption.
- Be clear about the conundrum created when personal information like this is shared with someone in HR. Ask for clarity on the reasons she came to you and what she expects your involvement to be. Be clear about what you can and can’t do for her.
- With regards to how the personal situation impacts her job, encourage her to speak with her Supervisor and to be open to possible solutions. Offer to open the discussion with the Supervisor if you feel there may be a risk that the Supervisor may not handle the situation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances. If it is possible, try to create clarity about the continuing performance expectations and work through strategies to address them. Try to keep to as much of a third-party approach as possible.
- Get legal advice as needed. There are a myriad of potential challenges that could present themselves if down the line she is terminated. It could be construed that you used the knowledge gained in the circumstances inappropriately with undesirable consequences.
Above all, be genuine. The success of the outcome is in direct relation to your ability to:
- Be compassionate
- Think on your feet
- Keep your head
- See it through
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Over the years I’ve had a handful of people reach out to me to find out what my thoughts are on workplace flexibility–namely, for men. Many people still seem to be stuck in the thought process that women need flexibility for work and family time, but men don’t.
And that sucks.
I have a wonderful wife and twin girls running around at home. My wife works full time as a teacher, and if she ever has to be off work it takes several hours of advance planning and preparation for a substitute. Guess who has the “easy” job when it comes to flexibility? Yeah, I drew that straw.
The great part is that I work for a wonderful company. The not-so-great part is that as the resident HR pro, I have to be vigilant about fighting off the insidious mediocrity that lurks around the corner. A manager starts talking about “core work hours?” I coach them in the other direction. Another leader starts talking about eliminating the ability to work from home? I discuss the retention of key people due to our flexibility in the past.
99% of the time these discussions aren’t difficult or malicious, and in every instance thus far I’ve been able to guide the manager back to the reason we offer these accommodations to our staff in the first place. We want to be different. We want to focus on our people. We want our people to trust us so that we, in turn, can trust them with our customers.
Whenever my focus starts to slip, I think back to the day when the girls were born. We had been expecting it for a few months, obviously, and I went in to tell my manager that I needed a week off to help with the girls. The look of disgust on her face has never left my mind even after several years.
That’s why I fight for our people.
That’s why I fight for flexibility.
That’s my battle cry. What’s yours?
About the Author: Ben Eubanks is an HR professional, author, and speaker from Huntsville, AL. During the day he works as an HR Manager for Pinnacle Solutions, an award-winning defense contractor. After work hours, he writes at upstartHR, an HR blog focusing on leadership, passion, and culture.
Businesspeople and leaders from all walks of life face a steep climb to the top, but for women the road is often filled with obstacles (both real and imagined) that simply do not exist for men.
The media narrative continues to spout that true equality has already been realised in our workplaces, yet the facts don’t quite align with their spiel. American women for example still only make seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man earns in the same job, and the statistic is even worse for women of colour. Hispanic women for example earn just 56 cents for every dollar a white male makes. Women make up a disproportionately small amount of our political and business leaders, and while the numbers show growth the underlying differences remain.
This has led many women who seek leadership roles to wonder what they can do differently to make room for themselves at the top when the odds seem stacked against them. Here is some practical advice about how to deal with some of the issues women face in leadership, and how you can help turn the statistics around.
Recognise your abilities
Women do not struggle in leadership roles because they lack the necessary skills, but because society has inculcated into us a sense of unease at exercising our abilities. Don’t buy into the system. Recognise your own abilities as a leader and don’t be afraid to direct.
Engage with the male environment
Many women (especially in business) work in male-dominated environments that perpetuate an office culture that sometimes feels alienating. Even if it might not be your scene, don’t ignore group social and work events just because you may be one of the few women attending. Even if your presence is awkward at first, demonstrating to the men of your office that you are part of the team just like everyone else helps intra-office relations and helps breakdown some of the initial hesitations in male-female office dynamics.
Break your own glass ceiling
Women business leaders are actually more likely than men to be the head of their own business, as opposed to working their way up an employment chain. Women entrep
reneurs who run their own businesses do not face the same challenges as women in other business sectors because they are already at the top: instead, their problem is breaking the glass ceiling they set for themselves.
One example is women leaders’ attitudes to expansion. Women business leaders are statistically less likely to expand their businesses and hire staff even if they are well placed to do so. Although the reasons behind this are unknown, examine your own choices and see if there are any reasons why you might not be expanding when you could.
Use your authority
It is a recognised double standard that a strong-willed man is a leader but a strong-willed woman is at best a ‘ball-buster’ and at worse … well, something way worse. The negative connotations (or sometimes downright profanities) used in association with women in authority often leads women to hesitate for fear of being labelled. However one must rise against the stereotype and simply do what needs to be done – whether you’ll be called names or not. If an employee needs disciplining, don’t hold back just because you fear for your reputation. When leading a project, take charge firmly but in a way that doesn’t alienate others. If you don’t have a problem with your leadership skills, usually others won’t either. Expect the respect you deserve.
Above all, do your best. It is such a simple maxim, but nobody can criticise your work if you constantly work hard and to the best of your ability. Show yourself to be a great worker and leader not ‘just for a woman’ but as a person. Rising to the top may have certain inbuilt difficulties as a woman, but as long as you work hard and refuse to let the system play you, then there is no reason why leadership roles should be out of your reach.
About the author: Kate Simmons is a freelance journalist and full-time consultant currently working for a company offering leadership development courses. She is mainly interested in topics related to education and business.
Photo credit: Unknown
I have been reading a lot over the last few years about communication and have been fascinated by what the books share as differences between men and women in this area. I have begun to make adjustments and pay closer attention to my habits, like not raising my hand to speak, watching my posture and what I am doing with my hands and my stance.
Yesterday, I slammed the table and stunned the room. Today, I am trying to figure out whether that is me and whether it matters or not. It was a safe place and I was fascinated by the result.
The setting was a non- profit board meeting for which, as a member, I was asked to facilitate. We are an all volunteer team and working on this board has provided a safe place for me to hone my leadership skills. The board is diverse. Of the 4 men and 3 women, 3 were born outside the US. I was facilitating a topic and the conversations were intense and veering off track. This particular conversation needed to move forward. After allowing everyone in the room to have their say, people again started talking over each other and getting off track. I slammed the table with both hands and said, “Hey, we need to move on.” The room got silent and we were able to mov
e forward with the meeting.
I never did that before and was fascinated with the result and the feedback.
At the next break, the feedback was very positive from Western (US and UK) colleagues. They said it was effective, it brought everyone back and they thanked me. A Far East colleague had the polar opposite reaction and advised I don't do that outside of a safe environment and went on to tell me to “be myself.” A colleague from the Middle East chimed right in and said, I think it's cultural” and we went on to talk about how America is viewed outside the US. I wondered if it were a man hitting the table whether the feedback would have been the same.
It was so interesting.
What tweaks are you making in your communications at the table these days?
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About the author: Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.
This month I attended a presentation conducted by Bill Joiner, co-author of Leadership Agility. Joiner conducted a five-year research project in which he interviewed over 500 leaders about leadership.
According to Joiner, leaders define agile leadership as “flexibility with purpose” and report what agile leaders do differently when confronted with a challenge – they focus, step back, gain a deeper, broader view, reengage and take action.
Using data from his study, Joiner broke leadership agility into several categories including;
- Expert – at which 45% of leaders operate
- Achiever - at which 35% of leaders operate
- Catalyst – at which just 5 –10% of leaders operate
Experts are respected because of their authority, take a tactical focus, micro manage and have a low tolerance for conflict. Achievers motivate others by making work challenging and satisfying, have an outcome-based focus, seek stakeholder buy-in, and have a moderate tolerance for conflict. Catalysts articulate an inspiring vision and empower others to make it a re
ality, develop organizational capacity to meet strategic challenges, create highly participative, empowered teams that lead change together, and have a greater tolerance for conflict.
As I listened to the presentation, I kept thinking about the current presidential candidates and how I would characterize their leadership styles according to this model. I went up to Joiner after the presentation and asked him my question. His analysis was what I had come up with.
What about you? How would you characterize the current presidential candidates based on this leadership model? Is one or the other an Expert? What about Achiever? Does either presidential candidate operate as a Catalyst? And how does understanding their leadership style affect your vote?
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About the author: Judy Lindenberger is the President of The Lindenberger Group, an award-winning human resources consulting firm, located near Princeton, NJ. They are experts in career coaching, customized training workshops, online training programs, mentoring, 360-degree assessment and feedback, HR audits, employee handbooks, and more. Learn more about them at www.lindenbergergroup.com.
Have you ever helped a friend or family member move? If you have, did the friend or family member try to bribe you with pizza or drinks to get you to agree to help? Lugging boxes up and down stairs isn’t fun, so offering a treat of some sort makes it easier to coerce your loved ones into maneuvering your gigantic couch through your narrow doorway.
Nonprofit organizations rely upon the kindness of strangers. Getting volunteers to help out and making them want to come back is one of the most important factors that nonprofits face. To be successful, they have to build a community of commitment.
The techniques used by nonprofits can be a huge benefit to HR. After all, if these techniques can encourage people to work for free, applying them to a business can help to increase employee motivation.
1. Inspire people
Inspiration is the driving force behind most nonprofit organizations. Once you can get someone to genuinely care about something, it is much easier to get them to spare some of their time or money.
Even if your company isn’t saving lives or helping puppies, you can still be a source of inspiration. You might enact a mentorship program to help develop your employee’s careers. You could start a wellness initiative to make it easier for your team to get healthy. Being a positive influence on your employees can go a long way towards creating a pleasant work environment.
2. Create goals with clear results
How many times have you seen a fundraiser use imagery to show how close they are to their goal? If the goal is raising $10,000, then seeing a bar graph creep closer and closer to the top of the chart is a clear indicator of how close (or far) the goal is.
When a team has a clearly defined goal in sight, it can propel them forward. Knowing what they hope to achieve and being able to see exactly where they stand can be an energizing influence on their work. If a goal isn’t reached, it can be a learning experience to figure out what went wrong and what could be improved for next time. If the goal is met, employees have something tangible to be proud of and celebrate.
In order for a nonprofit to get volunteers to work efficiently, every detail has to be organized. You can’t throw hundreds of volunteers into an event without telling them what to do and who to report to. Not only could disorganization ruin an event, but it could also deter volunteers from returning.
Being well-organized is more than just assigning employees a job title and place to sit. It is about making sure that each employee knows what their job entitles, how to do it and why it is important. They should know how their role relates to others within the company and who is responsible for what. Streamlining business practices is a lot easier when everyone knows their individual role and how it fits into the whole.
4. Make them feel appreciated
Nonprofits have mastered the art of the thank you. They know that it is important to keep volunteers and donors happy, so they make sure to demonstrate their appreciation. Letting volunteers know that their work is valued helps to foster a sense of teamwork.
Feeling under appreciated is one of the most common reasons why people leave jobs. It can be really disheartening to work incredibly hard on something and feel as though no one even noticed. Employees that feel valued will work harder and stay with a company longer. Do all you can to show employees that the work that they do is important and appreciated.
People work to get a paycheck, but volunteers work because they want to make a difference. Getting paid employees to feel that same sense of drive can do wonders for the workplace. Passion will outwork ambivalence every time.
Any tips for getting your employees to truly care about their work? Do share!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Erin Palmer works with Villanova University on programs such as Masters in Human Resources. She happily writes for a living and enjoys mentioning that fact to people who think that Writing and English majors will never find a job. She loves to meet new people, so reach out to her on Twitter as @Erin_E_Palmer.
At Aquire, we start most meetings which are departmental or small groups with a moment of Positive Focus. It allows each of us to bring to the spotlight something that is working really well, or an individual or team which deserve a shout out for something they are doing really well.
This week I am adding a Leadership Moment into the manager’s meeting. So I added a slide to the agenda deck and went looking in the standard clip art for placeholder picture. I was sorely disappointed. I put in the word “leadership” as my search term. PowerPoint provided me with a much of shiny slick power photos. They were not about leadership they were about winning, dominating or being the one with the most expensive suit in the room.
So I looked at another word and found what I was looking for (more on that in a minute). Then I thought I would see what popped up if I used the word “follow.“ There was not a single picture of the back of the heads of the people in power positions in the best suits. Not that I really expected that image (but it would have been clever). No, the term “follow” provided lots of good arrows and cartoons of people forming a line. It was adequate.
So then I searched on the word “help.” This is where I found pictures I needed for leadership. Leadership isn’t about being the rich and beautiful in my book. Leadership is about painting the vision that is achievable by the people you need; and convincing them you will help them achieve the vision.
Being a manager is hard, you get disappointed by people that don’t say what they mean or don’t do what they commit to do doing. Sometimes people leave the company and leave you holding the bag. Sometimes people are not who they pretend to be and can damage the team.
But being a manager can be highly rewarding when you get the buy-in from the team. When you help someone get over a challenge they were really struggling with in the past. When your team excels at what they are doing. When you know you have made a difference for your employees, your customers or your company. When your employees appreciate you for the hard work you do too.
Being a manager is hard enough already, let’s make sure they understand the real meaning of leadership and it will help them achieve and make life a lot easier for everybody.
The hottest cowboy boots I have ever seen are more than hot, they reminded me of who I am and where I came from.
The boots give me great joy for several reasons. First, they are outrageously comfortable, second they are HOT and every time I wear them I get tons of compliments, third the story of buying them is dear and most importantly they have awoken a stronger sense of my roots then I would have expected.
The first and second point don’t really need any expansion but the story of buying the boots is great. As a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization I went on a retreat with my group of 8 ‘personal board members’ to one member’s Texas ranch. As part of our bonding experience the batch of us (all living the big city life) went to buy cowboy hats at a rural outfitters.
That’s when I fell in love with the boots.
I have actually not owned cowboy boots since I moved to Texas 24 years ago. “I was walking the ‘city’ side of my life now.” The rest of the weekend was spent 4 wheeling, shooting pool, fishing, drinking wine and having a great time with incredible friends that know me better than almost anyone on the planet. So my boots were like a souvenir of an incredible weekend.
Then there is the biggie connection to these fanciful leather sweeties. They don’t just fit my feet, they fit ME. I grew up in rural Iowa and Missouri. Now I never had to work a farm at the level of farm kids whose family made their entire living off the farm. However I have bottle fed calves, slept in fairground barns prior to showing cattle, shoveled snow so that the animals couldn’t walk up and over the pens and spent entire summers cultivating a garden that was nearly an acre. But I grew up and moved (ran) away to the city as soon as I could.
I moved to the city to leave what I felt was too simple a life. * Sigh* The city life has been very good to me and I have no desire to live on a farm again. But I am so very proud of what I call my “Midwest Pragmatism.” I like realism and agree with Grandpa’s opinion that the ONLY way is the way that everybody gains from. I love my high rise buildings and my high heels.
But my boots make my heart sing a bit. They somehow remind me of the roots of who I am. Who we really are, is deeply seated in each of us. The ideals presented to us when we are little kids and teenagers usually influence us forever. At times teenagers or young adults may feel we have to spread our wings or diverge from what we feel are our parents ideals, then they might come creeping back in later in life. My boots remind me that I am proud of the honest way we do business. Clean living yields better results.
My business twist to Occam’s Razor is the theory that when trying to solve a business problem or make a deal the simplest, most elegant answer is likely the best one. It’s my roots that makes the fact that I run an international business with my husband completely non-shocking. I just look at my grandparents and so many other relatives who feed the world as husband and wife teams owning and running farms. No one is shocked that a farm wife works with her husband!
What does this possibly have to do with HR? Guess why Geoff Smart has been so successful with the TopGrading methodology of interviewing? You go back to the person’s roots. What traits have they had and used most of their life? It is likely they will continue to use those lessons learned early, when they work for you too. Have they been consistent throughout their life with what they say is important to them. Oh, and you might want to see how comfortable they seem in their ‘boots’.
Comfort is a good thing. It’s sustainable.