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Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

Keep blogging!

Posted by Anders Northeved on October 27, 2010

There are many good reasons why people blog.

If it is an internal blog it will promote knowledge sharing within your organization and help your organization perform better.

If it is an external blog you will promote your own organization and help other people understand and appreciate what you do.

It is one of the pieces in the puzzle of building your own brand as described in Ravi’s posting.

You get feedback from people on a topic you find interesting. So you are not only giving information but also receiving new perspectives on a topic that interest you.

It gives you a good feeling in your stomach and a boost for your self confidence knowing that you write something others are interested in reading.

And in general: If you have some piece of information you think others could benefit from – why not share it?

All these reasons – and probably a couple I’ve forgot – was what got me starting posting to different blogs in the first place.
Having done this for some time now I have found all of the above to be true, but I have also found that blogging brings one benefit I didn’t expect…

I have experienced that blogging makes you think longer – and harder – about the topics you blog on.
Whenever you think about something new or see things in a new light you might say to yourself: “This might be a topic for a posting” and then something interesting happens:
You start organizing things in your head, you start thinking about headlines and keywords and all of a sudden you have organized and articulated the topic in a much better way than if you had not wanted to create a blog on the topic.
Knowing other people are going to read, think and respond to what you write makes you think longer, harder – and better – and that can never be a bad thing!

So don’t despair if you only have one reader for your posting – you will still benefit from creating it.

Just realized that if I had not been posting on this blog the brainwave I got the other day while I was out running: “why do people blog?” would have stayed just that  – a brainwave.

Posted in collaboration, communication, community, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Making more Top Talent with better job fit

Posted by Meg Bear on October 16, 2009

TRAs a Maximizer theme the concept of Top Talent is an especially personal one.   In fact, I have managed to get a team of directs that are all Achievers, which was something I knew about them, before I even knew there was such a theme.

When I think about using a Talent solution to get business value, I have to know what business leaders want.  What keeps a business leader up at night? Is it wondering if their team will meet their Performance bell curve?  Or if they will be using a 3 or 5 point rating scale?  I’m guessing not.  In fact the entire performance process is a means to an end, to a business person (or conversely a PITA but I’d rather not cover that part in this blog).

What a business leader wants is to be successful.  Successful in their business, seen as capable to their leadership and exceeding on their objectives.  For business leaders to scale they need teams who are able to deliver for them.  Here is where we get back to top talent and job fit.

When people are doing the job that is best suited to their strengths, they become top talent.  Making that connection between individual motivation and job role is not just a touchy-feely ideal, it’s smart business.

The better I can position people to do what they do best, the more they do for me. The more they do for me, the more I can do for my boss and my organization.  So, to me as a business leader, the more top talent I have the more successful I am.

So what I want from a talent solution, is to help me get people aligned into job roles based upon their strengths.  When I can do this, I get all the goodness from the rest of the talent strategies.  Goal alignment and attainment become easy,  engagement improves and overall output  is optimized.

To make all this work for me, I need more data.  I need data that I have never captured before.  Not just your competencies but your strengths.  Not just your career plan, but your motivations.  The more rich data I have, the better job I can do getting people to become top talent.

So now we are back to systems and scale.  Systems today have a better ability to gather and make use of data.  With the rise of social software, and a heightened awareness of the importance of a personal brand, people are volunteering more data than ever before.

These are exciting times for those of us who are allowed to find unique opportunities between technology and business. For awhile now I’ve been anticipating a shift in what defines a talent solution.  Initially I thought it was just my own personal boredom with having done this for so long, but now I realize that what I have really been doing is a lot of thin slicing to get to the most obvious of “a ha” conclusions.

The job of a talent solution is not really to measure talent.  The goal of a talent solution is to use the measurement of talent to drive better business results.  If you are just doing the former and not getting the latter you are missing out.  It’s time to think bigger about what can and should be possible with technology.

Are you doing that today?  Is that your talent strategy?  If not why not?  What is your plan?  Hit me with the comments and give me your ideas, I promise to use them for your benefit.

Posted in Career Development, engagement, Innovation, Job Fit, leadership, performance, profiles, social network, talent review, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

How about giving your Boss a Performance Review?

Posted by Vivian Wong on April 14, 2009

handshakeAs an employee, it’s easy to think of a Performance Review as a one way street where the manager reviews your performance. In some ways, a Performance Review is just like social networking (such as Twitter/Facebook)- some make the most of it, while others think it’s a complete waste of time.

If you make the most of your Performance Reviews, then congratulations! I hope you walk away from them knowing:

  • How you are doing at your job – what’s working and what’s not
  • Suggestions/Action items for growth
  • Hope for continued career growth – honest discussion so your manager can help align your strengths and career aspiration with the business needs

You can take it one step further. 

From time to time, you should give your manager the ultimate gift as well. As Meg noted in her Managing Your Boss blog, part of your job is to help your boss succeed. Just like your manager lets you know how you are performing, you should reciprocate and give your manager some feedback on how they are doing as your boss – all relationships (work or personal) thrive on a two-way communication.

So ask yourself: 

  • What is it that your manager does that either helps or hinders you from performing your best
  • Do you want your manager to continue or stop a particular behavior? 
  • What do you want your manager to start doing to bring out your potential?

I am betting that I am not the only manager who appreciates honest feedback from my team. 

For example, I would definitely want you to tell me if I have broccoli stuck in my teeth  or that I was abrasive in my communication or worse, I am de-motivating you unknowingly. I would also like to know if I am doing enough for you and whether  I am providing the right level of support to help you grow

It’s one thing to do the best I can, it’s another to know that my efforts have the desired effect;  and if not, I’d be happy to make improvements and be a better leader and manager!

So go ahead – give your manager some feedback – it might even help your manager to help you in finding happiness at work.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

The Corporate Death of the Synergistic Team?

Posted by Louise Barnfield on June 27, 2008

Row Henson, in her session at our Fusion Strategy Council, and in her keynote presentation at OHUG this week, presented various research and statistics that have been common knowledge in the talent management arena for some time. However, one in particular made me ponder the reasons why…“only 20% of employees do what they do best at work” (Buckingham).

Hmm, so companies are consumed by the hot topics of employee engagement and retention; they strive to tie employee goals and performance to corporate goals; they pre-screen to ensure they get the best-fit new hires with less likelihood of quick turnover; and yet, the vast majority of employees are not enabled to do what they are best at doing! What’s that all about?

I have my theories – Subjective? Admittedly! Biased? Maybe! Argumentative? Most definitely! Valid? You tell me!

Firstly, I admit I pondered this only from the perspective of individual contributors, and with a particular bias on large corporations as opposed to, say, start-ups. So, yes, it’s a subjective, biased opinion but, hey, this is a blog not a thesis.

As an enterprise grows and automates its processes, employees seem to be increasingly pigeon-holed into strictly defined roles and responsibilities, with little or no allowance for personal preferences or abilities.

Is that because it’s easier to hire to a formula? …because it’s easier to interpret measurements and analysis if you have a large pool of comparisons? …or simply that resources have been so severely stripped that this simplistic approach takes less thought and effort?

When employees are straight-jacketed into formulaic roles that don’t take sufficient advantage of individual strengths and weaknesses, or likes and dislikes, is it any surprise that their abilities are not used effectively? Some of their strengths may be under-utilized, while they struggle to perform other tasks for which a peer may be better suited.

What if managers have the freedom to build a team in which each member takes on a heavier percentage of tasks that are most suited to their individual characteristics? What if the combination of the individual roles and personalities together can fulfill the needs of the team? A synergistic team – a mutually advantageous conjunction where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

On the flip-side, if job roles are too rigidly defined and applied to multiple individuals, each team member is forced to perform the same tasks in parallel with their peers. In this model, employees are silo’d vertically. Each may have their own subject area of responsibility but, to do their job, they all learn the same tools, attend the same meetings, follow the same processes, and even experience the same errors or problems (instead of benefiting from others’ experiences).

The cynic in me believes this is all about making life easier for senior execs, in a corporate environment where size precludes them having any personal knowledge of the individuals (or caring that they don’t!) – but at what hidden cost? Sure, it simplifies metrics, objective setting, and measuring performance at the highest level of the corporation – it’s so much easier to compare apples to apples – but how much untapped ability is being wasted, and how much effort is being duplicated?

In How to Build a High Engagement Workplace, Marcus Buckingham recommends that managers find ways for people to do what they do best. Of course, we have to be realistic about this, but at least this warrants serious consideration. As Buckingham acknowledges: “it may not be possible for everyone to be in a role which uses their strengths all the time“, although he continues “but managers can get better at identifying these talents, and providing opportunities for people to exercise these talents and to grow in them.” However, IMHO, I believe that in large corporations this responsibility goes beyond the managers, who are often hampered by corporate job descriptions and policies that effectively hand-cuff them from adopting a more flexible approach to their individual teams.

Am I an old cynic?…or are we witnessing the corporate death of the synergistic team?

…and what about the detrimental effect on employee engagement and employee retention? I throw those in because it’s always easier to get attention when you relate the issue back to a hot topic or two!

Posted in engagement, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Does this job make my butt look big?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 21, 2008

Thanks to David for reminding me that the blog title is important.  Just for the record, I am not covering that job you had that gave you an extra 15lbs, by making you work 80 hours a week and fed you, round the clock, all kinds of processed snack foods.  That is a topic for another post all together, or a therapy session (or both).

What I am talking about today, is more on the idea of engagement and what I learned at the conference I attended. 

The session was hosted by the Conference Board and it was a preview into their 2008 engagement research .  In a nutshell, they found what we here at TalentedApps have been saying for awhile.  The most critical element of engagement globally is:

A well structured, well designed, inspiring job.

This is not just having a job that provides you with growth opportunities, but also a job that fits well into your broader life, balancing the demands of both your personal and professional needs. 

What is so interesting about this study is how consistent this is across a global population.  The four questions that “worked” in every geography to measure engagement were about:

  1. variety and challenge of the work itself
  2. interpersonal relationship with the manager
  3. shared company values
  4. opportunity for career growth

In the US, there was also a strong correlation between goal alignment and engagement.  My personal guess is that this is evidence that the focus on strategically aligned and managed goals is beginning to take root. 

As we look at strategies for getting the most from ourselves and our teams we must focus closely on how we define and measure jobs.  That, to me, should be the strategic agenda of anyone interested in turning the employee engagement focus from a fad to a result.


Note to the clueless: There is only ever one answer to the question posed in the title — honesty is not at all the best policy where this question is concerned.

Posted in engagement, hr transformation, management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Saving the World and Other Acts of Engagement

Posted by Ken Klaus on May 15, 2008

I spent the better part of last weekend saving the world from mutant zombies, madmen and other assorted villains. (If I still lived in Los Angeles I would probably clarify this statement by telling you I accomplished all this from the comfort of my home office, just to be sure you didn’t think I was moonlighting as the latest action hero at Warner Brothers Studios; though my mild mannered appearance and rugged good looks often lead people to confuse me for Brandon Routh.) Currently I’m playing an amnesiac trapped within the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. My objective (the main quest of the game) is to find out who I am and why I’m in the zone. Along with the usual stats about my character, like rank and level, this particular game also rates my reputation – how other characters feel about me. One’s reputation improves each time you choose to help another character. So the game includes a large number of side quests along with all of the tasks related to the main quest. The more often you agree to help others by completing these smaller quests the better your reputation. Though it is possible to win the game without completing any of the side quests, it is decidedly harder (and less satisfying) to play the game when the other characters are uncooperative or even hostile.

Earlier this week Meg began a conversation with our team on engagement by asking what energizes us about our work. It’s a great question, though it took me a couple days to think through my response. What surprised me was how little the essential tasks of my job, my main quest if you will, affected my level of engagement. Instead I tend to find motivation and energy in the secondary tasks that I elect to do over and above my regular responsibilities, like blogging, mentoring, and building relationships with our customers. These side quests allow me to step outside of my usual role and provide me with opportunities to serve and to lead. They help me to focus on what’s most important, namely the people I interact with each day; which in turn gives me the drive to complete the main tasks of my job that take up most of my time and energy.

Chances are my skills as a mutant zombie hunter will never be utilized in the real world, but I do think my reputation is more often determined by my willingness to serve others than it is by my ability to write functional design specifications. This leads me to believe the way we really win at work and in life is by accepting the side quests that so often seem like an interruption to our day and through which we also find the energy and motivation needed to accomplish our main quest of discovering who we are and why we are here.

P.S. Remember the zombies aren’t an obstacle, they’re an opportunity!

P.S.S. Watch out for the invisible bloodsuckers near the Brain Scorcher. =)

Posted in engagement | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Helping happy cows stay happy

Posted by Ken Klaus on March 14, 2008


I can’t vouch for the science behind the Happy Cow theory but their commercials do make me smile. Over the past couple of weeks there have been some great discussions around the benefits of employee mobility. Amy, Meg and Mark have waxed eloquent on the advantages of allowing an employee to move up via promotion or move on by finding a new role in the organization. Sometimes though, the employee is already in the right job and keeping them engaged and successful (read happy) means helping them grow where they are, to cultivate new skills within their current position.

Over the past year I’ve been struggling with the question of whether I’m still in the right role or even on the right career path. I’ve been working in the software industry for more than ten years now, but this wasn’t actually part of the plan. Life is funny that way. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what we want to do after we finish college, but then we hop on the job train and ten years and a whole lot of miles later we find ourselves in a career we didn’t even consider as undergraduates. That said I really do like the work I’m doing. I just feel like there’s something missing – that I still haven’t reached my full potential. So is it time for me to move on?

As I nearly always do when these sorts of questions creep into my thoughts, I asked my good friend and informal mentor to lunch. (I am so bad in this regard that an invitation to lunch now carries the implied message: “I’m having a career crisis!”) Anyway, we have lunch and, as usual, my friend patiently listens as I explain all of the reasons why I need to quit my job and find my true path in life. When I finished, I was confident she fully understood my problem and was now going to reach into her bag – the one labeled All the Answers – and give me the one that would solve my career crisis. But instead of an answer, she asked me a question: “Rather than quitting your job, have you thought about how you could grow your current role to include what you feel is missing”?

It was a really great question and one that I hadn’t considered. Rather than give up all the things I loved about my job, why not find ways to grow the job into something even more interesting and fulfilling. Too often employees find themselves in great, if imperfect, careers and so go hunting for something new. However, the truth is for most of us the perfect job simply doesn’t exist. But there are a great many jobs that are nearly perfect; so maybe the trick is to find an almost perfect job and see how we can improve it. Strong, effective managers will consistently cultivate a culture of mobility and encourage their employees to develop new skill sets to grow beyond their current roles; but there are times when the job itself needs to be grown to ensure the goals and aspirations of the employee can be fully realized.

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

How to not be a c-player

Posted by Meg Bear on March 3, 2008

office-space-4.jpg  Was reading the HBR article called A new game plan for C players and it got me thinking.  Of course the point of the article was how C-players hurt your business.  They are bad for morale of the rest of the team and as a good friend of mine says “they can do negative work” suggesting that having a c-player around can actually cause you to spend more time fixing their work then just doing it yourself right the first time.

What struck me though, was that while we all tend to agree that yes, c-players are bad for our teams and yes, we should be better about taking action, I don’t feel that we actually spend time doing self reflection to see if maybe we ourselves might be performing at less then our own A-game.

I was reminded while reading this, that the most critical thing to “get right” for ourselves and our teams is a well aligned role to the individual.  Keeping all examples to myself to avoid offending anyone, I can say with confidence, that if my job were to help people who are lost get out of the woods it is clear I would be the worst suited for it.  If nagging people about deadlines and commitments is the job, then I’m a much better fit.  Just ask my husband.

I have had the fortune (twice actually) of finding myself interviewing for a position in which the job description was a complete match for my experience.  In both cases, these jobs were not only rewarding for me personally, I managed to deliver products that had significant monetary benefit for the companies that hired me.  By all measures this was A-player work.  I was happy, I was challenged and the work I delivered benefited. 

 On the flip side, I have also managed to get myself stretched outside of my core competencies in such a way, that the results of my efforts were so inferior I could not even fire myself, but had to give myself the task of cleaning up the mess first.  While, this made for a great poster, and I did learn a lot, in retrospect I know I should have done a better job in recognizing the signs and doing something about them, as a lot of people got hurt as a result of my c-player work.

So what is my real message here?  First I’d encourage us each to realize that we are each capable of both A-player and C-player work.  For the majority of us fortunate enough to be considered “professionals”,  life is not a huxley-esque situation where you are pre-defined as an alpha or an epsilon. 

It is up to us to best determine 

  • How do we quantify our talents
  • How do we align our talents with the jobs we are given
  • How do we push ourselves to give our best performance

Not just for the benefit of the company, but for the benefit of ourselves.  Like anything else, the best way to “not” be a c-player is to take an active role in your own performance. 

What do you have to lose?

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Evolution of Engagement – Part II

Posted by Amy Wilson on January 21, 2008

Technology Enablement

At last the guilt of posting a part I and no part II has overwhelmed me.  And really, if you don’t count Christmas and New Year’s as holidays, then my goal of posting every major holiday still stands …

First, I want to point out that technology will never create engagement – no matter how fancy or fun the system.  Culture and process come first.  However, technology has evolved dramatically over the past few years to better support the natural needs of engagement as well as the changing expectations of engagement.

When meeting with organizations, I use the following chart to illustrate these concepts:


Humans have natural engagement needs.  They are things like gaining visibility to organizational motives and goals, learning & developing on a continuous basis, feeling part of a community, and so on.  These needs have not and will not change.  They’re basic.  However, the way we work has changed and will continue to evolve as the world continues to flatten, technologies evolve, and people (kids) adopt flatter approaches and new technologies earlier and quicker. 

The traditional methods of fulfilling engagement needs were focused on personal interactions – a company meeting, a team building event, classroom training, etc.  As organizations expanded globally and virtually (and transportation costs increased), such interactions became impractical. 

Meanwhile, we had the internet boom.  Internet tools quickly solved organizations’ needs to globalize, virtualize and save money.  Thus, the company meeting was moved to a webcast, the team building event became a distribution list, and learning went online.  The downside of such tools is that they are not truly meeting the needs of engagement.  They removed all of the good aspects of traditional tools, and kept only the bad – top-down, passive, and one size fits all.

That is changing.  Having recognized how individuals engage virtually and globally outside the workplace, along with the technologies available to them, organizations are equipping themselves with a new set of engagement tools.

Organizations that I speak with are leveraging interactive blogs as an open communication vehicle between executives and their staff.  They are also beginning to adopt corporate social networks to share strengths, interests, and goals for purposes of learning informally, finding opportunites, and completing projects.  Mark talks about the value of corporate social networks here.

Keep your fingers crossed for a part III … perhaps it will be a Valentine’s Day present to Meg. 🙂

Posted in engagement, social network | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

If you love someone set them free

Posted by Meg Bear on January 16, 2008

spraygirl.jpgYes, the topic today is “Talent Mobility”. 

But Meg, you say, Mark already covered this topic a few weeks ago.  Yes, I know he did, but I’ve made a career out of repeating what Mark has to say, I don’t see why I should stop doing that now that I have a blog goal of an entry every week.

So the question is, how do managers deal with the conflicting priorities of wanting to succeed against their own objectives vs. the goals of their team members for career development?  Especially when the next career progression for an individual is not an opportunity that the manager has on their team?   How does an HR group encourage the idea of individual career development if they have managers who are incented to hoard talent?

One of the first problems to address is how you incent your managers.  If their incentives are exclusively project based and not based on growing their people you are probably going to have limited success in driving the kind of employee engagement that we have been talking about here at TalentedApps.

Another key factor will be showing talent mobility as a core value.  Are those managers who develop and share talent known in your organization?  Does your organization see these managers as more valuable?  They should.  Managers who are able to develop and share talent are going to provide more long term value to your company than those managers who are only concerned about their own personal objectives.  In addition, those managers who are good at spreading talent across your organization are probably those managers who have a more effective network in the organization, certainly a more loyal one.

So, as you look to set your own objectives this January think about how putting opportunities for those who work for you ahead of opportunities for yourself.   Not only does the golden rule tell you to do this, but in the end you and your company will benefit more as a result. 

Also, consider thanking someone who was influential in your own career by helping you achieve your own career goals, especially when that involved being open to the idea of you working somewhere else if that was necessary.  To that end I would like to thank my last two bosses (you know who you are and are probably thrilled to have me mention you publicly) who have made personal sacrifices to help me grow professionally.  This, in addition to having to put up with me as an employee, certainly disserves a good karmic return.

Posted in engagement, management, social network, teams | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »