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Posts Tagged ‘talent’

Is the Australian cricket team a lesson in poor talent management?

Posted by Justin Field on October 22, 2008

Well, the Australians have just lost the second test against India at Mohali, losing by 320 runs. I’ve been reading the coverage in print and online and it struck me that there were a few home truths in the Australian team’s performance and behaviour.

Monday’s disgraceful spat between Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee is a lesson in how not to manage poor or declining performance in your team. Brett clearly wanted to bowl and thought he could do it, although Ricky thought otherwise, and handed the ball to another bowler. There followed an argument and heated words.
Lesson for managers: Don’t discipline underperforming team members in public. It causes hurt and consternation all round. Remember to clearly explain your expectations for high performance and help (rather than insult) those that once had great performance but are now struggling.

Some commentators have been lamenting the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.  The reasoning goes that they were senior players who brought great skill and great cohesion to the team, and assisted Ricky in building team spirit and discipline.  But now, they are gone.  And the Australians are looking like a second rate team, with good, but not great, younger players joining the test team.  To me it seems quite short-sighted that the Australian cricket fraternity has not been grooming junior players to have the quality and the attitude that is required at international test level.
Lesson for managers:  Don’t think succession planning is someone’s else’s business.  It is your business and it is your business now.  With financial conditions changing on a daily basis, with the economy in turmoil and with talented employees always looking out for their next career move, you cannot afford to be caught dozing when your key talent retires or moves on to other opportunities.  So do what you need to do to identify your key talent, work out succession plans, and start talking to peers and executives about creating the right conditions to retain and grow your talent.

Posted in management, personal, teams | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Happiness @ Work?

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 15, 2008

What motivates most people at work include promotions and pay raises. These two factors certainly affect our happiness level at work – but they are often short-lived and sometimes leave you with more frustration than if you haven’t gotten any at all. For example: you may have recently got promoted, and yet you may think it took management far too long to give you the promotion you deserve. (This may be true but that should not rob you of the joy of receiving the promotion); Even if you were truly happy with the promotion or the raise (and better still both), that special feeling doesn’t last very long. Surely we can’t get promoted as often as we’d like – otherwise all of us would be CEOs or Presidents by now. So how do we go about finding happiness at work that doesn’t fade away like soap bubbles?     

Know Yourself
 
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. (Buddha)    

It is clearly not possible to love EVERYTHING about your job – but you should ask yourself: 
       

  • Are you being challenged and do you enjoy the challenges?
  • Are you maximizing your strengths?
  • Are you developing your greatest potential through the peaks and valley of this constant rollercoaster ride working in a large corporation?
  • Are you doing the best you can?
  • Do you get job satisfaction from your job?
If your answers to above questions are mostly no, then you should take a hard look at your career. Perhaps it’s time for you to initiate a change! This is the perfect recipe to frustration, disappointment and unhappiness.     

If there are a couple of “No”s, then you should take the responsibility upon yourself to see how you can turn them to “yes”. You could be standing in your own way of happiness! For example, say you are a developer. If you are not maximizing your strength in “presentation” because all you do is writing technical design documents and code all day. You may be frustrated that you have amazing hidden talents waiting for your manager to discover and she/he STILL hasn’t discovered them yet. Let’s face it, your managers are not trained to be talent agents. You need to take the initiative to discuss this with her/him. Perhaps you could volunteer for community services such as hosting brown bags for knowledge transfers. (Most managers would love to see their employees being proactive).    

If all your answers are “Yes” – then congratulations! You have reached Nirvana!     

Know what YOU want is key to finding happiness at work– if you have no idea what floats your boat, then how could your manager know? Aligning your own career goals with the needs/opportunities of the business with the support of your manager will certainly get you a lot closer to reaching your goals.     

Without a clear goal, you will always end up somewhere else – perhaps even further away from finding happiness!     

Love What You Do
I am not talking about loving every minute of your job. That job probably doesn’t exist. (It’s like having adorable kids or puppies, they all have their least attractive moments.;-) ). We all know that we are at our best form when we do something we love. So if you don’t love what you do (or at least some aspects of your job), then you need to figure out what you are really passionate about and go after that!     

Be Adaptable
The truth is, you have to be comfortable with change no matter what you do – in fact you should fully expect it. You have to have the strength to accept things you cannot change – because change is the only constant in today’s world. Resistance causes pain, and pain can blind you to the opportunities for your growth that changes often bring. Ultimately, this resistance can affect your happiness at work (or what is left of it).     

A pessimist sees the difficulty in opportunity, and an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill     

Be Positive
No one likes to work with a whiner who’s never happy and projects negative thoughts/attitude. Negative thoughts/words affect you and those around you on a subconscious level. People feel more at ease (and eager to help) when we are positive. There have also been countless studies that link negative thoughts to physical illnesses. For example, one recent study showed that Nuns who have positive thoughts live 10 years longer than those who don’t. Apparently being negative is a secret recipe to dying younger!     

Finally…
If you know what you want to do, do what you love and have the strength to overcome obstacles along the way with a positive attitude, I think you are on the right track to finding happiness at work!     

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 »

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 »

Is Employee Engagement a managers job?

Posted by Meg Bear on December 5, 2007

We’ve been talking about Employee Engagement for some time.  How do we engage people, why do we need to engage people – all that touchy/feely stuff that causes some of us to feel warm and fuzzy and others of us to hold back a gag reflex.

I’ve also been thinking about a Manager’s role in the overall Talent story for some time.  I think that to really do innovative things in Talent you not only need software and a HR vision but you really need solid line managers.  Initiatives like building, sharing and retaining talent fall down quickly with bad managers.  As the saying goes people join a company but they quit their manager.

I’ve read a few things lately that are food for thought for those of us who are managers.  Now I do not intend to suggest that we as individuals yield our own responsibility to define, nurture and grow our own careers but for those of us who are managers it can’t hurt to check in and see if we could be doing more.

Here is a quick article that talks about employee engagement and how “managing with a human touch” is a necessary ingredient for that to happen. 

I also recently read Three signs of a miserable job and found an interesting assertion on the responsibility of a manager.  This book focuses on how a manager is responsible to make the job of their employees something that they can feel positive about.  The most interesting thing that he points out is that the work is not really the most significant factor.  In other words, a movie star, a super model, a professional athlete can be less engaged in their job then a cashier a janitor or a factory worker.   His core points were that

  1. People need to be recognized – he used the word Anonymity as the problem.  Managers need to engage with their teams as people first and employees second.  Yes, here is where the touchy/feely part comes in – if it makes you squirm as a manager then guess what?  Maybe you shouldn’t be in management.  People often confuse what is not legal to ask in an interview process with what they should not ask an employee.  So the question is: do you like your team?  Do you know them?  Do you care about them as people? Do you send them birthday gifts on Facebook? (ok that last part was a joke but you get the idea)
  2. People need to be able to measure their work (Immeasurement)– If you can’t measure what you do or worse if you are measured on something that has no clear connection with what you do then you are probably less satisfied with your job.
  3. People need to see a value in their contribution (Irrelevance)– People want/need to know that they make a difference in the lives of others with their contributions.  One very interesting point he raised is that managers are often not comfortable being clear to their teams that they need them. => So in case there is any doubt for my team – ohmygod do I need you guys 😉

Posted in engagement, management | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HR Transformation — are we sick of it yet?

Posted by Meg Bear on December 3, 2007

I’ve been thinking about HR Transformation for quite some time and I’m starting to wonder how we can move on from HR transformation to “Beyond HR” when we never actually transformed in the first place. 

I have some concern that maybe we are just distracting ourselves to avoid actual measurement and accountability.  Are we witnessing a real desire to change the role of HR or are we just a manifestation of Corporate ADD?

It’s an OD problem, no it’s a recruitment (excuse me talent acquisition) problem, no it’s a performance management problem, wait it’s a succession planning problem, oh no I think it’s a web.20/community problem.  And don’t even get me started on the idea that it might be an analytics problem!

The more I study this market and talk to companies attempting to truly transform their organizations I come to realize that it is, and always was, a leadership problem.  I know I risk a good ducking here, but I believe that chasing the latest software fad without real vision and leadership will fail.  Not dissimilar to how a weight loss program that doesn’t involve diet and exercise  will ultimately fail for you (it might work for someone else, but it will not work for you, trust me on this one!).

So where to start and what to do?  First and foremost you need to find leadership.  Hopefully you can find that leadership in yourself but if not there, find someone who has it first.  Once you have acquired the will to lead then you can begin to benefit from the flywheel effect and realize results. 

If you cannot find the will to lead then I suggest you stop now before you spend important resources and energies on the hard part of a transformation (the starting) and never actually receive the benefits of the work.  At the risk of stating the obvious, I also suggest you use the same philosophy for your holiday (or post holiday) diet plan. 

Quit spending your time trying to find the silver bullet out there, you know that it doesn’t exist.  Instead, first analyze your own capabilities and then look to see how you can use technology to implement your vision.

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

Managers, the weak link of a talent strategy

Posted by Meg Bear on November 28, 2007

I’ve been noodling for some time on the role of managers in a talent strategy.  Specifically, how they can seriously screw it up.  Being a manager myself I understand that I’m violating the glass house principle, but you know that hasn’t stopped me before.

Lets take an easy example to prove my point.  Lets say that your goal as an organization is to develop and engage talent.  Seems that as an HR organization, you would focus your energies on building individual development programs and follow up on employee engagement surveys, right?

Sure, but how does that actually work when you have managers who wont let their teams attend the training?  How does any program provided by HR break past this group that is clearly motivated to horde talent? 

 I’ve long been pondering the idea that for any talent strategy to really work you must first address the pivotal role of manager and find a way to align managers personal goals with the overall talent strategy. 

I would love to hear of cases where companies have been able to effectively make this happen.  Ideas? Experiences?

Posted in engagement | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »