Well Leicester City pulled a surprising one and now Gary Lineker has to honour some commitments he made. I’m not a massive football fan but even I can enjoy a good Cinderella story, mainly because this demonstrates that talent and teamwork can overcome lavish spending. It’s nice to see that a bit of optimism doesn’t always hurt and can get some nice solid results out of it. One challenge for the optimist is that people will say that’s all well and good but in the real world where does that get you? Well, in this case it seemed to get them the Premiere Trophy (at least I think it’s a trophy from my limited football knowledge).
I have no doubt that their success will be made into a documentary and maybe even turned into a movie at some point. The triumph of a team that collectively cost less than some of the simple players from the major teams is clearly inspiring because that means there is more than just funding involved, it takes investment of effort to make a success. While in this case funding does seem to be the major reason for succeeding (Leicester has only won once after all) it demonstrates that possibly there has been over spend and that utilising other key elements means that a project can be successful for less.
If you take a football team and see it as a work project, compare the funding given and it becomes clear that the other “projects” are sponging up expenses. It is clear to all project managers that there is never one factor that makes a project a success, it is a combination that brings it forth. One reason why humans are so brilliant at this is because they are a merge of so many factors like talents, hobbies and ambition; now if you put a group of people together all these factors are multiplied and you now have a vast intricate team to make that project with.
An employee is more than just their job title, they have families, cultures and a distinct personality that adds to the mix. This takes the traditional view of an employee as an isolated person that leaves their life at the door and makes them a multiple dimension being. With the merge of work and life this change isn’t much of a surprise but the question is whether your organisation is prepared to embrace those dimensions that that person is made up of.
Particularly as we know these people will be working with equally complex people, is effort being made to look past the job title and see the 3D employee in your organisation? This can be done in several ways, measuring personality, identifying suitable colleagues, aligning values of the organisation and making considerations for the work-life balance. Once these things are understood funding can start to be invested into the right areas as opposed to just being given and hoping for the best. Putting the effort in to understanding where the demand is and satisfying it will result in a return in investment.
Of course, this is no easy task. People change as do organisations and it would need to be a continuous process. Targeting the right areas will make it a smoother process in the long run and it might develop a culture for continuous success that requires less effort with time. That said everyone must face a choice between doing what is right and what is easy when it comes to making a change and despite the challenges that were clearly in front of them, Leicester City did what was right.
Read about the Internet of (HR) Things
One thing that I’ve always wanted to do was to have psychic powers. To be able to think of what I need and it appears, for example I wake up first thing in the morning and I want the heating to be on and toast to be ready for breakfast. “Well, I want a golden toilet seat” I hear you non-verbally say to your computer but unless you’re lucky enough to have a butler that just won’t happen. But, as we’re starting to realise, it’s becoming a rapid reality with The Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is a sci-fi fantasy come to life, connecting every bit of technology through a Cloud so that data can be shared as the internet shares data between computers. Take my example of breakfast, ten minutes before the alarm goes off my clock will inform the boiler to start, then when I turn the alarm off that’ll pop the bread down into the toaster. This fluid exercise requires minimal effort for me but through shared data my mornings become so much smoother.
Now, time to think bigger. Organisations have a mass of data on everything about their employees these days, their performance, their recruitment profile and on and on; but how much of this is shared? It could be possible that the data is put on one computer in the office in different files, but that’s no good because it’s still not interacting. What can be offered as an alternative is a HR Cloud system that is at the core of all this data.
A HR Core takes all this data and puts it together to see where it fits in the grand scheme of things, further by putting it on a cloud it can be done in real time anywhere on the globe. If you want to go for dinner somewhere new you’ll most likely google it, google will find out restaurants near you (using GPS), find out what they serve (from their online menu), how good the restaurant is (from online reviews) and how long it takes to get there (with traffic reports).
Now think of a project about to be undertaken by your company; Who do you need? What skills sets and experience do they need? Who is available? From day one an employee gives information to HR with their recruitment profile, their training needs are usually analysed and with time progress reports are documented. In some careers such things as medical records are documented and other non-traditional data. This allows for up to date tracking of what is going on in your organisation. Want a diversity report, here you go. Whether the sales team done better this year, they have by 22%. Once more in larger organisations this can be regionalised, if a new office is opening up somewhere a different strategy will be needed for there. Having an interactive network can allow for fine tuning with up to date responses informing how that fine tuning worked.
Having a network that is reacting in real time to the data being produced around the company and the world would revolutionise future strategies. Having this kind of information readily available does away with the hypotheticals and the “let me get back to you with that” in meetings; cutting down time leads to faster progress and development. Furthermore a HR cloud network gives complete access around the world 24/7. Data is becoming the most important factor in an organisation in so many regards and that doesn’t exclude its people. If you want to make the most of the talent in your organisation you want to be immersed with it and have it engaging with every other bit of information, so in other words get a HR Core Cloud fast!
Learn what makes engaged and appreciated employees
You’ve just ran an extremely intense recruiting campaign, great effort has gone into finding the right people and the right roles for them, taking a lot of time and money. Once more it was your idea to push the campaign and you’ve delivered a great success of candidates. Well done, pat on the back, let’s celebrate with cake and age appropriate drinks because that’s all done and wrapped up. Well I won’t say no to some cake but it’s far from done.
Your organisation has just put all that time and effort into that recruitment cohort now it’s time to make them feel welcome, engaged and challenged. Despite employers having confidence in their ability to recruit and retain graduates attrition rates for them can reach 86% after 3 years; the main factor for it being a lack of return on their investment. With the millennial generation there is expected a back and forth between them as the employee and the organisation, they’re looking for a mutually beneficial relationship and to be frank that’s what organisations should facilitate.
The process to lower attrition of new hires is called Onboarding and it starts the minute a potential candidate gets an impression of the organisation. By forming this opinion and view of the organisation they’re imagining how they can engage with it and be a part of it, if the organisation then figuratively is all open arms and wanting that individual to be involved then the onboarding process has started. If an organisation makes the candidate feel like they’re jumping through hoops constantly that they need to prove themselves, rather than reveal their potential, then that company is alienating that candidate and if they are hired don’t expect they to hang around for long. Candidates love being challenged but it’s all about the appropriate challenges. If you ask me to do work related assessments such as an assessment centre where I do a trial client meeting I will be engaged, if you ask me to do a repeat of my Maths GCSE I may be sceptical.
Practically speaking onboarding really starts in the first week of orientation. Traditionally this is where the new recruit gets to know the ropes and gets trained for the role, but now it’s becoming more and more common for onboarding methods to be incorporated into these orientations. Having a mentor assigned to the new guy or the boss taking them out for lunch are nice little ways to get a friendly feel to the organisation but what after that? Is there a training plan for progression in place for that individual? Are they being valued for the work they are doing? Are they recognised even after 4 months?
Onboarding is more than just the first week it’s about engaging with employees across their entire employee life cycle. Yes, there can be a drop in the intensity as they get into the roll and the amount of time to monitor onboarding will depend on the job role (consider the difference of a sales executive and a solicitor); it’s all about what is suitable for the individual and how they onboard. The trick to all of this is monitoring and measurement, having the right method in place to see if the individual is being onboarded to the organisation. This doesn’t mean hooking them up in a Clockwork Orange style to analyse them, it means having a record of the efforts the organisation has made towards them and vice versa. This will allow the employee know that a return on investment is being made for them which in turn will benefit the organisation with their efforts. This mutually beneficial relationship is a clear method to higher performance and success within a company.
Have you heard about Employee Implementation?
In 2011 I travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to visit family. There is a distinct difference in culture that hit me from the moment I landed; for one security noticed I was wearing camouflage shorts (camouflage being banned there) and with no hint of irony I was told to “blend in” until I got a time to change. Besides by fashion faux pas however the major thing I found was the industrialist attitude throughout the island that would have gone hand in hand with Victorian England.
After settling in with the family topics come up around the dinner table as they do and I was shocked by the views that by (rather successful) relative had: When it came to work you want to pay someone and that person will do that job, no more questions. I couldn’t quite understand at the start, the simplistic idea that an individual solely worked for their paycheque was a long gone idea I thought with the sun rotating the earth and Doctors using leeches. So, I queried whether there was any other way to motivate and engage employees to get a better performance out of them and I got a blank look which is where I dropped it.
I put this down to an isolated event and didn’t waste too much thought until we saw on the news the summer riots that were going on that year in the UK. In response my relative rather bluntly stated he’d just round them up. This is where it occurred to me; he didn’t think from both sides of the negotiation table or even attempt to see another perspective, he had his views set in place and that was that. The issue with this is that it doesn’t allow procession or potential.
This is where millennials come into play, the term for this generation will commonly provoke a reaction of some sort. I can only imagine what negative reaction I’d get from my relative if I’d raised the ideals and ambitions of millennials, or worse, it could have just been ignored as idealistic. The millennial generation is full of innovators and critical thinkers due to a variety of factors but this doesn’t always sit well with the old ways.
One major differentiator is the fact that millennials typically want something out of the organisation hiring them in return for their skills and capabilities. I have a rough 50-55 years until I retire and typically speaking I’ll have 8-12 different jobs in that time, I want to know whether each stage of that is helping me when I put the effort into it. Gone are the days of paying a worker and expecting them to do their best, now is a culture where careers are a part of your identity that you invest in. The one way traffic of top down employment is now turning into a cycle of employee delivering their capabilities and organisations engaging them and supporting them appropriately.
“Hey, Brenda in HR wants to see you”. This statement is commonly met with looks of derision, unpleasant groans and maybe a swear word thrown in for good measure. But who can blame them? After all HR is just there to tick the legal boxes and make sure the company isn’t going to get sued, anything ‘Brenda’ has to say to me can be put in an e-mail (that probably won’t be read).
Sounding familiar? It’s something I keep hearing time and time again regardless of age, career or country and it worries me. It’s gotten to the stage where I’ll say to my friends; “I work with HR” or “We supply to HR” always distancing myself and never saying “I’m in HR”. The reason I’m so sheepish to admit this is because all my friends have a HR horror story, right down to my housemate playing with playdough for 2 hours as a “think outside the box” activity.
Now, I want to know why this is the perception, I refuse to believe that Human Resources was put in place just to facilitate misery and time wasting; its purpose should be to offer the resources a human needs within an organisation. The perception of some is that Human Resources has become a quagmire of faceless-bureaucracy that avoids interaction with the workforce at all costs.
What I want to see is the return to capitalising on employee’s potential which is why I say Human Capital is the new Human Resources. It may be just a name shift, but there are many important things in a name. By changing the name it detaches from what is associated with HR and allows companies to get excited once again about capitalising a workforce’s talent and capability. Organisations want the most out of their people for several reasons, one being that they want a return on the investment they are making into employees but I also like to optimistically think that organisations want a sense of community and pride within the people that work there.
Human Capital is going back to the drawing board and starting fresh with the goals clear in mind. We want to optimise talent in organisations, this means seeing how engaged they are, how productive they are, is there room for their talents to be improved on or utilised somewhere else in the organisation? These are the questions we want to be asking, getting answers to and then doing something about!
Do you know what drives your employees?
Can you answer that question? It can be a tricky one. First of all you need the definition of an organisation value, as opposed to a personal value, this will be something that encompasses every individual in the company. From the top level, to the client facing employees and in some cases the customer themselves. When someone comes to look at your company they should be able to pick at random and say that is someone that encompasses, or strives, for those values.
So here comes the tricky bit, agreeing on what values you have. This can be difficult because everyone is an individual, and in that egotistical way we are we all generally think we’re right. Several challenges can come with this, some of the common ones are that your values actually end up contradicting themselves. For example if a company wants to achieve excellence in everything they do but at the same time want to take risks this cannot work; by taking risks you will sometimes fail (which is valuable in learning) but that means by definition you can’t achieve perfection or excellence. Another common issue could be that the values are too similar or just generic and don’t relate to your organisation. A great example is teamwork, I think everyone agrees being able to work in a team is a key skill and relatable to any job role in an organisation, but quite frankly it’s obvious. Having values that don’t engage with your organisation and its employee base would be the foundation for issues like alienation; you might as well say your company wants to make profit!
So, how do you find these values? To start with quite simply you just need to go into a room and hash it out with the decision makers. This may be frustrating and time consuming but the effort invested there will return in an engaged employee base, a motivated organisation and a clear impression to potential clients. It’s important to have the whole organisation in mind with these values, try and take emotional and ambiguous terms out of it and very importantly make each short, these aren’t mission statements. But it doesn’t stop there, you need to measure whether these values actually are a representative of your people.
This is the bit where you hear a scream in the background as people scramble for the door, not a 360! But no wait, we’re not like the rest we swear you tell them, just give this one a chance. What they’ll find is you’ve taken that interest to make it bespoke to your organisation, this won’t just be a generic file that is measuring teamwork and then put on the HR Manager’s shelf. When you engage with people and target something relatable they will return interest. This can be the starting point of bringing the organisation closer, optimising the talent it has there and going on to great successes.
It’s generally assumed that 7 seconds is the time it takes to form an impression of someone and, depending on what research you read, it can be as little as a fraction of a second. This is because as humans we’re designed to judge; it’s an evolutionary trait, we need to judge what is a threat and who is a friend and we need to do this fast. The problem with this is it makes us form stereotypes and judgements than can be damaging. Everything that we have experienced in our lives makes us programmed to perceive events in our own special way, making us incredibly unique in the fact that every person has their own story and an individual take on the world but as a sacrifice it makes us subjective in our judgements.
In the world of work the judgements made in a recruitment assessment need to try and be as objective as possible, this doesn’t mean taking the heart out of a decision, it means not letting that heart rule the decision. Handshakes for example have always irked me, I personally like to think I have a good handshake, I like many learnt a good style, practiced it and I understand its purpose of respect in business. But then you get the soft hander or the crusher and I’ll admit it evokes a knee jerk reaction in me about that person, but what has that handshake (with 100% certainty) told me about that person or how well they do their job? I’m sorry if this bursts some bubbles but it’s Nothing. That hand crusher could be just what you need in your organisation but because of a subjective interaction they are hindered in that selection process.
Hence why for an assessment processes of a candidate certain levels of objectivity should be brought in. Psychometrics and scientific methods come into play here, they don’t care if you’ve got long hair, like the 4th Indiana Jones movie or anything for that matter; these tools will simply assess on what’s needed for the job role. Objective assessments gets straight to the stuff that actually matters about a candidate, and why tools such as psychometrics should be part of any assessment process. Nepotism, Unconscious Bias and Assessment Fatigue, all these things are limited when you bring in objective assessments.
I want to make the point that letting subjective factors deciding who goes into your business is a dangerous gamble. Of course, a purely objective assessment would be just as bad because of how inhuman it would make a company seem but what is needed is a compromise to take out the issues from both subjective and objective assessments. It’s sometimes good to take a step back from the process to allow you to see the big picture, you want the best people in your business regardless about how you feel about them.
In 1968 Dick Fosbury took the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in the high jump. Aside from the great achievement of winning the gold Mr Fosbury drew great attention to himself because he did it using a technique that nobody else was using that year or any Olympics prior. A technique he had been perfecting for three years, now known as the ‘Fosbury Flop’; is now used by every high jumping Olympian.
When first hearing about this I was filled with the same kind of excitement that a child gets when they prove their parent wrong for the first time, that feeling that you have the ability to think of a better idea. Throughout my life I, like many, have tried to come up with good ideas for how to live and work but I think people should go further than that strive for that change in paradigm that can transform how something is seen to the rest of the world.
As I started my career I found it difficult to attempt any of this as I’d get shot down with the “this is how business is done” mentality, which I find both disheartening and frankly irritating. I do understand the importance of experience, great things can be achieved from listening to someone who has been through it all; however, I think it is naïve to just accept that without criticism. If someone says this is how we do it here at Organisation X I will always question why, this of course has got me in some trouble in the past but none the less I feel I should get an answer.
Organisations need to be able to facilitate open discussions that allow the question why and justify explanations when faced with scrutiny, else how on earth are they expected to develop? There is a particular saying that goes around that seems to have the lyrical rhythm to it that makes such phrases so appealing: “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. This expression is something that represents the mentality of a population willing to accept the way things are as they are. This placid mentality is something that is damaging to any organisation, not in the explosive, corruptible way, but in the way that if you leave milk out for too long it’ll curdle.
If there is nothing in place in an organisation to encourage critical thought that organisation is wasting the key resource that is has, the innovation of an employee. A passionate employee will always strive to improve the company around them, but even the most enthusiastic of us start shutting up when we realise no one is listening. There’s one thing saying you’re open to discussion and you’re an innovative organisation but what actual policies do you have to allow the next “Fosbury Flop” to happen?
“When you reach that elite level, 90 percent is mental and 10 percent is physical. You are competing against yourself. Not against the other athlete.”
~ Dick Fosbury, Champion Olympic High Jump Athlete
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