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Healthy people = healthy profits

Wellbeing and mental health are trending topics and for good reason! Many individuals and organisations are campaigning to end the stigma around mental health by raising awareness of the issue and fighting for better treatment and support being made available.

And businesses are catching on. More organisations than ever before are prioritising employee wellbeing and mental health over company profits. And this change in business approaches is yielding exceptional results.

Reduction in healthcare costs
It goes without saying that healthy employees cost you less. Most organisations pay out around $13,000 per employee on healthcare costs every year. And if you have an employee count of over 1,000…well, you do the maths. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that, when it comes to health, prevention is nearly always better than cure.

For many organisations, introducing office perks such as standing desks, healthy snacks, mental health treatment, gym memberships, and mindfulness initiatives have been great ways to support mental health and reduce health issues resulting from a sedentary lifestyle. “High-powered professionals often prioritise work over their own health. As laudable as this is, it can be unsustainable,” says Kayla Gill, content director at LuxuryRehabs.com. “It’s possible to achieve your goals while still living a healthy life.”

People want to work for ethical companies and so adopting these kinds of programmes can provide the added bonus of attracting and maintaining top talent

The rise of obesity and stress can have an extremely negative effect on employee performance. So, by taking proactive steps and caring for the mental and physical wellbeing of your team,you will see a reduction in medical claim costs and employee absences.

Improve recruitment and retention

Employees who are unhappy leave their workplace in search of somewhere better. Organisations that don’t prioritise the mental health of their employees will see a higher rate of employee turnover and find it harder to retain their top talent. Turnover costs US employers over $1 trillion a year.

Creating health programmes and enforcing wellness activities for employees are great ways to provide a healthy outlet for managing stress. This can make for a happier working environment. And a happier team means a more engaged and satisfied one.

What’s more, adopting health and wellness programmes shows potential employees that you are an ethical company that cares about treating people right and supporting them in all aspects of their lives.

People want to work for ethical companies and so adopting these kinds of programmes can provide the added bonus of attracting and maintaining top talent.

Boost productivity and engagement

Employees that are dissatisfied at work and struggling with their mental health will often be less productive and struggle to engage. Companies that prioritise employee wellbeing will see the mental health of employees improve, as well as their resilience to stress, their decision-making, their relationships with colleagues, and their approach to work.

Employee engagement is the gold standard for business success. Engaged and highly motivated employees will always do their best work and tend to go above and beyond what is required of them. Employee wellbeing and good engagement and productivity rates go hand-in-hand. One affects the other. Employees whose wellbeing in the workplace is prioritised are twice as likely to be engaged and productive at work.

If you aren’t investing in the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, you should be. Better mental health means boosted employee productivity and engagement, ultimately leading to higher profits and success for your business.

Better customer service
The better your customer service, the more customers you will attract and retain. Great customer service is central to the success of your business. Organisations that excel in customer service see the results of their efforts in the financial success of their businesses.

However, the success of your customer service will depend on the mental health and wellbeing of your employees. An overworked, stressed, or struggling employee will ultimately result in poor customer service. And this can hurt your brand reputation.

In contrast, employees that are well looked after and have high wellbeing tend to provide far better customer service, show more enthusiasm for their job, and be more productive in their role. These factors alone can boost business turnover and help win and retain high numbers of new customers.

Improve brand reputation

As a brand, if you support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees, it won’t take long for others to hear about your efforts. Employees love to shout from the rooftops about organisations they work for that allow for benefits such as flexible working hours, unlimited holidays, gym memberships, health insurance, and paid therapist appointments.

Organisations that provide the mental health of their staff are more likely to be highly favoured by their team, potential employees, and their customers. When people know that you care they are more likely to care about you, too. And in order to grow your business, you want people to care about it. So, supporting the mental health and wellness of your team is a great place to start.

Final words
Prioritising the mental health and physical wellness of your employees doesn’t just benefit them, it can also benefit your business. Healthier employees are happier employees and that means better job satisfaction, higher motivation levels, and increased company loyalty.

Source:https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/features/healthy-people-healthy-profits

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Redefining presenteeism in the workplace

Matt Jenkins argues that there are many reasons why people feel they can’t bring their “real self” to the workplace, which affects their productivity and retention of talent.
Many are familiar with the phrase “”Presenteeism‘As a person who gets a job even if he is ill. From coughs and colds to burnout and illness, people who go to work are less engaged and can be distracting.With vitality Reported by the BBC in June of this year Eighty-three percent of workers reported that presenteeism was present in the workplace. The quarter says it has deteriorated over the past year. There is no doubt that presenteeism is becoming an increasing threat to businesses around the world. However, there is a whole new category of presenteeism that needs to be considered. The idea is that an individual feels that he or she cannot bring his or her true self into the workplace, such as an extroverted or introverted personality, a sexual orientation, or a true expression of race or culture.

Hidden employee
Last year’s report from the Bureau of Higher Education Statistics (Hesa) found that African-American and Caribbean-black graduates were 6.3 points and 7.9 percent less likely to be satisfied with their work than white graduates.This is in addition to CIPD study found that LGBT + employees are more likely to experience workplace conflicts It’s more harassing than heterosexual or cisgender opponents.

Before Covid-19, there was a commonly held understanding of what it meant to be ‘present’ at work – it typically meant daily attendance at a particular office building. The term presenteeism was coined to describe the phenomenon at its extreme, and most work activities were based on co-location in a physical space. In fact, most forms of career advancement were generally considered to depend entirely on physical presence in the workplace for a regimented period of time.

However, since Covid-19 accelerated pre-existing trends towards more remote and flexible working, the concept of being ‘present’ at work has shifted. The pandemic eroded the concept that presence relies on physical co-location because for the past 18 months employees have had no choice but to be ‘digitally present’ as they work more flexibly across a range of settings, including their home.

The flexibility of work has not only impacted the space we work in, but also time. ‘Presence’ was once synonymous only with synchronous work, in which people work together on things at the same time (usually at a single office location). Now it is also an aspect of asynchronous work, in which work doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone and the cloud is the key location.

The workplace of the future

It is increasingly becoming clear that this redefinition of presence asks new questions of the office building. It can no longer be a dumb and unresponsive container for work activities carried out synchronously by a workforce that is physically attendant on a consistent and unchanging basis. In the post-pandemic era; it must become a smart and connected entity that can curate and manage the interactions of an office population whose presence will fluctuate with demand and reflect more unpredictable working patterns.

The pandemic has raised several debates in corporate real estate teams about the purpose of the office. While there is no single answer to this conundrum, the universal response in that the corporate office building will remain of critical importance as a hub to build culture and generate social capital, to seed innovation and train staff. But it will no longer be the only channel for work and it will no longer require daily attendance. In what some commentators have described as ‘omni-channel working,’ employees will work in the future via multiple channels. The task of the office building will be to become a ‘destination of choice’ that brings the right people together at the right time with the right tools for certain face-to-face activities.

The future-ready connected office

If ‘presence’ in the workplace is no longer a one-dimensional idea, but an increasingly multi-faceted one, then a stable, effective and unobtrusive digital infrastructure is needed to underpin all the emerging considerations around hybrid ways of working. Software and systems architecture need to seamlessly plug into the physical workplace and connect to other systems to work effectively and seamlessly to create the most flexible and collaborative work experience. Smart systems should be modular and scalable, so that companies can test the principles of the connected office at a basic level and be future-ready to scale up. In this context, the use of LED connected lighting with embedded IoT (Internet of Things) sensors makes a lot of sense from an operational and design perspective.

Academic research in the field of environmental psychology suggests that the continuing endurance of the office building is because it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively. There are fundamental psychological reasons why we need to be physically co-located to support creativity and innovation. As researchers Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel predicted in the Harvard Business Review in 2016: ‘Human aggregation, friction, and the interaction of our minds are vital aspects of work, especially in the creative industries. And that is why the quality of the physical workplace is becoming more crucial than ever.’

After the pandemic, the quality of the physical workplace will increasingly include smart systems and software to connect the infrastructure as part of a collaborative ecosystem. A shift in what it means to be present at work has seen to that

Source:personneltoday.com/hr/redefining-presenteeism-in-the-workplace/

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A new role for business leaders: Moral integrator

Claire was looking forward to the long holiday weekend. After two brutal weeks of late nights and early mornings getting ready for a new product launch, dealing with supplier disruptions in China, and managing a sudden labor shortage in Germany, the Fortune 500 CEO was ready to catch her breath and spend some quality time with her family. The plan was to leave first thing Saturday morning to beat the traffic headed to the shore. Instead of the alarm, though, Claire awoke to her cellphone buzzing. It was her company’s general counsel. The night before, one of the company’s top executives had been recorded drunkenly berating a waiter in racist and homophobic terms. Posted to TikTok within minutes, the video had already amassed more than 2.5 million views and was spreading like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook. Social media commentators were demanding action, institutional investors were calling, and requests for comment were flooding in from major news outlets. “Claire, how do you want to handle this?” asked the lawyer on the other end of the line.

In the past, few executives might have considered addressing social issues as part of their job description. Now, in an era when a single tweet can obliterate US$4 billion of a company’s value, it’s become even more important for leaders to understand how to negotiate this sensitive territory: in fact, it’s a business imperative. Executives need to know how to make sense of and engage with these issues so they can simultaneously deliver business results that satisfy shareholders, build trust with their employees, and meet the expectation many have that organizations are responsible for driving more equitable outcomes for society.

And the issues on the table are expanding rapidly. We saw this when North Carolina passed a bill in 2016 banning transgender people from using bathrooms in public buildings that did not correspond with their birth sex. Payments firm PayPal responded by curtailing its investments in the state, and performers canceled concerts and events. Amy Cooper, an employee of financial-services firm Franklin Templeton, was summarily dismissed by the company in 2020 after social media channels exploded with outrage over a viral video of her racially charged altercation with a Black bird-watcher in New York’s Central Park. More recently, when state legislatures proposed laws to restrict voting rights in Georgia, locally headquartered companies Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola eventually came out against the move, following heated public debates. Underlying these demands is the notion that businesses have certain moral and ethical obligations to the public.

More PwC insights

Ten Years to Midnight
Increasingly, ordinary people, customers, employees, suppliers, and even social media influencers expect leaders to speak out and act ethically, and immediately, when it comes to issues of justice and equity in their organizations—and in society at large. These emerging leadership challenges cannot be delegated or outsourced if companies are to build and retain stakeholder trust. And they most certainly weren’t on the radar when most of today’s executives were in business school or working their way up the corporate ladder. No, these new challenges require a fundamental shift in how business leaders understand and practice ethical leadership.

The present conceptualization of ethical leadership considers leaders as moral individuals within their organization (and increasingly in society). But it does not address how to bridge the gap between internal and external stakeholders’ expectations. The negotiation of this complex set of relationships requires the integration of what might appear to be competing codes and values: the fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment returns versus the moral obligation to fulfill the organization’s stated purpose and contribute positively to the external world. It’s a difficult balancing act. For example, retrofitting manufacturing plants to cut carbon emissions in support of environmental sustainability goals may be the right thing to do. But it can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades and lost productivity, negatively affect quarterly earnings, erode the balance sheet, and depress share price.

CEOs, rather than being heroes or charismatic leaders, have to become moral integrators: people who recognize this tension and have the self-awareness to use collaboration and listening skills to navigate a world in which accountability is defined in different ways by different audiences.

Defining ethical leadership
Morals are an individual’s standards for right behavior. Ethics are the codification of individuals’ morals that inform the decisions they make and the actions they take. For instance, a person who believes institutionally raising animals for food is morally wrong may choose to adopt an ethic of veganism.

CEOs, rather than being heroes or charismatic leaders, have to become moral integrators: people who have the self-awareness to navigate a world in which accountability is defined in different ways.


So, what is ethical leadership, and where does moral integration fit in? Ethical leadership came into its own starting in the early 2000s, largely in response to corporate scandals such as that at Enron, the high-profile energy company that collapsed owing to fraud. Historically, the academic literature has defined ethical leaders as both “moral persons,” meaning that they themselves act in a moral fashion, and “moral managers,” meaning that they foster an environment that inspires or compels others to behave morally.

This definition has since been enhanced by introducing the dimension of moral entrepreneurship, whereby leaders innovate new norms of behavior that contribute to society’s moral development and build stakeholder trust. Consider the CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, Dan Price, who in 2015 instituted a $70,000 minimum salary among his employees, or the menstrual hygiene company that includes people of diverse gender expressions in its advertising rather than only cisgender (people whose sense of identity corresponds with their birth sex) women.

The operational and financial benefits of ethical leadership are significant and demonstrable. Studies show that ethical leadership improves the bottom line and produces returns. It directly combats corporate wrongdoing, such as financial fraud. There’s a link between ethical leaders and positive employee performance. When employees trust their leaders to act ethically, they are more willing to speak up when they see something wrong. The employees of ethical leaders tend to be more satisfied with their jobs and more willing to go the extra mile. In social psychology, that’s called organizational citizen behavior (OCB). OCB describes discretionary actions on the part of employees that are outside the formal performance management and compensation systems and beneficial (or intended to be beneficial) to the organization. For instance, OCB is demonstrated by that salaried employee who stays late and works over the weekend to help others meet a pressing deadline, or the one who volunteers to organize office-wide social events and brings homemade treats for team members’ birthdays. Ethical leaders increase OCB, and studies have demonstrated that OCB is a contributing factor to enhanced firm performance.

Two case studies
As part of my doctoral studies, I analyzed how organizations applied ethical leadership in response to publicized incidents of anti-Black racism involving their employees. The goal was to test the idea for the role of moral integrator. I focused on two cases that took place in the United States in the last three years within publicly traded companies. The cases followed the same basic pattern: a casual observer’s smartphone video of an employee demonstrating racist behavior went viral; social media users quickly identified the employee’s company and flooded its social media accounts with demands for an organizational response.

In one case, the event occurred in the workplace; in the other, it transpired outside the office, but the location did not appear to make a difference in how the public reacted. In both cases, the companies responded to the outcry with a mix of statements on social media, press releases, and traditional news interviews with corporate executives detailing the steps the company was taking to address the situation.

The employee in one of the cases was terminated as soon as the video went viral. In a video interview with a business news outlet, the company’s CEO discussed the decision to immediately fire the employee in terms of aligning management’s actions with the organization’s stated values, claiming “zero tolerance for any kind of racism.” Journalists questioned the CEO’s portrayal of the company’s ethos, noting that former executives and current board members had financially supported political candidates with ties to white nationalism and that the company’s track record of hiring and promoting underrepresented groups was abysmal.

In an open letter on the company’s website, the CEO repeated the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) to her personally and to the company, noting that D&I directly contributed to delivering superior service to clients and returns for investors. However, none of the company’s public quarterly or annual reports bore any mention of D&I. The topic was also absent from the two earnings calls following the event. Neither the company’s leaders nor the analysts raised it.

The response in this first case exemplified a lack of moral integration by the organization’s leaders. Although the CEO made the expected remarks in the media about the incident and about the company’s values, and the company acted quickly to discipline the employee, when it came to communicating with investors and proactively taking a stand on the issue of racism, the executives were silent. The message conveyed was that the company outwardly presented an image of caring about D&I but inwardly considered it irrelevant to investors. In other words, talk of anti-racism was a show for the public rather than a topic for the boardroom. The company’s response did not move the dial or signal that this was a watershed moment. To a degree, it came from a standard tool kit. Firing an employee for behavior that violates a company’s code of conduct is an established human resources practice.

Public reaction to the company’s handling of this incident was mixed. Members of the business press heaped praise on the CEO for being so passionate about D&I. Social media commentators lamented the lack of tangible outcomes, noting that firing a single employee and returning to business as usual did not address systemic issues. Ultimately, the incident and the company’s response did not appear to hurt earnings or share price. The executives lived up to their fiduciary responsibility to investors but not to the expectations of some stakeholders.

In the second case I examined, the executives approached their response differently. The employee was not terminated as a result of the incident. Rather than focusing on the employee, the CEO and other leaders concentrated on the broader issue of racism in business and society. They framed the event as management’s failure to properly train and educate employees about unconscious racial bias. “This is on me and my team,” said the CEO. Some cable news journalists questioned whether this response from the company would make it a target for activists looking to create trouble for prominent brands. One interviewer seemed to imply that the problem was the recording and sharing of the event rather than the incident itself. The executives dismissed this notion. Instead, they acknowledged that they could not eradicate racism because it was a systemic issue in society—but they could address it within their company. And they transparently put forth a plan to start driving change there. Moreover, they made their training curriculum freely available online for other organizations to use.

The incident and the cost the company incurred in responding to it were proactively discussed by the executives on the two earnings calls following the event and mentioned in the quarterly and annual reports. Most importantly, these executives were humble. They met with the individuals who were harmed in the incident and apologized. They also listened to concerns from community groups and publicly shared what they learned. The company’s earnings and stock price rose following the incident, and the company earned praise from stakeholders across the board.

In both cases, the executives were trying to perform a delicate operation of integrating their personal ethics with both the expectations of organizational stakeholders and their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. These goals may not always seem to be aligned because of the costs involved in delivering to stakeholders in the short term. Companies know they must build and maintain trust with societal stakeholders by acting in accordance with evolving societal norms for ethical conduct. The recent focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) programs and reporting reflects the awareness of this imperative among investors and analysts.

How to incorporate moral integration
How can CEOs both head off incidents that will spark a backlash and send messages that all stakeholders will accept?

In the two cases analyzed here, certain executives stood out because they simultaneously managed stakeholder and shareholder expectations, particularly regarding the ability of businesses to bring about social change in their organizations; and they listened to stakeholders and shareholders with discernment. They engaged in difficult conversations with individuals who had been harmed by the events involving their employees, and publicly acknowledged, with humility, the challenges their businesses faced.

They reframed the issue of corporate participation in efforts to promote social welfare as investments that benefited the business as well as society, not purely as an expense. For example, the CEO in the second case explained that the company was investing in its culture to directly enhance customer experience and said that this would drive revenue and market share—key contributors to share value. The CEO put the company’s actions into words that linked ethical leadership practices to fiduciary responsibilities in terms investors understood and could appreciate.

One way to emulate this approach is to learn how to have the right kinds of conversations. This is where coaching can help. Dialogue should not be performative, appropriated by corporations solely for the self-serving goal of enhancing organizational efficacy. Coaches can support organizational leaders in practicing ethical leadership by helping them make sense of these complex situations and then, through dialogue, creating lively exchanges and mutual understanding between groups with seemingly competing priorities.

Another element to encourage is heightened self-awareness. Self-awareness prepares leaders to better trust their instincts and act in alignment with their values. Both elements are critical to the practice of ethical leadership. In the second case study above, the self-aware leader instinctively acted with humility and tried to address the systemic cause of the problem: racism in society.

Self-awareness also improves resilience. The surest way to cause people to burn out is to make them do something for money they believe to be wrong. To engage in more effective and productive dialogue, leaders will need to develop a strong sense of how their words and actions affect others. Among the many ways to cultivate self-awareness, mindfulness is one of the most powerful. Mindfulness is often trivialized, despite neuroscientific research demonstrating its value.

Every day, executives are facing events and realities that require moral integration: viral videos of racist language from employees, pay equity concerns, sustainability targets, and ransomware demands, to name a few. They need the ability to operate beyond existing leadership practices. They need to understand how to connect in more authentic ways with stakeholders without compromising their integrity. As moral integrators, they can help influence their shareholders to accept initiatives aimed at advancing social justice by translating their actions into terms compatible with their fiduciary relationship. Similarly, organizational leaders can work with stakeholders to understand their concerns and desires for change and identify approaches for implementing solutions. Ultimately, these approaches can deliver results that build trust in society and produce sustainable shareholder value.

Source:https://www.strategy-business.com/article/A-new-role-for-business-leaders-Moral-integrator

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The Power of Sign Language to Create a More Connected and Inclusive World

Like most college and university presidents, I find this fall to be an especially promising time as our schools have resumed face-to-face instruction across the country. We no longer take for granted the power of learning in the physical presence of others. While learning can be effectively achieved virtually, after the hiatus of face-to-face learning for many of us over the past 18 months, we enter this new academic year with a deeper and more profound appreciation for the physical presence of our communities. Language is central to all of this.

At Gallaudet, our reunion this fall on campus is especially poignant and perhaps more deeply cherished. For our linguistic minority that uses and learns through both American Sign Language (ASL) and reading and writing English (bilingual education), being back on campus means restoring our 3D visual language and learning experience and our visual sign language vibrancy. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we seamlessly shifted our entire educational mission into the cloud, into the digital virtual world, including our pre-K-12 educational programs. However, a majority of our students left campus to reside in predominantly spoken language environments and maintained their lifeline to the signing visual experience through video screens. Once the screen is turned off, so too, is their access to the visually vibrant signing campus. While we were able to replicate much of our sign language vibrancy online, we lost the 3D and physical vibe that we achieve when we gather and socialize, whether it’s intentional and planned or just incidental meetings in the halls or on our campus grounds.

Access to language and communication is a fundamental human right, one that all too often is denied to deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind people. Only one to two percent of deaf children worldwide have access to education in sign language. For centuries, sign and spoken language have been set up as rivals inchild development, language planning and deaf education, presenting parents with a stark binary option, pick either spoken language or sign language, denying too many children the full range of options to support their language, brain growth andlifelong well-being. Consequently, policies and practices have missed the opportunity to support families and children,embracing the full possibilities that can be achieved if every child — not only deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind children — receives exposure to sign and spoken languages. Sign language is not only beneficial for those born deaf. Most adults will suffer from late hearing loss after the age of 55. Knowledge of sign language, far more than most people realize, is a universal imperative.

At Gallaudet in 1960, a team of researchers proved that ASL was a language in its own right. Today, on our campus and in the Gallaudet neighborhood, you see the power and vibrancy of sign language everyday with both hearing and deaf people. Many of the nearby businesses have signing employees, as well as visuocentric menus and point-of-sale terminals. On H Street there is a signing Starbucks, a deaf-friendly Chase branch, and Mozzeria, a deaf-founded and deaf-staffed Neapolitan pizza restaurant. Just a few blocks away is the Apple Store at Carnegie Library with nearly two dozen deaf employees. We are seeing the power of how American Sign Language strengthens our community and brings us together in new and inclusive ways. Late deafened people and their families can now find settings where they can naturally immerse themselves in sign language to build a more inclusive family experience for everyone.

Our sign language economy in the United States is big business. It brings economic value to our cities and our neighborhoods. Our local and state bilingual education programs create thousands of jobs for deaf and hearing people who are bilingual. Colleges and universities across the nation generate more than$43 million in revenue from teaching ASL, with Gallaudet training most teachers for these programs through our Master of Arts in Sign Language Education program. Gallaudet is proud of the fact that our university and our alumni have played a major role in building a sign language economy in the U.S. now worth an estimated $2 billion to $3 billion.

There are many misconceptions surrounding sign languages. Just like there is no universal spoken language, sign language is not universal. There are hundreds of sign languages and dialects used throughout the world, including ASL, Black ASL, and protactile sign languages used by deafblind people

The human experience and research affirm that the brain does not prioritize spoken language over sign language. Science has shown that the brain recognizes sign languages and spoken languages equally. Science also has shown the benefits or “gain” of learning visual language on brain development, including enhanced reading skills and comprehension, improved complex brain functioning especially with math and music, even protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s. Importantly, research on how human brains produce language on the eyes and hands as effectively as through the ears and mouth is changing our understanding of the impact of visual learning and visual language on the development of the brain and children.

Sign languages are currently enjoying a moment in the spotlight, from the myriad of deaf actors using sign language in recent movies such as CODA and television shows such as New Amsterdam and This Close, to the use of certified deaf interpreters at recent COVID government briefings. All of this is welcomed, but these must not just be fleeting moments that fade once the cool factor wears off, an all too familiar experience for the deaf community. Sign language should be respected, embraced, valued the same as any other language each and every day.

More than ever, as Gallaudet has returned to campus and the classroom, I contemplate the power and vibrancy of sign language and its integral role not only in our students’ lifelong success but also in the creation of a more inclusive and connected world. As it has for 157 years, our university remains steadfast in its mission to expand bilingual learning opportunities across our students’ lifespan. By doing so, Gallaudet will continue to help the broader world more fully recognize, respect and embrace the value of deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind people and their contributions to our world.

But Gallaudet and the broader deaf community cannot do this alone. Our world needs a sign language mind shift, a profound societal awakening that access to any language, signed or spoken, is ultimately about the fundamental right to human connection – connection that we all rightly expect, need and enjoy – connection that is so central to our life and liberty.

Fittingly, the theme of this year’s International Day of Sign Languages was “We Sign for Human Rights.” I invite all of you to be our partners as we grow the signing ecosystem and cultivate opportunities in the local, national, and global economies. What can you do? Befriend your deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind neighbors and colleagues, take ASL classes, support deaf organizations and businesses, hire deaf talent, and immerse yourself in the vibrant signing culture close to where you live and work. We all will be enlightened through our shared experiences and the far more connected and inclusive world that we create together.

Source:https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=20369493&article-title=the-power-of-sign-language-to-create-a-more-connected-and-inclusive-world&blog-domain=thriveglobal.com&blog-title=thrive-global

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How Entrepreneurs Solve the Big Fish vs. Big Pond Dilemma

ollaboration with a partner is not strictly a two-way affair; instead, prospective partners take the entire competitive landscape into account when forming ties.

In the movie Jerry Maguire, a sports agent played by Tom Cruise is fired from his top agency after openly criticising its impersonal approach. He is forced to go it alone, but all his clients desert him, preferring to continue to be represented by a large, established organisation. That is, all except American footballer Rod Tidwell (played by Cuba Gooding Jr), who feels his career could use more personalised attention.

While movie-goers know that, indeed, things end well for Tidwell, an important question remains: When striking a partnership, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? In a paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, my co-authors* and I looked at the particular case of developers and publishers of PlayStation2 (PS2) video games, at a time when self-publishing of titles was not yet an option and developer-publisher ties were necessary to commercialise a game. We found that the level of experience of developers and the relative uncertainty they faced in terms of getting personalised attention from a publisher were driving much of their decision to seek a certain “pond” size.

Two conflicting goals requiring a trade-off

Akin to the book industry with its authors and publishing houses, the video game industry involves developers that propose game concepts and initial development, and publishers that provide late-stage development and access to markets. Out of the 163 PS2 games which have sold more than 1 million units, only 30 were published directly by Sony, the manufacturer of the console.

When partnering up, developers typically seek two things. On the one hand, they want a close collaboration in order to develop the very best product there is. In an extremely crowded video game market, an average product may essentially be a “dead fish”, so to speak. (Over 3,800 game titles have been released for the PS2.) On the other hand, developers would also like to secure the largest market access. After all, how sad if no one ever hears about their newly launched PS2 game.

The problem is that meeting both goals to the highest degree is unrealistically difficult. Large publishers with strong connections to retailers and which are able to organise vast launch campaigns often attract many high-calibre partners. As such, a partner may not receive a lot of personalised attention. Especially if many other, stronger developers work with the same publisher. A trade-off is usually necessary.

We collected data on 367 developers of PS2 games and 170 publishers between 2000 and 2009, the time period when console games were most popular. The majority of our sample firms were based in the three countries that dominated the industry: Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Our data collection strategy enabled us to build a comprehensive dataset on the activities of the mostly private developers and publishers in the industry.

We supplemented our data analysis with two waves of in-depth interviews. We found that younger or newer entrepreneurs focused on getting development help and worried less about reaching the largest number of consumers. This point was particularly salient for early-stage developers. As one of them told us: “When you’re innovating … there’s always some snag and always some complication that you did not foresee. It is crucial than [an established firm] is going to support you.”

Keeping an eye on the other horses in the race

In addition, the more competitive the market – i.e. the more developers are out there competing for publisher attention – the more a novice entrepreneur might be concerned about getting the proper level of attention that will ensure product differentiation. An interviewee said: “You have to worry about the competitive set that the publisher supports. The publisher may have great capability in your title because they also publish your major competitor. Then you have to ask yourself, is it going to lead them to prioritise your project lower.”

After all, entering a collaboration is only the first step. Securing the desired resources from the partner/publisher is not always guaranteed. Established firms in technology industries may sign more developers than they can eventually support, a fact that is not lost on these entrepreneurs. The number and the quality of the “other horses in the race” create uncertainty – and a definite threat – for developers. As a matter of fact, our data showed that when a developer ranked lower than average (in terms of the quality of its previously published games), it was 26 percent more likely to have its projects cancelled than its higher-ranked peers.

In all, experienced entrepreneurs who didn’t expect to need as much support based on their track record were willing to give up almost four times as much development help as inexperienced developers to secure better market access. Of course, publishers do not wait around to be chosen. Naturally, established publishers with high market access also prefer to partner with experienced developers, reducing their risk of needing to toil over duds.

Collaboration is more dynamic than it may seem at first glance

Although our dataset concerns the video game industry, our results apply to other types of entrepreneurs who need to form collaborations, partnerships or other types of ties to go to market. These include content creators of any kind partnering with platforms or other market intermediaries that may help refine their products. Biotechnology entrepreneurs partnering with pharmaceutical firms to hone their products and gain market access are another great example.

In fact, we all face the big fish/big pond dilemma more often than we realise. When we take a job in a famous company, we accept the idea that we are (in all likelihood) going to be just one of the many very smart people working there. Standing out may prove difficult. Conversely, if we choose to work for a new start-up, we may rise rapidly, but our opportunity to shine outside the firm (through speaking engagements or media requests, for instance) may remain limited. In our personal lives, if we choose to befriend a very popular person, we may have to fight for their time and attention.

Any sort of collaboration entails a trade-off between our status, the status of the partners we have in mind, and the status of the other people interested in partnering with them. The process is a lot more dynamic than it seems. Depending on the competitive landscape, you may want your very own Jerry Maguire.

Source:https://knowledge.insead.edu/entrepreneurship/how-entrepreneurs-solve-the-big-fish-vs-big-pond-dilemma-17036

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How To Be A Good Internal Consultant

As an internal consultant and a member of an internal consulting team (although “internal consultant” or “internal consulting” is not in our “official” job titles), my colleagues and I are often called on to lead, support, and offer coaching, consultation, or facilitation services on wide-ranging areas, projects, and initiatives including culture, change management, conflict management, leadership development, organizational development, learning & development, onboarding, and so much more. Indeed, now more than ever, today’s HR professionals play the role of internal consultants (Miller, 2016).

The Association of Internal Management Consultants (AIMC) says that an internal consultant provides various client support services within the enterprise. They may be in a variety of areas (e.g., project management, quality management, human resources, information technology, training & development, finance, supply chain management, process improvement, etc.).

According to Phillips, Trotter, and Phillips (2015), “The rapid rate of change coupled with heightened competition on a global basis is increasing the need for companies and public sector organizations to develop effective internal consulting capabilities” (p. 3).

Important competencies to be a successful internal consultant (Phillips, Trotter, & Phillips, 2015) include communication skills, feedback skills, problem-solving & analytical skills, and organizational skills. Additionally, several core consulting skills (AIMC, 2017) are needed, such as business acumen, business process optimization, change management, coaching & consulting skills, and project management.

If you want a company to value you as an indispensable internal consultant — especially in the human resources, talent management, and leadership development space — here are a few tips I’d like to share based on my work and experience as an internal consultant.

First, it doesn’t matter how smart or knowledgeable you are or how much experience you have or bring. If you want to excel as an internal consultant and have top corporate decision-makers listen to you, you’ll need to master the art of influence & persuasion — how to sell your ideas and convince leaders to go along with you. Leaders are short on time and attention. You must master the ability to be concise, to-the-point, and ensure that your timing is right. For instance, if you are advocating for a specific program or agenda, but it does not align with your organizations’ goals or senior leaders’ mindsets, it will be very unlikely your proposal will ever have a chance of getting off the ground. The ability to both gain senior leadership buy-in and support and navigate an organization’s hierarchy, politics, and culture is absolutely critical to an internal consultant’s success (Zentis, 2018).

Second, learn to be interpersonally savvy because it is “an essential part of getting things done within organization” (Barnfield & Lombardo, 2014, p. 235). “Interpersonal savvy helps you read and address relationships appropriately and at the right time” (Scisco, Biech, & Hallenbeck, 2017, p. 261). I have seen individuals with graduate education and degrees (i.e., knowledge) be terribly ineffective at internal consulting because they were unable or unwilling to move out of their comfort zone (i.e., relying solely or mostly on knowledge or technical skills, rather than being savvy enough to read the situation and the relationship and understand what others need and respond accordingly).

Third, a positive attitude goes a very long way in helping you gain social capital, as well as getting you to the table of these decision makers. Regardless of how smart, talented, or experienced you are, if you have a bad attitude and cannot get along with others, you will struggle to get senior executives to listen to you. They may accept your work or ideas but will never see you as a leader or a person with the potential to become one. You have to play nicely with others. Even if you are the resident “genius” and you know how to do everything, if your attitude sucks, no one will care what you have to say, even if you’re right.

Earlier, I shared important competencies needed to be a successful internal consultant. These included Communication Skills, Feedback Skills, Problem-Solving & Analytical Skills, Organizational Skills, Business Acumen, Business Process Optimization, Change Management, Coaching & Consulting Skills, and Project Management.

Here are 8 competencies (some of these will be identical, similar to, or complement the ones previously outlined, while others will be new and different) you can incorporate into your repertoire to help become an effective internal consultant:

From CCL Compass (Scisco, Biech, & Hallenbeck, 2017):

  1. Communication (p. 9) – “Listen, convey your ideas and emotions with clarity and authenticity, and adapt your personal speaking as needed for the situation and audience to foster an environment of trust.”
  2. Interpersonal Savvy (p. 261) – “You need interpersonal skills to recognize and assess what others need. These skills involve not only listening to others, but also include noticing social cues that communicate how others are thinking and feeling, even if they don’t say so outright.”
  3. Influence (p. 17) – “Your greatest leadership asset is your ability to understand and persuade others. Influential leaders know how to get others to work with them, whether or not formal authority exists.”
  4. Tolerating Ambiguity (p. 401) – “[I]n today’s business environment, ambiguity is pervasive and affects leaders at all organizational levels. . . . Learn to handle ambiguity comfortably and confidently and learn to anticipate situations rather than simply react to or retreat from them. Make peace with ambiguity and gain greater control over how you handle key decisions in daily situations and over your career.”

From Awaken, Align, Accelerate (Nelson & Ortmeier, 2011):

  1. Business Acumen (p. 159) – A leader with strong business acumen understands the global environment, business model, and key drivers of the organization, and leverages this understanding to recommend alternatives and measure performance.
  2. Building Collaboration (p. 285) – A collaborative leader participates with and involves others, promotes cooperation, builds partnerships, and resolves conflicts.
  3. Creating Alignment (p. 57) – An effective change leader creates alignment by ensuring the structure, systems, people, and processes are aligned in support of organizational goals.

From Bernholz and Teng’s Harvard Business Review article (2015):

  1. Be Entrepreneurial & “Be Scrappy” – In Bernholz and Teng’s article, in which they offered recommendations on how to build an in-house consulting team, one of their suggestions is “be scrappy” and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. At EMC Information Infrastructure (EMC II, which has since been acquired by Dell), an information technology, storage & protection company, Bernholz (now VP, Head of Corporate Strategy at Adobe) and Teng (now VP of Global Business Transformation at Commvault) knew they didn’t have the luxury of having extensive support staff that external firms often enjoyed. So they made up for the staffing shortfall “by assigning all [internal EMC] consultants to an “office development” team, such as recruiting, training and onboarding, knowledge management, or social committee. Though these require time commitment beyond project-work, they offer team members the opportunity to shape the group’s operations and culture, instilling an entrepreneurial mindset among [internal EMC’s] consultants.”

Takeaway: Here’s my advice to those who wish to be outstanding internal consultants to organizations. To increase your chances of success: (1) Take a few steps back (figuratively) to really understand the issue or problem and absorb (like a sponge) everything you see, hear, and experience; (2) Build and maintain solid long-term relationships throughout the company; and (3) Work to connect the dots by thinking about and asking these questions: (a) “Why has this issue been a recurring one?” (b) “How many people or departments have an influence over this or play a key role?” (c) “Who truly holds the decision-making power and who are the influencers in the organization?”, and (d) “If others (inside & outside the company) have come up with a solution, why has it not worked?” By talking and listening to others, you will be in a great position to better know and understand the organization and the industry in which it sits. Finally, learn to get along and work well with others and be nice. If you are a jerk, you will have a very hard time providing internal consulting services.

Source:https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=20349089&article-title=how-to-be-a-good-internal-consultant&blog-domain=workplacepsychology.net&blog-title=workplace-psychology

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Five actions to help your organization leap from survivor to thriver

A new generation of leading companies emerging from the pandemic crisis will operate by the rules of a new S-curve of growth.
To innovate at scale, organizations can take a future-back approach by using future scenarios to create a multi-horizon strategic roadmap.
Using data to understand the customer and moving from supply chains to supply networks will help companies innovate the unique experiences customers demand.
Since World War II, the global economy has followed an extended S-curve of growth. The foundation of this growth has primarily rested on the traditional value drivers of scope, scale and efficiency to measure performance and value.

However, within the last 10 years, we’ve begun to see a shift, both with the backlash against companies that ignore their systemic impacts on the world, and with the explosive rise of digitally-driven, hypergrowth “unicorn” companies that have exponentially raised expectations around the consumer experience and propelled valuations to new heights.

We expect another disruptive generation of leading companies to emerge from the current pandemic crisis, accelerating existing trends and creating new ones. They will operate by the rules of a new S-curve, where innovation timelines compress and ideation, prototyping, piloting and commercialization will happen in rapid cycles at global scale.

Examples of companies that leaped onto the new S-curve during the pandemic include a healthcare enterprise software company developing a video-based medical consultation service in 48 hours for healthcare workers in the UK, an African taxi start-up becoming a delivery service, and a Canadian biotech company that used its AI platform to identify drugs already FDA approved that had the potential to treat COVID-19.

These and other innovative companies have left behind the traditional drivers of scope, scale and efficiency in favor of long-term value creation to meet the dynamic demands of their customers or broader society. In following the path toward long-term value, organizations will need to build their performance using new transformational value drivers that put humans at the center of purpose and strategy, deploy technology at the speed where exponential benefits accrue, and innovate at scale to be at the forefront of reshaping industries and customer expectations.

innovation infograph
The magic of the next S-curve showcases solving challenges with creative approaches
Even before the pandemic, customer behaviors and preferences were shifting toward hyper-personalized, predictive and adaptive customer experiences. The pandemic, which has kept many people at home, has rapidly escalated these expectations. Customers want the companies they interact with to know who they are, what they want and how to deliver products and services that are of high value to their lives.

Companies that use data to gain a deep understanding of their customers and provide unique experiences — whether it’s individualized cancer care, custom-designed and 3D printed athletic shoes that provide a perfect fit or furniture that is ergonomically designed to relieve a customer’s specific pressure points — will exponentially accelerate along the next S-curve of growth.

To innovate at the speed and scale they’ll need for success, companies will have to transform strategically, digitally and operationally.

Companies that use data to gain a deep understanding of their customers and provide unique experiences will exponentially accelerate along the next S-curve of growth.

How EY can help
Strategy consulting
EY-Parthenon professionals recognize that CEOs and business leaders are tasked with achieving maximum value for their organizations’ stakeholders in this transformative age. We challenge assumptions to design and deliver strategies that help improve profitability and long-term value.

Read more
A future-back approach sets the strategy for innovating at scale
Innovating at scale along this new growth trajectory requires companies to take a future-back approach to strategic planning, as exponential value creators have done in previous times of crisis and change. Leaders of these companies look into the distant future and consider whether their business will be as relevant then as it is now. They then use their purpose to explore their opportunities and their vision to work future-back scenarios that make sure they are following a path where the priorities and actions of today are positioning them on a relevant and exponential trajectory for 15 or 20 years down the road.

With future scenarios as a starting point, companies can then create a multi-horizon strategic map that charts a course from the future back to today. The latest EY Megatrends report is a think-tank research report on global futures and highlights five steps for developing a future-back strategy using megatrends as a foundation. The concept of future-back planning results in an ability to break free from past assumptions, explore megatrends that will change the world and identify weak signals beginning to reveal the future. From there, organizations can use that understanding, today, to develop a better strategic investment and transformation plans.

Future-back planning provides an opportunity to break free from past assumptions, explore megatrends that will change the world and identify weak signals beginning to reveal the future. Organizations can use that understanding, today, to develop a better strategic investment and transformation plans.

Data will be the differentiator between products and unique experiences
Technologically, companies looking to make the leap from middle of the pack to exponential value creators, will need to more effectively harness the reams of data they are already collecting and generate vast amounts beyond what we collect today.

In a recent EY study, 83% of digital transformation leaders understood the value their companies could gain from leveraging data and analytics insights to speed innovation. Even 70% of digital transformation laggards see the same value.

Understanding the value data can bring
00%
of digital transformation leaders use data to help them innovate faster.

To be successful, organizational leaders need to see data as an asset worth investing in. Further, companies will want to act on the following three innovation imperatives, as outlined in How data can help you innovate when change is constant:

Assemble the right teams that have experience across strategic change, design thinking, data science and industry knowledge. They’ll be able to ask the right questions to get the right results.
Develop a human-centered innovation business model, operating model, and culture that embraces and drives change. Using data to augment the capabilities and experiences for people in innovative new ways is the key to realized value.
Deliver insights and results fast and have a clear plan for industrialization. Analytics sprints can help teams iterate through business questions, starting simply and becoming increasingly complex to support new innovations that can be embedded at scale.
Of course, any actions companies take to strengthen their data and analytics, and artificial intelligence capabilities will need to tie back to the future-back strategy the company has set.

Customer expectations propel operational value chains into an autonomous era
Operationally, value chains will need to evolve to keep pace with making innovations tangible and real in terms of products and services for customers. For years, companies have relied predominantly on efficient, just-in-time supply chains that mass produce products to ship in bulk to customers. In delivering hyper-personalized experiences, companies will need to move toward flexible, resilient supply networks that are highly responsive to local needs, and flexible enough to reconfigure and deliver new products and services quickly.

In a networked era, supply chains will be data-driven and allow for end-to-end visibility, hyper personalization and real-time communication. This will allow companies to manufacture uniquely designed, bespoke products at scale. Emerging technologies also will play a critical role in disruptive innovation by helping companies to make real-time decisions and integrate data to source, make, sell and deliver their products.

In an autonomous era, companies will produce products at or nearer to the source of consumption. In this new autonomous reality, items would be available to customers on-demand and in real-time by accessing the flow of intellectual property and production when needed and producing products in seconds.

If the goal is to deliver hyper-personalized experiences, companies will need to move toward resilient supply networks that are highly responsive to local needs, and flexible enough to reconfigure and deliver new products and services quickly.

Along the new S-curve, the beyond is closer than we think
Along the new S-curve of growth, innovating at scale will require companies to place humans at the center of their customer journey, develop a future-back strategy, harness their customer data to deliver unique experiences and turn their supply chains into networked then autonomous supply networks. By understanding individual customer needs and delivering at scale in real time, companies can find themselves leading the next generation of post-pandemic disruptors into a beyond that is closer than we think.
Source:https://www.ey.com/en_gl/consulting/where-does-innovation-at-scale-meet-the-new-s-curve-of-growth

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The Explosive Growth In Coaching: One Of The Biggest Trends In Business

This week BetterUp announced another $300M round of funding, valuing the company at $4.7 Billion. Recurring revenues are already over $100 Million this year more than doubling year over year. Vendors like SpringHealth (Unicorn on the therapy side of coaching), CoachHub (a fast follower to BetterUp), Torch (coaching integrated into L&D), and others are now riding this wave.

As Alexi Robichaux (CEO) puts it, the world of benefits, learning, and employee development have merged. And I really have to agree. And the “digital health” industry itself has received more than $20 Billion this year, showing how explosive this new combination can be.

If you think about it as a CEO, the connection is obvious. We want our employees to feel healthy, energetic, engaged, and ready. Our Employee Experience research points this out in detail: all these benefits programs come together.

Later this month we’re going to be launching a massive study on this market, one we call The Healthy Organization. And what you’re going to see is that wellbeing programs, coaching, development, and leadership coaching are all connected together. In fact the one silver lining of the pandemic is that it taught us all a big lesson: if you don’t focus on the “whole person” at work, all these individual HR programs don’t add up.

Consider what Alexi tells me about his clients (Chevron, for example). Before the use of coaching, managers had sporadic leadership development training and many of them just struggle to learn to lead. Remote workers and staff members try to “learn to deal with stress” on their own. The wellbeing strategy is clear at the CEO level, but the head of compensation and benefits often sees these as “programs” and measures results through utilization.

BetterUp, which integrates development, coaching, assessment, and career growth, ties all this together. So this massive spending on “benefits” (which sits in the comp department) and the similarly massive investment in training (which sits in L&D) can now come together.

Chevron: Precision Development At Scale

I’ve interviewed Chevron in detail and the impact of BetterUp is amazing. Let me share some details here.

Since the start of the program in July of 2020, more than 1,200 Chevron leaders received personalized development. The Net-Promoter score of the experience is +65 (my last study of corporate L&D found that the L&D function itself has a negative net-promoter score), and 94% of these leaders say “coaching makes them more effective at their job.”

And it gets even better. Through a new offering called Coaching Circles, Chevron leaders can come together in small global groups to discuss and learn through expert facilitated discussions. These programs have now reached more than 3,000 Chevron leaders in 15 languages.

Other benefits from leaders (analyzed through self-reflection and assessment) at Chevron include a 15% increase in employee recognition, 12% improvement in business alignment, 13% improvement in problem-solving, and 16% improvement in strategic planning.

And in the case of Chevron, this initiative has helped the company transform and improve its entire performance management process. As the energy industry goes through massive change, this benefit alone more than cost-justifies the investment.

Where Is All This Going?

As you’ll read about in our upcoming Healthy Company research, Wellbeing at Work has come a long way. Going back to the Cadbury employee health and living facilities in the 1800s, today companies want to provide an end-to-end “healthy experience” for employees.

This brings together the disciplines of employee engagement, development, job design, and coaching into one integrated view. Add a dose of technology, and you get AI-enabled coaching, “whole-person” assessment, and a myriad of digital health programs added on. It’s a new whole-person focus for employees, and this brings the entire function of HR together. All in the flow of work.

And the vendor market comes together too. Vendors like BetterUp, which focuses on the whole employee “system,” will transform the way we think about corporate training, wellbeing, and leadership.

As I’ve told people many times, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s about the “unquenchable power of the human spirit.” When we give people the right support and a safe environment, they do amazing things for your company.

Start thinking about all your HR programs as investments in the “whole person” at work. It will pay off many times over.

Source:https://joshbersin.com/2021/10/the-explosive-growth-in-coaching-one-of-the-biggest-trends-in-business/

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Data Drop: Touchless Greetings, the Death of the Open Office and the Impact of Class on Collaboration

Returning to work was always going to churn up a mixed bag of feelings among employees and HR vendors are looking to get a sense of what those feelings are. Combine it with the ongoing wave of resignations, increased automation in the workplace and what you’ve got is a recipe for data telling you the story of how people are reacting to it.

As usual, my inbox is full of the latest studies and surveys being conducted by HR vendors, researchers and employers of all sizes. In today’s data drop, we’re going to take a closer look at how employees are coping with all these factors and what they aren’t looking forward to about going back to work.

No Touching
Remember the days of handshakes? Well your memory might be the only place they exist moving forward. After COVID-19, it’s only natural that a heightened awareness of contamination and swapping germs will be more commonplace. As employees return to work, employers are finding ways to give people more distance from each other or more opportunities to sanitize themselves and their environment.

When it comes to greeting each other, a Qualtrics study reveals that more than a third of employees say they’ll be using touchless greetings with colleagues, such as a wave or a friendly nod.

You might be tempted to think: what’s the big deal? It is after all, it’s just a greeting among people you already know. But the fact is, many employees have anxiety about the awkwardness of social situations and following proper etiquette when returning to the office. And for many of these people, this will be the first time they have met colleagues face-to-face. Around 57% of people surveyed said they would be meeting some colleagues for the first time when returning to the office.

While it may seem a small thing, this might be a good time to establish some norms around social etiquette, at least in the short term future while so much uncertainty swirls around COVID variants and how to ensure people are vaccinated.

Give Me My Space
As long as we’re talking about vaccinations, the folks over at interior design and architecture blog Homedit conducted a survey that revealed some concerns people have about the new workspaces they’ll be coming back to.

There were two really notable points to come out of it though. The first, was that 72% of employees feel that their employer should require some kind of proof of vaccination in order for someone to return to work. The data illustrates what many an HR professional knows to be true; the level of anxiety around COVID-19 has only eased somewhat following vaccine rollouts.

READ: Employee Experience Remains a Priority as Work Models Shift Post Pandemic

The second only illustrates their anxiety about being around each other further, with 83% of respondents saying they would prefer any other office layout than an open one. And science may have finally given us more of an understanding as to why that is.

A study released in June from the Journal of Management & Organization show that open office plans have a negative impact on employees. Specifically, it studied the impact of open office noise on cognitive performance, physiological stress and mood, monitoring things like heart rate, facial expressions and skin conductivity. The findings show a causal relationship between open office noise and physiological stress. People tended to sweat more and facial expressions show signs of tension.

After a year of people finding new levels of productivity and comfort working at home, plunging them back into any office environment could have negative impacts. If you’re absolutely certain returning employees to an office is what you want to do, you might want to consider ways to help them find spaces that ease stress levels. If you don’t, keep in mind that more than half of employees around the world are willing to find a new job if their employer eliminates the option to work from home at least part of the time.

Class Collaborators
Collaboration is a key component of a dynamic workplace these days and something that you find everyone from floor manager to C-suite executives talking about. It’s a skill that pops up in just about every job description these days and employers spend a great deal of time figuring out ways to facilitate and encourage collaboration.

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that what drives someone to collaborate may not simply be their personality type, but their life experience, particularly as it relates to class. The study looked at groups of people from varying classes performing interdependent team work. What they discovered is that groups from lower social class backgrounds had conversations that were more wide-ranging, active and balanced than their middle and upper-class counterparts, something key to high team performance.

As the study notes, these people often fail to stand out as individual star performers in a divide and conquer approach to work, but when working as part of a collective are extremely effective.

Previous studies have revealed that in most collaborative environments, 3-5% of the employees involved were contributing 20-35% of the value add. Perhaps future research will draw a link between the two, but in any case, when looking at building teams that diverse in both culture and style, class may play a bigger part than you ever imagined.

Returning to work was always going to churn up a mixed bag of feelings among employees and HR vendors are looking to get a sense of what those feelings are. Combine it with the ongoing wave of resignations, increased automation in the workplace and what you’ve got is a recipe for data telling you the story of how people are reacting to it.

As usual, my inbox is full of the latest studies and surveys being conducted by HR vendors, researchers and employers of all sizes. In today’s data drop, we’re going to take a closer look at how employees are coping with all these factors and what they aren’t looking forward to about going back to work.

No Touching
Remember the days of handshakes? Well your memory might be the only place they exist moving forward. After COVID-19, it’s only natural that a heightened awareness of contamination and swapping germs will be more commonplace. As employees return to work, employers are finding ways to give people more distance from each other or more opportunities to sanitize themselves and their environment.

When it comes to greeting each other, a Qualtrics study reveals that more than a third of employees say they’ll be using touchless greetings with colleagues, such as a wave or a friendly nod.

You might be tempted to think: what’s the big deal? It is after all, it’s just a greeting among people you already know. But the fact is, many employees have anxiety about the awkwardness of social situations and following proper etiquette when returning to the office. And for many of these people, this will be the first time they have met colleagues face-to-face. Around 57% of people surveyed said they would be meeting some colleagues for the first time when returning to the office.

While it may seem a small thing, this might be a good time to establish some norms around social etiquette, at least in the short term future while so much uncertainty swirls around COVID variants and how to ensure people are vaccinated.

Give Me My Space
As long as we’re talking about vaccinations, the folks over at interior design and architecture blog Homedit conducted a survey that revealed some concerns people have about the new workspaces they’ll be coming back to.

There were two really notable points to come out of it though. The first, was that 72% of employees feel that their employer should require some kind of proof of vaccination in order for someone to return to work. The data illustrates what many an HR professional knows to be true; the level of anxiety around COVID-19 has only eased somewhat following vaccine rollouts.

READ: Employee Experience Remains a Priority as Work Models Shift Post Pandemic

The second only illustrates their anxiety about being around each other further, with 83% of respondents saying they would prefer any other office layout than an open one. And science may have finally given us more of an understanding as to why that is.

A study released in June from the Journal of Management & Organization show that open office plans have a negative impact on employees. Specifically, it studied the impact of open office noise on cognitive performance, physiological stress and mood, monitoring things like heart rate, facial expressions and skin conductivity. The findings show a causal relationship between open office noise and physiological stress. People tended to sweat more and facial expressions show signs of tension.

After a year of people finding new levels of productivity and comfort working at home, plunging them back into any office environment could have negative impacts. If you’re absolutely certain returning employees to an office is what you want to do, you might want to consider ways to help them find spaces that ease stress levels. If you don’t, keep in mind that more than half of employees around the world are willing to find a new job if their employer eliminates the option to work from home at least part of the time.

Class Collaborators
Collaboration is a key component of a dynamic workplace these days and something that you find everyone from floor manager to C-suite executives talking about. It’s a skill that pops up in just about every job description these days and employers spend a great deal of time figuring out ways to facilitate and encourage collaboration.

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that what drives someone to collaborate may not simply be their personality type, but their life experience, particularly as it relates to class. The study looked at groups of people from varying classes performing interdependent team work. What they discovered is that groups from lower social class backgrounds had conversations that were more wide ranging, active and balanced than their middle and upper class counterparts, something key to high team performance.

As the study notes, these people often fail to stand out as individual star performers in a divide and conquer approach to work, but when working as part of a collective are extremely effective.

Previous studies have revealed that in most collaborative environments, 3-5% of the employees involved were contributing 20-35% of the value add. Perhaps future research will draw a link between the two, but in any case, when looking at building teams that diverse in both culture and style, class may play a bigger part than you ever imagined.

Source:https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/people-analytics/articles/data-drop-touchless-greetings-the-death-of-the-open-office-and-the-impact-of-class-on-collaboration

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Five things freelancers must know about GST

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology and transformed the gig economy. Owing to the mounting uncertainty, people have switched over to freelancing. At present, India has the largest freelance workforce after the US.

A freelancer is a person who works independently and earns an income on a per-job or per-task basis. It could also be contractual, usually for short-term work. Freelancers work on multiple projects simultaneously for different clients. A freelancer is not an employee of any organisation and hence is not on pay-roll or entitled to any company benefits or perks.

Under the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) laws, any person supplying taxable services must be registered at the start from where they are providing such services. GST rate, as applicable to any other service provider (which is typically 18%), would also apply to such freelancers, based on the nature of services being provided.

GST affecting income
For registered freelancers, GST liability which is required to be deposited by them with the government is usually collected from the service recipient. This is over and above the value of services rendered by freelancers. While the same may result in slight working capital/cash flow issues with the time difference in payment to department viz-a-viz collection of their payments from customers, however, there would not be any other impact on freelancer’s income. This holds true in most cases unless the customers do not agree to pay GST over and above their value of service i.e. when the value of services are contractually agreed to be inclusive of GST.

In addition to the same, freelancers may be eligible to claim an input tax credit of GST paid to suppliers/vendors on procurement of goods or services, which are used in their freelancing business, subject to conditions. Hence, typically GST is not a cost to them if applicable.

For an unregistered freelancer, while there would not be any liability to pay GST, any GST paid on procurements to vendors would be a cost as they would not be eligible to claim input credit for the same. Accordingly, in such cases, the same would have an impact resulting in an upward increase in the overall cost of services rendered by freelancers to their customers.

Voluntary GST registration
When a person is not mandatorily required to obtain registration under GST law (usually when it does not cross the threshold limit), they can register by choice even if the turnover is less than the prescribed threshold.

If a freelancer obtains voluntary GST registration, they will have to abide by the provisions of the GST law. Also, they would be required to undertake all the related compliances and pay the applicable GST. However, obtaining voluntary registration may increase the overall compliance burden. This is seen as a preferred option while dealing with B2B customers, as they usually deal with registered persons. Obtaining GST registration would also help to reduce the input GST costs which a person may incur on procurements which would then be available as credit to such freelancers.

Services on online marketplaces
GST is generally applicable in both scenarios, i.e., where services are provided via online marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer, etc. or directly to clients. The liability to collect/ deposit the same with the IT department would remain with the ultimate service provider in both scenarios, as per criteria mentioned earlier.

In addition to the same, in case of online marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer etc., an analysis may be required to examine if the same would qualify as an ‘e-commerce operator’ under GST law. In such a case, additional GST compliances would have to be undertaken by such online marketplaces. Online marketplaces qualifying as e-commerce operators, would also be required to collect TCS @ 1% from persons, including freelancers who are supplying their goods and services through their electronic platform. Credit for such TCS would be available to such persons, subject to conditions.

In addition, depending on the exact nature of services being provided through online marketplaces, GST implications would have to be determined from such service providers.

Filing returns
Freelancers are required to comply with the prescribed compliances like other registered GST assessees. They would be required to undertake filing of monthly/quarterly (depending on turnover) returns, i.e., return of outward supplies (GSTR-1) and summary return for outward and inward supplies (GSTR-3B). In addition, annual compliance in the form of GSTR-9 is also required to be undertaken depending on the prescribed turnover.

In case the freelancer’s turnover exceeds INR 5 crore, annual reconciliation statement in the form of GSTR-9C is also required to be filed. Multiple penalties for non-compliances (registration, documents, invoices, etc.) of various provisions have been provided under the law, however, in case of delay in filing of monthly/quarterly returns, a late fee of INR 50 per day per return has been prescribed.

GST registration benefits

One may argue that obtaining GST registration would result in additional compliance burden on small service providers like freelancers, however, it may be noted that GST has provided a very simplified compliance process for taxpayers.

There are various benefits in obtaining GST registration such as availability of GST credit for tax paid on procurements, which in case of unregistered freelancers would be a cost. Same can also be utilized for discharging output GST liability of services, by the freelancer, thereby passing minimal burden on the end consumer.

Further, obtaining GST registration also helps service recipients gain more trust and deal more transparently with freelancers. Even the government encourages larger businesses to deal with GST compliant service providers.

Source:https://www.grantthornton.in/en/insights/blogs/5-things-freelancers-must-know-about-gst/

Featured

The Politics of Influence in Top Management Team Meetings

Interactions between the chief executive and other members of the top management team appear to follow distinct scripts. Managers who take note can boost their standing or stay out of harm’s way.

Top management teams (TMT) have been studied since at least the 1980s for insights into how chief executives and their deputies make the strategic decisions that can make or break organisations. But little is known about what exactly happens in the decision-making process, which more often than not is steeped in politics and power play. This article is about a ground-breaking study we conducted that filmed and analysed verbal and non-verbal exchanges in TMT meetings as they happened.

Our findings, published in a new paper, suggest that, contrary to previous research that highlighted the influence of stable, longstanding alliances in organisations, coalition-building in TMTs can also be in the moment and fluid. By forming even temporary coalitions with other TMT members and deploying simple influencing behaviours, senior managers can persuade the CEO to take their side and sway key decisions.

Reading the room right

We studied two TMTs similar in size, gender composition and other key dimensions. TMT A belonged to a medium-sized computer game company based in Canada while the other, TMT B, was the top team of a business services company with global operations.

For each team, we videotaped their meetings and examined them in minute detail, from emotional tone, body posture, hand gestures to eye contact. We also interviewed each of the team members after the meetings.

Five kinds of CEO-TMT member interaction patterns emerged, which we outline below.

Congruous

In the most amicable of the interaction patterns, the CEO and other TMT members see eye to eye right from the start.

What would be a wise strategy in this environment? Build on this congenial atmosphere by employing the rational argument and drawing others into the conversation.

Cooperative

This is when the CEO disagrees with the rest of the team at the beginning, and the team resolve their differences through a constructive discussion during the meeting. Our findings show that managers can gain legitimacy by appealing to a higher authority and, again, by using rational argument to great effect.

Spectating

This is a scenario in which the CEO retreats to the background as an observer, while two team members debate an issue.

Duelling managers can bolster their case by declaring ownership (“this is my project”) and drawing on one’s experience and knowledge (“I know my team better than anyone else”). The spectating leader might be wise to delay a decision while emotions cool, as the CEOs in our study did.

Adversarial

This is when a disagreement between the CEO and a team member triggers an adversarial dynamic at the start of a strategic issue discussion. There is a risk the decision-making process becomes polarised.

Here, participants need to be politically savvy. They can seek support, build a coalition by directly appealing or looking at colleagues, and draw on the credibility and agenda of others. A CEO could check to see if there’s scope for an upward appeal (“the founder needs this to be done before the end of next month”).

Undermining

This pattern evolves when the CEO and a TMT member are in opposition: The former challenges and undermines the latter while other members simply look on.

For those who find themselves in an undermined position, dismissed and ostracised by the team, the best chance of surviving is to duck, retreat and fight another day. In our study, one executive chose to derail the discussion, and another turned the conversation to another topic. Another magnified the risk of the rival proposal.

Playing your cards right

Importantly, we found that more than one constellation could form in a single meeting. Team members can be congruous or cooperative when they discuss one issue and adversarial or undermining another. This suggests that the TMT decision-making process is more dynamic and nuanced than shown by previous research.

How you use influencing behaviours matters. For example, we observed rational argument in all five constellations albeit with very different delivery – relaxed incongruous, emphatically with plenty of hand gestures in cooperative, and calm and authoritative in undermining. Each led to different outcomes. Thus, tone of voice and body language can be very effective influence mechanisms.

Finally, cultures also play a part. In East Asia, for example, leadership styles tend to be more hierarchical, providing fertile soil for undermining and adversarial situations, although the general patterns hold.

TMTs are contested spaces characterised by conflicts, alliances and negotiated orders. When collaboration fails to resolve differences, our study shows that executives with deft political skills are likely to prevail. In other words, those who can relate well and demonstrate situationally appropriate behaviour in a manner that inspires confidence and trust will get their way.

Our findings offer tips that could help senior managers navigate the patterns of interaction we observed. A reliable guide to reading the situation and deciding what actions to take is to ask yourself: Am I aligned with the leader? Am I aligned with my peers? How much energy do they have about the issue? Then play your hand accordingly.

Source:https://knowledge.insead.edu/leadership-organisations/the-politics-of-influence-in-top-management-team-meetings-17481

Featured

Do you really want that promotion?

If you are good at your job, all sorts of push-pull forces within your organization—and society at large—will propel you into bigger roles with more responsibilities, including managing people for the first time or taking on larger teams.


And many people understandably want those bigger jobs, and the reasons go beyond the pay bump that often comes with promotions. It’s called a career ladder for a reason: it’s something to climb. As human beings, we are wired to strive for greater status, and all the markers that come with it: titles, more pay, and a better office (at least, back in the day when people had offices). Social media platforms amplify that dynamic because we share our titles with the world.

Within organizations, there can also be an assumption that all high-performers want to move higher. So, as managers assess and develop talent to be future leaders, the default belief at many companies is that people will want to move up—a point that I hadn’t quite appreciated until I interviewed Shawna Erdmann, the senior vice president of learning at Comcast, the telecommunications multinational based in Philadelphia.

“Often the leaders of a company, including boards and HR, will pick and choose among upcoming executives for promotions, but no one ever has a conversation with that individual to ask them, ‘What do you want to do? What are your ambitions? What do you see as your goals or your next steps?’” she said. “So often we miss that critical piece and then we wonder why, when we elevate someone, they might not do as well as we expected. But nobody ever asked them, ‘Do you really want that job?’ Maybe they were just super happy making a difference at their particular level, and they didn’t have the ambition to do the next thing. We need to get better at having those conversations.”

Listening up
The crises of the last 18 months have led to profound shifts in our perception of the role of organizations in society, the nature of work itself (how and where it gets done), and the qualities that matter most in leaders now. This period of disruption has also led many people to reconsider what they want to do and where they want to live. And so, with all these fundamental career questions being put on the table, I would argue that we should add one more: do people really want the promotions that everyone assumes they want?

Yes, I get that it might seem like trying to fight gravity. The reward systems we have in place are structured to create a powerful upward pull. But once the thrill of the new title and pay bump wears off, a lot of people find themselves in roles that they may not like or be suited for. It’s a fact of life that many people think they want a particular job until they actually get that job.

The reward systems create a powerful upward pull. But once the thrill of a new title and pay bump wears off, a lot of people find themselves in roles they may not like or be suited for.


It’s a point that Kasper Rørsted, the CEO of Adidas, made to me when I interviewed him back when he was CEO of the German chemicals company Henkel. During our conversation, I asked him what advice he would give to someone who was about to become CEO for the first time. His answer is just as relevant for anybody looking to move into any higher position because every senior position brings new demands and difficulties.

“I would ask them the question, ‘Do you really want the job?’” Rørsted said. “It’s such a demanding job. On the outside, it looks very shiny. But there’s a lot of hard work. You get paid to do all the uncomfortable things. You don’t get paid to go play golf in Savannah. It’s not just glamour. I’m not saying it’s hardship, but are they able to live with it? So that’s the first one—‘Is it really what you want?’”

The question is a personal one for me. Over my 30-year journalism career, before I moved into consulting four years ago, I twice turned down an offer to run a big newsroom department. I was the number two in the department, and so the assumption was that I would want the job. But in working closely with my boss, I had exposure to what his job entailed, and I knew that much of it didn’t suit my strengths or personality. And I wanted to keep doing what I enjoyed most as an editor, which was working with reporters to do great journalism. Did I pay a penalty in terms of my trajectory there? No doubt. Do I regret it? Not for a second.

The “up or out” culture that started in many fields such as law and academia—the pressure to achieve a certain rank within a certain period of time or else—has become a bedrock notion of many companies. But some CEOs I’ve interviewed over the years have applied fresh thinking to compensation and hierarchies so that talented individual contributors feel rewarded without the usual pressure to move into bigger management jobs. They include Selina Lo, who was then CEO of Ruckus Wireless, a provider of wireless networking equipment based in Sunnyvale, California.

“In my company, there is a rule that all new managers need to know: that it’s not a given that their people [under them] will be paid less than they are,” Lo told me in our interview. “That’s part of becoming a manager—that you really have to enjoy enabling people. I want people who are good managers to be managers. I don’t want people to become managers just because they feel they need to.” And she wanted people who are not manager material but have other skills to get the monetary rewards for doing their jobs well.

Think of it as the Peter Principle in reverse: rather than rising to their “maximum level of incompetence,” according to the famous maxim that describes how ambitious employees often trip themselves up by taking jobs they are unqualified for, people may realize they don’t want a particular job because it doesn’t match their skills or career goals.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for ambition. But for those considering promotions or HR leaders managing talent pipelines, the ambition should not be blind. It’s time people start asking the question more often: do you really want that job?

Source:https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Do-you-really-want-that-promotion

How to deal with passive-aggressive behavior

Passive-aggressive behaviour is quite common and it most likely that you have worked or lived with someone who is a habitual passive aggressor. When you anticipate and prepare for passive-aggressive behaviour, it will not catch you off guard. You will know it is about to happen because you will have played out scenarios in your head to determine what your course of action will be. If you combat passive-aggressive behaviour with more passive aggressive behaviour, you’ll get nowhere.

Addressing the behaviour

Passive-aggressive behaviour needs to be addressed for it to stop. Often, it manifests out of a triggered ego. The key is to find a way to disarm the other person’s ego as well as your own.When dealing with a passive-aggressive individual, remember that whatever they are feeling is true to them. All feelings are okay. However, all behaviours are not.

Knowing your own personality type and those of others will help you to react in a more positive and insightful way when faced with unknown situations

For example, let’s say your boss is constantly critical of your work but never delivers any concrete feedback. They continually tell you what a bad job you’re doing but don’t tell you exactly how or why. This is passive-aggressive behaviour. As your supervisor, they should guide you to and help you to improve. Instead, they are harbouring ill feelings towards you. Maybe you remind them of someone in their past. Maybe there is something you do around the office that really annoys them. You may never know the real reason, but you should confront them about it. Instead of calling your boss out on their behaviour, talk with an even tone and request concrete feedback on your work. When we lower our own ego, we present ourselves as someone who wants to improve and do better. If we do not challenge the passive aggressive individual, but ask for guidance, their ego will begin to disarm. They will (in most cases) come back to their rational self.

The passive-aggressor within you

What if you are the passive-aggressor? What are some ways you can recognise the challenge and disarm your own ego? Passive-aggression bubbles to the surface when we feel we are in competition with someone. Perhaps we feel a colleague gets away with murder and is treated with great favouritism. Maybe it is because we bump heads with someone who has different viewpoints. The fundamental motivation is a sense of competition whether we realise it or not.

Triggers

Apart from competition, passive aggressive behaviours are also triggered by insecurity often brought about by misunderstandings. Maybe a colleague feels you don’t value their work or that you or are being overly critical or punitive. If you have to give feedback or advice, the key is do this gradually, so that the person on the receiving end stays engaged, rational, and attentive. As soon as a person goes into defensive mode, the rational mind will stop working and will not listen creating unnecessary stress and strain. Giving genuine compliments and starting on a positive note helps to dissipate the aggression and fight mode in your counterpart. It also helps them to feel secure and disarms the ego opening the stage for positive, construction conversations.

Passive-aggressive behaviour can also be triggered by fear of the unknown and feeling out of control. When people are faced with the unknown it often shakes their feelings of control. Response to the unknown is influenced by personality types. For example, judging types like to have things planned out. They don’t like to rush or do anything last minute. Meanwhile, perceiving types like to wing things and they trust everything will work out. Knowing your own personality type and those of others will help you to react in a more positive and insightful way when faced with unknown situations.

When there is a misunderstanding between two people, it may also lead to passive-aggressive behaviour. Maybe a colleague feels you don’t value their work or that you are being overly critical or punitive. If you must give feedback or advice, the key is do this gradually, so that the person on the receiving end stays engaged, rational, and attentive. As soon as a person goes into defensive mode, the rational mind will stop working and will not listen creating unnecessary stress and strain. Giving genuine compliments and starting on a positive note helps to dissipate the aggression and fight mode in your counterpart and disarms the ego opening the stage for positive, construction conversations.

Going forward

Now you have a better idea of where passive-aggression manifests from. It stems from insecurity, competition and a lack of control. The key is to recognise these triggers both in yourself and those around you. This takes time and effort and is a lifelong journey, but with practice and patience, you can succeed.

Source:https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/features/how-deal-passive-aggressive-behaviour

From Workforce Management to Optimization: The Evolving Roles of HR and Operations

“The only constant in life is change” is arguably the understatement of the decade—and will continue to be all too true in the years to come.

The labor market has gone from one extreme to another—to another. In 2019, the U.S. unemployment rate was the lowest since 1969 at 3.5%, but a year later at the onset of the pandemic, the rate jumped to a whopping 14.7%. Now the U.S. and global economy are recovering faster than the rebound after the Great Recession, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
On top of losing jobs, the pandemic forced many workers to leave the workforce. With labor scarce, many businesses large and small have been struggling to recover. They’re coping with the unprecedented challenges by offering hiring incentives: increased base pay for new hires, flexibility for employees to set their own hours, and tuition subsidies. In the meantime, struggling businesses continue to limit their operating hours and stretch the staff they have on hand.
Adapting to change has always been accounted for in workforce management, but what hasn’t been accounted for is adapting to an accelerated pace of change.

And yet, there are companies that have been able to thrive, all the while facing the same challenges of enduring labor shortages and competition for talent. Among the most successful are those that have embraced workforce optimization.

How does that differ from workforce management? Most workforce management systems focus on tracking and counting—they’re basically static systems that struggle to adapt to an accelerated pace of change. Companies that looked to optimize their workforce, rather than just manage it, were able to quickly respond to shifts in the labor market and disruptions to the business. Their operations could rapidly shift their service delivery models, reassign workers to different roles, and manage their operations remotely.
Simply put, workforce optimization is the next evolution of workforce management. Operational leaders who embrace this transformation put their organizations in a position to navigate change and embrace new opportunities.
In this blog, we explore the evolution of workforce management into workforce optimization and its impact on how operational leaders execute their organization’s business strategy.
What Is Workforce Management, and How Is It Different From Workforce Optimization?
At a basic level, workforce management is about processes that maximize workforce performance and productivity. Workforce management tools tend to focus on employee scheduling, time tracking, and attendance management. Workforce management software sometimes includes tools that forecast the amount of staff resources needed to meet new demands on a business, such as a new project or seasonal traffic.
The role of workforce management is evolving alongside the shift in the fundamental nature of work.

Here’s another way to think about it: Workforce management focuses on outcomes that include efficiency and productivity.

But what happens in the event of unprecedented demands on the business?
That’s where workforce optimization enters the picture.
Workforce optimization is a strategy that focuses on agility, insights, and experience. Put another way, it’s the lever in how companies drive continuity and profitability through any type of change.
Executing a workforce optimization strategy combines the efficiency of automated workforce management with the flexibility of an agile, skills-based talent approach. Workforce optimization software is the integration of workforce management applications with HR and operations solutions—such as talent management, recruiting, benefits, compensation, skills management, employee experience, and planning and analytics.
Workforce management fits the needs of the business if the only requirements are to manage people and processes. However, since operational leaders are being tasked to do more, they’ll need a solution that enables them to function as business leaders who can align workforce operations with the company strategy. That’s why standard workforce management tools are no longer a fit in the new world of constant change. Instead, workforce optimization is how operational leaders help their companies to not just respond but actually thrive in rapidly changing environments.
What Is the Role of Workforce Management?
A shift in the fundamental nature of work and the acceleration of new technology continue to change how work gets done. As a result, the shift has transformed the value of workers in an organization. They’re no longer seen as an expense necessary to running the business. Instead, workers are seen as the company’s most valuable resource, the competitive advantage in how the work gets done. They’re contributing their knowledge and skills to the organization. They’re coming up with innovative ideas that impact the bottom line. They’re on the front lines providing positive customer experiences.
The role of workforce management is evolving alongside the shift in the fundamental nature of work, both headed toward taking a holistic approach to operational processes and employee productivity. That means the results or the output of employees, which tends to be an operational focus, is highly dependent on HR strategies for employee engagement, employee retention, and even the talent pipeline.
Obviously, static, siloed HR and workforce management systems can’t keep up with the continuous change. Managing a company’s most valuable resource requires operations and human resources to partner together. Their collective ability to address workforce challenges and opportunities is how the evolving role of workforce management supports the new world of work.
Here are seven areas where HR and operation leaders must collaborate to meet the demands of workforce management in a disruptive labor market:
Make every worker count and every worker feel counted. Employee engagement, which has historically been an HR responsibility, and employee productivity, which historically has been an operations metric, are both critical in demonstrating how employees contribute to the organization’s strategy and the company bottom line. The labor shortage and competition for workers have been fueled by the disconnect of these goals. Workers who aren’t feeling valued are leaving for other companies and even changing industries. Organizations need to optimize the productivity of every single worker and also make every worker feel like they matter. HR and operational leaders must share that two-part priority.

Create a foundation of shared data. Operations and HR need to be able to make decisions in real time and in changing business conditions, but that becomes nearly impossible when data isn’t accessible. All too often, the data needed to make critical operations decisions is spread across disparate systems that operational leaders and managers don’t have access to. Managers especially need to access data aligned to their flow of work because they’re optimizing their workforce as conditions change, even as frequently as day to day.

Emphasize operational agility. The changing business landscape affects not just how work gets done, but also how to respond to change. Both HR and operational leaders need agile technology so they can continuously recalibrate how they drive efficiency and productivity, whether that’s redeploying workers to different locations or roles, quickly adjusting schedules to respond to changing labor demand, or teeing up teams to support new business models.

Develop future-ready skills. Workforce management is more than predicting staffing needs. Operational leaders also need to assess if the skills of their workforce can meet the organization’s strategy, and if not, make plans to mitigate the skills gaps through upskilling in partnership with HR leaders. Skills-based hiring is helping to deepen the talent pool, improve retention, and build a culture of continuous learning. Both HR and operational leaders must work together to understand the skills that need to be redeployed to other parts of the business and the skills needed for the future.

Empower workers with a worker-first culture. The pandemic put the health and safety of employees top of mind. Companies shifted their employees to remote work or created alternate working arrangements to empower them to do their job in the face of change. That flexibility and increased self-sufficiency needs to continue in the new world of work, even in industries heavily dependent on hourly workers (such as hospitality, retail, or manufacturing) to meet business demand. Empowering workers with control over their scheduling—such as selecting their own hours, location, or roles—is critical in meeting the needs of employees and the demands of the business.

Leverage automation and artificial intelligence (AI). What was once thought of as leading-edge has now become mainstream to building operational agility and resiliency. Adoption of automation, machine learning, and AI boomed during the pandemic when companies adhered to social-distancing directives—meaning fewer workers on-site—yet needed to keep up with the surge in business demand. Moving forward, HR and operational leaders will need to continue to leverage these technologies in ways that will empower their workforce in the face of change.

Identify operational-impact metrics. The change in how work gets done is transforming how workforce management gets measured. Consider when the COVID-19 guidelines forced restaurants to close indoor dining and business shifted to curbside or drive-thru service. The new business model required operational leaders to quickly identify new performance indicators that could accurately assess productivity, forecast required staffing, and more. And so, operational managers and leaders need access to real-time productivity-related data, such as sales per hour and schedule optimization scores (measuring the quality of schedule in meeting labor demands and worker needs), and also metrics that measure the well-being of their teams. Combined with traditional HR metrics like employee retention, absenteeism, and even overtime—all potential indicators of employee burnout, and consequently, lost revenue—real-time productivity data can help leaders keep and grow their workforce.

Operations and HR will need to partner more strongly than before to overcome the static workforce management made for a world that no longer exists.
How Do You Optimize a Workforce?
Even though the need to optimize the workforce has largely been spurred by the pandemic, efficiency and agility are necessary no matter what comes next, whether the event is a global disruption or a new market opportunity.
But what was the difference between companies that navigated change and those that struggled? The difference lies in the details, or rather, visibility into the details. And those details are what help companies optimize their workforce:
Accuracy. Workforce optimization focuses on using real-time workforce data to enable operational leaders to make proactive decisions. According to the McKinsey report “Future of Retail Operations: Winning in a Digital Era,” taking a data-driven approach to labor scheduling and budgeting captures between 4% and 12% in cost savings.

Flexibility. Workforce optimization solutions leverage configurable business processes powered by flexible technology to support continuous change and agility. “Organizations that are able to optimize their scheduling processes reduce total payroll spend by more than 5% on average,” according to Nucleus Research.

Transparency. Insight into payroll, talent, finance, and workforce management data accelerates decision making. Consider this: According to McKinsey, “retailers that don’t proactively adapt to changing conditions could see their margins fall 200 to 400 basis points because of increased labor and fulfillment costs.”

Experience. Workforce optimization also takes into account creating engaging employer and manager experiences to improve productivity and retention, especially since retail and restaurant workers are quitting at record-high rates.

Optimizing a workforce is a journey, not a set-it-forget-it item on a to-do list, and looks different at every company.

Regardless of the particular needs of the business, all workforce optimization efforts start with administrative excellence. That means processes need to be automated and draw from a single source of HR data. With a digitized administrative foundation, operational leaders gain transparency into workforce metrics and costs, and can more easily adjust processes and workflows.
Teams deliver outperforming results when they’re optimized for doing exactly that—outperforming through agility and insight.

For example, during the pandemic, workforce management went beyond staff scheduling. At the onset of the pandemic, when its front-line workforce had to pivot in how they served credit union members, Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) created a time-entry code that designated additional hourly pay for employees working on-site at credit union branches. WSECU also created time-off benefits designated for COVID-19 testing or quarantine. All new benefits and procedures were created quickly in Workday and ready in an afternoon.

Once organizations have that administrative foundation in place, optimizing a workforce requires processes that can flex and adjust in the face of change. Operational agility helps organizations gain deeper insights, such as an understanding of the workers’ skills, a deeper grasp of labor costs, and the ability to automate more processes and decision making.
That’s what happened to Land O’Lakes, an agricultural cooperative based in Minnesota. Like many companies at the onset of the pandemic, Land O’Lakes had no idea about the scale of disruption the crisis would cause. But because the cooperative had already begun to rethink its workforce optimization strategy, it was able to respond and adapt to the pandemic with speed and agility. As a result, Land O’Lakes was able to adjust aspects of its business model, gain insight into the workplace preferences of its employees, and manage COVID-19 tracking.
From there, companies are fully equipped to achieve workforce optimization. Powered by administrative excellence and operational agility in their systems, companies forge a new path in driving workforce value:
Attrition, hiring, and onboarding have been treated as a cost of doing a business. But workforce optimization demonstrates how attracting, retaining, and upskilling maximizes investment in employees.

Instead of being a commodity and cost center to the business, workers become engaged, skilled contributors who impact business outcomes like profitability, revenue, and productivity.

Companies gain a clear understanding of a worker’s capacity, contribution, and growth potential beyond a job profile. And those insights help in creating a flexible, fluid workforce that meets the current and future needs of the business.

Companies that were able to adapt and thrive amid the drastic change were already embracing the tools and the journey of workforce optimization. Teams deliver outperforming results when they’re optimized for doing exactly that—outperforming through agility and insight.

Source:https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=20426160&article-title=from-workforce-management-to-optimization–the-evolving-roles-of-hr-and-operations&blog-domain=workday.com&blog-title=workday

How the pandemic has boosted HR’s credentials – and how the profession can capitalist

As a company that helps other organisations with their business continuity plans, International SOS was ahead of the curve when the pandemic began to bite in March 2020. It had an assistance centre set up to support clients with health and security issues in such crises, and was well drilled in crisis management. “There was pressure on us to handle this well in the eyes of our clients, at the same time as there was increased demand on our services,” remembers Peter Jenkins, general manager for Northern Europe. “We’d run crisis scenarios before, even pandemic planning, where we took half the team out of the centre and sent half home. But technical challenges and issues with client security meant this wasn’t viable.”

One of the first actions Jenkins took was to place Ben Dale, the region’s HR director, in charge of the business continuity team. They made the difficult decision to send everyone but the assistance centre staff to work from home in late February, meaning core operations could continue securely. “I asked HR to lead on this because this was very much a people issue. We could have had our medical advisors, a myriad of people in charge, but with something as emotional and individually threatening as a pandemic, our number one priority was to look after our people in the most appropriate way,” he adds. “HR was the appropriate place to sit this, with strong counsel.” Throughout the months that followed, Dale’s team adapted policies, communicated with teams working on site and at home, and began preparing for an eventual return to the office. Jenkins has seen HR in a different light. “They are far more visible and present to me. Maybe two years ago they were a great support on policy and employee issues, more of a tactical advisor,” he says. “But now Ben and his team have a much stronger input.”

Stories showing the value of HR abound since March 2020, when a function that some perceived as the payroll gatekeeper or policy manager was thrust into the limelight almost overnight. An editorial in The Economist at the time declared that “never before have more firms needed a hard-headed HR boss”. The weeks that followed saw HR professionals move entire workforces to home offices in a matter of days, get to grips with an ever-changing furlough system and make sure that employees who needed to work on the front line were physically and mentally safe. Speaking at the annual conference for the Public Services People Managers’ Association (PPMA) in September, Coventry City Council’s chief executive Martin Reeves reflected that “there was no rulebook” for HR teams: “These were unique circumstances; we relied on the guile and brilliance of our people managers to see us through. It was acute and chronic at the same time, dealing with the here and now but with one eye on the medium- to long-term impact of what was happening.”

The profession itself feels it has had a reputation boost. A survey by software company Sage found that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of leaders felt the value of their role increased, while 54 per cent of employees said they had a better understanding of HR’s role and value to the organisation. Among CEOs, 59 per cent said they understood the value of HR better than before the pandemic. But this challenging period is not over yet, and the next few months could prove decisive as to whether HR can cement those gains. Jessica Fuhl, author of Sage’s research, argues that there is still work to do. “HR was front and centre… employees and the C-suite recognised that – and valued it,” she says. “However, that was during the ‘firefighting’ phase. To maintain its newly valuable position in the eyes of the C-suite, people leaders must use this groundswell of influence and support to build on this and move forward to the strategic horizon scanning phase.” The coming months will offer multiple opportunities to do so, adds Fuhl, whether that’s in embracing automation to free up time and resources, how HR puts wellbeing at the heart of employee experience, progress on diversity and inclusion and making the most of workforce data.

“You could argue that the early days of the crisis were easier to manage because there were fewer options on the table,” says David Collings, professor of human resources management at Dublin City University. “With the return to the office, we’re starting from a new baseline. HR has to manage expectations about what the return to work means, what the purpose of the workplace is and what is better done in the office than remotely. The future is much more complex than the past.” In the early months of the pandemic, Collings’s team collaborated with the University of South Carolina to track 50 chief human resources officers and their responses to the Covid crisis. They were asked a series of questions on their priorities, their learnings and their interaction with their executive teams. “What became clear in many ways was – just like the financial crisis brought chief financial officers to the fore, and Y2K was all about CIOs – this was a people crisis,” he adds. “Decisions were often being made without data or experience early on in the pandemic, and values tended to inform the executive leadership team in their decision making. CHROs were helping CEOs think through what the organisation’s values meant in terms of key decisions.” This was a shift compared with how that relationship might have played out before, says Collings. “In the past, HR might have been reluctant to go to leadership and say ‘we don’t have all the answers’ or ‘we need to revise a decision’. But during the pandemic we’ve seen a willingness and humility from leaders to listen – when they’re forced to make difficult decisions, that’s when you really see what an organisation stands for.”

Paul Boustead, director of people and organisational effectiveness at Lancaster University, felt this keenly. “What I’ve observed over the past year is an exponential shift from using the terminology of ‘HR’ to ‘people’, ‘organisational effectiveness’ and ‘culture’,” he explains. “I have more strategic conversations with my executive team than ever. This was happening before, but has been accelerated by the pandemic.” Like many HR professionals, Boustead faced an onslaught of policies that needed to be revised and questions that required answers. “Universities are communities, so it wasn’t just about employees’ mental health but also keeping students and visitors safe. HR had to play a role in that community and could not think in a siloed way.” An unexpected positive was an improvement in negotiations with the three trade unions on site: Unite, UCU and Unison. “They were conflicted in many ways because they had their safety hats on as we were thinking about returning to campus, but could also see the benefits of delivering learning face to face,” he says. “But because we could meet virtually, rather than trying to get everyone in a room, those negotiations happened quickly and we were able to move forward.” Boustead has also seen HR’s standing elevated outside of his own campus, where his team has been invited to discussions with the Home Office on how academic visas might work and approached to inform guidance from the Department for Education. “Years ago, they would have gone straight to the vice-chancellor,” he adds.

At animation studio Jellyfish Pictures, the past 18 months have shown the sheer breadth of the HR director role. So much so that Sarah Tanner was promoted from her HRD role to operations director, having supported the company to not only relocate a workforce where 40 per cent of employees come from Europe, but also hire around 250 new people over the course of nine months. “We very quickly had to react and make sure people weren’t panicking,” she says. “We employ a lot of Italians and couldn’t continue if people weren’t feeling safe, so we had to think about how we adapted, changed working hours and got people home.”

The company began moving employees to remote working, supporting many to return to their home country, three or four weeks before official lockdown was announced in England to make sure the studio technology would work remotely. Tanner was heavily involved in communications, wellbeing and logistics, as well as ensuring managers were checking in with employees and responding to questions on government guidance. Both her old and new roles have a seat on the board, she adds. “I’ve always wanted to know how the whole company works, what the implications of certain actions are – the move into the operations role is a reflection of what my job is, it’s much bigger than ‘just HR’. That said, it’s a reflection of what the people function can do – you can’t have one without the other, there’s too much of a hard stop.”

Of course, the dramatic shift to working from home or protecting employees on the front line was not only driven by HR. The very nature of the pandemic required a team effort, and HR was often at the forefront of that cross-functional collaboration. “The two main functions driving things for me were my chief people officer and my CIO. The two of them made all of this happen,” says John Petter, CEO of payroll software company Zellis. The technology team ensured everyone was connected to company systems, while HR drove communications with colleagues, such as weekly all-hands calls and inviting employees to share any concerns about juggling home schooling or feeling burnt out from time on Zoom. But one of CPO Caroline Drake’s most pressing jobs during the crisis has been to support Petter in his own decisions. He adds: “She has an important role in coaching me, and she gives me totally honest advice, even if it’s not always what I want to hear. When we were communicating with colleagues, her coaching was key to ensuring what we were saying would resonate with people.” This role will only grow in stature in the future, Petter believes. “So many companies have seen the importance of having a strategic plan for their people through this. This is unlikely to be the last pandemic in my lifetime, so we’re thinking about what our learnings are from this and developing a strategic plan around developing our hybrid workforce, how work is globalised and such – and the HR function is inevitably at the centre of those debates.”

But how can HR harness this boost in its reputation? While restrictions may have been lifted and employees are tentatively returning to offices, the road ahead is likely to be bumpy. Skills shortages in sectors such as logistics and hospitality have the potential to derail workforce planning strategies, nobody truly knows how hybrid working is going to pan out and some labour analysts predict a “great resignation” as some workers face a revelation that they’d rather work elsewhere. Furthermore, a winter illness peak could resurface many of the tricky issues companies faced at the start of the pandemic. “The past 18 months put the profession in the spotlight and onto the front line, and people have begun to understand more about how difficult the role can be,” says David D’Souza, membership director at the CIPD. “We’ve seen organisations try different things, learn at pace, and recognise that change is possible. The profession has been at the forefront of organisations finding ways to flourish. But now we need to understand the enormity of what’s been delivered, and keep those cross-functional relationships we created open and those conversations alive.” Over the coming months and years, the people profession has an opportunity to continue to showcase both its technical expertise and its ability to help organisations change to meet the challenges they face, he adds. “We’ve built up a lot of credit in the bank, and we need to be careful how we spend it.”

Angela O’Connor, founder of consultancy the HR Lounge, advises caution in the short term at least. “There’s real pressure on HR to make these big decisions on working patterns and such and we can’t make these immediately. It’s time for HR leaders to hold their nerve and push back, which takes real courage,” she says. Many teams will be under pressure to develop firm policies on hybrid working when a more bespoke, employee-led approach is likely to work better, she adds. “HR departments that are used to running things as a ‘one size fits all’ operation will find this hard. They won’t be set up to do this and their culture may not be supportive. In many ways, this period is harder than the start, and this is when we’ll see real leadership from the HR profession.”

Collings also predicts that the coming months will see HR inject balance into a complicated debate and become advocates for the workforce. He explains: “HR can give voice to employees’ concerns, addressing the risks if we see cohorts of people at the top of the organisation coming into the office at the disadvantage of those who are mainly at home, for example.”

Another area where HR can make a difference in the longer term is in addressing inequalities. The pandemic shone a light on inequalities at work: women were more likely to shoulder the burden of childcare or be in low-paid, part-time work, while a parliamentary committee last month slammed the Department for Work and Pensions for not fully considering the impact of its pandemic policies on people from ethnic minorities. Gary Rees, head of organisation studies and human resource management at Portsmouth Business School, believes this has made employers and employees alike reassess what is important. “We don’t talk about wellbeing as something tangential now, for example. Line managers are talking more to staff and seeing that how we work and our health are all connected,” he says. “But people have long memories and you need to treat them fairly. Employees will have seen how companies operate in the worst of times as a reflection of what they’re really like. Those with strong employer branding, retention and engagement will ride the storm well.”

Rees believes the pandemic has made employees see their managers in a new light, and one of HR’s roles going forward will be helping them to survive the challenges of new ways of working. “HR’s involvement at grassroots level was completely overturned [during Covid],” he adds. “Tremors that were beginning to emerge before the crisis – the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs, the idea that people can follow multiple careers in a lifetime – these have all been brought forward. HR needs to ensure line managers understand that we need to fit the job to the person and not vice versa. More money will only be a sticking plaster because employees will need a good psychological contract or to perceive that they’re treated well,” Rees says. This will extend to the role of businesses in society more broadly, he adds, as workforces make ever greater demands on their employers to stand by their environmental, social and governance promises.

Sabby Gill, who joined assessment company Thomas International six months into the pandemic as its new CEO, argues that HR will bridge the gap between the ‘normal’ we knew before and how we emerge. “When I joined the company, my HR director was the first person I called in the morning and the last one at night,” he says. “We’re putting people through something they’ve never experienced, and what we can’t do is expect everything to be back to normal.” Gill will continue to rely on his HR team, not just in setting new ground rules and policies, but in ensuring employees’ mental welfare and understanding that everyone’s personal situation is different. “Every decision I make as a CEO has to take into account we’re a people business and we need to harness the lessons we’ve learnt,” he adds. “But as leaders we’ve also got to allow HR to take that credit – we need to give credit where it’s due.”

“In HR you have to put your ego aside”
Marine Fournier, head of HR at Powell Software, joined the company days before the pandemic began, in February 2020. She was already tasked with splitting out the HR function after a funding round when the world was suddenly thrust into lockdown.

“At the time we were around 45 people and now we have more than 90,” she says. “Our first message going into this was one of care, and as a digital company we had an advantage from a practical perspective. But the timings of lockdown announcements varied in different countries so in some ways we were operating blind.”

A new intranet helped HR to communicate as the early days turned into weeks of working from home. When the second wave happened, the foundations were in place.

“This time we’d had the chance to prepare,” she adds. “We’d learned to communicate differently, we’d done a lot of education around synchronous versus asynchronous working. The culture was no longer about going to work, but about delivering work.”

Fournier and her team have since consulted with employees on future working patterns and contracts. HR has garnered recognition from other functions more than before, she believes. “On the business side, the mission is simple – you hit your targets. In HR, you have to put your ego aside for the success of the business or you won’t survive.”

Source:https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/long-reads/articles/how-pandemic-boosted-hr-credentials-how-profession-capitalise

Why You Don’t Need to Be an Expert in Your Field to Start a Billion-Dollar Company

At the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference on Wednesday, Naveen Jain, the serial founder of businesses including internet company InfoSpace and gut health startup Viome, shared his tips for identifying a new startup idea and developing it. In the conversation, moderated by Eric Schurenberg, CEO of Inc.’s parent company Mansueto Ventures, Jain offered some rather counterintuitive insight. He started seven companies in industries ranging from health care to aerospace and attributes his success in part to the fact that he knew nothing about those fields beforehand.

Jain also discussed how to identify a problem and turn it into a business idea, and gave advice for entrepreneurs on how to push through challenges. Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.

To really change an industry, you have to come up with unique solutions. To do that, you have to start asking different questions–and thus identify new problems. Experts can’t do that, Jain says, because they’re already bought into an industry’s foundational assumptions. “Once you become an expert in an industry … you become an incrementalist,” he says. “It takes a disrupter, someone from outside the industry looking in.”

Still, you want to be realistic about the capabilities of the science available to you, he says. Rather than face a Theranos-type situation, companies should focus on transparency. Jain says he tries to achieve that at Viome by being honest with customers and regularly publishing peer-reviewed research.

Check the scale, and then break it down
Once you identify your problem, Jain says, ask yourself if the idea could help a billion people. If so, keep going. “You can create a $500 billion company … if you’re helping a lot of people somehow improve their lives,” he says.

But don’t focus on the “how” at this stage. Jain’s latest problem was figuring out how to cure chronic diseases and illnesses. So he broke that down, from curing disease to digitizing and obtaining data about the human body, to studying genes–and finally learning about research that connects the gut microbiome to conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and depression.

Now, Jain had a manageable sub-problem: creating a company that would research the human body’s gut microbiome and develop solutions based on its findings. The company has done that successfully so far, with $80 million in total funding as of April, according to GeekWire.

Reframe your failures
Despite Jain’s string of notable startups, he was actually fired from his first company, InfoSpace, in 2002. Employees had complained they were fed false promises about stock options, and Jain and InfoSpace ended up in a jumble of lawsuits.

When it comes to career ups and downs, Jain’s solution is to reframe them. You have to decide that everything that has happened is ultimately for your benefit, and that everything you’ve experienced has made you who you are. So if you love who you are, it’s hard to think of things that have happened to you as bad, he says.

Try to approach your startup ideas like this, too. No great company finds success with the exact same idea it started out with. “Entrepreneurs only fail when they give up,” he says. “Everything else is a pivot.”

Source :https://www.inc.com/gabrielle-bienasz/naveen-jain-viome-startup-development.html

Start Stopping Faster

Business executives could learn a lot from cheetahs, Earth’s most agile land animals. Though their ancestors ran only about 20 miles per hour, today’s cats can accelerate from zero to 60 within three seconds—faster than a Corvette Twin Turbo or a Ferrari Enzo. But speed alone is not what makes cheetahs such awesome hunters. Computer models show that the best predictor of a successful hunt is not a cheetah’s top speed; rather, it’s how fast it stops and turns.

There is an important parallel to the executive hunt for innovations. Whether they are developing new products, processes, or overhauling old ways of doing business, it’s not enough that organizations pursue new ideas faster. Unless they develop new muscles for skillfully decelerating and adapting to unexpected twists and turns, they are likely to come up empty-handed. It’s one of the most common laments of executives struggling to increase their organization’s adaptability: “We are terrible at stopping work, even when it’s obvious that the work is a complete waste of time and money.” This is as true for existing business lines and processes that live on budget season after budget season zombie-like as it is for a once-bright new idea that simply isn’t panning out.

The cost of this problem is higher than managers imagine. Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini estimate the cost of bureaucratic waste has hit $10 trillion and is growing. Between 70% and 90% of innovations fail, and healthy operations grow weaker every day that they must subsidize foundering projects kept alive by political inertia rather than potential payoff. When power is determined by the amount of resources controlled, as it so often is in business, admitting failure and surrendering resources is rare.

Since stopping things is so very hard, executives make starting them even harder, dampening innovation. They raise investment hurdle rates, demand more detailed analyses, and add layers of scrutiny. Sadly, these actions don’t improve decisions so much as damage speed to market and competitive positioning. Failures mount. Eventually, the horde of failing projects grows too large to ignore. Managers cull some large percentage of their people, traumatize the organization, and launch the doom loop all over again.

There is another way. Organizations can evolve and by focusing on three specific things, they can improve their own agility and start stopping things faster.

  1. Make more decisions reversible.

While researching our book Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, we learned from former Amazon executive Jason Goldberger that in order to accelerate innovation, founder Jeff Bezos purposefully encourages executives to make decisions reversible, which ensures that a company won’t have to live with bad consequences for very long. It thwarts risk aversion and accelerates experimentation.

“If you tell people to innovate without making mistakes, you will kill innovation,” Goldberger explains. “But if you tell people to innovate and not worry about mistakes that are quickly reversible, you free them to test and learn in more agile ways.”

Unfortunately, not many companies run this way. Far too many investment proposals plan for premature and irreversible scaling. They call for large upfront investments, and predict delayed, hockey-stick-shaped revenues and profits. When revenue and profit fail to materialize, it seems too late to stop. The payoff must be just around the corner. “Why, we would be crazy to stop now,” executives tell themselves. And so, throwing good money after bad drags on.

One way to break this habit is to run the business the way a savvy venture capitalist invests. Recognize business plans for what they really are: business experiments. Break large, risky gambles into a series of smaller, smarter tests. Clarify the hypotheses, the best ways to test them, and the metrics that will signal whether to persist, pivot, or pause. Avoid premature scaling—hiring too many people, building too much capacity, doing too much marketing—before key assumptions have been validated. Match costs to revenues. Start by confining experiments to affordable, adaptable, and reversible microcosms of the ultimate solution by limiting geographies, customer segments, or product lines. (You can read more on how to experiment effectively, in this HBR article by Stefan Thomke and Jim Manzi.)

Look at DoorDash, the door-to-door delivery company. Recently DoorDash has ridden a Covid-19 surge in demand, but back in 2013, when it began raising what would eventually become a total of $2.5 billion, venture capitalists didn’t just back up a Brink’s truck of money to the startup. The risks were too high, and such a move would have limited investors’ ability to spur strategic change when necessary. Instead, venture capitalists phased in their investment over 11 rounds of funding.

In the 2016 round, when questions about the viability of its strategy reportedly led to its shares selling at a lower price than earlier rounds, the company made important changes. DoorDash added new services for restaurants and adjusted pay for drivers. Market share increased, as have subsequent valuations.

DoorDash is still not profitable, and its ultimate success is far from guaranteed. But its venture backers have clear and frequent opportunities to change how they invest and influence company direction. Investors can decelerate, pivot, and stop.

Some corporations are already applying this model. Executives review new projects and existing business lines quarterly, utilize fast feedback loops, create rough prototypes, and rely on objective metrics to test key hypotheses. All this makes it possible to more dynamically adjust plans and allocate resources.

  1. Make work more visible.

It’s hard to improve or stop unproductive work if you can’t see what work is being done and how well it’s going. Too many companies are flying blind.

Executives can inspect physical facilities and assess whether to refurbish or bulldoze them. They can see inventories piling up and decide whether to finish them or write them off. The intangible work of most technology, marketing, and other departments, however, is often invisible to leadership teams.

Increasing visibility is good for everyone. It helps senior executives uncover valuable initiatives, recognize the people pushing them, and accelerate their progress. It allows employees to see projects related to their own jobs, learn from them, and identify where their expertise could solve perplexing problems or save time and money. It makes it easier for everyone to identify duplicative work and triggers discussions about whether overlapping teams should collaborate or compete. It helps teams working on interdependent steps coordinate and minimize delays.

Imagine a system that enables authorized employees to see all work streams, who is on each team, what else they are working on, and how the work is progressing. Imagine tagging the work of each team with descriptors such as strategic priority, targeted customers, expected economic value, and progress against plans. Perhaps employees could even express how confident they are in each team’s success. These systems actually exist—project and portfolio management software, objectives and key results trackers, talent management systems, and workforce analytics—and they are getting better.

  1. Overpower fear.

They say the first rule of daredevil airplane wing-walking is: “Don’t let go of what you’ve got until you get hold of something better.” Astute leaders realize that fearful workers will cling to the current work no matter how unproductive. They do several things to overcome that fear. One we’ve already discussed: They reduce the cost of stopping projects (e.g., by conducting experiments).

Another way is to reward people who learn valuable lessons by taking prudent risks, even if the immediate outcome was disappointing. In some cases, this may mean keeping the bold objective but adapting the approach as conditions or capabilities change. When Bezos wanted to enable third-party sellers to sell new or used products on Amazon, the company initially failed: The 1999 launches of Amazon Auctions and zShops both fizzled. But Amazon Marketplace, launched soon after, was a success. It now accounts for more than half of all units sold by the company.

Finally, giving people more opportunities if their current project fails reduces the likelihood that they’ll stick with a bad idea longer than they should. Successful companies build a strong and visible backlog of compelling opportunities. They make it clear that until existing projects that aren’t panning out have stopped, new initiatives can’t be launched. And they redeploy people from the former to the latter as a matter of policy and offer training to ease the transition. In time, the fear of missing out on something better starts to overpower the fear of loss.

In a world of increasingly unpredictable change—where opportunities are constantly zigging and zagging like spry gazelles—running at higher speeds is not enough. Businesses must evolve to match their acceleration muscle with faster stopping and turning skills. As they do, their hunt for growth will grow more fruitful, their competitive capabilities will strengthen, and their position in the food chain will climb.

Source:https://www.bain.com/insights/start-stopping-faster-hbr/

Decoding Global Reskilling and Career Paths

More than two-thirds of workers globally are willing to retrain for new jobs, an attitude that may set the stage for vast workplace changes after the pandemic ends. The interest in switching careers is tied to both the disruptions of COVID-19 and the threat of technological change, which many workers believe is accelerating.

While willingness to retrain is not limited to particular industries or job types, it is highest among those who have lost the most income during the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of all workers globally have been laid off or forced to work fewer hours during the COVID-19 crisis, according to a study by BCG and The Network. Those in travel and tourism, in arts and creative roles, and in media have suffered income losses at the highest rates.

The insights into people’s retraining willingness, and the detailed picture of the jobs and industries most affected by the pandemic, are the latest findings to emerge from BCG and The Network’s study of 209,000 people in 190 countries. The two previous reports in the series focused on declining levels of worker mobility and the likelihood that work-from-home models will continue. The survey was designed to identify workplace changes precipitated by, but likely to outlast, the COVID-19 crisis.

The job uncertainty touch

ed off by the pandemic comes at a time when workers in just about every field and every geography already have some level of concern about being replaced by technology. Forty-one percent of workers globally are more concerned about automation now than they were before the pandemic, according to the study. The perception of a technology-based threat is highest in parts of Asia and lowest in Europe. Different worker protections in those geographies partly explain the difference.

When looking at job roles, the study shows that there is considerable realism in people’s attitudes about retraining. In the job roles that face the most risk of technology replacement—and that have endured the most disruption during the pandemic—retraining willingness exceeds 70%. This is the percentage of retraining willingness among service-sector workers, customer service people, and salespeople. Those in job roles seen as less vulnerable—science and research, health and medicine, and social work—generally aren’t as willing to retrain.

Arts and creative work is the one job category where there seems to be a disconnect between perceived risk and a willingness to retrain. Even in these fields, though, retraining willingness exceeds 50%.

As people think about retraining, an important question is which new careers they would embrace. Digital and information technology top the list of potential next careers, probably because of the expanding opportunities in those areas and the generally high remuneration. Office and management jobs (like consulting, marketing, and HR) also get attention, possibly because of the perceived ease of the transition into those jobs for a variety of workers.

Generally, the new fields that people say they would consider have similarities to their current jobs. That partly explains the interest that manufacturing workers have in engineering jobs, for instance, and the interest that media workers have in marketing.

Workers are already taking steps to upgrade their skills. About two-thirds of them spent a few weeks or more on skill building in the last year. Almost half of those learning new skills used an online educational institution (such as a MOOC, or massive open online course); 36% used a mobile app.

Download the full report to see where the income effects have been highest during COVID-19, to get a sense of which workers are most concerned about automation, and to understand more about people’s learning preferences and attitudes about new careers.

Source:https://www.bcg.com/en-in/publications/2021/decoding-global-trends-reskilling-career-paths

Understanding the Process of Change

Change is a process involving five stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
The needs of an individual in one stage of change are different from the needs of an individual in another stage.
Recycling through stages is the rule rather than the exception.
It’s imperative to recognize and celebrate progression through the stages rather than waiting until maintenance is achieved.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if change happened in an instant? Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in the morning and think: “I want to start eating better.” And then we do. Or decide, “I am going to stop smoking” and never pick up another cigarette?

But we all know that’s not how change works. It isn’t a one-time event or singular action—instead, it is a process. And the more we understand about the process of change, the more we can empathize, support, and demonstrate compassion for ourselves and those around us who seek to alter their behavior. What is the process of change?

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM), also commonly referred to as the Stages of Change Model, provides us with an understanding of how change occurs (Prochaska et al., 1992). Developed in the early ’80s out of research with former smokers, Prochaska and DiClemente found that individuals who successfully make changes go through a series of stages over time (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005). In contrast to the assumption that change begins with behavior modification, Prochaska and DiClemente discovered several stages prior to taking action.

The Five Stages of Change

The first stage of the change process is marked by a lack of awareness of a problem. This stage, known as pre-contemplation, is when individuals fail to see their behavior as an issue. Others in their life may be telling them they need change, but they do not agree and have no intention of making a change in the next six months. A person in pre-contemplation may say, “It’s not my drinking that needs to change, it’s my job that is causing all my problems.” Pre-contemplation is a common starting place for many who embark upon the journey of change.

The second stage of change, contemplation, is when an individual becomes aware of the problem, but is ambivalent about making a change. They perceive the pros and cons of changing as approximately equal and thus have not committed to change. They may be considering making a change in the next six months, but currently are not ready to act. A person in contemplation may say, “I know I need to eat better, but it’s so expensive to buy fruit and vegetables. I don’t know how I would make it work.” The contemplation stage is marked by ambivalence and people can get stuck in this stage for months or years.

The third stage of change, preparation, is characterized by making a commitment to change. The individual intends to take action within the next month and may already be making small changes (e.g., reducing their pornography use). A person in preparation may say, “I’m ready to stop smoking. I’ve already purchased a nicotine patch and haven’t bought any more cigarettes.” Individuals in preparation are on the brink of taking action.

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After the preparation stage comes action, in which individuals modify their problem behavior and make the change. In this stage, there is a strong commitment to change, and the change is intentional (i.e., self-directed) rather than imposed by others or the environment. A person in action may say, “I did it. I filled my prescription for Depakote and I have been taking it consistently for the past week.” The action stage lasts for approximately six months as the new behavior modifications are solidified.

Finally, the fifth stage of change is maintenance, in which individuals sustain their behavioral change indefinitely. During this stage, the focus is on avoiding relapse and fully integrating the behavioral change into their lives. A person in maintenance may say, “It’s been almost a year since I last used cocaine. I’ve learned how to control cravings and find support when I need it.” In maintenance, individuals learn to sustain their behavior change through various seasons of life.

The Process of Change as a Spiral

Although the five stages of change sound like a natural forward progression, this often is not the case. Anyone who has made a New Year’s Resolution that lasted until February knows that relapse (or the return to prior behavior patterns) is the rule rather than the exception. The TTM recognizes that recycling through stages is likely before individuals reach sustained maintenance (DiClemente, 2015), thus the change process is better understood as a spiral rather than a straight line.

In addition, individuals can spend varying amounts of time in each stage, thus the process of change looks different for different people (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005). When conceptualizing change as a process, the goal is for an individual is to move from whatever stage they currently find themselves in (e.g., contemplation) to the next stage (e.g., preparation). In this way, people can acknowledge and affirm the small steps leading up to change (e.g., moving from one stage to the next), rather than waiting for the maintenance stage to celebrate.

Meeting People Where They Are

The genius of the TTM is the acknowledgment that people in one stage of change are addressing different tasks than those in another stage (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005). For example, a person in pre-contemplation benefits from gaining insight, information, and feedback to raise awareness about their problem behavior, while a person in contemplation benefits from exploring the impact of their behavior on others, examining their emotions, and working through ambivalence. The person in preparation benefits from creating an action plan and troubleshooting, while a person in action benefits from restructuring their environment to avoid triggers and implementing replacement behaviors. Finally, a person in maintenance benefits from relapse prevention strategies and increasing overall wellness (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005).

As we learn to conceptualize change as a process, we can identify an individual’s current stage of change, meet them where they are, and help them attend to their current needs. Reaching sustained behavioral change is a journey and the more we know about the process, the more we can support one another along the way.

Source:https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/understanding-addiction/202110/understanding-the-process-change

The World’s Most Talent Competitive Countries, 2021

The pandemic revealed strengths and weaknesses in how nations develop and retain talent.

As Covid swept across the world, nations had very different responses to how their economies should continue to function. Some tethered workers to their employers with furlough programmes; others hoped for the best. How governments responded (or didn’t) had an enormous impact on their citizens’ physical and economic health. And, of course, talent competitiveness is one of many areas that felt the immediate and sudden change.

Covid generated a series of shockwaves across the global talent landscape. Naturally, the international mobility of talents has been redefined by the pandemic. New parameters emerged about when and where employees could work. Online tools opened new doors to better work-life balance and to working from anywhere, while new inequalities surfaced between those who were able to work online and essential workers, those who had to be physically present in the workplace. Individuals are now rethinking their careers, their location choices and the ways in which they prefer working.

“Talent Competitiveness in the Time of Covid” is the theme of this year’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI). Decision makers need quantitative tools to benchmark talent management and talent competitiveness efforts across different socioeconomic environments. The GTCI addresses this challenge by providing a composite view of talent competitiveness applicable to 134 countries this year.

While it is certainly too early to fully assess the effects of the pandemic on the global talent landscape, evidence from this year’s GTCI shows that such effects have been deep and will reverberate for a decade.

Stability at the top

The top 20 countries in this year’s rankings are high-income economies that perform well across both the input (like education) and output (like employability) pillars of the GTCI model. The adoption of collaborative tools had begun pre-Covid in these leading nations.

This year sees stability at the top of the rankings once again. Switzerland (1) leads the pack for the eighth time, with impressive performance in nearly all aspects of talent competitiveness. It is followed by Singapore (2), excelling once again in many areas bar its ability to retain talent. The United States (3) leads the world in talent growth, especially when measuring lifelong learning.

Denmark (4) is strongest in talent impact, with a high degree of entrepreneurship and innovation. The only country that performs very well in all the GTCI pillars is Sweden (5), with its lowest performance in employability. The open labour landscape and growth opportunity access help the Netherlands (6) to enable and grow talent.

Finland (7) is outstanding in its matching of workers’ education and skills with the needs of the economy. Tiny Luxembourg (8) is the global best in external openness. An impressive social welfare system and a high level of personal rights and safety boost Norway (9). Iceland (10) has the world’s foremost talent pool of global knowledge skills.

Europe continues to dominate the top of the GTCI rankings, with France (19) entering the top 20 for the first time. Australia (11), Canada (13), New Zealand (15) and Japan (20) remain near the top of the list, as in previous years.

Rising nations

Pandemic-caused disruptions in schooling have created a significant and worrying dent in the path of many poorer regions to escape the trap of underdevelopment. There is, however, encouraging news as some middle-income economies show significant progress and dynamism, notably China (37) and Russia (45).

Comparing two time series (2016-18 and 2019-21) unveils the continuous growth of some regions. For the first time, China, Russia, as well as Costa Rica (39) and Malaysia (34), are in the talent champion quadrant. Brazil (75), which was in the talent laggard quadrant in 2020 is now closer to becoming a talent mover.

The labour markets of emerging economies were struck harder than those of advanced economies by global lockdowns; in all countries, younger and less qualified workers were most severely affected.

Lessons from Covid

Indeed, the pandemic has been the strongest shock to the organisation of work and talent management that our generations have ever experienced. In acknowledging this, we have three central observations in this year’s report:

  1. Those nations that had invested in a digitally savvy workforce, by developing entrepreneurial talent, for example, were far better equipped when the Covid lockdowns required everyone to work remotely. More agility and speed in decision making was required. For instance, as new business models emerged and new ways of organising took shape, entrepreneurial talent was in very high demand.
  2. The accelerated adoption of online collaborative tools has redefined the ways in which individuals and teams can bring value to public and private organisations. Some organisations were faster than others in redefining hierarchies, identifying new sources of value and, sometimes, adjusting their strategic objectives.
  3. A crisis is always an opportunity. Some countries, cities and firms experimented with novel ways of attracting talent (e.g. digital nomads) and tested new proofs of concept. The learnings from these experiments will prove invaluable for the development of new talent strategies.

Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI)

Cities around the world proved agile and imaginative in mobilising available talent to identify and implement solutions to the unprecedented situations triggered by the pandemic. Green and digital strategies guide many post-pandemic plans, and smart cities will constitute a kind of avant-garde for the changes to come.

We strive to constantly improve the GTCI and its underlying methodology. This is also true for the GCTCI, our city ranking. This year, we made an important change by defining a city as its metropolitan area. Although this decision had been made before Covid, it fits neatly with lockdown measures having particularly negative effects on city-centres, as opposed to suburban areas. The rankings of some cities have been affected by this, sometimes in a significant way. New York City (17), for example, tumbles from last year’s top spot.

Cities had to take on new responsibilities, especially in countries where the central government was slow or reluctant to act. This places megalopolises at the centre of the talent scene. While all types of cities demonstrated their ability to combine creativity, agility and responsiveness to meet their citizens’ needs, large cities with higher levels of resources adapted better to the challenge than smaller ones.

In San Francisco (1), for example, the city’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force designed a strategy to guide its economic recovery efforts in three main areas: jobs and business support for SMEs, vulnerable populations and economic development.

Looking forward

The talent landscape has been transformed as completely new ways of organising work emerged. Most employees want the future of work to be hybrid as they value their personal safety and quality of life. Organisations will need to offer flexibility and provide different working models to keep the best talent.

But hybrid work is not possible for everyone. In a post-Covid world, inequalities may grow among workers, depending on their sector of activity and their level of qualification. For those who are likely to remain onsite, we must reimagine onsite work.

Talent mobility within companies will also be different in the future. Multinational organisations are rethinking their relocation and expatriation strategies for high potentials. Overall, we believe those organisations that focus on outcomes and flexibility will attract the best and the brightest.

The GTCI is an annual index created in partnership with Accenture and the Portulans Institute; it aims to give governments and businesses the distilled data from 134 countries needed to inform their decisions about talent policies and strategies. The report itself has details about methodology as well as country profiles.

Source:https://knowledge.insead.edu/career/the-worlds-most-talent-competitive-countries-2021-17526

Is the Professional Management System Broken?

In previous blog posts, we have described the power and durability of the professional management system that has been central to the idea of the firm for roughly 100 years. What led to the dominance of professional management and why is this system under threat today? More pressing: Can professional management coexist with the idea of scale insurgency?

For all the critiques of “bureaucracy,” it is easy to forget why the professional management system took off a century ago. The previous era had been dominated by trusts—big, powerful, founder-led companies that were vertically and horizontally integrated to a degree that would make today’s tech titans blush. These companies thrived until a sweeping wave of antitrust regulation and rapid technological change left them vulnerable to a new breed of highly efficient competitor. One prime example: In the five years after 1923, family-owned Ford Motor Company’s dominant market share crashed at the hands of Alfred Sloan’s GM—an exemplar of the new professional management science—as Ford customers abandoned the Model T for GM’s modern, segmented product line.

The professionalization of management enabled a new generation of companies to scale and sustain themselves beyond the vision of a charismatic founder. Smart managers, trained in the latest techniques, made data-driven choices about strategy (where to play and how to win). They built systems to enable continuous improvement and enable better, fairer, more consistent decision making. They increased transparency and managed risk.

At its best, this system drove astonishing levels of innovation, growth and value creation. Consider three factors: standardization, routines and predictability. Malcolm McLean introduced the standard shipping container in the 1950s, dramatically reducing the cost and complexity of ocean transport and helping fuel a global trade boom. Routines underpinned success stories from McDonald’s to Ikea to Southwest Airlines, and formed the basis of management systems such as Six Sigma, by unleashing the power of learning. General Electric’s market value grew 30 times under Jack Welch as the company became a paragon of predictable earnings growth.

The professional management system has been written off many times, but has endured through the rise of the shareholder-value movement in the 1970s, through deregulation in the 1980s, globalization in the 1990s, multiple technology boom-and-bust cycles, and a global financial crisis. Today, it is challenged by a mix of rapidly advancing technology, a generational shift in the workforce, and a public backlash against globalization and the doctrine of shareholder primacy. Internal complexity has also exploded. Most big companies still put their management hierarchy at the center of the firm, and top business schools are still seen as an attractive pathway for top talent. But is there reason to doubt whether the professional management system is up to the task this time?

We believe the answer is yes. All firms manage three great conflicts: between scale and customer intimacy, between routine and disruption, and between the short term and the long term. Customers benefit on all sides of these conflicts. They see lower prices when companies capture the cost benefits of scale, but they also get products more attuned to their needs when companies offer local options. Not surprisingly, different units within the company fight for one side of the conflict or the other. The professional manager’s role is to force trade-offs.

Increasingly, however, the system has tilted towards one side of these conflicts. It has favored scale, routines and the short term. This is the result of several inherent biases:

Stability over chaos. Large organizations become highly complex, which threatens stability. Steady routines are more predictable, less risky, and deliver regular learning curve benefits. Companies typically favor routine as they grow.
Systems over personalities. Managers build systems to prevent strong personalities from disrupting the firm’s ability to deliver. This may cause the company to lose some of its “heroes,” but managing to the “average” keeps things predictable and fair.
Cost over revenues. Cost benefits are more controllable and predictable than revenue benefits, so managers typically assign them more value in risk-adjusted forecasts.
Commoditization over premiumization. Differentiation can be risky and unpredictable, so it is generally safer to limit difference and compete on costs, than to deal with the risks associated with customization. As one financial services CEO put it, “Our industry is like bottled water—only the deluded think there’s any differentiation there.”
Administration over execution. Professional managers view administrative skills—the ability to deploy systems and procedures to manage complexity and risk—as the most valuable skills in the organization. “Execution,” the collection of skills involved in delivering strategy to customers, is seen as a commodity. Advancing in your career requires climbing the ladder and moving away from the customer. At Haier, the Chinese appliance giant, CEO Zhang Ruimin takes the opposite approach: “It is more important that employees listen to the market and not the boss.”
Eco-man over emo-man. Finally, the bias toward predictability leads managers to view customers and employees more in terms of their classic economic motivations than their emotional needs and desires. The organization focuses more on the functional benefits to customers and employees, and less on the nonmonetary benefits that motivate employees.
In the era now drawing to a close, these trade-offs worked because market power and scale were such unassailable sources of advantage. But that is not true anymore. Even the best leadership teams are encountering forces in the marketplace that expose the weak spots in everything they thought they knew about running a business. Many of the professional management system’s rules of thumb are becoming irrelevant, or even damaging, in an era where the premium is not just on being big, but also on being fast.

Having focused on scale for so long, many professional managers are ill-equipped to operate at speed. First, the way they manage scale is through a system of spans and layers; as revenue grows, so does complexity, which decreases speed. Second, organizations naturally lean toward managing what they can measure. While we have robust tools such as relative market share (RMS) to measure and manage scale, we have yet to develop the “RMS of speed” or measure the cost of lost time. This will be a challenge for scale insurgents to master.

The path to scale insurgency does not start with a rejection of the professional management system. As we noted, the system has created too much value over too many years to assume that it has no value now. Companies will always need to define the core and point the way to full potential, while sustaining the insurgent mission beyond the limits of the founder.

The real questions, then, are:

How can professional managers capture the benefits of scale without relying on a structure of spans and layers that dials up complexity and sacrifices speed?
How can companies measure and incorporate the value of time in everything they do, giving speed as much weight as scale in decision making?
Recognizing the critical importance of purpose, how can leaders create a new deal for talent and build an organization that taps the internal motivation of the workforce to translate strategy into action faster and with better customer outcomes?
We will explore the implications of these questions in future blog posts.

In previous blog posts, we have described the power and durability of the professional management system that has been central to the idea of the firm for roughly 100 years. What led to the dominance of professional management and why is this system under threat today? More pressing: Can professional management coexist with the idea of scale insurgency?

For all the critiques of “bureaucracy,” it is easy to forget why the professional management system took off a century ago. The previous era had been dominated by trusts—big, powerful, founder-led companies that were vertically and horizontally integrated to a degree that would make today’s tech titans blush. These companies thrived until a sweeping wave of antitrust regulation and rapid technological change left them vulnerable to a new breed of highly efficient competitor. One prime example: In the five years after 1923, family-owned Ford Motor Company’s dominant market share crashed at the hands of Alfred Sloan’s GM—an exemplar of the new professional management science—as Ford customers abandoned the Model T for GM’s modern, segmented product line.

The professionalization of management enabled a new generation of companies to scale and sustain themselves beyond the vision of a charismatic founder. Smart managers, trained in the latest techniques, made data-driven choices about strategy (where to play and how to win). They built systems to enable continuous improvement and enable better, fairer, more consistent decision making. They increased transparency and managed risk.

At its best, this system drove astonishing levels of innovation, growth and value creation. Consider three factors: standardization, routines and predictability. Malcolm McLean introduced the standard shipping container in the 1950s, dramatically reducing the cost and complexity of ocean transport and helping fuel a global trade boom. Routines underpinned success stories from McDonald’s to Ikea to Southwest Airlines, and formed the basis of management systems such as Six Sigma, by unleashing the power of learning. General Electric’s market value grew 30 times under Jack Welch as the company became a paragon of predictable earnings growth.

The professional management system has been written off many times, but has endured through the rise of the shareholder-value movement in the 1970s, through deregulation in the 1980s, globalization in the 1990s, multiple technology boom-and-bust cycles, and a global financial crisis. Today, it is challenged by a mix of rapidly advancing technology, a generational shift in the workforce, and a public backlash against globalization and the doctrine of shareholder primacy. Internal complexity has also exploded. Most big companies still put their management hierarchy at the center of the firm, and top business schools are still seen as an attractive pathway for top talent. But is there reason to doubt whether the professional management system is up to the task this time?

We believe the answer is yes. All firms manage three great conflicts: between scale and customer intimacy, between routine and disruption, and between the short term and the long term. Customers benefit on all sides of these conflicts. They see lower prices when companies capture the cost benefits of scale, but they also get products more attuned to their needs when companies offer local options. Not surprisingly, different units within the company fight for one side of the conflict or the other. The professional manager’s role is to force trade-offs.

Increasingly, however, the system has tilted towards one side of these conflicts. It has favored scale, routines and the short term. This is the result of several inherent biases:

Stability over chaos. Large organizations become highly complex, which threatens stability. Steady routines are more predictable, less risky, and deliver regular learning curve benefits. Companies typically favor routine as they grow.
Systems over personalities. Managers build systems to prevent strong personalities from disrupting the firm’s ability to deliver. This may cause the company to lose some of its “heroes,” but managing to the “average” keeps things predictable and fair.
Cost over revenues. Cost benefits are more controllable and predictable than revenue benefits, so managers typically assign them more value in risk-adjusted forecasts.
Commoditization over premiumization. Differentiation can be risky and unpredictable, so it is generally safer to limit difference and compete on costs, than to deal with the risks associated with customization. As one financial services CEO put it, “Our industry is like bottled water—only the deluded think there’s any differentiation there.”
Administration over execution. Professional managers view administrative skills—the ability to deploy systems and procedures to manage complexity and risk—as the most valuable skills in the organization. “Execution,” the collection of skills involved in delivering strategy to customers, is seen as a commodity. Advancing in your career requires climbing the ladder and moving away from the customer. At Haier, the Chinese appliance giant, CEO Zhang Ruimin takes the opposite approach: “It is more important that employees listen to the market and not the boss.”
Eco-man over emo-man. Finally, the bias toward predictability leads managers to view customers and employees more in terms of their classic economic motivations than their emotional needs and desires. The organization focuses more on the functional benefits to customers and employees, and less on the nonmonetary benefits that motivate employees.
In the era now drawing to a close, these trade-offs worked because market power and scale were such unassailable sources of advantage. But that is not true anymore. Even the best leadership teams are encountering forces in the marketplace that expose the weak spots in everything they thought they knew about running a business. Many of the professional management system’s rules of thumb are becoming irrelevant, or even damaging, in an era where the premium is not just on being big, but also on being fast.

Having focused on scale for so long, many professional managers are ill-equipped to operate at speed. First, the way they manage scale is through a system of spans and layers; as revenue grows, so does complexity, which decreases speed. Second, organizations naturally lean toward managing what they can measure. While we have robust tools such as relative market share (RMS) to measure and manage scale, we have yet to develop the “RMS of speed” or measure the cost of lost time. This will be a challenge for scale insurgents to master.

The path to scale insurgency does not start with a rejection of the professional management system. As we noted, the system has created too much value over too many years to assume that it has no value now. Companies will always need to define the core and point the way to full potential, while sustaining the insurgent mission beyond the limits of the founder.

The real questions, then, are:

How can professional managers capture the benefits of scale without relying on a structure of spans and layers that dials up complexity and sacrifices speed?
How can companies measure and incorporate the value of time in everything they do, giving speed as much weight as scale in decision making?
Recognizing the critical importance of purpose, how can leaders create a new deal for talent and build an organization that taps the internal motivation of the workforce to translate strategy into action faster and with better customer outcomes?
We will explore the implications of these questions in future blog posts.

Source:https://www.bain.com/insights/is-the-professional-management-system-broken/

Did I make a mistake by sharing my salary with a coworker?

have always believed that knowledge is power, but when it comes to salaries, is there ever a reason to keep such things quiet?

For my entire career, I have stayed in the dark about what my coworkers were earning and likewise did not share my salary either. This is the unspoken rule of etiquette everywhere I have worked, and my bosses have always been coy about sharing pay ranges/bands, so it’s always been hard to know how I stacked up in terms of compensation.

Last year, many of my colleagues were laid off and, while I survived the cutbacks, the impact on my personal well-being was significant. With our reduced staffing, I took on the workload of an entire team, and the stress and insane hours (which were already high when we were fully staffed) quickly grew unmanageable. A few months ago, I jumped at another opportunity and I am happy with my decision.

Upon leaving my (now former) company, a trusted friend/coworker was offered my job, which should have been a rather large promotion for him. However, recently we were catching up over lunch and he said that his raise had not been very much at all. He did not state his income, and I’ve always suspected that he made much less money than I did, but I was surprised he did not get a hefty raise considering the level of work he assumed by taking on this new position.

So I decided to come right out and tell him what I had been making in that same job. Why not, right? I no longer work there and thought this information might be helpful to him in negotiating additional raises. But, his face when I told him was … ghastly. He expressed that he was making significantly less than that, and the gap seemed so wide that even a huge raise for him would not put him anywhere near my salary.

Did I make a mistake? Is this a case where having this knowledge was (unintentionally) harmful vs. helpful? Obviously what’s done is done, but I worry that his discontent in his job will grow now, because even if he does manage to use the information I gave him to get a (much-needed) bump in pay he’ll still be stuck with all the additional drama and responsibility of this position while knowing he isn’t earning what he could/should be. It made me wonder if I should stay mum about this topic when speaking with other friends in the future. Is salary simply too taboo to discuss in polite company?

Noooo! Don’t conclude that.

You did the right thing by sharing your salary information with your colleague.

It is never to a worker’s advantage to be left in the dark about what a company is willing to pay — and especially what they did pay — for a particular job. It is always better for people to have more information about pay than less.

That doesn’t mean the person you share salary info with will never find it upsetting! It is upsetting to learn that a predecessor was making mountains of money more than you are. Being upset makes sense!

For the sake of thoroughness, I will note that sometimes people have bad reactions to this sort of news that aren’t constructive — like resenting the higher-paid colleague rather than blaming the company. That could happen! It still wouldn’t mean you’d made the wrong choice in sharing the info with them.

Shining light on companies’ pay practices — specific ones, like “in this role I was earning $X,” not just broad salary bands — is how salary inequities get discovered and addressed. They don’t always get fixed — but even when they don’t, people having more info is a good thing because it helps them make better decisions for themselves, whether that decision is “keep pushing” or “sue because this seems linked to race or gender” or “leave for a better job” or “file away this info about the market and the company for a later time.”

Source:https://www.askamanager.org/2021/10/did-i-make-a-mistake-by-sharing-my-salary-with-a-coworker.html