How to Get Noticed by Your Boss’s Boss

You’re bright. You have good ideas, insights, and the ambition to take on more. But you aren’t getting the opportunities you want, and your manager has not been helpful. How do you get noticed by senior leadership without going over your boss’s head?


Chuck and Dave have decades of leadership experience during which they’ve been on the lookout for “future stars” or “high potentials.” These employees are often identified as hard workers with the drive to make a difference — not only in the company’s success but also in the success of those around them. They go above and beyond their job titles and get noticed because they demonstrate potential to do great work on a more advanced level.

After putting our collective heads together, Chuck, Dave, and I landed on ten steps you can take to be recognized by senior leadership as one of them. If followed, these actions can help you grow and move toward greater opportunities — without coming off as a braggart or upsetting your direct manager.

Demonstrate your commitment to your growth and to the company. One way to show how serious you are is to invest time outside of the office in learning skills that will help you grow and contribute to the company. This could mean taking courses that support the work you are doing, or reading texts in the areas you want to master. For example, if you want to get better at developing strategy, ask your boss (and boss’s boss) if they can recommend any books. Another way to show commitment to growth is to tell your boss that you’re interested in taking on special projects, ones that will both help the company reach its goals and provide you with an opportunity to stretch yourself.

Focus on the team’s success, rather than your own. While the voice of ambition may be telling you to focus on your own success, senior leadership notices those who work collaboratively and support others. They recognize that the greatest opportunity for success lies in a team working well together. “It’s easy to notice someone who gives their time and advice to help make others successful,” says Dave, “whether they be their direct reports or peers. Someone who makes those around them better is invaluable.”

Know your numbers and take ownership of your work. Whatever part of the business you own, small or large, you have to know it inside out, and be ready to discuss the performance metrics and business analytics that matter most (revenue, profit and loss, etc.). You want to have a good idea of where you stand within the larger organization, especially in moments when all eyes are on you — such as presentations, meetings, or project reports. When you are able to prove the value of your contributions, you are able to prove the value of your worth as an employee and team member. Think of it as an opportunity to show senior leaders why they should be paying attention to you. Remember, though, this also means taking full responsibility for your failures. Adopt a “no excuses” mentality. Doing so shows a level of self-awareness that is inherent to great leadership.

Do what you say you will and do it well. Once you commit to something, commit to doing it well. When opportunities arise, execs are looking for someone with a good track record of getting the job done and bringing in positive results. This means your name needs to be associated with good work. Those who can take on small projects and hit a home run are more likely to be asked to take on bigger projects later.

Continually train yourself to think strategically. Being a strategic thinker is imperative to moving forward into roles with more responsibility. The best leaders know how to balance working “on” the business (strategy) with working “in” the business (day-to-day operations). When working “on” the business, they must be able to look beyond their to-do lists and think strategically about which opportunities will help the organization reach its larger goals. To do this, you have to be able to see the big picture, and keep it in mind when making decisions. This is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. “If you want to get good at strategic thinking,” says Chuck, “you have to practice. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised. The more you work on it, the better you’ll get.”

Challenge old ways and find new solutions. Do you see a different approach to a problem your company is facing? Maybe a creative way to meet a new challenge? If your organization is forward-thinking, all ideas should be welcome, particularly if you present them with humility and an appreciation for past efforts. The next time you have an innovative solution to a difficult problem, share it openly to show what you have to contribute. “I notice people who challenge the current process and communicate the possibilities of a different solution,” says Dave. “In our organization, people rally around them. We give these people more responsibilities. They don’t have to ask.”

Consistently improve your communication skills. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you do need to be thoughtful during your interactions with others. Whether you are giving a presentation, working on a group project, or having a difficult conversation with your boss, it’s important to know your audience and prepare how you will communicate with them in advance. Every person and situation will ask something different of you — so be adaptable and know how to adjust. You may want to project more confidence during a presentation, for example, but be more humble when working with peers. You may want to approach your boss with curiosity in some scenarios, but in others, approach them with data to support your point. It’s always a good idea, however, to follow up with others and make sure you clearly understand their expectations.

Build relationships with people throughout the company. Don’t just stay within your “wing” of the building. Look for opportunities to connect and collaborate with other key players in your organization. When you build connections, you expand your network of allies and increase your visibility and influence. “Great leaders don’t just wait to be asked, they put themselves in positions and situations where they’re more likely to be asked,” noted Chuck. When you work collaboratively and cross-functionally, your name will keep coming up for all the right reasons.

Live the values and purpose of the organization. Organizations use purpose and value statements to communicate what is and isn’t expected of employees. Values speak to what an organization seeks not only in its staff, but in its leaders as well. A strong leader knows the values, lives them, and encourages the upholding of the values in others. “A person doesn’t need to be the most vocal or work the most hours to be noticed,” says Dave. “It’s the person that demonstrates the values and ethics of the organization and lives the purpose, who will inspire people to follow them.” The best way to show your commitment to your company’s purpose and values is to talk about them. In meetings, give kudos to colleagues whose actions align with your organization’s values, and when discussing projects of your own, note how they reflect the company’s core purpose. In doing so you are saying to others, “I’m paying attention, and I’m noting when we do great work.”

Raise your hand. Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities to show your skills and talents. While there is certainly a line to be walked here — you don’t want to push too hard, or repeatedly ask the same question — showing initiative is always a good thing. If you see an area where you believe you can be an asset to the company and support strategic initiatives, ask to participate. Explain why you believe you can make a valuable contribution, as well as what you will gain from the opportunity. Ultimately, your boss and boss’ boss want to put you in a spot where you can do the most. Sometimes you’ve got to identify where that is and ask for it.

There is no short path to getting noticed. And even if you find one, you may not have what you need to do the job well if you get there prematurely. But if you focus on these ten key areas with dedication, patience, and the acceptance that growing a stellar career takes some time, you’ll keep moving in the right direction and be ready for what’s next when it comes.

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5 Ways to Connect With Your Team on a Personal Level

Not that long ago, I was watching “The Wizard of Oz” with my family. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. During this viewing, however, I picked up on a new leadership lesson: the importance of connecting with your teammates as a real person.

Think about it: Throughout the film, the Wizard relies on mystery and fear to rule Oz. But when did he become most helpful? When he revealed who he truly was and personally engaged with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion. From there, he was able to actually help them build the confidence to obtain what they’d always wanted — a brain, a heart, courage, and a homecoming.

Back in Kansas, or wherever you call home, the same idea applies. In fact, according to a survey on employee job satisfaction and engagement conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 74 percent of respondents stated their relationship with their supervisor was one of the top five factors influencing their engagement at work. As Gallup has found, when companies have a more engaged team, they’re more productive and more profitable.

How can you step behind the curtain and connect with your teammates on a personal level? Here are five places to start.

Today In: Small Business
1. Communicate frequently.

As a leader, communicating with your team is key. After all, it gives your team members the chance to ask questions, share ideas, and solicit feedback. As a result, they feel like they’re part of the bigger picture — as long as you actively listen and act on their suggestions. (Even explaining why you’re not able to act on them can go a long way.)

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More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to get to know them better: their strengths, their weaknesses, what interests they have inside and outside work. You’ll have a better idea of what they want their future to look like and how you and your company might play a role.

Best of all, there’s a variety of ways you can communicate with your team on a regular basis. You could schedule one-on-ones, plan team brainstorming sessions, or use communication tools like Slack. You could eat lunch with teammates or stop by for a quick chat when they’re taking a break.

2. Go beyond “How are you?”

Harvard Business School research shows that asking a single question like “How are you?” won’t get much of a response. Instead, you need to dig deeper, asking open-ended follow-up questions. And those should delve into what’s going on beyond work. Find out about their backgrounds and personal interests. You don’t need to know every detail of their lives — and you shouldn’t — but getting to know what sparks joy for them is an effective way of showing that you care about them as people, not just employees.

Personally, you can encourage your team to open up more by being transparent yourself. Discuss your interests, and tell stories about your life. That should be enough to make people feel more at ease. Another option for breaking the ice is to partake in team-building activities that can help everyone get to know each other’s talents and personalities.

3. Help each employee reach his or her goals.

“You need to hold people accountable to their goals,” Tom Ferry, CEO of Tom Ferry International, told CNBC. “One of the big steps in that process is having someone identify their true motivation, or why.”

You can achieve this by creating an environment that fuels this type of growth. Have team meetings to discuss goals as a group. Host one-on-one meetings with individuals to hear about what drives them in their work. Ask about their goals outside work, too — someone who wants to run a marathon or seeks a writing outlet may trigger new ideas.

“Finally, act as a coach and accountability partner as they implement their goals,” says Ferry. “When you take a genuine interest in your employees and impact their lives beyond the office, you build lasting relationships and a more loyal tribe.”

4. Recognize and celebrate.

I’m a fan of “The Office.” One of my favorite episodes is when Jim’s left in charge because Michael’s gone on an excursion to become “Survivor Man.” Jim decides to consolidate all birthdays into one celebration. Obviously, this doesn’t go well.

Individual birthdays were so popular at Dunder Mifflin because they made each employee feel appreciated. Even something as trivial as getting to decide what type of cake you get for your birthday makes you feel like a big deal.

Obviously, you can’t celebrate every day. But when it comes to milestones and important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, a little celebrating can go a long way — even via a handwritten note.

And don’t forget to recognize your employees’ hard work. Send a quick email thanking them for the thoughtful question they asked at the last meeting or acknowledging the improvement in their work. You can also surprise them with gifts that they’ll either enjoy or become more effective with.

5. Stop saying you don’t have time.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s not worth my time and energy to make plans with people who don’t follow through. For example, I had a friend who would always flake on our plans. Eventually, I stopped making plans with him at all and focused on spending more time with people who actually wanted to hang out with me.

The same idea is true as a leader. If an employee is constantly asking if you have a moment to discuss a project or conflict, only to hear, “Sorry, I don’t have time,” that person’s going to feel as if you don’t care. She’ll stop coming to you for help or advice — or leave your company altogether.

The better option is to make time for your team. That doesn’t mean always stopping what you’re doing. But, in the grand scheme of a day, we all have five minutes to respond to an email or refer someone to a resource he needs. If the teammate needs more time than that, ask him to schedule a time to talk with you. It shows that you value your time and his, and you want to give him your full attention when you can.

Connecting with your team on a personal level may not seem like a priority, but if you want to build and retain top talent, it’s an area you must focus on. When you do, you’ll be able to boost engagement, productivity, and profits — and build a foundation you can all grow on.

HR News: Study Finds HR Most Stressful Profession

Work can be hard. That, obviously, doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Generally speaking, most days are great, but there are rough ones peppered throughout the year. For HR though, there is new statistical data that indicates those professionals deal with more stress than another other profession. Also making HR News headlines this week: the latest jobs report is out from the U.S. government and one industry is celebrating impressive job growth despite the previous month’s slump and Google Cloud is under new HR leadership as it works toward taking on competitors, Amazon and Microsoft.

HR News
HR Most Stressful Profession
Everyone thinks their profession is the most stressful. Now, HR professionals have statistical proof indicating the human resources profession tops all others. Human Resources Online writes, according to a new report from Perkbox surveying some 16,000 respondents from more than 50 cities in the United Kingdom, 79 percent of HR professionals say they were negatively impact by their job. Behind HR, 63 percent of legal workers and 54 percent of retail, catering and leisure workers said the same.

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So, why is the percentage of stress for HR professionals so high? According to Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the reasons include:

Constantly being asked to multitask
Discussing negative issues
Constant pressure to find solutions to company issues
Transportation Jobs On-Top In September
The September jobs report is out and the transportation sector is the clear star. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted the industry added 16,000 jobs. Business Insider reports September’s growth follows a previous month of shrinking positions. Across the country, some 136,000 jobs were added. That number was lower than expected. Regardless, unemployment remains at an historic low.

New HR Leader at Google Cloud
Former SAP executive Brigette McInnis-Day has been tapped to lead Google Cloud’s human resources department. The move comes as the company is scaling in order to meet cloud market leaders head on in competition. Those market leaders: Amazon and Microsoft. The move to bring McInnis-Day onboard comes after Google Cloud previously announced it would triple its salesforce according to CNBC. McInnis-Day, who officially joined the company on September 30, served previously as the chief operations officer and head of digital HR for SAP’s SuccessFactors

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Top 5 Ways to Turn Your New Hires into Engaged Employees

No matter how big your company or what industry you are in, many companies often miss the opportunity to effectively engage their new hires, leading to lower levels of productivity and advocacy. In today’s article, we wanted to share some great examples of how new hire engagement can be built.

1. Don’t have a disconnect between your recruitment process and onboarding journey.

Over 59% of employers now say that talent brand represents one of the key components of an organization’s HR strategy (with 39% of businesses expected to increase investment in their talent brand initiatives). That means a lot of time and money is being invested in developing an EVP (employee value proposition) and portraying the many reasons why it is so great to work at an organization. So, why then do many organizations go silent after a new hire returns their contract?

Keeping up a similar level of communication (exciting communication..not just admin requests) is one way to build excitement and advocacy even before a new hire has stepped in the door for their first day. This will create engagement to (hopefully) stop them from accepting an offer elsewhere before they start. It will also have them more ready to get stuck in their role when they begin – as there’s more connective tissue established.

2. Make their first day memorable – provide a WOW welcome.

Okay, we all know there are a few basic things you need to get right for a new hire’s first day. Surprisingly, it still is often these basic things that aren’t ready for day 1 – like having an operational laptop, the new hire’s manager being in the office etc.

However, if you truly want to build employee engagement and advocacy for your new hires – you need to go the extra mile. Perhaps during the interview or pre-boarding stages, hobbies or interests were discussed. Have the manager or team take a few minutes to add a personal touch to a desk or the team’s area. You might take over the screen in the reception with a welcome image for the new hire. Not only does this create a sense of belonging, it is also a great way to provide some free talent brand moments (we all love the LinkedIn posts showing us just how great day 1 was).


3. Create an easier way to navigate the dreaded internal systems.
So you’ve done a great job making the new hire feel engaged and welcomed. But after lunch or on the second day, it’s time to start getting into some company content.

Deep breath, followed by a sigh.

Every new hire dreads the mundane e-learnings, and most employers know how hard it is to navigate a learning system or intranet. In one survey, between 16-17 percent of the respondents left between the first week and the third month of starting their new job, so creating a smoother entry into the company goes a long way to increase employee retention early on.

Rather than loosely telling a new hire where to go to access systems and content, why not drip feed specific links to locations to find content at different stages during the new hire’s first few weeks? Imagine as a new hire, on your third day – you have an email in your inbox directing you to relevant links? This will avoid any awkward moments of uncertainty or confusion, that’s for sure.

4. Allow for pulse checks to generate instant feedback.
When a new hire joins your company, there are many moving parts, both for the new hire personally and for the company as a whole. Because of this, there’s most likely going to be something that doesn’t go to plan.

Traditionally, employers have chosen to collect new hire experience data at various points – some collecting recruitment process data, others favoring quarterly or bi-annual employee surveys – and others who collect no data at all.

One of the biggest issues with these processes is that problems may not be identified until it is too late. Of course, this needs to be balanced with not over-surveying a new hire. However, having a check in after a new hire’s first week and month can allow for issues to be identified and rectified early on, making an employee feel much more settled and engaged.

One point here though – if you do decide to survey at frequent intervals, it’s important to have a plan on how to take action on the feedback you receive. Certain automated systems, such as Enboarder, have the ability to trigger an alert to a team member if a poor score is given during a check-in survey.

Enboarder onboarding software

Onboarding software can give you timely reminders and
notifications to help you detect potential issues
your new hires may have.

5. Coach managers to constantly share feedback (a probation review shouldn’t be a shock).
For some, the perception of how they feel they are settling into their new role can be quite different from reality – either positively or negatively. If you truly want to make an employee feel confident and engaged in their role, it’s crucial that their manager offers transparency in how they are settling in.

To create the easiest method here, training your managers on the importance of goal and KPI setting can create an objective way for a new hire to understand how they are progressing in their role. Your managers will most often be well-intentioned, they might just not realize the importance of frequent feedback.

Prompting a manager to have 1:1 catch ups occurring at the end of the first week and month at a minimum is one way to make a new hire feel valued, and for objective feedback to be given. This allows for development areas to be explored, and for a new hire to feel empowered, knowing exactly how they are tracking and where they can be improving. By not providing feedback until probation review time, a new hire has no chance to change their way of working and will feel much less engaged with you as an employer.

Before You Go

The first few weeks new hires spend in your organization are a bit like their honeymoon period. For employers – and HR departments – this onboarding period represents a fantastic opportunity to turn their new recruits into engaged employees.

Unfortunately, companies often don’t seem to grasp the importance of a great onboarding experience. As a result, a lot of those new hires that weren’t easy to recruit in the first place, leave prematurely. Use these 5 tips to create your own engagement boosting onboarding process – and keep everyone onboard (pun intended) – instead.

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3 Steps To Fix A Broken Culture

Our world is in a constant state of change and organizations are evolving to create exceptional cultures.

According to Gallup, “The world’s best organizations don’t simply promise a great employee experience; they create a culture of engagement in which employees can continuously develop and thrive. Leaders at these world-class organizations treat their workplace culture as a powerful competitive differentiator. They set the tone for their desired culture, communicating consistently and holding managers accountable for team engagement and performance.”

Gallup awarded 39 organizations the prestigious Gallup Great Workplace Award for 2018. What did these organizations do that placed them at the top? They created outstanding workplace cultures. How did they do this? By discovering what their people craved, assessing their current culture and implementing a GAME plan. These three steps create alignment, foster communication, focus on strengths and leverage trust. Let’s dive in so you can have an exceptional organization.

Step 1. What Do Your People Crave?

A curated report prepared by the Center For Women and Business at Bentley University researched the impact of multi-generations on the workplace. This report helped us learn what each of these groups wants and need to perform at optimal levels. Here are their findings.


have a distrust of authority and value team interaction
prefer verbal communication and are social
loyal and have an affinity for hard work
Generation X

appreciate well-defined and measurable goals
prefer direct and timely feedback
seek a work environment that is exciting, challenging and meaningful

want coaches, not bosses
want to develop their strengths and not fix their weaknesses
it’s not just their job – it’s their life
Generation Z

money and job security are their top motivators
want instant feedback, want to be mentored in an environment where they can advance quickly
competitive and how they can advance are pivotal
Giving your team what they need to excel all comes down to safety, belonging, mattering.

benefits programs create safety
tribal rituals and celebrations create belonging
recognition programs like Rock Stars and High Fives create feelings of mattering
individual Development Plans create mattering plus
thoughtful, value-based onboarding processes affect a combo pack of all three
Step 2. Assess Your Culture

As discussed in a previous blog, assessing who needs what (safety, belonging, mattering) can be done by asking your team to participate in a SBM Index. They will rank the below 10 questions to assess the level of safety, belonging, mattering in your culture. Since there are 10 it’s easiest to give each answer a score of 1-10 (where 1=low and 10=high). This way you’ll get a total score that you can measure and watch improve as you strengthen your cultural programs. And the higher the score, the better the engagement. Many of our clients find a verbal scale works best. Here’s an example: 0= Disagree, 2.5 = Somewhat Disagree, 5 = Somewhat Agree, 7.5 = Agree, 10 = Consistently Agree. See what makes sense for your team.

It’s safe to try new approaches, to innovate, to share my ideas at work
I trust my team members and colleagues to support my and the company’s success
I feel emotionally and physically safe at work—in the environment, with the tools provided, with my colleagues
I am motivated by my company’s mission, vision, values
I receive acknowledgment and appreciation at work
When I make a mistake I am corrected with respect and the desire to help me improve
I have a career development path that my leader continuously supports me in
I understand the expectations of me and my performance
I feel I matter to my leader and the company—I am making a difference here
I would recommend a friend to work here
Be sure to have a comments section for each statement. This is where some of the greatest gold will show up!

Step 3. Create A Cultural GAME Plan From Your Results

The best way to create an exceptional workplace culture is by implementing a GAME plan.

Growth: are you helping your team to aspire to greater knowledge and capabilities? Individual Development Plans, Leadership Lunches, Annual Learning Plans all help. Do you have them?

Appreciation: How are helping your team to feel appreciated and valued? Do you use High 5s, Rock Star, Weekly Wins, Friday Toasts?

Measurement: Are you ensuring your team performs and understands your expectations? Do you have accountability structures, feedback, performance reviews, engagement surveys?

Engagement: Are you helping to keep everyone’s hearts and minds focused on how much they love your organization? Do you have a solid Mission Vision Values, “Coffee w/CEO” program, company contests, Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic goals (goals that you show people the progress on, talk about, anchor in an activity?

A GAME plan is essential to provide the most fulfilling work experience, which will yield the happiest and most committed, productive, loyal, long-term, constantly evolving team members. You, your team and your organization deserve this.

The result of implementing these three steps? A highly engaged culture and an exceptional organization.


Fifteen creative ways to hire – whatever your budget

We’ve devised three levels – hiring on a shoestring, hiring without breaking the bank, and hiring when the sky’s the limit – and for each of those we have five creative ideas for you to consider. As the titles suggest each is tailored to particular circumstances, so whether you’re on your own with a laptop and a mobile, or you have a dedicated team of HR professionals at your beck and call, there are hiring solutions that are right for you.

1. Hiring on a shoestring

You don’t need a big budget to find the right person for the job. So here are five low-cost ways to hire.

Talent mobility

Within your own organisation there will be employees who are looking for new challenges or eager to learn new skills. A talent mobility programme makes sure that you can identify those internal candidates, helping you to create a pipeline of potential hires long before vacancies appear.

Engage passive candidates

According to our own global research 70% of likely candidates fall into this category. That means they are employed, but not necessarily looking for a new role. However, they may well be interested if they hear about your unique benefits package or how they can improve their skills with you.

Employee referrals

LinkedIn research suggest that it takes 55 days to hire a candidate via traditional means. But if an existing employee comes forward with a potential candidate that is cut to just 29 days. A user-friendly referral programme, with appropriate incentives, can work for everyone in your organisation.

Build your brand

Once again our research shows that – even if they are unemployed – 69% of candidates would reject a job offer from a ‘bad’ employer. So having a positive brand is vital to being able to attract good candidates. There are low-cost tools that let you build a career site that highlights employees who best represent your culture and values, helping you find candidates who match that profile.

Alternative interviews

If you just ask the same questions to candidates in sterile interview room you’re missing a vital opportunity to probe a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. So get out of the office and share a coffee in a neutral environment. Or consider a work-based simulation. You could be pleasantly surprised by what you learn.

2. Hiring without breaking the bank

You don’t need a massive budget to be more creative in your hiring. Here are five ways you can squeeze more out of your money.

Job auditions

After the initial screening bring candidates on site and set them a realistic task to test them in their likely future role. You’ll not only gain a better understanding of how they adapt to your culture, but gain more insight into how they’ll deal with the challenges of the role.

Track that applicant

The average hire process takes two to three months, while top candidates are on the market for just 10 days. So anything you can do to speed the process – through an Applicant Tracking System – ensures that you are more likely to both find and appoint those top candidates more quickly and efficiently.

Be social

Our research shows that the average job candidate has more than seven social media accounts. So having an up-to-date social media recruiting strategy is vital to attract candidates and build that all-important brand profile.

Raid your competitors

A person who already works in your industry or sector is almost certain to have the skills you’re looking for. So don’t hold back when it comes to hiring directly from a competitor.

Invest in video

In a global marketplace it makes sense to use technology so that you can interview when it best suits your candidates. These can be live or pre-recorded. Take advantage of 30-day trials to help you choose the right technology for your team.

3. Hiring when the sky’s the limit

Budget no problem? Then let your imagination fly with these five ideas.

Automated screening

If a large company receives 10,000 applications a year, and the recruiter spends just 10 seconds on each, that still means a massive 28 hours a year just screening applications. And most people are going to spend a lot more than 10 seconds screening out the bad from the good. So it makes sense to automate the process as much as possible. There are plenty of products out there to automate every stage of the process, from pre-screening to arranging suitable interview dates for the right candidates.

Think TV

If you only use media seen by active candidates then you’re missing out on a vast number of other potential applicants. TV may seem like a wild idea, but according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) TV is the most highly-effective media. And it’s not just applicants – awareness and affinity with your brand are also key measures likely to be boosted by TV advertising.

Embrace AI

From removing unconscious bias to chatbots that can asses soft skills, artificial intelligence is with us right now when it comes to hiring. There are products for every stage of the process and many are already in common use.

Go virtual

As well as showing candidates that you’re at the cutting edge of technological innovation, virtual reality (VR) tools have a practical application in hiring. From setting technical tasks for candidates to master, to tours of the office where they’ll be working, VR is already set to become a major tool for recruiters.

Fun and games

Games are not just for personal enjoyment. In the office they can also be used to set challenges for candidates and assess how they respond. It’s a great way to showcase your culture as well as assess soft skills.

When you’re hiring your ambition should not be constrained by your budget. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Technology is a great leveller, with solutions which can be utilised by businesses both large and small. If money is no option you can really give your hiring strategy a boost, but even if it isn’t there are still many new and creative ways to send your recruitment to a new level.

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How to make the CEO-HRD relationship rock solid

Having spent more than 30 years working with and interviewing hundreds of top CEOs, it’s clear to us that for a company to perform well the relationship between the CEO and HR director must be rock solid. Yet there has often been a dividing line between the HRD and CEO.

HRDs have a different perspective on staff and company culture than the CEO – they are often more tuned in to the workforce and have their own views on what the culture should be. CEOs, meanwhile, have a broad view of their company, industry and how to be successful. For the best results the CEO and HRD must be aligned towards the same goal, possessing a shared vision for the company as both a commercial enterprise and a place people would love to work.

The first thing CEOs must do is cast aside the ‘hub and spoke’ leadership model. Hub and spoke is where the executive team habitually look to the CEO, who stands as the lone hub in the centre of attention. The consequence of this model is that CEOs become dictatorial and execs are unlikely to contradict them. CEOs are often more interested in figures than feelings, making it even more difficult for the HRD.

In place of hub and spoke we encourage a fellowship model. Fellowship sees the CEO as a member of a team, humbly looking to peers that complement what they lack. Fellowship is built on trust, belief and care, and under this model the HR director is a complementary equal of the CEO. The CEO’s task is to articulate a common goal and inspire the fellowship towards that goal. In this culture the HRD and CEO can support each other.

Another virtue of fellowship is that it connects the organisation as a team. Traditional companies have a silo mentality, often stereotyping the HR department as purely functional – thus replaceable. By adopting a fellowship model the equal importance of HR is signalled to all other head of departments and the whole organisation, promoting partnerships between employees and departments.

Here are two ways to get the HRD-CEO relationship flowing:

Courageous conversations

Fellowships are based on trust. This is rarely given automatically so to initiate the building of trust one might have a courageous conversation: where one party at a time shares something in openness and honesty with the other. You might want to set some topics: what inspired you when you were younger? What hasn’t gone to plan? What event changed the direction of your life? Or let the conversation flow freely. The key is to lower your guard.

We want to see CEOs and HRDs having courageous conversations about the people and decisions that really affect the company. HRDs need the confidence to step in and CEOs need to value the HRD’s input by having the humility to acknowledge that they do not know everything.

Senior leaders’ team day

In any organisation there are people whose opinion determines the direction of travel and motivates others to move with them. They might not be senior management, but their influence classes them as senior leaders. Large companies could have 40 such people; the CEO and HRD can work together on listing who they are.

The first step is getting everyone connected, which can be done using smart questions about the business and fun questions that help everyone connect as humans. Next, an honest and open discussion about the performance and day-to-day operation of the business, identifying the issues and the senior leaders’ view on how to solve them within a timeframe. Then, the future of the company must be distilled into a common goal. This often starts with the CEO sharing their purpose (from the heart), ambition (from the head) and views about the company’s future winning position. The senior leaders then form smaller groups to give their own views, which are brought together as a shared view.

By the end of the day everyone will leave with a sense of how they will play a part in the future of the company and take that common vision away to inspire the whole organisation.

There are many ways the CEO-HRD relationship can be an essential bond in the fellowship. By ignoring the HRD or keeping a poor HRD the CEO wastes a massive opportunity to potentially build a completely new culture, connect all senior management into that culture and realise their company’s future potential.

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How Human Resource Leaders Can Create and Maintain Better Employee Experiences

In our highly competitive and rapidly changing business environment, a company’s ability to disrupt and lead rests on its talent. But the workforce – and the way we work – also is rapidly changing, creating a new demand for leaders to shift their mindset from a focus on process to a focus on people.

In this new reality, in which talent is key to competitive advantage, every leader needs to think differently about their role in creating and maintaining employee experiences. Human resources executives can play a critical role here, helping build operating models that use enabling technologies to create an environment in which workers are treated like critical drivers of value.

The talent picture is complex as organizations respond to workforce pressures on four main fronts:

Diversifying workforce demographics. For the first time, corporations need to manage the presence of up to five distinct generational groups in the workforce, each with its own wants, needs, and motivators. These divergent requirements complicate the process of shaping company culture and delivering on the employee value proposition (EVP).

The rise of contingent labor. According to KPMG’s 2018 CEO Outlook survey, almost all companies in the U.S. (99%) use a contingent workforce in some capacity. Increasing use of contingent and “gig” workers complicates workforce planning, creating many possible ways to achieve an optimal workforce size, shape, or composition.

The shift to a consumer mindset. Employees are increasingly “shopping” for jobs, seeking tailored employment experiences that align with their personal goals and values. This mindset not only changes talent attraction and hiring strategies, it also increases the need for an employment experience that delivers a sense of deeper purpose and fulfillment.

Intelligent automation in the workplace. Automation technologies already have a deep impact on talent strategies. In addition to increasing productivity and streamlining time-consuming manual work, automation impacts workflows, increases employee reskilling requirements, and creates demand for new roles and new technical specializations.

In this evolving workplace, creating the right employee experience can help organizations attract and retain high-value employees who deliver competitive advantage. In these enhanced environments, these employees also can work more innovatively and more productively.

Research shows organizations with specific employee experience programs and strategies report up to three times higher profit growth. Part of this growth is due to lower operating margins stemming from employees being more innovative in how they work, but lower employee turnover also contributes measurable savings.

Creating this new kind of employee experience demands that leaders look at operations through a customer experience lens. This must be built on assessments and analysis, not just company programs, but also the wants and needs of each employee from their career, their workplace, and their employer. From there, the company can begin to shape tailored experiences for a multi-generational workforce with many different employee types.

And leaders can’t be limited to just insights from annual performance reviews or opinion services: They need to keep a finger on the pulse of the current employee experience. What do workers want across their digital, social, and environmental experiences? Is your organization meeting those needs?

Mechanisms and technology that allow for real-time feedback and sentiment analysis can ensure that workers feel heard and allow the organization to respond swiftly in the moments that matter. This feedback can also provide opportunities to iterate on the delivered experience based on worker responses and fill the gaps in the EVP.

Enhancing employee experiences means placing a greater emphasis on the structural elements that shape that work and thus shape the employees’ day-to-day experiences within the organization. Employees need to be surrounded by a platform of human-centered services that are provided or supported by HR. This means that instead of focusing on process, the HR organization of the future will be more like a platform or service provider that meets the needs of different “internal customers” or worker groups in many different ways.

All of these elements must come together in order to support transformation.

For instance, KPMG recently worked with a company in which fierce competition from emerging fintech firms put this long-standing, multinational financial services company under intense pressure to modernize. To create a business capable of meeting evolving customer expectations and competing in the digital world, they needed to make significant changes to their workforce, technology, and culture. The people agenda would drive this change, but they also needed access to in-depth insights into the future of the finance industry and the contribution of technology to business strategy.

The firm’s current HR information system required a large IT team to support, run, and customize it, with associated cost implications. This, together with many broader challenges in human capital management, meant that millions of dollars were exiting their business. They needed to move from a system that performed core HR administration to one that helped them drive talent and performance. They also needed to modernize their operations through better processes and self-service.

A key consideration was whether to implement a new HR platform. KPMG helped shape the firm’s HR transformation strategy, vision, and road map, utilizing pre-configured tools, templates, transformation enablers, and methodologies from KPMG Powered Enterprise. This helped manage risk, provide clear scope, and support business value.

Today, the firm better enables their workforce and leaders to drive the change necessary to become a modern financial services organization.

In this digital age, with the emerging and increasingly fierce war for talent and skills, creating an employee experience that differentiates employers and actually retains talent will be critical. Traditional, task-focused workplace cultures are a significant barrier to true digital transformation. Addressing and quickly closing the employee experience gap needs to be a business priority for every leader today. Instead of making transformation a goal, make it a way of business.

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Beyond culture to organisation reinvention

Our research has consistently shown that the ‘organisation’ (culture, capability, workplace, processes) adds more value than the ‘individual’ (talent, competence, workforce, people) in bringing about business results. The most valuable thing HR can give to an employee is an organisation that wins in the marketplace. Our focus on the war for talent should pivot towards victory through organisation (as defined above).

To help HR professionals deliver value through organisation we have focused our work on helping them build the ‘right’ culture, which is the identity of the firm in the mind of key customers made real to employees. As such, the ‘right’ culture turns an external brand into internal agendas for all HR practices.

In more recent work we have discovered that ‘organisation’ requires not just cultural transformation but a much broader application. In today’s world of incredible change, volatility, disruption and turbulence, leaders need to reinvent their organisations to become ever-more responsive to dynamic market opportunities. In our study of leading firms (e.g. Amazon, Facebook, and Google in the US; Alibaba, DiDi, Huawei, and Tencent in China; and Supercell in Europe) and by synthesising others’ work in this area (with concepts like holacracy, boundaryless, agile, ambidextrous, network, and exponential), we have defined a new organisational form called the market-oriented ecosystem (MOE) that addresses this broader reinvention need.

Instead of being organised by divisions where a chain of command allocates resources, the MOE organisation has a platform of resources (money, people, technology, data) that is dedicated to market opportunities. Each market opportunity is assigned an independent team (or cell) where employees anticipate customer requirements and move quickly to respond to them. Historically, this organisational logic might be seen as holding companies – with a hub and spokes. But the MOE connects the independent teams and platforms into an ecosystem to share vital information, resources and expertise to fuel customer obsession, innovation, and agility. The MOE is a novel way of designing organisations to be both small (agility through independent teams) and large (economic scale through platforms), innovative (new market insights discovered in market-oriented teams) and learning (sharing information across teams and platforms).


HR can help business leaders see that the quality of organisation makes a difference in employee, strategic, customer, investor, and community results. HR can track the impact of reinventing the organisation for each of these stakeholders and make a business case for adopting the MOE logic.


HR can help define what it means to be a MOE and audit the company’s current adherence to MOE principles. We have identified six dimensions of the MOE (below) along which HR can facilitate an assessment among senior leaders and a cross section of other employees.

Offer guidance on governance processes

HR can identify and improve the firm’s choices on six areas of governance identified in the diagram below. Note that these six areas include culture, but the right culture alone is not enough to institutionalise MOE principles. For each of these six governance areas HR can provide specific insights, choices and processes to ensure that the transition to a MOE occurs.

Coach, advise and develop MOE leaders

HR can help leaders recognise the importance of paying attention to their behaviours to ensure their behaviours are consistent with the MOE logic. Doing so will help ensure both leader and employee behaviours reflect MOE principles because employees will observe and often do what their leaders do.

HR can assess individual leaders and collective leadership against identified MOE behaviours. Further, HR can design and deliver development experiences for leaders that may include personal coaching, formal training and learning experiences to help them acquire MOE leadership skills. Finally, HR can measure the impact of leaders acquiring MOE leadership skills and measure the extent to which those skills create a MOE that delivers intended results.

Craft and implement a MOE transition plan

As agents of change, HR professionals can guide the MOE transition process by bringing in insights about change from the organisation development field that make a successful transition happen. Those principles include starting small, assigning a transition team, managing a dual organisation logic, drafting a roadmap of the change journey, and learning forward.


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It’s Time to Split HR

I talk with CEOs across the globe who are disappointed in their HR people. They would like to be able to use their chief human resource officers (CHROs) the way they use their CFOs—as sounding boards and trusted partners—and rely on their skills in linking people and numbers to diagnose weaknesses and strengths in the organization, find the right fit between employees and jobs, and advise on the talent implications of the company’s strategy.

But it’s a rare CHRO who can serve in such an active role. Most of them are process-oriented generalists who have expertise in personnel benefits, compensation, and labor relations. They are focused on internal matters such as engagement, empowerment, and managing cultural issues. What they can’t do very well is relate HR to real-world business needs. They don’t know how key decisions are made, and they have great difficulty analyzing why people—or whole parts of the organization—aren’t meeting the business’s performance goals.

Among the few CHROs who do know, I almost always find a common distinguishing quality: They have worked in line operations—such as sales, services, or manufacturing—or in finance. The celebrated former CHRO of GE, Bill Conaty, was a plant manager before Jack Welch brought him into HR. Conaty weighed in on key promotions and succession planning, working hand in glove with Welch in a sweeping overhaul of the company. Mary Anne Elliott, the CHRO of Marsh, had had several managerial roles outside HR. She is overhauling the HR pipeline to bring in other people with business experience. Santrupt Misra, who left Hindustan Unilever to join Aditya Birla Group in 1996, became a close partner of the chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, working on organization and restructuring and developing P&L managers. He runs a $2 billion business as well as heading HR at the $45 billion conglomerate.

My proposal is radical but grounded in practicality: Split HR into two strands.

Such people have inspired the solution I have in mind. It is radical, but it is grounded in practicality. My proposal is to eliminate the position of CHRO and split HR into two strands. One—we might call it HR-A (for administration)—would primarily manage compensation and benefits. It would report to the CFO, who would have to see compensation as a talent magnet, not just a major cost. The other, HR-LO (for leadership and organization), would focus on improving the people capabilities of the business and would report to the CEO.

HR-LO would be led by high potentials from operations or finance whose business expertise and people skills give them a strong chance of attaining the top two layers of the organization. Leading HR-LO would build their experience in judging and developing people, assessing the company’s inner workings, and linking its social system to its financial performance. They would also draw others from the business side into the HR-LO pipeline. After a few years these high potentials would move to either horizontal or higher-level line management jobs. In either case they would continue to rise, so their time in HR-LO would be seen as a developmental step rather than a ticket-punching exercise.