How Your Leadership Team Might Be Setting A Terrible Example

In the everyday intensity of leading an organization, teams at the top can lose sight of the signals they send, and whether or not the example they’re setting is one they’d actually want followed. The team at the top of an part of any organization (enterprise, function, region, business unit) has disproportionate levels of influence over those it leads. People further down in the organization look to their leaders for cues on what’s acceptable (and what isn’t) and the team’s behaviors – both good and bad – will be emulated. Having your actions play out publicly as if on a jumbotron, is a huge responsibility, but unfortunately too many teams don’t take this responsibility as seriously as they should. The consequences can be farther reaching than most leadership teams realize.

Irritated business team arguing
When teams fail to resolve conflict, rivalry spreadsGETTY
At their best, leadership teams synchronize their organizations into cohesive powerhouses. At their worst, they set an example that some of the worst habits will be tolerated – and perhaps even rewarded. A leadership team that intentionally shifts a bad practice to a productive one stand to inordinately improve performance for the entire organization. One research study vividly sharpens the contrast: 96% of high performing leadership teams are seen as producing high quality results for their organizations in contrast to low performing leadership teams, only 44% of which are seen as yielding quality results. If a leadership team’s behaviors are impairing their organization’s performance more than half the time, fixing them should be a matter of utmost urgency. In my 35 years of organizational consulting with leadership teams, these are three behaviors I’ve seen have the most negative influence over organizations. Here’s my advice for how to fix them.

Narrow scattered focus. It’s astounding how badly most leadership teams use their time together. They set meeting agendas haphazardly, often only days beforehand. Their conversations veer off topic, often into minutia. They leave issues needing resolution unaddressed. The study noted above shows that among high performing leadership teams, 93% are able to prioritize the most important issues and 96% focus on the right issues. By contrast, in low performing leadership teams, only 62% prioritize well and only 53% are seen as focused on the right issues. The implications for an organization whose leadership team is poorly focused can’t be overstated: wasted resources, wasted effort, and widespread confusion become the norm.

Today In: Leadership
In one technology services company I worked with, the Eastern U.S. division was known for under-performing against revenue plans in comparison to its Central and Western division counterparts. A closer look revealed that the leadership team had changed sales promotions every week, while the norm was monthly changes in the other divisions. Its leadership team was scheduled to meet bi-weekly, but averaged every six weeks. And those meetings typically lasted about 45 minutes before the leader had to step out for an urgent call or crisis. The division was so scattered that one interviewee said, “We never know what’s really important. So whatever someone screams at me about in any given day, that’s the priority.”

If a video camera captured your leadership team in action for a full day, how would you feel about having that video used as training for the rest of the o
Bringing AI To The Masses: The Key To Enable An Intelligent Enterprise
Effective leadership teams have clearly defined charters. They narrowly focus on the most strategic priorities and don’t detour from them. They stick to well-articulated decision-making processes. And they intentionally transfer their disciplined focus down through the organization.

Reconcile unhealthy rivalry. Competition among leadership teams isn’t unusual. After all, leaders that made the cut had to distinguish themselves among their peers to get the “big jobs.” But a team of excessively individualistic leaders vying for resources, status, influence, and most often, their boss’s job, can fracture the organization beneath them. One CEO I briefly worked with loved to foster competition among his team. He would intentionally set conflicting goals among team members, and while he believed this would lead to the best ideas prevailing, it actually led to vicious backstabbing and information hoarding.

Unhealthy competition erodes trust. If team members distrust the motivations and unspoken agendas of teammates, they will act with self-protection, even self-interest, to avoid risking personal failure. And when things don’t go as hoped, people point at one another in blame rather than healthy accountability. It is nearly impossible to make and execute critical decisions when team members don’t trust one another – and it’s equally difficult to ask the rest of the organization to carry out those decisions if everyone knows they were made by people who aren’t aligned.

In one organization diagnostic we performed, an interviewee in the manufacturing division of the company defiantly boasted of his counterpart in the supply chain division, “I haven’t talked to him in over five years, and if I never do before I retire, that’ll be fine by me.” The history of this feud stemmed from a nasty rivalry between the two department heads. And it had implications on both divisions’ performance. Customer complaints about late and incorrect orders had risen steadily over the years since the feud began. The newly appointed CEO, learning of the fragmentation between the two departments called both leaders into his office. He listened to both sides of the story, each of which had some merit, and then he told them, “You’ve got one month to clean this up and get these two departments humming in synch without a glitch. Or you’re both fired.”

Leadership teams must operate as a unified force. Shared goals must be accompanied by shared accountability. In the RHR study, high performing leadership teams were five times more likely to hold members accountable for shared goals than their low performing counterparts. Rivalry should be saved for external competition.

Replace collusion with honesty. When conflict and information are mishandled among a leadership team, the rest of the organization follows suit. The RHR study showed that 87% of high performing leadership teams handled conflict effectively and were transparent and open with information; 82% of high performing teams exchanged constructive feedback with each other. Whereas only 44% of low performing leadership teams handled conflict effectively and 52% exchanged feedback and were transparent with information. The difference in performance is profound. Among the high performing teams, employee engagement averaged 87% while among lower performing leadership teams, it dropped to 45%.

Speaking negatively behind one another’s backs, withholding honest perspectives, or pocket vetoing decisions after they are made should be unacceptable. Leadership teams should have written norms that they won’t engage in these behaviors and they should share those norms with the rest of the organization, asking them to hold them accountable for adhering to them. I’ve seen the best leadership teams handcraft these behavioral norms themselves, publish them to the rest of the organization, and regularly assess performance against them. In my experience, when you know the organization is watching how well you adhere to your own rules, you think twice before breaking them.

If a video camera captured your leadership team in action for a full day, how would you feel about having that video used as training for the rest of the organization? Being on a leadership team should be viewed as a privilege. And along with that privilege comes a responsibility to behave in ways you would be proud to have the rest of the organization emulate.

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Gen Z expects coaching from bosses, early promotions

Dive Brief:
Generation Z has big expectations about pay, promotions and diversity, but its members still worry about measuring up, making decisions and not being able to repay their student loans, an InsideOut Development survey found. Gen Zers, who are typically between 18 to 23 years old and born between 1996 and 2010, are projected to make up one-quarter of the workforce by 2020. This means they’re also projected to be the fastest growing generation in the workforce by 2020, InsideOut noted.
Of the 1,000 18- to 23-year-olds surveyed, 75% said they want a boss who coaches employees, and others value a boss who can communicate the company’s vision, give frequent feedback and manage workers with consistency. Three-quarters of respondents also believe they should be promoted after one year in their first position; 40% think they’ll earn more than $100,000 a year at the peak of their career; and 80% think they’ll need a bachelor’s degree to get their dream job. However, only 30% of respondents think they’ll be able to repay their student loans, the survey said.
According to InsideOut, Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation, and 72% think racial equality is the most important issue today. Compared to only 26% of Baby Boomers, 49% of Gen Z respondents said employers can do more to promote inclusion in the workplace.

Dive Insight:
Gen Z’s expectations for the workplace are somewhat aligned with employers’ goals for the future. Though a majority of Gen Zers think the skills required of them in today’s workplace are different than those required by past generations, they’re willing to learn professional skills to earn more money and would undergo training to get a promotion, a recent LinkedIn study found. For employers, upskilling remains a challenge as they strive to keep up with the effects of digital disruption in their industries and source the right talent despite the skills gap, and willing participation from the workforce can help HR actualize this goal.

Training Gen Zers using tools that reflect their consumer tech experiences may help HR in its upskilling efforts. Talent professionals may also need to be wary of inadvertent age discrimination in their recruiting as this cohort enters the labor market. While, many employers have already committed to improving diversity and inclusion in their workplaces, those hoping to recruit Gen Z talent should make diversity a top priority, based on InsideOut’s findings.

HR might also commit to connecting with Gen Z frequently to provide support. “They’re looking for you to be highly engaged,” said Jim Link, CHRO of Randstad, at a conference in 2017. “They want you to listen to their ideas and opinions. Forty-six percent of them want you to be giving them feedback regularly.”


How to Attract and Retain Digital Talent

Jo Deal, LogMeIn’s Chief Human Resources Officer, shares the best practices to attract top digital talent and explains why creating a frictionless work environment, built around your employees, is the key to winning in today’s highly competitive market.

With a competitive labor market and more pressure than ever to win the ongoing war for talent, attracting employees requires new thinking. Companies are fighting over skilled workers, trying to catch their attention with what some consider “table stakes” perks like office baristas and free spin classes. However, perks are not a substitute for creating a strong culture, one with good open communication channels, a focus on employee engagement and clear alignment of job to business outcome. I am a coffee junkie so having a coffee bar in our office is one of my favorite treats, but cold brew alone cannot create a great place to work. Creating a frictionless work environment, built around your talent, so that your employees feel supported, motivated and engaged on a day-to-day basis, that is the key to winning in this market.

Showcasing your culture to candidates is a big part of successful recruiting, making sure they can see inside the walls to what life@yourcompany is really like. Finding smart ways to highlight your brand with authentic insights, stories straight from the mouths of other employees all delivered through easily digestible bites on mobile apps and impactful career sites. Successful recruiters focus on the candidate experience from the very first interaction and treat the journey like a customer lifecycle, thinking carefully about the connection points along the way. Getting this part right can make all the difference in catching the interest of an in-demand highly skilled candidate who has multiple job options available to them.

Hiring is just the beginning. Employees’ alternative career choices don’t cease to exist the minute they take a new job. With such a favorable market, people can consider quitting a new job within a few months and moving onto a new one with none of the judgment or consequences you might have expected even just a few years ago. It is a dangerous move to assume your team is settled and happy once they are on board. A leader once told me “you need to re-recruit your best employees every day” and he was right. Retaining talent has to be front of mind for every manager if you want to meet your business goals; engagement = productivity = greater corporate success.

If the goal is a productive engaged employee who feels valued and rewarded, there are many talent programs that need to be in place to ensure that can happen, from reward and benefit programs, recognition platforms and engagement surveys and pulse tools. Additionally, leadership and strong employee communications both have a big role to play in setting out strategy and linking teams and individuals’ work to the bigger picture, so each of us can understand what we are expected to do and how it fits into the overall picture of company success.

These are all critical, complex pieces of the engagement puzzle, and most HR leaders I know spend a lot of time thinking about these. I am a fan of focusing on the big rocks, one or two things that can really have an impact. However, I think the secret sauce may include spending a little time thinking about the multitude of little distractions that get in the way of everyday life and everyday work and put friction into the workplace. How to go about taking those little problems off the table?

Consider these interesting points from a recent Guardian Workplace benefits Study:

2 in 3 employers are now more digital than paper-based in managing their benefits and HR programs
3 in 5 millennials wish it were easier to learn about and access their workplace benefits
42% of millennials and 26% of baby boomers use artificial intelligence, such as their Alexa or Google Home device to ask benefits or health-related questions.

Now consider the fact that we are operating in a time when employees have smart devices accessible to them all the time, with recommendation engines that suggest what to shop for, and apps like Siri that help provide answers to day to day questions. There is an abundance of technology that makes for a personalized and easier experience in multiple aspects of life.

Why wouldn’t employees look for the same personalized, digital, easy experience at work?

The tech companies I have worked at have been investing in making life easier for a while now, starting with the little things – dry cleaning drop off at work, on-site dental cleaning or eye exams, even on-site bike repair services, and car refueling. Reducing the time we need to spend on personal tasks naturally frees up more time to put into work or hobbies or family.

It is time to up that investment and think about digital solutions within the workplace to make work life easier, not only creating more time but also a more enjoyable, easier work environment.

We began at LogMeIn with streamlining IT support services. We’ve all had that moment when our computer won’t cooperate and of course, it always comes at an inconvenient time, 5 minutes before a presentation is due or in the evening when there is nobody around to help. Putting a ticket into the helpdesk is fine but doesn’t guarantee a quick fix. This sort of frustration affects how employees feel about their company and feed into dissatisfaction. With slow support response time being one of the top end-user pain points (60% of users say the help desk interaction took too long and frequently didn’t solve the problem), companies need to invest in self-service tools. Time is a precious commodity in all of our lives and real-time, tailored answers that we can search out for ourselves can alleviate the frustration that comes from time wasted.

Self-service applications are a great first step, but purpose-built employee self-service tools can be a game changer, making it easier for employees to get the right first time answers. This is not just applicable to IT support, where we launched a chatbot 24/7 support service. We then took the premise and applied it within HR. How could we best help provide answers to frequently asked questions, whether related to benefits or company holiday schedules or policy information? Much of our HR information is traditionally stored across apps, documents, and websites and designing a layout that works for 3500 different employees in 15 countries who all search and pose questions in different ways inevitably means multiple employees’ searches will result in frustration. We decided to use AI to redefine what service looks like, creating a frictionless experience for our employees and resulting in quicker, more accurate answers and ultimately more satisfaction.

By reimagining the employee experience and focusing on the little points of friction, we built up a collection of little solutions that amount to a significant “big rock” improvement in how we manage all our tasks at work and aim to provide a friction-free, supportive and engaging place to work.

These tips represent a shift toward a truly employee-centric support system that will ultimately help you attract and retain digital talent by changing your workforce’s day-to-day life for the better. Putting employees at the core of any business is not just about perks or talking the talk – it’s about prioritizing the employee experience and making work life easier. What you do with that freed up time is up to you, though I highly suggest grabbing a latte and a chat with your colleagues.


New employee engagement tools replacing annual surveys

Mission Health System devoted time and effort to create a positive workplace for its more than 12,000 employees. The western North Carolina-based healthcare provider increased employee perks, added recognition programs, operated a booming employee wellness program and invested in employee engagement tools, namely a 100-question annual survey.

Despite these efforts, engagement survey scores remained flat, while frustration with the engagement efforts increased. The numbers caught the attention of the organization’s top leaders, who started asking hard questions about their engagement programs.

“Why are we dumping money into these big programs that are showing no results in the way that people actually feel about coming to work?” said Nancy Critcher-White, director of team member engagement at Mission Health. “What are we measuring and how are we measuring it and are we measuring the right thing?”

High employee engagement is a top strategic priority for Mission Health, Critcher-White said. It can result in “an environment where everyone can be their best, [which] leads to excellent healthcare.”

Mission Health ends use of annual engagement survey
After an investigation into alternative employee engagement tools, Mission Health decided to end the use of its annual survey. The healthcare provider switched to shorter, more frequent pulse surveys delivered at least once a quarter, giving managers the ability to more quickly identify and address management issues.

Mission Health elected to use tools such as StandOut from The Marcus Buckingham Company Inc., a performance talent management firm acquired last year by ADP.

While pulse surveys helped, the key to improving engagement at Mission Health was facilitating regular communication between employees and their managers. The company did this using a check-in application. Each week, employees used the tool to share their weekly progress, concerns and upcoming efforts.

A check-in tool is a two-way communication vehicle, Critcher-White said. If team members don’t receive meaningful attention from their leaders about near-term issues, they won’t feel engaged.

Amy Leschke-Kahle, vice president of performance acceleration at Marcus Buckingham, made a similar point when she said that measuring engagement itself doesn’t increase engagement.

“Just because you measure something doesn’t mean you move it,” she said. The check-in process, which encourages frequent conversations, is what increases engagement.

Annual engagement survey in steady decline
Mission Health made the move to a pulse employee engagement survey in 2015, which was a bold move at that time. When it made the switch, 90% of all organizations were still using annual engagement surveys, according to Gartner.

But Gartner expects those numbers to steadily decline. In 2019, the consultancy predicts only about 74% of organizations will still be using large engagement survey approaches, which, for most, is an annual or biannual survey. By 2020, that number is expected to drop to 63%.

Mission Health now has enough experience with its new approach to know that it works. Engagement scores have increased, and the new system has led to a “multiple point decrease in our first-year turnover,” Critcher-White said.

Mission Health is not alone in looking for new tools. The reason large annual survey use is declining is because they are “time-consuming and slow,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. It can take three to six months to prepare a survey, collect the data, analyze it and disseminate it. Plus, annual surveys are backward-looking.

“You get a snapshot of what the world used to look like, which is really easy to explain away because you can say, ‘well that was six months ago,'” Kropp said.

Pulse surveys may be the top competitor to annual engagement surveys, but they are far from the only alternative. The market for employee engagement tools is seeing a variety of technologies that can glean engagement independent of surveys, Kropp said.

These are analytical tools that look for engagement clues in employee behavior. They may include the use of social media monitoring to check for employee dissatisfaction and building monitor systems that track when people arrive and leave (see sidebar).


Want Your People To Work Inspired? Be An Un-Leader

For many people, work is just a job. A way to pay the bills. A trudge to the next weekend. A no-fun way to mark days off the calendar. After all, they seem to think, that’s why it’s called “work.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. Seriously. It really is possible to create an atmosphere where people are not merely “satisfied” with their employment, they are energized and even inspired.

That’s what you find at Kronos Incorporated, a global provider of workforce management cloud solutions. Every day, Kronos serves more than 40 million people across 35,000 organizations in more than 100 countries. Among its many distinctions, the company’s best practices have been recognized as one of Glassdoor’s 100 Best Places to Work.

The vigilantly managed Kronos culture produces enviable performance as measured by recruitment, retention, customer satisfaction, innovation, and overall performance.

None of this came without a few bumps along the road. The journey is chronicled by CEO Aron Ain in WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work.

Ain talked with me about the principles and practices that have made his company a showcase of employee engagement.

Rodger Dean Duncan: Early in your tenure as CEO, your company had decent employee engagement scores but was having trouble attracting and retaining the best people. How did that wake-up call affect your focus as a leader?

Aron Ain: When I became Kronos CEO in 2005, our engagement scores were about on par with other global technology companies. We were average, middle of the pack. But who wants to be average? Other companies were winning those “best company to work for” awards—so why couldn’t we? I knew building a workplace where employees felt fully engaged, inspired, and supported would allow us to create better products and deliver better services for our customers. That would lead to great business outcomes.

Our journey gained momentum in 2010 with the hiring of a seasoned, quantitative-minded executive to head up human resources. We partnered by codifying our culture, branding it, enhancing our benefits, and taking many other steps discussed in my book. I also focused with new vigor on my own leadership behaviors, modeling values that mattered to employees—like transparency, trust, and humility. The results and progress to date are considerable, as reflected in our high engagement scores—yet we are by no means perfect. We continue to work hard on improving our culture and enhancing our attractiveness as an employer.

Duncan: A lot of C-suite executives talk about organizational culture. What does culture mean to you and what do you see as a leader’s role in reinforcing cultural norms implied in an organization’s values?

Ain: Creating an inspiring place to work is not something a CEO should delegate—and I don’t. Our corporate culture starts with me. We’ve branded our culture WorkInspiredand define it around three core competencies: character, competence, and collaboration. These competencies correspond to a number of specific behaviors we want employees—or Kronites, as we call each other—to adopt in their daily work. The more Kronites exhibit these behaviors, the more we can inspire innovation and the better we can serve our customers. It’s no coincidence that at the same time our global employee engagement scores increased our revenue nearly tripled.

Leaders at all levels play a critical role in reinforcing a strong culture. If you don’t live the culture, modeling it enthusiastically for others, how can you expect employees to buy into it? I strive to behave each day in ways that inspire employees to love where they work—by showing humility, trusting others, over-communicating, making time to connect personally with employees, having fun at work, projecting a sense of authenticity, and so on. Whether you run an organization of 500,000 or manage a team of five, you’re the culture’s chief caretaker and proponent.

Duncan: You use the term “Un-Leader.” What kind of behaviors should we expect to see an Un-Leader exhibit?

Ain: Un-leaders are humble. They put employees first. They downplay the status that comes with their titles, preferring to put team members on the same level as they are. They show basic respect. They admit when they don’t know the answer to a question. They solicit feedback. All of this is not to suggest that Un-Leaders are “people pleaser” types who shrink from making tough decisions. Quite the contrary: Un-leaders know how to step up and exert their will when they need to. On a deeper level, though, they understand that real power and influence come not from status and a sense of superiority, but from the affection, admiration, and respect we’re able to engender in our team members. Un-Leaders get results by inspiring others to pull together as a team and put out their best work all the time.

Duncan: What advice do you have for people who seem to define themselves by their professional titles?

Ain: I would respectfully suggest that they take a step back and put their titles in perspective. Is this really how they want to define themselves? Is a title ultimately what you want to be known for? And does a focus on title and status really inspire people to work their hardest for you and your customers? I argue that doing away with some of the psychological distance that titles create will produce even better results for everyone.

As an experiment, try forgetting about your title and behaving with more humility for a day or a week. Listen to employees more. Grab lunch or coffee with employees you don’t know well. Solicit their opinions. Admit you don’t know something. Above all, listen. See how people react. See how you feel as a leader. If you like the results, keep doing it. I’m not suggesting that a more egoless style is the only correct way to lead. There are many paths to success.

Duncan: Kibitzing, you suggest, is an important ingredient in a user-friendly work environment. What does kibitzing look and sound like in day-to-day practice?

Ain: Imagine that you go into your local plumbing supply store, and the proprietor spends 10 minutes chatting with you, asking about your life, your family, your hobbies, just about anything. He’s friendly, funny, and, when you speak, he really listens. That’s kibitzing—and that was my father when I was growing up. I saw him kibitz all the time. Today, as CEO, I think of myself as kibitzer-in-chief, and I look for any opportunity I can to have these casual yet important conversations. When I ride the elevator or stand in line at the cafeteria, I’ll make a point of chatting up employees and listening hard to their answers. Since our company is global, I also take casual conversation to the masses, using our internal collaboration platform, mass emails, and video blogs to generate friendly conversation and project a personal presence. It’s not the same as communicating face-to-face, but it makes a difference nonetheless.

Duncan: Your company uses a “Courage to Lead” model for training its managers. What are the components of that model?

Ain: Courage to Lead includes three behavioral areas.

First, we ask managers to be both bold and humble—that means trusting others, assuming competence, holding honest conversations, and solving problems proactively, even when this means making tough decisions.

Second, we ask managers to simultaneously challenge and support their people. We want them to communicate a strategic vision for their teams, empower people to take risks in support of that vision, create opportunities for people to develop in their careers and as people, and create environments in which everyone feels comfortable participating.

Finally, we ask managers to disrupt and connect during interactions with team members. That is, they are to challenge norms, build relationships across silos, put the company’s interests first, and behave in ways that ensure an exceptional customer experience.

All of this is a tall order, but vitally important. As I like to say, every employee deserves a great manager—they really do! To help managers deliver, we measure their progress in cultivating these behaviors and offer extensive training, coaching, and other support.

Tips on becoming an Un-LeaderMCGRAW-HILL

Duncan: A well-conceived strategy, you note, is critical to an organization’s success. What are some keys to “evangelizing” the strategy so people are genuinely engaged in its implementation?

Ain: Strategy, when clearly communicated across the company, helps employees feel engaged and love where they work. If you know your company’s strategy and understand how you personally contribute to it, your work takes on new meaning and importance in your mind.

Recognizing this reality, we go all-out every year to evangelize our strategy among Kronites. Along with our leadership team, I spend months discussing the strategy at department and team meetings. Managers discuss the strategy with their teams, “cascading” it through every corner of the organization—and then connecting employees’ individual goals back to the corporate strategy. We also brand the strategy to further evangelize it, including collateral that Kronites can post in their workspaces. In addition, we resource the strategy. If one of our key initiatives for the year is not being supported by funding, activity, or people power, I’ll ask, “Are we not serious about this goal?”

Duncan: Kronos has hundreds of “boomerang” employees—people who left the company to work elsewhere, then returned. How do you lure those people back, and how does your company benefit?

Ain: We welcome boomerangs back because we believe in one core philosophy: We don’t own our employees’ careers. If they have a great offer, we support their decision to take it. Sure, we’d love to retain them and do everything in our power to do so, but if they choose to leave and they were a high-performer, we let them know that the door is open if they want to come back home.

It makes great business sense to court boomerangs. Contrary to what many people think, these employees tend to be more loyal than other employees—they have experienced other workplaces and appreciate what our company has to offer. Boomerangs also bring new skills and experiences back into our company. Some, for instance, join startups. Upon their return, we gain the benefit of their entrepreneurial spirit. Others go to work for our customers, enriching our teams with that perspective upon their return.

Welcoming boomerangs also benefits Kronos by garnering us considerable goodwill among employees. They like that we respect employees’ career ambitions enough not to hold a grudge when they leave. In many cases, Kronites leave our company for family reasons, so when we welcome them back, employees sense that we truly care about employees and their happiness. Guess what? They’re right! All of this helps build engagement and a sense among our employees that Kronos truly is a wonderful place to work.

Duncan: Most people can see the value in having an “attitude of gratitude.” In your company’s culture, what are some successful ways of saying “thank you” to people?

Ain: First, it’s vital for leaders to show gratitude, both at formal events and in daily conversations with employees. I thank Kronites in virtually every speech I give—Kronites are probably sick of hearing it! But gratitude shouldn’t just come from the top. It’s important to give employees opportunities to recognize one another, something we do through a formal peer recognition program where Kronites can acknowledge each other for demonstrating behaviors we’re trying to cultivate.

We also encourage teams and departments to maintain their own recognition programs, we put programs in place that allow employees to recognize their managers for doing a great job, and we thank employees as a group by holding large special events, such as our annual employee appreciation picnic or Thanksgiving luncheon. In order for gratitude to become a norm, everyone must have a chance to practice it, and it must flow in all directions.

Duncan: If you had to capture in a 140-character tweet what you’ve learned about helping people love their work, what would that tweet say?

Ain: Businesses thrive when people love where they work. And building an engaged workforce is deeply joyful for leaders. #GoKronos! #WorkInspired!


Faith in employees is key to success of entrepreneurs

For Indians employed in the private sector, the system of applying for sick leaves and casual leaves is all too familiar – a set number of days that keeps decreasing with every leave you avail. However, leaders from India Inc. are now championing a new approach to a company’s leave policy – trusting the employee.

At a panel discussion held as part of the Ascent Foundation Summit held in Mumbai on Thursday, industry leaders discussed the need to attract and retain the right talent for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and stressed on the need to build a relationship of faith between the employer and employees.

Speaking exclusively to Fortune India on the sidelines of the event, Harsh Mariwala, founder of Ascent Foundation and chairman, Marico said nurturing faith in the employees is crucial for any entrepreneur. He added that Marico demonstrated this by doing away with sick leave and casual leave several years ago. “If you’re sick, you’re sick; we trust you. Even if you’re sick for 20 days it’s okay,” Mariwala said. He added that culture building for an organisation has to start at the top, and policies and practices must reinforce the company’s values.

Lavanya Nalli, vice chairperson, Nalli Group of Companies, said she believed that employees feel a stronger sense of responsibility and ownership when they are trusted with autonomy. Nalli recounts that when her company removed the caps on allowances and accommodation expenses for travelling employees, they actually became more judicious with their choices.

She said that a company’s core values must be displayed in the processes. “Your frontline is the face of the organisation. We have empowered them; we have an apprentice model instead of just manuals and training programmes. They have a very strong induction program where they shadow a senior person,” Nalli said. The Nalli Group rarely hires laterally for mid-level positions as selections are usually made from within the company, she added.

Whereas Prabir Jha, president and global chief people officer, Cipla said he believes that companies must avoid falling into the trap of finding a ‘culture fit’ as a company’s culture cannot be static. “In these turbulent and disruptive times, we must be looking at ‘culture plus plus’, because the more plural your organisation is and the more diverse the perspectives and experiences are, your culture is likely to get more genetic strength,” he said.

Another mistake that entrepreneurs must avoid, according to Sunit Sinha, managing director, Accenture Strategy, Talent and Organisation, is believing the myth that what works in large global companies will not work in small organisations. “Human beings have the same needs whether they work in a global conglomerate, a small startup or a midsize company,” he said.

Commenting on the outlook for India’s startup space, Mariwala maintained that the trend for entrepreneurship in India is positive. “More youngsters want to start their own business. There is high degree of risk taking. There is a stronger support system, with a different set of financiers, HR services and consultants,” he said, adding that the ecosystem is developing at a better rate today than a few years ago.

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For Bengaluru startups, it’s raining money
Despite the global headwinds in terms of trade war concerns, volatile crude oil prices and currency fluctuations coupled with domestic uncertainties given the current market condition and the upcoming elections, Mariwala said entrepreneurs should focus on the opportunities and not worry about the macros.

“When each entrepreneur is starting something, it’s just a drop in the ocean. Entrepreneurs should identify the opportunities and not get dissuaded by the macros. As long as there is stability and law and order, don’t worry about the macros,” he said.

He also went on to say that the current liquidity crunch especially in the financials space post the IL&FS debacle is a temporary setback. “Obtaining credit also depends on how strong the business model is. If you have a strong business proposition I don’t see funds as a barrier.”

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A Japanese company puts its employees to sleep

Hong Kong employees top the world with their long working hours. This means getting a decent amount of sleep is next to impossible for most workers in the city.

No one can deny that a full night’s sleep boosts performance and productivity at work, and eventually leads to a happier life. A company in Japan believes that well-rested workers can bring more benefits to the business and rewards employees for having enough sleep.

Employees at Crazy Inc, a Japanese wedding organiser, can choose to instal a sleep tracking app developed by mattress manufacturer Airweave. Points are given if the employee sleeps no less than six hours a night for at least five days in a week. The more days the employee has enough rest in a week, the more points they get. Workers can then use these points directly as money to exchange for food in the company cafeteria.

Kazuhiko Moriyama, founder of Crazy Inc, believes that employees with happier lives will lead to better performance in the office, and hopes this innovative reward scheme can promote a healthier lifestyle among workers, and hence, increase productivity.

According to Moriyama, this reward scheme was a pilot project, and the preliminary results showed the overall health of its employees had improved. It also enhanced employees’ work performance and creativity. As a result, the company has decided to adopt it as a long-term initiative.


Are you ‘future-fit’ for the 2030 workplace?

In a new release, Bianca Solomon, human capital manager at USB-ED, said: “As the world of work rapidly evolves, the predictions made for 2030 may be realized even sooner than we anticipate.”

“Fundamental shifts are already taking place in how talent will be perceived in meeting the needs of the 2030 workplace. Forward thinking leaders should look to embrace the benefits that technology and AI will enable in the working world of tomorrow and empower themselves with the learnings to be able to step into the future with confidence,” she continued. The release explained further on the changes expected in 2030:

Job roles

The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted that 35% of the skills required for jobs today will change by 2030. And that 65% of children born today will pursue careers that don’t currently exist. On that note, you could see new roles such as a digital death manager, a microbial gut bacteria balancer or even an urban shepherd.

According to the release, industries predicted to grow the most fall under information technology (data, AI, machine learning, etc.), caregiving – especially as people are predicted to live for longer, education, management, medicine, smart product design and entertainment.


The release stated: “You’ll be hired through on-demand apps that match your skills to prospective employers (Uber for talent management) – perfect for a primarily outsourced workforce.”

“Additionally, all your medical, lifestyle and performance data will be in a central global database you can seamlessly share with HR managers. AI in HR will ensure a fair hiring process, with algorithms that eliminate unconscious bias and pick up pay disparities between genders, for example,” it added.


Most of your colleagues are also likely to be outsourced specialists capitalising on the gig-economy – this means you’re probably going to be flitting between employers and teams.

“Strong interpersonal and soft skills will stand you in good stead as increasing weight is placed on cross-collaboration between all facets of a company. Plus, a flatter hierarchy means most people operate on a similar level,” it said.


Co-operative workspaces will have quiet zones mapped out for the mood you’re in. For example, a creative red room could have floor-to-ceiling screens for immersive inspiration, while there could also be collaborative spaces for physical meetings or virtual reality catch ups.

Performance Management

With technology fast driving the industry, AI will play a big role in performance management. In fact, Humanzye already uses smart ID badges to track how well employees interact with each other.

AI could help minimise meeting requests and automate many of the niggling day-to-day tasks that take up so much time. It’ll also collect the data that proves performance and helps guarantee promotions.


The importance of information technology and ingenuity to catalyse quick idea generation will demand strong talent- and change management strategies. This means that innovative executives with good problem-solving skills will be seriously sought after – making executive training a must for companies and ambitious talent. Managers will also rely on AI to continuously provide data on staff performance to ensure a team is meeting its KPIs and to reward excellence.

“While no one can predict the future, the best way to be prepared for it is through continuous learning and training,” USB-ED recommended.


How A Telecoms Giant Is Using AI to Predict Its Future Workforce Needs

Diletta D’Onforio, Head of digital transformation at SnapLogic shares how a U.S. telecoms giant is using machine learning to predict its workforce hiring needs years from now, providing a glimpse into how AI will shape hiring efforts in future

Do you know the skills your organization will need five to 10 years from now to meet its evolving business goals? Some HR leaders may claim they do, but do they really have the capabilities to ensure an adequate supply of top talent when they need it?

The traditional recruitment model is a real-time or near-time process, driven reactively by the workforce needs of today. In most cases, a company recruits a headhunter to find a candidate with the right skills to fill a gap that exists currently or is about to open up. These recruiters use an an array of state-of-the art tools to support expeditious hiring — but they still lack the means to address long-term talent acquisition needs.

This a big problem. To execute on a long-term recruitment plan, HR leaders must not only be able to predict their future hiring needs but also fulfill demand when it arises. Today’s HR tools don’t support this long-term objective.

Now imagine your forecasts are vastly more accurate, and that locating elusive technical skills is as easy as hitting the return button on a keyboard. Imagine a tool that can rapidly locate wide-ranging skill sets around the world, wherever you need them, for essential roles that will open up at your business in the future. Years before these skills are actually required, an organization can cultivate relationships with individuals so that they’re ready to hire when the time comes.

This is no longer a pipe dream. My company is part of a team of technology suppliers that is working with a multibillion-dollar telecommunications provider in the U.S. to build just such an application. It uses the power of artificial intelligence — specifically, machine learning — to predict future hiring needs and source talent based on insights from hundreds of data sources. We hear a lot about AI these days, but this is a real-world case where it’s being put to work, illustrating what strategic hiring will look like in the years ahead.

The data sources employed include university databases, social and professional networking sites, applicant tracking systems, and specialized engineering, finance and HR blogs. We’re using these sources to build a “data lake” that holds a wealth of information about labor, education and employment trends worldwide.

We then apply machine learning to this data to extract insights that allow us to construct a long-term workforce planning model. On the supply side, for example, we can uncover patterns in the type and volume of qualifications being awarded by universities in specific regions around the world. If more students in Brazil are graduating with advanced degrees in data science, for example, we can uncover that data — and predict based on the current trends how those graduation patterns will evolve in the coming years.

The system also takes into account the evolving geopolitical and regulatory climate, to determine how they are likely to impact traditional outsourcing markets. This will allow our telecoms client to predict how its access to overseas labor will evolve, and determine how its strategy may need to adapt geographically.

On the demand side, the model looks at the company’s strategic business goals for the coming years to predict what type of skills it’s likely to need, and in what numbers. If the company wants to capitalize on the development of 5G wireless networks, for example, the model will look at hiring patterns in that field today — including those of competitors already working on 5G — to predict what its own needs are likely to be.

Armed with this data, the HR department can start building a pipeline now to fulfill its future talent needs. This can involve partnering with universities to fund student projects, for example, and nurturing relationships with the brightest students that may be beneficial in the years ahead.

At present, no HR organization I know of has such a comprehensive hiring system, but it illustrates how technologies like machine learning are being applied at the most forward-thinking businesses.

The benefits of such a system need not be limited to the corporate world, either. There will be nothing to prevent governments from adopting a similar technology to forecast their national labor needs, including the skills that will be required to support certain industries. By partnering with schools and universities, governments can ensure the right skills are being taught, in the right quantities and in the right locations. We still have a long way to go, but suddenly full national employment starts to look like a real possibility.


5 skills top HR execs say you should highlight to get the job you want in 2018

If you’re looking to change employers or even careers in 2018, it’s important that you start doing your homework now. The best place to start is learning what companies are looking for in potential employees.

Who better to turn to than the top HR execs of some of the leading businesses?

Here’s what talent acquisition managers from companies like Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft say they want to see from job applicants:

Prove that you are innovative
In an interview with job site Glassdoor, Facebook’s vice president of people Lori Goler says that applicants should show that they’re builders and learners.

Goler adds that she wants to hire people who are constantly educating themselves at the office and also contributing to the company’s growth through innovation–both attributes that can be highlighted on a resume.

Applicants should also highlight that they are risk-takers, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

On an episode of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman’s podcast, “Masters of Scale,” Zuckerberg explains that Facebook’s company culture promotes risk-taking and experimentation.

Applicants who are looking to score a job at the social media giant should focus on previous examples where they’ve tested out a new idea or innovative technique.

Show that you’re knowledgeable
With a drastic shortage of tech workers, IBM is now focusing on skills-based hiring rather than credentials to fill these roles, vice president of talent Joanna Daly tells CNBC Make It.

“About 15 percent of the people we hire in the U.S. don’t have four-year degrees,” she says.

To score a job at the tech giant, focus on hands-on experience that you’ve acquired. If you’ve taken any vocational classes that pertain to the industry you’re applying to, highlight those on your resume as well says Daly.

But most importantly, says one of their new hires Sean Davis, continuously hone your craft and show that you’re up to date on new technology.

Focus on the customer
“We start working backwards from the customer,” Amazon’s director of university recruiting Miriam Park tells CNBC Make It,

This customer-driven ideology has been a longtime mantra of Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos.

Park says that you should highlight jobs where you have worked in a customer based role and focus on past work experiences that have dealt with the “customer profession.”

Lastly, she says, highlight examples where you made things better for the customer by going “above and beyond.”

Be passionate about the company
Brendan Browne, the global head of talent for LinkedIn, says that he looks for passion when hiring new employees.

Although certain roles do focus more heavily on tech-based “hard skills,” he also looks for softer skills, like enthusiasm and the ability to think quickly and efficiently.

Browne adds that you should also demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about the organization you’re applying to and their work.

“Show that you’re familiar with [the company],” the HR chief tells CNBC Make It. “Learn about the culture, mission and values.”

Be a leader who ’embraces the future’
Chuck Edward, Microsoft’s head of global talent acquisition, says that the tech company favors applicants who “embrace the future.”

The HR exec suggests that you highlight your past leadership experience on your resume and how you have “achieved results, progressed and learned” in prior roles.

The HR chief explains that these skills show aptitude, which people from different backgrounds possess. This widens the demographic of people that the company can employ, he says.

“It’s not always tech expertise,” Edward tells CNBC Make It, “[but rather] passion for what tech can do. That opens up a huge palette of people we can hire.”