CHAT IS ALMOST as old as the internet itself. But this year, investors and big tech companies alike treated workplace messaging as the next big thing.

Slack announced a $250 million investment in September from Japanese tech company SoftBank, bringing its total funding to $790 million and boosting its valuation from $3.8 billion to $5.1. In June, rumors surfaced that Amazon wanted to buy the company for as much $9 billion.

Meanwhile, Microsoft launched a new chat app called Teams that will eventually replace Skype for Business. Atlassian, the company behind the venerable workplace messaging app HipChat, launched a new service called Stride. Indian billionaire Bhavin Turakhia invested $45 million of his own money into Flock, a Slack competitor he founded1. Facebook added video to its business tool Workplace.

It may seem weird to pour so much money into old-hat tech. But the real point of these new applications isn’t just to build the a better way for employees to send text-based messages. It’s to build a platform for the next generation of business software.

Microsoft Windows became the main platform for the desktop era of computing, while the Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store became the platforms for the mobile era. Now, much of the tech industry believe that gadgets like the Amazon Echo and apps like WeChat and Facebook Messenger are ushering us into the era of the “conversational interface,” and companies both old and new hope to grab control of this new territory.

The idea is that in the future, you’ll do much of your work from inside your chat app, rather than switching back and forth between different apps. You might file your expense reports, respond to customer support inquiries, or check sales figures all from an instant messaging client.

“Think about how many workflows in your day-to-day are centered around human interaction,” says Microsoft Teams Platform program manager Larry Jin. “We’re trying to bring those together. It doesn’t make sense to have some of them appear in chat and some of them to appear in some other context.”

Slack is trying to hasten the conversational future by investing a portion of its funding haul in companies that build applications atop Slack. VP of product April Underwood says Slack has invested in 24 different companies, including workplace polling tool Polly, meeting coordination tool Donut, and knowledge management tool Guru. Meanwhile, the company’s app store for software that runs on Slack has attracted more than 1,000 apps. Underwood says that within minutes of launching the Slack app directory in 2015, developers told her they already had customers.

Many companies are hedging their bets, however. Video conferencing company Twine Labs, which Slack invested in, is also building apps for Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, and Amazon Chime, says CEO Anthony Claudia.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is taking a slightly different approach. In addition to Teams, which competes directly with Slack, it offers Microsoft Bot Framework, a platform for building chat-based apps that can run not just on Teams, but on Slack, Facebook Messenger, and other instant messaging services. Even if your company picks another tool for messaging, Microsoft wants to be the technology that underpins the apps you end up using.

The workplace chat is growing rapidly. Slack now boasts 50,000 paying customers. Microsoft bundles Teams with the Office 365 for no extra cost, and the company announced earlier this year that 125,000 organizations use the software. In October, Facebook announced 14,000 organizations are using Workplace. IDC analyst Wayne Kurtzman says this is just the beginning. Right now, many teams within companies use tools like Slack for free, often without official approval from their corporate IT departments. “Most companies do not have a corporate collaboration solution in place,” he says. “We’ll see a lot more governance and integration into the workplace.”

But so far there’s no “killer app” to drive adoption of conversational interfaces. Asked about breakout successes on the Slack platform, Underwood cites companies like Donut and Polly. But while those may be useful tools, they hardly represent a paradigm shift on the level of the computerized spreadsheet or the BlackBerry.

Skepticism is already growing. An informal survey of startup founders conducted by First Round Capital pegged chatbots and conversational UIs and the third most overhyped technology of the year. It wouldn’t be the first time a much hyped new paradigm fizzled out. Only a few years ago, workplace social networking apps like Yammer, which Microsoft acquired for $1.2 billion in 2012, launched their own “app stores” with dreams of becoming the next big platform. Now, with the rise of real-time chat, most of those apps are all but forgotten.

Underwood is unperturbed. “We’re in the midst of a multi-decade shift,” she says. Investors, however, might not be eager to wait that long.

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/why-workplace-instant-messaging-is-hot-again/

The Salary Chronicles: How I Found The Confidence To Negotiate An Extra $30k

Welcome to The Salary Chronicles, where we’re bringing transparency to negotiation and salaries, one story at a time. We ask women to share their experiences negotiating their salary and what their advice is for others doing the same. We share these stories anonymously so they feel comfortable speaking as openly and as freely as possible.

This week we’re speaking with a woman who found the confidence to negotiate an extra $30k, without having a competing offer or a strong salary history to leverage.

Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Job title: Software Engineer

Salary Offered: $120k salary, $10k signing bonus, 5,000 RSUs

Negotiated Salary: $130k, $30k signing bonus, 6,000 RSUs

What was the situation when you decided to negotiate?

I was about to finish my Ph.D. program and was interviewing for full-time jobs. I was thrilled to be starting a career because as a student I was making $30k per year and I was eager to make more. I was also pregnant with my first child and was planning to become the primary breadwinner for my family.

I was interviewing with a few different companies, but there was one company in particular that I knew I wanted to work for. As I was going through the interview process, I had it in the back of my head that I may need to negotiate. I had read many articles on the subject and I knew that women leave so much money on the table because they fail to ask.

I didn’t want to be the person that didn’t ask, but I also was nervous to negotiate because I was currently making so little and I didn’t have a strong competing offer to use as leverage.

How did you get up the courage to ask?

I had read that women negotiate better when they are negotiating on behalf of other people, and I took that to heart. I didn’t focus on wanting more for myself. I thought of my future child and the stability I wanted for my family.

I also had a voice in my head that was telling me to do this for all of womankind!

How did the conversation go?

After the final interview, I received the offer and asked for time to consider it. I decided to focus on three main areas for my ask:

Salary: They offered $120k and I felt that a more appropriate salary would be $5k-$15k higher.

RSUs: As the company didn’t offer a 401k, I wanted more RSUs to make up for the lack of retirement benefits.

Relocation assistance: I needed to move for the job, but I didn’t live far enough away to qualify for relocation reimbursement. I decided to ask what else would be possible to help with the relocation costs.

I scheduled a call with the recruiter and wrote everything out beforehand. I was incredibly nervous, which was probably somewhat evident as I robotically read my requests to her.

She responded that she needed to talk to the hiring manager to see what was possible.

What was the end result?

She called back with an updated offer for me. They increased my base salary by $10k, which was the middle of the increased range I had suggested. They also increased my RSUs by 1,000 which was a huge deal for my future retirement plans.

And while they weren’t able to give me relocation assistance because I didn’t qualify, they tripled my signing bonus from $10k to $30k. This was amazing because I was able to get the signing bonus quicker than the relocation reimbursement, so I was able to put it to work immediately.

I accepted the offer and happily began with the company.

After starting I found out that they don’t negotiate salary or benefits for future roles once you’ve been hired. So the salary level I started with will affect my trajectory for the rest of my career with this employer. Finding this out afterward, I’m so happy that I asked.

What advice do you have for other women?

I watched this video from Margaret Neale, a professor at Stanford University, and it was enormously helpful to build my confidence and create strategies for what I could say. I also really believe it’s important to think about who you’re negotiating for, other than yourself. Is it your family? Is it to help close the wage gap? Research shows that negotiating on behalf of others helps women to negotiate more successfully, so try focusing on that external drive.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericagellerman/2017/12/18/the-salary-chronicles-how-i-found-the-confidence-to-negotiate-an-extra-30k/#2838c4e74bdb


Construction leaders are at high risk of losing their best employees.

As industry leaders were focused on rebuilding from the recession, three threatening trends have crept onto the construction scene. From the growing loss of skilled laborers to changing workforce expectations to the overhaul of contract and building processes, leaders need to be prepared.

Even with these impending threats, home building executives are building a strong employee engagement framework. In fact, nearly 73 percent of construction professionals identified as engaged, which is roughly 7 percent more than the national average, according to Quantum Workplace’s Engaging AEC Employees report. Similarly, 72 percent of architects and engineers also reported being engaged.

However, these impressive employee engagement levels must be handled with care. Changing workforce factors pose an immediate danger to the mental and emotional connections that employees feel toward their work.

Without these connections, a company’s profitability, client experience, employee turnover, talent acquisition, and the bonds leaders make between employees will suffer.

Don’t let threatening construction trends interrupt your work processes. Here are three evidence-based ways to build and support employee engagement in the home building industry:

1. Build trust in the future.
Every company needs a strong foundation of trust. But when employees fear for the future due to industry uncertainties, that trust is critical.

According to the previously-mentioned report, the number one driver of engagement for employees is trust in leaders to lead the company to future success. Due to uncertainty surrounding work execution from job to job and not knowing how projects will be structured, this trust will only be harder to gain. On top of that, the fear of mergers and acquisitions makes employees fear for not only their own employment, but the company as a whole.

Employees are well aware their future success relies on their leaders’ abilities. However, each employee has their own view on what a successful future looks like. That’s why leaders need to start building trust by understanding what the majority of employees want to see from the company.

Bring employees in on planning sessions to make them a clear part of the future and the plans that lay ahead. Once your team feels they’re part of the decision-making process, keep them in the loop with frequent communication efforts.

2. Put their strengths to use.
One of the leading factors in employee engagement is passion. Luckily for home building executives, many employees feel proud of their hard work and accomplishments. It’s important you don’t let that passion go to waste.

Your team is likely full of talented and dedicated employees who want to put their skills to good use. In fact, according to the report, the number two driver of employee engagement for employees is feeling their job allows them to use their strengths. Ignoring employees’ strengths makes them feel stagnant and restless in their positions.

And with a shrinking talent pool, restless employees are something leaders can’t afford.

Finding ways to reinvigorate employees’ passions and put their specific skills to use is a waste of time if you don’t understand employees. You should confidently be able to say you truly know your team — their soft skills, desires for growth, technological abilities, and skill specialties. Knowing each of these areas gives leaders the ability to help employees excel by offering coaching, advancement, or learning opportunities.

3. Value employees as your most important resource.
A recent PwC study, Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace, revealed that millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. This growing group of employees makes our third — and final — driver of employee engagement more challenging than it once was.

The report found that workers want to know that leaders value employees as their most important resource. Although this idea is simplistic, ensuring that all employees feel this way isn’t.

With new generations comes new expectations. If leaders are unprepared to open up and understand what drives each employee and makes them feel valued, employee engagement will suffer.

Treat each employee as an individual to begin understanding what they need from you. Communicating with them frequently will ensure you’re updated on their changing expectations. In turn, this allows you to encourage and acknowledge them as the company’s most valuable resource.

Employee engagement will continue facing major roadblocks in years to come. But if leaders are willing to take time to stand side-by-side with their teams, their ability to tackle those problems will only increase.

Source: http://www.builderonline.com/building/trades-subcontractors/three-trends-threatening-your-workers-satisfaction_o

Three Steps Guaranteed To Increase Your Company’s Employee Engagement In 2018

The secrets to increasing employee engagement aren’t secrets at all. There are specific steps, which if taken, will absolutely measurably increase engagement. In fact, in the dozens of organizations I’ve worked with over the years—from hospitals and healthcare systems to insurance companies and government agencies—these steps have never failed.

When I refer to employee engagement, I mean: the emotional commitment employees have to their organization and its goals. This emotional commitment is what triggers discretionary effort. When employees truly care: call center professionals give better service, railroad workers have fewer accidents, nurses reduce hospital infection rates, and talented employees everywhere stay in their jobs longer.

With such obvious benefits—benefits which drive better business outcomes through the engagement-profit-chain—why are engagement levels in most organizations still so low?

Even when C-level leaders want to increase employee engagement, they often make mistakes in their efforts. The most common mistake is to simply assemble a task-force for “fun”. Though well-intentioned, engagement isn’t correlated to things like foosball tables, birthday balloons, summer picnics or team building skits.

Another common mistake is to take a top-down approach. Typically HR executes an employee survey, and then hoard the results in the C-suite where the company’s circle of elders determines how to “fix” the engagement crisis. When employee surveys reveal the need for more communication that rarely means they want more messages from the CEO. Similarly, it’s rare for employees, when asked, not to want more salary and benefits. Yet, incremental increases in compensation don’t trigger additional engagement.

So how can you guarantee to increase organizational engagement next year?

First, use a reputable firm to administer an employee engagement survey. Don’t just measure the behaviors that drive engagement (e.g., I receive recognition for my efforts and accomplishments), you need to also use proxy questions for one’s level of engagement (e.g., How likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work?). This is key: you need to both understand your benchmark measurement for engagement itself, and how that’s different from measuring the drivers of engagement.

Second, people-managers need to be given their own results; they all need to get a copy of their own score report. They need to know the engagement score of their own team, and how it compares to the company average. Individual manager results should primarily be used for self-reflection and action planning (see step three below) but in cases where a manager has extremely low scores they can be flagged for additional coaching and leadership development.

Finally, each manager needs to share the team report with his or her direct reports in an action planning meeting. While it can take some professional courage to facilitate this meeting if your scores were below average, the execution is not difficult. The team should simply have a conversation about the scores. What were the highest and lowest scores? Were they surprised by the results? Why or why not? Then target one area for improvement (typically the lowest score) and brainstorm specific actions for improvement.

This bottom-up approach to action planning is the key to success. Gallup and others have shown that approximately 70% of the variance in engagement comes from who our boss is. Engagement—how we feel about work—is local. So the solutions have to come from the bottom up.

Even if miraculously every single team in a large company had the same lowest-score item—say, Communication—what teams are complaining about would be different. The communication problem in the accounting department might be related to late notifications on chargebacks. The communication problem among sales reps might be related to not having timely information about competitors. The communication problem among IT engineers might be related to poorly run scrum meetings. Our issues are local, so our solutions must be local.

If you really want to increase engagement in your organization in 2018, start by implementing a sound employee survey. Share the results at the manager level. Hold every manager accountable for action planning—and executing on those actions—with their team.

When you re-survey your organization six months later (yes, I said six months), you will see at 5-10% improvement in average engagement scores and perhaps a whole lot more.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2017/12/15/3-steps-guaranteed-to-increase-employee-engagement/#55975a084049

How the financial services industry should embrace next-gen learning to get ahead of digital disruption

When ATMs were first introduced, many predicted the bank teller job would disappear, as transactional tasks could now be completed by machines. Yet between 1970 and 2010, the number of tellers increased — even as the number of ATMs grew.[1] Tellers’ marketing and interpersonal skills became vital to the job, as tellers completed tasks that ATMs couldn’t.[2]

The need for critical skills continues to challenge the financial services sector. As blockchain technology threatens to further automate transactions and processes, employee responsibilities will shift. With the ubiquity of smartphone apps that handle financial transactions automatically, organizations will need to develop their employees differently to effectively serve a more knowledgeable customer base.

“The effects of artificial intelligence augmenting what people do with technology, coupled with the speed of change are all challenges,” says Jeremy Auger, chief strategy officer for D2L Corporation. “In 5 years there will be new skills sets people will need, so addressing that skills shortage and supporting your organization are top priorities.”

Fintech can help remove inefficient business practices, but established organizations will need new learning methods to stay ahead of digital disruption and shifting customer loyalties. This is where next-gen learning platforms come in. Next-gen learning platforms feature adaptive learning paths, with video, micro- and social-learning tools that augment how people naturally learn.

Understand the challenges
Digital disruption from blockchain and other technologies permeates every industry and financial services are no different. Yet these challenges give financial services organizations the opportunity to reevaluate and retrain their workforce. “The pace of technological change is driving a skills explosion, with the shelf-life of many skills shortening,” Auger says. “At the same time, AI and other technologies are disrupting traditional skills and even jobs. Staying ahead of the curve on this disruptive force is critical to every business and every employee.”

Sarah Nicholl, director of customer success for D2L Corporation, agrees. “Next-gen learning platforms excel in their ability to generate and curate content. In the early days of online learning it took time to deploy a new initiative, and often learning priorities had shifted by the time the program was in place. But with next-gen learning platforms, you can develop and deploy content quickly. These agile learning platforms can adapt to how people learn and integrate feedback across the organization which helps build employee engagement.”

Recognize the need for development
More employees are concerned about their own development as they move through the job market. Organizations that respond to this need for development will have an edge in hiring top talent. “Some organizations are using preboarding, MOOCs or even philanthropy to attract this new generation of workers,” says Nicholl. “By using preboarding to train potential recruits, learning and development teams can impact recruiting and retention in ways they weren’t doing before.” With financial services unemployment hovering around 2.7 percent (far below the national average),[3] organizations will need every tool at their disposal to attract and recruit top talent.

Embrace technology
These days, all financial services employees need to be tech-savvy employees. As customer knowledge increases and new fintech models bring transactional processes direct to customers’ phones, organizations will need to upskill their current employees to prepare them for the digital disruption already happening in the industry. “Employees need to be better informed and able to answer deeper questions than before,” Nicholl says. “By reskilling employees, organizations can engage with customers at a very high level.”

Leveraging technology and employees’ familiarity with it will help with reskilling. “Recognize that many of your incoming workers are digital natives,” Nicholl says. “They’re very comfortable searching for a video or tutorial whenever they need information. By curating your content on a next-gen learning platform, you can push technology to any device and ensure your employees always have the right information available when they need it.”

All organizations in the financial services sector — from banks to investment firms — face immense disruption. While today’s workforce may call for new learning and development delivery methods, the competencies themselves won’t change. “The knowledge people will need for their jobs will be different, but the approach will be the same,” Nicholl says. “What problems are you trying to solve? Basic skills we’ve always needed will be more important going forward: employees will need critical thinking skills and a host of core competencies to respond to changing markets. Next-gen learning platforms give employees just-in-time resources to keep them engaged and relevant, which in turn translates to better organizational outcomes.”

Source: https://bankingjournal.aba.com/2017/12/beyond-the-transactional/

Why Hourly Retail Employees Need Performance Reviews

It’s no secret that, as far as desirable employers go, the retail industry doesn’t rank at the top of the list. For the American workforce, retail jobs are often equated with low pay, nonexistent benefits, long hours and limited growth opportunities. But forward-thinking retailers are working hard to shatter these misconceptions — and, perhaps surprisingly, performance reviews are one of the tools they’re using to turn things around.

Carefully conducted performance reviews can not only lower turnover rates; they also can boost employee engagement and even productivity on the sales floor. Consider these five reasons that retailers can benefit from implementing strategic performance review systems.

Recognition-Based Performance Reviews Motivate Employees

Given that retailers don’t have many incentives to offer hourly workers, recognition-based performance reviews can be especially effective. The performance reviews become a structured, scheduled time when managers can show recognition for a job well done and appreciation for employees who go above and beyond.

Study after study proves that employee recognition leads to improved work performance. In a survey by Globoforce, 78% of workers said they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated and recognized.

Furthermore, when employers took the step of removing performance ratings from their review process, employee performance dropped a full 10%, according to a study by Corporate Executive Board (CEB).

In other words, productive employees who take pride in their work want their efforts to be noticed. Effective performance reviews accomplish this very thing.

Feedback-Driven Performance Reviews Reduce Turnover

Last year, hourly store employees had the highest turnover rate in the retail industry — a whopping 65% — according to a survey from the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry.

As you know, turnover is expensive. Considering that the cost to hire and train a replacement for one minimum wage employee has been calculated to total $3,328, improving employee retention is a sure-fire way to improve your bottom line.

Studies suggest that employers can combat turnover simply by providing positive feedback to employees via platforms like performance reviews. Researchers at Gallup found that, in a study of more than 65,000 employees, those who received strengths feedback resulted in 14.9% lower turnover than those who did not.

Of course, this means turning around the common perception held by both managers and employees that performance reviews are primarily vehicles for criticism. It means encouraging store managers to focus on employees’ strengths and talents as well as opportunities for improvement. But isn’t that something managers should be doing anyway, all year long?

Performance Reviews Leverage Strong Manager-Employee Relationships

Everyone knows the old expression, “people leave managers, not companies.” According to one Gallup survey, a full half of employees who quit their jobs did so to escape a difficult manager. But that survey also found that the door swings both ways. When employees like their managers and feel comfortable at work, they’re more committed to their work and workplace.

When managers give employees positive attention and encouragement, it can help hourly workers feel more connected and strengthen loyalty. In this event, a properly conducted performance review becomes a positive experience for both parties.

The key may be to provide managers with structured performance review training. When store managers are promoted internally — without the benefit of formal managerial training — they may not know how to conduct meaningful performance reviews without coaching and guidelines.

And since managers play such an important role in retail, using 360-degree feedback in performance reviews can help ensure you have the right kind of people in those very important management positions. Collecting feedback from a manager’s employees as well as their supervisors can provide a more balanced view of what’s really happening in a given store.

Performance Reviews Can Set Employees Up for Success

An effective performance review isn’t just about positive feedback and recognition — it’s also about encouraging employees to hone existing skills and develop new ones. When employees feel confident in their performance and excited about learning new things, they’re more engaged and productive.

Managers can use performance reviews to find out what tasks employees enjoy doing and what they would like to do more of. For example, if an employee most enjoys working in a particular department, that’s good to know — and a doable thing to accomplish. If an employee wants to try a hand at something new — say, updating the window display or staging an endcap — it’s in the retailer’s interest to not only let them try it but give them the guidance to do it well.

While you may be limited in how much formal training you can offer store employees, learning what they’re interested in during performance reviews and then offering them opportunities to do so can be incredibly rewarding for employees.

Performance Reviews Can Focus On The Future

Beyond an assessment of an employee’s recent past performance, effective performance reviews address future performance expectations. It’s an opportunity to help employees better understand their role within the company — i.e., see the big picture. Employees appreciate being in the know.

And while most retail employees probably don’t envision a long-term future with any given retailer, it’s important to use performance reviews to discuss the employee’s future path at the company.

This is the chance to find out what would make an employee stay — perhaps a shift update, more work hours, a modest pay increase, benefits or potential upward movement. You won’t know if you don’t ask, and performance reviews are the perfect vehicle for these conversations.

Retailers Can Use Performance Reviews To Get An Edge

In summary, American retailers are up against a number of challenges: high employee turnover, tight margins and fierce competition, both in stores and online. In this environment, every detail matters.

Instituting a thoughtfully developed performance review system is one way retailers can motivate and engage their hourly workforce — and in this industry in particular, that can yield a unique competitive edge.

Source: https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-hourly-retail-employees-need-performance-reviews

Looking to improve your work culture in 2018? Here’s everything you need to read

Often office environments are steeped in organisational rigidity, office politics, gender bias, absent work-life balance, and other stressors, instead of a happy, thriving workplace. With a constant clamour for increased productivity and vertical scaling, work culture mostly remains a long-drawn subject matter.

As the curtain closes on 2017 and the holiday euphoria envelops the workforce, it is also time to introspect on the work culture, and the gaps that emerged during the course of the year that need to be filled in the coming year.

No matter how much emphasis is laid on work-life balance, it still seems to be inadequate, mainly because no one seems to understand the millennial workforce. Well, a recent study claimed that millennials are ready to take a pay cut if it means an improved work-life balance. So how can you possibly turn the biggest workforce age bracket around in your favour? Read more about it here.

Address workforce diversity and do it now
Just like you can’t swim against the tide with bricks tied to your feet, your company’s refusal to address workforce diversity will hamper its progress. Multiple reports indicate that companies that take workforce diversity seriously stand to gain in terms of a healthy work culture and increased levels of productivity. If you’re still toying with the idea, read up more here.

Another part of the discourse is gender parity, something many organisations refuse to indulge in. Maybe it has more to do with social training, but it’s about time the conversation was had in workplaces everywhere. Start with the basics of providing mentorship to women employees; this piece articulates the need succinctly.

All over the world, the idea of flexible work arrangements is taking roots, and maybe it’s about time you also gave it consideration. From making space for mid-day siestas to work-from-home options to shorter working hours, many companies have begun adopting steps to move away from the conventional (often redundant) office setup. If you’re still in two minds about how you can enforce it or what you stand to gain from it, then give this article a read.

Make team outings employee-friendly
Year-end celebrations are a great way to unwind, but by now you might have realised that is an overused and under-effective medium. Silos and “office friends” groups tend to exist not just within but outside the office cubicles as well. So such social gatherings mostly end up being an extension of office affairs, including politics, cosying up with the bosses, asserting power roles, and exclusion of introverts, to name a few. The only difference is likely to be a buffet and free booze.

It’s about time team outings are treated with more sincerity rather than as an occasion of merriment for one group and pain for the other. Take doing team off sites for that matter. Most turn out to be a pointless exercise, as there is more focus on taking work outside the office than letting employees have fun. If you want to read up on how to do team off-sites right, check out this article.

Focus on the engagement in employee engagement
Most organisations think they’ve untangled the “complex” knot of employee engagement, but therein lies their folly. To begin with, it is not really that complex; just know that ‘engage’ is the keyword in the discourse. Organisations often make a big deal about the topic; it’s important the implementation match the intensity of the stand taken/discussed.

So maybe it’s about time you rethink your company’s stance. You can start with this article to introspect on the cultural nuances of employee engagement. Also know that employee engagement is not a favour, but comes with its dividends, as this article states.

Another article you can keep in mind is about stay interviews. A very simplistic process, stay interviews can give you an immense insight into employee turnover and the need for employee engagement.

Keeping office politics under wrap
If you ever wonder why your office work culture is going to the dogs, just take time to tune into the office grapevine. A ubiquitous aspect of our workspace lives, office politics is a weed that just can’t be uprooted. But there are ways to curb it or at least limit it, and this article will give you inputs on how employees can work around it.

Another factor that can rot the scheme of affairs in your office and bring down overall productivity is toxic employees. From ones that instil crab mentality to ones that refuse to toe the line, they are the apple you need to get far away from your office basket.

Easing the qualms of uncertainty
In the startup world, it is pretty routine to feel queasy due to the uncertainty that the future beholds. So here’s a fair warning: before you think about sweeping the issue under the rug, address it with your employees, especially if it is a matter which concerns them. You don’t want the issue to snowball and hamper your work culture, or even worse, lead to a massive exodus of your workforce.

If your company has decided to let go of employees, then you need to ease the feelings of doubt among the remaining employees. We discussed this subject at length in this article, so read on if you want to know how to engage in that conversation.

Even scaling and mergers and acquisitions can be a cause for concern went it comes to retaining existing work culture. Read on if want advice on how to go about the process.

As 2017 draws closer to a curtain call, it is pertinent that you reflect upon your startup’s work culture. Remember that the backbone of your organisation is not just the product or the profitability chart, but the employees on whose toil you will build your empire. So a healthy and active work culture is not that big a bargain. If your startup is looking to make that stride to be the best in the industry, these articles on work culture will ferry you across in the coming year.

Why Millennial Leaders Don’t Fully Embrace Professional Coaching


We often hear that millennials (born 1980-2000) are entitled, lazy and a bit scattered. But are all of them really that bad?

As a coach who works with millennials, I recently interviewed over 20 high-potential millennial leaders via LinkedIn to figure out what kept them up at night and how coaching might help. I spoke to young CEOs, UN Youth Ambassadors and TED Fellows. There were activists and owners, authors and bloggers, bankers and technologists. Many incredible technologists.

This was a diverse group of our future leaders — people who often buck the stereotypes of Gen Y — and they have valuable insight for us all if we are prepared to listen.

Is Coaching Really Mainstream?

Coaching seems to be all the rage nowadays. There are life coaches, leadership coaches, executive coaches and business coaches. There are writing coaches, speech coaches, comparison coaches and health coaches. Coaching magazine Choice even recently highlighted the growing work of divorce coaches and recovery coaches for substance abusers.

All this is to say that the word “coaching” is thrown around a lot and there seems to be serious momentum building around a global movement. But what do millennials know about coaching? Do they understand what it entails? Do they even need it or want it? What I discovered may surprise you.

The Idea Of Coaching Was Not Widely Known

The majority of the incredibly accomplished young leaders I interviewed told me they had never really heard of or understood professional coaching before I came along, and only four (less than 20%) had worked with a coach before.

Karim Abouelnaga, who leads a summer learning experience for low-income youth, got his coaching fix through the SupporTED program and a prior Global Good Fund Fellowship. Digital marketing consultant Lacey Heels received coaching from a savvy coach-mentor in short bursts over coffee or an informal meal. Lukas Pesa, a deep thinker in the HR space, enjoyed the perks of working at a major consulting firm where everyone is assigned a coach. And Francisco Lopez received coaching through the prestigious Professional Development Program at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Though all four found the experience to be incredibly valuable, they also all notably had coaching “thrust upon them” and received it for free.

Others that I spoke to had a vague sense of coaching and might have run across the work of public figures like Tony Robbins or the like, but most admitted that they did not understand it or see its relevance to them beyond having a sports coach.

The Real Tradeoffs

I enjoyed an opportunity to offer free coaching sessions to at least half of the interviewees, not including those mentioned in this article, and we worked through the full-range of “typical coaching issues:” goal-setting, perspective-shifting, work-life balance, authenticity, passion, purpose and many other topics in between.

To my relief, none of these young leaders told me that coaching was a waste of their time. On the contrary, every single person had something positive to say about it.

So why had less than 20% of these young super-performers actually ever been in a coaching relationship? What I kept hearing was that if these high-potentials learned about coaching and found a way to afford it, coaching would suddenly become a no-brainer.

Now that they knew about it, these same people said they might look for a coach when their endeavors became more profitable or when they had a legitimate need for that kind of targeted help.

This “I’ll get to it later” mentality didn’t really add up for me. After all, these were some high-achievers who understood the value of taking risks and investing in themselves. Why wasn’t this life hack worth pursuing right away?

To one interviewee, Vivekan Jeyagaran, the answer was about vulnerability, because “hiring or enlisting the help of a coach (free or not) requires the coachee to put themselves in an exposed position, as they are required to confront the truth about themselves, their work and lives, skills (or lack thereof), insecurities, weaknesses, strengths and everything in between.” Writing in from Malawi, where Vivekan was volunteering as a business management advisor, he couldn’t think of many people who would be willing to put themselves in such vulnerable positions.

Making Space For Coaching

This vulnerability argument makes a lot of sense in the context of the millennial generation, so I will conclude with some ways to promote a more comfortable and inviting coaching space for young leaders:

• Leverage sample sessions. Many coaches will give a free session so you can get a feel for style and fit, so take advantage of this opportunity.

• Model good behavior by getting a coach before selling someone else on it. If your prospective coach does not have a coach themselves, that should be a flag.

• Make it clear that coaching is a benefit that has been proven to make good people even better, as opposed to a remedial or punitive measure.

• Reinforce confidentiality. Except in very limited circumstances (like the immediate risk of personal harm), no one else has a right to know what happens in a coaching conversation.

• Analyze the costs and benefits through quantitative and qualitative measures. I’m not here to tell you that coaching is working — your friends, family and colleagues are better judges of that. People who put in the work will start to hear interesting feedback from the people around them.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/12/21/why-millennial-leaders-dont-fully-embrace-professional-coaching/#153d95b61972

Designing Results-Oriented Leadership Development Programmes

Two often-overlooked elements have a significant impact on both individual leaders and organisations.

Normally, in business, one wouldn’t make a large investment without an idea of how to gauge its results. Not so with leadership development programmes.

In the United States alone, companies spent more than $24 billion on leadership and management training in 2013. Many graduates do go on to become successful senior leaders. However, there is no proven method to assess how much, if any, of their success was due to the programme. Since only rising stars are invited to attend leadership development programmes, you could argue that their careers would have turned out the same without any training.

Much of the confusion stems from the fraught designation “leader”. Leaders are judged by their inner and outer qualities, and leadership development is geared towards nurturing both. Companies are increasingly aware that leadership is as much about how one thinks and feels as it is about tangible business outcomes. Yet how the former and the latter interact to enable leadership success remains largely a mystery. For both companies and learning providers, this creates a lot of guesswork when it comes to designing a curriculum.

Our forthcoming research paper (co-authored by Schon Beechler of INSEAD and Jaume Hugas of ESADE Business School) studies how various aspects of leadership development programmes affect participants both individually (i.e. their knowledge, behaviour and attitudes) and organisationally (i.e. their contributions to the company). While there is no universal formula for cultivating leadership, our paper suggests some specific ways for companies to maximise the impact of their current programmes.

The key factors

Our research had two stages. First, we conducted a focus group involving ten managers from Spanish multinationals expanding into Latin America. The participants, who had all attended a leadership development programme, were asked to identify the most impactful features of their programme and explain their choices, as well as to share any concerns they might have about particular curriculum elements.

The insights collected during the focus group were used to inform the second stage of our research, a quantitative survey that was emailed to 107 leadership development alumni. Our analysis of the survey results found statistical confirmation for a number of commonly held assumptions about leadership development. For example, programme content that was aligned with firm strategy indeed appeared to have greater organisational impact, as did programmes whose preliminary stages included training needs assessments for participants.

As for the impact on participants as individuals, we found that personalised post-course follow-up made a noticeable difference. One-on-one mentoring, in particular, seemed to improve the process of converting lessons learnt during the programme into meaningful changes in knowledge, behaviour and attitude.

In addition to the variables that were related to either individual or organisational outcomes, some variables affected both types of outcomes (more on these below). On a broader level, there is evidence of a low-to-moderate correlation between the two types. This finding may go towards refuting detractors who claim that it is a waste of time and resources to invest in training leaders who may end up leaving the firm anyway. Our data suggest a modest but clear bump in results for organisations that invest in leadership development, provided the programmes are effective.

The two “must-haves”

Two variables in particular strongly impacted both individual and organisational outcomes. The first is the degree to which different aspects of leadership development programmes were evaluated. The second is the number of company directors involved in participant selection.

Too often, programme evaluations are imprecise and unhelpfully constructed. Participants will be asked, for example, to record how they felt about an instructor’s classroom performance as a whole, regardless of that instructor’s strengths and weaknesses. Our survey analysis indicates that a more granular approach would garner more positive results for the programme overall. Each module should be audited on its own, in tandem with course delivery rather than as an afterthought.

Additionally, evaluations should be geared towards assessing impact, not impressions. Rather than asking how a participant felt about the programme, evaluations should determine whether a specific module offered useful takeaways. Only then can feedback be channeled into productive, targeted improvements.

It is crucial that top managers be involved in the design and delivery of leadership development programmes, despite the difficulties of securing their highly sought-after time and attention. Senior executives are invaluable repositories of organisational knowledge, though they themselves may be unaware of it. If they can be persuaded to share their wealth of expertise with learning providers, the resulting programmes will be far more enriching for participants. Our experiences with corporate clients have proven this time and time again. Ideally, three to five executives should be included in the process, each representing different business areas so as to provide a well-rounded array of expert knowledge.

How to lure top managers

Our focus group participants named executive involvement as one of the most critical ingredients of leadership development but also one of the most elusive. It appears, then, that companies are knowingly settling for less by leaving leadership development programmes largely in the hands of HR or learning departments. This could be due to a politically expedient desire to seek the path of least resistance, or intimidation at the prospect of soliciting executive advice.

In our work with corporate clients, we find that executives are more willing to collaborate with us when there is something in it for them. As an initial overture, we offer them guest speaking opportunities, preferably at their own company. They may have attended a leadership development programme in the past, but participating as an educator is an entirely different experience. Giving them a platform—and a taste of the spotlight—often starts them down the path to complete co-ownership.

Once you have executives’ attention, you must sustain it over the long term. We regularly send out email newsletters containing leadership information and articles to participating executives. Also, we convene annual business seminars featuring top experts, to which we invite executives we have worked with in the past.

Money isn’t everything

In sum, our research should caution companies against off-the-shelf approaches to leadership development. Just as R&D investments would be considered wasted if they generated cookie-cutter products, investments in leadership development pay off most when programmes are customised to organisational needs and their outcomes are constantly monitored. Along with financial investments, organisations must be prepared to devote a corresponding amount of intangible resources.

Source: https://knowledge.insead.edu/leadership-organisations/designing-results-oriented-leadership-development-programmes-7991

How to Hang on to Your Tech Talent in 2018

A third of IT professionals plan to pursue new career opportunities in 2018, according to Spiceworks. Here’s some advice on keeping your techies happy.

Spiceworks’ 2018 IT Career Outlook report has arrived, and small business owners that are concerned about retaining their tech talent will want to have a look.

The good news is that IT professionals are largely satisfied with their jobs (70 percent). The bad news is that many aren’t thrilled with the size of their paychecks.

Spiceworks recently quizzed more than 2,100 IT professionals in North America and Europe and found that nearly two-thirds of them (63 percent) felt underpaid. Among millennial IT workers, the feeling is even more acute (68 percent) while slightly fewer Gen Xers (60 percent) and baby boomers (61 percent) believe their compensation comes up short.

rs (32 percent) and baby boomers (23 percent).

Where does this leave budget-conscious small and midsized businesses (SMBs)? Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks, shares some insights into how smaller organizations can cope.

But be warned, it might be time to loosen the purse strings a little.

“According to Spiceworks’ 2018 IT Career Outlook, the top two reasons IT workers will seek new employment opportunities next year are to find a job where they can make more money and advance their IT skills. Therefore, small businesses need to offer competitive salaries and provide continuing education or training opportunities if they want to attract and retain skilled IT workers,” Tsai told Small Business Computing.

“But more pay might not be an option for all small organizations,” Tsai continued. “Spiceworks research shows that on average, full-time IT professionals working in large enterprises earn approximately 10 percent more per year than those working full time in SMBs.”

Work-Life Perks

As in life outside the office, money can’t always by happiness, reminded Tsai.

“Thankfully, for smaller companies, money isn’t everything,” he said. “Our research also shows that IT professionals working in smaller businesses report higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of stress than their peers at larger companies, which can be important for job potential candidates that prioritize quality of life over higher pay.”

In terms of the skills that IT pros deem important in the New Year, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity ranks first (81 percent). 2017’s seemingly endless barrage of data breaches and ransomware attacks has IT departments on edge and on the lookout for skilled workers that can help keep their networks and data safe.

That said, computer networking skills (80 percent) are a close second, followed by expertise in infrastructure hardware (79 percent) and end-user devices (76 percent). Data storage and backup skills (75 percent) round out the top five.

Source: https://mobile.smallbusinesscomputing.com/tipsforsmallbusiness/how-to-hang-on-to-your-tech-talent-in-2018.html