As organizations reorganize for speed and agility to stay competitive, authority is becoming less centralized than in the past. Teams constantly form, disband and reform according to the needs of specific projects and customers. Information and communication technologies have helped make it possible to stay coordinated as people become more mobile and their job descriptions are less permanent. But these changes also place different demands on employees.

Employees need to be more adaptable and self-directed, better able to identify teams and projects that would allow them to excel and maximize their value to the company. In turn, employees need a higher level of self-awareness to navigate their careers amid organizational environments that are more fluid than ever before.

STRENGTHS-BASED MANAGEMENT DEFINED

If there is one area of focus with the potential to transform entire organizational cultures to help meet these needs — and deliver improved business outcomes, too — it is a strengths-based approach to management.  Don Clifton pioneered the study of strengths in the workplace, affirming through decades of research that employees who use their strengths on the job are more likely than others to be intrinsically motivated by their work, simply because it feels less like work to them.

Among a host of benefits individuals experience when they know and use their strengths, employees who say they use their strengths every day are 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs. They are also more likely to strongly agree that they like what they do each day.

The natural talents we all have can be turned into strengths through investing in their development — time spent practicing and developing skills. Focusing on innate talent as a foundation has become increasingly important as the pace of technological change has quickened, because in many industries specific skills and knowledge have a shorter lifespan than they once did.

Employees need continual learning and development opportunities in order to stay up to date. Understanding their strengths gives them a basis for choosing the developmental paths that are most likely to help them sustain a long, successful career.  A program that includes coaching and development provides a sense of their “true north” — helping them stay oriented for high productivity amid shifting workplace needs and varying career trajectories. But as more businesses restructure their processes around team-based work, the benefits of a strengths-based culture for group interactions also becomes more important.

Team members who know each other’s strengths more effectively relate to one another, avoiding potential conflicts and boosting group cohesion. Strengths-based development immediately changes their conversations. It creates more positive dialogue, and it boosts the team’s overall engagement and performance.

Gallup analysts recently conducted a study of 11,441 teams in six organizations where at least 30% of employees had completed the Strengths assessment. They determined that team members’ awareness of their own strengths — and each other’s — was more strongly related to higher engagement and performance than was the specific composition of strengths on the team.

MANAGER’S ROLE

The manager’s role changes substantially in a strengths-based culture. Namely, they’re the key conduit to implementing a genuine strengths-based development approach and maximizing the potential of their workplace’s talent. Managers become more like coaches, dedicated to helping team members understand and cultivate their talents, thereby achieving high levels of productivity and fulfillment. This change aligns with research by Gallup and others showing that younger workers — particularly millennials — want and expect their managers to work with them on personal and professional development opportunities.

As organizations figure out how best to implement these changes, they need new ways to help teams retain cohesion, and to ensure that the right talent can flow to projects that will make the best use of their skills. As Gallup research has demonstrated time and again, organizations that adopt a strengths-based culture will have a powerful advantage on both fronts.

– Steve Crabtree is analyst and lead editor of Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report. Download summary at: http://news.gallup.com/reports/220313/state-global-workplace-2017.aspx?

Published in Insights

What is it about superheroes that we love so much? Is it their ability to overcome tremendous obstacles? Their superhuman strength?

We recently asked a small group of employees what superpower they found most compelling. Among their responses: the ability to fly, x-ray vision, and time travel. We then asked that same group if they thought the ability to control one’s own destiny was a superpower–and many of them responded “yes.”

The truth is, each of us already possesses the power to do great things. With a little practice, we can all unleash the superhero within.

IT STARTS WITH ACCOUNTABILITY

Accountability is about the personal choices we make to overcome the obstacles in our way. Every time we face a trying situation, we also face a choice: will we be a victim of circumstance or emerge victorious?

The Oz Principle posits that when you assume full accountability for your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you gain control of your own destiny. In this way, we can all channel the superheroes whom we love and admire. The question is, "how can we activate that superpower in our day-to-day professional lives?"

The first step is simply recognizing that a problem exists–and then taking ownership of it. The key here is control: when we obsess over what’s not in our power to change, we slip into victim mode. Instead, we must focus exclusively on factors over which we have some degree of control.

ACCOUNTABILITY IN ACTION

As an adolescent, a friend of ours was consistently told he wasn’t smart enough to make much out of his life, and unsurprisingly, his test scores reinforced that belief. For every test he took in school, he would score in the bottom 25%, regardless of the subject. He hated school, felt like a failure and struggled with self-esteem.

As he got a little older, he decided to pursue the one thing he really loved and excelled at–painting. He shared this aspiration with his mom, who supported his vision, but challenged him to consider a path that combined painting with a practical skill more certain to yield a steady income, like graphic art.

The young man reluctantly agreed to give graphic art a try. The next thing you know, he had mastered Adobe Photoshop. While he’d never considered himself smart enough to succeed in such a rigorous field, here he was, excelling in a world that had seemed off limits just a short time earlier.

The next thing you know, someone asked if he had ever considered photography. Again, his old victim mentality kicked in. He was sure he wasn’t talented enough to excel in photography. But this time, he focused on what was in his power–his love of art–and gave it a try. The first time he looked through a camera lens, he literally exclaimed, “I see art!”

Today, this man is recognized as one of the most influential photographers of our time. His art is world-renowned. All this from a kid who was constantly told he wasn’t good enough. What made the difference?

This young man simply needed to unleash his inner superhero. By focusing on what was within his control, he took a risk and pursued what he loved. While perhaps not the makings of a blockbuster movie, this is a true story of how accountability can lead to great success–and that’s something we can all learn from.

– Tony Bridwell is an international consultant and partner for Partners in Leadership. He penned, The Difference Maker: A Simple Fable About Making a Difference in the Life of Others and The Kingmaker: A Leadership Story of Integrity and Purpose.

Published in Ideas

Describing “leadership” is not an easy task, and definitions can vary depending on who is asked. Is leadership a quality, an attribute, an attitude, a job title? A lot of the trouble we face in finding the best definition arises from confusion. It’s essential to distinguish between holding a leadership position and demonstrating leadership skills. Making this fundamental distinction can help clarify what we truly mean by leadership.

Organizations assign leadership positions to selected individuals: this means that they receive a mandate from the company to lead others and are recognized as such. Only a small percentage of employees can hold a leadership position.

However, any employee can demonstrate leadership skills, regardless of seniority, job title, place in the hierarchy, or even management experience. To understand this, we need to start looking at leadership as a daily practice, not a job title. In the words of Chris Worley, it’s essential to think of leadership “as an organization capability, rather than as an individual trait or position in the hierarchy.”

For an organization, it is both essential and beneficial to have as many employees as possible demonstrate leadership skills; it is a key driver for increased performance. Employees with leadership skills will be more engaged in their work and will actively contribute to the organization’s bottom line. They will also demonstrate more vision, more adaptability and increased innovation capabilities. It’s obvious that organizations have everything to gain from having employees with strong leadership skills; this is why they must strive to foster and develop this capability in all employees, from the bottom up and across every department.

It’s also important to keep developing employees that currently hold leadership positions, to make sure they are growing and that they will keep bringing more value to the organization.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT HAS TO BE A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY BETWEEN L&D AND THE REST OF THE ORGANIZATION.

Countless studies, both empirical and statistical, show the correlation between successful organizations and powerful leadership. As we’ve seen, there is just as much opportunity in developing employees that currently hold a leadership position as there is in creating leadership capabilities in every employee. This mission will never be over — and this is why L&D departments play such a crucial role. They have to bring their expertise to make sure that leadership development remains a priority and that leadership training is accessible for everyone in the organization.

However, they can’t do it alone. In order to stay relevant, L&D teams need to engage with all departments across the organization, to make sure that the training they provide aligns with the bottom line.

Our business environment and the way people learn are both changing at an unprecedented pace. This heightens the need to increase communication between L&D departments and the rest of the organization, including business leaders and learners. L&D programs must aim at developing the right skills at the right time, in ways that modern learners will relate to. This can’t be done without ongoing discussions with representatives of relevant departments. This approach will also help the L&D function to demonstrate its contribution to organizational results, something that continues to be an issue in large corporations today.

These fresh, innovative learning strategies will be co-designed for leaders of today and tomorrow. This virtuous circle will enable all employees to think about the leadership practices they can adopt and convince them that they don’t need a specific job title to lead.

Published in Ideas

Josh Bersin, principle, Bersin by Deloitte revealed 10 disruptions that will transform the HR technology field. They are:

New focus on tools for workforce productivity like mobile and social

ERP and HCM move to the cloud as the talent market reinvents itself as “team management”

Continuous performance management has arrived following talent from project to project, data driven and in real-time.

Explosion of feedback, pulse survey & analytics tools going beyond employee performance to well being

Reinvention of corporate learning is here to keep pace with new technologies, A.I., machine learning and the like

Recruiting market is rapidly changing and focused on smart recruiting

Well being market is exploding to focus on the whole person vs solely on productivity

People analytics market has grown and matured with embedded analytics, A.I. and organizational network analytics

Intelligent self-service, communications and employee experience tools to facilitate decision-making

10 HR departments are becoming digital and innovative,  team-centric and intelligent

Published in Trends

Global corporate e-learning market is set to grow at a CAGR of close to 19% during the forecast period, 2017-2021 according to Technavio. The Americas currently account for $15.59 billion in revenues or 41% market share. EMEA represents 32.7% share and is expected to reach $30.82 billion by 2021. APAC regions is 26.3% share and will see 20% CAGR.

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“The market is expected to witness rapid growth during the forecast period owing to the increase in digitization and corporate realization of the importance of training in strengthening the workforce. In addition, e-learning helps companies overcome the obstacles that may arise from traditional learning formats,” says Jhansi Mary, research leader, Technavio.

Published in Trends

The 2017/2018 Learning & Talent Platforms Buyer Study conducted by Elearning! Media Group via an online survey of learning professionals reveals the current trends and purchase plans for 2018. These findings were tabulated from approximately 300 responses across corporate, government, education and non-profit organizations. The study was conducted industry wide and includes Elearning! subscribers and community members.

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Discover Must Have Features, Brand Ownership & Awareness, Buying Process and Roles in 2018 Learning & Talent Platforms Buyer Study Full Report Available February 2018 at 2elearning.com.

Published in Trends

Seven of the top 10 strategic corporate initiatives require HR involvement.  HR must play a strategic role in the future success of organizations in an increasingly competitive market for skills and talent, according to HR Realities 2017-18 Study.

“There is a great opportunity for HR to extend its influence right now. But, with a decrease in headcount and rise in HR technology spend, the need to innovate and be agile is vital,” says David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group.

Forward thinking organizations are already looking at:

>>  Video based recruiting (84%),

>>  Continuous employee appreciation (82%)

>>  Social recruitment (77%).

Sadly, only 12% of organizations use artificial intelligence currently. But, the rate of innovation is only going to accelerate with increased adoption. “Those that are early adopters of technology will see the benefits,” concludes Wilson.

Download complimentary infographic summarizing findings of this U.K study at: http://bit.ly/2izhHte

Published in Latest News

The CEO of Mastercard told an audience in Saudi Arabia that “data could be as effective as oil as a means of generating wealth.” Is he right?

“Companies today handle more data than ever before and it’s having a profound effect on the way governments, businesses and technologies evolve,” says data scientist Justhy Deva Prasad, author of “The Billion Dollar Byte: Turn Big Data into Good Profits, The Datapreneur Way.

Non-digital companies may be doomed. “You cannot halt the digital revolution and if companies don’t build a boat that embraces the coming data tsunami, they’re not going to be able to compete with those who do,” says Prasad.

Traditional legacy companies need a framework for making data strategy central to their business models in the same way that the newer Digital Native companies have. The framework should provide concrete models for creating smart data infrastructures, accurately weighing the value of data and data systems, investing in the right technologies, hiring entrepreneurial people with tech skills, leveraging the full value of data, and much more. It aims to help companies align their data strategy with their business model.

Published in Latest News

The buzz was all about artificial intelligence (A.I.) at this year’s HR Technology Conference. No surprise, as the size of the global market for artificial intelligence for enterprise applications is worth around $360 million according to statistics.

A.I. HR implementations are seen in talent, recruitment and succession planning.  IBM Talent showcased some applications.  Several other companies displayed Alexa-customized solutions like Paradox, which is a branded A.I. coach. It claims to “build human-powered A.I. to engage, empower and understand large groups of people.” Oracle will be infusing its Cloud applications with artificial intelligence. “A.I. should be an enabler,” says Gretchen Alarcon of Oracle.

Published in Latest News

"Great managers aren’t born — they’re trained.”

That’s the message Scott Blanchard, principal and EVP with The Ken Blanchard Companies, is sharing with audiences as he speaks to groups of leadership, learning and talent-development professionals.

Blanchard points to research that shows most managers don’t receive that necessary training, however, until they are about 10 years into their managerial career.

“The effects are damaging at both an individual and organizational level,” says Blanchard. “More than 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years. And those who survive without managerial training often find themselves with negative habits that are hard to break — which can hold them back for years to come.”

With more than two million new people stepping up to leadership for the first time each year in the U.S. alone, Blanchard believes organizations need to take management training a lot more seriously.

“It is very important that those responsible for organizational training put together an effective curriculum for developing people into trusted professional managers. As a professional manager, you are responsible for what your direct reports do, and to some degree, how they feel — especially the emotional connection they establish with their job and the company.

While some people’s influence and communication skills come naturally, every manager can learn and develop the skills they need regardless of their starting point, says Blanchard.

“Some people naturally understand how to work with others collaboratively and how to build rapport, while others come to leadership from a less developed starting point. But you still need a system if you are going to succeed as a manager. It’s something everyone can benefit from."

According to Blanchard, all great managers do four things:

“Great managers begin by establishing clarity for their people through clear goals, accountability and personal responsibility. Second, they intervene appropriately when things are going well — and when things aren’t going well. Third, they adapt their leadership style to what is needed by appropriately identifying a direct report’s development level on a task and then modifying their style to best serve the direct report at that stage.

“Finally, great managers know how to create long-term, long-lasting relationships that are evidenced by trust and engagement over time. This results in people who stay with the organization, talk positively about the organization to others, and perform at high levels in a collaborative manner.”

Blanchard explains that effective managers connect the dots between the work of the person, the work of the unit, and the work of the organization as a whole. They understand the correlation of action, motivation and commitment. They successfully manage both performance and employee satisfaction.

“Great managers help people see the bigger picture from whatever seat they occupy,” says Blanchard, “and that can be a challenge. People’s careers rise and fall and managers need to be there with coaching skills to help people through the ups and downs — even when there isn’t a clear path forward.

“These powerful skills almost always have to be developed through training — and once learned, they can help people focus and find a way forward in any situation.”

Published in Insights
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