Business & Talent. Aligned.

How you manage talent spells the difference between success and failure. To gain a competitive edge, leaders must be prepared to address shifting economic, social and demographic trends that impact workforce performance. Stay informed with research, insights and advice from our leading industry experts. The world of work is changing. Is your company ready?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Employees want to be heard. Make sure you’re listening. It’s good business!

There’s mounting evidence that employees really want to make a contribution to their employers beyond just the requirements of their jobs. And that offers a great opportunity for companies — if they know how to take advantage of it.

Our research shows that a surprising number of employees go the extra mile by making suggestions for improvement. In a recent study of more than 640 employees, some 27% of respondents said they contributed more than 20 ideas last year. And 30% made more than 10 but less than 20. Only 6% offered no suggestions at all.

At the same time, our experience has shown little evidence that companies are listening to these suggestions — or, more important, trying to make the most of this enthusiasm.

That’s unfortunate. Because companies are missing out on a significant opportunity to engage their workforce fully. In fact, according to the findings of a recent Right Management global study of 28,000 employees, two top drivers of employee engagement are (1) feeling valued by senior leaders and (2) feeling that employee opinions count. It’s especially important as Gen X and Gen Y employees enter the workforce in greater numbers, because this group wants to feel it’s playing an important, active part in what happens in the organization.

For employers, the implications are clear: Take steps to make sure employees feel heard and have opportunities not only to share their ideas, but to make them happen.

Employees want to be active participants in the performance of the organization. Are you giving them the chance to have a say?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do More But Don't Discount Doing Less

In a downturn, the need to manage more proactively can take a definite upturn. With the game of winning new business much tighter than it was before, a manager has to step up and use all his experience and expertise to give his team the edge. Controlling costs, driving productivity, developing team skills and keeping the team focused are all among the responsibilities that a manager must take more firmly in hand.

But a manager also has to know when to keep the reigns loose. As our experience and research shows, promoting employee learning and development can have a significant positive impact on two essential drivers of productivity, employee engagement and retention. Even during a downturn, managers should help employees learn on the job by varying work responsibilities, offering stretch assignments, implementing job rotations or providing opportunities to run with new projects or initiatives. For managers, sometimes doing more can mean doing less.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Leaders Require Due Diligence

Why do so many organizations spend more time researching office equipment (or a new paper supplier or phone system) than they do identifying leaders that will be put into critical roles? Organizations don’t have the luxury of time, resources and money to get their new leaders up to speed and fully contributing. The ability of a new or recently promoted leader to smoothly transition into a new or expanded role is not assured. In fact, more than 40% of new leaders fail to meet expectations. With so many new leaders derailing, how can any organization hope to achieve business objectives? The costs are substantial: from direct replacement costs to lost opportunity costs to poor morale. Simply put, effective leadership can ultimately make or break a company’s ability to grow and compete.

How do you accelerate the on-boarding process and substantially improve success rates? The best place to start: put the right people into leadership roles from the get go. Each new leader is an investment. Like any investment, you want to carefully assess and evaluate before making a commitment. Assessing for competencies that drive success in your organization is one way to ensure you are making a wise investment. Our own research shows that as many as 50% of organizations do not have a model for identifying and developing the leadership competencies needed to drive results.

Do your new leaders have the knowledge, skills, abilities and characteristics needed to perform a particular role within your organization? If you haven’t taken the steps to assess for the human drivers of successful organizational performance, you could find yourself fighting a difficult and costly battle. In the long term it is far more cost effective and will deliver a far greater return on investment to create a sustainable leader profile up front than to spend time selecting a new office coffee dispenser. Get it right from the start.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fanning the Flames of Passion In Your Workforce

Passion for work can be elusive and difficult to quantify. However, as it pertains to the next generation of employees, passion is a huge and undeniable component of what makes them committed and engaged. It is also what inspires the creativity and innovation that is their hallmark.

The next generation of employees insists on feeling passionate about what they do. It has high expectations for work that has meaning and value, work that provides them with developmental and learning experiences. Not content to perform tasks and follow orders, they want to be fully participating and making a difference in an open and dynamic environment – signaling a significant culture shift in how and why we work.

How organizations acknowledge this shift, address the needs of this segment of the workforce, and inspire passion will be what differentiates the winners from the losers. It’s poor business sense, if not professional suicide, to neglect to tap the potential of these creative young people. An organization unwilling to adapt will not be able to succeed; put simply, stagnation equals death. Without the sort of passion — in part defined by the sheer potential for creative and innovative ideas and solutions — endemic to the next generation of employees, businesses are destined to wither and die.

This generation expects to be challenged, to have its horizons broadened at every opportunity. Leaders need to supply these opportunities, to set these personally and professionally enriching challenges. This means that leaders also need to be vigilant about recognizing a person’s unique talent and rewarding a job well done, whether via formal performance evaluations or more informal conversations acknowledging meaningful contributions. Finally, leaders need to do just that: lead by example. The next generation of employees takes its prospective company’s values to heart. It scorns insincerity and won’t tolerate hypocrisy of any kind. Therefore, leaders must be prepared to “walk the talk” if they expect the next generation of employees to loyally and proudly — and passionately — follow.

Welcome to the launch of our blog, Talent@Work

The key to success in today’s hyper-competitive global economy is a comprehensive vision of where the company wants to go, the value it delivers and how it’s going to get there. To achieve this success, an organization must apply the same rigor in developing its workforce strategy as it does in creating its business strategy –unleashing the knowledge, innovation and creativity of every employee.

In architecting a workforce strategy, you must first understand how complex trends and shifting business realities will impact your organization – now and in the future. This then allows you to identify the right people for the right jobs, build the necessary leadership competencies and skills, and develop and retain your best talent.

Through our blog, we want to help you build an exceptional workforce that will drive high levels of performance. To that end, we plan not only to share our knowledge and expertise, but also to create a forum for discussion through which you can share your own experiences and insights. Ultimately, we hope to provide relevant and surprising information that will help you to make practical workforce choices – positively impacting your organization’s ability to deliver on its business strategy.

It’s about your people. They’re your strategic weapon. They’re the real power driving your organization forward. The world of work is changing. We can help make sure you're ready with a workforce that provides you with real competitive advantage.

Stay in touch and let us know how the world of work is changing for you.