Friday, November 30, 2018

Are You Paying Lip Service to Work-Life Balance?

LinkedIn, Nov. 30, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

The statistics on paid time off in the U.S. are bewildering. In 2017, American workers didn’ttake 704 million paid vacation days, according to Project: Time Off. That’s $62.2 billion in unpaid benefits, and a lot of neglected families.

You might think these data points would have CEOs everywhere chortling with glee. But it seems like they are chained to their desks, too. Witness the standard CEO memoir, which pays lip service to any semblance of a life outside of work.

In the 365 or so pages of Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, his chronicle of his years at the helm of IBM in the 1990s, Lou Gerstner, Jr. devoted a mere couple of sentences to his family. Apparently, they were aware he had been asked to take on the massive IBM turnaround. But he says he agreed to take the job during a recruiting meeting and then, went home to announce his decision. “My wife, who had been quite wary of the idea originally, supported my decision and was excited about it,” Gerstner writes, almost as an afterthought at the end of Chapter 1. If the rest of the book is any indication, he disappeared into the corporate maw immediately thereafter and didn’t pop back up in the living room until a decade later.

The similarly-lengthy memoir of Harold Burson, the co-founder of the one of the world’s largest PR agencies, is another case in point. Burson wrote a 10-page postscript titled “The Role of Family” in The Business of Persuasion, the memoir he published last year. “As I reflect on the sixty-plus years since the formation of Burson-Marsteller,” he says, “I have come to realize that, for more than fifty of those years, I deprived my family of my companionship almost half the time.” I can’t help but think this is a conservative estimate, because Burson notes that he invariably traveled during 45 or more weeks each year, including over 100 trips to Europe for 10-14 days at a clip, as well as trips to Asia for a minimum of two weeks each. Sadder yet, Burson devotes less space in the memoir to his wife, whom he admits contributed much to his career and the success of his company, than he does to his love for West Highland white terriers.

Of course, CEOs such as Gerstner and Burson are of an older generation whose standard version of work-life balance looked like Leave It to Beaver (which is the version on which I cut my teeth). But I suspect that Gen X and Millennial CEOs may not be any better. Read the rest here.

The Ambient Future of HR

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Boss Magazine, December 2018

by David Mallon

HR has come a long way from its functional roots in control and compliance. Nowadays, HR is a business partner — aligning and integrating its services with the business to help employees achieve corporate goals. That sounds great, but it isn’t enough. Not by a long shot.

HR’s current paradigm of alignment and integration is going to fall short in the coming years. Anything that distracts employees from their work and reduces their productivity will fall short. And that includes far too many HR processes, including performance management, learning and development, rewards, etc., that currently run separately from or even, in parallel with work.

Tomorrow, HR processes will need to be like the electricity that runs through your office and the online networks that connect your employees to each other and the rest of the world. No matter how complex the process and no matter where your people are, HR needs to be relocated to the point of work. In short, HR must become ambient.

The fundamental premise of ambient HR is that it’s intrinsic to work and employee performance. (If it isn’t, why are you bothering?) The ideal guiding principle of ambient HR is that anything being done to support performance, whether at the organizational, team, or individual levels, should be within a few keystrokes’ reach of the people that need it. Ambient HR goes to employees, not vice versa. It doesn’t distract or divert people; it doesn’t require them to step away from their work or learn systems and vocabularies that are not part and parcel of their jobs.

For the first time, the technology needed to embed HR in work at scale is available. The digital transformation of our companies — indeed, our world — is solving that problem. What’s needed now is an ambitious and prodigious design effort; an employee-centric, data-driven rethinking of HR processes and service delivery.

Where might the application of design thinking to the challenge of ambient HR yield the greatest returns? Here are some of the HR processes that are ready for a thorough rethinking. Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Leaders Should Focus on Human Dignity at Work

strategy+business, November 28, 2018   

by Theodore Kinni

With bankruptcy looming, management appealed to employees to accept pay cuts and “pull together and win.” The workers did. After the company limped along for five long years, the turnaround came. The company’s leaders marked the occasion by giving themselves hefty bonuses, but didn’t bother to restore worker pay. A complete breakdown in the relationship between management and employees ensued, and Donna Hicks got a call.

Hicks is a conflict resolution expert. During her long association with Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, she has worked with governments, corporations, and other organizations to reconcile seemingly unreconcilable differences between groups of people. In the mid-2000s, the BBC enlisted her to co-facilitate, with Desmond Tutu, first-time encounters between victims and perpetrators in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Hicks found a thread connecting all of these experiences: Conflict is exacerbated by violations of dignity.

“The common denominator is the human reaction to the way people are being treated,” she writes in Leading with Dignity, her second, sometimes redundant, book on the topic, which tightens its focus to business. When people’s dignity is violated in the workplace, she writes, “they feel some of the same instinctive reactions that parties in international conflicts experience — a desire for revenge against those who have violated them. People want their grievances listened to, heard, and acknowledged. When this doesn’t happen, the original conflicts escalate, which only deepens the divide.”

Moreover, leaders play a major role in dignity violations and the outcomes that they produce. “The extent to which leaders pay attention to, recognize, and understand the dignity concerns underlying people’s grievances makes an enormous difference as to whether these conflicts can be resolved,” Hicks writes.

If you’ve been watching the leadership spectacle currently playing on the world stage, you might not be surprised to learn that most leaders, and the rest of us, too, have a woefully underdeveloped understanding of dignity. “Most people do not have a working knowledge of dignity,” Hicks writes. “I have found that most people are unaware of their own inherent value and worth, and are usually at a loss for how to recognize it in others.” Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Predictions for 2019: The productivity imperative

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

Deloitte Capital H Blog, November 27, 2018

by David Mallon

If there is one line that sums up the outlook for HR in 2019, it might be that backhanded blessing, “May you live in interesting times.” These are interesting times, indeed. The increasingly influential role of social capital in organizational success is compelling companies to reimagine their purpose and redefine what it means to be a good citizen, internally and externally. In this new social enterprise, more collaborative and productive relationships with employees, customers, and communities go hand in hand with the quest for revenue and profit.

The need to support the emerging social enterprise and address the lack of enthusiasm with HR’s core services should give us all pause. When the demands on HR are greater than ever and the complexity and range of solutions are multiplying exponentially, HR professionals need to home in on the signal. We all need to tune into the core mission of HR and then make sure that every effort and investment serves it.

Addressing HR’s true value
The rise of the social enterprise is a global trend that positions HR at the center and gives greater weight and urgency to Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for core HR services. My colleagues have calculated these scores in the course of our High-Impact research and discovered that the NPS for performance management is negative-60 and the NPS for rewards is negative-15. If these were customer scores, many company leaders would declare a state of emergency. The scores for L&D and talent acquisition are positive (19 and 15, respectively), but neither would be cause for celebration in the C-suite if they were in customer realm.

What’s your Net Productivity Score?
We at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP are convinced that HR’s core mission is productivity. When you strip away the noise, HR’s job is to enable and enhance the productivity of people. This goal serves all of HR’s stakeholders—the enterprise, the individual employee, and the community at large. Thus, the most important metric on the HR dashboard isn’t the net promoter score (even though it is a useful indicator), it’s the net productivity score. The question that determines the real value of HR is simply this:

“Has what we’ve done today, this week, this month, and this year—the programs, the processes, the initiatives—resulted in a net addition or subtraction from individual and team productivity?”

In the days to come, look out for seven new articles from Bersin in which our analysts will share their viewpoints on the most relevant and interesting developments to watch in 2019, including their outlook on HR’s role around the productivity imperative. Read the rest here

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to embed data-driven decision-making into your organisational culture

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

InsideHR, November 20, 2018

by Jeff Mike

Thanks to the increasing sophistication of analytics, data and algorithms can inform and improve management, business, and HR decision-making throughout companies. But, the tools of data collection and decision-support algorithms are only one element in the quest to attain the full potential of analytics.

Another is the ability of employees at all levels to use these tools, a challenge that will require a broad-based upskilling of the workforce. And, there’s an additional element – the willingness to employ analytics to make decisions. Compounding all of this is the fact that organisations today are becoming social enterprises, where the ability to manage social, environmental and governance concerns are as important as financial returns. In this environment, workers have more influence than ever. Their voices are amplified through social media and other means, meaning errors made by an organisation can have far-reaching consequences.

So, what does all of this mean? To create a willingness to use more data and unbiased decision-support algorithms, a mindset of data-driven decision-making should be embedded in the organisational culture in a way that benefits employees in their work as well as other stakeholders. The need for a data-driven culture is important and shouldn’t be underestimated.

In fact, this need is one of the top findings in Bersin’s High-Impact People Analytics research, which revealed that a company can fully utilise people analytics only if – and when – using data to make decisions becomes part of the culture, or “how we do things around here.” In fact, the research determined that organisations that have achieved the highest levels of people analytics maturity are three times more likely to have such a culture than organisations at lower maturity levels.

However, just making the decision to implement a mindset of data-driven decision-making into an organisation’s culture won’t work. In an analytics-friendly culture, data-driven decision-making isn’t an afterthought, an add-on, or a justification; rather, it is a shared mindset in which:

  • Everyone recognises that data and analytics are essential to sound decision-making;
  • They use data and analytics in their decision processes for all aspects of the enterprise including financial, social and environmental well-being;
  • They use data and analytics to monitor – and adjust – decision outcomes to ensure desired results and to prevent bias.
Read the rest here...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Truth About Behavioral Change

Learned a lot editing this one:

MIT Sloan Management Review, Nov. 7, 2018 

by Damon Centola

When Twitter launched in March 2006, the earth did not move. Its founders and a few early funders were excited about the technology, but the microblogging site was not the immediate blockbuster you might imagine it was, given that it now has more than 300 million users and has become a wildly influential marketing tool for businesses, nonprofits, and even politicians. Rather, Twitter crept along in its early months, growing slowly.

So, what happened to transform it from another also-ran into one of the largest communication platforms in the world?

Twitter seems on the surface to be the kind of technology that journalist Malcolm Gladwell and Wharton School marketing professor Jonah Berger refer to as “contagious.” To jump-start Twitter’s growth, its founders decided to promote it at a South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference in 2007, where it was a big hit. From there, people assume it rapidly spread across the United States through the internet, thanks to social contacts connected by what network researchers call “weak ties” and “long bridges.” Two years later, in 2009, Twitter adoptions were catapulted into a global orbit when a major opinion leader, Oprah Winfrey, sent her first tweet on her talk show.

That narrative is easy to grasp and compelling. It gives startups, and the people who invest in them, a road map for success. Unfortunately, it is also inaccurate, and the road map leads to a dead end.

In a very interesting study, Twitter’s actual growth pattern was revealed to be surprisingly geographic. Friends and neighbors adopted the technology from one another in much the same way people join a PTA fund-raiser or get excited about a candidate for town office. Twitter didn’t spread virally across the internet; it spread locally, like a grassroots social movement.

Although that explanation of Twitter’s success is less sensational than the usual “going viral” story, it is far more useful for understanding how social networks promote behavioral change. And it corresponds with a growing body of research that describes behavioral change as a complex contagion, which needs reinforcing ties and wide bridges to spread. We’ll explore those concepts here. They are key elements in a diffusion playbook for companies attempting to launch innovations and facilitate both customer and employee adoption. Read the rest here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Best Business Books 2018: Management

strategy+business, November 5, 2018

by Theodore Kinni

Illustration by Martin León Barreto

Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein, Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust (Berrett-Koehler, 2018)

Heidi Grant, Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You (Harvard Business Review Press, 2018)

Yesterday, managers were the wizards of business. They learned profitability and productivity incantations at various branches of the Hogwarts School of Business. They were privy to arcane corporate knowledge that was withheld from the mere mortals in the rank and file. They pointed their wands, and the workforce did their bidding.

Tomorrow, it’s likely that employees will manage themselves. The incantations and knowledge that were once the manager’s stock-in-trade will be at their fingertips, perhaps on their smartphones. With the help of computers imbued with artificial intelligence, they will decide their own direction.

But what should managers be doing today? The authors of this year’s best business books on management offer conflicting answers. MIT professor emeritus Edgar Schein and his son Peter, now colleagues at the Organizational Culture and Leadership Institute, see a new, relationship-based managerial culture emerging. University of California at Berkeley management professor Morten Hansen identifies practices that defined high performance in the recent past and urges contemporaries to copy them. And social psychologist Heidi Grant of the NeuroLeadership Institute offers managers a way to develop a skill that they will surely need at some point — no matter what their future holds. Read the rest here.