Here’s What Talent Agility Looks Like

rubber bandsMary managed a small team consisting of 3 employees. The positions they held were coveted jobs in a small but well-known company. With few exceptions these employees tended to be entry-level professionals who used these jobs to launch their careers – ultimately moving on to bigger and better things at other organizations. Even though salaries were below-market and there was limited career mobility due to the size of the organization, morale was high and the employment experience enjoyable. Tenure for these positions was in the range of 18 months or so which meant, as you can imagine, just about the time an employee became extremely proficient and productive, s/he opted to move on for another opportunity.

The department had numerous and varied accountabilities and deliverables over the course of any given year but core responsibilities could be boiled down to 6 primary areas:

 

  1. Make the widgets
  2. Market the widgets
  3. Sell the widgets
  4. Invoice for the widgets
  5. Ship the widgets
  6. Service the widgets

While all 3 team members needed to have some familiarity with all duties, the job descriptions looked like this for years:

  • Employee A: Responsible for 1 and 2
  • Employee B: Responsible for 3 and 4
  • Employee C: Responsible for 5 and 6

Stuff got done.

But then, one day, both Employees A and B tendered their resignations. The two-week countdown began as Mary realized it was going to be her and Employee C (who had been with the company for 6 months) running the show for the foreseeable future.

Initially Mary approached the hiring process as most managers (and HR professionals) do: she resurrected Job Descriptions A and B and set a course to hire employees who would perform function 1, 2, 3 and 4. After all, she reasoned, Employee C was slaying all the dragons with functions 5 and 6.

But then she stopped. Perhaps, she thought, if I provide a bit more variety and the chance for staff members to contribute in different ways, we’ll not only get the work done but reap the benefits of employees staying for longer periods because they’re continually learning and exploring. Maybe if they have the chance to do something new – something that builds on what they already know – we’ll all benefit.

So she talked to Employee C (who for 6 months had been responsible for shipping and servicing the widgets) and asked her “what would you like to do? What do you want to learn? What functional areas interest you?” Employee C said “I’ve always wanted to market and sell the widgets but I know those tasks are assigned to two different jobs. So I’m not sure what we can do.” 

But I’m sure you’ve guessed what they did.

Mary decided to be much more fluid in her operational model; versatility was in and rigidity was out. Rather than creating positions and praying-and-hoping that employees would stay long enough to develop deep-deep DEEP expertise she opted for a new model that encouraged the development of skills and the need for employees to tackle new challenges. She adopted a high-touch and constantly evolving approach that provided for task rotation every 6 months; this not only kept team members interested and engaged but insured cross training in a fully team focused environment.

While the jobs continued to be ones that young professionals used to merely launch their long-term careers tenure for the department increased from 18 months to close to 3 years.

I call that talent agility. I call that winning the battle.

After all…sometimes the “war for talent” is waged within.

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Surprise Me Rob Lowe! #WorkHuman

workhumanThere are many things I’m looking forward to at the Globoforce WorkHuman 2015 conference including hearing from Tania Luna who is a trainer, consultant and “surprisologist.” She’s a founder, along with her sister, of Surprise Industries where, according to their website, they provide “a collection of non-routine experiences for non-routine people” as they focus on surprising and delighting individuals, couple and companies. Working with SI, a friend, partner, or employer can provide personalized and unique gifts, customize events to create memories, or schedule events ranging from a private yoyo workshop to a Michael Jackson class where one can learn the dance moves to MJ’s Thriller, Beat It or Smooth Criminal.

Imagine giving Karl in Purchasing (who loves loves LOVES MJ!) a never-to be-forgotten memory? That’s just one example but it’s illustrative of how organizations are refining their understanding of how human relationships at work can energize, excite, and transform the business. HR and business leaders are starting to “get it;” appreciation and recognition is much more effective when we bring the personal-and-human element back into the workplace. Karl probably doesn’t want another lapel pin to toss in his dresser drawer…but Karl will never forget learning how to moon walk.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about at WorkHuman. We’re going to explore engagement, recognition, psychology, and technology. We’re going to discuss the business impact of the human-centered workplace. We’re going to hear from keynote speakers including:

  • Arianna Huffington (Co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post)
  • Rob Lowe (Best-selling author, activist, and award-winning actor)
  • Adam Grant (Wharton School professor of psychology and best-selling author)
  • Shawn Achor (Harvard-trained researcher and NY Times best-selling author)

This is going to be good. I don’t even care which Rob Lowe shows up; I’m just looking forward to his stories about teamwork, risk-taking, work, and life. (Oh…and please please please let him talk about the Snow White at the Oscars thing…)

According to Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley “WorkHuman is designed to empower organizations to harness the transformative power of emotional connections among colleagues, and supercharge efforts to build a humanity-focused workplace culture.”

Interested in joining us? Use code RSWH15100 and you’ll receive $100 off the registration price.

I hope to see you there!

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Join Me: Drivers of Engagement in New Hire Onboarding

We discuss employee engagement a lot don’t we? We realize there are benefits to our organizations when we have a highly engaged workforce; things like improved performance, higher productivity, and improved retention.

Across the continuum of the employee life cycle there are numerous touch points and multiple opportunities for us to focus on strategies that address our desired outcomes. And the onboarding of employees is one of those times.

But how do we tackle it? How do we improve the onboarding experience, ensure it’s aligned with our company’s business objectives, and measure success? What are key talent metrics? And how, if you’re considering revamping your onboarding program, do you get from here…to there?

Join me next Thursday (2/26/2015) for “Drivers of Engagement in New Hire Onboarding” when I’ll be part of a panel discussing the essential elements of high-performance onboarding, key practices for gauging impact, and the importance of talent technology.

Hosted by cfactor Works Inc. (developer of Vibe HCM suite) and Brandon Hall Group, a leading HCM research and advisory services firm, and will feature, in addition to me, a whole bunch of smart people:

I promise we’ll have a great discussion and share some interesting information, so go here to register and join us.

Onward to onboarding!

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