- Work on the brand- Building brand equity is a requirement in the modern workforce for companies. No longer just for the purpose of attracting and retaining customer, a strong brand is a tool to attract and retain employees. A compelling mission and purpose for the company encourages loyalty. Many companies instead of offering perks like gym memberships and cool break rooms have turned the focus on mentoring and training opportunities for the employees. This trend can be attributed to the recognition preferences of the younger workforce.
- Get social- There is another reason to include in the company’s social media strategy external as well as internal stakeholders. Social media is a gold mine for running automated referral campaigns. Existing employees are a great pool for talent. In fact, employee referrals are 54 times more likely to be hired than non-referrals, will stay on the job longer, and will outperform the non-referrals. It makes sense, employees know the culture of the company and people that would add value to the company.
- Retention- There is nothing like the confidence boost to employee morale like rewarding, recognizing, and promoting the current talent pool in the company. Investing in existing talent can generate enhanced productivity and decreased turnover. Initiatives like promoting a learning environment, offering on-the-job training, and fostering a creative, innovative environment can result in stellar word-of-mouth endorsements and selling points for future employees.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a recent report which contains some sobering statistics for the HR industry. 68% of HR professionals reported that the current talent recruiting conditions are challenging. The most impacted were the health, manufacturing, and social assistance sectors. This is an interesting shift in the market from the time of the Great Recession and poses unique problems for recruitment. What is the definition of a talent shortage? While there are a lot of new jobs being created, a talent shortage is when employers feel that the existing talent pool doesn’t fit the level of skill at the pay scale that is offered. Hiring is an art and science, and an employee with a great skill set and years of experience costs money. What contributes to a talent shortage? There are multiple theories including more specialized job requirements, the Baby Boomers exiting the workforce, and the Millennials and Gen Z lacking the skills that organizations need at the time of workforce entry. What is the result of a talent shortage? A multitude of unfulfilled job, missed growth opportunities for the companies, and delayed executive initiatives just to name a few. In turn, there are several ways that HR professionals can address talent scarcity.
Leadership in corporate America evolves through trends and transformations that are reflective of American culture. In recent years, the practice of authenticity has been encouraged and rewarded in leadership by companies. How does authenticity create value for the organization? What makes it so integral to leadership? Moreover, on a broad scale authenticity encourages people in companies to be who they are privately and publicly. Authentic workers are more apt to bring their whole selves to the job, to align with the goals of the company, and to be more supportive of the company's mission. If these benefits are seen with authenticity in the workforce, what kind of expectation of authenticity is realistic for leadership?
If authenticity is being "true to self", or "original" in thought or action, it becomes a tricky notion for leadership. Everyone knows that first impressions count, especially the first 90 days of tenure for a new executive. The way an executive takes charge in an unfamiliar role can speak volumes about their authenticity potential. There are two types of leaders when it comes to internalizing authenticity. There are the chameleons or the "high self-monitors" that adapt to any situation with ease and mask their true feelings. They are vulnerability averse and can come off as "fake" at times by never shedding their chameleon image. On the other end, the "low self-monitors" speak and act the way they feel regardless of the demands of the situation. The low self-monitors find it more challenging to blend into the workforce or conform to corporate cultural expectations. The key to managing a new situation like the first 90 days is to balance authority with approachable behavior for leaders, which can be a challenge especially for the "low self-monitors".
Both types of leaders should strive for vulnerability as part of the leadership maxim. When Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston presented a compelling TEDx talk, "The Power of Vulnerability", she emphasized that leadership is all about relationships. “Re-humanizing work and education requires courageous leadership,” says Brown. “It requires leaders who are willing to take risks, embrace vulnerabilities and show up as imperfect, real people.”
Imperfect, real people are unique in their imperfectness. However, leadership authenticity for the greater good is a learned discipline. The understanding that nothing is "original" can encourage leaders to learn from various role models. The concept of learning, especially at the beginning is about imitation. Therefore, it benefits a leader to learn not from just one style of leadership, but to pick and choose aspects of leadership behavior which suit them the best. This comes naturally to the chameleons or "high self-monitors" who skillfully mirror leadership styles. Eventually, the imitation melds with their natural attributes and forms into authentic leadership. The true-to-selfers do not adapt as quickly as chameleons often stalling to find suitable role models which they feel are original.
Once past the initial stages of leadership, there are some tips which can help both “high self-monitors” and “low self-monitors” align their authenticity. This is crucial to avoid the impostor syndrome, the destructive feeling that the public leadership persona is not aligned with the private self. The first important task is to cultivate self-awareness. A leader who knows himself is in tune with his ethics and character, there is no gap between what he believes in and how he conducts business day-to-day. What values does the leader have? What motivates him? Is it to have an open company culture or an innovative edge? The values and purpose the leader brings from his life will guide the vision of the company and it’s important to have a clear understanding of that direction.
Another pillar of authenticity is the power of the leader to connect in every situation. Whether, at a large company meeting or face to face in the hallway, authentic leaders should foster relationships at every opportunities. This highlights Dr. Brown's point about vulnerability that the leader needs to have the trust of the employees. Great leadership is not necessarily made by uttering grandiose statements in front of large crowds, but can sometimes be handwritten notes of acknowledgement or small, intimate conversations with employees. The leader needs to show himself to the people and that requires a degree of courage.
It is a good idea for leaders to constantly ask for feedback as a gauge of their authenticity. Though, being authentic is not running a popularity contest in the organization. There are still some people that may not like what you do or your leadership style. However, authenticity research has shown that leaders who focus on the success of the organization, make ethical choices, and do what’s right for the employees tend to gain the respect of the organization in the process. Leaders can track their progress with known weaknesses, such as talking too fast and see if conscious effort will improve these shortcomings over time. There needs to be a few honest people who will support the leader in their quest for authenticity. People that will make sure the leader is in line with their values and ethics, and is moving the organization in the right direction long-term.
Authenticity emerged as a trend in leadership in corporate America recently and it has staying power. It emerged as a result of declining trust in management in corporate America as well as a powerful push for employee engagement as a success metric of corporate culture. Ironically, being themselves may not be as easy for leaders as it is implied. Executives in an unfamiliar role may not know how to come across as authentic. The two types of leaders, the “high self-monitors” and the “low self-monitors” have different tactics for fostering authenticity. It becomes a learning process, first through role modeling and then through the tapping of vulnerability inside each of us. It is only after a hefty dose of self-awareness, a skill for connecting with people, and improving upon consistent feedback that leaders arrive at their authentic leadership style. The pursuit of authenticity is long and arduous, however the results can be phenomenal.
Strategic planning is a process that when done right can set an organization on the road to excellence. When a fundamental change happens or every few years, the internal and external stakeholders sit down and discuss where the organization has been, where it stands, and where it is headed. They consider the changes or opportunities on the horizon. Strategic results can be achieved with the right approach to the process. Here are 5 tips that ensure strategic planning success:
The newest research finds that HR as a field is changing. The Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2017 study states that: “Consider your employee your number one stakeholder. They, in turn will take care of your customers, who in turn will take care of your shareholders”. This is a new paradigm for HR which in the past was customer focused, and now embracing the rise of the employee experience. It can be defined as HR seeing the organization through the eyes of the employees and staying connected with them. Whether optimizing working spaces, boosting productivity, providing tools and technology-the employee experience is about helping employees do their best at work.
So, how does this shift impact the way HR does business?
The word “culture” was the most searched word of 2016. All buzz aside an organization’s culture is of paramount importance. There is the “Yelp” phenomenon of employees reviewing their employers like hotels and restaurants. The reviews on websites like Glassdoor has changed recruitment. The company’s reputation is no longer confined to external customers. Also, the talent search has gone digital and global with the use of artificial intelligence and recruitment from India and Asia. Considering these changes, organizations want to be perceived as providing a positive environment for their employees. The way to do that is to foster good experiences and remain consistent. Employees want to be heard and to have a workplace experience that is congruent with their values and talents. Some progressive brands, such as Salesforce are tuning into the personalities and ethics of their employees by providing seven paid days off for volunteering.
Recruiters estimate that 90 percent of the current market is candidate-driven, thus the employee lifecycle must be carefully planned to ensure the best mutual outcome. From the pre-hire to the employment to the post- employment, HR departments in the current market need to have a strategy. The management of the company’s reputation is essential. It was found that 84 percent of employees would switch a job to a better employer brand. Often, recruiters are the first impression for an organization. The organization’s brand along with recruitment practices must be responsible and aligned with the core mission of the company.
As far as employment, onboarding should begin before the employee walks through the doors. It has been shown that employees who experience a successful onboarding are 69 percent more likely to remain in their positions for up to three years. The actual employment experience should be responsive to issues and concerns of the employee. A feedback loop is a great way to manage performance and identify pain points. A good organization will provide learning and continual improvement opportunities for its employees to remain engaged.
When the employee experience comes to an end, there should be a post-boarding strategy in place. Exit interviews are a great tool for an employee to leave on a good note. The way an employee exit is handled can provide a valuable opportunity to complete the employee lifecycle full circle.
The approach of an organization to an ever increasing digital candidate driven market will predict their success in the future. A forward thinking HR strategy that manages a brand’s reputation and employee experience is the best bet. A structured employee lifecycle of onboarding, employment, and post-boarding is crucial to positive employee experiences in this new HR frontier.
There are fundamental differences between leadership and management that apply to any organization. This is especially pertinent regarding leading organizational change, and how the winning combination of great management and strategic leadership takes an organization to a new level. Many people think leadership and management are interchangeable terms, versions of the same concept. John Kotter, a leadership professor at Harvard makes the following distinction, “Management is a set of processes that keep an organization functioning. They make it work today-they make it hit the quarter’s numbers”. Leadership is different, “It is about aligning people to the vision that means buy-in communication, motivation, and inspiration”. There are rare people that are both managers and leaders, and in a healthy organization managers and leaders reinforce each other to excel.
There are contrasts between attitudes of leaders and managers. Leaders are proactive while managers are reactive. A leader is future focused anticipating the challenges ahead and increasing profits. The leader’s role is facilitating change with the long-term vision on the horizon. The leader’s charm appeals to the heart of the employees. She takes risk and breaks the rules to shape the internal culture and external face of the organization. It is a role that is dynamic and visionary. On the other hand, a manager has a short-term vision that minimizes risk and makes the rules. He rules with the head enforcing the status quo. The focus is on managing work. A manager gives out instructions and reacts accordingly whether things go right or wrong. While a leader has followers, a manager has subordinates. A manager might have a team of 5-10 employees that reports to him. He will react to the situations of the subordinates, and his influence will be limited to the team. Whereas, a leader transcends team boundaries and has members across the organization come to her for advice. In organization, having a reputation as an idea person who acts decisively is a precious asset. Leaders create key performance indicators and nurture their employees to improve.
A manager could shift responsibility in some instances, while a leader takes responsibility. A manager can be done delegating his tasks and go home at the end of the day. A leader’s work is never done, she is constantly pitching and thinking of ways to improve the organization. At the end of the day, a leader has to call the shots when the going gets tough. Whether letting someone go or having to work longer hours on a project, a leader will rise to the occasion. A denominator for the leader and the manager is the focus on doing the right thing for the organization.
The role of leadership has been glorified in the media. There is a perception of the “hero leader” like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk that has a cult like influence and dazzling results. This image creates misconceptions about the definition of leadership. Education can dispel the myth and prepare people to step into leadership roles in organizations. Mentoring and formal training can help employees make the most of leadership skills with studies finding that as many 90 percent of people found this training to be helpful in their performance at work.
When an organization has defined and evolved leadership and management roles, it eases the facilitation of organizational transformation. It begins with defining the vision which is authentic and simple, has a shared sense of purpose, and is aligned with the leadership’s team mission for organization. The leadership must get the organization’s buy in on the vision and that starts from the top and trickles down through the ranks. The leader will keep the team motivated and inspired through the process. A core competency of a leader is to plan for quick wins which will boost morale and momentum. From the management side, they step in to make sure the vision gets executed with tangible goals and milestones to stay on track. They ensure that the quick wins actually happen. Management handle the less exciting part of the transformation process with responsibility for organizing, budgeting, and staffing. The new behaviors have been defined by the vision but it’s up to management to integrate them into the organization. The management will maintain control and circumvent obstacles. The ability to act accordingly during crises goes a long way in ensuring that the leadership continues to work towards the winning vision.
Change is messy and never perfect. There are hard and soft costs that are implicit in any organizational transformation. A flawed, poor vision with great management will yield a lot of work without strategic payoffs. And a grand vision with weak management will not get off the ground, perpetually frustrating the organization. The magic happens when visionary leadership meets strong management and the organization is able to transcend into new territory. However, for that powerful combination to happen there needs to be a clear understanding of the difference between leadership and management in an organization. The role of leadership has been glorified in the media, and there is a lot of confusion on what truly constitutes great leadership. If that cultural barrier can be traversed then an organization will benefit from the compelling, strategic vision of a capable leader. A leader who sees the best in her followers and takes risks to bring the organization to new heights. The leadership that has strong management support will be unstoppable. The management executing, controlling, and shaping the new behaviors that need to take place. Both are integral positions, and when there is still confusion about the separation between leadership and management, an organization will struggle to rise to greatness.
As far as leadership development goes, the military is a fine example of how ordinary men can be made into extraordinary men. A good motto for leadership is: “to have the heart of a servant with the confidence and preparedness of a general”.
Just like the military, the business environment can be full of uncertainty and unpredictability. The military term VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) when applied economically addresses the challenges of modern times. Volatility can be seen in the changing customer requirements and the slowly recovering economy, both of which are out of control of the leader. Uncertainty is the result of increasing globalization and legislative changes which put pressure on business. Complexity is attributed to the rapid technological innovation. It is revolutionizing the way organizations function internally and externally. Ambiguity is the divide between the retiring Baby Boomer and the rise of the millennials into tech-driven senior leadership roles. This upsets the traditional hierarchy of organizations. VUCA is the reality of business in America, and to succeed leaders can internalize more tips on how to handle themselves from the military:
There are some days when business seems like an art of war. Therefore, by applying military terminology such as VUCA and learning leadership practices from the military a new, confident leadership approach is formed as a result. Whether dealing with the changing business climate or technological innovation, a leadership approach that is forward thinking, full of knowledge, and humility will serve you well.
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