The Talent Mandate: Why Smart Companies Put People First by Andrew Benett
I have learned that based on my own interests and daily work, I am eager to consume just about anything I can find related to talent management. When I got this review copy, I dove in and while it’s been a while coming, I finally had time to put together a review of this excellent resource.
Things I liked
Show, don’t just tell. Stop saying, “People are our greatest asset!” and actually demonstrate how it’s true. Actions speak louder than words.
Make culture a priority. “There is something strangely intangible about culture, something that can be felt but not always articulated.” In other words, culture is what happens when you are not looking. So how do you embed that into your organization? Codify what is important. Form a “Culture Corps” to define why people like working for the organization, what the organization and people aspire to be/achieve over time, and reinforce both.
Always be asking three critical questions: is the culture grounded in values, does the culture promote cohesion, does the CEO make culture a top priority? If the answer to any of those is “no,” then you’re going to face difficulties in maintaining the best culture for the organization.
Consider a “manager detox.” New managers at Rackspace are required to undergo a three day training to “un-learn” outside thinking to avoid polluting the new environment. We’ve all run into “that’s how we did it at my last job” situations, and many of those with questionable results. This process helps to overcome those potential conflicts.
“Be comfortable with what you don’t know.” The best ideas come from a team, not just from a single executive. Every employee wants to make an impact, so give them a chance!
Hiring for agility as a competency. This means looking for strong thinkers who can apply their knowledge to different types of business problems. Agile leaders focus first on big picture and then on how their piece will contribute to that. Dave Ulrich provides a model describing four types of agility: learning (curious, finds simplicity in complexity), people (self-aware, makes other succeed), change (likes to experiment), results (flexible in ideas, works well in teams). The bottom line: find someone with those traits and you’ll have an excellent example of an agile leader on your hands.
If you’re also looking for ideas and tips on talent management, then I encourage you to check this book out. I think you’ll learn a few things, see some old concepts in a new light, and challenge yourself and your organization to be better at managing talent overall. The Talent Mandate is a great book. Click here if you would like your own copy.
I have 2 HR philosophies; “Keep It Simple” and “Deal With the Problem”. My that I mean that people always seem so scared of dealing with something going wrong because they see it as conflict and that they will upset the person involved. The way I approach it is, something has happened, and that is what we need to address. I’m not going to belittle them, or attack them, we just need to address the issue as soon as possible. ~Leeanne, a dedicated upstartHR reader
Recently I asked some questions of a few of my audience members as a way to learn how to provide content that is better targeted toward their needs. I received the comments above from Leeanne, and I got her permission to share them here. I absolutely love them and wanted to take some time to unpack the comments here for the benefit of the rest of you out there. As we say here in the Bible Belt, I’m going to step on some toes today, but it’s good for each of us to get that once in a while. Heck, half the advice I give here is to hold myself accountable for doing the right thing instead of the easy thing. Listen up, school’s in session…
Keep it simple
When people come to HR with an issue, they expect a complicated answer, whether one is required or not. I will never understand the unnecessary over-complication that many in this profession leap to, because it doesn’t do a single thing to endear us to the rest of the organization. Give a long-winded and unhelpful answer often enough, and people will stop coming to you for help, advice, answers, etc.
Look at the problem. Help dig up all of the potential pitfalls and snags. Ask good questions (be curious, not demanding or accusatory). Then help the person arrive at a conclusion, whether you provide it or they come to it organically.
Bottom line: stop trying to make things more complex because it makes you feel smarter. It makes people hate you. That might hurt, but it’s true.
Deal with the problem
If you’ve been in HR for any length of time, you know we run into conflict on some level fairly often. Probably every seven minutes on average. :-) Seriously, it’s just a part of the job. How you handle it (as with the suggestions above) can help to improve the situation or make it much, much worse.
Look back at the directions for asking questions above: be curious. Be genuinely curious. Detach yourself from the situation, pull the emotions out of it, and try to determine the response that will result in a winning solution for all parties involved. Sometimes there are situations where that just isn’t possible, but it’s amazing how often you can arrive at a solution that the “problem” person will be happy with.
Recently I had to help a supervisor counsel an employee, and the employee went out of their way to thank the supervisor for bringing it to their attention, showing them that they cared, and not giving up on them during their difficult times.Yes, a disciplinary action followed by a “thank you.” It can be done, if you and the manager care enough to make it work. That’s not to say the situation is immediately and permanently resolved, but if you give respect you’ll often get it in return.
A few more things to keep in mind: don’t demand answers immediately, be focused on the facts (instead of only opinions), and mentally put yourself in the position of both the “problem” person and their manager. How would you want someone to advise you if you were in one of those positions? Don’t just say, “This is the policy. Follow it.” Any idiot can point to a policy, grunt, and go on with their day. It takes courage and wisdom to handle these situations with more attention and care than that. These are the people that drive your business. Don’t they deserve at least that much from you?
Again, thank you to Leeanne for the input. Those were excellent comments, and I appreciate you taking the time to share. If anyone else ever feels like shooting me an email, I’m always happy to get them (even if I can’t always respond to everyone due to the volume!). Hit me here if you have ideas or comments. Thanks!
Tomorrow is the first day of March, and I hereby designate March as National Teamwork Month. Yes, I have randomly declared 31 days as my own unofficial holiday. No, I won’t change my mind. Why? Because we all need a good reminder of what the power of teams can accomplish. And what better way to kick that off than with an amazing tool from noted organizational psychologist, Dr. Daniel Crosby.
My TeamType is an assessment that you can administer for teams in your organization to determine where they fall in terms of overall performance. And for the month of March, I have a special bonus for anyone who orders an assessment for their team(s). Read on for more details.
When I was testing this tool recently, we had a new manager join our organization. I saw that as a prime opportunity to help them understand where their team currently was on the scale as well as some ideas for how to move them even farther down the road toward an ascending team. That is a good option for any team, but for one with a new manager, I knew that it would be a great way to help get a grasp on how the team saw itself as the new person took the reins as the leader of the group.
The manager appreciated the assessment, because it helped them to understand not only where the team was, but also where it needed to go. As they continued to learn their new job and how to interact with the staff, this provided a foundation for those relationships and results-focused conversations to happen.
With that in mind, let’s get into the key questions you might have about the TeamType assessment.
Who created this?
The TeamType was developed by a team of organizational psychologists. Trust them, they’re doctors. As for who should take the assessment, any team that would benefit from a deeper understanding of their levels of interpersonal connection and orientation toward getting results are great candidates.
What is this?
The TeamType is a short questionnaire that examines the level of Rapport and Results present in a team. Research shows that high performing teams are simultaneously results and relationship focused. The focus on achievement propels the team forward while the emphasis on rapport makes the journey safe and enjoyable. The TeamType measures these two critical dimensions, anonymously records and combines team members’ responses, and yields a final “type.” The four TeamTypes are:
Ascending – High Rapport, High Results
Attending – Low Rapport, High Results
Befriending – High Rapport, Low Results
Pretending – Low Rapport, Low Results
The TeamType provides a snapshot that allows for customization of training, coaching and team building efforts. For instance, it would not make sense for a Befriending team to plan a retreat aimed at strengthening relational bonds. Their time and money are better-spent developing skills for achievement. Similarly, an Attending team would be well advised to develop soft skills rather than further deepening technical proficiencies. Click here to preview a shortened sample TeamType report to better understand how it can assist you and your team. The full report includes more details and information on how to improve your team.
Check out the video below for a short introduction to the assessment and how it can help your teams.
Where do I get the assessment?
Right there at your computer. You can even take the TeamType wearing those fuzzy bunny slippers you like. We won’t tell.
Why should I consider it?
All too often, organizations assess individuals but have no idea how those individuals interact with one another as a team. The TeamType provides an invaluable glimpse into current team functioning as well as concrete suggestions for moving your team toward Ascending status. In addition, the productivity and power of a unified team is incredible.
In a 2012 MIT study, teams identified with high rapport/results had increased productivity and increased job satisfaction compared to teams without those characteristics. In a world where everyone is wondering how to engage their staff, offering a strong team-focused environment is an excellent way to make that happen. Plus I have included a special bonus for those who get the course during March, the month dedicated to helping teams perform better (see below for details).
How do I start?
The first step is selecting the size of the team to be assessed on the TeamType website.
Then, an administrator (typically you, the HR professional) enters the names and emails of all team members. Upon submitting, the administrator makes payment for the assessments, and then the fun gets underway.
Each team member then receives an email with a link to take the brief (20 question) assessment online. A TeamType report is generated once all responses are complete or after seven days if some respondents fail to complete the assessment. The TeamType report is returned only to the identified administrator(s). The administrator can then share that report with the team or other stakeholders at his or her discretion. Please see below for the additional bonus email course that will help to further enhance the impact of this helpful tool.
Please note: the current software build requires the administrator to take the assessment as well as the rest of the team members. If you use an HR representative as the administrator email, simply wait seven days for the assessment period to close and the results will be tabulated based only on the inputs from the team members. We’re working on that, but it’s fairly minor for the information you get out of the tool!
The assessment is a valuable tool, but to truly have a lasting impact there needs to be a recurring focus on the specifics of improving your team. So I created one. :-)
During the signup process there will be a link for the administrator (HR or the team leader) to sign up for a special email course that is dedicated to helping managers lead their teams more effectively. I am providing this six week course free as a bonus for those who purchase an assessment. In that course we’ll cover lessons on:
The importance of focusing on your team consistently and purposefully
Developing a shared vision as the leader of your team
Building community among your team members
Working ON your team, not just with your team
Playing offense and defense for your team
Questions about the My TeamType assessment? Feel free to reach out to me and I’d be happy to answer what I can. I didn’t create the assessment tool, but I’m happy to answer questions as I am able. Ready to check out the assessment? Click here to make your teams better.
If you are assessing 5 or more teams, please contact me and I can provide you with bulk pricing options.
Last time we talked, we discussed some of the difficulties that affect team performance. Today we’re going to narrow it down to the two key areas that matter most: rapport and results. In the big picture, the relationships within the team and the quality/quantity of work that gets done are the only things that really matter. If you go back to the list at the link above and read through it, a team with an orientation of high rapport and high results will overcome virtually all of the potential roadblocks to solid long term performance. But what exactly do I mean by “rapport” and “results?” Let’s delve into those two categories a little deeper.
Rapport AKA “How you communicate”
What is rapport, anyway? In short, it’s the interpersonal interactions that make up the overall communication health of the team. Do they get along? Do they interact well? Do things flow? Are there bottlenecks? What about gossip? Do people go beyond the basic required communication to keep each other in the loop and up to date? Do people hoard information or share freely?
It’s a different setting and a different purpose, but the recent mission trip I went on was a good example of this. Having a good rapport with the team (especially when nobody around us spoke our language!) was critical to the success of our mission. You see me here talking with our local guide about the progress of the project, next steps, etc. Is rapport/communication with and among your team a priority for you? How much effort do you expend to make sure that meaningful communication is occurring?
Results AKA “What you actually accomplish”
The other side of the team equation is results. What are they actually doing? How are they doing it? What’s being accomplished? Are the results of high quality, or just high quantity? Are they even measurable (hello, knowledge economy!)?
Again, going back to the example of the recent mission trip above, I think we can glean some ideas from the experience. As you can see in the photo here, we built a home and provided the only furniture the family owns as a “house warming” gift, as we call it here in the US. Regardless of what else happened with the team while we were there, the end result is very clear. Are the results of your team’s efforts as clear and easy to define? What are you doing to help define what success looks like in terms your team can relate to?
Both are necessary
Recently I posted on the importance of team community, and one commenter mentioned that without a focus on results, the team would trend toward a purely social function. The flip side of that discussion is a team with only a focus on results is a loose group of people pursuing their own agendas.
The other piece is that they are intertwined. Keeping each other in the loop allows for a good work flow in and among the members of the team–that prevents burnout and an unbalanced workload for any individual person. One of my favorite sayings with regard to teams is “if one of us fails, we all fail.” The work environment that is conducive to my best performance is one where the team is supportive, communicative, and doesn’t just abandon anyone to fail.
In the graphic here, you can see the four quadrants of team performance. The rapport/results measurements help to put a team into a specific quadrant. Where they fall in the measurements helps to determine what the steps are to improve the team’s performance. The things a Pretending team need to do to improve are not necessarily the same things a Befriending team needs to do, for instance.
Something is coming…
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of the key elements of team performance. But now the question truly is this: how do you measure it? Later this week we’ll look at solving that problem with a new tool created by Dr. Daniel Crosby, an organizational psychologist and business leader with a heart for making teams function better. Stay tuned for more info and to learn how you can get exclusive access to the new tool.
If you had to break down your team’s performance into rapport and results, where would they fall on the scale seen here?
I’ve talked here before about teams and what makes them work (or not). Have you ever stopped to think about why it’s so difficult to get teams working in the right direction?
Different people want different things from their work.
Different personal styles/personalities.
Interpersonal communication preferences.
Power struggles and competing agendas.
Lack of participation.
Members who reject new ideas because “we’ve never done it that way before.”
People with a constant sense of negativity.
Team that agrees on everything too quickly just to avoid conflict.
Credit: Flickr (Envato)
Lack of adequate support and resources.
Members or leaders resistant to change.
Groupthink (no diversity in ideas).
Lack of skills on the team.
Lack of compromise.
No shared focus.
And loads of other potential problems.
When you stop to think about all of those potential issues, it can be overwhelming. How can a leader really get their team on the right page and moving toward higher levels of success?
Later this week we’re going to talk about the two areas you need to focus on for your team to be cohesive and results-oriented. Stay tuned. I’ve been working with a friend to develop a new tool for teams…
Any ideas you would add to the list above? Why is this “team” thing so hard?
Seriously? 40%? That’s pretty incredible, considering the amount of information available out there to help with this process. In the organizations I’ve worked in, there have been three players involved in an employee’s onboarding:
Recruiting brings the person in during the recruiting process, then gives them to HR
HR helps with the basics up through day one, then hands them to their manager
The manager either does their own internal team welcome/kickoff/assimilation, or they don’t. It’s fairly obvious which one occurs, because the difference is obvious within only a few days on the job.
The SHRM Foundation put out a solid guide to maximizing success during the onboarding process a few years back, and I’m sure you can find at least one or two tips (or a dozen) to increase the effectiveness of your own internal workings.
The bottom line is this: we hear the numbers like I quoted above, and we feel helpless to act, or we feel like “at least we’re not the only ones,” or we think ours is “good enough.” There’s no shortage of excuses. However, while it’s never going to be perfect, you can always be looking for ways to make it better.
Let me put it this way: if your competitor down the street is getting new hires up to speed in 4 weeks and it takes you 8 weeks to get the person to the same proficiency level, they are going to beat you. When you think about it in that context, it gives the argument considerable weight.
Better people practices lead to better company performance.
Let’s make it happen! How are you going to tweak your onboarding process to make it more effective?
Recently I was talking with someone about employee retention techniques and how to get people to stay at your organization. At first I gave a rote answer based on my gut, but after thinking on the topic for a while I realized there were some pretty significant pieces to the puzzle. I would hazard to guess that the multitude of options explains why there isn’t a magic bullet for fixing retention problems overnight.
In the video below I talk through some of the key employee retention techniques and give a reminder that not all turnover is bad. In fact, we measure two separate items there: turnover (any staff leaving over time for any reason) and retention (voluntary turnover). Check it out:
Employee retention techniques video
Employee retention video notes
Here’s the short list of important items:
Respect-for the people and their work
Fit-culture fit, baby!
Basics-pay/benefits are a basic must
Challenge-offer a challenging, growth-oriented environment
Professional development, or mentoring for higher level-give people something more than a job
Connect with mission-have a mission worth buying into
When in doubt, ASK your people what they want from you
Not all turnover is bad!
Retention vs. Turnover
Also, please don’t forget that I put together a free guide to employee retention that you can download, print, or share. Lots of great content in there from some excellent professionals in the industry.
What are your employee retention techniques? What has worked for you in the past?