power of moments

I’m reading a new book, and it’s pretty amazing. The Power of Moments tells stories and gives examples of how to create amazing moments of value for employees, students, families, etc. Two of the principles from the book can be leveraged for employee reviews and I want to focus on them today.

Assurance + Expectations > Feedback

The first concept is called Assurance + Expectations. Researchers performed a study on students that received graded feedback on their work.

  • In the first group, students received a generic “these comments are feedback.”
  • In the second group, students received “I’m giving you this feedback because I have high expectations and know you can do better.”

After receiving the feedback the students had the opportunity to edit and resubmit their work. A much larger portion of group two resubmitted their work for review. But why?

The concept comes down to Assurance + Expectations. If we provide assurance and give a set of expectations, we can empower individuals to perform at a higher level, provide greater depth, and make the transaction much more of a positive experience. Those individuals in group one didn’t get any positive reinforcement, insight into expectations, etc.

Within the performance process, it’s not enough just to give someone a piece of feedback and move on, especially when it’s critical. We need to provide critical feedback in the context of assurance (you can do great work) and expectations (I expect you to do great work). That relatively minor change shifts the whole context of the conversation from punishing someone for messing up to helping them discover how they can improve.

Backward Integrated Design

The second concept that applies to the performance management process is backward integrated design. This basically means backing out the design process and starting with the outcomes you hope to achieve. For example, many would say the ideal outcome of performance appraisals would be to help employees perform better. But when we look at how they are structured (especially when done once or twice a year), that simply can’t be the case, because we spend our time measuring their old performance, rating it, telling them what they did right or wrong, etc.

Instead we need to think about what actually creates better performance:

  • Recognition
  • Coaching
  • Feedback

By incorporating these elements into the process we can actually improve our chances of hitting the overarching goal of improving employee performance. Our research shows that high-performing companies are much more likely than low performers to use these and other elements in the performance process. You can check out the rest of our findings on the Lighthouse Research website if you’re interested.

By now you’ve most likely heard about and begun thinking about the employee experience, because you can’t turn around without reading an article or hearing someone speak about it. In essence, it’s a deeper look at the practices you use across the board to create lasting value for employees in the workplace. Within that conversation, one area that I think is going to really explode in growth in the coming year is the learning space.

For instance, there’s a specific practice that high performers follow before developing learning content that separates them from low-performing companies. Hint: it’s more than just throwing out yet another eLearning module that employees have to click through and get credit for. 

The Truth About Creating Learning Experiences

It’s all about the experience. Learning content isn’t just about volume or format–it’s about creating a high-quality learning experience that resonates with your audience. Yet according to our new Learning Content Strategy research study, just one in four companies says their learning experiences are engaging and drive value for those that consume the content.

Yet high-performing companies, as identified in the study, are much more likely to say that great learning content leads to a variety of positive outcomes, from better business and individual performance to higher consumption of mission critical content. Creating engaging learning experiences isn’t just a “nice to have”–it’s essential for success.

And don’t forget: today’s learners have higher expectations than ever before. You’re not just competing with work tasks with your content–you’re competing with mobile apps, entertainment, and other sources of information for their attention and brainpower. In order to meet and exceed those expectations, we need to rethink how we approach learning content and the user experience.

Key Stats from the Data

The research data tell an interesting story. For instance:

  • One in five companies admits that their learning content doesn’t engage learners and doesn’t create a positive learner experience. 
  • Less than 3 in 10 companies say they have a strong L&D strategy in place that is driving content development and deployment.
  • The number one driver of learning content is to close skill gaps. This is validated by companies pointing out that, the most common measure of learning effectiveness is better performance.
  • Nearly half of companies are allocating 10-25% of their L&D budgets to content strategy, development, and delivery.

In a recent webinar on this topic I shared not only the research but also a few stories of companies that have taken a stand and said they are going to change their approach to be more employee-centric. The session not only covered the key pillars of learning content strategy (process, governance, user experience, etc.) but also how to target learner populations and more. If you’re interested in learning more don’t hesitate to reach out.

According to Deloitte, more than 80% of learning is informal in nature, yet many companies are still unsure how to harness this critical mass of activities to improve performance, minimize risk and deliver organizational value.

Consider this: if you have a toddler, that child can probably pick up your phone, unlock it and open their favorite app. But it’s likely that you haven’t formally created content or delivered a course to the child on how to accomplish this task. It is one of the many learned behaviors that are picked up informally. While simplistic, this example highlights the fact that not much has changed about how people learn new concepts. The difference is that we now have technologies in place to help track, curate and analyze the impact of those learning activities.

Value and Risk: It’s All About Perspective

Discussions around informal learning typically branch off in a few directions. The conversation either turns to the incredible risk associated with “handing over the keys” to the employees to curate and manage their own content or focuses on the supposed anarchy that will reign if learning resources aren’t governed by a single, cohesive L&D team. But there’s another story–one that tempers some of the fear by pointing out the value and opportunities presented by adopting a more informal approach to learning.

Consider the concept of investments: if you put money in a savings account, it is safe, but it doesn’t really grow or offer value. If you put money into a mutual fund, it has higher risk, but there’s also greater opportunity for growth in value. The same concept of risk/reward applies in the learning world.

In this case, we’d see traditional, formal training as the low-risk option, but it has opportunity costs associated with tying up resources, longer lead times due to content development, and requires that L&D either become experts in a variety of fields or source that expertise. Embracing informal learning may have some risk, but also unlocks incredible value at the same time by turning every single employee into a potential source for creating or curating content and resources to help others learn.

Key Questions About Informal Learning

When I’m speaking with learning leaders, there are some fairly common questions that come up, ranging from measurement and analytics to practical application and success stories. Here’s a sampling of questions and their requisite answers:

How Do We Measure It?

Informal learning is like any other learning activity, and it can be measured. Informal doesn’t mean immeasurable. While we can rely on the common Kirkpatrick questions around satisfaction, knowledge transfer and behavior implementations, we can also leverage more aggressive methods, such as focusing on skills acquisition or performance improvement. In this manner, we can not only measure learning, but also tie learning practices to a variety of outcomes.

When we consider that learning is already happening, regardless of measurement, it takes some of the stress away. Now all we need to do is look for ties between learning activities and observable outcomes to start determining the impact of informal learning on business objectives. By putting some effort into tracking what people are already doing, we can take advantage of what has historically been a missed opportunity…

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I realized this weekend that I didn’t let you guys know about a free webinar I’ll be doing tomorrow with RecruitingBlogs. If you’re interested in joining me for the session you can sign up here

Talent mobility. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s the practice of using internal talent to fill roles as well as creating new paths and opportunities for your staff. It has a whole host of impacts and benefits.

  • Recruiting: instead of immediately looking externally for talent, you consider your internal talent inventory to determine if you have someone you can move into the role.
  • Retention: by using internal staff for filling positions, you increase retention and drive satisfaction for career-minded employees (this used to be Millennials, but I’ve heard stories of all types of workers fitting this bill).
  • Learning and development: instead of putting someone in a class, you give them an experiential/social learning opportunity by plugging them into a new environment.

In the webinar I will be talking about some companies that have made talent mobility a priority, from Chipotle to Hootsuite and World Bank Group to Tata Consultancy Services. Each case study tells a slightly different story, and I’m excited to share those examples.

In addition, we’ll look at some different sources of research on the topic that allow us to dig deeply into why this talent process matters. The research I’m doing these days around gig workers and the talent economy (I’ll be sharing some info on this in my next post) points to the fact that people want more control over their own careers and development. With that in mind, giving them flexible opportunities to contribute, grow, and develop just makes sense if we want to not only engage them, but keep them long term.

If that sounds interesting, I’d love to have you join. I try to make my webinars fun and entertaining (lots of stories) while still giving you some actionable takeaways.

Body Movin’: Why Talent Mobility is King of Retention

 

employee innovation retention

I will be presenting more on this topic at the HR Innovators Virtual Conference – 2 Days, 6 Education-packed sessions from top-rated speakers covering topics critical to success today, including, millennials and culture, creating meaningful workplaces, using social media to attract talent, and how talent loss affects innovation. Register Today! Space is limited.

Years ago, I worked for an organization with a turnover problem. And this wasn’t just an isolated issue—it affected a significant amount of the 700-strong workforce and created an incredible burden on the HR staff to manage the issue. Despite small efforts here and there, little was done to change the direction of the firm and it ultimately went under, unable to keep afloat amidst the constant turmoil.

Everyone knows that employee turnover is a problem, but just how much of an issue is it, really? Today we’re going to explore the far-reaching nature of turnover and what it means for your organization. Anecdotally, I know that undesirable turnover can harm team morale, reduce revenue, and hamper innovation. But the data supports this as well. According to an article on ERE, the impact of turnover depends on the career level of the employee.

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30-50 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150 percent of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400 percent of their annual salary.

We know that this is a challenge, but I believe there’s an even more costly aspect of turnover that most organizations don’t examine: the impact on innovation.

Innovation Impacts

In 2014 Carnegie Mellon had some of the world’s brightest robotics minds working on its campus. These people were focused on the bleeding edge of robotics technology and their research could have created new breakthroughs and advancements in the use of robotic technology for the betterment of mankind.

But then they left. 

In a surprise move, Uber lured the scientists away and brought them into the fold. This not only caused a blow to the university—it also affected each of us. The research that was performed at Carnegie Mellon would have certainly been published in academic journals and shared with the world, forming the basis for new breakthroughs in robotics and other fields. The research they complete at Uber? It’s going to be tucked away in a proprietary database for the benefit of the company’s pursuit of a robotic car fleet.

So, what does this have to do with you and your organization?

While you might not have a team of PhD-level robotics experts on staff, you do have a set of smart, intuitive professionals within your organization that are constantly creating, innovating, and experimenting. They don’t have to be on a formal team or even in the same hierarchy, but they are still pursuing new ideas and opportunities just the same. If an opportunity arises to serve customers in a new way or develop a new product/service, the people with that mindset are often the originators.  

In fact, I’ve met quite a few HR leaders that fit this description. This comes from the fact that we as HR staff have the opportunity to see across functional and organizational lines, often discovering new methods and options for performance improvement.

Wherever this talent resides, the question remains: what do we do if one of these people leaves?

We know that it’s painful to have people depart. The statistics linked above point to some of the challenges this creates, and yet the research looks mainly at the impact today, not for the future.

I’m arguing that we should see employees as appreciating assets, with a higher future value.

While it’s challenging to quantify the value of innovation and to be able to predict what people are going to create, it’s fairly easy to see that the future value of one of these individuals is clearly higher than the cost of their wages and benefits today. And that’s my position on this topic: the long-term impacts to innovation will harm the organization much more than the loss of the person performing the job function today.

Consider this example. In the past I served as the HR Director for a global government services firm. One of our employees, a software engineer, earned approximately $70,000 per year. If that person left, we would have lost that “position,” which would have required time, effort, and resources to backfill for the unique skill set. Let’s estimate that total cost to be $100,000. What’s interesting is the $100,000 figure is actually a relatively minor amount when compared to the overall value of the employee and her innovative ideas.  

One day on a whim that employee developed a new method for licensing hardware and software to the government. That bloomed into a multimillion dollar product line and became a steady source of organizational revenue. However, if we only looked at the “normal” cost of turnover, we would have seen only an impact of $100,000, not several million dollars.

Want to Know the Secrets to Employee Retention?

We have defined the problem, but what about the solution? In the upcoming session I’ll explore more than 20 ways to impact retention ranging from the simple steps to take today to the radical changes that separate good organizations from great ones. The ideas include:

  •         Gamifying retention
  •         Changing the ownership mentality
  •         Using an executive “save” strategy
  •         And more!

I hope you’ll join me for this session so we can make employee retention a positive differentiator for your business. Click this link to register and join me at the upcoming session: How Losing Your Best Employees is Killing Innovation.

 

One of the things that we don’t do so well in the HR wold is measuring performance. And by that I mean our OWN performance. Having metrics in place to see how effective our various efforts are is a must, especially when you’re trying to demonstrate an ROI. One of the easiest ways to start is in recruiting.

When it comes to recruiting, organizations have a wide variety of methods to measure effectiveness. Does it come down to time to fill? Is quality of hire the most critical? There are two important things to remember when it comes to measuring talent acquisition. First, each company is going to have a slightly different way of measuring based on unique structure, industry, and goals. Second, these are bigger than recruiting challenges—they can often impact the business at a deeper level.

I’m hosting a webinar tomorrow (Tuesday, September 1st) sponsored by Jobvite if you’d like to listen in. Even if you can’t attend, we’ll send you the slides and a recording if you sign up. This will be the first look at some new data from Brandon Hall Group’s latest talent acquisition survey, so if you’re interested, we’d love to have you join in.

Click here to register.