Tag Archives: Book Review

The Talent Mandate Book Review

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. the talent mandate andrew benetStop 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.

Final thoughts

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 a Strategy, No You Don’t (Book Review Video)

I Have a Strategy, No You Don’t by Howell J Malham, Jr.

Recently I received this book to review. Honestly I picked it because of the title–it sounded unique and I was interested in checking it out. Once I got into the book (it’s a quick read), I was sucked into the funny dialogue and unique illustrations of what a strategy looks like.

The book was written because the author realized that we as a society have begun to “strategy” every little thing around us. Everyone has a strategy for everything.

And most of the time, it’s not actually a strategy at all!

With that in mind, check out the video book review below. I enjoyed the book, and if you’re in a role where you are trying to define what a strategy is (or help others with that task) I think you would enjoy it. The book has occasional illustrations, witty dialogue, and a great message to help us all remember what a strategy really is, and more importantly, what it is not.

Subscribers click here to view the video.

Interested in getting the book? Here’s a link to that.

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New Business Concepts (How to Implement a ROWE)

If you like keeping up with new business concepts, I have one for you: the ROWE.

I’ve talked about the idea of a Results Only Work Environment before, but the latest book by Cali Ressler and Jodi Thompson (Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It) is the handbook for organizations and managers looking to put it into place.

why managing sucksLet me start by saying that if I could flip a switch and turn my employer into a ROWE, I would do it. In essence, a ROWE means that staff work when they want, where they want, and as long as they are getting the results, the rest doesn’t really matter.

The issue is that I work for a government contractor, and we are required to track each hour worked for every employee (exempt or non) for billing purposes. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m betting the government isn’t about to change the way they do business to align with greater efficiency and effectiveness based on their track record.

The Appeal of a ROWE

Here’s why I love a ROWE. Managers can’t just come to you and say, “Bob isn’t putting in the hours.” They have to come to you and say, “Bob is not achieving the results we agreed upon.” As an HR pro, in which of those situations would you feel most comfortable backing up the manager? Yeah, definitely the second.

It forces managers, employees, and business leaders to ensure that people actually know what they are supposed to be achieving. That’s what really matters. And that, my friends, is a very refreshing thought.

Check out the video below where I talk more about the book. I highly recommend it!

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The Secret of Teams (Book Review)

The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do by Mark Miller

the-secret-of-teamsI recently finished reading the secret of teams, and my head is reeling. Every one of us work on a number of teams, and the concepts in this book can help us to achieve greater success within each of those team environments.

What I liked

Normally I throw in a bunch of text here, but today I thought I would drop in a video review. Enjoy! Continue reading

Talent Leadership (Book Review)

Talent Leadership book by John Mattone

“Talent leadership” seems like the most broad category you can possibly imagine. I couldn’t stop the thought from entering my mind; however, less than ten pages into this book I realized that it was not going to be what I expected. This thing is full of highly detailed, hands-on activities that you can use to identify and develop your high potential employees. This is even a succession planning handbook, among other things. The diverse topics under one “umbrella” make “talent leadership” a great title for this book.

talent leadership bookWhat I liked

  • The talent leadership book kicks off early with a great quote: accurate information drives effective strategies. Want to make the right choices in terms of overall direction/strategy? Make sure you have accurate information (not only with lagging indicators, but with leading indicators).
  • A survey by SHRM-the Society for Human Resource Management-points out the #1 problem for organizations today: building a strong pool of successors for each position/level. If you haven’t had a conversation on succession planning within your organization, you’re behind the curve. To be honest I have brought it up a few times, but without a plan for identifying and preparing those candidates, the conversation always moves to the back burner.
  • A, B, C players–if you don’t know which one someone is, how do you know if you should invest in them or pass them over for development opportunities? It’s a core talent leadership question that you need to be able to answer. For more on the A/B/C discussion, see my series on the topic (part 1 and part 2).
  • The 10 key elements of a strong performance management system: employee involvement, valid performance criteria, year-round process, proper preparation, avoiding stereotypical thinking, input from others, consistency, rating integrity, dialogue, and employee ownership. In my organization I’d say we are doing at least six of those really well. How about you? 
  • In the appendix (page 249 for those following along) there is a phenomenal diagnostic tool for evaluating the health of your succession management program. I’d say step one is to get one in place if you don’t already have one,  but step two is to continuously evaluate it to make sure it’s producing results. This tool will help you manage that part of the talent leadership puzzle well.

Wrap up

And there you have it. If you’re looking at how you can identify and develop your own high potential employees and set up a strong succession planning system based on facts instead of “Bob looks like he might be a high potential, so let’s pay him more to make him stay with us.” Click here to get your copy.

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Global HR Issues (Book Review)

Global HR Competencies by Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank, Jon Younger, and Mike Ulrich

global hr issues competencies

Global HR issues? I’m like most HR pros, and I’ll freely admit it. When I hear the word “global” I tend to ignore the rest of what’s being said. Honestly, who has time to think about this whole “global” thing when I have an HR department to run right here and now?

But, like many instinctive thoughts, it’s short-sighted and a poor plan for the future. When the team representing the Global HR Competencies book reached out to me, I knew it was time for my attitude about the global HR issues, and marketplace, to change.

What I liked

  • The entire book is full of examples that will make you sit in awe of the amazing organizations across the world that are leveraging HR to accomplish revolutionary things. The global HR issues are being addressed every day by smart people in smart organizations.
  • One company (Tata) from India has line managers and HR executives work together to identify industry trends and opportunities for competitive advantage; they then turn those opportunities into cultural attributes and behaviors to hire against. That’s powerful on so many levels (tying management and HR together, developing a plan and actually implementing it, etc.).
  • At Tata, HR is seen as the custodian of organizational values. Kind of like the keeper of touchstones mentioned here. Goes along with my premise that while HR is there to keep a finger on the “pulse” and communicate culture as needed, they should not be the ones creating the values.
  • If you read nothing else, the six purposes of HR mentioned in the book are worth the time to check them out.
    • HR pros should be the best thinkers in the organization on people issues.
    • HR pros must be equal partners with executives to accomplish the org’s purposes.
    • HR needs to be responsible for the talent and organizational agendas.
    • HR should contribute substantially to revenue growth.
    • HR needs to create and sustain economic intangibles that are valued and rewarded by capital markets.
    • HR should see itself as a source of competitive advantage–and create practices that support that view.
  • Look for opportunities to outsource items that aren’t key functions, whether it’s finding a payroll services provider, looking at a benefits consultant, or hiring an accountancy recruitment agency.
  • There are dozens of great examples and topics in this book–more than I can cover here. But I want to close with this high-impact quote from this book that should make us all stop and think for a moment: What is my company’s plan for an integrated set of HR products and services that meet the needs of our key stakeholders? How do stakeholders really rate the quality of what we are providing? Do I listen to and act upon their feedback?  

The empasis there is mine, but it’s something that we all need to be called out on once in a while. Yeah, you’re doing that “HR thing,” but what do your people really think of it? Is it getting the job done, or are there some serious changes that need to be made?

One of my responsibilities is being involved in our Process Improvement Group at work. It has opened my eyes to the fact that we are each in control of our own area. Accounting isn’t going to come in and change the HR policies. Contracts isn’t going to swoop in and clean up that terrible onboarding process.

It’s up to you (and me) to make that happen. If your people can’t see the value of what you provide as an HR professional, then why the heck are they keeping you around?

Wrap up-Global HR issues matter!

Obviously if your organization has any intentions of working on a global scale, this book will help you get some insights into other regions of the world and how their HR processes differ from those in the US. Don’t lose sight of the fact that some of these companies are wildly successful in their piece of the world despite heavy competition–that challenge isn’t limited to the North American continent, these are global HR issues. I’m definitely going to be doubling back to read more about the HR competencies and how to fine tune those within my organization. Whatever the case, feel free to click here to get your copy of the book.

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Everybody’s Business (Book Review)

Everybody’s Business by Dr. Marta Wilson

Engagement is hard. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be dozens of books, webinars, and consultants on the subject. In the book Everybody’s Business: Engaging Your Total Enterprise to Boost Quality, Speed, Savings, and Innovation, the author takes us through some of the concepts and strategies for engaging employees and helping them to understand and grow the business. Each chapter concludes with an interview transcript featuring an expert on the various topics, so you get a well-rounded view of the problems and solutions presented here.

Everybody's Business - Marta WilsonWhat I liked

  • Your organization’s integrity is never stronger than the least ethical person.
  • This book is all about taking small steps with a big impact. They use Neil Armstrong’s “small step” onto the surface of the moon as an example while clarifying the fact that isn’t rarely as simple as a step; it normally involves pre-work and a strong foundation that allows for taking small, yet powerful, steps for your organization. 
  • At one time the following list was an list of “must have” executive/leadership characteristics. Now they are “everybody” characteristics: long term view, big picture mentality, delegation, motivation, resourcefulness, etc.
  • Want to make change across organizational silos? Start building the connections now before you need to leverage them for those major change initiatives.
  • Powerful quote: “There’s power in [even just] one person, so be sure that everybody can be poised to make a difference when there’s a difference to be made.”
  • One key role of a leader is to ensure that connections exist among their staff. Allowing staff to operate purely independent of each other means that the leader will always be the bottleneck on the group’s success. Facilitate connections and then step back to watch them succeed.

Wrap up

I would recommend this book for leaders looking at ways to get their people on the same page. This book contains a fair amount of theoretical concepts, but the contributors also look at some real-life examples of how these ideas play out. This would be a valuable tool for understanding how each individual person can contribute to an organization’s long-term success. If you’re interested, click here to get your copy of the book.

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Greenleaf Publishing provided this review copy.