Tag Archives: Talent Management

adtran company logo

Case Study: Using Hackathons to Attract, Develop, and Engage Talent

“This message will appeal to people in our recruiting process who gravitate towards a culture of hackathons and innovation. It will also turn away others that don’t fit.” Gary Bolton, Vice President of Marketing at ADTRAN

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with a handful of key staff members at ADTRAN in Huntsville, Alabama, to discuss the company’s innovative internal engineering hackathon program. The firm has more than 2,000 employees and is headquartered in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, the second largest research park in the United States. It also has offices in Germany and India. The company is known locally for its innovation, and the staff credits its continued innovation in part to the hackathons and the type of culture those activities promote.

May Chen, Software Engineer at ADTRAN

May Chen, Software Engineer at ADTRAN

The hackathons are events “by engineers, for engineers,” according to May Chen. This was a grassroots program launched by three of the firm’s 400+ engineering staff, but support goes all the way to the top. Chen, one of the leaders of the initiative, said “We’ve had tremendous support. Business, IT, strategy, R&D–all the business units believe in what we’re doing.” This concept of ownership and self-leadership was echoed by the company’s marketing leader: “This is definitely organically steered. Leaders stay out of hackathon management and leave it to the engineering staff.” Continue reading

building teams

How to Build a Team Like the NBA

building teamsIf you know me, you know I’m not a sports person. I don’t watch. I don’t follow.

It’s not that I have some strong dislike for sports. It’s just that when I stopped doing them in high school, I lost all interest. I can watch them, if I am at a live event or if I don’t have an alternative. But when I’m listing things I look forward to each week, that isn’t at the top of my list. If you’re like me, then this post is still going to be valuable for you!

That’s because despite my indifference to sports, at the same time it’s hard as a leader and as an HR pro not to think about some of the innate elements of building a high-performance team that stir my attention.

For several months out of the year, sports fans are focused on the NBA season and its teams and players. Yet one concept that isn’t often considered is the talent management strategy behind these teams. As the New York Post notes, dozens of team changes can happen on the first day of trading. How does the free agent model of employment affect teams and performance? What might enable or prevent new talent from connecting with team members?

The Core Element of Teambuilding

One of the core principles of building a team is this: a team’s existing dynamics change when you add someone new to the mix. In other words, you don’t just add one or more people to an existing team — you create an entirely new team any time you make a new hire. It’s like a recipe. While you might have separate elements, once you integrate them you create something new and different each time.

This concept is important to grasp, both for those leading a team and for those on it. It can be common for hiring managers to believe that adding a new hire to a team will change everything. However, it’s often a surprise to later find out that despite careful planning, things are just not the same after new talent is hired.

If you’re enjoying this post and want to learn more about how to match team fit and stability with a diverse set of individual strengths, click here to read the rest of my article on the ADP Spark blog

How to Radically Change Your Performance Management Practice [Podcast]

autumn speharIn today’s episode of We’re Only Human, I talk with Autumn Spehar, HR Director at Stout Advisory, about how her company made a radical change in its approach to performance management. We also talk about how it’s working out one year later and the key lessons learned.

Check out the show below:

Show Notes

Performance management is one of the most hated HR systems in existence. Yet virtually every employer has a need to measure performance, set goals, and give feedback. So, what’s the right balance between a system that meets the needs of business leaders and one that meets the needs of the employees?

In today’s discussion with Autumn Spehar of Stout Advisory, Ben delves deep into this question by asking Autumn to describe her company’s transition from annual, paper-based performance management to a technology-enabled approach utilizing continuous feedback, real-time recognition, frequent check-ins, and more. This conversation is more than theory–it’s based on a year of practice in using the system, including the ups and downs that any company might face in this kind of transition.

Listeners to this episode will not only get to hear about Stout’s new outlook on performance, but they will be treated to some insightful commentary about the connections between culture, behavior change, and other elements that some of the “headlines” on performance management seem to miss. If you’re in charge of performance management at your company or you think your system could use a refresh, this is the episode for you!

Talent Mobility Case Studies and Research [Podcast]

were-only-human-logoIn the latest episode of We’re Only Human, I explore talent mobility and its applications in the workplace. Talent mobility is the practice of using internal talent to fill temporary or permanent roles.

Unlike succession, which is typically a top-down approach, talent mobility takes into account the interests and aspirations of employees.  As a talent practice, the idea of talent mobility isn’t necessarily new. However, there is renewed interest in the topic due to some interesting trends covered in the podcast, including changes in career longevity, employee ownership over career paths and work tasks, the gig economy, and challenges with sourcing high performers.

In addition, I examine some case studies and examples of companies that are doing interesting work with talent mobility, including World Bank Group, Chipotle, and Hootsuite.

Listen to the show on the show page HERE or using the widget player below, (Email and RSS subscribers click through)

For more information about Talent Mobility you can check out my presentation on Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/beneubanks/talent-mobility-the-key-to-engagement-retention-and-performance

As a reminder, you can subscribe to We’re Only Human and all the HR Happy Hour Podcast shows on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and all the major podcast player apps – just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe and never miss a show!

Talent Mobility Webinar: How to Recruit and Retain Internal Talent

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

Leadership Wisdom from Dr. Ben Carson

dr ben carson leadership wisdomLast week I had the chance to see Dr. Ben Carson speak at an event. For clarity, this was a faith-based event, not a political one. I have seen the movie Gifted Hands twice (highly recommended!), and I was excited to hear some of his story in his own words. I picked up four pieces of wisdom on leading people and wanted to share those insights here.

Defining Diversity

Diversity is not a unanimity of speech or thought. It’s a respect for the differences around us.

We don’t all have to believe and say the same things to be diverse. What we must do, though, is respect others. Everyone is different from you in some way, even if it’s in terms of what music they listen to, what foods they like, etc. Respect those differences and the larger ones that still can permeate workplace decisions (color, gender, etc.)

Leading Technical People

Sometimes when leading technical people you won’t understand 100% of what they do. What is important, however, is to make them realize you appreciate and support them anyway. Carson’s mother made him read books and write reports for her to critique. The kicker? She couldn’t read.

She knew the importance of reading for learning growth and knew the skill was important enough to emphasize. She would highlight the papers and ask questions to help them realize that she cared about the assignments.

Motivating Others

At one point early in his career Carson was appointed supervisor of a road cleanup crew. The problem, he said, was that the crew wasn’t interested in doing any work! They were paid by the hour with a goal of 100 bags per day, so he negotiated with the team to pick up 100 bags for eight hours of pay plus any time saved. For instance, if they picked up the 100 bags of trash in six hours, they were paid for eight hours of work and got to go home early.

He said that his crew quickly became the most productive and others couldn’t understand how his team was doing more work than the others in less time.

How to Be Successful

Mr. Carson finished his remarks with this powerful quote:

Success is using your God-given talents to elevate other people.

I firmly agree. We all have unique skills, abilities, and talents. We should look for opportunities where our greatest passion meets our greatest strength and make the world better. It wouldn’t make much sense for me to try to build homes for people–that’s not my skill set. But planning a charity race? I am all over it. What’s your talent and how can you use it to elevate others?

Newsflash: Micromanagement Really Works

breaking news micromanagement worksBreaking News: Micromanagement has the last word, now recognized as valuable business practice

“This is the best news since man landed on the moon” said one supervisor for a nationwide clothing retailer.

Just last week news broke that will change the face of the workplace forever. Micromanagement isn’t just a fad anymore, it really works.

Our subject matter expert, Ima Dum’he said, “I know, I know. This seems like one of those things that is too good to be true. But it’s not. I’ve always been a closet micromanager and now I can finally step out into the light proudly. This is a banner day for micromanagers everywhere.”

According to an informal poll conducted prior to publication, we have determined that employees are very excited about this revelation. In the words of one respondent, “Our employees are loving it. We have always hired people that needed some extra ‘direction’ at work, and now we have the proof to back up our actions. The fewer decisions we can leave for them, the better. I mean, we hire people but we really can’t trust them to make decisions on their own. We are actively developing what I like to call a “second check” system where all decisions are flowed up the management chain before we take action in any department.”

Some organizations are wasting no time in pursuing this latest best practice in the business world. Our HR correspondent, Stu Pidhead, told us that for companies to get the most out of micromanagement they need to have executives involved in every decision, no matter how small. He expanded, “Obviously the executives know better than everyone else, how else did they get into those positions? What your employees have to say is irrelevant. Just tell them what you want, all the time, at every juncture, and at every opportunity. They will be very happy to avoid any decisions and be told exactly what to do.”

Another key tip is to develop a policy supporting managers internally in their micromanagement efforts. This ensures across-the-board application and that none of those supervisors trying one of those silly, unproven “leadership” strategies can avoid using this necessary business practice.

We’ll follow this story closely as it continues to develop…