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Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

Seismic shift #3: From theoretical models to real-world behaviors

The third of the seismic shifts that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work is the move from theoretical models to real-world behaviors, according to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham.

As he explained at Achievers Customer Experience 2015, the seismic shifts will force organizations to zoom in from current broad, depersonalized views to localized, team-based approaches to talent management. Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, shared that today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people.

One area for change is with competency models. As an employee moves up in a company, the competency model grows to “require” more skills and traits for the job. Buckingham says there is no real data to support competency models, and – very importantly – no one person will have all of the traits, qualities, and competencies in the model. Instead, companies need to get away from models as a way to define positions, people, and promotions and move toward tools for real managers and teams.

For instance, look at this 40-point competency model created by NASA for Systems Engineering leaders. It seems impossible to be able to accurately measure employees based on this overwhelming set of attributes.

NASA Competency Model

Buckingham said that when you study the best teams in an organization, ask the right questions, and compare the answers you get from the best teams to the answers you get from the worst teams, you can see the difference. The questions are in four key areas – Purpose, Excellence, Support, and Future – and are designed to probe how the employee feels about the team and about himself/herself in relation to the organization. Here are some examples:

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  3. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  4. I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work.

The manager – the team lead – is responsible for making employees feel connected to something larger and ensuring they feel they have a stake in it. Organizations must hold team leaders accountable not only for their team’s performance, but also for how team members feel about the organization.

The challenge for today’s enterprise is to move the organization’s view and workforce analytics to the local level while balancing the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Marcus Buckingham Performance Ratings

Seismic shift #2: From big data to real-time, reliable data

Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and founder of TMBC, outlined the three seismic shifts in talent management that will take an organization’s focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.  During his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, Buckingham explained that organizations will need to move from big data to real-time, reliable data.

According to him, performance ratings data is typically “garbage” because it is generated only once or twice per year, and it’s based on the fallacy that human beings can be reliable of raters of other human beings. In fact, he says that humans are horribly unreliable and have been recognized as unreliable for years.

Enterprises invest billions in the traditional performance reviews that take place each year. After the reviews are completed, data has to be compiled, reviewed, and analyzed by human resources and then packaged up and sent back to leaders before anyone can get a raise, promotion, or learning development plan (or termination). But these workforce analytics are based on obsolete data. It would be better, as noted in the previous post, to upend the process and make performance reviews an ongoing activity in which managers ask real questions about their employees.

In traditional performance reviews, more than half of the rating is based on the patterns of how the manager rates. For instance, if a manager has given a 4 to two employees in a row, they’ll likely be more inclined to give a 3 or a 5 to the next person in the line. According to the study Understanding the Latent Structure of Job Performance Ratings, “Our results show that a greater proportion of variance in ratings is associated with biases of the rater than with the performance of the ratee.”

Companies have known about – and have been trying to remove – these idiosyncratic rater effects (IRE) for decades. Recently, some companies have decided to stop doing performance reviews altogether. But Buckingham says that reviewing isn’t the problem; it’s the ratings and the IRE that are leading to bad data.

Companies actually need a range of data and a differential between people in order to determine how to pay and promote them. He says companies should be asking: How do we capture good data about our employees?

This takes us back to the team lead. Buckingham says instead of asking the leader to rate his or her employees objectively (which is rarely possible), you should turn the questions around so that the rater is asked to record their own feelings and actions:

  • I always go to Jane when I need extraordinary results. (1-5)
  • I choose to work with Jane as much as I possibly can. (1-5)
  • Would I promote him/her today if I could? (Y/N)
  • Does he/she have a performance problem that I need to address immediately? (Y/N)

Taking those answers and comparing them to data about the team leaders’ intentions for the team, noting how long he/she has worked with each employee, and understanding that each leader has innate rating tendencies (more critical or more ____, for example), creates natural, real performance ranges that can be used to make solid decisions about pay, promotions, and training.

Marcus Buckingham Talent Management

Seismic shift #1: From serving the organization to serving the team leader

The three seismic shifts that will affect human beings, human capital, and human resources, according to Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and chair and founder of TMBC, will change organizations’ focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.

At Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, he elaborated on the first of three: the shift from serving the organization to serving the team leader. As he noted, in any given company, with policies, procedures, culture, and environment being equal, the success of teams can still vary wildly. The only difference? The way the team leader manages the team.

Buckingham says that no matter where you work, as the team leader goes, so goes the organization. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are made to serve the organization rather than the team. Most HR departments launch initiatives centrally and push them down to the employees. Buckingham suggests shifting the focus to the local level by borrowing the processes of successful teams and pushing those practices back up.

One way to do this is to change the performance review process. Instead of a once-a-year snapshot (that requires managers to rate employees on a scale) that is fed back to the central HR department for compilation, review, and analysis before being cascaded back to the manager, he said the process should be frequent, local, and personalized. He emphasized that HR should never be the first department to get their hands on performance review data and workforce analytics – everything should go to the team leaders first, so that they can act quickly on the findings.

This can be accomplished by moving the focus away from a traditional rating scale to questions that allow the manager to asses less subjective information:

  • What are the strengths of the people on the team – what can each person do?
  • What are the teams doing now – where is the work?
  • How are the team members feeling – right now?

We need to have managers start asking and answering these three questions right now and on a regular basis. By moving the focus from ratings, which Buckingham notes are subject to interpretation by each manager (some managers never give a “3,” for example), to real questions about real people, an organization can truly measure where each team members’ strengths lie and – importantly for engagement – how they feel about their work.

By  serving the  manager rather than the organization and focusing on real-time results and dynamic teams, Buckingham says a company can model success from the bottom up.

Our next post will focus on the 2nd seismic shift: from big data to real-time, reliable data.

Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

3 seismic shifts that will reshape organizational behavior

There are three seismic shifts underfoot that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work.

These shifts will force organizations to zoom in from their broad, depersonalized view and instead take a localized, team-based approach to talent management. According to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham, organizations need to overhaul the traditional performance review process and upend existing competency models.

Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, has dedicated his career to exploring and addressing the complex issues of strengths, management, and leadership in the workplace. He described the three following shifts during his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience 2015:

  • From serving the organization to serving the team leader – Today’s workforce tools are made to serve the organization, but no matter where you work, the team leader affects how successful their employees will be. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are not built to serve the team leader. Performance management, employee engagement, etc., are built to serve the organization.
  • From big data to real-time, reliable data – Predictive data is ubiquitous in today’s organizations, but no matter how great the algorithm, if you put in bad data, you’ll get bad data in return. In fact, the way most organizations gather performance ratings data results in faulty workforce analytics.
  • From theoretical models to real-world behaviors – Today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people, and measure against a set of competencies and skills that are expanded upon as an employee moves up in an organization. This isn’t realistic for two reasons: a) no one person possesses all of the competencies and skills “required” by any given workforce model; and b) there is no data to support competency models, so organizations should not promote against them.

The challenge for HR and business leaders in making these shifts will be finding and deploying tools – many of which exist already – to take the organization’s view from “we” to “me.”

In the following posts, we will explore how Buckingham says organizations can take the focus from a central to a local approach, and how they can balance the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Jennifer MClure at ACE 2015

HR, get the C-suite’s attention by keeping the bottom line in mind

Today’s HR professionals should think of themselves as business leaders who happen to work in human resources. When they behave that way, they will be perceived that way by the C-suite, according to Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC.

McClure spoke at Achievers Customer Experience 2015 about “Getting the C-Suite’s Attention: 7 Strategies for Transforming from HR Leader to Business Leader.” For the past three years, CEOs have listed Human Capital as their number-one challenge, and they look to human resources to help them overcome that challenge. HR leaders must learn to speak to business executives in terms of strategic direction, planning, problem solving and – more than anything else – in terms of money and finances.

McClure outlined seven areas in which an HR leader must transform the way they’re thinking and the way they’re positioning their work. She said that to evolve into a respected business leader, an HR leader must first overcome the fact that data used for workforce planning (absenteeism, retention, etc.) is historical. It’s critical that HR leaders start looking forward, by understanding what needs you have today so that you can project what you’ll need tomorrow. It also is essential for an HR leader to understand which current employees hold institutional knowledge or could actually hurt the business if they left the organization.

Regardless of what industry you are practicing human resources in, McClure says that the “The War for Talent,” coined by McKinsey years ago, is still relevant today. Candidates today are in the driver’s seat, and organizations are in a position where they may be trying to “sell” their organization to people they may not have hired in the past. In fact, McKinsey also predicted a shortfall of up to 18 million skilled workers over the next 5 years, making it even harder for organizations to fill essential roles today and tomorrow.

HR leaders must be able to present human capital “problems” to CEOs with solutions in mind. Be prepared to present data and sell workforce planning and human capital ideas based on how they will help the business and support business strategy. Remembering to speak like a business leader – in terms of dollars and cents and the impact on the bottom line – will help any HR professional.

Dan Harris Meditation ACE 2015

Is meditation magic? It can quiet the brain, lower job stress, and increase focus

Imagine having a panic attack: a sudden feeling of terror that can strike without warning, even during sleep, and that can make you feel like you are having a heart attack or going crazy. Now imagine having one on live television with 5+ million people watching. That’s just what happened to Dan Harris, ABC news correspondent, co-anchor and author of 10% Happier: How I tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works.


 

Harris shared his story, as well as why he believes that meditation will be “the next public health revolution,” during his keynote speech at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015.

Harris is frank about the fact that he didn’t want to meditate and didn’t believe in it, but he learned to recognize his inner narrator – you know, the one that we all hear and that “talks” to us about ourselves, what we did wrong, what happened yesterday, and what will happen in the future. He not only learned that meditation can quiet the inner narrator, but also learned that daily meditation can actually grow the grey matter in the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion while it shrinks the part of the brain associated with stress. It also helps the meditator learn to focus on what is happening in the moment rather than obsessing about the past or the future.

Why would this matter in the workplace? Today’s employees are stressed. According to the American Institute of Stress, “numerous studies show that job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. …  In New York, Los Angeles, and other municipalities, the relationship between job stress and heart attacks is so well acknowledged that any police officer who suffers a coronary event on or off the job is assumed to have a work related injury and is compensated accordingly ….”

Despite knowing this, less than 40 percent of companies are actually talking to their employees about wellness. That might be changing, though. Harris says that the U.S. Marines, the U.S. Army, colleges across the country, and even pre-school classes are weaving meditation into their activities.

Daily meditation is easy to learn, can be practiced anywhere and can quiet the inner narrator who might be picking apart the PowerPoint you just presented. We all could benefit from silencing that voice.

Human Experience at Work

Today’s workforce mindset – employees want a human experience

 

In today’s competitive economy, if two organizations are both doing a great job engaging their workforces, what makes one of them better than the other? Aon Hewitt recently surveyed 2,539 employees at companies of 1,000 or more across several industries, and Raymond Baumruk, partner and leader in the firm’s Next Practices/Employee Research & Insights group, shared top findings with attendees of Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015.

Baumruk said they were somewhat surprised to find that the things many companies see as “differentiators,” employees actually view as “table stakes,” or basic expectations of potential employers. Baumruk also shared that there has been a shift in the past three to four years. Potential employees are looking for more of a human experience, in which error can happen, people can laugh, and ideas and opinions are solicited and respected.

When it comes to base expectations – the “table stakes” that any company should offer – the study found that employees expect a company to:

  • Communicate completely and honestly (80% cite this as a base expectation)
  • Recognize strong achievement or performance
  • Have a collaborative environment and encourage teamwork
  • Have a strong management and leadership team
  • Provide valuable work tools/resources, including technology

The characteristics that employers said they consider differentiators that make an organization attractive include:

  • Fun place to work (In an interesting side note, Baumruk said that Baby Boomers were more likely to cite this than Millennials)
  • Flexible work environment
  • Good fit with employee values
  • Provides stimulating work

The survey showed that, much like the differentiators, these characteristics revolve around the human experience and are relationship oriented vs. organizational oriented:

Companies focus on:                                                                     Employees want the focus to be on:

Teamwork                                                                                          Recognition

Customer satisfaction                                                                      Respect

Profit                                                                                                    Loyalty

Quality                                                                                                 Balance

Brand image                                                                                       Teamwork

Productivity                                                                                        Open communications

The top work characteristic employees want in an organization today is recognition. In addition, employees want to be recognized by managers and leadership in a way in which their peers and colleagues are aware of the recognition – through email, in-person meetings, etc. Open and honest communications are just one of vital elements to creating the human experience that today’s employees want.

And as Aon Hewitt discovered, from Baby Boomers to Millennials (and even Centennials), employees are looking for a human experience – engaging, fun, open, honest, and collaborative – in the workplace.

Bobi Seredich at ACE 2015

Day 1 at ACE 2015: EI is the X factor that creates engaging and inspiring leaders

The threshold competencies for a successful leader are IQ, technical skills, and emotional intelligence (EI). While most of us would think that IQ and technical skills are most important, in reality EI is twice as important as a predictor of leadership success.

In her Achievers Customer Experience 2015 (ACE) session, Bobi Seredich, co-founder of Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, explains how EI is not only important for leaders, but also organizations as a whole. According to Seredich, EI and the ability to connect with your colleagues becomes even more important as one moves into senior leadership positions.

Why? Because a company with great leaders who understand and practice EI can make business teams more productive, engaged, empowered, and committed to the organization, and it can increase the retention of those teams.

Seredich said that practicing EI is like playing golf or practicing yoga. Some days you play great, and other days you falter. She encouraged ACE attendees to explore EI and why it is so important in the workplace for leaders and employees, saying:

  • If two people are in a room, and a person with a negative emotion walks in, it only takes 3 seconds for that negative emotion to permeate the room. Influencers need to realize how their behaviors and demeanors affect the room.
  • Ninety percent of communications are non-verbal, so leaders should be highly aware of how they are communicating with their posture and demeanor as well as their words.
  • People decide if you are competent in less than 100 milliseconds, so you need to be very mindful of your body language and facial expressions when you meet new people in order to make the best impression.

Of course, because of the way human’s brains work, emotions often come before thoughts, so humans feel before we think. This can lead to misunderstandings, disconnections, and stress overload. Learning EI includes understanding how to manage emotions and knowing that being a great leader of a highly successful organization includes the balance of “heart and edge.”

Top performers who are most likely to be promoted are those who approach with heart by demonstrating humility, listening without bias, and building connections. They also have an “edge,” and set high expectations, hold themselves to account, and stand with conviction.

Practicing a balanced EI approach with a mind to connecting with employees, increasing engagement, and creating success, according to Seredich, can help keep everyone’s minds on task by avoiding emotional overload in the workplace.

ACE Achievers Customer Experience 2015

ACE 2015: Join us in November to Learn & Earn HRCI Recertification Credits!

More than 100,000 HR professionals across the globe hold certification from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), the premier HR credentialing organization dedicated to setting the standard for HR mastery and excellence around the globe. These dedicated professionals understand how important engagement is in creating a positive, innovative, and successful workforce. A big factor in the value of working with HRCI certified professionals is knowing that they are committed to their field and make continuing professional development a high priority.

We want to make it easier for any HR professional holding an HRCI PHR, SPHR, GPHR, or California credential to earn recertification credits while they learn at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015! Every HRCI certified professional who attends the conference in San Francisco can earn up to 10.75 credits toward their required recertification total.

In addition, we are offering the opportunity for those who need HR General, global, or business credits to earn those too! Here’s how it will work:

  • ACE 2015 – total show credits = 10.75
  • HR General credits (apply to all certifications):
    • Emotional Intelligence: The Science of Influencing Others
    • Building the Simply Irresistible Organization: Why Recognition Matters
    • Inside the Employee Mindset: What They Want From the Employment Experience, Rewards, and Communication
    • Client Roundtable: 50 Shades of Engagement
    • #RecognitionNeverSleeps: A Panel Discussion with COX Automotive
    • A Morning with Dan Harris
    • Offline in an Online World: The Secret to Engaging Offline Employees
    • What The World’s Best Managers Do Differently
  • Business credits (apply to SPHR and HRMP):
    • It’s All About the Launch!
    • How to Build the Vision and Business Case For Employee Recognition
  • Global – Business (apply to GPHR, SPHR and HRMP):
    • And the Global HR Oscar Goes to… iProps & Highfive!
    • Incentivizing Innovation with KPMG: The Big Idea Exchange

We look forward to seeing many HRCI certified professionals learning (& earning!), sharing knowledge, and networking at ACE 2015 in November.

Not registered for ACE 2015 yet? Register here. Early bird registration available through August 31!