03 March 2015

Is Your Staff Wasting Your Time?

Wastebin“Being a manager would be easy if it wasn’t for my staff: They take up so much of my working hours, I don’t have time to do my job!” Did that thought ever cross your mind? Especially when we are under pressure, when stress levels go up we tend to think “I might as well do it myself, I’m the only one who knows how to do it properly anyway!”. We go back to doing things that feel secure, stuff that we know how to do well. In crisis management this is called regression. This specific self-defense mechanism is often thought of as “going back to being a child”, but it just means “going back to a safe place”.

How did you end up in management? Some deliberately look for those positions, others get there by being very good at what they do and getting promoted. Either way, when you enter a role of management you are frequently expected to be better than your staff. But is that actually a good thing, being better than the people you have working for you? Better at what? As a manager, do you have to know it all?

In parts it’s a cultural thing. Different countries and cultures look at skills and power in different ways around the globe. When I was teaching in Ethiopia, the biggest cultural difficulty to me was convincing my management students that if you wanted to make things better, sometimes you had to find out what was not working and change that. But doing so could mean telling your boss that you knew better than him or her – and that was absolutely out of the question. So no-go. “Could we please be more efficient in another way, Ms Ravnskov?” And it doesn’t have to be Africa; there are clear cultural differences in Europe just going from north to south, east to west. If you want to look at it from a cultural perspective, go look at the work of people like Geert Hofstede and the five dimensions of human behaviour in this aspect. There’s even an app for it.

Being able to admit that you don’t know everything and that someone else even knows better is a strong advantage as a manager. Yet a lot of managers struggle with letting go. You might have been the best in your field at what you did, and to keep that position you spent a lot of time keeping up your expertise. But as a manager that is no longer your job. You cannot keep track with evolution in your field, all the nitty-gritty details, in your new job. Because if you do, then you are probably not allowing for the time you need to spend with your staff! And if you always have to be the best, does that mean you cannot recruit someone who is better than you? That should make your manager wonder what the company is missing…

As a manager, how do you achieve your goals? One of the perks of being a manager is the possibility to achieve so much more through your staff, then just going solo. You are no longer the lone ranger, or even the best team player - you are in charge. You are in charge of other people and it's through them that you will achieve.

If your staff is stuck because of unresolved issues such as unclear goals, the ways to achieve them or even a structured work flow - and you are the only key, the one they have to ask all the time... Then you are stuck in your old role as a specialist, while your employee is just frustrated. And it’s actually you who is wasting their time. Every hour spent with someone under your leadership, is a chance to double the time spent on reaching your target, by improving their skills and motivation. If you spend your time coaching or even teaching, the person you are guiding should be able to perform his or her task better and more efficient, thanks to your efforts, thus helping the team to achieve your joint goals. Every time you do this, there will be more people working in the right direction, doing the right thing. And that is your job, isn’t it?

If you have done this, then there are two more things you need to do to be successful – configure the rest of your time and work with feedback. But that’s stuff for another couple of blogs.

 




24 February 2015

And The Oscar for Diversity Goes To ...

OscarsThe Oscar nominations and awards in 2015 are the whitest since 1998. Since they were announced on 15 January, up to the red carpet moment in LA on 22 February, media commentators have decried the lack of diversity amongst the nominees. Awards are voted for by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who are predominantly white and male. The row has centred on the implication that some voices matter more than others.

What about voices in business? A 2014 McKinsey study reported statistically significant relationships between financial performance of companies and the diversity of their leadership. In the study, companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. Companies with 10% higher gender and ethnic/racial diversity on management teams and boards in the UK had profit margins that were 5.8% higher than their competitors.

Improving diversity in business was one of 50 primary initiatives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) which was held at Davos in January 2015. A panel at WEF hosted by the BBC concluded that discrimination was a key reason women do not get top jobs, but it was felt that this was most likely due to unconscious bias. Research has shown that a lifetime of experiences, culture and beliefs have an influence on how we unconsciously think, our implicit biases.

Recent protests in the US were sparked by the police killing several unarmed black men in 2014/15. In February F.B.I. director James B. Comey gave a speech in which he acknowledged police bias. Considered a bold and thoughtful address, he issued a call to action and a demand to improve the data available to analyse police performance.

One department that has successfully reduced the number of unjustified shootings is in Las Vegas. One strategy was to use tests which were designed by neuroscientists to measure the implicit bias of police officers. The officers attended education classes to raise awareness of bias and how to counteract it. A lesson from the US police force is that using an evidence-based approach, which avoids questioning the character of those involved, has allowed implicit bias to be tackled successfully.

The events in Davos and ongoing work by campaigners are a call to action for business today; it is not a straightforward fix. The Las Vegas police had 75 recommendations for change, where bias was one. Businesses must also take a multifaceted approach, creating a level playing field and a culture which supports a diverse workforce. These strategies need data to analyse performance, predict outcomes and measure success; HR and HR technology play a crucial role.

As the 2015 Oscar for Best Picture was announced, the prize for ‘The Most Successful Business’ in the coming years will go to the organisation that has achieved its diversity goals.




13 February 2015

Are You Ready for Gen Z? Part I: How Do We Get Their Attention?

Z-the-next-generationSo just when we have grown accustomed to Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials in the workplace) I introduce to you, Generation Z. 

With almost 400,000 babies being born in the world each day, this demographic will soon make up the largest segment of America’s population. These young adults are often described as an “extreme version” of the Millennial, if you can imagine that. They live in a world where they need more than two devices to stay connected; they are speedy communicators and have an innate ability to be productive and to make an impact. There are many external influences that have shaped this new generation. They were raised during a global recession, a war on terrorism, and climate change, and many of them are living in multi-generational households. Gen Z-ers have a vast interest in economic, social and environmental sustainability and they believe in working towards a cause. They are BIG thinkers and want their ideas and contributions in the workplace to be taken seriously.

So here are some key attributes of a Gen Z-ers and suggestions on how to get their attention:

Distraction: Gen Z-ers are constantly swapping between multiple devices and numerous digital tools which have enabled them to have tremendous skills in multi-tasking. They are dialed into all social media portals and they can use some sort of application for almost everything they do. This overindulgence of data can sometimes lead to sensory overload and technology dependency. It’s more important now than ever to be social and be mobile. Make sure this talent can find you on social media and research your mission statements, jobs, financials, employee reviews, et al. With job descriptions it’s imperative that you be flashy then concise – stand out from your competition, remember these 20 somethings have a short attention span and are highly visual so consider tweeting a 6-second Vine video!

Entrepreneurial Spirit: Gen Z-ers are super creative; they rely on visual and agile tools to be productive. They have a strong connection to global and local causes, promoting a philanthropic outlook and community leadership. It’s essential for them to have clearly defined avenues for idea creation; they do not want their age to define them, but rather their ideas. Tailor the interview questions to be more open-ended and more situational. Since this generation would prefer sitting in executive meetings, you should obtain more engagement from the executive team during the interview process (e.g. video introductions). Make sure that they are connected to your corporate community outreach via social media and ensure they are informed of their involvement in career planning and wider company opportunities which are tied to the company’s growth.

Technology Savvy:  In case you didn’t catch the theme here, it’s mobile, mobile, mobile! This generation was born fully equipped with smart phones and tablets. They appreciate being flexible, adaptable, smart and fast. Therefore, if you haven’t already done so, it’s critical to have a mobile app, a mobile career site for candidate applications, videos, blogs and social updates, all with a simple look and feel. You should put emphasis on being agile and visual! 

Collaboration:  This population is extremely interactive, therefore you tailoring the way that you engage with them is important; they are highly expressive and prefer the interpersonal connection. This generation wants to get to know their peers, managers and leaders on an intimate level. They are also fantastic thought leaders which make for excellent discussion! We know that live video interviewing is gaining popularity but, with this generation, it will be a must-have and they will expect to engage early on in the recruitment process. Sending SMS text notifications for interviews, sending feedback surveys, subscriptions to online blog communities, and social events are all great ways to keep this on-the-go candidate engaged and committed.

Part two of this series will be published on 8th April 2015.




11 February 2015

Let Fail be Your Best Friend

1Nobody likes to fail – and none of us are infallible.

Every once in a while you are going to fall on your face, scrape your knees, bleed and hurt and get up again. It’s how you handle those failures what you learn from them that matters. If you are a manager, it’s also about how you help your employees in that learning experience, just like a good parent helps his or her child to get up on that bicycle again, you need to help the people around you to cherish the opportunity to learn and to do better next time.

Once you're back up on your horse again, dusted yourself off (and maybe shed a tear or felt sorry for yourself), or typed a really mean letter to whomever you felt like blaming (but didn't post!!), even raised your fist in anger – The most important thing to do is ask the right questions!

What did you learn? When faced with a similar situation, what will you change? Who will you ask for help before you venture a similar endeavor again? How will you prepare, what do you need to improve? Where can you practice this? There are many more questions but make sure you ask them and ask around. Your perception of what went wrong might not be the same as your opponent/client/partners’ perception; they might not even think it’s a failure! Well, imagine that... Get the help from your team, do it together. Avoid pushing blame or guilt! What is done is done. Look ahead!

And whilst we are at it, don't forget the "near death but still safe" occasions. The times when you made it, but it may just as well have gone the other way, you stumbled but didn't fall. Those are often even better learning situations.

Depending on the size of your failure and the importance of succeeding next time, remember to also try out your new found skills or knowledge on someone you trust before you head into the breach again. Imagination is the power that enables us to empathise with what we have not experienced, and once we are aware that things can go wrong, not trying to use that imagination to see how failure can be prevented is negligent behavior.

Fails can turn into success, it might just take a while. In 1625, Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, of the Vasa dynasty, commissioned the construction of four new warships, the Vasa would be the first. It was the largest ship ever built in Sweden, the pride of the marine. On August 10, 1628, the crowds gathered near the quays to see the Vasa make her maiden voyage, and she was a beauty! The ship was headed towards the marine base where three hundred soldiers would board the ship and set off for war. Unfortunately, she never completed her journey. Shortly after hoisting four of its ten sails, the ship began to keel over and water gushed in through the open gun ports. After sailing just 1300 meters (0.8 miles), the ship sunk. The 150 people aboard her - carpenters and shipwrights, tanners, smiths and sailmakers - who had been allowed to bring their girlfriends and family onboard for a brief summer trip before the ship was delivered to the military, ended up in the water and most drowned. Everyone involved and in charge of building the ship faced trials and tribulations over the years to follow. The Vasa was forgotten, stuck in the mud for 333 years.

In the early 1950s, archaeologist Anders Franzén considered the possibility of recovering her. The ship finally saw daylight again in 1961 and today the Vasa is the best preserved ship from that era due to the brackish water (and thus the lack of shipworm) in which she sunk. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm is Sweden’s largest tourist attraction, with an average of 1.2 million visitors every year. Come see the nation’s pride, the greatest fail ever! 

Not all fails turns out that way but the biggest fail of all would be not to try. If you plan to succeed, count on numerous fails to take you to that point of success. Take pride in your fails, they were means to an end, a way to get you where you want to be. Take pride in your friends and colleagues when they fail and help them get back up again, bruised but wiser. Cooperate to make the most of those fails, make them benefit you in the future.

Don’t lose an opportunity to learn!




09 February 2015

Fail like Google

Marcos%20with%20Glass%20onSeeing others fail is extremely popular, 6.5m people subscribe to a YouTube channel which is dedicated to videos showing unfortunate accidents and mishaps; the most popular video has 164m views. At work a popular conversation topic around the water cooler is the misfortunes of other organisations. Last week I was surprised (and honestly a little smug) when I heard the news that Google Glass was no longer on sale to the general public. How did Google fail with such a high profile product?

Privacy concerns, lack of style and the impracticality of the heads up display have all been cited as reasons for lack of consumer demand. Pretty much all the points made in this blog from March 2013. According to Google it’s not the end of Glass. The project is going to ‘pause’ and ‘reset’, says Patrick Pichette, Google CFO.

Failure is something very few people relish. We’re programmed to try to succeed in work and our personal lives, on an individual and organisational level. Failure is emotional. We feel shame, disappointment and sadness when something goes wrong.

Google Glass, in its current format, is a failure, but Google as an organisation is set up to accommodate for setbacks. The project did not meet defined objectives and therefore the team needs to take time to re-evaluate the strategy. The failure is controlled. The product may still be a success in the long term, perhaps marketed to the business community rather than consumer.

The future is uncertain for all companies and investment decisions have to be made with imperfect information. It is important that organisations are adaptable. Companies which set up projects that constantly learn from experience, define metrics to check progress and have the option to stop and, if necessary, change course, are far more likely to be successful. Using Google’s approach may give you the power to turn failures into success.




06 February 2015

Lumesse Attends HR Directors Summit 2015

010x1000On 3rd and 4th February, several Lumesse employees set out from our offices in Luton onto the snowy M1 towards Birmingham to attend a two day event, the HR Directors Business Summit 2015. The event, which was held at the International Convention Centre (ICC), is the UK’s largest gathering of senior HR professionals and gave Lumesse the opportunity to meet, network and exchange ideas with over 1,000 leaders in this field. This event has been held annually over the past thirteen years but it is the first time that Lumesse has attended. We feel that we received a lot of value out of the event and that we maintained a strong presence throughout.

The event held over 100 talks from CEOs, Chief HR Officers, Authors and HR Expert Dave Ulrich. If you didn’t already know, Ulrich defined the strategic framework for HR Functions which led to the HR Model that businesses use all around the globe today! Throughout the course of the two days, our teams met with customers and prospects to discuss their HR pain points and how we could help resolve them.

We were also very proud to have our customer, Tim Potten, Global Talent Acquisition Leader for Emerson (115,000 employees across 220 countries) take the stage and tell his story about how, with Lumesse recruitment solutions, he’s been able to transform their recruitment strategy & reduce hiring costs by 66% to cut millions of dollars off the bottom line. You can watch his  ‘Mastering Global Social Recruitment’ talk here. Tim will also be presenting this talk again in Barcelona at the HRcoreLAB³ conference which will be held on 18th and 19th March 2015.

“We chose Lumesse for a lot of reasons, the functionality of the software, the relationship that they provided to us, the customer service and the continued customer service that we’ve gotten from them. Working with Lumesse doesn’t feel like we’re working with a massive organisation, it feels like we’re working with somebody that has our best interests in mind.” – Tim Potten, Emerson.

Lumesse would like to thank everybody who made the conference possible, it was an excellent event which resulted in some excellent customer opportunities and the chance to network with other industry leaders.




05 February 2015

Throw A Towel On Keyword Based Candidate Search

Keyword-search1Use keywords to search answers from Google, don’t use keywords to find candidates. They are humans and to recruit humans in your company, it’s not only judging their abilities from their CV, but their motivation and attitude are equally significant. As rightly said by Lou Holtz, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it”.

Our HR systems are tailored to find candidates based on keywords in the CV that match the job description. However, the CV is often not even written by the candidate themselves. If you look for CV writing agencies you will find 100,000s and these agencies know how to tailor the CV to stand the best chances of selection. So is this method of CV filtering fair to candidates who compose their own CV to tell more about themselves without caring if their keywords don’t match the job description? I don’t think so.

So what’s the alternative? How do recruiters find the needle in a haystack? How much time would be ideal for recruiters to look at the CVs and make a judgement about the candidate ability, motivation and attitude?

I think the answer is in changing the application process. Ask more to get more. Give an equal chance to all candidates to tell them more about themselves during the application process. CV is just one part of their application. Let there be intelligent, friendly and playful ways for candidates to express their skills and attitudes suitable for the company culture and the job role. To this, recruiters can argue that this will increase the time of application process and will deter candidates from making an application. However, a TalentBoard survey in 2013 (candidates surveyed: 43,000) indicated clearly that candidates don’t mind spending time on the application and moreover, candidate satisfaction is closely linked to how well they can express their qualification in the application process.

So let’s build our CV selection process based on an improved application process and not keywords. Keywords are for Google crawlers, not for humans…




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