Stuff That Makes Me Think
Quote for the Week
We're hoping to succeed; we're okay with failure. We just don't want to land in between. ~ David Chang
The Purpose of a Higher Purpose
From a terrific HBR blog post by Tobias Fredberg and Flemming Norrgren on global leadership skills. One thing outperforming leaders do is put an immense emphasis on a connecting employees to a higher purpose: "These leaders make people feel emotionally engaged and inspire them to walk the extra mile. The company has to mean something to people rather than just being a place to work."
As I have been saying: work provides meaning. If you can tap into that, your team can change the world.
I liked this blog post by Steve Denning in Forbes. He succinctly addresses the ways in which tactical HR work is limited, and even more so in the face of rapidly changing demographics and the knowledge-worker mindset. Old style management practices are resulting in dramatic declines in ROA and other measures for companies that haven't moved to new ways of working.
"The good news is that we now know how to manage so as to get a very different result. It begins by committing the entire organization to delighting the customer as the principal goal of the organization and putting in place the management principles and practices that enable staff to fulfill that goals. This means shifting the role of managers from controllers to enablers, coordinating work through dynamic linking rather than bureaucratic processes, a shift from economic value to values and a shift from top-down command to adult-to-adult conversations."
We know what to do. Let's get started!
Living Your Values at Work
I have been reading a new leadership book called "Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Manager" by Stan Slap, and thinking about how well it dovetails with the CTI co-active coaching philosophy that all people are resourceful, creative and whole. Stan writes that people fulfill their deepest personal values at work; they don't suddenly 'take on' the values that the organization mandates. They find the group within the organization where they can make their personal values sing - or - they don't find such a group and then they check out emotionally. Good leaders live their personal values fully, within the organization, and help others do the same.
"It’s not what leaders do that’s important; it’s why they do it. Leadership is a motivation. It’s a purpose before it’s ever a practice. The worst thing in your own development as a leader is not to do it wrong. It’s to do it for the wrong reasons."
Stan writes with a fun, flip tone; one that acknowledges the reality (and sometimes, the un-reality) of working in large organizations. There's not alot of new material in this book, but it is a nicely written mandate for managers who want to be more fully commited to their organizations.
Common Sense Truths
I really like this list of challenges to today's HR and organizational assumptions. The list comes from a talk Bob Sutton gave at the Singapore Human Capital Summit. These are ten thought-provoking ways to start a more strategic HR conversation about the culture we want to create, and our true philosophy about people in our organization.
- Assumption: HR ought to be all about spotting, hiring, and breeding individual talent
Challenge: HR could pack a bigger wallop by focusing on teams and networks more
- Assumption: HR should focus on finding, hiring, and developing the very best people
Challenge: Bad is stronger than good – about 5 times stronger – so screening-out, reforming, expelling the very worst people is more crucial to collective performance
- Assumption: Find some great superstars and pay them whatever is necessary to keep them happy – and certainly a lot more than everyone else
Challenge: The best organizations pay higher than competitors, but have more compressed pay
- Assumption: Competition makes people, teams, and companies stronger
Challenge: Unless people and teams are rewarded for undermining one another rather than helping each other… dysfunctional internal competition is one of the most pervasive problems in American firms
- Assumption: Harmony and having a shared vision are crucial to success
Challenge: Perhaps for routine work; but creativity depends on battling over ideas. Part of HR’s job should be to teach people how to “fight as if they are right, and listen as if they are wrong”
- Assumption: The key to success is copying practices used by the best companies
Challenge: The best companies may be succeeding despite rather than because of their HR practices
- Assumption: Every company needs a great performance review system
Challenge: Are they really worth the time and effort? Do they do more harm than good?
- Assumption: Taking a leadership position brings out the best in people
Challenge: This is a dangerous half-truth. Giving people power over others turns them into self-centered jerks
- Assumption: The most important thing HR can do is to find and develop great senior leaders
Challenge: Having an organization with a high proportion of good bosses is probably more important
- Assumption: The best organizations have the best people, “the people make the place.”
Challenge: There are huge differences in talent, but the best organizations typically have the best systems and not necessarily the best raw talent
Talent in the 21st Century Enterprise
I am enjoying a thorough read of this short Booz & Company article on the Talent Innovation Imperative. The 2008-09 economic crisis is more than just economic; it is the lurch from an old dying enterprise model to a new more sustainable and global model. The relationship between the enterprise and its talent has changed significantly. For those who haven't noticed the transition yet, the mid-20th century goods-producing, organizational man model has become obsolete. In a new economy that is knowledge-producing, global, and highly transparent, it is almostly purely the incremental effort, of individuals and teams, that makes the difference between success and mediocrity or failure.
"A more appropriate, 21st-century talent model assumes a workforce that is global, diverse, and gender-balanced, with discontinuous career progressions, in which high-potential employees may take time off or work for different types of organizations along the way. Under this model, companies value functional and leadership skills, embrace new employment structures (such as highly responsible part-time work), encourage virtual workplaces (in which people work together across long distances, communicating electronically), and offer nonmonetary rewards alongside financial rewards as a way to attract people. Family, community, and work are intertwined in a variety of ways, and the result is a more flexible, dynamic, and unpredictable workplace in which people feel they are continually building their skills and learning from the enterprise.
"This new talent management model allows a much broader group of people to assume positions of responsibility. It promotes innovation, growth, and breakthrough performance by integrating the needs of the business with those of individuals. And when aligned with a clear and focused corporate strategy, it allows top management to optimize compensation, training, and other expenses; maximize the productivity and performance of the workforce; and gain competitive advantage."
I am excited to be part of this field and see what results we can achieve with truly diverse, flexible, and sustainable talent practices.