Human Capital Newsreel

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Creative Leaders Create A Culture Where All Ideas Are Encouraged And Valued

The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”  — Sir Ken Robinson

I came across this powerful quote the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.

It brought me back to a time-honored session that I would always roll my eyes at — the brainstorming sessions that no one wanted to be a part of.  It’s when everyone is sitting around the table with their minds running at warp speed trying to come up with a great “idea.”

Yet, this leader knew that this was the way that we are going to innovate. But, he ignored the vast majority of ideas because they did not come from his most favored people in the room.

There was a commercial years ago that played out this scenario.  You had a room full of people all looking bored. There was one “slacker” in the group that came up with an idea. However, it was as if he was not even in the room. Dead silence. No one listened and they basically ignored him.

A no holds barred discussion

But when the most chosen one spoke out with the same insight, verbatim, it was as if the river parted. The prodigal son has spoken. The leader went on and on about how brilliant that idea was. Meanwhile, everyone’s gaze went to the overlooked young “slacker,” and they all just shrugged their shoulders.

In real life, however, everyone can have ideas and they should be as valued whether you are on the lowest rung of the ladder, or up near the top. This new generation of worker has numerous ideas about the workplace that organizations should pay heed to.

As I give speeches to college campuses across the Middle East (I’m based in Dubai), I am amazed by what I hear in the Q&A sessions and the overall level of discussion. I always end by saying I can’t wait for them to infiltrate all these staid organization because they will bring change. They will liven up any “BS” session.

The big question is, will they be heard?

However, there is no need for these sessions if you keep your ears to the ground.  One of the roles I
always enjoyed at my former companies was to walk around the floor at 10 am every morning and around 3 in the afternoon. Each day I would stop by someone’s desk to see what they were working on. This created a bond, and if they did not see me they would seek me out.

I had advance knowledge of many issues, and I got a ton of ideas about what we could do to improve the workplace. Was it called brainstorming? Absolutely not.

“MBWA” is not new

MBWA is managing by walking around, and it is the greatest brainstorming model ever invented.
I read about a company that would require all of its workers to spend one day in the call center. Whether you are the big shot VP or the help desk person, everyone spent time in the pit.

Another unique trait of this company was that the driver that picked up people at the airport for interviews was part of the decision making process. His opinion was sought as to whether this person coming in for an  interview treated them with respect during their drive.

Was it all about them, or did they offer conversation and ask questions? In other words, did they connect to people regardless of their title?

It’s pretty clear: You MUST communicate openly with your team, both direct reports and co-workers, and that means recognizing them for the good work they do. By creating this kind of atmosphere, you will improve their engagement with you as a manager.

Listening To Employees: You Need To Do It One Conversation At A Time

“The only number that matters is ‘one.’ One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a
time. We had to get back to what mattered most.”

I am a big fan of Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. In reading this statement above, Schultz described how his company faltered and lost its way. It strayed from coffee into a host of activities which basically begin the slow drip of non-profitability.

This statement is kind of a back to basics approach, but it would make a great mission statement. It would also make a great leader’s mandate.

How is that, you may ask? How many times have you spoken to a senior leader, and in the midst of that conversation, they were checking email, fiddling with their phone, or basically doing something else?  Yes, they pride themselves on multi-tasking, but are they really listening?

Lesson learned

Friday, July 3, 2015

What Does Real, Genuine Leadership Look Like?

“This may sound crazy, but it’s hard for us when someone turns down a raise,”

That was a recent comment from the Board President at the University of Cincinnati. Not only that, but it’s the third year in a row the university chief, President Santa Ono, has donated his bonus.

Since 2013, he has turned down his six-figure bonus and declined a raise. His reasoning is that he donates it to various funds and to help the college students.

What does leadership look like?

When Will Employees REALLY Become Your “Most Important Asset?”

“How much does it cost?”

This is a question that I am hit with as I intro my presentation. It literally takes my breath away. My response is we can discuss that after I am finished.

But, I need a change in mindset from cost to expense. If you look at employee development as an expense, I may be wasting both of our times.

This approach took courage, but after a while, I realized that if that is the way that executives look at engagement, I know that I am in the wrong place.

A few statistics we all need to consider

This takes me back the notion that employees are our “greatest or most important asset.” Are they really? Those buzzwords should be outlawed.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When It Comes To Ongoing HR Development, It’s Really Up To You

“Can I see a show of hands of people that watch CNBC or any other business channel? Can I also see a show of hands of those that read the business section of your newspaper?”

Both those questions were asked over the past two weeks at different HR conferences [the HR Leaders Africa Summit held in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Lebanon HR Summit]. I decided to ask those questions and I was shocked by the number of responses. Maybe two or three hands went up, and there were at least 50 people in the room in both cases.

And you want a seat where?

My response was, “and you want to be strategic business partners?” My next question was, “what are the major discussions within your industry?” Again, the response was blank stares.

We Could Learn A Lot From How The World Handles Employee Vacations

“No, that will not work. I leave for holiday on the 8th of June and will not return till around the 15th
of July.”

That was the response from a Chief Learning Officer who we have been trying to get together for a meeting. However, it hit me as he told me this that yes, this was vacation season. But more importantly, he would be taking close to five (5) weeks off.

The summer holiday season is upon us and this is a common refrain from expats throughout this region (I work in Dubai, in the Middle East). This is a common practice here, and the only people who it gives pause to are people like me.

Vacation is no big deal

An Imperative For Today’s HR: A Sharp Focus On Data And Analytics

This past week I participated as conference chair for the first ever workforce analytics conference in the Workforce Analytics Forum that was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
the Middle East —

It was amazing to see the various industries from telecom to health care, privately owned to multi-nationals, presenting their analytics and wrapping it into a business case.

I remarked in my closing statement that this level of rigor and alignment would not have been possible even a few years back. But now, to have a conference dedicated to this new level of HR was astounding.

Welcome to the club

Monday, June 1, 2015

Corporate Power: It Has Shifted to Your Customers AND Employees

“We challenge you to find a consumer mobile offer available in the UAE that is better than the offers
you can get with Etisalat,”read the company’s website. “We promise to match or beat any offer, guaranteeing you that with Etisalat, you will always get the best prices.”

The “big brother” here in the Middle East recently has been the marketing campaign by our local telecom Etisilat [In the U.S., think ATT or Verizon]. Their marketing campaign was called the #Etisilat Challenge, and it challenged consumers to find a better deal than their offerings.

However, what happened next was not what they expected.

The pendulum has swung

First Impressions: Why Onboarding Employees Is Like Going on a First Date

"I arrived early excited about my first day and my first real job from college. I just could not believe how disorganized they were. It was like nothing you said. As a matter of fact, they were not expecting me until the following week. When I showed her the letter, she had to make phone calls to HR. It was a total mess. I knew then that I would not be here long.

That short message was told to me by my daughter, who after finishing college, got her first “real” job. Because of my background in HR, I told her what the first day would probably be like since this was a well-known brand.

I had flashbacks of that encounter a few weeks back as I gave a presentation around that theme at the Global HR Summit in Doha, Qatara  last week.

Going on that first date