2013 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work
Families and Work Institute/SHRM, 2013
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Not much bigger than a smartphone, this pocket-sized book profiles how 352 employers use innovative flexibility programs that can provide models for other employers.
The examples come from the “When Work Works” initiative started by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute. This initiative aims to bring research on workplace flexibility and effectiveness into real-world practice in business and the community. The 2013 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work points readers to flexibility programs that have helped both employers and employees succeed. Readers can find examples from multiple industries and at workplaces of widely different sizes.
Readers also get a pithy primer on eight major trends in the workplace flexibility field. Those trends include:
- An increasing variety of options for flexible workplaces.
- A stronger focus on employee results rather than on working hours.
- A new push for using mentors, coaches and buddies for self-directed and shared learning.
- “Omnipresent” use of technology to enable flexibility.
- An emphasis on fun and happiness in the workplace, with many more employers referring to happiness as part of their workplace vision.
- A marked increase in employer focus on employee health and wellness. (The Families and Work Institute found last year that 63 percent of employers provide wellness programs in 2012, up from 47 percent in 2005.)
The bulk of this slim book is the short profiles readers can use to find ideas and contact information. All of the firms in the book are winners of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility, part of “When Work Works.” As Sloan Award winners, these companies demonstrate supportive, effective workplace flexibility.
Among the hundreds of examples are these:
- A consulting firm that provides subsidized backup care to help employees who are responsible for child or elder care.
- An insurance business that encourages workers to spend up to 20 hours a year on self-improvement, such as taking a class, as well as another 20 hours a year performing service and volunteering.
- A university that offers its low-wage workers significant discounts for mass transit and child care.
- A nonprofit child advocacy organization that interviews staff members annually to ensure that the available flexible workplace options are meeting their needs.
Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces
Families and Work Institute and SHRM, 2012
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A flexible workplace makes sense to you, and you believe that your employees would embrace it. But how do you make the business case that it’s right for your organization? How do you find another business like yours that has done it successfully so you can learn from that employer’s experience? Where do you begin? How do you keep it going?
This volume of tools and how-to guidelines, from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Families and Work Institute, takes readers through the steps in creating and maintaining “workflex” in their own organizations.
It includes detailed case studies of how specific employers handled issues such as time management, reduced schedules, flexible career paths and more. The book includes extensive coverage of laws affecting workflex arrangements, as well as guidance on how to measure the business impact of workflex.
Initial chapters examine why flexible work policies and programs benefit employers and employees (increasing retention, improving health and well-being, and more). A survey of workflex trends outlines how small and large employers use these programs. It shows, too, that even though flexibility in work scheduling and location is increasing, there is less flexibility regarding reduced schedules, caregiving leaves and career paths.
Case studies are organized so that readers can quickly find organizations of similar size or in their own industry. Each case study includes a contact person’s name and title so readers know how to find more information. Case studies list the particular focus each employer had when creating a program, such as providing short worker schedules for older workers or paid time off for volunteering; creating a phased retirement system that enables retirees to return as “part-time irregular” workers; or a “summer hours” initiative aimed at getting people to work a compressed schedule during summer.
A reference guide walks readers through the process of evaluating the possibility of workflex and setting up such a program. Topics include:
- Getting the right people involved
- Gathering data to make a business case
- Understanding workflex options and designing the options that are right for you
- Getting buy-in from others and handling resistance
- Deciding whether to do a pilot project or implement a full-scale program
- Determining the roles of supervisors and managers, and addressing their concerns
- Developing a communications strategy
- Creating focus groups, surveys, interviews and other tools to gather information from employees
Any organization implementing flexible work programs must understand the relevant laws, and the book summarizes laws vital to these programs, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and much more.
A section of forms and policies provides samples users may adapt quickly to their own needs, along with advice on using each form. Samples include a telecommuting application, a flexible work arrangement agreement, a job-sharing memorandum, a leave form for a sabbatical and more.
Grace and Grit
By Lilly Ledbetter with Lanier Scott Isom
Crown Archetype, 2012
List price: $25
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One landmark Supreme Court case and one law bear Lilly Ledbetter’s name. She was the plaintiff in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and the defeat the justices handed to her in that case ended up sparking the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
In this autobiography, Ledbetter recounts a working life of 19 years as a supervisor at the Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. As Ledbetter seemed to climb the ladder at Goodyear, she found herself evaluated as a poor worker over and over, especially after she refused a foreman’s offer to raise her evaluation score in exchange for sex. Over the years, some workers and managers helped and backed her, but she repeatedly encountered harassment and roadblocks.
Ledbetter details how Goodyear supervisors and managers shifted her from job to job, usually while telling her that, as a woman, she would never last in any job they gave her. She describes constant and aggressive sexual harassment. Her health suffered from the stress, and her relationships with her husband and children suffered, too.
But Ledbetter kept working, finally winning the respect and loyalty of many workers—but not many male supervisors. She knew she would only have to work harder to prove that she could do the jobs assigned to her.
What Ledbetter didn’t realize all those years was that she was being paid substantially less than the men who held the same positions she did.
The truth came out in an anonymous note listing her salary and the salaries of the men in the same job. “I’d known from the get-go that I’d have to work longer and smarter than the men in order to prove myself. But how in the world could I have been paid less all these years?” she writes.
Ledbetter’s pursuit of fair pay first led her to complain to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The result was retaliation at work, in the form of being blamed for tire production mistakes she didn’t make. The EEOC granted her the right to sue Goodyear, and Ledbetter, by then retired, decided to go to court. A jury awarded her more than $3 million in punitive damages and more than half a million dollars in pay.
An appeals court ruled that Ledbetter had missed her window to file a complaint against Goodyear. She should have done so within 180 days of the initial decision by Goodyear to discriminate against her. Since employees did not discuss their pay, she had had no way of knowing she was underpaid until years after the discrimination began.
Ledbetter writes that “Goodyear was exonerated for its wrongdoing, simply because Goodyear had been doing me wrong long enough to make it legal.”
Ledbetter’s appeal ended up at the Supreme Court, where the verdict went against her: The court said she should have complained about her pay within 180 days of the company’s initial decision to pay her unfairly.
Congress passed a law to prevent future court decisions like that one. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act says that each discriminatory paycheck is a separate discriminatory act, and each paycheck restarts the clock for filing a claim against the employer.
Grace and Grit details both the legal fight and the personal toll that the pay practices—and a career marred by harassment and discrimination—had on Ledbetter and her family. It ends with Ledbetter in a new role as a speaker and activist campaigning against pay discrimination.
*Watch a SHRM video with Leslie Silverman, a partner with Proskauer Rose, as she discusses the pros and cons of adopting a different pay model to limit liability under the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
By Susan Cain
Crown Publishers, 2012
List price: $26
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Charisma and collaboration sound like positives in any business setting. But in Quiet, author Susan Cain argues that companies’ focus on charismatic leaders and extroverted employees is actually shortchanging those companies. They are undervaluing their introverts.
Cain examines the development of the “extrovert ideal” in American culture and business. This ideal holds that making an impression on others, being outgoing and social, and communicating constantly matter. Being introverted, working alone and preferring solitude are seen as unusual, even unproductive.
The book examines how an overemphasis on collaboration at work “kills creativity.” Cain looks at the example of the earliest days of the computing club that spawned Apple and says, “You might conclude that people who hope to be innovative should work in highly social workplaces. And you might be wrong.” Then she delves into the work done by the shy, introverted Steve Wozniak in isolated time at midnight or early in the morning. The club gave a sense of support, but the creativity came from individuals working solo.
Cain decries a “New Groupthink” that “elevates teamwork above all else.” She offers research showing that solitude can fuel creativity and is essential for the deliberate practice of skills.
She adds that the right working conditions for this kind of practice are “surprisingly hard to come by” in today’s workplaces. Office design has pushed employees together in spaces that are increasingly open and have less and less space per worker. The focus on teamwork has created peer pressure to be a team player, even if teamwork reduces creativity. Cain says decades of studies show that as working groups get larger, performance declines and the number of ideas declines, too.
The book offers readers an understanding of how introverts and extroverts differ and how introverts can better navigate a workplace that operates on extroverts’ terms. Readers learn how introverts and extroverts think and how they react to rewards and risks. Introverts tend to think more carefully and stay on task better, and extroverts tend to use a “quick-and-dirty approach to problem-solving” and focus on what’s immediately around them.
Should introverts try to be more outgoing at work? Is it even possible? Cain and the researchers she profiles say yes, people are “capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important.” Through self-monitoring techniques and careful evaluation of a job (does it offer ways to be yourself at least some of the time?), introverts can be more extroverted at work.
Cain includes advice on how introverts and extroverts can better communicate with each other.
Take this informal 12 question quiz, adapted from Quiet by Susan Cain, to find out if you are an introvert or an extrovert.
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women
By Valerie Young
Crown Business, 2011
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Take this quiz:
Do you think your success is due to luck or timing? Do the smallest flaws in your work torture you? Do you find even constructive criticism painful and just another sign you’re not competent? When you succeed, do you think, “I fooled them again—and one day they’ll figure out I’m just faking it all”?
If you said yes to any of these questions, then no matter what it says on your resume or your business card, no matter what you’ve achieved, you may have impostor syndrome.
Women are particularly prone to impostor syndrome—the belief that no matter how successful they are, it’s not really due to their own talents and skills but to luck or error or fakery—and author Valerie Young wants women to recognize and fight it, especially in the workplace.
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women lays out the roots of impostor syndrome and demonstrates how deeply it affects not only individual women but businesses, too. Throughout the book, Young summarizes key lessons and lists action steps to take as readers move out of impostor mode.
Young examines how workplace and social realities compound women’s impostor syndrome—in short, “It’s not all in your head.” She looks at specific ways women make sure they aren’t “caught” being successful, from keeping a low profile to self-sabotage.
The book offers exercises for learning to own one’s real accomplishments without claiming that luck, timing or connections were involved.
Readers also learn about five “competence types,” each with a distorted view of what competence means. For example, the perfectionist must do everything herself so it’s done right; the expert believes she must know 150 percent of what others know to be considered even half as competent as they are; the rugged individualist thinks that if she is truly competent, she should never need help. Young provides new ways for women to think about competence and shed these unrealistic views.
Other topics include:
- How to stop feeling that failures or mistakes are personal failings.
- How women can deal with their own fears that being successful hurts others or hurts their relationships (“If I’m too successful, my family might suffer.” “If I act too smart, people may not like me.” “If I win, someone else loses.”)
- Why women often have different definitions of workplace success than men do.
- Why women—and men—sometimes do need to “fake it” and act more confident than they feel.
By Howard J. Ross
Rowan and Littlefield Publishers/SHRM, 2011
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Why do most diversity programs fail? According to author Howard J. Ross, it’s because they lack any real ways to measure their success. Myth and misinformation dog them. Companies do training or celebrate some diversity events and think their diversity commitment is fulfilled. Or diversity is seen as corrective, punishing past mistakes without changing anyone’s mindset.
Reinventing Diversity is Ross’ plan for changing organizational communities so that diversity is an ingrained part of corporate culture, rather than a program or project.
Ross looks at the foundations of cultural competency, defined as “effectively operating in different cultural contexts” and altering practices in order to reach different cultural groups successfully.
He details basic principles including defining culture, recognizing complexities of language and interpretation, working with community and cultural groups, and much more. He outlines how organizations need to incorporate cultural competency into their policies, administration, practices and services. The book offers specific ways to support employees’ development of cultural competency.
Only by understanding our own perspectives and how we got them—our “wiring,” as Ross calls it—can we learn to manage our own unconscious biases. He presents nine steps for uncovering and handling your own biases, exploring biases both as individuals and as managers.
Ross finds that too often, organizations focus on doing something about diversity—holding training programs, marking events such as Black History Month or having diversity recruitment drives. Instead, they should first focus on understanding the systems they have in place now and how those affect diversity.
Readers learn the key elements of an organization or workplace as a community, as well as how those elements affect diversity. Do the workplace’s values support its diversity efforts? Are people kept “in the loop,” and do they all get the information they need to do their jobs? How does diversity affect the ability to serve customers?
Ross also presents a dozen building blocks of culture in organizations, including the organization’s focus, its leadership and structure, feedback processes (and how well they do or don’t reward behavior), and relationships, which may or may not be diverse.
Next, Reinventing Diversity guides readers toward creating cultures where diversity is ingrained. Ross’ “organizational community change model” helps leaders evaluate, understand and then change their organizations so that diversity and inclusion are part of their values and cultures.
The model encourages leaders to ask specific questions to probe the organization’s existing culture and its historic experiences with diversity. Leaders learn to examine recruitment, interviewing and hiring for bias and diversity. Ross shows how benefits, such as domestic partner benefits or time off for religious observances, reflect diversity commitment. Leadership behaviors, mentoring and coaching, and community relations also are viewed through the lens of how they reflect or affect diversity.
Other steps in the community change model work on developing trust with people of different cultures, building a structure for holding people accountable for diversity goals by using metrics and educating people in the organization about the new diversity model.
Field Tested: Recruiting, Managing and Retaining Veterans
By Emily King
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Field Tested is a guide to building a veteran-friendly organization. Author and consultant Emily King aims to teach employers three things:
- How to use veterans’ strengths effectively in the workplace.
- How to anticipate and handle the challenges related to the military-to-civilian transition.
- How to position veterans for success as employees.
King provides her Military Transition Model, a tool to help hiring managers and HR smooth the way for employees making the military-to-civilian move. The follow-up is her Veteran Retention Lifecycle, a tool for adapting recruitment, onboarding, performance management and career development to veterans’ needs.
Veterans provide loyalty, values, discipline, leadership and accountability, King says. But they also experience cultural whiplash when they enter the civilian workforce. Cultural differences range widely, from the simple—what to wear each day, when you’ve been wearing a uniform for years?—to the profound: In the military, mission drives everything, but in business, “mission” tends to be less concrete and driven by profit, King notes.
A key skill for managers of veterans is translating the civilian workplace culture. King offers a four-step translation process, teaching managers to break down key concepts, such as teamwork or leadership, into practical meanings and specific behaviors. These steps help veterans understand what can seem like fuzzy ideas to them after a career of concrete tasks.
A section on the common challenges of the military-to-civilian transition identifies the top five challenges veterans face in the workplace:
Organizational difference. Veterans are unused to having a dollar amount associated with their output and unused to a work context where their employment is voluntary. Veterans may find that the command-and-control leadership style that worked for them in the military backfires in the civilian workforce.
Interpersonal style. The terse, direct, impersonal style that often characterizes the military can be misinterpreted and damaging in the civilian world.
Leadership and management philosophy. This philosophy is clear and mission-driven in the military but often not clearly articulated, or driven by a less clear-cut mission, in the civilian world, King says.
Ambiguity of the nonmilitary workplace. Veterans may expect structure and clarity not necessarily present in their new offices.
Attrition. King finds that many veterans leave their first civilian job within 36 months and that it may take two job changes before a veteran finds a civilian organization where he or she fits.
The book walks employers through the stages that veterans undergo as they move into the civilian workforce. Initial detachment—and defaulting to “military style” that can harm work relationships—is typical, King says, and she offers coaching tips for helping get new-hire veterans through this stage.
A second stage, regrouping, moves the veteran toward balancing the focus on mission with a focus on relationships at work. In the third stage, integrating, the veteran is able to accept new ways of working while still using the strengths learned in the military.
Key steps in recruiting and hiring veterans include how to interpret a military resume and how to phrase job interview questions in ways that translate for veterans. For performance management, managers will need to explain their metrics to veteran hires and have to help veterans recognize what feedback looks like in the civilian sector.
By Fiona Citkin and Lynda Spielman, GPHR
Society for Human Resource Management, 2011
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An expert traveled from his corporate headquarters in North Carolina to deliver a presentation to a prospective customer in New York. But the expert’s “leisurely” style and Southern accent turned off his audience and jeopardized the contract.
That incident led Fiona Citkin and Lynda Spielman to create a diversity program focused on the differences among communities and cultures within the United States—and how business people in one region can communicate better with, and better understand, those in another region.
Diversity today is about far more than race or gender, and multiculturalism is as much a part of the American workplace as it is a part of the global workplace. Traditional corporate diversity programs no longer “fit the bill” with employees and managers who are weary of them, Citkin and Spielman say.
In Transformational Diversity, the authors push for change, moving toward practical actions and a culture of inclusion. They advocate “intercultural business competencies training” and identify five imperatives driving a need for change in diversity programs:
- Both global and domestic diversity programs need to focus on the increasingly multicultural workforce.
- To compete for talent, employers need to establish cultures of inclusion throughout their organizations to make new, multicultural hires feel loyalty rather than isolation.
- Employers need to educate employees about inclusive behaviors—behaviors the authors say don’t come naturally.
- In a time when companies have been laying off workers, training in transformational diversity could help reduce “layoff survivor sickness” among remaining employees.
- Social responsibility mandates that employers do business with the wider world in mind, and increasing inclusiveness in the workplace does that—especially in places where the community has issues with inclusiveness.
The book’s core is its customizable tools for turning the idea of transformational diversity into an employer’s tailored diversity program.
These six tools, called “action archetypes,” give users structure and content for building a new program. Each action archetype includes goals, recommended participants, a list of specific content, formats for learning such as classroom sessions or lunch roundtable talks, and more.
Among the action archetypes for employers to adapt are these:
- America the Diverse examines the country’s increasingly diverse workforce and the combination of commonly held American values with the cultural and communication challenges of working with different groups and in different regions of the United States.
- Communicating Across Cultures focuses in part on inclusive communications skills, cultural awareness of groups in a diverse environment and productive work with a culturally diverse team.
- Diversity Coaching is aimed at new executives or new team leaders in diverse organizations and focuses on assessing their leadership capacities and coaching them to develop their managerial styles, with an emphasis on improving the global scope of their decision-making.
- The book also touches on issues such as building teams across cultures, choosing technologies appropriate for diversity training, and more.
The P.E.R.C.E.V.D. Principles
By Edward Crenshaw
Steel Town Publishing, 2011
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As veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enter or return to the civilian workforce, employers must be ready not only to hire them but also to understand the often-hidden problems those veterans face.
Author Edward Crenshaw, a diversity consultant and trainer, aims to help employers better understand veterans as employees—both those with disabilities and those without. In The P.E.R.C.E.V.D. Principles, Crenshaw describes what today’s veterans have faced in the field, and he explains the mind-set of the military veteran who is entering the civilian workforce after those experiences.
Crenshaw argues that “Combat-exposed disability is an area of diversity that needs to be recognized,” and he lays out ways employers can adapt their diversity training and infrastructure to better accommodate veterans. He offers ideas from employers known for creating workplaces that are friendly to veterans with disabilities.
The book briefs readers on the following:
- Stereotypes, myths and stigmas associated with hidden disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. For example, a person with a brain injury might mistakenly be considered “slow” when all he may need to accomplish his job is more written instruction than verbal instruction.
- The pluses of hiring veterans and people with disabilities. Veterans often bring experience in running sensitive projects. They also have experience working under pressure, on deadline and in teams. Employees with disabilities, veterans or not, often are highly trainable, partly because they are used to following strict routines and protocols for their own health, which can make them good at learning new routines and skills for work, Crenshaw says.
- The challenges veterans and their employers face in the move “from camouflage to pinstripes.” Employers need to learn how the military work culture differs from typical office culture. For instance, a veteran whom the employer sees as lacking initiative may just be used to being given direct orders; the employer may need to be more explicit about tasks. Or a veteran thrust into a workplace where she is expected to compete with other employees may be deeply uncomfortable, having come from an environment where everyone is part of the team.
- What reasonable accommodation means and what employers’ obligations are under laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Crenshaw reviews these laws and frequently asked questions about them.
- What a veteran- and disability-friendly workplace looks like. Readers learn general rules and ideas to improve diversity programs and workplace practices to more effectively include veterans with and without disabilities.
World Class Diversity Management: A Strategic Approach
By R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010
List price: $32.95
Author and consultant R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr., calls for a universal framework for diversity management, a framework that employers can use to handle any diversity issues across any organization. Too often, he says, HR and other organization leaders understand what diversity means but don’t know how to translate that understanding into decisions and choices.
To help make the leap from understanding to practice, Thomas created the “strategic diversity management process” outlined here, and he guides readers through four core strategies:
- Managing workforce representation, with a focus on getting to “a desired numerical workforce profile with respect to race, gender, ethnicity” and other aspects of diversity.
- Managing workforce relationships, including accepting and valuing new and different employees and creating a climate free of tensions, where everyone can be productive.
- Managing diverse talent, “however it comes packaged in terms of race, gender and ethnicity.”
- Managing all diversity mixtures, not only those of race and gender, but also of behaviors, attributes and more.
The strategic diversity management process is a tool to help management make decisions based on these strategies.
First, leaders need to know the context of their decisions. What is the organization’s mission and business strategy? What is required for the organization to meet its mission and address competition?
Second, leaders must understand the diversity mixture—the individuals, groups and organizations with which they’re dealing, and the interests and priorities those players have. Third, Thomas’ strategic diversity management process helps leaders assess the tensions in the organization, looking at the sources and costs of tension and where the diversity challenges lie.
Fourth, leaders learn to identify the outcomes they want, the obstacles blocking those outcomes and ways to get problems resolved. Finally, leaders learn to identify possible responses to situations, examine pros and cons, assess which options offer the best possibilities for success, and more.
The book includes a case study of a CEO facing diversity challenges who applies strategic diversity management principles. Thomas illustrates the choices, options and problems this CEO, a composite of several real people, encounters.
Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va.
Leading With Your Heart
By Cari M. Dominguez and Jude Sotherlund
Society for Human Resource Management, 2010
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Common sense, character and compassion are the best tools for improving workplace diversity, whether you’re hiring, rating performance or deciding who gets to go to a development program.
Heart, rather than an armload of legal prescriptions, is the way toward real diversity, according to former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chair Cari M. Dominguez and Jude Sotherlund, former deputy assistant secretary of labor for employment standards.
Leading With Your Heart, a publication of the Society for Human Resource Management, aims to be a starting point inspiring readers who want more direction in their diversity efforts. Instead of serving up a specific formula for legal compliance, or listing best practices to emulate, the book urges readers to use their innate “character, compassion, empathy and integrity” to practice diversity.
“HR professionals are pivotal to the success of this combination,” Dominguez and Sotherlund insist. “They provide the bridge between the highest aspirations that exist within an organization and the daily efforts that will yield the desired results.”
The writers, both of them consultants today, use real-world examples from employers such as Ryder Systems Inc., PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble to discuss why clear statements of values matter, why getting middle managers to buy into diversity is key and why listening to employees at all levels could uncover important insights.
Inspirational leaders focus on recruiting and hiring by using all potential sources to ensure diversity, including employee referrals, networking, the Internet, search firms and more.
To develop employees’ and new hires’ talents, leaders need to give more attention to onboarding. Career advancement opportunities should be posted, and candidates chosen, in ways that are transparent and fair. Career development programs should help employees who have had issues in the past—a project that didn’t do well or a conflict with another person—get past those issues and get the development they need. The book also looks at why companies need to better prepare employees for jobs that require a geographic move.
The authors look at performance management and rewards and advise that managers must “record performance, not perceptions.” With many jobs increasingly based on the products of the employees’ brains rather than the output of a production line, performance management becomes more subjective—and potentially more open to bias. The book also urges employers to examine their salary structures and root out variations that could indicate hidden biases for or against certain people.
A chapter on policies examines differences between written rules and the reality of “how things get done around here.” Whether the rules cover hiring, performance management, compensation or diversity, they often get bent, and in those cases Dominguez and Sotherlund push for holding people accountable.
Listen to a SHRM video interview with Cari Dominguez
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