Books in Brief

The Carrot Principle; Speed Lead; more

By Leigh Rivenbark Mar 1, 2007
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HR Magazine, March 2007The Carrot Principle

By Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, Free Press, 2007
List price: $21, 214 pages, ISBN: 978-0-7432-9009-8

Seventy-nine percent of employees who quit their jobs say a lack of appreciation is a key reason they left. So if employees value recognition so highly, why aren’t companies doing a better job of creating great recognition programs?

Excuses like the fear of jealousy among workers or a belief that “raises are recognition enough” prevent employers from creating workplace cultures that recognize employees effectively, say Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton in The Carrot Principle.

Basing their work on a decade-long study of 200,000 employees and managers, Gostick and Elton want leaders to develop a “carrot culture” in which valuing employees’ contributions spurs them to perform better. The benefits to employers affect the bottom line—the authors say that organizations with formal rewards strategies have 13 percent lower turnover than organizations without strategies.

Gostick and Elton list 125 ideas for recognition managers can start using today. They include a “carrot calculator” for determining what forms of recognition, and levels of award spending, appropriately fit employees’ actions.

The book identifies goal-setting, communications, trust and accountability as four areas vital to leadership. The authors detail how adding employee recognition in each area accelerates employee performance.

Goal-setting gets a boost from recognition by energizing employees to pursue the goals. The book shows how one firm created an in-house recognition consulting team to help managers tailor recognition to the achievement of specific goals. Communications also benefits from recognition because clearly worded, specific recognition tells employees exactly what behaviors the company values.

Employees trust managers more when the managers recognize their unique contributions at work and are willing to give employees credit. And recognition improves accountability if managers recognize good work throughout a project, not just at its end.

Gostick and Elton explain how to survey employees on engagement and satisfaction. Readers learn how to recognize employees daily, mark “above and beyond” work, celebrate career milestones and create meaningful celebrations.

The authors specialize in recognition consulting at O.C. Tanner Co.

Speed Lead

By Kevan Hall , Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2007
List price: $29.95, 210 pages, ISBN: 978-1-85788-374-9

In hosts of books and seminars, managers, executives and HR leaders hear today’s common business advice: Communicate more. Emphasize teamwork. Be accessible. Build community and shared values in the workplace.

In Speed Lead, Kevan Hall has a different take: Communication is a problem today, not a solution. So-called teams often aren’t teams at all. Too much accessibility undermines initiative. Building community at work comes at a cost that’s not always worthwhile. Companies should establish the practices they want and leave “cultural values” alone.

Hall, CEO of consulting firm Global Integration Ltd., says increasing complexity in larger companies slows work down as people are expected to collaborate across teams, functions and countries.

He advocates faster, simpler management of communication, cooperation, control and community. Each chapter ends with an exercise to put the ideas to work immediately.

Speed Lead notes that organizations use the word “team” to describe any group of people who work together, but says a team should mean people working interdependently. He unravels the ideas of “spaghetti teams,” where members can meet goals only by working cooperatively, and “star groups,” where people with similar jobs and skills report to the same boss but don’t operate interdependently.

Hall guides readers in analyzing whether they need a spaghetti team or a star group and advises on speeding up cooperation among team or group members and keeping motivation high.

A five-step plan for wresting back time wasted on communication includes dumping e-mails that don’t lead to actions or blocking e-mails from sources whose messages you routinely delete. Learn pros and cons of communication tools like face-to-face talks, conference calls and e-mail and when to use each effectively.

Readers also get advice on:

  • Giving up control and getting employees to be more autonomous.
  • Analyzing why employees come to managers with problems they might have solved themselves.
  • Building corporate community when people are pulled by conflicting loyalties. For example, in international firms, employees may fall into the global group, the locally loyal group or the middle group that cooperates with different cultures more often.
  • Getting away from labeling “company values” because those values may not translate the same way in different cultures. Companies should focus on clear practices and behaviors, not on values.

Training Older Workers And Learners

By James L. Moseley and Joan Conway Dessinger
Wiley, 2007
List price: $50, 387 pages, ISBN: 0-7879-8117-6

Older workers and learners, or OWLs as this volume dubs them, will make up 51 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2010, the Department of Labor predicts. Authors James L. Moseley and Joan Conway Dessinger discuss who OWLs are as workers and learners, the life transitions affecting their learning abilities, and ways learning professionals can choose, design, implement and evaluate training for OWLs.

Every section of Training Older Workers and Learners provides a list of “action steps” to prompt workplace learning and to encourage HR professionals to learn more, become champions of OWLs and structure effective training.

Readers get dozens of tables, sample surveys adaptable for any organization’s use, checklists and other tools on OWLs and their learning needs. Tools include suggestions about OWL-friendly team, online and classroom learning.

Focusing on workers 40 and older, the book covers these topics:

  • Why do OWLs keep working later in life? Longer lives, economic needs and a desire to keep contributing in their fields may keep OWLs working. Job cuts, burnout and career plateaus can affect whether OWLs stay.
  • Research probes OWLs’ ability to learn new things and their tendency to be self-directed learners who take responsibility for learning but who also may be less adapted to group training. Action steps guide readers in learning more about OWLs’ learning advantages and disadvantages.
  • OWLs face life transitions that affect cognitive abilities, memory, learning styles, physical abilities and social abilities like working with people of different generations. Action steps include exercises to help OWLs maintain cognitive skills and ways employers can reduce stresses that may distract these workers.
  • Advice on designing and delivering training to OWLs includes how to use their experience in “action learning” that solves an organization’s real problems while “simultaneously building individual and team competencies.”

Moseley is associate professor of instructional technology at Wayne State University College of Education, and Dessinger is founder of The Lake Group, a consulting firm specializing in workplace learning.

Recruiting, Retaining And Promoting Culturally Different Employees

By Lionel Laroche and Don Rutherford

Butterworth-Heinemann, 2007
List price: $32.95, 297 pages, ISBN: 978-0-7506-8240-4

Employers in North America miss out on “an incredible talent pool” of recent immigrants because of cultural differences that affect everything from how those immigrants word their resumes to how their managers delegate tasks, write Lionel Laroche and Don Rutherford, consultants specializing in multicultural workplace issues.

Recruiting, Retaining and Promoting Culturally Different Employees—aimed at HR practitioners, line managers, culturally diverse employees and organizations that help immigrants find jobs—examines how cultural differences affect nuts-and-bolts employment issues like resumes, job interviews, orientation, manager-employee relationships, teamwork, career management, retention and promotion.

Resumes. Applicants from many countries aren’t used to having to sell their skills or cover specific work accomplishments on their resumes; instead, they may emphasize their broad experience or especially their education, their academic rank at college, past job titles and the number of people reporting to them. The book outlines how to level the playing field for these kinds of resumes, including explaining the selection process in detail and being specific about required skills.

Interviews. Learn how greetings, gestures, body language and personal space needs can be misinterpreted (like the way some candidates may avoid eye contact with the interviewer because in their cultures, direct eye contact would be rude). Candidates might downplay their accomplishments, overemphasize family connections or be unused to discussing their own roles in team efforts.

Orientation. These new employees need more than an orientation packet. Orient them to the business’s culture, their new city and country, local schools for their children, and other family support services. Consider partnering them with current employees to help them settle in.

Cross-cultural communication. From nonverbal differences, like people’s preferences for hard or soft handshakes, to verbal ones, like appropriate humor or use of silent pauses, the potential for communication mistakes is great. Tips include mirroring others, asking for clarification and dealing quickly with gaffes.

Retention and performance. Culturally different managers and employees may have very different ideas of what it means to be a good employee. Does the employee come from a hierarchical culture where employees are expected to do only the tasks given to them? Managers in America’s individualistic culture might view the employee as lacking initiative, but the employee thinks he’s fulfilling the definition of a good worker. The book examines how cultural views on hierarchy and individualism at work affect communications, decision-making, performance evaluation and relationships with clients.

Teamwork. Employers also need to figure out whether hires from other cultures are more individualistic or more collective, which affects how they work in teams. Laroche and Rutherford provide ideas for team members working with teammates who may be more used to operating on their own or who may prefer a highly collaborative team.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va. Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement by SHRM or HR Magazine.

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