Winter 2011 Managing Smart Resources

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Based on research studies covering 350,000 people, and using detailed examples from employers, The Orange Revolution(Free Press, 2010) unearths the behaviors that make teams successful and prescribes ways leaders can start building high-performance teams right away.

The book looks at what members of breakthrough teams do well—being competent, setting goals, visualizing their cause clearly and more—as well as what leaders do to make teams successful. Those leadership tasks include ensuring that the right people are on the teams, translating corporate goals for the team level and promoting a company culture of appreciation.

Some of the characteristics and actions that make successful teams include:

  • Finding a common cause. Having a shared purpose that everyone understands is critical, and authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton outline five ways teams can establish common causes. Their case study looks at how one employer slashed its turnover from 36 percent to 6 percent by getting teams on board with a shared purpose.
  • Ensuring competence. Gostick and Elton show how team members “increase their worth to each other” and establish credibility by increasing their competence. The authors note that research showed leaders who possess four characteristics—goal-setting, communication, trust and accountability—tend to get good business results. The book gives a primer on those characteristics for both leaders and team members.
  • “Cultivating” a team.Three things help forge a real team. First is the “wow” factor: Team members should ask, “How can we impress each other?” Second is the rule “No surprises.” Gostick and Elton show how respect, responsiveness, availability and acceptance of others’ ideas help cultivate teams, and they advise organizations to keep vital information such as deadlines, goals and progress in clear view of everyone. The third rule is “Cheer.” This goes beyond basic corporate recognition programs that the authors say play only on people’s fear, greed and ambition. Cheering means making encouragement among team members second nature so that “pettiness and finger-pointing end.” The book offers ideas on how to foster that kind of encouragement.

A chapter on “101 Ways to Bring Your Team Together” provides ideas that can be implemented quickly. It also anticipates and addresses the many concerns people may have—from “How do we handle factions within our team?” to “We get bogged down in daily demands and have trouble seeing the bigger goals.”

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Two huge forces—social media and the Millennial generation—are converging on the workplace, and together they will change it. How do employers revamp talent management to get and keep young workers, and what role can social media play?

After two global surveys and interviews with more than 50 major employers, from NASA and Nokia to IBM and JetBlue, authors Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd reveal some answers in The 2020 Workplace (HarperCollins, 2010).

It’s not too early to target younger Millennials, those still years away from applying for jobs. The book covers pre-college outreach, based on the idea that students are thinking about their careers long before they enter college—and even before they’re in high school. Case studies look at working with students in the K-12 group and developing partnerships with schools.

The 2020 Workplace compares traditional recruiting with social media recruiting and offers definitions for readers who aren’t familiar with social media. Sections discuss how to use YouTube, Facebook, Second Life, Twitter and other social media for recruiting.

Meister and Willyerd make a case for companies becoming “uber-connected.” For example, IBM has an internal, online mass collaboration program on its in-house social network. Connectivity also can drive innovation, as it does at Bell Canada, where an online tool lets employees vote, American Idol-style, for new ideas that they submit themselves.

The book also provides a blueprint for setting a social media strategy, from identifying business reasons to use these tools, to developing a pilot site, to deciding how to measure social media’s effectiveness at meeting the workplace’s needs.

The book also covers:

  • How to use social networking models for learning and development. Employers can apply technology to career path tracking, on-demand mentoring and “microfeedback” that provides instant input on ideas.
  • How managers and leaders fit into the newly connected workplace. To manage Millennial employees, managers will have to alter their styles and accelerate leadership development.
  • How the workplace will change by 2020. An acute, global talent shortage will make competition intense. Social networking will be the starting point for recruiting. Work-at-home “web commuters” will “force corporate offices to reinvent themselves.” And social media literacy will be required for all employees.

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In business, as on the racetrack, faster is better. Just look at what happened when Jocelyn R. Davis, Henry M. Frechette Jr. and Edwin H. Boswell, authors of Strategic Speed (Harvard Business Press, 2010) asked hundreds of business leaders to rate their own firms’ speed of execution relative to others in their industry.

Companies describing themselves as “faster” or “much faster” averaged 40 percent higher sales growth and 52 percent higher operating profit than did their slower competitors, according to the authors.

Strategic speed means getting things done “not only quickly, but well,” and fast companies focus not just on processes but also on people. The book examines mistakes organizations make when they pay too much attention to pace and processes and not enough to ensuring that the company is flexible, employees are engaged and ideas are innovative.

Three factors increase strategic speed:

  • Clarity. Everyone understands the organization’s direction. Leaders are deeply involved, people take time to review how initiatives are really going, and employees get training when new initiatives start.
  • Unity. Everyone agrees that the direction is worthwhile and that they need to work together. Team members talk comfortably about problems and are flexible about helping each other out and switching responsibilities.
  • Agility.Everyone is willing to adapt swiftly but still keep strategic goals in mind. The company innovates and explores new methods and tools.

Strategic Speed offers tips on measuring a company’s speed—the amount of time it takes for people or initiatives to start producing value for the organization and the amount of value that increases over time.

With detailed examples from organizations ranging from financial firms to universities to technology firms, the book shows how changing employee and manager behavior affects the focus on people and improves speed. Readers learn to create more-realistic workload projections, introduce change in stages, reduce complexity in management processes, get employee backing for initiatives and more.

The book includes surveys readers can use in their own organizations to assess the value individuals and teams provide over time; to check whether the organization has the prescribed clarity, unity and agility; and to profile whether leaders are helping or hindering speed.

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Leadership Without Excuses (McGraw-Hill, 2010) aims to prevent finger-pointing before it happens and create a climate where employees don’t make excuses for performance failures—and leaders don’t accept excuses. Authors Jeff Grimshaw and Gregg Baron argue for increasing real accountability while creating rewards that actually motivate employees. They prescribe three changes:

Leaders need to communicate “clear and credible expectations for performance.” Employees need help dealing with the gray areas that arise in business, and they need help applying company values to the real world, Grimshaw and Baron note.Leadership Without Excusesmodels how realistic discussions, using real-life scenarios, can show employees the way.

Leaders also learn to ensure that roles are clear, pinpointing who is responsible for what, even in highly interdependent organizations. To ensure that employees understand what leaders truly want, the book teaches about “commander’s intent,” a clear statement that specifies the end state the leader wants while letting people improvise to get to that state.

Leaders need to create “compelling consequences” for unacceptable performance.Too many leaders tolerate behaviors they really don’t want to see and, at the same time, hand out rewards that aren’t truly moti

vating.

The book shows how compelling consequences include not only loss of money, titles or bonuses, but loss—or, in the case of rewards, gains—in less tangible areas, such as responding to their requests, consulting with them on future projects, networking with and for them, and increasing their visibility and buzz within the organization.

Readers also learn that the biggest stick is “the power to take things away,” and, again, those losses aren’t just monetary. They include “soft” losses that shame people, such as losing bragging rights for a project, losing teammates’ confidence and more.

Leaders need to lead conversations that are based in reality.This includes serious talks that scrutinize possible projects honestly and analyze factors both for and against success. Realistic analysis upfront prevents finger-pointing later. The authors also warn against making fetishes of popular business mantras—“do what the celebrity CEO does and you’ll be a winner, too” or “quantify everything and you can’t go wrong”—because such ideas, followed slavishly, damage real accountability.

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PivotLink has released a performance and business intelligence analysis tool called ReadiMetrix. The online software includes three applications that can combine performance indicators, business reports and other data into a single analysis designed to help businesses streamline their performance management systems. ReadiMetrix offers sales, marketing and human resource professionals ways to measure the results of best practices, monitor progress and align the analyses with business goals.

(866) 625-9884 |www.pivotlink.com|sales@pivotlink.com

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Workscape Inc. has released a new version of its Performance Manager software that can help employers improve workforce productivity by providing an effective manager-employee communications platform. The software is designed to tie goals to development plans of individual employees and not to annual performance evaluations. The model allows managers to move away from a rigid culture of annual evaluations toward a culture that focuses on communications and offers continual workforce interaction and planning. By using the updated software, employees can view a simple snapshot of their goals, competencies and development plans on one screen so they know what is expected of them at all times.

(888) 605-9620 |www.workscape.com|info@workscape.com

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The First Jobs Institute is now offering young job seekers a job search resource. The revamped website, FirstJobs.org, features profiles of business and community leaders who discuss the lessons they learned from their first jobs and how they used those lessons to develop successful careers.

(202) 463-7114 |www.firstjobs.org|mchardy@firstjobs.org

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ACT, a source of workplace skills assessment programs, has launched an online tool designed to estimate an individual’s readiness to take certain ACT WorkKeys skills assessments. The WorkKeys Readiness Indicator can help employers measure an employee’s or applicant’s proficiency in three of the ACT WorkKeys assessments. The web-based system allows individuals to complete actual WorkKeys test items in an abbreviated format and in a proctored setting. Participants receive a report indicating their readiness for the full-length assessments or suggesting specific skills improvement training.

(319) 337-1000 |www.act.org|info@act.org

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