Links for May 9 2010

Employee Engagement – how it affects you

Some interesting research results being reported over on Fistful of Talent by Lizz Pellet who is the Chief Culture Officer at EMERGE International in a post titled “The Economic Recovery F-You Factor“.

And yes…for those keeping score, this is the 2nd day in a row that I’ve linked to Fistful of Talent…they’ve got some great stuff over there.

A few highlights from the article:

Leadership IQ Group surveyed 4,000 individuals who watched colleagues get laid off and were left behind to carry on and found:

  • 75% said their productivity had declined
  • 70% said the quality of products/services had declined
  • 81% said customer service had dropped

Interesting numbers and not surprising.

Do you want to do business with an organization that shows these numbers?  Would you want to give your hard earned money to a company who’s employees just aren’t engaged and really just don’t give a hoot about their job, their product/service or helping you?

Think employee engagement doesn’t matter?  Take a look at those numbers and then think again.  Employee engagement is more than a buzzword or something consultants are trying to sell you…it’s real and effects your employees, your organization, your customers and you.

During downturns like this, organizations always have to cut costs and inevitably there are lay-offs.   That said, the manner in which companies cut costs, treat their employees and handle employee layoffs will come back to haunt them.

What happens to these companies when the economy picks up?  It won’t be pretty.

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The Dangers of Hidden Talent – New CIO Series

TalentThe New CIO is a weekly article about the challenges facing today’s CIO as well as what can be done to prepare for future challenges.

Do you know the full capabilities of your team?

Sure…you know what their resume’s said.  You think you know their backgrounds and their experience…but do you really know your team?

Do you have a developer who, in their free time, is extremely active in the blogosphere and the social media world?  Do you have a project manager who really wants to make a lateral move into service management?

Do you really know your team?  If you don’t, you may be leaving a lot of talent, skills and passion on the table.

Dangers of Hidden Talent

Leaving talent untapped is unforgivable to me and should be unacceptable to you. We live in a world where we’re expected to do more with less and rely more heavily on people’s knowledge & skills to make our businesses work.

Knowing this is the case, why do we hire a person, train them (do you train your people?) and then forget about them?  Why do we ignore the idea of talent management and human capital? Read more of my thoughts on those topics here and here and if you’re looking for a great book on Talent & Competitive Advantage, check out Talent : Making People Your Competitive Advantage (amazon affiliate link) and/or Talent on Demand: Managing Talent in an Age of Uncertainty (amazon affiliate link).  Both of those books are excellent.

Do you have regular meetings with your team?  Do you talk about their careers?  Do you know that your star programmer is a widely read blogger?  Can you use the talent and passion of that programmer to more than just develop the next application?

Hidden talent doesn’t just sit within your front-line teams.  Did you know that your Director of Technical Support is working on her Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing?  Are there things she can do to provide more value to the organization than just leading the service desk?

Hidden talent is hidden profit, hidden revenue and hidden advantage.  Hidden talent can also be the death of your team if it isn’t uncovered.

Uncovering Hidden Talent

Do you know what drives each of your team members? What really gets them excited in the morning?  I’d bet there are a few people on your team that aren’t that happy in their current role and who are looking for something else to do.  Rather than lose them to another company, why not help them find something more interesting within your team and/or organization?

What can you do to help them become happier and more engaged? Could you get your programmer / blogger to work on more projects where he can use his writing skills?  What could your Tech Support Director provide to the organization now that you know she’s extremely interested in creative writing?

Of course you can’t make everyone 100% happy all the time.  People still have jobs to do…but if you take some time to talk with your team about the career ambitions and do what you can to help them reach their goals, you’ll be amazed at the response you’ll receive from them.

What can you do to uncover hidden talent?  Simple…talk to your team.  I mean really talk.  Try to understand their aspirations and what drives them.  Look for their hidden passions & skills.  Work with your team to uncover the hidden talents and you’ll see new vigor from your team.

Finding the Talent – A New CIO skill

So…time to add one more skillset to The New CIO’s job requirements…that of Talent Miner.  Of course, this role can be fulfilled by any member of the IT staff (and anyone else in the organization), but as the top dog in IT you’ve got to lead people in this area.

The New CIO needs to get things done with the resources given to them…but those resources might be able to provide  more value than originally thought…if you look for the hidden talent. “Doing more with less” is the mantra these days…find those folks on your team who are passionate about something and find ways to let them bring that passion to their job.

Uncover the hidden talent within your team/organization and watch the growth that occurs.  Fail to uncover that talent and you’ll fail to reach the potential of your people and your team.

Join me next week for another article in The New CIO series.

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If they could choose, would they stay?

In these troubled times, it’s hard for organizations to focus on employee moral and happiness. I’ve heard many ‘leaders’ say things like “they should be happy they have a job” when confronted with low moral and employee unhappiness.

My response to those ‘leaders’ is this:

Think about what will happen when the economy rebounds and the job market returns…will you be so casually responding to your employees’ low morale?  Most stare blankly at me and have no response.

I then hit them with “Do you think your employees will stay in your organization as soon as the rebound happens?”  To their credit, most have been honest and answered “no”.

Organizations *must* focus on their people during this downturn if they have any hope of surviving and thriving when the economy picks back up.

If you’re a manager, ask yourself this question to keep your focus on your people: If they could choose, would they stay?

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Are you looking after your employees?

wanted to follow up my post titled “In a downturn, people are vital” with a few more thoughts on the subject.

In that post, I said that “employees are your most important asset in any economy”…which is absolutely true.  I started thinking about that comment and realized that although many people might agree, you might not really understand what that means.

  • In good times, companies are more willing to pay out bonuses.  In bad times, bonuses disappear.
  • In good times, companies are hiring the best and brightest and salary can be negotiated based on experience and need.  In bad times, companies  revert to their ‘standard practices’ of paying ‘market rates’ regardless of how experienced the person is.
  • In good times, companies will ask for employees to give 110 percent.  In bad times, they ask for 350%.
  • In good times, training is plentiful.  In bad times, training is non-existent.
  • In good times, lunches and perks are plentiful.  In bad times, employees are lucky to get a free pizza for their efforts.

Does anyone see an issue here?

Why should we only treat employees well during the good times?

If you are an employer in a bad economy, your focus is on saving money and riding out the bad times.  Wrong move.  Your focus should be on growing your employees and making them happier than they were during the good times.

Why?  It’s simple.

During bad times, jobs are hard to come by so people will put up with a lot of crap.  But…when the market picks up, those people that have been worked to death and feel neglected will go somewhere else.  They WILL go somewhere else.

If you are a manager, ask yourself this question:

Do I want any of my team members to go work for my competitor?  If the answer is no (as it should be) you better be treating your people right or they will most likely end up somewhere else as soon as the economy picks up.

When times are tough, its tough  to spend on your employees…but many times, the simplest things will go a long way.  Don’t work your team too hard.  Say Thank You.  Take your team out to lunch. Send your staff to training courses…or at least allow them to take some time during the week to do some self-study.

The simple things will help you make it through a downturn in the economy and be ready to blow competitors away.

Anyone have any other ideas that can help during rough times?  Let me know in the comments.

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In a downturn, people are vital

Management Issues had an article on Sept 25 titled “Looking after talent is vital in a downturn” that gave me hope when I saw the title.

The article discusses results of a survey Personnel Decisions International that shows that organizations are starting to realize that people are key…especially during hard times.

The article says:

Despite the economy taking a nosedive and more firms cutting jobs, U.S managers say they are now spending more time working on retaining key staff, including paying them bonuses and sending them on training courses.

According to a poll of more than 530 HR and other professionals by recruitment firm Personnel Decisions International, nearly a third ranked “accelerating development of key employees” as their top strategy when it came to retaining top talent, followed by “competitive pay and benefits”.

Interesting results.

The article continues with other statistics from the PDI research and other surveys….but it seems that only the first few sentences are related to ‘looking after talent in a downturn’.  I was hoping to read an essay on how, during an economic downturn, your people are one of your most important assets.  I guess I’ll have to write that essay myself 🙂

While I don’t want to get into now…and don’t have time to do the research (I have a paper that is due in 3 hours), I would like to say:

Employees are your most important asset during Good AND Bad times.

There…ok..I feel better. 🙂

The rest of the article has some interesting statistics related to employee engagement:

  • nearly six out of 10 workers said they were not fully engaged, according to the poll of more than 2,000 employees.
  • Having a good relationship with a supervisor was a key element of feeling engaged, cited by nearly eight out of 10 workers
  • seven out of 10 workers polled said they had been asked to accomplish tasks without receiving proper training beforehand

These are very interesting but don’t relate to the title…these are engagement issues that will are interesting in and of themselves. I get the feeling the author of the article needed some filler and tried (unsuccessfully) to link the two topics.

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