Human Capital Newsreel

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Maybe Amazon’s New World Of Work Isn’t Right For Someone Like Me

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” said former Amazon employee Bo Olson, who worked in book marketing. Or, they very wisely chose to leave.

Explanations like “we’re not totally sure” or “I’ll get back to you” are not acceptable, many employees said. Some managers sometimes dismissed such responses as “stupid” or told workers to “just stop it.”

Ideas are critiqued so harshly in meetings at times that some workers fear speaking up.

“You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus,” said a marketer who spent six years in Amazon’s retail division. “It’s a horrible feeling.”

“You either fit here, or you don’t”

Your Best Employee Role Model? It’s When You Have Active, Engaged Managers

“I love this job. The work I do is so interesting and I am finally in a job that I am learning so much.

My problem is that this manager of mine is totally out of control. Everybody knows it, even her boss, but he just looks the other way. That is why I am beginning my search. We have loss so many good people over the year I have been here because they just will not tolerate it.”

That was an interesting insight I was given the other day. It caused me to think of a seminar on employee engagement I ran in Cairo a few months back where one of the participants gave another interesting insight. They said, “Fire all the bad managers since that is where engagement begins.” Applause erupted.

Whatever your views on bad managers, and/or engagement for that matter, it comes down to two people in the room. The relationship that managers create with their team will determine the level of engagement within your organization.

It starts one connection at a time.

Does your department resemble a wake?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Does Everyone In Your Employ Know Your Organization’s Purpose?

“We believe in our mission and values. We are a connected company and our engagement is strong.
Our people believe in what we do. As a matter of fact, we have a leadership development session coming soon where we are bringing in a world class mountain climber to talk about being a leader.”

This was what I heard from a CEO who I had just met. I must say I was impressed — that is, until I met with their head of HR sometime later. She was incredulous and just shook her head.

That conversation came back into focus this week as I read a recent Gallup study titled A Company’s Purpose Has to Be a Lot More Than Words. I was informed that Mr. CEO I had heard from is the same guy who comes in every morning and walks through the workspace headed directly to his office without offering even the most basic pleasantry, “Good Morning.” He goes into his office and closes the door. So much for being connected.

The big disconnect.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Management 101: Connecting With Employees Beyond Their Job Description

Think back to grade school, high school, college, or your past jobs; I want you to think of the teacher or manager that during this period had an impact on your life. If you can’t relate to that time period, think of the person that connected with you in such a way that you still think of them. I want you to be able to explain why that person is special.”

This was my group discussion question as I led a manager development group the other week here in Dubai.

I wanted them to think of how that person connected to them and meant so much in their lives. This towering figure is one that comes across our minds from time to time, the warm glow comes from the positive interaction that you both had.

I reached out to one of my favorite teachers a while back and she was so shocked to hear from me. The thrust of my conversation was “thank you.”

Employee-manager equation

Are You Creating An Organization Where Anything Is Possible?

“Once a year, engineers at Facebook are encouraged — but not required — to ditch their jobs and try something else out within the company for 30 days. It’s a program that started in 2011 called
‘Hackamonth.‘ ”

As I read this quote the other day from a recent Business Insider article, I just had to smile. That’s because I am just so amazed at how the “newer” companies try out new ways to engage workers. As the article states, many of the new features and products at Facebook came about as a result of this “hackamonth” initiative.

Google also has a version of this, but I understand that it has been modified somewhat.

Creating the incubator throughout the organization

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


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.