Why Do We Ignore the Tip of the Spear?


I’ve written here before that middle managers are the tip of the spear, organizationally speaking, for everything. Productivity? Check. Change management? Check. Communication? Check. Culture? Check. Engagement? Check. Talent development? Check. Retention/turnover? Check. Everything.

I ran across a good little white paper from Grovo, a workplace learning company, that underscores this point, yet again. Good Manager, Bad Manager:  New research on the modern management deficit and how to train your way out of it, is a quick read and reminds us yet again that training middle management might be the most critical item on your training and development agenda.

“Management isn’t like riding a bike, where you learn it once and you’re set for life.”

This opening statement frames the discussion in this paper which reports that 99% of companies do offer some sort of management training and 93% of middle managers frequently attend it. These statistics notwithstanding, Grove has found that this training is deficient in three key ways:

  • Not comprehensive: 98% of middle managers believe that the managers in the organization need more training
  • Not timely: 87% of middle managers wish they had received more training when they first became a manager
  • Not habitual: 61% of managers report that training is offered only a few times each year and 11% report training being offered only once a year.

Grove has survey data that suggests that 98% of managers believe that key performance metrics would improve if managers were trained to be effective more quickly:


With $15 billion spent by U.S. organizations every year on leadership development, it seems we could really ramp up the ROI on that investment by getting to new leaders faster, with more frequent and engaging training. Looking at it another, way, Michelle McQuaid predicts that better, more capable middle managers can save organizations $360 billion annually in productivity increases.

This report is full of gold as you plan your 2017 training/development activities and budget. I’d encourage you to take a look. Maybe you can capture some of the $360 billion in productivity increases in your organization while you sharpen the tip of your spear.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employee Development Program, Grovo, Learning/Development, Managerial Effectiveness, Performance, Productivity, Training

Next Up On The Workforce Landscape: Independence Pass


Independent Work:  Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy, published this week by the McKinsey Global Institute, is fascinating reading. If you’re in HR, Talent Acquisition or are a leader of people, you’ve probably been paying attention to the coverage of the “Gig Economy” or the “Contingent Workforce.” Mary Meeker wrote about it in this year’s Global Internet Trends report, and I wrote about it here. But this white paper really delves into the phenomenon of independent work and it’s hard to look away. The report is 148 pages of fun and the Executive Summary is a mere 24 pages. They both pack a punch with data and graphs galore. Let’s just focus on the Executive Summary. If you like that, you can dig even deeper into the full report.

The premise of looking at the why of independent working arrangements is quite compelling. We all know that there are people driving for Uber or Lyft because they can’t connect back to the world of full-time employment following the Great Recession. McKinsey calls them “Reluctants.” We also know there are lots of people driving for those organizations because they want to pick up some extra cash; they are the “Casual Earners.” The “Financially Strapped” are those who would never choose this arrangement but for their financial situation. But we’re also probably aware that there are more and more people in the economy who are choosing to be “Free Agents,” who are intentionally leaving traditional employment models behind and reveling in their freedom.

There are a number of insights here that are worth noting:

  • Independent work has three defining features: autonomy; payment by task, assignment, or sales; and a short term financial relationship.
  • 20-30% of working adults in the U.S. and the EU-15 are independent workers of one kind of another. That’s up to 162 million workers! (54-68 million of them in the U.S.)
  • Free Agents (independent by choice as a primary source of revenue) report greater satisfaction with their work lives than those in traditional jobs.
  • Currently only 15% of independent workers use digital platforms like Uber, Airbnb and Etsy – although their use is growing rapidly.
  • 1 in 6 workers in traditional jobs would like to become primary independent workers. (That’s your 1 in 6.)
  • Independent workers who sell goods (Etsy) or lease assets (Airbnb) are more likely to use digital platforms than those who provide labor services (TaskRabbit).


The Executive Summary ends with a discussion of the future:  the impact of a continued shift toward independent work and noting that benefits, income security protection, and other worker protections need to be addressed. The stakeholders of these issues are not currently known to work well with each other, however policy makers, economic intermediaries and innovators, organizations and the workers themselves clearly need to work through critical dynamics to prepare consumers, employers, governments and workers to create a more workable framework for independent work success.

As you wonder which of the 16% of your workers is planning to step into the gig economy full-time and by choice, you may want to start addressing some cultural relics that are accelerating their choice to work independently. This report has some great data and insights to help you think it through.

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Filed under China Gorman, Contingent Workforce, Data Point Tuesday, Gig Economy, Independent Workers, McKinsey Global Institute

It’s Tough Being a Recruiter

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The new JobVite 2016 Recruiter Nation survey analysis is in. (I wrote about last year’s survey here.) And, as usual, it’s interesting. The JobVite folks surveyed 1,600 recruiters – customers and non-customers — from the U.S. This is the ninth such annual survey of recruiting professionals and most of the answers and analysis are what you would expect. Competition is fierce; there’s a talent shortage; culture fit is becoming more important for employers; hiring is increasing.

But there were a few surprises:

  • 86% of recruiters don’t believe their companies will make layoffs within the next 12 months
  • Only 10% of recruiters think their companies will replace jobs with “robots” in the next 2-3 years
  • Only 42% of recruiters said their company’s career site supports mobile
  • Just 43% of recruiters leverage Facebook in the recruiting process

It’s interesting that recruiters think that layoffs aren’t coming at their companies – and neither are robots. I wonder if that’s wishful thinking? I wonder if recruiters are involved in those kinds of decisions.

It is surprising, however, that with all the readily available date about job seeker behavior that more companies aren’t investing in mobile apply. This chart shows clearly the rationale for that investment:


And while 67% of job seekers use Facebook to research companies and their cultures, only 47% of recruiters use Facebook to vet candidates during the hiring process. Missed opportunity? Probably.


These are just a couple of the gems in this year’s Recuiter Nation survey. Enjoy!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, JobVite, Recruiter Nation, Recruiting Trends

Generations at Work: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

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I’m not a big fan of over-generalizing the characteristics of the different generations in the workforce. It’s just too easy to say “Millennials are entitled;” “Baby Boomers aren’t good with social media;” or “Gen Xers are lazy.” Too easy, and not at all true. Any of it.

So I read with some interest the results of a survey about the work habits of the generations that Paychex recently published. There are some interesting takeaways about who wastes time at work – and in what industries, geographic location, organizational role, exempt status and education level – in addition to the obligatory age demographic comparison. It’s interesting food for thought.

Here’s one of the comparison graphics:  this one compares time wasted at work by role, exempt status, and education.


Other comparisons include

  • Industries that waste the most and least time surfing the Internet
  • Regions that waste the most time surfing the Internet at work
  • Most common time-waste reducers
  • Comparing generational work habits
  • Hardest working generations, industries, and education levels
  • Hardest working regions in the U.S.

If you have a sense that you’ve got a time-wasting problem in your organization, this information could be helpful as you work on a solution. If you’re interested in how the generations stack up in the “who works hardest” rodeo, you’ll definitely find this interesting.

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Filed under China Gorman, Cyberloafing, Data Point Tuesday, Generations at work, Paychex, Wasting time at work

Business Depends on Learning

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Every year, the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report is a treasure trove of insight into organization behavior and opportunities for success. You can go back to it multiple times and get something new each time. This is true for the 2016 report as it was for previous reports.

I was re-reading the chapter on Learning:  Employees Take Charge, and was taken, again, with the evaluation of where organizations are today and where they will have to be in the short term in order to attract, retain and deploy the talent they need.

This chart says it all, and should be required reading – not just for HR, but all leaders who hope to hang on to their team long enough to develop them!


Deloitte believes that the C-suite really does understand that in order to execute their business plans they need to constantly upgrade skills and focus on quickly developing leaders. I wish I had their faith in the C-suite!

This chapter in the larger trends reports ends with recommended starting points for organizations:

  • Recognize that employee-learners are in the driver’s seat
  • Become comfortable with the shift from push to pull
  • Use design thinking
  • Use technology to drive employee-centric learning
  • Realign and reengage
  • Adopt a learning architecture that supports an expanded vision for development
  • Adopt a learning architecture that supports continuous learning

If you haven’t downloaded the full report yet, do it now. You don’t have to read the whole thing in one sitting. Take it in bite sized pieces. You’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under C-suite, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Employee Development Program, Global Human Capital, Learning/Development

Is Your Organization An ACE?

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I rarely do book reviews here at Data Point Tuesday. When I do, it’s because the book is written specifically for my readers, HR professionals in the trenches, and because I know and respect the author. Today I’d like to recommend just such a book.

fulfilled-schiemannFulfilled! Critical Choices:  Work, Home, Life, written by William A. Schiemann, will be available on October 1. Lucky me, I got an advance copy and loved it! If you’re active in SHRM, then you have probably heard Bill speak at the Annual conference or at one of many state conferences where he continuously supports the HR profession. I saw Bill two weeks ago at the KYSHRM conference where we both keynoted. He’s a Ph.D. researcher, writer and consultant bringing evidence-based research into practical and useful focus for organizations of all types and sizes.

Fulfilled! Is a guidebook as well as a workbook – it helps you organize and chart the steps to find meaning in your life and your work, as well as supporting your organization in creating a culture where every employee can find that meaning. It’s full of true individual examples of people achieving real meaning as well as examples of people who missed the waypoints along the way and never achieved true fulfillment.

From an organizational perspective the organizing concept is ACE: alignment, capability and engagement, which Bill calls “People Equity.” Bill’s consulting firm, Metrus Group, has found that organizations with high People Equity have:

  • Higher profits or reach their goals more effectively
  • More loyal customers who buy more
  • High employee retention
  • Higher quality output

“The organizations that achieve high People Equity (high alignment, capabilities, and engagement) have a distinct advantage over their competitors. And the individuals who apply this concept to their live also win…”

I really appreciated both the individual and organizational discussions about alignment, capabilities and engagement. They are simple and easily understood – and so impactful. This is one “How-To” book that ought to be on every HR leader’s bookshelf.

I don’t want to give away the good stuff – the book is available on Amazon on October 1 and you should get it. But here’s a final view at the final chapters of the book, Life Lessons:

Lesson 1:  Keep the end in mind

Lesson 2:  Nurture your body

Lesson 3:  Build a social network (but have at least one fantastic friend)

Lesson 4:  Always seek things you are passionate about

Lesson 5:  Take reasonable risks

Lesson 6:  Never stop learning – never!

Lesson 7:  Stick to your values and spirituality

Lesson 8:  Resilience – find the silver lining

Lesson 9:  Give and get

Lesson 10:  Check in with yourself regularly – force it!

You may think to yourself, I’ve read this book before. But I assure you, you haven’t. Bill brings to life real people who made good decisions as well as mistakes; who risked it all and who played it safe; who learned and who never learned. And the organizing principle of People Equity is truly a new view backed by years of research and real life practice.

And after you’ve read Fullfilled!, take it with you to your next HR conference. Chances are good that Bill will be keynoting and you can get him to autograph it for you!


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Filed under Balance, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, Happiness at Work, HR, HR Books, Human Resources, Performance, Productivity

Davos and HR Data

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You’ve heard of “Davos,” the annual meeting of the global movers and shakers of business, held in Davos, Switzerland. But you might not be aware that the convener of that event, The World Economic Forum, is committed to “improving the state of the world and is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.” “Davos” gets lots of press, but the ongoing work of the organization provides a trove of data, analysis and information for any leader, in any organization, anywhere in the world.

I recently downloaded a January, 2016 report, The Future of Jobs:  Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and had a great time wandering through the massive (167 pages) report. Don’t let the length deter you from downloading and skimming the content. There’s something there for everyone who is thinking about and strategizing the future of their workforce.

The analysis in the report is from a survey of CHROs, other CXOs as well as functional HR leaders representing 13 million employees in 15 developed and emerging economies. A total of 371 companies from 9 broad industry groupings are represented in the data.

The report is organized into two parts:

Part One:  Preparing for the Workforce of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • The Future of Jobs and Skills
    • Drivers of change
    • Employment trends
    • Skills stability
    • Future workforce strategy
  • The Industry Gender Gap
    • The business case for change
    • Gaps in the female talent pipeline
    • Barriers to change
    • Women and work in the fourth industrial revolution
    • Approaches to leveraging female talent

Part Two:  Industry, Regional and Gender Gap Profiles

  • Industry profiles
  • Country and regional profiles
  • Industry gender gap profiles

The Drivers of Change section is a primer on what employers are facing from a demographic and socio-economic perspective, as well as from a technological perspective. I talk to HR leaders all the time who have a hard time balancing strategic responses to these two drivers of change. This chart shows the global top drivers in each of these two buckets and how they rank with the survey respondents.

WEF Fig 2

This is just one of a number of useful analyses in the the report.

And an analysis such as this wouldn’t be complete without recommendations for action. The short term focus areas for action are not surprising:

  • Reinvent the HR function
  • Make use of data analytics
  • Talent diversity – no more excuses
  • Leverage flexible working arrangements and online talent platforms

Everyone performing research and analysis, as well as writing about macro trends in the talent space agrees with these four areas of immediate focus.

The longer term recommended actions are not quite as well socialized, and in many ways, are the most critical strategies we can and should begin to deploy NOW:

  • Rethink education systems
  • Incent lifelong learning
  • Accelerate cross-industry and public-private collaboration

This report came to me via Facebook, of all places. WEF posts a continual stream of global reports, videos and links to data and analysis of value to HR and leaders in all functions. Check them out.

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Filed under Analytics, Big Data and HR, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Davos, Global HR, Human Capital, World Economic Forum