Category Archives: Learning/Development

Why Do We Ignore the Tip of the Spear?

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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:

grovo-1

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

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-learning-trends-2016

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

Accelerating Culture Change Through Leadership Development

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I recently ran across the third report in the Real Work Leadership series of reports from Korn Ferry. Create an Engaging Culture for Greater Impact looks at changing culture through the lens of leadership development. An interesting take.

The report is the analysis of a global survey of views on leadership development fielded in July and August of 2015. With more than 7,500 survey responses from 107 countries, 3 in 4 of the leaders who responded were from their organizations’ business functions; the remainder were from HR. That’s pretty unusual and made the results more interesting. Remember those demographics as you see some of the findings below.

Respondents ranked their top 7 priorities for leadership development within their organizations. Remember, only 25% of the global pool of respondents were in HR.

Korn Ferry 4

I was interested to note that only one of the top seven priorities for leadership development is operationally performance driven:  #4, Accelerating time to performance. Right in the middle of the pack. #1 and #3 were change related, and #2 was talent acquisition related. I find these surprising from a group overwhelmingly made up of non-HR leaders. But looking at the final three – Driving engagement, Diversifying the leadership pipeline, and Becoming more purpose and values driven – enables me to back off of my surprise. If these were the only choices from which to rank the important leadership development priorities of senior leaders, then the only real surprise is that Accelerating time to performance is not rated the top priority.

The survey analysis goes on to suggest that Developing leaders to drive strategic change really means developing leaders to accelerate culture change. That would be really interesting if true. That would mean that 5,625 very senior business leaders around the world think that changing their culture is their very top priority. That would be outstanding. For someone like me, who thinks that culture is the one of the most critical business sustainability dynamics, this is music to my ears.

The report is mostly about leadership development. That’s a big part of Korn Ferry’s business. So that makes sense. And there are a number of interesting data points that you might want to consider in your business. Things like the following:

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But this:

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Remember again that the vast majority of respondents in this survey were not HR leaders. But the data ought to give HR leaders all over the world ammunition to begin to link their leadership development strategies to their organization’s business strategies in new and compelling ways. Especially as they relate to culture change. Perhaps this from the report is one of the most simple descriptions of the interconnectedness of culture, leadership, and strategy – and so, performance:

“The starting point for organization alignment is mission, purpose, and strategy. Ideally top leaders define these elements, the path to execution , and the values and behaviors that will support implementation and success.  Once they have done so, these individuals must communicate this information clearly, consistently, and repeatedly throughout the organization.”

I liked this survey analysis. We talk about culture all the time. (Well, I talk about culture all the time.) We don’t often talk about culture through the lens of leadership development, though. And as this paper reports, leadership development – particularly as we are in the midst of a demographic sea change of Biblical proportions – may be an integral strategy for moving cultures forward for performance, for talent acquisition, and for business sustainability.

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Filed under Change Management, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Korn Ferry, Leadership Development, Learning/Development

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

data point tuesday_500Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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Filed under China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Global Human Capital, HR, Human Resources, Leadership, Learning/Development

The 2020 Workforce: Misconceptions Between Management and Employees

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Oxford Economics and SAP recently released the report “Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis” aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges of the evolving workforce. The research is based on survey responses from over 2,700 executives and more than 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Understanding the core characteristics of “the new face of work,” as SAP puts it, is an important step in recognizing the opportunities and challenges that will come with it. SAP and Oxford Economics’ research identifies several key characteristics of the 2020 workforce, including that it will be an increasingly flexible one. Of executives surveyed, 83% cited that they plan to increase use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years and 58% say that this requires changing HR policy. In addition to being flexible, the 2020 workforce will be increasingly diverse, and SAP advises that because of this HR leaders will need to become more evidence-based to deal with these realities. As of now, only 50% of HR departments state that they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking in workforce development and only 47% say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them. This is likely part of what influences the reported lack of progress towards meeting workforce goals that many executives cite. Just 33% stated that they have made “good” or “significant” progress towards workforce goals.

SAP identifies technology as a key need for the evolving workforce that organizations are unprepared for. While this may seem obvious, in the U.S. just 39% of employees report getting ample training on workplace technology and only 27% report access to the latest technology. While it’s understandable that not all organizations can offer the most cutting edge technologies, a lack of sufficient training for the technologies that are in place could be seriously affecting employee productivity. Aside from technology, misconceptions about Millennials are another trend of the evolving workforce that SAP points out (and with the expectation that this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, any misconceptions are noteworthy). The research points out that while Millennials are different than other generations, they may not be as different as they are typically portrayed. According to executives surveyed, 60% believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality but only 18% of Millennials say that they actually are. Additionally, 62% of executives report that Millennials will consider leaving their job due to a lack of learning and development, but just 31% of Millennials say they have considered this.

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In terms of the emerging workforce, there may also be gaps between what companies believe employees want from them and what employees actually want.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the most important incentive to U.S employees is competitive compensation (84%) followed by retirement plans (75%), and vacation time (62%). 39% of employees say higher compensation would increase loyalty and engagement with their current job. When it comes to attributes that employees think are most important to their employer, job performance and results is number one (46%), followed by the ability to learn and be trained quickly (29%), and loyalty and long-term commitment to the company (28%). This differs however, from what employers deem most important. The top three attributes executives want in employees are a high level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment 32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).

What executives and employees do agree on is that organizations are not focused enough on developing future leaders. Only 51% of U.S. executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles and 47% say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders. Employees agree that leadership is a problem area, with just 51% of employees stating that leadership at their company is equipped to lead the company to success. Better learning and education opportunities will be key to bridging this talent gap. The need for technology skills in particular will increase in demand (e.g. cloud and analytics), although SAP’s data states that just 33% of employees expect to be proficient in cloud in three years. This statistic is slightly better when it comes to analytics, with 43% expecting proficiency in three years and almost 50% expecting proficiency in mobile, social media, and social collaboration. In terms of training programs, only about half (51%) of American executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs to develop new skills. This aligns with employees’ perceptions toward training, with 51% reporting that their company provides the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance. Additionally, about half (52%) of employees say their company encourages continuing education and training to further career development.

Take a look at the graphic below that highlights the five major labor market shifts discussed. Are you beginning to think about shifting workforce development strategies for the future? Are you really sure what your employees think? Or are you making assumptions based on popular press reports that may not be founded on fact?

labor-market-shifts

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The Urgency of Leadership Development

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In March I discussed a few takeaways from Deloitte’sGlobal Human Capital Trends 2014” survey. After relooking through the report, I think it would be worthwhile to mention some of the other global trends for 2014. I previously discussed the need to reskill HR teams, one of the top four (out of 12) global trends that survey respondents perceived as most urgent. I did not, however, discuss the top trend perceived as most urgent by responders, that is, the need to build global leadership. Fully 38% of respondents rated this as “urgent,” 50% more than the next trend identified as “urgent.” At the time of the study, companies reported generally low levels of readiness to respond to the global trends mentioned in the report, and despite the fact that at least 60% of respondents identified these global trends as “important” or “urgent,” in all, 36% of respondents reported being “not ready” to respond to the trends. This is a significantly higher percentage than those reporting they were ready to respond to the trends (at only 16%). With us now more than half way through 2014, I’m hoping this particular statistic has shifted a bit, but we don’t have that data yet!

Deloitte urgency graph

We do know that building better leadership is a “hot-topic” trend we’ve seen repeated recently in many reports or white-papers; it’s certainly not unique to only this report. I think with trends like these it’s important to reflect on the proposed reasons: why is building better leadership perceived as so highly important now? Did we have better leadership in the past? Are leaders lacking necessary skills today, or are we simply lacking in an adequate bench of leadership? Deloitte’s study offers some insightful points. “In a world where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half-life of 2.5 to 5 years, leaders need to constantly develop.” Consider, as well, globalization and the speed (not to mention breadth) of technological change and development, which highly fuel this need to constantly develop. Perhaps another point that highlights the reason that “leadership” remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations today is that this term encompasses leadership at every level of an organization (we’re not solely talking about developing the next CEO or the C-Suite pipeline). “21st-century leadership is different. Companies face new leadership challenges, including developing Millennials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields”.

According to those surveyed in Deloitte’s report, only 13 percent of companies rate themselves “excellent” in providing leadership programs at all levels—new leaders, next-generation leaders, and senior leaders. Furthermore, 66% of respondents believe they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders (only 5 percent rate themselves as “excellent”) and only 8% believe they have “excellent” programs to build global skills and experiences. 51% of respondents have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent succession programs. In terms of skills, Deloitte’s research shows that foundational along with new leadership, these skills are in high demand: business acumen, the ability to collaborate and build cross-functional teams, global cultural agility (the ability to manage diversity and inclusion), creativity, customer-centricity, influence and inspiration, and the ability to develop people and create effective teams.

Deloitte leadership programs graph

With this data in mind, we can then ask the question how can organizations “get ready” to address the trend of building global leadership. Deloitte offers four potential starting points:

  1. Engage top executives to develop leadership strategy and actively govern leadership development,
  2. Align and refresh leadership strategies and development to evolving business goals,
  3. Focus on three aspects of developing leaders (develop leaders at all levels, develop global leaders locally, develop a succession mindset),
  4. Implement an effective leadership program.

While all of these approaches will likely involve a significant investment of time and resources along with a commitment to leadership from the board and executive team, they are doable – companies both small and large on our Best Companies to Work for Lists are a testament to this!

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR, Leadership, Learning/Development

Streaming Live: 2014 Great Place to Work Conference®!

Data Point Tuesday

I’m going to deviate from my normal Data Point Tuesday this week to offer you an invitation to attend the streaming keynote sessions from our 2014 conference. The 2014 Great Place to Work® Annual Conference kicks off this Thursday in New Orleans, and we’re very excited to share some of the great learning opportunities of the conference virtually! This year’s conference has sold out with 1,150 registered attendees from more than 400 companies. 39 out of our 45 keynote speakers and concurrent session leaders are business leaders (20) and senior HR practitioners (19). This is the only national event that teaches, inspires and connects professionals across industries and functions to strengthen workplace culture through building trust.

We’re thrilled to bring a packed agenda with a wealth of engaging speakers to those attending in New Orleans this year. If you’re not attending however, don’t worry! We will have free live streaming of our conference keynote sessions here this Thursday and Friday (April 3rd and 4th). Our keynote speakers this year include Bill Emerson, CEO of Quicken Loans, Terri Kelly, President and CEO at W.L. Gore & Associates, Victoria B. Mars, Member, Board of Directors at Mars, Inc., Blake Nordstrom, President at Nordstrom Inc., and Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. We’re very excited to allow all of you to join us virtually and we hope you’ll take advantage of a great opportunity to take away actionable ideas and learn about best practices from experts at companies recognized for building trust, pride and camaraderie in the workplace! See you there!

Watch the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference Keynotes Live Here

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Hiring, HR, HR Conferences, Human Capital ROI, Leadership, Leadership Aspiration, Learning/Development