Tag Archives: Leadership

The Urgency of Leadership Development

Data Point Tuesday
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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Trust Is In Short Supply – All Over the World!

Data Point Tuesday

The recently released 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, highlights a degradation of trust between people and the institution of government, recording the biggest gap in trust since the study began in 2001. Edelman attributes this gap to “a continued destruction of trust in government that began in 2011, and a steady rise in belief in business since its nadir in 2008.” In almost half of the 27 countries surveyed, Edelman recorded a gap of 20+ points, with some countries reporting a divide of nearly 40 points. This means that people trust business more than they trust their government. The study is the firm’s 14th annual trust and credibility survey; it sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an over- sample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 countries.

Globally, and overall, trust declined over the last year. Edelman cites the reason for this decline due largely in part to falling trust of government in many countries. Poland, the United States, and Mexico experienced the most major trust declines (-13, -10, and -9 points), while the biggest increases in trust occurred in UAE, Indonesia, Australia and Argentina (+13, +10, +8, +8 points). General public populations reported substantially lower trust levels than informed publics, with a global trust difference of 9 points. Government saw the largest decline in trust of any institution in 2014, with the largest drops in trust in government seen in the U.S., France and Hong Kong (16, 17 and 18 points). Media also saw a decline in 2014, with nearly 80 percent of countries reporting trusting media less over the last year.

Edelmam Graphic 1Edelman’s Trust Barometer reports that trust in business has achieved an amount of stability since the implosion of trust in 2008 and 2009. With trust in business leveling out, and trust in government declining, comes the historic gap of 14 points globally between trust in business and trust in government. Despite this decline in trust of government though, the survey reports a strong demand for government regulation of business to protect consumers, with over 50% of respondents viewing government protection of consumers from business as important. The majority of respondents did not, however, see government as capable of delivering the necessary regulations on its own. 79% of respondents agreed: “when policymakers are developing new regulations on businesses and industries, they should consult with multiple stakeholders (i.e. NGOs, academics, the affected businesses/industries, etc.) before making final decisions.” As the survey states, this indicates “a significant level of permission for business to play a role in the debate and design of regulation”.

Edelman Graphic 2When it comes to trust in specific industries, technology leads the front with a trust level of 79% among informed publics. Media companies and banks trail when it comes to trust, seeing little improvement since 2009. The top five countries with the highest levels of trust in markets were (in order): Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and the U.K.. BRIC countries recorded the lowest levels of market trust. When Edelman asked respondents to rank levels of trust based on business ownership structure, family-owned and small- & medium-sized business outperformed big business in all regions but Asia, where publicly-traded and big business companies received higher trust levels. A major concern however, is the plateauing and distrust in leadership that the Trust Barometer records. Academics and experts (67 percent), technical experts (66 percent) and “a person like yourself” (62 percent) are the most trusted sources of information about companies (trust in “a person like yourself” increased significantly since 2009). CEOs and government leaders however, remain at the bottom of the list for both informed and general publics, with extremely low levels of trust.

Edelman Graphic 3Though concerning and perhaps daunting, this speaks clearly to an opportunity that leadership has to engage and communicate transparently – an opportunity to begin to regain a credible voice and change perceptions. For leaders of companies, trust in them is explicably linked with the trust in the company, and the influence they wield because of that cannot be ignored. The Edelman Trust Barometer identified specific actions CEOs can take to build trust, and each actions level of importance to the general public. The highest-ranking actions included: communicating clearly and transparently (82%), telling the truth regardless of how complex or unpopular it is (81%) and engaging with employees regularly (80%). Other high-ranking actions include being visible during challenging times, and having an active media presence. Though the low levels of trust in business leadership seem to indicate it’s a complex thing to build, respondents indicate it’s simply about going back to basics. Engage, support, and don’t forget that important rule folks, honesty is the best policy!

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Where’s the Trust?

Data Point Tuesday
According to the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Work and Well-Being Survey released last Wednesday, only half of U.S employees believe their employer is open and upfront with them, indicating that despite the mending U.S economy and the return of many organizations’ profitability employees are still struggling to trust their organizational leaders. This distrust comes with serious negative consequences. The APA reports that trust and engagement play important roles in the workplace, accounting for 50.8% of the variance in employee well-being. In predicting trust, the dimensions of employee involvement, recognition, and communication predicted 54% of the variance. Employees reported having greater trust in companies when the organization endeavored to recognize them for their contributions, provide opportunities for involvement, and communicate effectively. In predicting work engagement, employees’ positive perceptions of their employer’s involvement, growth and development opportunities, and health and safety efforts accounted for 27.1% of the variance.

An interesting and positive finding from the APA survey, is in strong contrast to the recent reports that have suggested upwards of 70% of employees in the U.S. are not engaged or are actively disengaged. APA’s Work and Well-Being Survey finds approximately 50% of working Americans reporting average levels of engagement, with around a quarter reporting low or very low levels and just under a quarter reporting high or very high levels. The mean engagement score for working Americans was 3.62 on a six-point scale (zero representing never being engaged and six representing always being engaged). Additionally, the survey finds that 70% of U.S workers report that they are satisfied with their jobs, however, just 47% continue to be satisfied with employee recognition practices and 49% with growth and development opportunities offered by their organizations.

Taking a closer look at the statistics on trust, about one third of respondents say their employers are not always honest and truthful, and nearly a quarter say they don’t trust their employers. Interestingly though, this lack of trust does not necessarily correlate to feelings of unfair or bad working environments. The survey found that 64% of employed adults feel that their organization treats them fairly, despite that only 52% believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Does this mean as an organization you can cultivate fair and honest practices without any transparency? Does this mean that leaders get a pass on being trustworthy as long as they provide safe working environments? These are interesting data to be sure. But perhaps the bigger question is how productive are employees who don’t trust their leaders? What levels of discretionary effort and personal development will employees expend who feel physically safe but don’t trust their leaders? As a leader, the question I would ask is “how long can I rely on an employee population that doesn’t me?”

APA Center for Organizational Excellence April 2014
The APA’s findings come after surveying 1,562 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. and who are employed full time, part time, or self-employed.

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The Stress Test: Most Employers Fail

Data Point Tuesday
We all know that a stressful work environment can impact employees’ mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as impact their engagement and productivity, but a new study from Monster reveals just how many employees are saying no to “sticking it out” in stressful work environments, and seeking jobs elsewhere. Monster’s international “Workplace Stress” study surveyed nearly 1,000 job seekers on the Monster database via an online survey which ran from March 12, 2014 to March 18, 2014. The study revealed that 42% of US respondents have left a job due to an overly stressful environment, these respondents stating: “I have purposely changed jobs due to a stressful work environment.” An additional 35% have contemplated changing jobs due to a stressful work environment. 42% of people have purposely changed jobs because of stress! This seems like a frightening number of people and begs the question, what are U.S organizations doing to change such work environments? Monster’s study reports that 55% of their respondents experience very stressful lives, and 57% of people experience very stressful work environments –more than half of respondents. Comparably, only 3% of respondents report experiencing no stress in their work life.

On the international front, employees in France and the UK experience the most workplace stress, with 48% (a 6% increase from US respondents) reporting that they have left a job due to stress. Employees in India are least likely to leave a job due to stress, with only 19% of respondents reporting that they have ever left a job because it was too stressful.

What exactly is stressing out the workforce? Monster’s study found that the most commonly reported workplace stressors are: supervisor relationship (40%), amount of work (39%), work-life balance (34%), and coworker relationships (31%). The study also found that the 84% of respondents claim that their stressful job has impacted their personal lives, with 26% reporting sleepless nights, 24% reporting depression, 21% reporting family or relationship issues, and 19% reporting physical ailments. When respondents were asked what their office does to help alleviate stress in the workplace, 13% reported “extra time-off”, 11% reported the “ability to work from home”, and dishearteningly, 66% answered “nothing.”

Monster Job Changes Due to Stress
While many of the figures in this study may seem shockingly high, when we consider all the data that surrounds us about the amount of work/life balance challenges American’s face, the high percentage of workers leaving jobs due to stress makes a little more sense. However, though it might make more sense, it doesn’t mean pushing employees to their limits, and fostering stressful work environments, is right. In fact, at Great Place to Work we have 20 years of data proving that fostering a transparent, safe, and fun workplace culture creates an incredibly more satisfying and productive environment than a high-stress/high pressure one. Check it out!

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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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Longing for Leadership

Data Point Tuesday
Last week I discussed one of the trends (reskilling HR teams) called out in Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends Report for 2014. Recently released and influenced by the work of Bersin by Deloitte, the report examines 12 trends that represent the way employees today are driving their organizations to innovate and transform human capital practices. The report, as usual, is full of interesting data on human capital management trends and observations about the impact of those trends. It is definitely worth a read.

This week I’d like to look at another top talent issue facing organizations around the world as identified by Deloitte: leadership. Leadership is cited as the number one talent issue organizations today face, with 86% of respondents surveyed citing leadership as “urgent” or “important”. This is compared with a meager 13% of the same respondents that claim they are doing an excellent job developing leaders at all levels. So of all the trends discussed in Deloitte’s survey, this marks the largest “readiness gap”. Developing the next generation of leaders is urgent, yet very few report meeting the challenge.

When it comes to organizational strategies, most are requiring some significant tweaks due to the increasingly global, tech-savvy, interconnected, and diverse people that are the 21st century workforce, and leadership development is not exempt from this. Organizations are facing challenges such as developing multiple generations of leaders – not just Millennials, developing leaders with high flexibility and global fluency, and ensuring that leaders have the skills to understand and adapt to rapidly changing technologies. Essentially, leadership is taking on a much broader meaning than it did previously, where it may have described simply developing the next CEO or company C-Suite executive.

Looking at responses from executives who participated in Deloitte’s survey paints a clear picture of perceived leadership gaps. 66% reported believing that they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders and just 5% rated themselves as “excellent”. Additionally, 51% of executives have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent, succession programs and just 8% feel they have “excellent” programs to build global skills.

Global Human Capital Trends Report for 2014It becomes clear then that as the global recovery continues to strengthen and organizations start to execute on growth strategies, that these gaps can only be filled by intentional focus and commitment to leadership development and training programs at all levels. Deloitte’s report suggests that companies should start by engaging their own top executives to develop leadership strategies and actively participate in them; refresh previous leadership strategies to link with evolving business goals; and implement a unique leadership program. They recommend that organizations focus on three aspects for developing leaders: developing at all levels, developing global leaders locally, and developing a succession mindset.

If companies want to grow in a global world, they need to grow global leaders. And Deloitte’s research shows clearly that this doesn’t happen accidentally.

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The Trustworthy Leader

Data Point Tuesday
More Mindfulness for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us, and many of us have been relishing the traditional cheer, treats, gifts and parties that accompany this time of year. It’s likely we’ve been reflecting on, and giving thanks for the joy in our lives, our family, friends and loved ones; or maybe we’ve been getting into the holiday spirit by donating to or helping out at our favorite philanthropic organizations. These are effective trustworthy leader practices to embrace during the holidays, and practices that, realistically, we should attempt to embrace year-round! For me, a specific practice comes to mind that we should give some serious extra “oomph” to during the holidays – mindfulness.

While practicing increased mindfulness during the holidays can be helpful for everyone, it’s an especially great practice for business and HR leaders. With so much focus on holiday celebrations and cheer, it can be easy to miss that for some of our colleagues the holidays prove to be the most stressful or difficult time of year. According to statistics from a poll by the American Psychological Association, 69% of people feel increased stress during the holidays from a perceived lack of time, 69% feel increased stress from a perceived lack of money, and 51% of respondents also experienced stress during the holidays from the perceived pressure to buy and give gifts. While financial worry seems an obvious stressor during the holidays, there are other stresses that the holiday season can amplify, such as feelings of loneliness or sadness (especially for those who may not have a strong support system or close-knit family). And during a time of year when we celebrate family and loved ones, it can be particularly difficult for those who have experienced loss.

Keeping this in mind, aim for increased mindfulness and awareness in your workplace this holiday season. Consider checking in with employees more frequently, whether it’s with a phone call, email, or an in-person visit. As we all know, sometimes something as simple as asking “how are you doing?” can brighten a day. Also consider making sure lines of communication are extra clear. It’s important to remember that no matter how someone may appear, we can never assume what is going on in their life. If you’re willing to help or have tools and resources and available for employees in need, make this known.  Reminding employees that their Employee Assistance Programs are easily accessible could encourage those who need support to seek it out. Asking for assistance can be difficult or feel shameful, and knowing that someone is willing to help could mean the difference between obtaining assistance, and suffering in silence.

Though “tis the season,” we’re not necessarily exempt from stress, and the holidays may even be amplifying worry. Perhaps it’s feeling a little anxiety about what the final year-end financial results will look like, or that the 2014 budget isn’t as perfect as we’d like, maybe it’s serious financial stress, or maybe there’s no stress at all. Whatever the case may be, work to be the true trustworthy leader who brings an increased mindfulness to your colleagues, your friends and family, and those around you this holiday season.

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