Posts Tagged ‘Talent’

M is your guy to grab…not many around like him.

Read on to know what I meant:

Episode 1: When he stopped ‘it’ in its tracks…unbelievable!

He was visiting Hyderabad (Begumpet airport, Secunderabad) from Chennai, in by the morning and scheduled to return by the evening flight 6.30 pm, flying both ways on propeller-driven Avro.  Till 5.30 he was checking up regularly on flight departure and he was told it was uncertain due to unfavorable weather conditions at Chennai. And then they said the flight was cancelled for the day. M happened to be nearby and hence rushed to Indian Airlines office to check on alternatives available – booking wasn’t online then.

He was in their office by 6 pm when he learnt the Avro flight was after all leaving on time! He blew his top for the  misinformation and insisted on taking that flight as he would be able to reach the airport in the next 10 minutes. It wasn’t possible, he was told. Not one DNA’ed to take a ‘no’, M insisted they inform the duty-officer (DO) at the airport about his coming in regardless. Disconnecting without waiting for a response, he rushed to airport and was at the counter by 6.25. The staff quite expectedly refused to check him in. He rushed to the DO who also regretted his inability to help, pointing out to the aircraft all ready to move with the ground staff closing the formalities and giving thumbs-up to the pilot. He threatened the DO he’ll rush out and stop the aircraft which is what exactly M did next! He jumped the security; chased by all including DO, he outran all of them reaching the aircraft just then beginning to move.

Fearing worse, the DO did what he could to keep M out of his hair: the aircraft was halted, the ladder expressly brought in, a boarding-pass printed…was he happy to see M’s back as the door closed!!

Today, of course, a mere attempt in the direction or even an expression of such intent would get him arrested!

Episode 2: Just the man for the herd

The Air-India flight from Dubai to Mumbai was for some reason diverted to Delhi. Obviously there was total commotion and clamor for seats to make the onward journey. The staff at AI counter were simply unable to handle the onslaught. Just the scene cut out for our man to jump in. M managed to push himself to the front – his lean frame lets him move edge-ways! – climbed onto the counter and raised his voice to cow down the belligerent passengers to some order. He then asked them to make up different queues: one for families with small children, another for senior citizens and, lastly, others. Further M declared seats shall be allotted in the same order of the queues i.e. beginning with the families with small children. Some in the third lot were not happy with it, pressing on their needs as urgent over others. He got the duty-officer (DO) also to make a concurring announcement and stick with it.

M made his wife and children (not small) to stand aside, not wanting to be seen as self-seeking. Thence it was smooth-going: the first lot and the second were accommodated in full. About a third of the rest could also be pushed through before the flight was full up. The remaining, including his family, had to perforce wait for another flight. He arranged with the DO to authorize priority seating for them on the next flight. Finally when the counters opened for their flight, our man duly queued up with others. That’s when he was called to meet up with the DO. The DO thanked M heartily for helping them manage a chaotic scene and gave him the glad tidings of an upgrade for his family and him to first-class – a fine gesture from AI!

These two episodes – it wasn’t easy to choose from the many on hand – give you a flavor of what M was and is.

It may just be possible yet to tempt M with a challenge, to come out of his peaceful retirement in a community off the city of Mysore. A word of caution however: liaising, lobbying, scratching people’s back…are not M’s cup of coffee as also underhand dealings of any kind. A square-shooter of the old school, that’s what Mani is and what you get, dealing with him.



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A lightly edited extract from an article by John Izzo Ph.D. and Jeff Vanderwielen Ph.D, authors of their forthcoming book: The Purpose Revolution: How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good .:

Why are some leaders effective at truly engaging with their teams? And why do many, despite their best efforts…can’t get the whole team rowing in the same direction? We found that to create a common goal, it’s vital to ramp up your purpose as an organization…

…A recent Ernst and Young/Harvard study shows that most senior leaders and business owners see the value of being purpose driven and most likely have a set of personal values leaning toward the decent-human-being side of the equation. Yet in our experience, most businesses, small and large, have leaders who are losing at purpose – or at the very least are failing to achieve the high levels of engagement with their staff that they intend to build…(they) spend an inordinate amount of time focused on the numbers side and beating their competition, without truly embracing the balancing force of purpose…often too busy with noses to the grindstone, working in the business instead of on the business. But why spend countless hours working, if you haven’t truly figured out why you’re doing it? Your employees are asking themselves that same question every day.

…In working and speaking with hundreds of company leaders, HR representatives, and employees at all levels, we’ve found that for your company to be successful in the long run, it needs to stand for something, and that something needs to be authentic! Winning companies start with their true purpose, a higher reason for being as the foundation of their organization…

A company focused on purpose can make money, but profit can’t be the primary focus. Employees need to work for something greater, to feel like their job roles fill a larger need in society…employees care about being on a winning team, they want the company to make enough money to keep jobs secure and want opportunities to contribute to making better products and services and their organization be known in the market-place for the sameThey want to feel proud about a job well-done…

Great leaders are successful in activating this purpose.

If your company is engaged in construction, your worker’s real purpose is creating a safe home for people to live in, not fastening pieces of wood together. And a happier, more engaged worker is better for the bottom line. Research shows that companies which activate purpose are even more profitable than those that don’t. So ask yourself if profit or purpose is the main driver in your organization?

Purpose is NOT About Marketing

A reason leaders fail to engage their teams through purpose is because they treat purpose as a marketing program, just any other plan to win talent and customers. They ask, “Isn’t it OK to simply focus on the fact that employees and customers want us to have purpose and therefore we ought to pursue it like we would every other business strategy?”

The fact is that people see through the focus on purpose solely for the sake of business, instead of a greater goal. We have worked with more than 500 companies around the world, and it is obvious to us that employees can detect the difference between purpose that is genuine and purpose that is forced and purely about looking good as a business. The same is true for individual leaders. Our people can tell when we’re not into purpose and care mostly about the numbers, even if we don’t intend to communicate that.

We believe the Volkswagen emissions scandal came about because VW used purpose as a marketing strategy, not a core belief. The decision to deceive regulators on emissions from diesel cars was likely made because VW’s focus on clean vehicles was a strategy that worked for promoting and selling their vehicles as “clean alternatives.” If they actually had a purpose-focused desire to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, they would have fixed the technology instead of lying about it!



Source: The article appears here.

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DM is the CEO of Sandler Training and the author of  THE ROAD TO EXCELLENCE: 6 Leadership Strategies To Build A Bulletproof Business.




Source: skipprichard.com

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Hiring a

That was frivolous – but not what follows:

An interesting article on the subject of managing the talent available to the organization appeared recently in Forbes that presents perspectives known and new of great significance to both employers as well as employees of now and future.

Here are some excerpts (in quotes) with minimal paraphrasing (in italics) and there is some re-sequencing and emphasis (underlined), entirely mine, to improve the flow and readability, I thought:

The challenge: “Ask anybody who manages a business and they will tell you how important it is to hire the right people. Top companies recruit at the most selective schools, offer excellent pay packages, generous benefits and a comfortable work environment… Unfortunately, it seems that even the best firms are facing a widening skills gap and it will only get worse… Clearly, if businesses are to remain competitive, they need talented people…with the right skills…all the time. Talent, therefore, has become as central as marketing or finance to corporate strategy.

The volatility of technologies… is rendering old skills useless. So even if your workforce is highly qualified by today’s standards, they might not be tomorrow.

Yes, that soon. While the threat of technology obsolescence is not new, the immediacy of it happening is scary, forcing a rethink on how we manage talent.

Writing on the wall for the employees: “It used to be that you would choose a career, join a company and work there for your entire career. Clearly, that time has passed. As business models rise and fall, firms need to adapt and acquire new skills in order to stay competitive.


Skills in demand: “In past generations, prosperity was primarily an issue of high-skill versus low skill jobs and a poorly educated, low-skill workforce could be upgraded through training and education…things aren’t so clear-cut anymore because the types of skills needed in the new economy have changed…Going forward, it seems that there are two broad areas that will continue to be in demand: people skills and design skills…So, not surprisingly, most good jobs are design related (broadly defined to include, engineering, software, marketing, etc.).

By ‘design’ it seems to imply platform independent design skills for it adds in the same breath design skills like Flash development suffer from the same danger of rapid obsolescence.

Training: This is not entirely a surprise.

Top firms have long understood the need to invest training and some, like McDonald’s and General Electric, have gone to great lengths to develop extensive corporate training programs. More recently, executive education programs at universities have also begun to play an important role in developing new skills. However, training of lower level employees is often neglected, but shouldn’t be. One study comparing Costco and Sam’s Club found that by investing more in front line personnel, Costco was able to increase revenues while actually lowering costs.

Compensation: “MIT’s Zeynep Ton, author of ‘The Good Jobs Strategy’, has found in her research that well-trained well-paid employees are not a cost driver, but a sales driver. A higher paid workforce results in less turnover and better customer service. Even in retail, companies that invest in people outperform.

A model useful in the job market: “Elance (www.elance.com) has come up with a new model for talent to fill the gap. On the surface, it’s just another freelance service, acting as a go-between for companies that need short-term help with projects and people looking for work. But take a closer look and it becomes clear that the company is far more ambitious than that. It tracks employments trends so freelancers can see where demand for skills is increasing and where it is declining. The firm also offers more than 20,000 training courses so that people can build new skills to meet demand. Then, as freelancers perform jobs and gain expertise, they build up their profiles and increase their earning power.

Contract Workers, an engagement model useful to the employers: “Increasingly, work is project based. A company might need to develop a new website or have marketing materials prepared or build a new feature for an existing platform. This creates short-term demand for non-core skills that may not make sense to retain full time. Elance has come up with an interesting solution it calls talent clouds. Rather than keeping talent on staff, employers can build their own network of freelancers, track their performance on projects and keep up with their progress learning new skills. So if they liked working with a Flash developer last year, they can see if he’s now certified in HTML5.”

Near-exclusive employment: While on the subject of contract workers, I bring up a related model, not part of the original article, that opens up interesting possibilities.

I would extend the problem and solution offered by contract employment to cover SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) too where the problems are more severe. An IT services organization lands customers from a variety of industry segments. For instance in one project we needed someone to tell us about production of photographic films and in another we wanted insights on simulation of chemical reactions. A long felt need is for a clearing-house for domain experts in various fields of specialization whose expertise could be used on a part-time basis. The one reason it has not taken off yet, I guess, is these experts are employed somewhere and their terms of employment forbids them to take up external assignments even if the experiences promise to enrich the experts’ skills eventually benefitting their employers. I’m for organizations to allow this kind of engagement as long as there is no conflict of interest. The engagement model could vary from an individual rendering services as a project consultant or it could even be packaged formally as the organization’s services. See the Xerox example cited elsewhere. Clandestine and unethical practices if any would then be replaced by formal engagements.

The current model of exclusive full employment is inefficient and wastes talent, a scarce commodity in societies. Time has come to try out near-full employment. This could be a more light-weight and cheaper alternative to conventionally engaging a consulting house. Before you rubbish the idea think of this: this is already in practice in the academic world.

Academic Partnerships: “Another strategy that some firms are adopting is partnering with universities to ensure that students are graduating with the skills they need. IBM, for example, has built an open source curriculum and works with over 1000 universities.

Well, this is quite successfully practiced for years now by IT organizations in India at least. They are known to work with professional training institutes, often designing custom curriculum. Working with universities had posed a problem. I recall years ago when the teaching community was in a fix – teaching Windows in the course on Operating Systems was considered improper since it meant ‘promotion of a commercially proprietary platform’. May be they have resolved those issues now.

Strategic Partnerships: “As complicated as the world has become, the truth is that no company can build all the skills it needs, but many are learning to fill the gap with partnerships. For example, Xerox’s legendary PARC Labs now undertakes projects for a variety of companies… Yet, to be effective, these relationships have to be cultivated, monitored and deepened. Partnerships can no longer be treated as mere supply relationships, but extensions of the talent ecosystem.

A vendor is also an important resource to reduce the high cost in-house structure. Where as it is not uncommon to look at our vendor with suspicion, as a necessary evil and even as a threat. We hold up his bills and even poach on his critical resources while he looks on helplessly. Hopefully good sense will prevail in course of time. It requires quite a change in thinking to assume greater responsibility for a vendor’s survival and success.

Open Platforms: “Another way that firms are tapping into talent is through open technology. Rather than building products as closed platforms, they are providing resources, such as SDK’s and API’s, so that outside developers can enhance and expand the capabilities that were designed in-house. After all, the value of an iPhone depends not just on the hardware and the operating system, but on the hundreds of thousands of apps that others have built for it. In a similar vein, IBM recently opened up its Watson platform to outside developers to help reap the benefits of external talent.

This movement has taken firm roots and is irreversible.

The New War For Talent: “In 1997, McKinsey declared a ‘War for Talent’ and advised their clients to focus on recruiting and retaining the “best and the brightest.” They suggested that firms should create a compelling “employee value propositions,” invest in A players, develop B players and move quickly to get rid of C players.

However, those types of distinctions have become anachronisms. Today, you need not only a strong value proposition for employees, but for everybody in your talent ecosystem. Further, an “A player” with yesterday’s skills isn’t going to do you much good…

Most of all, in today’s semantic economy, it’s not the resources you own that are important, but what resources you can access and that’s especially true of talent.

What to speak of ‘everybody in the talent ecosystem’? Do you honestly think we make a real good value proposition to the employees and the prospective hires in the first place? The hires-facing personnel hardly exude the excitement.

Finally: Horse-whipping the recruitment function in an organization is not the whole solution to ensure right talent is available at all times. It requires a more holistic and multi-pronged approach including inducting newer models of engagement. Who would bell this cat? HR?

End .
Source: http://www.forbes.com/, Images from the Net.

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