Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

12 inclusion nduges to manage a remote team

12 inclusion nudges to manage a remote team – from the teams

12 inclusion nudges to manage a remote team  – feedback from the teams!

With enforced lockdowns in many geographies, organisations have had to switch quickly to remote working. In some cases, they have been scrambling around to get the tech in place and even hardware. Not all employees have a company lap top. I know this from working as a coach that one of the biggest areas for concern is that many managers and supervisors do not have the skills to manage remote teams specifically. This is especially hard in a time of crisis.  Based on feedback from people who have found themselves unexpectedly working remotely, here are 12 inclusion nudges to manage a remote team.

Exceptional times

As Suzanne Lucas aka @RealEvilHRLady warned us in an online coaching session we did for 3Plus International “Don’t think that the working from home conditions that people are experiencing now, are the same as usual conditions. They are not.”

Parents are home schooling, partners are also at home and trips for groceries are a challenge. Perhaps someone in your house could even be sick. Your team is anxious and so are you. Under stress we all tend to default to our basic settings, which are not always productive. This is when incorporating some basic inclusion nudges which can be applied in an office work space can also be helpful in the future, if you are not applying them already.

Many organisations went from having some sort of remote working protocols that covered a section of the company (usually, but not always parents) without the time to implement a cohesive strategy. In many cases they thought it would be easy – but it’s harder than it seems on the surface.

12 inclusion nudges to manage a remote team  – from the teams

I have talked to coaching clients during the past two-week and this is the feedback they would give new managers of remote teams to overcome some basic errors.

1. Check how well you know your team

Understanding that everyone is different will be a great lesson to bring to the table when things get back to normal. If they ever do.  Now is the time to do both a self-awareness check and understand your own leadership style and how you exhibit and deal with stress. You will need to take steps to manage that.

Find out how well you know your team. Establish if you can, if any of your team have any mental health issues. This is not always easy as many may not be willing to be open. When they are working remotely it will also be easier to cover those issues up. They may need some extra support – but find out what they need exactly and don’t make assumptions about what you think that input might be.

Philippa said “I have some anxiety issues and an invisible disability. My boss is brilliant and asked me what she needs to do to make this work better for me.”

Alex added “I am dyslexic so my boss thinks she’s being helpful enlarging the font when she sends me reams of texts expecting a response in five minutes. That doesn’t help! A voice mail would be more useful.”  

2. Communication-style check

Check with everyone their preferred communication style. Some people like to feel in regular contact others, are happy to be autonomous and report up when there is a problem. Have a meeting with each one of your direct reports to establish how they want to work and how that sits with your expectations. In many cases this hasn’t been possible during the crisis, but it can be done over time.They can then apply the same rules to their reports.

If you have a large number of direct reports (which you shouldn’t) consider allocating coordinating responsibility to break your team into “cells” or “pods” with someone responsible for one-to-one meetings

Jessica said “My boss is literally sending me 20 What’s App messages an hour. I could scream” 

Darren recounted “My manager has simply disappeared. He has sent one round robin mail once since this started. I have no clue what is going on even if he is sick. No news or direction at all.”

The key message is everyone is different!

3. Train on software usage

Many employees will not be comfortable with some of the software programmes and platforms. Make sure that they are properly trained and have someone to support them. They should understand basic manipulations such as turning the mic and camera on and off and using the chat.

4. Offer support

Allocate an opportunity to have a buddy or peer mentor, someone who is their first point of contact if there is a problem. It can be overwhelming if the haven’t used any of it before.

Pieter shared “My company did some reverse buddying up, so that technically savvy employees matched with less technically knowledgeable employees (they tended to be the older ones) and it’s working out well.”

5. Schedule a weekly meeting

Schedule a weekly online team meeting which should be mandatory for everyone in the decision-making process.  Set up a poll to find a time that works for everyone. For team members who are not actively involved, record the meeting which they can listen to afterwards. Have an agenda and make the meeting focused and short.

Sophia told me “I am spending a huge amount of time in pointless meeting where I’m not directly involved in the action points. If I need to know send me the recording so I can skip through it to the relevant points.”

6. Manage expectations

Do not apply the same pre-crisis expectations to the current situation. Everyone is faced with new and unprecedented challenges. Find out what is going on for your team members.  Everyone will have something and a different something. If they are home schooling kids, they will struggle to meet standard reporting deadlines and respond as they did previously. Maybe their partners are also working at home. Maybe they live in an area where fast broadband isn’t  available.

Create jointly agreed time lines which may need to be extended.

Martin said “My boss doesn’t get that I can’t make certain deadlines agreed before this crisis started. I am at home with my partner and two kids running home schooling programmes as well as working. His parents look after his kids, so his schedule is as free as if he was in the office.”   

7. Video conferences

Don’t expect everyone to want to switch on their cameras. This is not because they are in their PJs (although they might be) but because they want to keep their home circumstances private. They may feel uncomfortable if their living accommodation is not the same as a colleague or boss who lives in a different kind of home.

Pay attention when asking introverts to speak. They can contribute via the chat options if they wish.

Check out Hannah Morgan’s (aka @careersherpa) thread on this on LinkedIn to find lots of great tips.

Zoom offer an option to have a personalised background which can be helpful. They also offer a chance to “touch up your appearance” an option I am grateful for. Look on video settings.

8. Set up a roll-up open line policy

This is similar to a physical open-door policy in the office. Allocate a 30 minute slot two or three times a week when anyone can roll up to an online meeting if they want to.

9. Don’t make assumptions

Don’t assume that because someone is slower than usual that they are slacking off. There could be something going on for them. They might even be sick. Some organisations have time tracking apps on company hardware. This could be a good time to deactivate them.

Cassie’s disabled mother lives with her family. Her carer can no longer come to the house. She has to fill the gap which means time spent in the “granny flat” on her property, which is away from her computer.

10. Make communication mindful.

One of the biggest spaces for miscommunication is email. Research shows that there is only a  56% chance of our email communications being correctly understood as intended. Claire Godding, Brussels based Diversity and Inclusion expert suggests using emojis to indicate intention. This is a great idea! Make sure you are not like me and use the right one. The chances of miscommunication using online messaging platforms with text speak, increases those chances. If we are stressed or distracted the problem becomes even more exaggerated.

Use the voice mail options offered by some platforms. This can be a welcome change to both the receiver and sender if they are feeling isolated. I love this facility.

10. Create an online breakout area

This can be a space where people can go for a virtual coffee. Some organisations are introducing games to create a sense of camaraderie.

One organisation has set up a daily check-in process, such as we see on Facebook during a disaster, that everyone confirms they are healthy and safe.

11. Not everyone likes working from home

There has been so much written about people wanting to work from home there is an assumption that everyone wants it. This isn’t the case. It is clear from talking to people this week, both men and women,  going into the office is a welcome break. It maybe a chance to get away from an abusive, controlling relationship, a dysfunctional family situation, find respite from care issues or just a change of scenery that stimulates a particular style of creativity. Many people prefer to go into a physical place of work and this time is very difficult for them. Loneliness and mental health issues will be collateral damage from this crisis.

Going forward it will also be important to ask the “how was it for you?” question to get reliable, real-time data on the employee experience for your organisation!

Understanding people’s differences will be a good inclusive leadership lesson going forward.

 

If your organisation needs support during this crisis – get in touch.   

 

 

personal workplace relationships

Can personal workplace relationships really be regulated?

Personal workplace relationship have always been a hot topic in any organisation and an equally hot potato for HR. I have been running workshops on sexism and harassment for organisations way before all of this became a hashtag thing and the question is always posed.

Many professionals today work very long hours. They tell me if they didn’t socialize with colleagues, they wouldn’t have any friends or even romantic partners. There is simply no time to develop relationships outside the office. Research suggests that as people get older the number of friends they have decreases.  We see workplace loneliness is a growing phenomenon.

So the issue of personal  workplace relationships is complex and has many nuances which need to be addressed rather than swept under the carpet. Which is what we tend to do!

Friendships

Studies show that 47% of workers enjoy the workplace because of relationships with their colleagues. This tends to work fine amongst peers, but can shift when careers advance at different rates, which introduces a power dynamic. The more senior person can be accused of playing favourites. Or more.

Arabella told me: “My husband and I were friends with his peer Javier and his family, who at the time was the Marketing Director of the company. The children were in school together. When Javier was promoted his wife told me she couldn’t see me anymore and returned all the toys and clothes I had given her kids. It felt very hurtful at the time and an exaggerated response. Some months later Javier fired my husband in a head count reduction. I guess they were just putting distance between us.”      

If there is a gender difference bias becomes even more deeply embedded, especially if the man is more senior. This can be a source of gossip and speculation.

The office romance

The office romance is even trickier to navigate because it involves all sorts of more subtle boundaries. The University College London has just introduced a ban on intimate relationships between staff and students which have been regarded as some of the most stringent. They are setting the line clearly between discouraging romantic approaches and prohibiting them. The academic environment is not exactly the same as a corporate environment because the relationship between faculty and student is always power based. However there are some takeaways for other organisations.

UCL’s new personal relationships policy prohibits staff from having:

  • “close personal and intimate relationships with students where there is direct supervision; and
  • intimate relationships with staff or students who are under the age of 18 or adults who are “at risk”, for example someone who may need care because of a disability.
  • An intimate relationship between a staff member and a student who they don’t directly supervise must still be declared by staff.
  • Any breach of the policy will be investigated under the disciplinary procedure, which includes potential sanctions that range from a warning to dismissal.”

What the haven’t done is applied the same regulations to relationships between staff.

Consensual relationships

What about people not having time to explore a dating pool outside professional colleagues?  I have known a number of people who met their future long-term partners in the office. But many newly enamoured couples do need to check out their company policy.

Many companies are starting to create policies around office romances which can create tension with those who work directly with the individuals involved, especially if things don’t go well. Having an office policy can help to outline how these situations will be handled before they occur.  If there are problems or backlash then leaders will have to step in to avoid longer term issues. The CEO of McDonalds was fired for having a consensual relationship, because he contravened company protocol which prohibits intimate personal relationships. This came at a time when the company was the involved in class action for sexual harassment and pay discrimination.

F.R.I.E.S

 

peronal workplace relationships

I suggest the F.R.I.E.S. system as a good  general guideline to give a framework to any workplace romance situation. I have adapted this from the Planned Parenthood philosophy. Although going on a date is not the same as sexual consent, the basic principles are helpful.  Some organisations find this a bit tacky and  “in your face” when I make input for any policy documents or handbooks, they frequently make a case for editing it out. My take: better to tackle an issue directly and risk making people feel a little uncomfortable, than to be a headline in a #MeToo law suit.

This is particularly important because the power dynamic also takes on a different note in this case as well if it is a senior person initiating a romantic approach with a more junior person. Generally the perceived wisdom is to avoid that regardless of company policy.

These are also gender neutral guidelines. Complaints from men around sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour are on the increase as men are subject to unwelcome advances from both men and women.

What F.R.I.E.S. means

Here is an adapted version of the Planned Parenthood guidelines around consent to apply to personal workplace relationship:

  • Freely given. Developing a personal relationship with someone is a decision that should be made without pressure, force, manipulation or under the influence of any substance. (this is sexual harassment.)
  • Reversible. Anyone can change their mind about what they want to do, at any time, even if you have been on other dates or had previous encounters. If penalties of any kind are imposed, then this is also sexual harassment. This is the situation which causes the most difficulty when personal relationships in the workplace go sour and/or end.
  • Informed. Be honest. Paul told me “Janine invited me to join a group of colleagues for a TGIF drink. When I arrived at the bar, no one else was there. I felt uncomfortable having a drink alone with her. I was afraid how it would be perceived and the gossip. I also wasn’t sure if she had tried to engineer a chance to be alone with me. It didn’t feel right.”
  • Enthusiastic. If someone isn’t agreeable and needs any level of persuasion  – let it go. The days of the “lady (or even man) doth protest too much” are gone.
  • Specific.  Agreeing to an after work drink or lunch isn’t the same as going to dinner or a night club.

Caveats

Some additional points to consider:

  • If you are in a relationship with a co-worker regardless of the policy of your organisation you may want to consider declaring the relationship to your boss and colleagues if it becomes longer term.
  • You should also factor in the professional implications of your relationship on the workplace if it’s serious. Personal workplace relationships present more complex challenges than straightforward private and social contact.

In the workplace the objectives are of the organisation are a top priority and this can interfere with personal needs. If you find yourself conflicted seek a coach or mentor for support.

If your organisation needs support sourcing and attracting top talent – get in touch NOW!

 

Politics and Workplace culture

Politics and workplace culture – Help I have a “Colin”

I was chatting to a long-standing client on Friday and she touched on the sensitivities of politics and workplace culture. As HR Director of an international and multi-cultural B2B organisation, they are trying to address issues impacting diversity, inclusion and gender balance. She is finding the polarisation of political views which are problematic in our wider cultures, is surfacing in her organisation “It’s not serious yet” she said “but it could well be. I think I might have a “Colin.”

For the uninitiated, “Colin” is a reference to a Twitter account that went viral last week. A gentleman called Colin Browning an avid Brexiteer, expressed his disapproval of queues at passport control in Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. His tweet made international mainstream media, was translated into other languages and became the subject of blogs and posts across the globe.

Now this could be a parody account, but in this case it doesn’t matter. The delays also were actually not due to changes in the UK’s status as a third country. What the tweet symbolises is the reach and impact of this kind of content. The HR Director went onto say “One of my senior sales people who deals with exports is making his views on Brexit clear on social media. There are fears in the leadership team that our European customers and colleagues will react negatively, if he carries on “observing” in the way that he is.”

There was some hand wringing and gnashing of teeth. Yes, some of those customers may indeed have a problem. But how does an organisation handle a diversity and inclusion policy which could impact the company brand and even business results?

Covering

Research from Deloitte suggests that employees who cannot bring their authentic selves to the workplace and have to “cover” or hide part of their identities, impacts team and therefore organisational effectiveness. Teams are less productive, creative and less in tune with their markets. Absenteeism is higher and retention rates are lower, all of which impacts the bottom line. So to be truly diverse and inclusive we should welcome all political persuasions. We have to look at whether it’s the political views that damage business or interpersonal relationships, or perhaps more the way they are shared and expressed.

Today, it might be necessary for organisations to consider taking formal steps to protect their workplace cultures so that they stay effective, inclusive and productive, with a purpose aligned to the mission of the business.

Create a framework for discussion

This HR Director wishes she could outlaw any discussions on politics from the workplace altogether, but knows that is unrealistic. In the current highly sensitive environment in different geographies, even topics which would have been considered straight business issues or discussion points in the past, have become touch points for conflict and a politicised debate.

I have heard clients complaining about vocal resistance on their teams around mundane items such as employee benefits, candidate sourcing or sustainable resource procurement. Even annual promotions can be contentious, as these issues now hit the political agenda. Politics and workplace culture it seems are merging into one hotbed of seemingly irreconcilable differences.

It’s important to be realistic and accept that these differences of opinion, especially on matters that can impact the business, will filter into water cooler discussions and pre-meeting chat. There is also always an opposing view to every issue. The next step is to start the process for agreeing a framework for discussion. In this way key topics can be covered in a civil and respectful way.

Benchmark values that bind your organisation

Organisations can start by identifying and recognising the shared values that unite their teams and make them effective. They then have to have everyone’s buy in so that they become the benchmark against which all behaviour is measured.

In any organisation you will see divergence on core values and beliefs. That has always been the case.  Conflicting values systems have always existed. What needs to happen is identifying critical “must have core values” that all agree on, from the shop floor to the Boardroom. These will be around respect, tolerance, trust, fairness, honesty, collaboration, compassion, corporate  diversity and inclusion. In some ways employees may even look for a neutral safe place where they can leave the hot topics of daily life at the door.

Any agreed framework now needs to be linked to the wider corporate mission. This is how organisations work and objectives are met. It means that leaders have to role model these values and their performance should be assessed on their success in this area. Senior leaders need to walk the organisational talk and be held accountable. This will positively impact the way the way the business is run.

The Culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behaviour the leader is willing to tolerate. Gruenert and Whittaker 

Create a clear social media policy

Many organisation still don’t have a clear-cut social media policy,especially around managing risk. A report, “A Comprehensive Approach to Managing Social Media Risk and Compliance” from Accenture on this topic suggests “social media risks are difficult to quantify… comprehensive cost/benefit analyses are still in their early stages— meaning that many risks still go uncontrolled.”

What we saw  with “Colin’s” Twitter activity is that one contentious or topical tweet can circle the globe in hours. If that activity undermines his credibility in his job and your corporate goals (which will impact your brand and  business) then companies will have to take steps.

Most employment contracts have clauses related to activities that will bring the organisation into disrepute. Extreme social media activity which undermines confidence in a company could well fall into that category. It may mean that “Colin” will have workplace issues to face, even if his bosses agrees with his position. There may be backlash from colleagues who support him if action is taken.

Inclusion and Risk Management

Ideally, a leadership team needs to look at the data and assess any impact on the business results. Very often this will take months to harvest and analyse. In the meantime more damage could have taken place. The immediate way is to try to get verbal feedback on the individual’s performance if that’s possible. But very often a business response to a changing relationship is not immediate either.

The workplace is one of compromise and it means finding ways to accept the opinions and beliefs of others. Those limits will be tested if business results are, or could be, impacted. If the “Colins” of the world can’t rein themselves in, they may find themselves on the job market. And even then that individual has left a lengthy digital trail (anyone can research) which could affect future opportunities.

Navigating the nuances where inclusion, brand management and even business strategy collide or are simply not aligned can be challenging.

For all your executive search needs – get in touch now.

 

Workplace loneliness

Workplace loneliness a new HR challenge

Addressing the modern phenomenon of workplace loneliness

We are all aware of the decline of civility in public discourse and interaction. Some of the world’s top leaders are openly abusive and guilty of bullying, mobbing and gaslighting. It’s hardly surprising that these behaviours and attitudes spill over into our workplaces. Employee engagement is at an all-time low  and despite all the technology at our disposal to take over the heavy lifting in terms of routine tasks in our jobs, productivity is on the decline globally. It seems that boredom and repetition are not the main reasons for disengagement. Addressing the modern phenomenon of workplace loneliness and a lack of belonging, both need to be high on the list of HR and leadership priorities.

What employees want

There has been a flood of research on what is now called the “employee experience” to try and establish what people are really looking for in their ideal workplace. All the research shows that people want the same things. And it’s not what you think. It’s not about massive salaries, fancy cars, expense accounts or first-class travel.

People are looking for meaningful work, fair pay (not even high pay), opportunities for growth, trust and respect. Research from TINYpulse suggests that interaction with colleagues is one of the main reasons why people enjoy going to work, which impacts employee retention. Language that keeps coming up into all research is empathy, compassion, gratitude and feeling connected.

Putting the human into HR

It is no wonder that conferences centred on HR and tech all involve an element of bringing the human into HR. We now also need to replace the word “resources” with relationships. Building on general feelings of isolation in our wider cultures, workplace loneliness is a current trend. Many employees spend large parts of the day working in isolation, even if they are surrounded by colleagues. Many sit in open plan offices or stuck in a pod, quite often wearing headphones to block out ambient noise. They eat lunch at a desk, perhaps ordered via an app, while checking out their social media updates. Even if we commute on public transport, buses and trains are now largely silent as people focus on their devices.

Layer on other changes in workplace practices such as remote working and gig contracts, which can reduce a sense of belonging even further to accentuate workplace loneliness. Some companies even structure themselves to separate contract employees from permanent staff emphasising a feeling of “otherness.”  Unmanaged unconscious bias also contributes to workers feeling more isolated as they are excluded by the “dominant ” group in toxic workplace cultures. This can include: race, religion, physical ability, nationality, sexual orientation as well as gender.

Millennials are more lonely

According to a survey from YouGov finds that “Millennials report feeling lonely much more often than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts. While 30 percent of Millennials say they always or often feel lonely, just one in five (20%) members of Generation X says the same. Even fewer Baby Boomers (15%) report feeling lonely with the same frequency .”

Research in the UK finds that men also feel more lonely than women. They are at risk of isolation because research shows they make friends less easily than women and don’t take part in as many social activities or community groups. More than one in 10 men are lonely but would not admit it . A study from Eurostat indicates that 77% of suicides in the EU involve men.

Lonely at the top

This doesn’t always improve with career success. One of the comments I frequently hear is from senior executives who admit one of their biggest challenges is not having someone to discuss their toughest issues. Many men feel they need to be infallible, but they too need a safe place to air their concerns. Research in the 2012 HBR found that 61% of CEOs felt that workplace loneliness hindered their performance.  If men feel it, then so do female executives who have even fewer “like minded“ colleagues to bounce ideas off.

The role of HR to stem workplace loneliness

  • Build an inclusive corporate culture which focuses on respect, trust and connection. Persuade your leaders to include these in your company’s mission statement.
  • Carry out employee experience research. Do your people feel genuinely included and respected? If not why not? Set up focus groups to tackle any highlighted issues.
  • How do you handle mistakes and failure? Do you penalise or treat them as an opportunity for growth?
  • Has your company received unconscious bias training?
  • Have your managers received training on building inclusive teams and managing remote teams?

The World Economic Forum highlighted 10 new skills for 2020. They are all in the new power or essential skills which were previously called soft skills. These qualities are not just for our organisations to make them more effective, where combatting workplace loneliness will be a positive by-product.

They should also be a benchmark for the way to conduct ourselves in our wider lives and in all our human relationships.

If your organisation needs support to build an inclusive workplace culture – get in touch NOW 

skill set hiearchy

Today’s skill set hierarchy is about to change

Unskilled or low value work

A skill set hierarchy based on economic demand has always been impacted by technology and innovation. Think the plough.This impacts the way we value different jobs which has shifted over time. But today the pace of change has accelerated. Jobs which historically carried a higher value in the skill set hierarchy and were compensated accordingly, may disappear totally, or will be downgraded.

Today there is a lot of talk around “unskilled work.”  An unskilled worker is defined as “an employee who does not use reasoning or intellectual abilities in their line of work.”  Historically, jobs for “low-skilled” workers were concentrated in two areas: industrial (the manufacturing of products) and offices (the provision of basic services.) In the not too distant future automation and AI will likely phase out these roles.

In knowledge economies, we value skills with intellectual activity and reasoning, higher levels of education and complex training. Many higher level jobs which require reasoning and intellectual skills may also be replaced by AI and could disappear. Jobs that carry a lower skill label are either carried out by men with no advanced training or education, or women whose skills tend to carry a lower value, and are under rewarded in our current skill set hierarchy.

But is all that about to change?

New “Power” skills

In tomorrow’s brave new world, will roles requiring soft skills such as the provision of services which are currently described as “low-skilled” be upgraded? This would cover jobs described as “low-skilled” in caring functions, teaching and hospitality roles. Could they even end up being better compensated than today’s “higher skilled” jobs.

Shifts in perception can impact supply and demand, remuneration and even influence wider economic policies on education and immigration. Governments seek to redefine what exactly a “highly skilled worker” brings to the table. Communities grind to a halt if their rubbish isn’t collected by those who are now considered low skilled workers. But highly paid activities in the financial services or legal sectors could be carried out by software. Who is now more valuable?

The World Economic Forum cites the following skills as being key for 2020:

Complex problem solving
Critical thinking
Creativity
People management
Coordinating with others
Emotional intelligence
Judgement and decision-making
Service orientation
Negotiation
Cognitive flexibility

Interestingly, none of the  World Economic Forum skills necessarily require complex training or advanced level education.

Continuous learning

Today, we tell anyone on a career path that continuous learning and skill acquisition is the new pension  and the way to self-drive your career. In tomorrow’s workplace that advice will not necessarily be about acquiring hard skills. Career development and therefore revenue protection will not be focused on honing soft skills. There is no qualification currently for these as far as I know. I have yet to see a Masters in Soft Skills.

This is easier for people about to embark on their careers. For others in different or later stages of their careers that can be more challenging. I grew up in South Wales, UK at the time of the closure of  the mines and steel works. The governments attracted light industry there to cope with the rise in unemployment.  These factory jobs were not attractive to the mainly male workforce who had been used to working in heavy industry. Women went on to fill these vacancies which had a significant cultural impact, specifically the empowerment of women in a male dominated culture.

Full circle

Having a good education is no longer just about the number of certificates or degrees we obtain. As we see signficant shifts in the skill set hierarchy enhancing soft skills is going to be vital for the workplaces of the future.This brings us back full circle to the way we raise and educate our kids and the value we place on different qualities and competences. Skills which are traditionally stereotyped as being “female” will now need to be embraced by all.  Will we see men more willing to work in the traditional occupations held be women?  People who may have previously looked for a career in industry or banking, may have to look at service jobs found in healthcare, personal care, education, retail and hospitality. Will that increase the perceived value of these professions?

We could also see a shift in the cultural value of different types of work. Jobs that are currently assigned “low value” in the skill set hierarchy will be ranked more highly, which could have interesting wider cultural repercussions.  This sea change will impact not just every aspect of  Talent Management, but our wider cultures.

If you are in a career transition and need professional support – get in touch  

CV video

Video CV – my change of heart

Anyone who knows me and reads my blog, is familiar with the lengths I would go to not to view a video CV. The words pins and eyes have been used.  Once called a “visumé” the ones I have viewed have been so toe-curlingly embarrassing, that I cringe at the mere memory of them. The thought of having to plough through dozens of similar quality efforts a day, filled me with total horror.

However, I am pleased to announce that I have had a complete change of heart.

I was persuaded out of my negative frame of mind by Amélie Alleman, Founder of BeTuned a Brussels based start-up specialising in the creation of the video CV. With 12 years in recruitment and a 1000 completed assignments under her belt,  she wanted to tap into tech to benefit both candidates and employers. I attended her workshop in Brussels at the ElleActive Forum last week and in my favour I did go with an open mind. I know  from my general involvement with HR and tech that things change quickly and I need to adapt. And I was right.

Change for the better

Things have indeed changed and for the better. What has changed for the video CV is this:

  • the technology  – now smart phones are so sophisticated that a video CV can be easily created on one. They don’t require super advanced tech skills to produce a reasonable result. You only need a good smart phone, a quiet and well-lit room and you are good to go. A stand for making videos on a smart phone is helpful. I found one on Amazon for about €20
  • the length   – now the recommended length for a video CV is  50-60 seconds maximum and even naysayers like myself can be persuaded to watch for that long.
  • Supplement not a substitute   – the CV video is not a replacement for a CV but designed to complement it.  That is a huge bonus for any recruiter especially me.

Advantages and disadvantages of a video CV

For many the idea of making a video CV can be a bit daunting. There are some factors to consider:

Pros

  1. Stand out from the crowd – video CVs are more common but they are still not the norm by any means. It could help you stand out from the crowd.
  2. Showcase your personality  – if you have a relaxed confident and engaging personality this is a good way to demonstrate it.
  3. Highlight your creativity – a physical visual can convey the extent of your creative and other soft skills.
  4. Focus on specific skills  – for roles that require communication skills or digital smarts this is an ideal medium.

Cons

  1. You stand out but not in a good way – If you feel uncomfortable in front of a camera or don’t have or don’t acquire the necessary skills, it can become a career mistake not a triumph.
  2. Give the wrong impression  –  you may give the wrong, incomplete or misleading information about yourself.
  3. You read your script – if your eyes are darting off camera to check your script, you could come over as looking shifty and untrustworthy or simply that you don’t know yourself that well.
  4. Distract and detract from your regular CV – if it’s not produced to the right standard, this may lead to the reject pile.

For recruiters and hiring managers

Like any candidate meeting whether online or in person, recruiters and hiring managers need to be very aware of their  own unconscious biases and have systems in place for managing them. Video CVs tap into all biases related to how we view age, body size, accent and ethnicity which are usually immediately identifiable. They also favour extroverts and confident performers and encourage us to lean towards candidates who are like ourselves (confirmation bias) This is why face to face interviews are not a good indication of future potential in a role and nudges and interrupters are used to check for bias.

Tips to create strong video CV

1. Research the market

When deciding whether to use a video CV take factor in the role you’re applying for and the company you hope to join. Research the culture of the organisation to help you decide how your efforts may be received. Once a video CV would have been popular mainly in the creative sectors. Today even more conservative organisations are open to receiving them especially if it is a supplement to a traditional CV and not a replacement for it. 

2.  Compelling, succinct message

With such a short time to convince your audience, the pressure to create a brief and compelling narrative is even greater than it ever was. Your UVP (Unique Value Proposition)  has to be in your DNA so you can deliver it comfortably and convincingly to camera.  It’s important not to read your message. Write and learn a script that is authentically you and reflects your personality.

3. Target the content

Your video CV has to be adapted for the job you are targeting.  Make sure you address the main requirements of the job advert. If you are creating a general video to upload on your LinkedIn profile for example under the media section, you can keep it general and in line with your overall career goals.

4. Structure the content

The rule of three works well in this context. Structure the video into identifiable sections. A  beginning middle and end always works well.

  • an intro with your UVP
  • why me? Three good, brief reasons to hire you
  • a call to action with your contact details.

Amélie Allerman strongly advises creating a caption with your mobile number, email and maybe your LinkedIn profile url. No one, she says, will ever write the details down from verbal delivery. She is right.

5. Look the part

Generally as for any interview to camera you should be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the organisation you are hoping to impress. If it’s a generic video CV, select something from your wardrobe that will bridge the gap between formal and informal.

6. Select a good location

Choose a location of your video to ensure that you have a quiet, well-lit space to film in, free from clutter and any other background distractions. I’ve seen them with dogs mating in the background  – not a pretty sight. Make sure that the audio reproduction is good. If it’s muffled or inconsistent you will be sure to lose people like me.

7. Master the tech

The CVs Amélie produced from her iPhone were excellent quality. She suggests using editing software such Unfold, Canva or Over. Be brutal with editing and seek feedback from colleagues or friends.

8. Upload on-line

Once your masterpiece is complete you can upload to You Tube or Vimeo or LinkedIn and send the links to potential contacts or simply diffuse via social media.

So now it’s only a question of practise! Are you ready?

Looking for career coaching – get in touch!

 

 

 

employment alliance

Today’s new uneasy employment alliance

Technology conferences have a ton of buzzwords, but two stood out at this year’s Unleash in Paris last month. These were “journey” (digital, employee, candidate) and “experience” (people, talent, employee, HR, brand.) The conversations also focused on the constant shift in workplace relationships between employer and employee which have led to the creation of a new and sometimes uneasy employment alliance which at times does not always run smoothly. Mainly unwritten, the new arrangement suggests that talent is increasingly more of an individual asset than an enterprise asset. There was much discussion what that meant for all involved.

Career disruption

The notion of a traditional lifelong career where employee loyalty was at one time a given has gone. The need to manage constant change has brought about a shift to lean and more agile organisations. This has had significant impact on employment arrangements. The gig economy now includes 33% of all workers in the US. The notion of a linear career has now been replaced by portfolio and portable careers. Working lives have become more diverse and more diffused, requiring new sets of skills as we prepare for jobs that may not even exist yet. When companies no longer guarantee a job for life, or even medium term, the only real constant is therefore the individual.

Not a new concept

The concept of Brand You is not new. Tom Peters coined the phrase in the 1990s. Today it has greater significance because in talent acquisition finding people with the right skills is getting increasingly difficult, and retaining them more so.  Today, if employees don’t have the right “experience” of an organisation, or make a meaningful “journey” they become disengaged, and under productive, or the best simply walk.

But this makes the new employment alliance somewhat tenuous, leading to perhaps not wars for talent, but certainly skirmishes. Today, people are more willing to move between jobs and organisations, especially now they have personally invested in their own development and have been encouraged to do so by their own bosses.

After a decade of low productivity and high employment, where does that leave the organisation?

Some businesses are struggling to manage this new arrangement with their employees and to align frequently conflicting needs. Part of that is centred around expectations of what organisations are going to do for the employee and what the employee has to do for themselves. The other piece of this new yet to be clarified contract, is whether the organisation has a role to guarantee the future employability of an employee when their temporary alliance is over.   

Purpose, learning, and soft skills

From an individual perspective,  Heather E McGowan, future of work strategist, talked about learning and adapting in a world which is changing exponentially. She encouraged us to define ourselves less by what we do (our jobs) and more by why we do it. Our purpose. The valued skills of the future will be soft skills – as identified by the recent data from the World Economic Forum.  These include creativity, people management, emotional intelligence and service orientation to name but four.

But more than that, being committed to growth and continuous learning is vital to maintaining our own relevance, employability and long-term economic viability. McGowan added ” Learning is a new pension. It is the new way that you create a future value every day.”

Luigi Maria Fierro Global Head of HR Strategy and Transformation at ING advocated that organisations have to accept that the purpose of the individual employee and the organisation will provide a temporary alliance only, before an organic shift happens and they move on.  He emphasised  that we need to “make a connection between purpose and day-to-day work more clear and effective ” 

When alliances don’t work

But there are some other problems with temporary alliances referenced by Sir Bob Geldorf  in his key-note  ‘When leaders fail to lead, the people teach them to follow….and that ain’t necessarily a good thing.’  He warned of the downsides of productising human experience with concerns about the dystopian dangers of change without purpose. This was especially true when employer and employee values are in conflict.  We are seeing this today as Facebook employees reject the company’s leadership policy in relation to fake news ads. We also saw it  at Nike when a revolt by women employees saw an exodus of senior men.

Technology as a solution

At a Tech conference for HR,  technological solutions were obviously touted as the way forward for every kind of journey and experience listed above. It was equally clear that many HR practitioners believed that technology could not provide all the solutions and at some point HR needed to get back to the basics. Whether on the main stage, the breakout rooms or the smaller platforms of the event, the message was consistent.

Communication, “air listening” and “eye brilliance”

In the session “The Evolving Role of the CHRO” led by Lars Schmidt, Laurent Choain, Chief People Officer at Mazars had a lovely line “one hour spent in the hour in the office, is an hour too long.”  He encouraged CHROs to get out to meet and talk to employees, even suggesting that CEOs should be involved in interviewing for roles not destined for the C-Suite. More talking in person. But with global and remote teams that can also be a challenge.

Erin Meyer author of the Culture Map Cultural tackled cultural miscommunication frequently at the heart of misunderstanding in our international organisations. She opened our eyes to how developing cultural sensitivity can impact effective collaboration within teams which span linguistic, national and ethnic differences. I loved the idea of “listening to the air” around a person, pausing and looking for a “brilliance in someone’s eyes.” Another low-cost solution.

Geldorf also doubted that technology has all the answers. He felt certain that one person today could not achieve the same level of global impact as he did when 40% of the  world population watched Live Aid  in the ’80s. The technology of today’s multiple media platforms  means that in 2019 if you miss something there are dozens of ways to catch up. Not so back then.

Wider cultural context

I am old enough to have watched Live Aid on the day where Bob Geldorf impacted the world in his campaign against feminine in Ethiopia, raising $125 million. Today he is calling for more simple rather than tech solutions. Address basic global inequalities. “…change the world for the better and make a difference with a sense of purpose, not just look to leaders in politics, companies…”

In a media briefing meeting I asked him how a new generation do to make an impact. His advice to today’s 19 and 20 year olds to make that kind difference was pretty basic. “Read a book and talk to each other in a meaningful way” to build relationships.

Nothing complicated.

If you need to attract top talent  – get in touch

 

HR – the digital process nanny?

Unleash is always something of a brain fry. There is so much to take in and much of it is overlapping, outwardly contradictory and nuanced. It would seem that in a digital self-service world within an organisation, HR is in danger of assuming the role of full-service digital process “nanny.” This carries the same message as the Italian proverb. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for his life time.”  HR by morphing into a sort of go-to HR systems concierge is dis-empowering itself. In Jason Averbook terms we are stuck in the “hands” part of the process. 

HR the digital process nanny

In his session for SAP, Jason smartly points out the tech piece of the puzzle should in theory liberate HR from time-consuming processes (hands.) This allows them to concentrate on the “head” part of the equation (strategy) and the “hearts” piece (the people.) Instead of tech releasing HR they are becoming bogged down in an ever-growing range of transactional HR tech activities. At a time when the HR population for the fifth year running is going to decrease, they are not empowering employees to take care of themselves, but nannying them by doing low level tasks for them. 

Yet, set against this is the employee need to feel a sense of belonging and a desire for connection and interaction.  We no longer talk about job satisfaction but employee satisfaction. People in the workplace are looking for an “experience.”  Maybe for some employees talking to their HR contact about a routine matter such as a change of address, is more important than going through a drop down menu of options or chatting via a bot. It’s about connection. It can lead to a conversation whether face to face or on the phone. Someone’s HR person may not even be in the same country as their employee, let alone the same building. To achieve that release as the “processes keeper,” HR has to change the relationship with tech to become process drivers, not process driven and to connect with employees in other ways.

This is always easier said than done.

Systems and people

The epicentre of the Unleash event is around the space which bridges that gap (or the gulf) between systems and people. It’s a sort of no-person’s land, where HR as a function navigates its way, sometimes blindly, through a maze of conflicting messages and demands frequently getting slammed from all sides  These range from needing and wanting to be a strategic part of the business, to championing the company via employer branding in an increasingly expanding device driven world, where an employee experience can go viral in a nanosecond. Think #MeToo. Think American Airlines or Starbucks which ended up closing 8000 U.S stores for half a day to give its staff unconscious bias training after a racist incident hit global media.

The function is expected to support an increasingly disengaged workforce (“full up” to quote Josh Bersin) which craves recognition and attention. At the same time they have to reduce costs, upskill, optimize headcount and boost productivity. Oftentimes HR professionals find themselves on a hiding to nothing, trying to be all things to all people, all of the time. The word burnout cropped up frequently.

 

Away from tech

But interestingly there was plenty of advice around taking on that challenge, involving words that did not talk about employee engagement, candidate journey, blockchain, intelligent technologies or skill gaps. This language  was less concrete: magic, trust, courage, impact, communication, “air listening,” pausing, “eye brilliance”, learning, empathy and understanding. More about that next time!

So, the challenge is integrating the HR buzzwords which are now increasingly familiar and for some a little scary, with other less tangible, indefinable ingredients which have always been there. It’s the context which has changed. 

Peter Hinssen author of “Day After Tomorrow” in his keynote urged us all to make a difference. “We all have a responsibility to put a small dent in the universe each day to make it a better place.” 

To do that we have to relearn how to connect not just with ourselves, but with the people around us in more meaningful ways. With relationships based on trust and purpose, HR can step back from its role as the digital process nanny and let the systems do the “hands” work. HR can then take on a more empowering and dynamic role. Janina Kugel, CHRO at Siemens summed it up beautifully Refusing to babysit managers will not make you loved but you’ll be respected for it.” 

Hinssen carries on “It’s not about technology, it’s about change. It’s about our willingness and capability to do something different”

For some that’s scarier than buying a suite of software. Why? Because it’s about them.  As Heather E McGowan future of work strategist suggests “In the past, we learned to work, in the future, we work to continuously learn.”

Changing and learning? Who thinks that sounds like fun?

Looking for top talent  – get in touch

 

 

Candidate driven market

Recruitment in a candidate driven market

 In candidate driven markets, hiring managers are the sellers

For years the recruitment process has been powered by companies in the happy position of being in  the driving seat. Things have changed in today’s candidate driven market. In a supply driven market, companies posted ads, shortlisted some candidates, putting them through rigorous interviews and not always necessary testing processes, which could take up to 40 hours of a candidate’s time as they jumped through the required hoops.

The hiring manager would make a decision followed up by an offer. A salary would be negotiated, not always to the candidates expectations and they would start their job in due course. Unsuccessful candidates may or may not hear back depending on the company, even with automated systems. Feedback was frequently difficult to obtain. But in a buyer’s market, hiring managers didn’t pay that much attention. They didn’t need to.

Now they do. The boot is on the other foot. Hiring managers, more than ever, are now the “sellers” in the recruitment process. It was of course always there to some degree, but now it has intensified.

Candidate driven market

A candidate driven market means that for companies the competition to attract top talent has heated up. A period of high employment, means a supply driven market is giving us a role reversal. Candidates of every calibre are able to move easily between jobs. Top talent is so much in so demand they don’t even bother to respond to contact. Some have switched off all notifications including access to LinkedIn InMail. In the days of GDPR this is frequently one of the few ways of reaching any potential candidate.

Those who do engage could be involved in multiple processes and take their time to pick the best offer. This is now known as “benching.” Some candidates let organisations know but others simply disappear and “ghost.”  Tinder for talent is real! Colleagues report candidates even failing to appear on the assigned starting day. Others leave very quickly, a few weeks into their contracts. Clearly this a breach of legal obligations, but most organisations aren’t going to go to the expense of taking formal action, especially for lower level employees.

The importance of Employer Branding

Research from LinkedIn suggests that 75% of applicants now consider an employer’s brand before considering making a job application. Organizations are spending more time and efforts  investing in building employer branding strategies to reflect their vision, values, and culture, going beyond basic compensation and benefits to appeal. There is a growing trend for candidates to factor in social responsibility and sustainability commitments in addition to a company’s business and workplace culture and environment.

Employer branding is more critical than ever.

 

Hiring managers  as sellers

Hiring managers are no longer the “buyers” in the recruitment process but the “sellers.”  They have to change their mindsets and get up to speed in their new role. For many this is not coming easily. Sure, the recruitment process has always been about sales, especially for highly sought-after skills or for executive level roles. But for the rest of the market, a soft sales approach had always worked well, and now the tempo has increased. The interview has become pitch time. Everyone involved in the process is now part of a candidate service initiative, where they need to treat candidates like clients or customers.  In the past, some organisations typically asked receptionists and everyone involved in the process to rate their interaction with an applicant.

Today, candidates are  not only noting how they are treated, they might even share their experience on Glassdoor. A candidate who has a good experience is twice as likely to recommend that company as a potential employer, as well as becoming a customer of that brand’s products, even if they don’t get hired.

The notion of spending time speaking to a passive candidate is a foreign concept to many companies.  “Well, they are either interested or they are not” we hear them say. The answer is that yes, they are interested, but it is up to the hiring manager to convince them. The balance has shifted in the selection process. Any interview should always have been a two-way street, but in reality it was oftentimes about the candidate convincing the hiring panel of their suitability. Now, in a candidate driven market, it’s the interviewers who have to pull out all the stops.

A challenge

Some organisations are struggling with the change. They are still taking their time to communicate, asking candidates for multiple interviews and to attend time-consuming assessment days. The conversion rate for job seeker to firm applicant is at an all time low, except where organisations have a top employer brands. If your organisations reputation is not great then you will suffer.

5 tips to recruit in a candidate driven market

1. Extend your reach

Try extending the reach of your search for talent away from your old tried and tested ways. Experiment with new channels and company referral schemes. Make this an ongoing process to ensure you have talent always coming through your pipeline. Don’t search only against specific openings as today candidates spend up to two months gathering information before they decide where they want to apply for a job opening. Studies show that candidates may have as many as 15 touch points with your organisation before they are converted to a prospect.

2.  Make your job postings real

Frequently job postings are inflated. Stick to key skills and offer to train and develop candidates who may fall short. Hire for potential not just experience. Use storytelling to engage people whether by video, audio links or posts. Use any channel that will help make your employer  brand more appealing in line with your target market.

3. Make your processes user-friendly and as short as possible

Many candidates give up with the process if it is complex and takes too long. Tell candidates how long it is going to take in advance, as three-quarters of jobs seekers will want to know. Test your career site yourself and get a feeling for the candidate experience. What is it like to be them?

4. Prompt communication is vital

Rapid turnaround on communication is important with over two-thirds of candidates losing interest if they don’t hear something within 10 working days. I recommend to clients , five days as the optimal communication time, even if it’s to say it’s no news. No news is your bad news.

5. Harness technology

Speed up the process time by tapping into tech. Use bots on your career sites to answer basic screening questions. At a recent conference a show of hands showed a majority would prefer to engage quickly with a chat bot than wait to speak to a person. Use automated interviews for screening basic knowledge and skill questions.

But candidates  need to be careful too. Recruitment is closely tied to economic cycles and there are always downturns. There will be a point, maybe soon, when we return to a demand driven market and we will  see organisations back in the driving seat.

It’s always best not to close doors.

Need help finding the best candidates for your company  – get in touch 

 

 

SCORE A NEW JOB

How to SCORE a new job

One of the things that’s difficult to manage with career transition clients is their expectations. If someone has committed to investing in themselves and their careers, they want results and they want them now, or at least ASAP. But there are many moving parts to SCORE a new job and they can become more complex the more senior an individual job seeker is. There are simply fewer jobs at the top. Sadly, there are no short cuts and no magic sauce to get to where you want to be.

But there is a methodology to help you structure your process, which will help reduce the confusion and potential stress. It takes time and effort which is why so many want to by-pass the basics and look for easy fixes which are not so easy to come by. I have created an acronym which I am going to incorporate into my new career programme in the autumn. I call it SCORE.

Here is a preview

SCORE a new using this acronym

S  is for SELF – AWARENESS

The S  in SCORE is for self-awareness. It might seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people get to senior positions within organisations without giving themselves more than a passing thought.

Then suddenly something happens. Maybe they receive negative feedback or get passed over for a promotion or something else goes on and they realise they need professional input. When you come to making a concrete plan this piece is vital. It will help you avoid “spray and pray” tactics of sending high numbers of unfocused CVs to any job advert that comes along. This will only add to your frustration as your applications get lost in the recruitment black hole. You will then complain about recruiters. This is not their fault. This is on you.

It can be quite a challenging part of process and many try to skip it. Don’t – it will come back to bite you! You will need to tap into this self-knowledge at every stage in the process from your online profile, your resume and your interview pitches. Even networking. It is an indispensable part of the process. Aristotle said “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Now is the time to wise-up.

C is for CONSIDER

The C in SCORE is for CONSIDER. It’s important that all job seekers sit down and reflect on their options. Now is the time to make a plan and commit to it. From here on in if you are not working in line with your goals, either your goals need to change or your behaviour does.

Most people think they have multiple options and that thought overwhelms them with the possibility of having to make so many complex choices. But in reality when you correctly factor in your goals you can usually reduce that number to a handful. When you have understood the need for a career P.L.A.N – life will seem simpler.

O is for OWN

The O in SCORE is for OWN.  This is a tough one. Many job seekers struggle to own their career achievements. They tend to get stuck in process mode, recounting their career history as a chronology and as a job description. What they need to do is own their successes and be able to share them  backed up with numbers. So many don’t have metrics to support their story. This is a gender trap for women, so ladies, take note. You need to lose words such as  numerous,  various, “lots of” – yes really, someone said that recently.

It’s also about taking ownership of your processes and holding yourself accountable. No one else can do this for you.

R is for RELATIONSHIP CAPITAL

The R in SCORE is for RELATIONSHIP CAPITAL. Your network is your net-worth. This is especially true if you want to change sectors or geographic regions. It’s important to have connections in your target area as well as the sector you are currently in.

You need to build and nurture your network on an ongoing basis which takes time and energy  because a very high percentage of career opportunities come through network referrals. Depending on the statistics used, it can be as much as 80%+. Some job openings are not even advertised, so having a strong online presence and being visible, searchable and contactable are important? if you are an active job seeker. It’s vital to have a complete LinkedIn profile which contains a good balance of key words relevant to your career goals and target companies.Organisations like employees who are connected. Relationship capital is important for creating business opportunities, to stay in touch with the market and abreast of all the changes that are going on in the workplace. It’s all about who you know and more significantly who knows you.  

Whatever you do don’t frantically try to pitch to people at the last-minute when you are in a bind. For most it’s a major turnoff.

E is for EXECUTE

The E in SCORE is for EXECUTE. This is a tough word but it means that you have to take action and be accountable to yourself, take action and deliver!  Now is the time to commit to getting things done and making job search part of your daily routine. If you are unemployed, looking for a job is your job. Job search can be time-consuming, so it’s important to be focused and strategic. Keep a close and neutral eye on your results. Note any patterns and don’t take anything personally. Ask for feedback if you can get it (it is quite hard today for that unless you are very advanced in a process) and be willing to change and try something different if you see a particular trend. 
If you find yourself getting dispirited seek professional help or find a job search group. Look for a mentor. Friends and family no matter how well-intentioned sometimes only add to the confusion. Job search is like life and parenting. Everyone has a view which they are  willing to share and often times they are all conflicting!

And finally – keep a SCORE card. Monitor your progress. Even no news is a message that something needs adjusting in your methodology. 

If you need help in your job search  or career transition  – get in touch!