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What are the critical success factors for your business?

What are the critical success factors for your business?

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critical factors for business success

No matter the industry, running a business involves a lot of things, and usually a lot of different people with different expertise. That is why you employ people to fill in different positions in different departments and have them work together as a team to achieve your business’s goals. Though the advent of modern technology has helped businesses to be competitive and successful in a lot of ways, there are tried and tested elements in running a business that cannot be replaced. They are called the critical success factors of a business, alternatively known as critical success factors (CSF) or key success factors (KSF). 

Identifying the critical success factors of a business is critical for both short and long-term goals. But what is it exactly? What does it do for your business and organization? And more importantly, how do you do it? 

Critical Success Factors of a Business: Basics

Many times, people overcomplicate things when it comes to running their business and managing their people. CSF is the exact opposite of that. 

CSF or KSF refers to the most important factors that provide the best results, impact, and outcome in achieving the goals and/or objectives of the business. 

To break it down further, it means improving and mastering the basics, looking for the overlooked and the often hidden opportunities that exist in the business. This will enable you to get the best performances for the best results from the same capital, activity, and people, with minimal risk and effort. 

When executed right, critical success factors of a business define and ensure the growth and goals of the company and its business.

The challenge in identifying CSF, however, is that since each organization, company, and business is different, the specifics of CSF can only be found through deep understanding of the company’s goals, vision, mission, and values. 

Why Identify the Critical Success Factors of a Business

It facilitates teamwork

Assembling a team of skilled and experienced individuals from different walks of life is one thing. Making them work together as a team is another. A CSF will help you help your team focus on what really matters. 

It allows you to track your progress

With a CSF, you can track and measure your progress based on the goals you have set and the strategies you have implemented. This will help you pinpoint which ones are working, which needs working on, and which ones you can do without. 

It provides a point of reference

A CSF will give your organization a common point of reference. This ensures everyone knows exactly what is most important, what is urgent, etc. This ensures that all tasks and projects are being streamlined to the assigned departments, teams, and individuals. 

identifying critical success factors of a business

What Are These Critical Factors for Success?

So what are the most common critical success factors of a business? How can you use these for your business’s benefit? 

As said earlier, CSFs differ from one business, company, and organization to another. With that said, here are some critical factors you need to look into.

1. Leadership (Management)

The management or leadership style in your business is the single most important factor that will determine your success. Your business can only grow to the extent that your management will allow the team to grow. The management must put effort into inculcating the right mindset within every member of the team. At the same time, they must be equipped with the right skills and tools to achieve your vision and mission.

2. Finance

The lack of proper financial management can be the downfall for your business. You need proper planning and trend prediction so you can maximize the use of company resources. With proper financial management, you can utilize your resources in areas that bring in profit or foster company growth.

3. Employees

The people who make up your team or organization are your most important asset. The success of your business starts with hiring the right people. When you hire employees, make sure you do not hire them based on skills or knowledge alone (although these are very important). You should hire them based on culture, too.  

The best people to help your team succeed are the ones who have the right attitude, and are trustworthy and accountable. 

4. Products or Services

Any business aspires to gain profits and grow. To make that happen, you need to develop the best products or services to keep your customers happy. Make sure you commit to every step of the process so you can ensure quality that exceeds expectation and allow you to compete. Make sure to listen to any feedback that you get from customers so you can improve on the quality of your products or services.

5. Marketing and Sales

These two are integral to your business success. Hence, they are among the critical success factors of a business. You need to market your products or services to reach a wider audience. At the same time, you need to conduct market analysis so you can measure, test, and analyze results. It is important to implement fundamental marketing principles to achieve your desired outcome. 

How do you know your CSFs are working?

Track the progress

Having a good CSF means you are a step closer to accomplishing your overall strategy. With that said, you need to know how to track your progress accurately. 

Say for example your overall strategy is to double the present size of your business. This means you will have to examine the growth of your customer base, partners, acquire new customers, and grow through acquisition. 

Assign a champion

Assign a person or two to champion each of your CSFs. This person is the leader responsible for the fruition of the set goals. He/she acts as a steward to make sure everything is moving in the right direction. 

common critical success factors of a business

Parting Tips

As said earlier, there are no hard and fast rules for identifying critical success factors of a business. Understand that this is not a one-off project. Rather, it’s an idea that requires a shift of culture within you and your organization. 

The way to make your CSFs effective is to integrate them seamlessly into your organization and continuously work on refining them. 

Organizational Development Workforce Transformations

Differentiators in Business – How to Find Your Key Differentiators

Differentiators in Business – How to Find Your Key Differentiators

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find your business key differentiators

When looking for a business idea, there is one thing that new business owners aim for: to be unique. It is important to strive for uniqueness if you want your business to stand out in the crowded industries and high level of competition. This is why it is important to find your key differentiators in business if you do not want to fade into the background. 

What Are Differentiators in Business?

What exactly is a differentiator? The most basic definition of it is something that you possess or offer as a business that sets you apart from competition. It can also be a benefit that you provide your target audience. 

It is similar to your business’s unique value proposition. These are qualities that put you ahead of your competition, so they are likely to choose you over the others in the market. 

The main thing about differentiators is that they should make your customers feel good about their purchase. When customers feel good about their purchase, they are more likely to buy from you again or tell their friends about your company.

Main Criteria in Identifying Differentiators

As part of your marketing effort, you need to identify the key differentiators in business. To make it work, it must comply with these three important criteria:

  • It must be true. You cannot make something up just so you can make your business look good. 
  • It must offer something of benefit to your prospective clients. Remember: it is your goal to make them see the benefit of choosing to do business with you.
  • It must be concrete. You should be able to prove or demonstrate the benefits that you claim to offer. 

A lot of businesses meet one or two of these criteria but rarely all of them. Your ability to identify and capitalize on these differentiators can give you a significant competitive edge.  

types of business differentiators

Types of Differentiators in Business

Differentiators can come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can also vary depending on the type of industry your business is in. 

Take time to learn about these differentiators and see where you can gain an edge over your competition. 

1. Product Differentiator – This is probably the most common way that businesses differentiate themselves from others. The first method to differentiate your product is through features, efficiency, and performance. Another method to differentiate is with the perceived value of the product, which can be manipulated through advertising.

2. Price Differentiator – This is another common way to differentiate your business and products. For example, you can specialize in offering affordable products that are meant to attract budget-conscious buyers.

3. Reputation Differentiator – Another way you can set your business apart from others is by building a reputation based on your image. For example, your brand may be known for its world-class service or superb product quality. Even if your products cost more than others, the perceived quality based on your business reputation makes you the preferred option for consumers. 

4. Service Differentiator – Just as businesses invest on developing high quality products that sell, service is also a key differentiator. Buyers put a premium on quality customer service. In fact, even a poor experience with the product quality can be remedied by superior customer service.  

How to Identify Your Differentiator

Are you finding it difficult to identify what differentiates your business from others in the market? Don’t worry – almost all businesses struggle with this. After all, most (if not all) businesses start with the same goal: to develop a product that is unique and offers value to consumers. If all businesses have that same aim, how are they different from each other? 

You can identify your business differentiator by asking a series of questions. These questions are designed to help you find a deeper understanding of the nature of your business and how you can set a distinction from your competition.

Here are the questions you need to reflect on.

What do you do that the competition does not?

You might need to do a bit of market research and competitor analysis on this one. Look at how your competitors are developing their products and services, as well as how they market them. 

Next, make a list of the things that are unique about your business. You can do the same with your competitors. Look at the areas where you might overlap. The ones that do not will serve as your unique selling point. Focus on the ones that offer the best value and highlight that as one of your key differentiators.

How do customers benefit from choosing you?

When marketing your company, you need to ask this question from the customers’ perspective: what’s in it for me? You need to put a lot of emphasis on your customers’ journey in your marketing strategy. Your goal is to keep your customers happy. 

Make a list of things that your customers love about your business and why. 

What do your customers have to say?

When all else fails, you must go straight to the source. Find out from your customers what they love about your products or services. After they have made a purchase from you, you can ask them to complete a survey. This will give you an idea of what their feedback is on your products or services. 

You need to specifically look at why they chose you over your competition and how you stand up in terms of their expectations. 

identify differentiators in business

The Bottom Line

Are you able to identify your differentiators in business? Now it is time to promote them! Make sure you communicate it to your existing and potential customers so they understand what your business is about and why you are a better choice than others. Focus on your differentiators when crafting your marketing message, especially the value that your customers can get.

Identifying your differentiators is one of the most powerful tools you can use when building a winning marketing strategy. When executed properly, it might just be the competitive edge that you’re looking for. 

Organizational Development

Why Leadership Must Empower Team Members and How to Do It

Why Leadership Must Empower Team Members and How to Do It

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how leaders empower team members

Bosses and leaders may have many similarities, but they are quite different from each other. Though every leader can be a boss, not every boss can be a leader. So what separates leaders from bosses? Easy: it’s their leadership style. A boss manages, delegates, and expects results. A leader, on the other hand, innovates, inspires, teaches, and is committed to empowering team members. 

The idea of empowering team members in businesses and organizations is nothing new. However, many fail to do it for different reasons. In most cases, it is because the organization is led by a boss, not a leader. 

Leadership through empowering team members

Empowering your team means giving them the permission to make decisions on their own and take actions within the organization. Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of work as this means establishing trust and understanding in line with the organizations’ values and goals. 

You can learn a lot about leadership through empowerment from the military. The US Army for example, defines leadership through empowerment as “influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.” Retired naval officer, podcaster, and American author Jocko Willink said “A leader must lead, but also be ready to follow. They must be aggressive, but not overbearing. Calm, but not robotic. Confident, but not cocky.” 

True growth of a business or company comes from the result of multiple people working together for the same goal. And that requires empowerment of each and every member of the team. 

In his article in The Globe and Mail, Andrew Atkins said, “Companies with high levels of trust and empowerment are more than 2.5 times more likely to be revenue leaders in their industries than others.” 

But how do you empower team members?

Empowering team members is a culture

Building an empowerment culture is no easy task. It requires thoughtful and proactive leadership, open communication and trust among each member of the organization, appropriate infrastructure of mechanism and accountability, stout and continuing member engagement.

Here are some steps and strategies on how to build the culture of empowerment in your organization:

Develop by delegating

While it is easy to delegate tasks among your team members, people often fail to use it as an opportunity to empower and strengthen the team. Rather than just giving away to-do lists, delegate tasks with the intention of developing and cultivating your members’ capabilities, skills, and responsibilities. 

Delegating tasks, especially for big and important projects, gives your team a good sense of value within your organization. Take note of your high-performing members and assign them with big tasks that you think will challenge them and bring out the best out of them. Make them leaders on these tasks. This gives them an opportunity to shine and eases your workload.

Show them that you trust them by giving them authority without checking back on them for every detail.

Give your team autonomy over their tasks

Different folks, different strokes. This means each individual has his own way of doing and finishing things. Your way may be different from their ways, but that doesn’t mean yours is any better. 

When you delegate tasks, you should also hand over control. Refrain from micromanaging your team and understand that your way is not the only way to get things done. 

Set expectations clearly

Outline the boundaries where your team is free to act. Set your expectations clearly (of course, without micromanaging) and give your team the freedom and responsibility to make decisions that are in line with the company’s goals. 

steps to empowering team members

Provide all essential and helpful resources

You cannot expect your problems to magically go away, or things to automatically sort themselves out, by simply letting your employees work on them without giving them all the necessary resources. Provide tools and ideas that you believe are necessary to get things done. 

Give positive feedback, criticize constructively

A good leader recognizes the good deeds of his or her employee. This is extremely important, especially when someone takes a leadership role and is successful. 

Similarly, be specific on the feedback you deliver. Simply telling them “great job” doesn’t steer them in the right direction on what to do in the future. Guide your employee to help them find the right solutions; point out the good and bad, and provide alternatives that you believe could improve their performance. 

Mentor your team

Do not just teach your team members to do what you think is right, or tell them the steps to quickly complete the tasks. Empowering team members require coaching and mentoring.

Coaching and mentoring is extremely important for a positive work environment. It brings the best out of people.

Mentoring means working with them to make good decisions; this comes after you help them develop their skills and solve problems. 

Build real and authentic connections with your employees, practice humility, and use humor to make them feel at ease. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, and help them improve on areas they need to work on. 

Similarly, assign tasks that you know could optimize each team member’s capabilities. This will help them feel valuable and competent. 

Make sure you explain clearly why you assign them certain tasks and let them know you believe in their capabilities.

Encourage open communication

When communicating your ideas and goals about certain projects, make sure you hear what your team member has to say as well. Make sure they feel comfortable in expressing their ideas and thoughts. Encourage them to brainstorm and think outside the box. Similarly, commend them for their feedback and opinions. 

strategies to empower team members

Be open to other ideas 

Include your team in decision-making and goal-setting processes whenever possible. Getting them involved in the preliminary process is a good way to empower team members. Be open to hearing their input and ideas. This can open your organization to new ideas that could catapult your way to more success. 

Recognize their hard work

Make sure you always show appreciation for each of your team member’s hard work, especially if they do a good job. If possible, reward their success through incentives or bonuses, especially if they go above and beyond to complete the assigned task. This will further encourage your team to continue being innovative and taking actions. 

Having a good empowerment culture in your organization is a win-win for you and your team. While you can certainly achieve certain things with direct management – sustainable growth and continued success comes from empowered team members.

Organizational Development Workforce Transformations

Employers Still Facing Challenges in Future-Proofing Their Workforces

Employers Still Facing Challenges in Future-Proofing Their Workforces

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Employers still facing challenges in future proofing their workforces

NEW YORK, NY  May 12, 2021 – Despite facing unprecedented challenges in sourcing skilled labor, only slightly more than half of the employers around the world are embracing leading-edge talent strategies like reskilling, upskilling, and redeployment to future proof their workforces, according to a new global survey of hiring managers and executives from LHH, the world’s leading talent development and career solutions company.

The survey of 2,100 HR decision-makers in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia found that only 56% of all organizations are actively working to future proof their talent pipelines. However, within that figure, there is evidence that organizations are struggling with the key components of a future-looking HR strategy.

The survey also found that less than half (47.2%) of organizations are focusing their attention on the transferrable skills of existing employees to fill future job openings, a critical component for the redeployment of talent.

As well, just less than 40 percent (38.6%) of HR decision-makers who do not currently participate in reskilling or upskilling programs, say that they simply have not considered them (38.6%). In addition, only 33.5% of all respondents are extremely confident in their organization’s ability to effectively launch and manage reskilling and upskilling programs.

John Morgan, newly appointed president of LHH, said it is not surprising that some companies are struggling with the challenge of future-proofing their talent pipelines, given that they are facing an unprecedented array of economic, environmental, and social forces that have disrupted traditional workforce management.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and increasing demands for diversity, companies must still contend with the profound impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Morgan said. The World Economic Forum has predicted that as many as 85 million people could be displaced from current jobs by advances in AI.

“Identifying transferable skills and investments in reskilling and upskilling strategies are, simply put, the most effective ways of meeting future talent needs. In the past, companies could fire people with outmoded skills and then go out and hire new people with new skills to fill the jobs of the future. With the global skills shortage, that is no longer even remotely possible.”

John Morgan, President of LHH

Investing in reskilling and upskilling is also very timely given that countries around the world – including the United States and those in the European Union – are pouring trillions of dollars into stimulus programs to help workers escape dying industrial sectors and move into jobs that are matched to future skills needs, Morgan added.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Organizational Development

2021 HR Predictions for Large Businesses

2021 HR Predictions for Large Businesses

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HR predictions for large businesses

There will be a great strain placed on HR leaders of these companies to work with the board to ensure that peaceful and smooth restructuring, outplacement and redeployment takes place. 

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used a lot to describe this year. There isn’t a business that hasn’t been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s been a temporary shut down, staff having to work from home, or having to navigate the government’s furlough scheme – there have been a lot of business firsts. 

As the year draws to a close, it serves as a good time for organisations to take a step back and reflect. While the news headlines are currently dominated by the positive news that vaccinations have started rolling out, it is certain that businesses will not return to pre-COVID norms. 

Many of the changes we have seen this year will carry on into the future – we will not be returning to working life as it was at the start of 2020, and in some cases we have not yet experienced the full impact of the pandemic. 

So, what does this mean for businesses and HR leaders as we head into 2021 and beyond? We’ve outlined our key predictions below.

HR Qualifications Will Need Updating on outplacement and redeployment

As it currently stands, outplacement and redeployment do not currently feature in the CIPD training for HR professionals. We strongly advocate for this to change as we head into the New Year. The job market is in crisis, yet there are huge benefits to any organisation that actively seeks alternatives to redundancy. HR professionals need to know exactly how outplacement and redeployment strategies work, so they are able to make the best case for it to the business leaders. 

Redundancies Will Continue to Rise

While the UK Government’s furlough scheme is credited with helping to save millions of jobs from redundancy in the short term, redundancies look set to rise in the year ahead, with the Chancellor predicting that unemployment will increase to 2.6 million by mid-2021.

While the government is doing all that it can to help, it is crucial that organisations do not use this time to delay the inevitable or procrastinate. How organisations handle this issue will have a lasting and long term impact on staff productivity, brand reputation, employee morale, company performance and the wider economy. It is therefore vital for organisations to start workforce planning now, if this has not been started already.  This should include alternatives to redundancy including redeployment and reskilling for the creation of an agile workforce. 

The Creation of Employment Bridges 

In 2021 and beyond, we expect to see a rise in the use of ‘Employment Bridges’. An Employment Bridge is a mechanism that takes surplus workers at one company and finds them temporary employment at another company, while allowing the original employer to retain the ability to recall them when and if business turns around.

As we’ve seen, some industries have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, such as the hospitality and tourism industries. However there are other industries such as security and online retail that have a need for short-term employees to deal with increased demand. 

Businesses have found themselves in an unprecedented situation, which calls for an innovative solution. The use of the Employment Bridge is a solution that not only benefits businesses needing a short-term change in staffing, but also keeps workers in employment. 

The Rise of the Chief People Officer

We will not be returning to the typical office 9-5 working environment. Many businesses will continue to implement working remote policies, or at least will adapt a hybrid system – and all businesses will need to ensure they continue having the agility in order to respond to further  have the infrastructure in place in case of further strict lockdown measures. 

Companies will either employ someone to specifically look at company culture, or at least have it as a key part of the job description. Whether it’s to help with the onboarding of new staff, keeping employees motivated or even just recreating the social element of office life remotely – the organisations best place to succeed in the year ahead will be those who take company culture seriously. 

The Rise of AI Means Businesses Need to Future-Proof Skills 

The rise of technology will continue to have a fundamental impact on businesses and the world of work. In some instances it has created new companies, sectors and in turn job opportunities. On the other hand it has created a demand for a new set of skills that can be hard to fill, and has ultimately meant that some roles have become redundant or are no longer seen as mission critical. 

New skills are required to support this shift and business leaders should see the opportunity to enhance careers, protect employees and shape the future of work in a way that benefits all. Changes in technology, longevity, work practices, and business models have also created a demand for continuous, lifelong development and this can bring significant value to the workforce. 

There will be more M&As

As we head into another year of disruption, we will definitely see more takeovers and M&A deals – likely on a scale not seen previously.

There will be a great strain placed on HR leaders of these companies to work with the board to ensure that peaceful and smooth restructuring, outplacement and redeployment takes place. 

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Organizational Development People Development

Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

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Top Four Takeaways to Advance the Convergence of Learning and Work

It’s time to change the way we think and deploy learning. We need this shift in thinking not only to meet future skills needs, but also to start mining the maximum value possible from human capital, the real engine of growth and success.

Ranjit de Sousa

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of the future of work colliding head-on with the future of learning.

This is a collision that has been building for a long, long time. However, the convergence of a number of powerful forces—artificial intelligence, the global skills shortage, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the contingent workforce—have put a new edge on the debate about how best to prepare ourselves for the future of work. 

Increasingly now, we are realizing that our future capacity to build, create and problem solve—the foundational tasks that help drive vibrant economies and create fulfilling jobs—is fully and completely determined by our ability to provide learning opportunities that are fully aligned with the human jobs of the future. While some of us are just waking up to this reality, others such as the World Economic Forum, have been predicting this for years.

“The current moment provides an opportunity for leaders in business, government, and public policy to focus common efforts on improving the access and delivery of reskilling and upskilling, motivating redeployment and reemployment, as well as signalling the market value of learning that can be delivered through education technology at scale,” according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020

Those are lofty goals that many of us in the human capital industry have been advocating for some years now. And there has been some progress. However, because of the massive corporate and technology transformation ushered in by COVID-19, there is urgency to address the lack of overall progress we have made in preparing workers around the world for the future of work. Even when individual nations or companies show us the way with innovative solutions, far too many of us lag behind unsure of what to do and when to do it. 

As the WEF report put it, a marriage between learning and work will require “a holistic approach” that must involve “multi-stakeholder collaboration between companies looking to support their workforce; governments willing to fund reskilling and the localization of mid-career education programmes; professional services firms and technology firms that can map potential job transitions or provide reskilling services; labour unions aware of the impact of those transitions on the well-being of workers; and community organizations that can give visibility to the efficacy of new legislation and provide early feedback on its design.”

This is a steep hill that we must climb. And we’re only going to reach the top if we start to reconsider some of the oldest, deeply seeded assumptions about the relationship between learning and work.

Towards an on-demand world of learning

The Higher Colleges of Technology, the largest institution of applied learning in the United Arab Emirates, did not wait for a global pandemic to start changing its approach to education. For several years now, HCT has been preparing to reimagine itself as a virtual institution. To minimize risk during the pandemic, HCT moved quickly to ramp up its plans to deliver learning remotely and took all of its courses online in March 2020.

However, HCT is doing a lot more than just taking traditional, in-person learning and moving it online; the school has adopted an on-demand model for delivering education that allows students to pursue training in specific job-oriented skills as opposed to a standard, years-long journey to a degree. Now, students can enroll and learn from anywhere and build an education plan that is less about acquiring academic credentials and more about meeting the real-world needs of a specific job.

HCT is not just an advocate of a new approach to learning; it is also practicing what it preaches. HCT now offers one of the world’s first “e-Teacher” programs, training a new generation of instructors who will have specific expertise in virtual instruction and the use of leading-edge digital learning tools. 

If we learn anything from the HCT story, it should be how this school willingly challenged all our preconceived notions about what relevant education looks like in a modern context, and how we structure learning to bridge the gap between education and occupation. 

Increasingly, employers are beginning to challenge their own notions of what skilled really means. Higher education, with its lofty price tags and years of commitment is still a valuable commodity. But employers are focusing less on academic credentials and more on things like “relevant experience.” At the same time, more and more countries are starting to invest heavily in apprenticeship programs where learning and working are perfectly married.

Re-inventing the sequence of learning and work

Everyone used to know the path to a great job: work hard in secondary school to qualify for a top post-secondary program; work hard at college or university and get a degree; use the degree to secure a good and lasting job. If we’ve learned anything during this most trying year, and in recent years, it is that this sequence is no longer viable.

Heather E. McGowan, a future-of-work strategist, recently released a book called The Adaptation Advantage, in which she argues that the “learn-to-work” pathway has been replaced with a “work-learn-work-learn-work-learn” journey. A few years ago, McGowan coined a phrase that I believe all employers should etch into their human capital strategies: “Learning is the new pension.”

On that basis, we at LHH have been encouraging leaders in learning & development and human resources to start changing the way we think and deploy learning. We desperately need this shift in thinking not only to meet future skills needs, but also to start mining the maximum value possible from human capital, the real engine of growth and success. Here are our top four takeaways to advance the convergence of learning and work:

1. Learning needs to become foundational

Employers should incorporate learning as a core element in our contracts with employees. For too long, we have focused on the individual’s obligations to the employer: engagement, productivity, creativity, loyalty. In our current context, we now know that employers must reward these commitments with our own commitment to life-long learning opportunities so that strategies like coaching, reskilling and redeployment become principal tools for managing workforces.

2. Learning needs to become more flexible, more purposeful

Old and outdated approaches to learning at work must be eliminated and replaced with new, digitally powered and on-demand education that uses the best online tools and learning strategies, and provides the best consumer-grade user experience. We have the power now to put learning literally in the palms of our hands through mobile apps and smartphones. This means we can also organize learning to be part of the workday, or outside working hours, whichever is preferable for the individual. And it needs to keenly focus on both the employers’ future skill needs, and the individual’s future career goals.

3. Leaders will need to become coaches, mentors and teachers

A key leadership function today is the ability to coach employees to develop their own abilities and become the best they can be. But effective coaching is an acquired skill. Companies should invest in leaders to build coaching capabilities that drive employee performance, including building new competencies for conducting expert coaching conversations related to performance, development and careers.

4. Learning must be viewed as an investment, not a cost

Generally accepted accounting principles require organizations to categorize investments in reskilling or retraining as costs and not investments. Many forward-thinking advocates, however, have been arguing for new accounting models that allow employers to re-categorize these expenses as investments, just the same as the purchase of a new building or a new machine. The Adecco Group has led internationally on this topic, publishing numerous white papers calling for a modernization of accounting rules so that learning is fully reclassified as an investment. This could spark a new generation of investment in learning that could future-proof our workforces.

During the pandemic, as we’re all struggling to meet a tidal wave of new challenges, we risk losing sight of the opportunities that come with change. Now is perhaps our greatest opportunity to re-imagine our approach to learning so that it is part of the basic contract between employer and employee. Those organizations that accept the challenge and seize the moment will find they have unleashed a future full of potential and success.

Source: lhh.com

Change Management Coaching Organizational Development Workforce Transformations

5 Core Practices to Build an Effective Virtual Onboarding Program

5 Core Practices to Build an Effective Virtual Onboarding Program

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5 Core Practices to Build an Effective Virtual Onboarding Program

Onboarding has always been a critical link in the talent management process at Numeris. Jennifer Knibbs, National Director of People and Culture talks about what went into the design of their award-winning virtual onboarding program and how it ensures new hires are prepared to hit the ground running in their new roles.

Cara Danielson, SVP, Leadership Development Programs, LHH

When Numeris realized the pandemic would indefinitely put the brakes on in-person onboarding for new employees, they knew they were prepared to meet the challenge. Fortunately, well before “pandemic” and “COVID-19” became part of our lexicon in human resources, Numeris—an audience measurement whose origins go back nearly 80 years—had built the foundation for its virtual onboarding program.

All onboarding documentation had been migrated to fully digital channels, a digital toolkit was built to help new hires navigate onboarding, and a comprehensive online “100-day journey” was formulated to introduce and immerse a new employee in the company’s culture and values.

“We worked very closely with LHH, particularly on the digital toolkit, to ensure our onboarding program gives our people a complete sense of the values of our organization, our history and structure,” said Jennifer Knibbs, National Director of People and Culture at Numeris. “Everything we created and had been using prior to the pandemic has been shifted to virtual in a seamless fashion. We focused on a program that was flexible and easily adapted. That has really helped us through the crisis.”

Onboarding has always been a critical link in the talent management process at Numeris. Making sure new hires are prepared and equipped to hit the ground running in their new roles is essential to retaining top talent and keeping them engaged.

Research reported by the Society for Human Rights Management (SHRM) has clearly established the relationship between effective onboarding and both retention and engagement. SHRM reported results from a survey conducted by BambooHR, a workforce management software company, that showed up to one-third of respondents had quit a job in the first six months because of what they perceived to be an unfriendly environment, a lack of guidelines about responsibilities and too few training opportunities.

Conversely, research by the Wynhurst Group, a Washington D.C.-based consultancy, showed that employees who had the benefit of a structured onboarding process were nearly 60 percent more likely to be with the same company after three years. The Corporate Leadership Council weighed in with yet another study that showed properly onboarded employees were more engaged, more productive and more likely to engage in discretionary effort for their new employers.

Knibbs said Numeris has always tried to keep in mind that new hires who struggle with onboarding—which can leave recruits with too many questions and not nearly enough answers—are unlikely to become highly motivated, highly engaged employees. 

A degree of virtual onboarding has always made sense for Numeris, Knibbs noted. With a head office in Toronto, and three additional offices in Montreal, Richmond (B.C.) and Moncton, New Brunswick, the Numeris workforce has always been highly dispersed.

When social distancing and working from home became standards in the response to COVID-19, it created an opportunity for Numeris to test the limits of their virtual onboarding experience.

“The nature of our business, and the structure of the company, meant that we were already changing how connections were being made between new hires and our managers,” Knibbs said. “Now that we can’t do any of the onboarding process in person, we’ve found that our program does a very good job of creating a good experience and makes our new people feel welcomed and supported, and that they have all the tools they need to succeed.”

The key element in Numeris’ virtual onboarding is the “100-day Journey” for employees and leaders. Knibbs said the program features a broad array of programs and content that covers company values, culture, history and structure. The online materials are augmented with a “Leader Stream,” where new employees can meet virtually with many of the company’s leaders and directly discuss culture and expectations. 

The journey concludes with a survey which asks employees if they got all of the information they need to integrate into their new organization, she added.

Organizations that have acted proactively to embrace virtual onboarding build a foundation on a handful of core principles

1. Onboarding is a journey; take your time

Many organizations try to compress onboarding to limit the amount of “down time” an employee spends getting acclimatized. But a rushed or incomplete onboarding process will create a myriad of problems down the road, including an increased likelihood the employee in question will leave within the first six months.

2. Embrace onboarding as a best practice

According to onboarding research by TalentLMS, only 27% of companies have a fully online onboarding process, 33% use a blended offline and online approach, while 40% have yet to move any part of their onboarding program online. But organizations that do embrace online onboarding and make full use of virtual technologies retain top talent longer and have better overall employee engagement. Map out everything a new hire needs to know in the first 30 days, 60 days and 100 days and make it a formal offering.

3. Think like a new hire

If you ask new hires what they really want, they would tell you that logging onto the company network and meeting key leaders and peers are two of their top priorities. Unfortunately, many onboarding programs get bogged down at the start with endless paperwork. Identify, simplify and digitize all forms and resources so that new hires can complete everything online without feeling overwhelmed on their first day.

4. Reach out and make contact with managers and mentors

Take steps to recreate formerly in-person aspects of onboarding in a digital environment by making full use of video conference calls with managers and mentors. New hires need to work with their managers to make time for self-directed learning, mentoring, coaching and cross-functional knowledge sharing. Build in milestones that allow new hires to develop a goal-orientated mindset.

5. Get an early start

There are huge benefits to be reaped by starting the onboarding process before a new employee’s first day. Introducing them to the online onboarding journey and getting HR paperwork done as early as possible will allow new hires to focus on absorbing the culture and values of their new organization. 

Focusing on these core elements, Numeris was able to create a virtual onboarding process that was purpose-built for the pandemic. “We were thrilled to be recognized with a Brandon Hall Award for our all virtual onboarding program. We don’t expect employees to simply figure things out for themselves. We’ve created a scalable onboarding journey that’s driving efficiencies and consistency. When lockdown hit, we were ready.” 

“A lot of organizations think onboarding is something that you can do in one week,” said Knibbs. “It takes much longer to prepare a new employee. And the research shows that the first 100 days is a critical period in the process of building that new relationship. We didn’t want the pandemic to impact our onboarding process and it appears that we haven’t skipped a beat.”

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Organizational Development Workforce Transformations

The Seven Worst M&A Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The Seven Worst M&A Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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The Seven Worst M&A Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The world has not lost its taste for M&As despite evidence that the gross majority are “abysmal failures.” LHH looks at the seven biggest mistakes organizations make during M&As and offers some practical suggestions on how to overcome them.

Charles de Sabran and Joanne Layne

Nearly three years ago, Prof. Roger Martin of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management uttered one of the most infamous quotes ever about the state of global mergers and acquisitions.

“M&A is a mug’s game,” Martin wrote in the June 2016 issue of The Harvard Business Review, “in which typically 70%-90% of acquisitions are abysmal failures.”

Martin may have been guilty of hyperbole, but he certainly had the case studies to back up his claim: Microsoft and Nokia, Google and Motorola, Hewlett Packard and Autonomy, News Corporation and MySpace. These were all multibillion-dollar deals that ended with the acquiring company forced to sell off the acquired asset and write off nearly all of the money invested to bring the companies together.

Despite Martin’s assessment, the world does not seem to be losing its appetite for M&As.

In 2018, nearly $3.9 trillion in M&As were announced. It was not a record, but had the proposed marriage between U.S. cellular carriers Sprint and T-Mobile been allowed to proceed—it is currently in a state of limbo at the direction of regulators—it would have been one of the busiest years ever in M&A activity.

Given that every year sees a new wave of M&A activity, why do we continue to see such a poor record of success? Theories abound.

Currency fluctuations and trade wars can derail some deals. Sometimes, proposed M&As collide with shifting markets or unforeseen technological complications. And in many cases, acquiring companies simply overpay for an asset and underestimate the costs of integration.

There is, however, a common thread running through most botched M&As: failed cultural integration.

Deloitte has estimated that failed cultural integration is a primary cause in about 30 percent of failed M&As. Bain & Company has identified cultural integration as the number one cause of M&A failure. 

After reviewing the details of M&As that Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH) has seen up close, we’ve identified seven common mistakes related to cultural integration that bring down many promising M&As.

The Seven Worst M&A Mistakes

The New Company Obsession

Trying to deliberately erase one of the legacy cultures. Every company has a unique DNA that, like humans, is deeply ingrained in all that they are and do. Many leaders make the mistake of thinking that the DNA of an acquired company will just disappear. However, experience tells us that there will always be trace elements of the DNA of both organizations in an integrated company. Failure to acknowledge this reality can lead to fear, resentment and—ultimately—a failure to fully integrate.

The Ivory Tower Syndrome

When fear invades the senior leadership team. For many leaders, an M&A can trigger fears about their own careers. They may worry about losing influence, status, power or, ultimately, their job. This anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that integrations can take many months, if not years, to complete. This can make many leaders feel estranged from their day-to-day duties and disinterested in the outcomes of the M&A.

The Mirror Effect

Projecting the fears of leaders onto the entire organization. When leaders are fearful, they can project those fears onto an entire organization. For example, a recent client undertaking an M&A guaranteed to all employees that there would be zero job cuts for the first three years. But when we met the executive team, they were convinced that these assurances did not apply to people at the senior leader level. Their concerns about “unofficial” job cuts eventually invaded employee discussions at all levels of the organization. Once employees saw that their leaders had lost faith in the organization’s pledge, they also began to lose faith.

The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote Scenario

Making rash decisions and falling off the proverbial cliff. Those of us who grew up watching this iconic cartoon may remember that no matter how hard he worked or what gimmick he employed, Wile E. Coyote could never catch the Road Runner. The problem was that the Coyote, in his desperation, was willing to try anything without pausing to consider the wisdom of his schemes. This is certainly a scenario we see in M&As.

When attempting M&As, leaders sometimes believe they must always be making, announcing and implementing integration decisions. If too few managers or employees are involved in formulating those decisions, however, there is a high risk of disengagement. Before announcing any decision, it’s important to reach out to as many people as possible to discuss the ramifications. Just as Wile E. Coyote discovered, making bad decisions quickly and in isolation can lead you over the proverbial cliff.

The Broken Record Syndrome

Keep selling the rationale of the deal instead of tackling practical issues. We often see that, in order to meet communication expectations, leaders fall into the habit of just repeating core messages over and over again and never acknowledging that new problems have arisen. When the message is out of date and deliberately ignores new developments, it can completely undermine leadership’s reputation. Sometimes, it’s better to be silent rather than redundant.

Abandonment Issues

Not supporting middle managers. Middle managers form the backbone of most organizations. They are the frontline for all the questions, fears, anger and confusion an employee may experience in the midst of an integration. Despite that reality, middle managers are often forgotten when it comes to managing an integration. If the leaders of an M&A starve middle managers of information and leave them unable to answer the most basic of questions, those managers and their teams will quickly lose faith in the integration.

The First Spring Flower Syndrome

Claiming success prematurely. Anyone who has lived through an M&A knows it can be a long, unpredictable and sometimes uncomfortable journey. Despite this, senior leaders are sometimes quick to claim victory once the process has been launched. This is particularly true of cultural integration. It will take months, maybe even years, for two different cultures to mesh and find a happy, productive common ground. Claiming victory prematurely can frustrate workforces and actually lengthen the gestation period for a full integration.

The challenge of avoiding these pitfalls of cultural integration often falls to HR leaders. Based on our experience working side-by-side with HR leaders in the throes of integration, LHH has identified several best practices that can help bridge the cultural gap experienced during many M&As.

These best practices include but are not limited to:

Best practices that can help bridge the cultural gap experienced during many M&As

Create a “cultural” workstream led by the senor leadership team

A workstream focused on cultural integration can determine the distinct qualities in the DNA of both organizations and identify what is shared and how to create common ground. A cultural workstream ensures both entities respect each other’s values and histories.

Measure the truth

Regularly survey the field to get an honest assessment of how the integration is progressing. When events are unfolding rapidly in an M&A, we tend to demonstrate greater biases and make more assumptions. To figure out exactly how well the organization is handling an integration, it’s important to survey different levels of the organization and encourage an open dialogue so that everyone knows what’s really going on.

Clarify expectations around new leadership behaviors

Successful organizations take early steps to articulate the leadership values and behaviors necessary to facilitate the integration. Clearly communicating these expectations lets leaders know that they must be prepared to change their own behaviors to successfully drive an integration.

Invest heavily in the middle managers to build foundational leadership skills, fill intercultural gaps and mitigate unconscious bias

 The capacity and willingness of middle managers to adopt the new integrated culture can make or break an M&A. During the early stages of an integration, where important first impressions are made, middle managers must know why and when things are happening so that they can keep the workforce up to speed and solidly invested in the integration.

As an HR leader, don’t get caught up in the technical aspects of the integration

To avoid getting caught in the tall grass of technical details, organize collaborative workshops with key leaders from both entities. These forums can help leaders quickly flag issues and deliver solutions that demonstrate that the new integrated organization is just as concerned about people as financial projections.

Secure your key talent

Senior talent not only drive results, they retain the knowledge and experience necessary for future success. Incentives and tailored working conditions will be essential to retaining these people. Retaining key talent will prove to be much more cost effective than having to go out and replace them.

The one positive aspect of the “abysmal” record of M&A success is that it has provided us with an abundance of data about what companies are doing wrong, which can actually help us draft a blueprint for a successful integration.

In M&As, as in life, we can always learn from the mistakes of others and commit to doing things a different way.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Organizational Development

The Black Sheep of Wellbeing

The Black Sheep of Wellbeing

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The Black Sheep of Wellbeing

Corporate wellbeing often equates to free fruit, gym memberships and perhaps a lunchtime yoga session or two. However, what’s often overlooked, and arguably more impactful, is a focus on careers.

An interview with Carmel Batticciotto, Talent Development Leader, LHH

When organisations focus on corporate wellbeing, more often than not they gravitate towards free fruit, gym memberships and maybe even a lunchtime yoga session or two. However, what’s often overlooked, but can have a much bigger impact, is a focus on careers.

Carmel Batticciotto calls it ‘Careerfulness’ – making sure that you look after your career wellbeing. The talent development leader at LHH says corporate wellbeing is more important than ever given the current employment conditions but it is often something neglected by employers.

“We know that this has been a tough year for many, so supporting wellbeing is more important than ever and there is no doubt more organisations are looking into wellbeing programs for their employees,” she said. “But this is so much more than just ticking the EAP box. This is about understanding all elements of wellbeing and providing support to your people which will have the greatest impact.  You can fund as many gym memberships as you like, however if your people are not happy at work, this may not have the impact you are aiming for.”

“Career wellbeing is one of the most important aspects of an individual’s overall wellbeing.”

Analytics and advisory firm Gallup says there are five broad categories that are essential to most people:

  • Career Wellbeing: how you occupy your time or simply liking what you do every day
  • Social Wellbeing: about having strong relationships and love in your life
  • Financial Wellbeing: effectively managing your economic life
  • Physical Wellbeing: having good health and enough energy to get things done on a daily basis
  • Community Wellbeing: the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live

According to Gallup, while 66% of people are doing well in at least one of these areas, just 7% are thriving in all five.

The underlying issue is that people generally under-estimate the impact of their career on their overall wellbeing. We need to ensure that we focus on all areas of our wellbeing, and give career wellbeing the focus it deserves. If you don’t have the opportunity to regularly do something you enjoy, the odds of you having a high level of wellbeing in other areas quickly diminish.

“Our work is our identity,” says Batticciotto.  “Think back to a time when you were in a job that you didn’t enjoy and how it affected all areas of your life.  It has multiple impacts. And people who lose their job or have been unemployed for several months – the stress is even greater.”

Batticciotto pointed to a study published in The Economic Journal which said unemployment might be the only major life event from which people do not fully recover within five years.

“The study followed 130,000 people for several decades. It showed that our wellbeing recovers more rapidly from the death of a spouse than it does from a sustained period of unemployment. That is quite astounding.”

“Through career development programs we are helping individuals to take control of their careers and increase their sense of empowerment. Is what they are doing now the right role for them?  How do they learn more about themselves and their full range of career options?” 

“One thing that has come out of COVID-19 is that organisations have been more flexible and are engaging with their employees differently.”

“However, we are also seeing a lot of organisations take the foot off the accelerator when it comes to career development. There will be many individuals whose career path has been stalled. Promotions aren’t happening. Leaders are no longer having career conversations with staff. It is having a real impact on morale.  I understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on the market, however, now is the time to demonstrate the value you place on your people and communicate how they can manage their careers and continuous learning in this new environment. 

“We have had a lot of talk about individuals and companies pivoting. Another challenge we see is that organisations are not being strategic around actively reskilling their people to move into the roles of the now and into the future. It is about being really clear on what your future workforce looks like.  This includes ensuring that career pathways are visible to the workforce and providing options so they can move into those new career pathways.”

“Organisations need to have the right systems and processes/frameworks in place to enable career agility. It’s all about careerfulness!”

Source: lhh.com

Change Management Organizational Development Workforce Transformations

Organizational Culture: The Real Reason Transformation Fails

Organizational Culture: The Real Reason Transformation Fails

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Organizational Culture The Real Reason Transformation Fails

A new generation of machines – and machine learning – may be driving workforce transformation. But make no mistake about it, organizational culture will determine whether that transformation is successful.

Organizational culture

Far too often, organizations overlook issues of culture when tackling a transformation challenge. The focus is almost always on the new shiny penny – digital technology, artificial intelligence, applications of machine learning – the things that will ultimately change how and what we do in the workplace.

But what about an organization’s capacity to absorb transformational change? Are leaders prepared to take the point on transformation? Do employees have the mindset and agility to dedicate themselves to a whole new approach to work? 

In a recent survey of senior HR leaders conducted by LHH in partnership with HR.com, we identified the most common external drivers of workforce transformation. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of respondents said that advances in digital technology are triggering the need to re-imagine workforces. However, the focus shifted from machines to culture as soon as we asked about the forces that work against a successful transformation.

In fact, 54 percent of respondents cited culture as the single biggest barrier to a successful transformation. To really appreciate that figure, and why it may be the single greatest insight into transformation initiatives, we need to do a deep dive into what we mean by culture.

Organizational culture is made up of the beliefs, behaviors and attitudes of employees across the business and at all levels of hierarchy. An organization demonstrates its culture through how work gets done, how priorities are established and how people work with each other.

Good organizational culture is evident through the accountability of leaders and the clarity with which they communicate organizational expectations, as well as the enthusiasm with which employees execute on those expectations. You find positive cultures in supportive and respectful workplaces. One key indicator of culture health is whether or not existing employees would recommend their company to friends looking for work.

Bad culture is pretty easy to spot as well. Conflict is everywhere, and employees have a decided lack of trust in leadership at all levels. The general environment at work can be toxic, with harassment and bullying commonplace. Worst of all, senior leadership hoards information about the business strategy, leaving employees unsure why they are doing what they are doing.

Changing a flawed culture can be a gargantuan task, so much so that many organizations are daunted by the thought of tackling it head on. There are, however, some foundational steps that can help make the task less burdensome.

Create Agents of Change

Whenever the issue of cultural change comes up, there will be tension between those who want to move the company along in a new direction and those who are still holding on to the old way of doing things. It is vital for everyone to understand the rationale behind the change and their individual role in the culture’s transformation. 

At the very top of an organization, executive leaders are chiefly responsible for driving transformation. Along with effective communication about the nature of the transformation, senior leaders must also identify people within their organizations who can champion the very cause of transformation. 

These are the people who will amplify the transformation message and play a key role in convincing others to invest in the changes that will occur. These influencers will keep others in the company up to date on all transformation developments while providing a channel for questions and feedback. These champions will also help eliminate ambiguity, which is one of the biggest barriers to an effective transformation.

Agents of change will need information about the transformation so they have answers to anticipated questions, as well as the skills to pass this information on effectively. People move through change at different rates, so your leaders should use patience, empathy and openness and make a genuine effort to listen to and understand how their teams are reacting to the changes.

Create an Accountability Culture

Creating a culture of accountability must start at the top. When transformation fails, there was often nothing to ensure leaders were accountable for achieving results.

In these cases, leaders failed to engage in difficult conversations. They did not address poor performance, consider employees’ feelings and input or follow-through on concerns that arose during the transformation. In organizations with a lack of accountability, transformation initiatives can take much longer than anticipated and produce fewer meaningful changes. Simply put, a lack of accountability, combined with the challenges of learning new ways of doing things, can wreak havoc on your timelines.

Whatever is driving your transformation agenda – from introducing new technology, reinventing your talent pipeline or evolving your business strategy to meet new consumer demands – you’re unlikely to achieve your goals if you ignore the need for full accountability on the part of all those driving the transformation.

Create a Road Map

To determine whether your culture can support a transformation initiative, it’s first important to define your current culture and discuss and debate what practices, behaviors and roles need to change.

To do that, you need to engage in some unflinching self-analysis. Encourage your senior leaders to be as frank as possible about existing culture, what works, what doesn’t and what you may need to address before undertaking a transformation.

You’ll need to know how employees see the organization and the people who lead it, whether or not the organization lives up to the values it espouses, and what aspects of the current culture may inhibit the growth and innovation that must accompany transformation.

In our experience, there are 15 key cultural characteristics that are common to organizations that have achieved successful transformation. We have found that this list typically holds true across industries and sectors. Using the list below, survey your leaders and employees to measure how well your people demonstrate these behaviors:

Organizational Culture: The Real Reason Transformation Fails

In Summary

When developing a transformation strategy, always define your current culture and what you want it to look like in the future. Empower those who will take responsibility, and set clear expectations and measurable goals. Ask your people for their input, and let them know you are listening. Regularly review results and address any gaps as they arise—and remember to recognize and celebrate milestones along the way.

Successful transformation is not a matter of luck. It isn’t organic and self-propelling. It requires deliberate attention to detail and meticulous planning. And that begins with a frank, unblinking assessment of culture.

Download the full research report, People Power: A Catalyst for Transformation, a 2019 Global Workforce Transformation Trends Study.

Source: lhh.com

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