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Change Management Workforce Transformations

How adopting new habits and behaviours over time is key to building effective teams

Employee Expectations Are Changing: Here’s Where Employers Need to Focus



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High-performing teams identify the habits and behaviours that enable them to deliver on their purpose and work continuously to adopt and embed them.  

A team’s contract makes clear the habits and behaviours that are acceptable within the team’s framework, and how they enhance performance.  

With the contract in place, research shows the importance of allowing time for teams to adopt and embed new habits and behaviours, as doing so creates a sustainable high-performance culture where members are unafraid to fail or learn new habits and behaviours.  

Why time is important to adopt and embed new habits and behaviours 

A team needs space to focus on the habits and behaviours that will drive performance, and time to adopt them in the day-to-day flow of work. It should be clear why a new habit or behaviour is being introduced and what impact it should have on the team’s performance. Giving teams time to design new habits and behaviours to achieve their purpose sets the team up to reach and sustain high performance.  

We know it takes time for habits to become second nature. Having time to apply, practice and embed a new habit or behaviour maximises the chance it will stick. If every member can apply new habits and behaviours to their work more slowly until they become embedded, this strengthens a team’s collective sense of belonging and purpose and supports sustained high performance.  

Team coaching can help teams observe, reflect on and modify how they operate through their habits to achieve performance goals. 

The value of a safe space in learning and adopting new habits  

Teams develop a common language as they collectively adopt the habits and behaviours necessary to navigate processes and achieve shared goals. This improves communication and collaboration. It also creates a climate of safety and makes teams more amenable to learning and adopting further habits, which in turn builds agility – an essential quality in high-performing teams. 

In such a climate, failure is more likely viewed as an opportunity to learn and adapt how the team functions and how they perform against their goals. The more agile a team, the easier it will be to adapt and engineer better results in the future.  

In a safe space, teams will be more prepared to look back at past success and failure and learn from both. This learning motivates a team to be open to exploring new ways to operate and focus on habits that optimise the team’s impact on the organisation. This can be especially useful during periods of high workload or when the team is not delivering to the standard expected. The safe space encourages learning and changing ways of working. 

High-performing teams are those that empower every team member to feel safe outside their natural comfort zone. And it all starts with team leaders. Does the climate support psychological safety and empower teams? If it does not, leadership assessment and development programmes can guide leaders in how to shape a safe space that unlocks team potential and performance.  

Team Effectiveness solution

LHH’s Team Effectiveness solution is a tailored solution to help employers build more cohesive teams, with employees feeling part of a group and working towards shared goals. 

Through a series of individual and group interventions, this programme will act on the priorities of the team, creating a framework to adopt new team habits over a period of time, that will enhance their overall performance on their journey to greater team success.


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 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

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 Change Management Workforce Transformations

Putting Your Best Skills Forward in Career Transition

Putting Your Best Skills Forward in Career Transition

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Putting Your Best Skills Forward in Career Transition

Navigating the hiring market can be difficult at the best times. For professionals and executives currently in transition, securing a new opportunity may be especially challenging as unemployment rates continue to increase. 

To succeed in this ultra-competitive hiring market, candidates will need to adopt a new approach to gain the attention of hiring executives. In this one-hour webinar, Kevin Tennant, Partner, Executive Interim Management, will outline a proven strategy for landing a new interim or permanent role during these unprecedented times of economic uncertainty. 

He will discuss: 

  • How to articulate your skill-set as a solution to current business challenges.
  • The right way to communicate your unique value proposition to land meetings.
  • Strategies for networking in a virtual environment.
  • Proven tactics for securing a new engagement through proactive outreach.

Watch it now:

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

Coaching Organizational Development People Development Workforce Transformations

HR Professional’s Top Concerns When Facing Seismic Change

HR Professional’s Top Concerns When Facing Seismic Change

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HR Professional’s Top Concerns When Facing Seismic Change

This white paper covers the big concerns of HR professionals when it comes to the new challenges they are facing due to seismic workplace changes.

When the landscape of work gets more challenging than usual, as it has around the numerous difficulties faced by workforces because of COVID-19, what are the top concerns of HR professionals in terms of managing and maintaining their talent? Ezra compares the popular opinions to our findings from participants in our Free Month Of Coaching program for HR leaders.

The industry press said:

  • Only 38% of companies had work from home policies in place at the start of the pandemic.
  • 14.83% of HR professionals were issuing communications around remote work.
  • 11.29% were developing standards for remote work.
  • 88% of organizations have transitioned to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, we expected participants in our coaching program to want to focus on helping others to work effectively in a remote setting.

What we found was actually that HR professionals prioritized support around how to lead change effectively, along with how to demonstrate confidence and build it in others.

  • 62% requested coaching around projecting and instilling confidence.
  • 55% of participants requested coaching around leading change.
  • 33% selected achieving results virtually as a target.
  • Just 17% selected virtual collaboration.

As HR were the ones needing to provide the info about change to employees, they were more focused on how to communicate this effectively and confidently rather than the mere logistics of leading Zoom calls etc, which shows how good professionals will focus on the bigger picture of leading rather than just execution.

Source: Ezra

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Workforce Transformations

Do the Terms “Radical” and “Transformation” Go Hand in Hand?

Do the Terms “Radical” and “Transformation” Go Hand in Hand?

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Do the Terms “Radical” and “Transformation” Go Hand in Hand?

We share four key learnings from senior leaders who got together in Zurich to discuss workforce transformation challenges.

When companies envision something as significant as workforce transformation, radical certainly seems to be the appropriate adjective. Employees need new skills to perform new tasks in profoundly different ways. It all adds up to an overwhelming sense that transformation can only be accomplished through radical means.

The problem is that the term radical often misrepresents the essence of workforce transformation, according to a group of senior business leaders LHH convened in Zurich to discuss the realities of workforce transformation.

In short, most workforce transformation scenarios involve steady, constant alterations in the type of people you employ and the kinds of skills they possess – usually to keep pace in a business environment that experiences steady, constant changes in business planning and strategy.

Simone Gibertoni, CEO of Clinique La Prairie, a European medical spa firm, suggested that the need to radically transform a workforce is evidence, in and of itself, of an organization that has fallen behind. “If you’re having to radically transform your organization, you’re already in danger,” he said.

Gibertoni went on to describe the essence of a successful workforce transformation as “small improvements every day that will help you … instill a culture of making today better than yesterday.”

However, Gibertoni also acknowledged that non-radical transformation does not mean sluggish or leisurely. “You still need a 2x-speed organization,” he said. “One that is focused on improving the core of what you do … and second, focusing on what will bring you success in the future. Especially in the luxury business, you need leaders who are able to balance innovation for the future with the heritage of the past.”

Other panelists at the Zurich event were very much in lockstep with Gibertoni’s argument, although some believed that in some instances, radical transformation may be the only option left.

Frank Waltmann, Head of Organizational Excellence for LafargeHolcim, the global building product manufacturer, described a scenario from a previous organization where a new CEO was brought in to address severe performance problems that were threatening the very future of the organization. After assessing the gravity of the situation, the CEO opted for rapid, radical transformation, he said.

This approach was likely necessary because of the threat to the company, but it was still difficult for many of the employees. “For the employees of this company, the transformation was like a nuclear bomb going off,” Waltmann said. “There was a real sense of urgency due to the severity of the issues. Employees needed their leaders to be tough and face ambiguity head on – not behaviors that leaders were used to demonstrating. As a result, a lot of those leaders exited the business.”

The panelists did agree that no two transformational journeys are the same, and the key to a successful transformation is the presence of transformational leadership. Sarah Kane, a partner in the PwC global advisory business, said it was particularly important for leaders to include innovation as part of any transformation initiative. Creating a culture that can thrive during change and try new things is essential to helping any organization transform its workforce. “People need to be allowed to fail, but fail fast,” she said.

Four key lessons learned from the front lines of transformation

Overall, the discussion about whether transformation needs to be radical was only one of the many talking points at the Zurich conference. The panelists also shared four key lessons they learned from the front lines of transformation.

Use only three or four KPIs. 

In many cases, organizations get carried away with multiple metrics they think will help define their success. But this often leads to more confusion, time wasting and failure. Focus on a small number of key metrics and move forward.

Don’t neglect the middle. 

In many transformations, the focus is on ensuring that senior leaders are engaged, because they are primarily responsible for leading the change. The middle managers who serve as the heartbeat of the organization are often ignored. This neglect can be a huge problem, as middle managers may feel the most threatened by transformation. Devote some time and energy to helping this important leadership class engage with transformation.

Cultivate transformational leaders who can imagine a bold, new future for your organization. 

Transformational leadership requires leaders to be visionary, connect the organization and inspire active participation in change. Transformational leaders must be comfortable with ambiguity and unafraid to take calculated risks.

View innovation as essential to survival.

In order to grow, organizations must be able to innovate, whether that’s adopting new technologies, developing new solutions or creating new and engaging customer experiences. Leaders must have their fingers on the pulse of industry developments, creating a culture that cultivates and tests new ideas.

All the panelists agreed that we are no longer in a “business as usual” environment and as a result, leaders need to move on from what worked in the past to develop new transformational skills for the future.

Source: lhh.com

Career Transition, Outplacement and Mobility Change Management Workforce Transformations

How to Build Better Relationships with Your Employees

How to Build Better Relationships with Your Employees

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offering career development

Learn why offering career development will help you build a workforce that has the skills you need, and is loyal, engaged and productive.

It was a sign of the times.

Late last year, The New York Times published a fascinating article that examined Amazon’s decision to end its stock option program for employees.

For many years, all employees of the online retailing giant received a limited number of shares when they were hired and then annual stock options after that. Going forward, there will be no awarded shares; Amazon employees will have a direct stock purchase plan starting sometime in 2019.

The new Amazon policy does not represent a new trend in employee relations. Rather, it is a confirmation that the relationship between employers and their employees has officially and irreversibly changed.

As the article noted, there was a time in the United States when all the largest employers in the country—Procter & Gamble, S.C. Johnson, Hallmark Cards, U.S. Steel and Sears among others—provided stock options to all employees regardless of rank, sometimes along with defined benefit pension plans. These perks allowed employees to assume a vested interest in the financial performance of the companies they worked for. It also provided an important source of financial security for employees in their retirement years.

Today, the relationship between employer and employee is more complex and not so easily sustained by something like a stock option.

Amazon’s decision on stock options signals that the paternalistic relationship between a company and its workers is more or less officially dead. In many ways, this is a reality that was arrived at mutually between employers and employees.

Employers are fully aware that today, in this age of transformation, the kind of talent they need to compete is constantly changing, and they simply cannot retain everyone in perpetuity. Even top performers can sometimes become redundant when the nature of the job changes dramatically.

The same holds true for employees.

Today, it seems that employees value mobility, opportunities to advance their careers and take on new challenges, and working conditions that provide the best opportunities for a work-life balance. Few seek lifelong connections to a single company. More than ever before, the average worker is prepared to quit and seek a better job if they don’t like their current gig.

From an employer’s point of view, however, this new relationship can be a challenge. Without stock options, profit sharing and defined retirement savings programs to build meaningful relationships with your employees, loyalty, productivity and engagement can suffer.

A disengaged workforce rarely demonstrates top-drawer productivity. The resulting environment drives away your best people and triggers excessive separation and severance payouts. A lack of employee loyalty can damage your company’s brand and make it difficult to recruit top talent in the future.

All of these problems have one thing in common: they will ultimately show up on the bottom line of your company’s financial statements. You simply cannot drive superior business results with low productivity, high separation and severance costs and a damaged brand.

Our responses to this dilemma have seen mixed results.

Some employers have tried to make work “fun” by creating open workplaces and offering employees free food or indoor basketball courts and foosball tables. When they were first introduced, these things may have seemed cool and progressive. But as the hard reality of the global talent shortage has set in, it’s obvious these gimmicks had a relatively short shelf life. They simply did not build productive relationships between employer and employee.

To build more stable and fruitful relationships, some big companies have looked to basic wages as the key connector with their employees. In the United States, companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s made significant efforts to raise starting wages to get closer to what activists believe is a basic living income. However, a higher hourly wage is not the only thing they are doing.

Family benefits – including enhanced time off to care for sick family members or to start a family – are part of an array of new tools employers are using to connect to their employees. There is solid logic behind these strategies. Money alone has a limited impact on the long-term relationship between employers and employees; but other non-monetary benefits like enhanced, paid leave and flexible work terms can make someone’s life better.

However, there is another avenue for employers to examine in their pursuit of a stable, productive relationship with their employees: showing a genuine interest in career development.

Career development and programs that promote reskilling or upskilling (re-/upskilling), can help drive higher retention, productivity and engagement, and it can also profoundly reduce the amount of money employers spend on giving redundant workers a soft landing after a layoff. This is about embracing strategies such as redeployment to keep good people while helping them acquire the most in-demand skills.

Through research, LHH has conclusively established the relationship between career management and talent engagement and retention. A 2016 study showed that 63 percent of employees believed a lack of career management opportunities caused them to look at changing jobs.

Unfortunately, it seems that too few organizations realize the potential of career management. The survey found that an alarming 36 percent of managers did not know anything about the career goals of their direct reports.

That data certainly calls into question the major reason why organizations claim they do not offer career management.

Business leaders often say they are reluctant to invest in their employees’ careers because they will only leave and take their new skills to another employer. Our data seems to suggest that employees who get career development opportunities are the ones who stay, not the ones who leave.

Now, it’s important to realize that one size will not fit all. Salespeople, for example, will likely demand commissions as their principal form of payment, because it is the reward that motivates them and ensures they drive results. In this case, it makes sense to offer these employees the types of benefits and rewards that inspire them to excel. But for many others, cash bonuses are not as important as a better overall working experience, as well as opportunities to grow and evolve along with their employers.

The bottom line: invest in the development of your employees’ careers, and you will reap multiple, meaningful benefits that go way beyond a more robust engagement.

Career development will yield a workforce that is loyal, engaged and productive, and you will avoid the vicious cycle of firing-and-hiring new talent to meet new skill needs. Instead, you will find yourself in a virtuous circle where employers do more to meet the needs of their employees, now and in the future.

Source: lhh.com

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