Unless you’ve disconnected from the World Wide Web, turned off your TV, and cancelled your newspaper subscription, you’re probably familiar with David Dao. He’s the United Airlines passenger who was forcibly removed from a Chicago-to-Louisville flight.
You may also be familiar with Dave Carroll. He’s a singer/songwriter who rose to fame after United Airlines broke his guitar on a Chicago-to-Omaha flight. The actual incident did not make headlines but his song, "United Breaks Guitars", has over 17 million views on YouTube (check it out here).
Even less known than breaking guitars are two United incidents I experienced within the last couple of years, both taking place at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. While returning from an East Coast consulting project, I had a connection and small layover at O’Hare. Our DFW-bound flight was running a bit late so by the time the plane arrived, the gate area was full of anxious travelers.
When our MD-80 finally arrived, there was no gate agent to move the jet bridge. Two minutes passed. Three. Four. At the five-minute point, I walked a few steps to the next gate where two United agents stood talking. I pointed to our non-moving jet bridge and asked for some help. One agent replied, “It’s not our gate.”
I was stunned. Just several feet away were about 150 passengers (well, we wanted to be passengers) trying to get to Dallas and their only action was to say, “It’s not my gate.” Now, perhaps their union contract prevented them from actually working that gate but I doubt it prevented them from calling someone who could help.
Another “not my job” incident took place last year. Getting to O’Hare well before my departure, I grabbed something to eat and found an empty area in the terminal to do some work. Shortly after sitting down and opening my laptop, I noticed a United employee walking my way. She was obviously on break as she had a book and a soda in hand.
She approached my empty gate area, looked at a Big Gulp cup sitting on the floor as she came within inches of knocking it over, and simply kept walking to an empty chair. Although she did not seem to look at the cup as she left the gate area, she did pass within several feet of this trash. Why didn’t she take the extra five seconds to throw this trash away, making the United gate area a little more inviting? Maybe it wasn’t her gate?
These two “It’s not my job” examples, although quite small, have the same genesis as the two much larger problems of throwing passengers off planes and breaking guitars. In business terms, it’s a lack of accountability.
The United employees mentioned here were not accountable for making great customer experiences. They each had very narrow job descriptions that dictated their actions. So even though these employees could say they were doing their job (although the ramp agents who broke the guitar severely abused their job description), they were not responsible for building an overall good customer experience.
Lack of accountability is one term. Another description is lack of caring. None of these employees cared about me or any other United passenger. They cared about having fun. They cared about taking their break. But they didn’t care for the customers’ belongings, didn’t care if they arrived or departed on time, and didn’t care about the United brand overall.
That’s why we talk about culture so much! A culture of caring or accountability to several key metrics, in these cases on-time departures and satisfied customers, could have prevented these PR disasters. Culture (along with core values) allows all employees to work toward the same goals. Culture helps employees find career success and satisfaction. Culture is unique and gives an organization a competitive advantage that can’t be replicated.
Yes, building and sustaining a healthy corporate culture takes time and effort. It’s something that must be monitored and managed. But the concept is simple:
Corporate culture is the driving force behind corporate success.
Why don’t more companies understand this?
Are we losing the ability to connect with people on a deep level? Is technology preventing us from making meaningful, personal connections with each other?
At least in the business world, I would say yes. Not only are we becoming a less “personal touch” society, we are becoming a less helpful society.
Years ago, before mobile phones, before email, and even before voicemail, we conducted business either face-to-face or by phone. Working with customers or handling internal business issues, you had to speak to someone. Yes, certain people, primarily executives, could hide behind their secretary, avoiding pesky sales people, customer complaints, or high-maintenance clients and employees. For the most part, though, we got to know each other – employees, colleagues, clients, customers, and vendors – by visiting face-to-face or voice-to-voice.
Voicemail was our first big step away from personal touch. We pretended (and still do) to want to talk to people, but our actions said (and still do) otherwise. “Your call is very important to me so please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.” Really? My call is very important to you? For many people, that is simply not true.
A more truthful message would be, “Please leave your name and number and I’ll try to get back to you. If you don’t receive a return call within 48 hours, then I don’t want to talk to you.”
Our next step down the avoid-people rabbit hole was email. Why talk to someone when I could simply send a note? Of course, in some ways, email improved our communication by allowing “conversations” even when someone wasn’t available by phone. The flipside, though, is we now get so many emails, we have little time to do much anything else. How many messages are in your Inbox right now?
Next up – mobile phones and texting. Now, not only are we receiving short messages, this technology has ruined our ability to spell.
Today, we live and work in a world of Facebook and LinkedIn, two fantastic web services which allow us to stay in touch with friends and business associates. One unintended consequence of these technologies is we now send happy birthday wishes and congratulations on the promotion with just a touch of the button. "Done. I just said congratulations and showed my good friend that I rally care about them." Really? I would argue this is simply another step down that impersonal rabbit hole.
Yet for all of the impersonal aspects of technology, it can help people stay connected. As I write this blog, I’m traveling to Kansas State University with my wife and our dear friend Mattie to visit our son. Our friend Mattie has lived overseas for ten years and credits technology, particularly Facebook and Skype, for allowing her to stay closely connected with friends here at home.
So I’m certainly not bashing technology nor do I wish for a time without email and smart phones (truth be known, I get really annoyed when wifi isn’t working on a plane – and I didn’t even have that option a couple of years ago!).
But what would life be like if, rather than just hitting the Like button or sending an automated “Congrats” note, we did it the old-fashioned way by actually calling our friend to say, “Congratulations on your new job! Have a few minutes to catch up?"
While visiting a client a few weeks ago, I turned left as I exited the elevator and was greeted with an empty reception desk. No big deal as that has happened before. So, I simply signed in and stood there waiting for someone to enter the room and say, “May I help you?”
Standing in the lobby, I was able to see into the call center as the entire wall was glass and allowed a clear view of one entire side of the floor. The interesting thing is that not only did I have a clear view of the office, but the workers on the other side of the glass also had a clear view of me.
Two minutes turned into five minutes which turned into ten minutes. Still no receptionist. And during that ten-minute wait, I continued watching all of the employees working at their desks and multiple times locked eyes with an employee. Most of those “locks” were just glances as the employee would not look me in the eye for very long. There was even one employee who looked at me as she walked by the glass wall and, several minutes later, looked at me again as she passed by in the opposite direction!
Finally, a person from the Facilities department entered the lobby and just before she passed through the glass wall to the employee side, she stopped, turned, and asked, “Have you been helped?” Well, as a matter of fact, no! I gave her the name of my contact and with a smile she replied, “I’ll find someone who can help.”
She returned just a few seconds later with an employee who then escorted me to my meeting. This Facilities person also apologized for my wait-time in the lobby.
A similar “It’s-not-my-job” mentality took place at O’Hare airport a few years ago as I was waiting to depart for Dallas on United Airlines. The incoming flight was already a few minutes late and when it pulled up to the gate, there was no one to move the jet bridge to the plane.
At the gate next to mine stood two United gate agents talking to each other. No plane at this gate, no passengers. Just two United agents enjoying a good little chat. After a couple of minutes waiting for the jet bridge to move, I took about a dozen steps to these two agents, pointed out the jet bridge delay, and asked for some help. One of the agents replied, “That’s not my gate,” and then returned to her conversation.
So people are waiting to get off one plane and I’m trying to get back to Dallas, and all you have to say is “It’s not my job.” Now, in their defense, maybe there was a union rule that prevented them from working that gate – maybe. But how about making a call to find the appropriate gate agent? How about an “I’m sorry for the delay” or even a smile? I guess apologies and smiles aren’t in the United gate agents’ job description either.
As we have explored in previous blog entries, exceptional customer service is an easy concept but difficult to carry out. The starting point for an outstanding customer experience is a mindset that the customer is everything. This mindset must permeate the entire organization. It must be talked about relentlessly and lived out by all levels of the organization.
So next time you see someone waiting in your lobby, even if you’re in IT, Accounting, Payroll, Operations, Legal, or any other position, make it your job to delight the waiting customer by welcoming them and asking how you can be of service.
The customer is not always right . . . but the customer should always be king.
I am a pretty easygoing person. Both at work and in my personal life, I am an optimist, don’t rattle easily, and even when I am annoyed, most people won’t know it. Life is much better spent with a smile on your face and a compliment on your tongue.
Having said this, I’m going to celebrate my 50th blog entry with a list of things that drive me crazy, mostly business-related with a few personal pet peeves at the end. This small list won’t make the world a better place and won’t make a big splash in the business community. Venting my list of annoyances will, though, make me feel a little better. So please indulge me in the following “Things that make me go arggghhhh!”
Starbucks new rewards program: I am a loyal Starbucks customer. I go there almost daily to drink coffee and work, adding an occasional low fat coffee cake. So when Starbucks changed their rewards program to honor big spenders instead of frequent visitors, it put my next free cup of dark roast far into the future. So while the change was most likely good for Starbucks and I continue to frequent their doorstep, it was – and continues to be – a bad customer experience for me.
No problem: This phrase drives me crazy. When I’m at a restaurant and the server refills my drink, I always offer a heartfelt “Thank you.” More often than not, I hear “No problem” as a reply. Really, no problem? If I ordered a different drink, would that be a problem? That phrase is like nails on a chalkboard to me! The proper response is, of course, “You’re welcome.” I miss that simple retort.
No “I’m sorry”: I help many organizations improve their customer service so admittedly, I’m hypersensitive to a poor customer experience. As I’ve written in previous blogs, exceptional customer service really isn’t difficult, at least in concept. It simply takes energy and dedication to making the customer a priority. I don’t really get upset when my customer experience is less than desirable because mistakes will happen. What drives me crazy is not making the situation right, which always starts with a genuine “I’m sorry”.
Employee as assets: Employees are not assets! Buildings are. Patents are. Equipment and inventory are also assets. But employees? They aren’t something you own. Employees supply the energy a company needs in order to accomplish anything. I once read an article that called employees “investors” which is not bad. The business philosophy Conscious Capitalism describes employees as one of an organization’s key stakeholders. Any of these labels is better than “asset” which sounds like something a company can own and therefor discard, upgrade, replace, or remove as needed. Whatever label an organization chooses, the key is to do everything possible to help employees find success and satisfaction in their daily routines.
Reply all: I wish all companies, as part of their New Hire Orientation, would include an Email Etiquette course. Most organizations are highly dependent on email with many employees receiving dozens and even hundreds of daily emails. So when a “Say congratulations on their promotion” email goes out to the entire organization, please don’t hit “reply all”. While you should say congratulations to the person moving up in the organization, I don’t want or need to see that personal note. Better yet, turn that email into a congratulations phone call!
While the above grumbles are of a business nature, I also have a few personal grievances: how much my dogs bark when a stranger comes to the door, how quickly the price of gas goes up yet it goes down a penny or two at a time, and how some people stand in line talking or looking at their mobile device and once they get to the counter, they then spend five minutes reviewing their food options.
Do I lose sleep over any of these issues? No. But it does feel good to vent a bit.
It also feels good to hit blog number 50. Now on to my next 50. Hopefully, in some small way, my thoughts on corporate culture, leadership, Millennials, excellence, customer service, and employee engagement have made the world – or made someone’s world – a better place.
Thanks for reading and best wishes for a fantastic 2017!
Happy New Year! I hope you are ready to jump into 2017 after enjoying a fantastic holiday season with family and friends.
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? I have. Yes, I’m losing weight and exercising more (Day 3 and I’m still going strong!). I’ve committed to reading more books this year. I love to read but the last few years I’ve strayed away from this good habit. And I’m going to write another book this year – or at least complete the first draft.
I’m also committing myself to being a better boss in 2017. Not that I’m a bad boss. In fact, I’d like to think I’m a pretty good boss. I’m a student of leadership and management and have facilitated countless workshops that revolve around the idea of being an effective supervisor. So I have a good idea of how to be a great boss. Like most (all?) people, though, I occasionally do something that puts me on the “Bad Boss” list. When I sadly show up on that list, I apologize to my team and get back on the “Good Boss” list as quickly as possible.
So how will I spend more time on that Good list? I’ll start by making these 10 Best Boss Resolutions for 2017:
Resolution #1: I will set specific, achievable, and motivating goals for my team.
Resolution #2: I will show appreciation for my team daily.
Resolution #3: I will be transparent in my communication and will truly have an “open door” policy.
Resolution #4: I will accept responsibility rather than blame others for results.
Resolution #5: I will give credit for success to others rather then take credit myself.
Resolution #6: I will seek permission to lead rather than manage by authority.
Resolution #7: I will seek opportunities to build trust with my team and avoid breaking that trust.
Resolution #8: I will truly listen and be fully present during discussions.
Resolution #9: I will demonstrate CARE for my team – Credibility, Appreciation, Reliability, Empathy.
Resolution #10: I will do everything possible to help my team find great success and satisfaction at work.
Of course, these aren't the only things I can do. In fact, being a better boss takes constant vigilance and effort. So perhaps I’ll add #11: I commit to constantly looking for new ways of being a great boss. If I’m successful in making these 11 resolutions part of my daily leadership walk, I’m confident my team will enjoy a great year.
What about you? Will you join me in committing to being a better boss in 2017? What are some of your Best Boss Resolutions?
Since someone commented on the previous entry about always enjoying a good customer service story, let’s stick with that theme one more time. Sadly, though, it’s another example of an organization simply going through the motions of customer service.
My wife and I recently joined a friend for a night at the movies. After selecting a just-released show, we thought it best to reserve our seats. So I jumped on the Cinemark website to purchase three tickets.
While finding the movie and selecting the time, I was actually thinking about how great it was Cinemark allows me to purchase my seats in advance. That satisfaction quickly changed to disappointment and frustration when, upon checkout, I was hit with almost $5 worth of service fees. Not wanting to add to an already expensive ticket, I decided to abandon this purchase and take our chances at the theater.
After returning home from an enjoyable evening, I decided to contact Cinemark to express my disappointment with their service fee. Using their website, I wrote a brief and professional note about my frustration with their online purchase process. I wasn't really looking for anything in return. I was simply voicing a concern with hope that someone would actually think about changing this policy. Their response elevated a mildly annoying customer experience into this blog entry.
My Name Is Darren
Cinemark’s response started, “Dear Valued Customer.” Well, if I were truly a valued customer, I wouldn’t have to pay that “convenience” fee in the first place. But now that we’re to this point, can’t Cinemark value me as a customer by using my name? And before you ask, yes, my name was on the “Contact Us” form. In fact, my name and verbatim memo was pasted below Cinemark’s response!
Cut And Paste
Cinemark’s Customer Service rep wrote (and in my head, this response was delivered with a disrespectful tone) their policy “clearly states that there is a service fee when verifying your order and again when putting in your credit card information.” I already know this – I saw the fee when I was checking out! The CS rep then simply did a cut-and-paste from that policy.
Our Cards Are Free
If I pay for my movie tickets using a debit card, I have to pay an extra $1.50 per ticket. Cinemark’s response said if, however, I pay using a Cinemark Gift Card, I can avoid this fee. So there’s a service fee for only certain kinds of cards. I guess if I use a Cinemark card, I then become a Super Valued Customer?
No, The Problem Isn’t Solved
This is what really got me. Cinemark’s entire response started with, “Your request has been solved.” How do they know that? Cinemark simply said, “Look at our policy and use our own card if you want to avoid the service charge.” I’m still not happy. It was still an unpleasant customer experience. And Cinemark’s “Read our policy and pay up” response did nothing to resolve my displeasure and frustration. So, no, the problem isn’t solved.
As stated multiple times on the PCC blog, the theory behind delighting the customer is simple – build a customer-centric culture. Translating that theory into reality is the hard part. It takes an exhaustive, around-the-clock effort to do whatever is necessary to make the customer happy. And when something slips and a customer is not delighted, it takes even more effort to “make things right” as we learned in the previous blog entry.
If Cinemark wants to eliminate their service fee for their Super Valued Customers, I understand that. But at least explain that to me in a nicer way, use my name, and ask if I’m satisfied. Is that too hard to do? For some organizations, apparently it is.
A few months ago I had business in Ogden, Utah, and checked into the Hilton Garden Inn. After settling into my room, checking some email, and prepping for the next day, it was time for dinner.
I was in the mood for a nice steak. Nothing fancy or expensive, but I wanted something more than a burger or fast food. Not knowing the area, I visited the front desk to ask for a suggestion. I received an immediate reply, “Hmmm . . . I don’t know. Try the sports bar across the street.”
A sports bar? Doubtful they would have any beef other than a burger. But I wanted a steak. Unfortunately for me, the Hilton employee didn’t seem to keen on helping me, the customer, satisfy my craving.
Is there anything wrong with “I don’t know” customer service? No. As long as it’s followed with a cheery, “but let me find out.” Could that Hilton employee have done anything to help relieve my steak craving? Sure! Ask the other check-in person who was sitting in the room behind him. Walk across to the restaurant area and ask any of the four people working over there. Think about my question for more than two seconds!
Compare this customer experience to my recent restaurant outing in Tulsa. It wasn’t steak this time, it was pizza. While visiting family, my sister, brother-in-law, and I decided to have salad and pizza from a nearby restaurant, The Upper Crust. My sister called in the order and I drove the three or four minutes to pick up our order.
Returning home, we laid everything on the counter and were disappointed to find the order was wrong. No big deal -- I was willing to drive back to the restaurant to pick up the corrected order. After explaining the mistake by phone to the Take Out person, my sister received a hearty “We're sorry. We will deliver your food in just a few minutes.”
But The Upper Crust doesn’t deliver!
About five minutes later (I still don’t know how they got there that fast!), we heard a knock at the door and were greeted by the manager. The manager! Anyone could have delivered the food but the manager took it into his own hands to turn our experience around. And then I heard the best customer service line ever:
“Thanks for allowing me to make this right.”
For the rest of the evening, we really never thought about the wrong order. We did, though, think about how fast that manager changed our experience.
What’s the difference between the Hilton Garden Inn in Ogden and The Upper Crust in Tulsa?
Good customer service is easy – just do your job. Exceptional customer service is also easy, at least the concept is. Do whatever you can to not just satisfy the customer, but to truly delight the customer. Sadly, even though the concept is easy, there aren’t enough caring people who take those extra steps to delight.
So thanks to the manager at The Upper Crust in Tulsa. I’ll be back for another pizza soon!
As mentioned in the previous post, the most important decision a company makes is who to hire. Each and every employee not only helps the organization reach its business objectives but also is an ambassador of the organization. So choosing who does the work and who represents the company is of utmost importance.
The second most important decision – ahead of everything else including compensation, new products and services, office space, community support, holiday parties, and hundreds of other decisions – is who to promote into a management position.
Why such an emphasis on who becomes a manager? Because, as the saying goes, no one quits a company, they quit a boss.
Managers, particularly frontline managers, wield influence over other employees. These individual managers are responsible for the performance and engagement of multiple employees so the organizational impact managers have is significant. Choosing the right people to manage other employees is therefore elevated to silver medal status on the decision-making podium.
Managing people is difficult. Jimmy Johnson, when he started his coaching assignment with the Miami Dolphins, said he would treat all of his players fairly by treating them all differently based on how they did their job. This is what makes management so difficult – each employee requires different supervision and interaction.
While management is difficult, the answer to what makes a good manager is simple.
That’s what makes for a good manager, the ability to connect with others.
When I work with organizations, I’m amazed at some of the managers I meet. They don’t smile. They don’t talk much. When they do talk, it’s more of a mumble. And that’s just during introductions!
As we begin talking about management, it’s clear they don’t have good interpersonal skills which is the primary reason they can’t find professional success or satisfaction. I’ve even come across one manager who flat out said, “I really just don’t like people.”
Liking people and having the ability to connect on a personal level is the most important factor in being an effective manager. Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi understood this. Yes, he was a very demanding “boss” and had high expectations from his “workers.” Yet he also cared for them deeply and expected the team to care for each other. Author Michael Lee Stallard stated it this way in a September 2014 blog entry, “Vince Lombardi had a passion for relationship excellence too. He loved his players. He told them they must love one another and said love made the difference on their team.”
The report Future Work Skills 2020 points to Social Intelligence as being one of ten key skills required for business success:
Social Intelligence: the ability to connect to others in a deep and
direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
Organizations must move away from promoting people simply based on things like individual performance or tenure. Certainly these items are part of the promotion equation but the overriding selection criterion is the people factor. An effective manager is someone who is both likeable and who likes other people. Organizations should look for managers who truly value others, putting their workers ahead of their own interests. As someone on LinkedIn once posted:
“When I talk to managers, I get the feeling that they are important.
When I talk to leaders, I get the feeling that I am important.”
Over the last several blog entries, we’ve established two elements of effective leadership:
So the next question is how does someone develop character? For our purposes here, we won’t get into questions such as genetics – are you born with good or bad character? And there’s character development during early years at home. Were you raised in a high-character environment which helped build character without even thinking about it? School also plays a part in character development as we grow. If someone is blessed to be in a good school or have high-character teachers, they can develop high character without even trying.
While these points are certainly valid and critically important for character development, this discussion will focus on our adult years. How can we develop our character, either repairing our damaged reputation from past behavior or working to improve and protect the character we’ve developed over the years?
Stephen Covey says we build character by overcoming challenges and adversity. Helen Keller had a similar thought, saying character is developed through experience, trial, and suffering. Author Grenville Kleiser said character is developed through self-discipline and self-control.
While all of the above thoughts are certainly true, waiting for those stressful life challenges to develop our character is a risky proposition. Preparing for those character-defining moments is a much better option! Expending time and energy on the following eight “Be’s” will not only develop your character but also develop your leadership abilities.
Be authentic: People want to follow leaders who are “real.” Strong character requires genuineness or authenticity in all aspects of your life. In groups large and small, in public and in private, leaders must show the same “face” and be consistent in both words and behaviors.
Be humble: Sadly, in today’s “Look at me!” culture perpetuated by constant Facebook and YouTube posts, modesty is seen as a weakness by some people. This is not the case for leaders. Let’s be clear – humbleness is not thinking little of yourself. It is, though, being self-aware or having an accurate assessment of your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Being humble also means being mindful of others, typically putting their needs ahead of yours.
Be reassuring: There are many related words here such as be comforting, be calm, be uplifting, and be positive, encouraging, and supportive. Leaders with strong character have a “presence” about them that helps others be confident and poised in any situation, particularly in times of stress and ambiguity.
Be a truth seeker: Leaders with strong character don’t allow their biases, prejudices, and emotions guide their words and actions. Strong character demands truth and facts and when those truths are uncomfortable or even hurtful, leaders with character handle the situation with a sense of caring and compassion.
Be courteous: The world is getting more and more harsh. It’s getting more difficult to have a meaningful conversation with people who might disagree with your particular thought. Accept differences in people, be polite to everyone, and always offer a kind word or helpful deed.
Be selective: Surround yourself with people of character. Let their character rub off on you. Challenge you. Choose your friends and your business associates wisely. We are often known by the company we keep so be sure the people surrounding you add to your character rather than subtract from it.
Be last: Seek the background rather than the limelight. By default, most leaders get the attention. Leaders with strong character realize their success is often the result of hard work by many others. So shine the spotlight on others and offer generous amounts of praise and thanks.
Be protective: No one can take your character but you can certainly give it way. Be wise in your decisions and guard your character as the treasure it is.
Can leaders be effective without practicing the above “Be’s”? Absolutely! History is full of less-than-honorable leaders who have made huge impacts on the world, usually with dire consequences on people and society. A lasting, positive impact, though, requires a leader to have a strong character that guides their thoughts and actions. This type of leader most certainly makes the world a better place.
Our world is in desperate need of leaders with strong character. Will you be one of them?
Talent Management is complicated. Much like a puzzle, it has many interlocking pieces.
In last week’s blog post, we examined the hiring process, how most organizations still use an outdated and shortsighted hiring process that relies too heavily on past experience and job titles. Of course, it’s impossible to describe the current business climate, the challenges, and the tactics to implementing an integrated Talent Management strategy in a 500-word blog entry. But the general thought was that ability is more than just past job titles. To hire top talent, organizations must look at passion, work ethic, vision, people skills, and the ability to learn new things.
So is that it? Is an effective Talent Management process simply updating job descriptions and seeing if people can hold a pleasant conversation during lunch? Of course not!
So what other business matters must an organization consider as they take a Talent Management approach to their workforce? While there are too many considerations to discuss here, several items (in no particular order), when proactively tackled, can help an organization attract, develop, retain, and utilize top talent.
It’s everything! Corporate culture, which we’ve explored several times in previous blogs, is the single most important driver of business and Talent Management success. Without a healthy corporate culture, no Talent Management program will succeed. Part of building a strong corporate culture is making sure all employees know the mission, the values, and the behaviors that demonstrate those values and then holding people accountable to those values and behaviors. As former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said in his book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance, “ . . . culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.”
People born between 1984 and 2000 are part of the amazing Millennial generation. These workers think differently, are certainly tech-savvy, and want to be part of a change-the-world organization. Effectively integrating these younger workers with previous generations (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers) is not easy but with deliberate thought, these workers can push your organization to higher levels of success and be a fantastic source of future company leaders. For more thoughts regarding Millennials, check this PCC blog entry.
The world is changing and the pace of that change in quickening. Although change is difficult for most people, being able to embrace organizational (and individual) change is yet another piece of the Talent Management landscape as well as a competitive advantage. J.C. Penney Chairman Mike Ullman said at Fortune’s recent Global Forum, “Only a baby with a wet diaper likes change.” So an integrated Talent Management process is one that, with speed and urgency, embraces organizational change and helps workers flourish in the midst of this change.
While being able to move quickly as an organization has always been an important characteristic, it’s one of the most valuable business strategies a company can implement today. I don’t mean reviewing resumes in six seconds and filling an open position as quickly as possible as mentioned in my previous blog. But making swift decisions and being a nimble organization is surely a competitive advantage. Fast Company editor Robert Safian wrote in the December 2015 issue, “Because the changes are coming so fast, there is a rising premium on our ability to adjust, to be adaptable in new ways. This can be scary for some, but it is also undeniably exciting, and for those prepared to embrace this emerging reality, the possibilities are tantalizing.”
Internal Customer Service & Communication
The level of customer service you can provide externally is only as good as what you deliver internally. And making sure executives, department heads, supervisors, and even frontline workers are communicating across lines will help keep everyone lined up with corporate goals and will also facilitate the internal movement of high potential employees. So break down those internal silos and start promoting cross-corporate partnerships!
Talent Management & Executive Management Alignment
Many HR organizations develop and manage their Talent Management process in response to corporate goals and strategies. Instead, make sure HR and Talent Management are aligned with C-level executives, top-line business objectives, and, of course, the corporate mission statement.
Each of the above business components – and there are additional elements – is complicated and deserves much more thought than one paragraph. The point is this: For Talent Management to be more than buzzwords and to truly be a strategy that drives business success, organizations must address more than just job descriptions and leadership training.
A tall order? Yes! But for the organizations that take the time and effort to confront the above issues along with the Talent Acquisition thoughts posted earlier will grab the best talent and help dispel the Talent Management myth.
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.