8 Leadership Rules from a Dog


Leadership From a Dog’s Perspective

To enable the team at HR Blueprints to enjoy a long weekend this Family Day Diesel, the office Great Dane, offered to be the guest blogger and share his leadership advice with the pack. Here are his top 8 rules:

 (Editor’s note – we recommend Diesel’s rules be read allegorically not literally for humans.)

1. Wag your tail. Show others you love life and that you are happy to see them. Others will like being around you too and be more likely to follow you.

2. Sniff before you judge. Just because you think you know the other perspective and viewpoint doesn’t mean you do. Take time to sniff out where others are coming from.

3. Play. Every good pack leader knows the importance of being able to play with the team as well as lead it. A pack needs to have fun to be cohesive. Go chase a ball with the pack!

4. Become an expert at body language. Know how to use and read body language to convey and understand emotion. Leaders need to demonstrate both high IQ and EQ.

5. Accept hierarchy. The only way to grow in a pack is to learn to keep the Alphas content. Unnecessarily challenging of authority will get you kicked out of the pack. Instead work with the Alphas to create lasting change for the pack.

6. Curl your lip and show your teeth as a warning before you bite. Sometimes leaders have to fight to protect the pack. Before you take aggressive action make sure you have first given fair warning and provided a chance for the other side to retreat.

7. Move on after a scuffle. Everyone has a bad day. If someone snaps, it’s ok to tell them you don’t appreciate their behaviour but don’t hold a grudge. Leaders forgive and give trust to get trust.

8. Take a walk outside every day. We all need to smell the flowers, feel the sunshine and run on the grass daily. Take a walk to clear your head and think about all of the great things in your life. Best of all, be sure to always take a friend on your walk!

Happy Family Day!!

Gen Y and Your Workplace (from our ‘Ask the Expert’ column in The Voice)

Q:  I have hired a younger employee and they do not get the way the world works.  When I was their age I worked long hours and was willing to do every task given to me.  What is wrong with this generation?

A: The presence of the youngest generation currently in the workforce, Generation Y, has caused many employers to scratch their heads.  There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this generation, it is just that they refuse to accept the current workplace norms just because they are the workplace norms.

The situation is not unlike when women started entering the workforce in large numbers.  Suddenly there was a rash of ‘women’s issues’ like parental leave and caregiver leave.  At the time it seemed like an impossible change to many employers but in reality it was a simple adjustment that benefited male and female employees alike.  Adapting to the needs of Generation Y is no different; the changes they are demanding will in fact positively impact everyone in the workplace.  Examples of these changes are:

•    A shift from managing by hours to deliverables – why do office organizations still have a punch clock mentality when the work performed is nothing like a factory environment?  Focus on what needs to be accomplished and manage by deliverables.  A work day should be about what you achieved not whether you worked 8 consecutive hours.

•    Add Flexibility – similar to the point above, don’t force someone to work a firm schedule unless it is a requirement of the job (e.g. receptionist, security guard).  Allowing employees to complete assigned tasks on their schedule within required deadlines can dramatically increase both productivity and engagement.

Most important are changes regarding communications.   Ask your employees what they want from their work environment.  This is a win-win proposition.  Remember happy employees work harder!

Orienting New Employees – republished from The Voice June 2012 edition

Orienting New Employees – The Voice June 2012

The Multigenerational Workplace

My Generation (album)
Image via Wikipedia
  • “She has a poor work ethic”
  • “He does not respect experience”
  • “I can’t believe the way they dress!”
  • “What do you mean I can’t work from home on Fridays?!?”
  • “Who cares that we have always done it that way, with technology we can do it better this way”

All of these statements are examples of generational differences in the workplace.

For the first time in history, we have 4 different generations in our workforce working alongside one another:

  1. Traditionalists (those born 1925 to 1945); roughly 7% of the Canadian workforce
  2. Baby Boomers (those born 1946 to 1964); roughly 46% of the Canadian workforce
  3. Generation X (those born 1965 to 1980); roughly 23% of the Canadian workforce
  4. Millennials/Gen Y (those born 1981 to 1995); roughly 24% of the Canadian workforce

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a survey and asked “To what extent is intergenerational conflict an issue in your workplace?”. An overwhelming 72% of respondents selected “to a large degree”. The results of the survey revealed a correlation between low employee engagement and generational diversity if the situation is not properly managed.

So, what can we do to manage the situation effectively?

Understanding Every Perspective

Each of these four generations has been impacted by events that shaped who they are and how they view the workplace. These events include World War II, September 11th and its aftermath, new trends in popular music and culture, ground breaking developments in technology, and changes in social values, as well as the style of parenting practiced by the generation who raised them.

Differences Between the Generations:

This table identifies key differences between the four generations:

Characteristics

Traditionalists

Born 1925-1945

Baby Boomers

Born 1946-1964

Generation X

Born 1965-1980

Millennials

Born 1981-1996

Age Span

66 to 86 years old

47 to 65 years old

31 to 46 years old

16 to 30 years old

Traits ConservativeBelief in disciplineRespect for authorityLoyal

Patriotic

IdealisticBreak the rules attitudeTime stressedPolitically correct PragmaticSelf-sufficientSkepticalFlexible

Media/Tech Savvy

Entrepreneurial

ConfidentWell-educated

Self-sufficient

Tolerant

Team builders

Socially/politically

conscious

Defining Events Great depressionWorld War II Vietnam WarWoodstockWatergate Missing childrenLatch Key KidsComputers in school School Shootings

Terrorism

Corporate scandals

To Them Work is…. “If you want a roof and food….” An exciting adventure A difficult challenge An opportunity to make a difference
Work Ethic Loyal/dedicated Driven Balanced but stressed Eager but anxious to advance
Employment Goals Retirement Second career Work/life balance Often unrealistic within expected timeline
Education A dream A birthright A way to get to ahead A given
Communication Face to face Telephone Email IM/Text messaging
Time at Work is defined by Punching the clock Visibility “Why does it matter if I get it done today?” “Is it 5 PM? I have a life.”
Need most in the workplace Continued involvement past 65. “I want to stay involved” Recognition! ‘Stop ignoring me!’ More information “Nobody tells me anything!” Praise and fun; or is that fun and praise?
Image of Workplace Success Gold watch on retirement Making it to the height of their potential Not being overlooked for the ‘leaders of tomorrow’ behind them The job of their dreams not just a good job
Workplace Habit Employer’s Love Possess the most intellectual capital and institutional knowledge Workaholics Initiative and independence Look for new challenges and opportunities to create efficiencies
Habit that May Annoy Other Generations Very little feedback given or expected More hours at the office equals better performance Prefer to work alone Challenge the status quo

The differences across the generations can be a source of tension amongst employees and between employees and employers. The causes and effects of social influence and workplace perspective is endless. Moreover the gap in perception and workplace needs from Traditionalists to Millennials is vast.

Workplace Culture

Traditionalists created our current corporate structure and organizational dynamics. They entered the workplace when the economy was booming and saw first-hand how hard work led to advancement. They were followed by Baby Boomers, who despite entering the workforce in a time of growth were forced to came to work before the boss and stay after in order to stand out from the crowd given their large cohort. The next generation, Generation X, was a cohort stuck behind a much larger group and often stalled from advancement as the jobs were filled by those who entered the workplace a few years ahead of them. They were then forced to watch as employers invested money in programs to advance the generation behind them. Last came the Millenials, a group who have been told since they were young that the world is theirs for the taking as everyone will be retiring when they enter the workforce. They are now struggling with delayed departure issues as a result of global finances.

These perceptions affect employers and their policies, and consequently every individual in the workplace. To ease the tension between the groups, employers should create workplace policies that are more inclusive of the needs and perspectives of all employees.

Traditionalists want to continue to contribute to the workplace while shifting into retirement, Baby Boomers want to work less and enjoy their remaining years at the office, Generation Xer’s want work/life balance, and Millenials want work schedules that help them build careers and families at the same time. A flexible workplace organized based on deliverables and requirements can be the answer to every employee’s need.

Flexibility is the Key

Organizations have the choice between maintaining current practices tailored to the older generations or revamping the workplace in ways that initially appear counterproductive. Policies should be written to enhance the work experience for the vast majority of employees who are hardworking instead of protecting employers against the small percentage who are not. This is an important and necessary shift in the workplace culture of the future. Those employees who are not performing will need to be managed in a style appropriate to each unique circumstance not by employers referring to a blanket policy.

A cultural shift is required – one that moves away from an emphasis on presence in the workplace as the example of excellence. The emphasis should instead be placed on deliverables produced by the employee rather than the amount of time the employee spends in the workplace. Employers need to motivate employees through discussions on what needs to be accomplished and hold them accountable to deliver results. Giving employees the flexibility to manage their lives when needed can pay huge dividends in productivity.

A pendulum shift towards balancing the needs of the employer and the employee is key towards managing generational needs and engaging a modern workforce. Workshifting, telecommuting, flexible work arrangements, and home offices are all great examples of how flexibility can be added to workplace policies. These programs also work to accommodate all of the generations by tailoring policies towards the human needs of employees versus only the output needs of employers.

Generational differences can be viewed as a source of tension in the workplace or the catalyst to transform our current workplace culture into a more hospitable environment. Employers can leverage this opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition by embracing the early demands for change. Although, these changes may seem like a paradigm-shift to traditional employers the rewards for these alterations will be reaped through enhanced productivity, employee retention and talent acquisition.

To be published in September, 2011 UpDate Magazine http://www.hrpaottawa.ca

Digital Reinvention of HR Processes and the Role of the Millennial Generation

In the early days of television, the first television actors emigrated from comfortable and settled careers in stage and radio. Their adaptation to the new reality created by television was clumsy at best. Nevertheless, the television revolution kept rolling, creating new possibilities and new cultural norms for communications. Overtime, television forced a change in presentation practices to fit the new technology and harness its unique capabilities. Radio and its followers continued, but were overshadowed, influenced, and dominated by the habits and norms created by the new technology called television.

Such a transition is occurring now in the modern workforce. Four unique generations represent today’s worker, each with its own needs, motivators and communication preferences. Born before 1978, Traditionalists, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers spent part of their careers working in analog environments. Familiar with typewriters, inter-office mail envelopes, Telex and early Xerox machines, these generations also mailed in resumes and cover letters (on high quality paper stock), filled in timesheets, and checked off tick boxes on paper forms during performance evaluations.

Then the digital revolution arrived, and Millennials along with it. Even Millennials who joined the workforce in the early years of the digital revolution have never worked in an environment without computers. A great proportion has never worked without access to corporate networks and the Internet.

HR Comes Into its Own
During this same period, the Human Resources function came into its own as a profession, evolving from a secondary consideration of “personnel” to a fully embedded strategic process whose function is to shape the organization and its culture to achieve business goals.

More resources were invested in HR, including investment in technology solutions to automate various processes. However, the first HR systems simply adapted paper-based processes to digital form. For example, think of some of the performance evaluation forms we have all seen. Many of those were static documents created in a spreadsheet or word processor. Paper-based processes were simply converted to digital form.

This may have been a step forward in efficiency, but it wasn’t really a transformation. Rather than simply employing new technologies, transformation requires HR professionals to revaluate their existing processes and requirements, taking into account new resources, a changing workforce, and shifting business conditions sparked by the digital age.

As more Millennials enter the workforce and new technologies continue to be introduced – such as social media, smart phones and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – it is essential that organizations continue to stay agile and rethink their talent management processes for assessing, developing, and sourcing today’s digitally native employee base. A reinvention of HR practices is required. And as with the early days of the digital revolution, the basis of this reinvention should consider new cultural norms created by emerging technologies.

New Technologies, New Expectations
New technologies interacting with culture provide the norms for new expectations. As avid adopters of technology since childhood, Millennials expect more contextual communications from employers. Millennials expect software to be up-to-date, peer-connected and open to change.

Instead of a static performance evaluation in a spreadsheet, Millennials may expect to:

  • Be notified about their upcoming evaluation via social networking tools or their smart phones;
  • Have a URL dispatched to them, which will connect to an online performance evaluation, which can be completed and submitted immediately;
  • Have the performance evaluation respond dynamically by intelligently probing specific areas;
  • Receive feedback from their supervisor and peers using the same tool within days or hours;
  • When complete, be provided with a gap report which indicates the learning tools, which will help them bridge the gaps; and,
  • Be provided with an indication of what milestones have been completed and which will need to be completed before advancement in their careers.

Likewise, Web-based recruitment of new talent through social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook is becoming increasingly popular. It’s no longer enough to have a website that merely is a list of current vacancies. Employers must earn the attention of Millennials through effective use of social media resources, such as:

  • Building a community by producing compelling content or facilitating relationships between candidates and their potential employer;
  • Making the experience mirror online job seeking experience to mirror that of shopping or banking including “order status” and “customer service orientation;”
  • Communicating the company’s image, culture and values;
  • Making the recruitment process faster, more accountable and standardized; and,
  • Making it an end-to-end process, allowing line managers to view applications online and seamlessly transfer candidate information to employee records.

Creating an Effective HR Solution
To create an effective online HR solution, organizations need to ensure the work processes are designed in light of organizational goals. Regardless of the solution selected, companies must follow some guiding principles:

  • Recognize that HR technologies are only part of the solution. The goal of such technologies is to ensure enhanced engagement and enhanced collection, storage, communication, and distribution of information.
  • Bring in internal or external HR technology experts: their knowledge, skills, acumen, and experience are invaluable.
  • After implementation, continually monitor performance and keep up with new technology developments.
  • Continually watch for shifts in communication norms which could disrupt existing practices.

To succeed in the environment Millennials live in, HR professionals may have to start from scratch. There may be some existing processes or requirements that require a facelift rather than an overhaul. But rather than simply pushing existing practices onto new technologies, HR practitioners need to discover new possibilities and expectations created when technological change instigates new cultural norms. In practice, this may mean the acquisition of new solutions, rather than using those at our disposal to a greater degree.

As HR professionals continue to integrate a new generation of workers into the workforce, they must not do so by adopting technologies which create a divide with pre-Millennial workers. Demographic changes are dictating that existing generations of workers will be an enormous asset far longer than anyone expected. The key to successful and integrated processes is not ignoring the existing generations. The new workplace must make accommodations for the enormous knowledge existing workers possess while reaching out to integrate a new generation of workers.

With the proper enablers, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers can share their vast corporate knowledge with the entire organization – and use new software to reduce the amount of time it takes to perform tasks. Generation X can work independently while connected to the rest of the organization. And Millennials can absorb the knowledge now shared by their predecessors to develop their professional knowledge in a shorter time frame than previously imaginable.

All in all, as HR professionals we must work not only to connect our workforce and balance the competing priorities, but also reinvent how we do HR processes to integrate and welcome the digitally native Millennials.

Digital Reinvention of HR Processes and the Role of the Millennial Generation

In the early days of television, the first television actors emigrated from comfortable and settled careers in stage and radio. Their adaptation to the new reality created by television was clumsy at best. Nevertheless, the television revolution kept rolling, creating new possibilities and new cultural norms for communications. Overtime, television forced a change in presentation practices to fit the new technology and harness its unique capabilities. Radio and its followers continued, but were overshadowed, influenced, and dominated by the habits and norms created by the new technology called television.

Such a transition is occurring now in the modern workforce. Four unique generations represent today’s worker, each with its own needs, motivators and communication preferences. Born before 1978, Traditionalists, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers spent part of their careers working in analog environments. Familiar with typewriters, inter-office mail envelopes, Telex and early Xerox machines, these generations also mailed in resumes and cover letters (on high quality paper stock), filled in timesheets, and checked off tick boxes on paper forms during performance evaluations.

Then the digital revolution arrived, and Millennials along with it. Even Millennials who joined the workforce in the early years of the digital revolution have never worked in an environment without computers. A great proportion has never worked without access to corporate networks and the Internet.

HR Comes Into its Own
During this same period, the Human Resources function came into its own as a profession, evolving from a secondary consideration of ”personnel” to a fully embedded strategic process whose function is to shape the organization and its culture to achieve business goals.

More resources were invested in HR, including investment in technology solutions to automate various processes. However, the first HR systems simply adapted paper-based processes to digital form. For example, think of some of the performance evaluation forms we have all seen. Many of those were static documents created in a spreadsheet or word processor. Paper-based processes were simply converted to digital form.

This may have been a step forward in efficiency, but it wasn’t really a transformation. Rather than simply employing new technologies, transformation requires HR professionals to revaluate their existing processes and requirements, taking into account new resources, a changing workforce, and shifting business conditions sparked by the digital age.

As more Millennials enter the workforce and new technologies continue to be introduced – such as social media, smart phones and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – it is essential that organizations continue to stay agile and rethink their talent management processes for assessing, developing, and sourcing today’s digitally native employee base. A reinvention of HR practices is required. And as with the early days of the digital revolution, the basis of this reinvention should consider new cultural norms created by emerging technologies.

New Technologies, New Expectations
New technologies interacting with culture provide the norms for new expectations. As avid adopters of technology since childhood, Millennials expect more contextual communications from employers. Millennials expect software to be up-to-date, peer-connected and open to change.

COMMUNICATION
MEDIUM
ROLE WITHIN HR TRADITIONAL

 

(Traditionalists)

ADAPTED TECHNOLOGY

(Boomers and
Gen X)

CONTEXTUAL

TECHNOLOGY

(Gen X and
Millenials)

Written Policies
Manuals
Direction
Paper-based
Systems
E-Mail
e-documents
Instant

Messaging
Wikis
SMS
Blogs

Verbal Advice
Guidance
Transmission of Information
In Person
Meetings
Telephone
Video- teleconference Instant

Messaging
LinkedIn
Blogs

Relationship Building Exchange of information In Person
Conferences
E-mail
Video- teleconference
Social Media:
LinkedIn
Facebook
Meet Up
Evently
Interpersonal Connections Coaching
Mentoring
In Person E-Mail
Teleconference
In Person
 

Source: HRSG

Instead of a static performance evaluation in a spreadsheet, Millennials may expect to:

  • Be notified about their upcoming evaluation via social networking tools or their smart phones;
  • Have a URL dispatched to them, which will connect to an online performance evaluation, which can be completed and submitted immediately;
  • Have the performance evaluation respond dynamically by intelligently probing specific areas;
  • Receive feedback from their supervisor and peers using the same tool within days or hours;
  • When complete, be provided with a gap report which indicates the learning tools, which will help them bridge the gaps; and,
  • Be provided with an indication of what milestones have been completed and which will need to be completed before advancement in their careers.

Likewise, Web-based recruitment of new talent through social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook is becoming increasingly popular. It’s no longer enough to have a website that merely is a list of current vacancies. Employers must earn the attention of Millennials through effective use of social media resources, such as:

  • Building a community by producing compelling content or facilitating relationships between candidates and their potential employer;
  • Making the experience mirror online job seeking experience to mirror that of shopping or banking including ”order status” and ”customer service orientation;”
  • Communicating the company’s image, culture and values;
  • Making the recruitment process faster, more accountable and standardized; and,
  • Making it an end-to-end process, allowing line managers to view applications online and seamlessly transfer candidate information to employee records.

Creating an Effective HR Solution
To create an effective online HR solution, organizations need to ensure the work processes are designed in light of organizational goals. Regardless of the solution selected, companies must follow some guiding principles:

  • Recognize that HR technologies are only part of the solution. The goal of such technologies is to ensure enhanced engagement and enhanced collection, storage, communication, and distribution of information.
  • Bring in internal or external HR technology experts: their knowledge, skills, acumen, and experience are invaluable.
  • After implementation, continually monitor performance and keep up with new technology developments.
  • Continually watch for shifts in communication norms which could disrupt existing practices.

To succeed in the environment Millennials live in, HR professionals may have to start from scratch. There may be some existing processes or requirements that require a facelift rather than an overhaul. But rather than simply pushing existing practices onto new technologies, HR practitioners need to discover new possibilities and expectations created when technological change instigates new cultural norms. In practice, this may mean the acquisition of new solutions, rather than using those at our disposal to a greater degree.

As HR professionals continue to integrate a new generation of workers into the workforce, they must not do so by adopting technologies which create a divide with pre-Millennial workers. Demographic changes are dictating that existing generations of workers will be an enormous asset far longer than anyone expected. The key to successful and integrated processes is not ignoring the existing generations. The new workplace must make accommodations for the enormous knowledge existing workers possess while reaching out to integrate a new generation of workers.

With the proper enablers, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers can share their vast corporate knowledge with the entire organization – and use new software to reduce the amount of time it takes to perform tasks. Generation X can work independently while connected to the rest of the organization. And Millennials can absorb the knowledge now shared by their predecessors to develop their professional knowledge in a shorter time frame than previously imaginable.

All in all, as HR professionals we must work not only to connect our workforce and balance the competing priorities, but also reinvent how we do HR processes to integrate and welcome the digitally native Millennials.

 

About the Authors
Susan Haywood MA, CHRP, President of Human Resource Blueprints, has 13 years of HR experience in government, not-for-profit and corporate environments. Winston Sarin, Director of Business Development at Girih Social Media, has 15 years of experience driving organizational growth through effective marketing strategies. Shaun Vollick is a consultant at HRSG with five years of experience delivering solutions in employee learning. He is a Millennial.

Susan Haywood, Human Resource Blueprints Ltd.  shaywood@hrblueprints.ca ,

Winston Sarin, Girih Social Media – Social Media for Business, Winston.sarin@girih.com

 

 

Shaun Vollick, HRSG, svollick@hrsg.ca

Succession Plans and Retention Plans – Are yours linked to reality?

We hear the terms ‘succession plan’ and ‘retention’ often and usually in reference to a larger talent management strategy within an organization.  The concept of having identified a group of employees or sources of future employees, to replace departing employees is only logical.  A well designed plan will take into account the Canadian workforce environment and build a strategy that leverages the realities.  Employers need to understand where to draw their future talent from, and how to do it better than their competitors.

According to the 2006 Canadian Census data:

  • The median age of the Canadian workforce was 41.2
  • There were 2 million individuals between ages 55 to 64 in the workforce
  • Immigrants made up over 20% of the Canadian workforce
  • Unemployment rate for Aboriginal people was 13.2% versus a rate of 5.2% for non-Aboriginals

What does this mean for succession and retention plans?  Effective plans must consider these four points without sacrificing the ‘overlooked contingent’ and still support organizational needs.  The Census data above can be translated into four strategic imperatives for succession planning.  Organizations need to ask themselves these questions:

  • The Aging Workforce – how do organizations keep aging employees engaged?
  • Knowledge Transfer – if 2 million people will be potentially leaving the workforce this decade what happens to their knowledge?
  • Inclusion Practices – if 1/5 of the workforce is made up of immigrants are we shifting organizational culture to embrace their ideas and perspectives?
  • Outreach – are we reaching all potential sources of talent?  Do we have any community partnerships with Aboriginals or other communities?

Now that you have the answer of how your organization currently views these imperatives, here are some suggestions on how your succession can benefit in future:

The Aging Workforce

You do not need to be a mathematician to realize that if the average age of the workforce is over 40, employers need to recruit replacement talent.  Most employers tackle this via campus recruitment programs, social media recruitment, and management development programs for new hires.  These are all important parts of any talent management solution, but what about workplace environment?

As the generations of employees in the workplace change so do their needs, values, and expectations.  Employers need to ensure that they are working to create an organizational culture that supports the needs of those joining the organization this decade.  For example, graduates today look for different things from employers than graduates 10 years ago did.  Some of the most common expectation include:

  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Mentoring and development programs
  • Frequent performance appraisals and feedback
  • Meaningful Work
  • Up-to-date technology
  • A culture of trust versus oversight

Knowledge Transfer

With a large percentage of employees preparing to leave the workforce every employer should be working to retain as much corporate knowledge as possible before the mass exodus occurs.  The valued employees preparing for their retirement are the holders of vast amounts of expertise.  Effective succession plans must include a methodology for sharing this knowledge.  Here are three ideas for how this can be achieved in your organization:

Offer part-time employment to Retirees: Many retiring employees no longer want to work full time and year round but would be very interested in a more flexible arrangement.  Explore the concept of part-time and seasonal continued employment for this group.  Flexibility is the key.  Perhaps it is a short term stint with defined days of the week.  A schedule of a number of days per month may work for all parties.  Of course, a schedule that allows for lots of holidays, summers off, and short weeks is always appealing.  Work with your retirees to determine what approach meets both their needs and those of the organization.

Work with Impact: The work should not simply be the previous position held pre-retirement.  Continued employment post-retirement is a partnership that needs to be respectful of the fact that the retiring person has already decided to leave their permanent position.  Instead, consider a role in an advisory capacity where the former employee’s knowledge can be spread amongst several departments/projects/activities.  Ask yourself ‘what knowledge does my organization need to gain from this individual?’ and then plan the best arrangement to achieve this.

Recognition: The post-retirement employee is not looking for a career.  They are looking to have an impact on their previous organization.  Recognize their expertise and knowledge – this is why you have asked them to return after all.  It may help to realize that the balance of power between employer and employee has shifted.  The post-retiree does not need employment with the organization; rather it is the organization that has a need to retain its corporate knowledge.

Inclusion Practices

Diversity strategies are prevalent in the workplace. Employers need to be recruiting diverse talent in order to remain competitive.  However, recruiting for diversity without an inclusion strategy can be a costly mistake.  Employees, regardless of gender, race, culture, creed, or sexual orientation need to feel comfortable at the workplace and trust their employer in order to fully engage. What is your organization doing to create an environment of inclusion?

Some employers provide a forum for networking, professional development, recruiting and building relationships with local communities.  This build a relationship between employers and entire communities of individuals which in turn elevates everyone’s understanding of each other’s needs and perspectives on the workplace.  Other employers create a mentoring program that pairs high potential performers from an under-represented group with board members for formal mentoring and career development.  This arrangement ensures that under-represented employee groups feel like they have a voice in the workplace.  Whatever your approach, an investment in inclusion is an investment in corporate success.  It will allow your organization to tap into frequently unheard perspectives and expertise that translate to a business advantage as it will increase the populations who resonate with your corporate messages.

The fact that immigrants comprised 20% of the workforce according to the 2006 Census means that employers who are not reaching out to and working to be more inclusive to these communities will soon find themselves with a shortage of talent.

Outreach

With the non-aboriginal, Canadian-born workforce shrinking, the competition for talent from traditional sources is getting fierce.  From where are your employees being recruited?

The Canadian Aboriginal population is Canada’s fastest growing human resource.  Employers have not done an effective job in the past of engaging this population.  Is your organization working to attract aboriginal talent?

Internationally trained individuals are another potential source of talent.  Finding that first Canadian employment opportunity can be very difficult for new immigrants despite vast qualifications and education.  Is your organization overlooking this population?

Many employers always recruit from the same sources.  This can lead to a continued overlooking of great sources of talent.  Implementing an outreach strategy allows employers access to all of the available talent instead of the only the traditional sources.  An effective strategy includes:

Advertisements in Target Markets: This is no different than traditional sales.  You need to advertise to the market you are trying to attract.  Post jobs in community newspapers, at community organizations, or with organizations that do outreach such as the YMCA or other not-for-profit groups that assist under-represented communities.

Partnering with Communities: Employers have brands.  From a recruitment perspective the brand is how your organization is viewed through the eyes of potential employees.  Organizations want to ensure that their brand stirs up a positive connection in potential talent.  An effective way to do this is to partner with communities to ensure that your organization puts forward a good impression.  Great ways to partner include sponsoring events, donating products to specific community organizations, or sponsoring a community sports team.

Ensuring your Selection Practices are Bias Free: Traditional recruitment methods that focus on mainstream Canadian cultural values may be causing your organization to miss out on the best candidates.   Be careful not to judge candidates on cultural differences such as handshakes, eye contact, or self-promotion.  Use behavioural based interviewing techniques to ensure you give the candidate a chance to outline everything they have to offer.

What Else?  Don’t Forget the Middle

Many employers have programs aimed at the more senior employees and ones for the new graduates, but what about those in the middle?  Employees aged roughly 30 to 45 are often overlooked in succession plans.  Employers should spend resources trying to retain knowledge from the post-retirees or getting employees to work a bit longer before retirement.  Employers should also allocate resources to the cadre of new graduates to ensure they have a source of future talent and that this talent is knowledgeable enough to step into big roles.  What about the middle?  Those employees in the ‘overlooked contingent’.

This is the first group who will be asked to step into the fold when the mass exodus of retirees occurs.  However, too few employers focus on this group in their succession plans.  The middle or overlooked contingent of employees has corporate knowledge and experience.  They also have been slowed in their rise within the organization due to a lack of movement at the top.  This group represents a relatively small cadre of employees but one that is crucial to the success of an organization.  This group can, if properly developed and supported, be the ideal transition between soon-to-be-retiring and the incoming graduates.

All of the innovations, mentoring and development programs being used to target and nurture new graduates can be applied to this contingent.  Moreover, this group will be the managers of the up and coming talent being recruited in campus recruitment programs.  A failure to invest in the middle can lead to a retention problem if these employees are not prepared for their subsequent roles.  Avoid this with:

Leadership Mentoring Programs: A leadership mentoring program targeting the middle is beneficial to employers in two key ways.  It not only develops this group in preparation for their next roles, it offers a way to begin the knowledge transfer from older employees before they retire.  It will also make this group better managers to the new graduates currently being coveted by most organizations.

Developmental Mentoring Programs: This group will be asked to step up and lead in the very near future.  Why not start a program pairing this group with new graduates to allow them a chance to lead sooner?  This would allow this group to pass on their corporate knowledge to the group that will replace them and help to prepare both groups for their next role in the organization.

One Final Thought….Retention isn’t For Everyone

A good retention strategy focuses on the key talent the organization wants to retain.  A retention strategy does not mean that an organization should seek to retain every employee.   The point is to ensure turnover is manageable given the supply of talent available and the positions that are changing.  Organizations need to listen to exiting employees’ explanations as to why they are leaving and determine if changes or improvements need to be made.  However, organizations also need to realize that some people thrive on change and that not everyone will feel at home in the organizational culture that exists.  A small percentage of turnover is not only normal, but it has a positive impact on the organization with the infusion of fresh ideas, perspectives and experiences.  The challenge is for an organization to determine what their acceptable level of turnover is and to work to ensure that level is not exceeded.

Susan Haywood, CHRP, President at Human Resource Blueprints Ltd; an HR consulting firm, can be reached at (613) 867-2554 or by email at shaywood@hrblueprints.ca

Succession Plans and Employees– Are yours connected?

More and more companies are embracing the concept of succession planning.  They are realizing the obvious benefits of identifying and developing employees who have a high potential to fill the organization’s key roles in the future.  When asked why they believe succession planning is important, subscribers will often say it is because it increases the availability of talented individuals to ensure the continued success of their organization.  But are they connecting their succession plans with their employees’ career aspirations?

Succession planning is too often a behind the scenes planning exercise.  Sometimes organizations do not want valued employees in key roles to feel that they are looking at replacing them.  Other times organizations fear that discussing future plans they have for some employees will create feelings of inequality and discontent amongst employees.  These organizations never speak of their succession plans outside of the closed-door management meetings where the plans are drafted.

Imagine you are one of the high potential employees identified for advancement.  Yes, you are aware that your employer has invested in some developmental opportunities, but you may think that these are a result of being managed by a good manager.   Are you aware how much the organization values your talent?  Are you aware of the future plans your employer may have in store for you?  Sadly, the answer is probably no.

Employers take for granted that employees know how valued they are.  This is a mistake.  Employees want to be explicitly told they are an asset to their employer.  Employees want to be able to envision their future within their organization.  An effective way to do this is to review the relevant part of the succession plan that affects each high potential employee so that each one is aware of their perceived value and importance to the organization.  Too often employees only discover their perceived worth after they have accepted another offer from another employer.

How do we avoid this?  By developing a comprehensive plan inclusive of communication, strategy, and follow-up.

Step One: Meet with each employee to understand his or her interests, and career goals.

Step Two: Compare and contrast employee’s individual career goals with their strengths and areas for development.

Step Three: Compare and contrast the results of step two against the succession planning needs of your organization.  Identify the potential replacements for your key positions based on individual employee talent and interest.

Step Four: Conduct a gap analysis of the skills needed for each key role and the current abilities of the individual(s) identified as potential replacements.  Use this information to develop learning plans, mentoring relationships, and career paths needed to be successful in the eventual key role.

Step Five: Meet with each employee to discuss how you perceive their developmental opportunities.  Discuss proposed learning plans with each employee.  Explain the organization’s view of the individual’s potential and, based on initial input from step one, what areas the organization would like to see the employee strive to develop and what assistance the organization is going to offer.  Fine tune this plan with each employee.

Step Six: Follow and monitor progress for the duration of the year.

On an annual basis, repeat steps one through six.

Following this process will enable organizations to recognize the talent of employees while they are employed with them and thereby decrease the turnover rate of high potential employees.  This will not only increase employee effectiveness, it will decrease the recruitment efforts required to win the war on talent. It will make your succession plans successful.

Susan Haywood, CHRP, President at HR Blueprints Ltd; an HR consulting firm, can be reached at (613) 867-2554 or by email at shaywood@hrblueprints.ca