Monday, April 30, 2012

Book excerpt: How strong are your Lego thinking skills?

If innovators have one thing in common, it is that they love to collect ideas, like kids love to collect Legos. Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling advised that “the best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.” Thomas Edison kept over thirty-five hundred notebooks of ideas during the course of his lifetime and set regular “idea quotas” to keep the tap open. Billionaire Richard Branson is an equally passionate recorder of ideas, wherever he goes and with whomever he talks. Yet, absolute quantity of ideas does not always translate into highly disruptive ideas. Why? Because “you cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction,” says Edward de Bono, author of Lateral Thinking. In other words, getting lots of ideas from lots of different sources creates the best of all innovation worlds.

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When you choose Insightlink Communications’ 4Cs Employee Survey, you can immediately see and use your findings to effectively create positive change within your organization.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Compare your corporate culture to best-practice organizations

What “cool companies” catch your attention? Are you drawn to them because of the unique brand, their cutting-edge products, their inspired workforce or possibly their consistently wowed customers? My colleagues and I at The Ken Blanchard Cos. seek out best-practice organizations based on two primary elements: high performance and values alignment.
In more than 12 years of research and experience with helping clients refine their corporate cultures, we have identified important practices that are common across the high-performance, values-aligned companies we study. As we review a few of these in this post, consider how well your organization does today on these practices.
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An Insightlink employee survey can help you effectively identify problem areas within your organization. With this valuable insight, you have another tool that can be used to improve your company's bottom line.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lost Knowledge — What Are You and Your Organization Doing About It?

I watched “60 Minutes” a few weeks ago and one segment really caught my attention.
A group of men, most in their late 50’s and early 60’s that had worked at NASA for years were interviewed. Now with the end of the space program, they are jobless. It was a very emotional discussion, and several of them wept during the interview.
These were men that had literally grown up with the space program — most with 25-35 years at NASA. Today only a handful of people are left.
If NASA wanted to send a man to the moon or Mars today, it couldn’t do it. All the knowledge and experience is gone. NASA would literally have to start from scratch.
How did a world-class organization like NASA lose the ability to recreate one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind?
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You can increase job satisfaction and employee engagement at your company using Insightlink's 4Cs model.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Retention is Like Gardening: At Times, You Need to Change the Soil

“What time did you get in last night,” I asked my daughter.
“Around 3 am,” she answered. It was now 5:45 am and I was leaving the house. As I walked downstairs from her room, I shook my head in wonderment. My question was this: how can you continue working people all these hours?
Everyone has a breaking point.
When my daughter interviewed for the job, she was told that yes, there would be late hours. She assumed that a few nights would be OK.
She later found out that the last couple of people in her position quit. One person walked out for lunch and never returned. How is that for exiting the premises?
What I was told was that this is an issue in only one department. Everyone else in the company works “normal” hours.
During my time, I have done numerous late nights, sometimes solo, but most of the time with my team. I knew as a manager that I had to compensate them in some way for that. My solution: don’t come in tomorrow, or better still, choose another day and take it off on me.
This is called quid pro quo. It worked and we lived happily ever after.
If you have a situation where these type of hours are the norm, expect your retention numbers to not remain very high.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Career Coach: Advice for working with millennials

Millennials or Generation Yers — those born between 1980 and 2000 and currently 12 to 32 years old — are the largest generation since the baby boomers and they are expected to have a huge social and economic impact on the workplace.
I recently moderated a session on millennials in the workplace with a number of our alumni in executive positions in diverse industries at a Robert H. Smith School of Business executive MBA community event. They shared their ideas about millennials and what their firms are doing to retain them.
“We call them the ‘and’ generation,” said Liam Brown, chief operations officer at the hotel giant Marriott International. “They want a career and fun and a balanced life and to make an impact on the world. They don’t want to give anything up, and they really want to do a lot of good things for the firm and the community,” he said. “At Marriott, we have found that millennials seek a workplace that offers opportunities to advance and grow in their careers, plus a demonstrated commitment to social responsibility.”
Karen Reinhardt, a talent development executive with Lockheed Martin, noted that millennials want to be empowered.
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Friday, April 20, 2012

5 High Impact Approaches to Employee Development & Growth

Development Planning, Performance Reviews and 360 Feedback are all examples of tools that many organizations utilize to increase an employees development, performance – and ultimately employee engagement.
Well, it’s called “engagement” by most HR folks unless you are behind the scenes where it is likely referred to as “productivity” which results to “higher profits”. What’s ironic is 2 of these “popular” HR practices made the list on Inc. in Jeff Haden’s article “5 Things Remarkable Bosses Never Do“.
Feedback from end users of these processes can quickly lead you to one conclusion: When not deployed with a sound strategy, great execution, and competent leaders – these activities waste time, create bureaucracy and kill a companies culture. When done wrong, they are perfect examples of the kinds of things that aid company failure.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Better Teamwork Through Better Workplace Design

Collaboration is the way we work now. In a 2008 BusinessWeek study of white-collar professionals, 82% reported they needed to partner with others throughout the day to get their work done. That means people don't just work together in meeting and conference rooms anymore. Collaboration now occurs all the time at personal desks and in hallways, or virtually via internet or smart phones, and it's often spontaneous and informal, rather than planned in advance.
Unfortunately our legacy work environments — dominated by offices or cubes — rarely match this new reality. To effectively do so, they need to adequately accommodate three types of work: "I work," which requires expertise, concentration and focus; "You & I work," which involves relatively simple collaboration among two people; and "We work," which embodies the highest level of content and context complexity, from multi-disciplinary expertise to multi-location and multi-technology platforms.
Yet most workplaces are still heavily anchored in "I work" designs. A report (PDF) from Gensler Architecture found that only half of the US workforce feels that their environment empowers them to innovate, while another white paper (PDF) from office design specialist Steelcase found that 70% of workers today waste up to 15 minutes just looking for a space to meet and 24% waste up to half an hour. Indeed, most workspaces provide little choice regarding where and how to work. Individual workstations separate people from one another, meeting spaces have to be reserved in advance, areas with audio privacy for video and teleconferencing are limited in number, and social spaces, if they exist, often lack power sources or WiFi. With mixed-presence team members, some co-located and other stationed globally and connected via technology, efficient collaboration is becoming a true challenge.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Canadian Employees Restless and Considering Job Change, According to Annual Survey by Kelly Services(R)

Latest Findings from the Kelly Global Workforce Index(TM)
TORONTO -- (Marketwire) -- 04/17/12 -- Many employees across Canada have become disengaged from their work, with less than half feeling valued by their employers, and more than one-quarter saying they frequently think about quitting, according to the latest survey results from global workforce solutions leader, Kelly Services®.
More than two-thirds (69 percent) of those surveyed say they definitely intend to look for a new job with another employer within the next year.
"Employees have experienced unprecedented economic turmoil. As a result, they are restless regarding their future career goals. Unless employers can offer meaningful work and ongoing opportunities for growth, many employees feel it is in their best interest to keep their career options open," said Kelly Services VP and General Manager of Canadian Operations Kristin Supancich.
The findings are part of the latest survey results from the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), an annual survey conducted by Kelly Services. Almost 170,000 people in 30 countries participated in the survey, including more than 9,000 in Canada.
The survey examines the factors employees use to evaluate potential employers, the people who influence their career choices, and the use of social media in making job decisions.
Results of the survey in Canada show:
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With Insightlink's 4Cs approach, we give you much more than just a single engagement score. You'll see and hear how your employees experience your organization from the inside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

People don’t walk out of companies; they walk out on managers

What is the No. 1 reason employees quit their jobs? More often than not, it’s not about the money; it’s about the environment at work. There are many factors that contribute to an undesirable work environment, but they all have one thing in common: It’s the manager who creates the environment who is ultimately responsible for driving employees away.
According to research by, the top 10 reasons employees leave their jobs are all related to the inability of managers to provide a work environment that meets their employees’ needs. To retain talent, managers must find ways to provide a workplace culture that promotes productivity while keeping employees challenged, stimulated and fulfilled. Here are a few strategies to help you do that:
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Companies lose $350 billion a year because of employee disengagement. Your company does NOT have to be one of them. Disengaged employees impact your business' productivity, level of innovation, and ultimately the bottom line.
The Insightlink 4Cs employee survey lets you see where your company stands on each of the critical 4Cs of employee engagement and satisfaction.

Leadership in your company: Engage employees and reduce turnover

When was the last time you assessed what it’s like to work at your company? How about what it’s like to work for you? These questions are important to ask on a regular basis. Check in with employees about their comfort level in their work environment. Keep in mind, the work environment is not just physical surroundings. Are your employees motivated by their work? Do they feel supported by you? Do they feel appreciated for their hard work? Do they have resources to perform well in their job role?
You may be thinking, “This sounds great, but I have enough on my plate.” Here’s why you should care: As the economy improves, employees have more options for employment, and if they are unhappy in their current role, they will leave.
Deloitte’s John Hagel says, “The biggest challenge for businesses today is learning to think about their employees the way they think about their customers. How do you engage them?” Read on to learn some tips about engaging and retaining employees.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Recognizing Employees Is Critical to Retention

The key to keeping employees happy in their jobs is to recognize them for their hard work, a new study has found.
A survey by OfficeTeam revealed that nearly half of workers would likely leave their position if they didn't feel appreciated by their manager.
Feeling valued is even more important to younger employees. The research shows that Gen Y workers under age 35 were more likely than any other age group to leave their current position if they feel underappreciated.
How employees want to be recognized varies, however. Nearly 40 percent prefer tangible rewards such as financial compensation or gift cards, 21 percent are after opportunities to learn and grow, and 19 percent would prefer to receive verbal or written praise.
When you choose Insightlink Communications, you will get much more than just a way to efficiently collect survey data. With our specialized tools, you can immediately see and use your findings to effectively create positive change within your organization.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aging may boost wages: Bank of Canada

(Reuters) — The aging of Canada's population will put upward pressure on wages as the pool of available workers shrinks, and global aging might over time lead to lower interest rates, said Jean Boivin, deputy governor of the Bank of Canada.
Aging will also affect the potential of the economy, meaning the level of activity at which it can operate without inflationary pressures, and this is something the Bank of Canada needs to assess, he said.
The high level of household debt in the country makes it even more crucial that individuals adjust their savings behaviour and plan over a longer horizon, he said in a speech in Toronto.
"As our society ages, we can either accept a lower standard of living or we can try to be proactive and adjust... The stakes are high and we cannot afford to ignore them," Boivin said. "There is no free lunch in that context; something will have to give and someone will have to pick up the tab, so the least we can do is accept this fact and ensure that the bill remains small and that the burden is shared fairly."
The mechanism for upward pressure on wages would be that with relatively fewer people left in the workforce, employers will compete to attract talent.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

15 perks an employer can offer to improve work-life balance

Work/Life Balance
The majority of people spend more hours at work than they do with family or friends. Unfortunately, 90 per cent of American mothers and 95 per cent of American fathers report work-family conflict. While engaged employees are motivated and dedicated to their organization, it is important for employers to recognize these employees need time away from the workplace to stay engaged.
There are countless ways for supporting a positive work/life balance; however, the key is to offer options. Employees have different needs, so allowing choices is the best way to support a diverse staff. Flexibility in scheduling is a major bonus for many employees. This added value oftentimes makes employees appreciate their position more than they would have otherwise, which leads to commitment to the organization and builds a strong foundation for engagement. Adjustable scheduling can also help attract top talent; 72 per cent said flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another.
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Culture Clashes

The right workplace culture can enable a company's success, or be the key to its undoing. There are four distinct types of corporate cultures, according to a recent study, and each is tied to various levels of engagement.
Anyone with doubts about the importance of workplace culture only had to read Greg Smith's stinging resignation letter to Goldman Sachs to be reminded, in quite a visceral way, of the critical role it plays.
"It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs' success," Smith writes in the New York Times op-ed section. "It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. That was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients' trust for 143 years."
In Smith's view, however, that "secret sauce" has curdled into something unrecognizable.
"I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single moment is spent asking questions about how we can help clients," he writes. "It's purely about how we can make the most possible money from them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client's success or progress was not part of the thought process at all."
Today's Goldman bears little resemblance to the investment bank Smith joined 12 years ago, he writes, with traders referring to clients as "muppets" and the goal being to make as much money as possible -- regardless of whether potential financial harm is done to the client.
Smith's assertions are sharply disputed in a statement from Goldman's CEO, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and its president and COO, Gary D. Cohn, who write that they "do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients."
In the statement, posted on Goldman's website, Blankfein and Cohn write that, of the 85 percent of Goldman employees who responded to its most recent employee survey, 89 percent said the firm provides "exceptional service" to its clients.
The culture at Goldman described by Smith stands in sharp contrast to the one at QlikTech, a fast-growing software company based in Radnor, Pa.
Each year, the company flies every single one of its 1,100 employees to an annual retreat to review the company's performance and reinforce its values, which include challenging oneself, moving fast, taking responsibility, teamwork for results and being open and straightforward, says George Bradt, managing director of PrimeGenesis, a New York-based executive-onboarding consulting firm.
"Their big thing is that, with culture, you have to actually believe what you're saying," says Bradt, who attended Qliktech's most recent meeting earlier this winter and spoke to 100 employees, including the CEO, during the event. "As an organization, you can't say you're values-based if you're not leading with those values."
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

7 Secrets to Keeping Your Employees Happy

Many small business owners become entrepreneurs in their pursuit of happiness. Being their own boss and proving their idea can work is a big source of satisfaction for many of them.
Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project, knows a lot about what makes business people happy. She spent a year test-driving conventional wisdom, current scientific studies, and lessons from pop cultures about how to be happier at work and at life.
In my interview with her, many of the themes that Gretchen uncovered makes achieving happiness critical to every company’s success.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to allocate your reward investment dollars for maximum employee engagement

Every employer considers foundational rewards — base pay, benefits, retirement packages and paid time off — when working to attract and retain employees. But there’s more to it than that, if you want your employees to remain engaged in their work, says Josh Strok, Director of Rewards, Talent and Communication at Towers Watson.
“You should consider performance-based rewards, such as merit-based pay, bonus plans and recognition programs, which help differentiate performance and reward top performers,” says Strok. “These rewards focus employees on the company’s priorities, as workers see where the organization is putting additional dollars. There are also career and environmental rewards, which include career development opportunities, training, mentoring, corporate social responsibility and wellness programs.”
Smart Business spoke with Strok about how employers can use total rewards optimization to allocate their reward investments for maximum return.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why External Hires Get Paid More, and Perform Worse, than Internal Staff

Here is some research sure to rankle every employee who has applied for an internal promotion and been passed over in favor of someone brought in from the outside.
According to Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell, "external hires" get significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job than do internal workers who are promoted into similar jobs. They also have higher exit rates, and they are paid "substantially more." About 18% to 20% more. On the plus side for these external hires, if they stay beyond two years, they get promoted faster than do those who are promoted internally.
"Most jobs are entered into through a variety of different routes, sometimes by being hired from the outside and sometimes by moving up from inside the firm," says Bidwell. "I was curious as to what the effect of these different routes would be" on an individual's job performance. His research is presented in a paper titled, "Paying More to Get Less: The Effects of External Hiring versus Internal Mobility."
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