Wednesday, 23 December 2015

HR Plans for 2016

Still need to do your planning for 2016?  You may interested in reading this white paper I wrote for HRZone and CoreHR:

What are your plans to be more effective in your HR role in 2016?

Focus on these four strategies, based in the reality of the working environment, to become more efficient and effective throughout 2016.

Curated and written by independent workplace expert and commentator Jon Ingham, this piece looks in detail at core things that HR need to focus on in 2016 and provides insight into how to make sure you are doing these things well - like finding the right talent and making it count.

If you're looking to become more effective in 2016 and ensure you're focusing on the right things at the right time, this is a must read.

Don't delay - get up to speed with what's important in 2016 today.

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Speaking at ATD ICE 2016

I'm also going to be speaking at ATD's International Conference and Exposition in Denver in May 2016.

I'll be talking about learning evaluation having become a bit frustrated by some of the other sessions by the Kirkpatricks, Jack Philips and others whilst I I have been following the event on Twitter over the last couple of years.

Last year there was even a session on Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard which completely missed out the opportunity to tailor this tool for the talent development agenda.

It's really not that hard people!


I'm also hoping I'll get a chance to help promote ATD's new Talent Management Handbook.

Do let me know if you're going to be at the event too.

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Monday, 21 December 2015

Fleming Gamification in HR & Customer Service Summit

Also just to not that I'll be speaking about gamifying HR at Fleming's Gamification event in Amsterdam on 8 and 9 June.

I'll be helping participants identify for themselves the main opportunities to gamify aspects of their HR (and Customer Services) processes.

If you're interested in ways to make HR more engaging and natural for your employees do come to the event and find out how to do this.

Also see Friday's post on gamification of reward and talent management.

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Reward Gamification in Talent Management

One of the other key trends in Reward and broader Talent Management I'd expect to see even more focus on next year is gamification, supporting a broader shift from financial to non financial reward.

Here are some thought on this, also taken from the new Talent Management Handbook published last month by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and which features a chapter from me on innovating reward (matching the existing transformation in talent development).

Financial to Non-Financial Reward

We know that financial reward tends not to have as much impact as people often suggest so it often make sense to refocus on intrinsic reward by building a compelling environment in which people can become intrinsically motivated.  Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s self determination theory suggests that this requires an emphasis on autonomy, competence and relatedness.  Dan Pink develops these ideas in his popular book, Drive, to suggest a focus on autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Creating an environment which encourages these things is still not going to be easy but it may well be more productive to put time and effort into this than putting more and more money into financial incentives.

To the extent that this is possible, the shift should also emphasize a move away from complexity and towards simplicity by aiming to pay people enough to get reward off the agenda (paying them what they are worth and ideally what is possible rather than just what you can be got away with) and then focusing on other things.

One particular approach which is worth reviewing is gamification which is one of the newest trends in business and HR as this can have high relevance for reward as it can for talent development.

People engage in lots of other activities, including games but also other voluntary activities, for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with reward.  In fact, they are often much more engaged when they are undertaking these activities than when they are at work, even though they are not being paid to undertake them.

Gamification uses the mechanics and components of games which make these activities fun and applies them to aspects of work to make these work activities more compelling too.  The three main three mechanics are points, badges and leaderboards, also called PBL.  Used inappropriately, these game elements can lead to unhealthy competition and dysfunctional behaviours however there are a broad range of game components which can be used.  One of these which is highly relevant to the reward agenda is virtual currencies which can be used to help people measure their progress and achievement against their colleagues, and can be converted into something valuable for them at a later point, providing potentially greater motivation but without the same cost to the employer.  Innovation systems are often based upon this mechanic.

However gamification can also be about meaning, collaboration and many other mechanics which drive intrinsic reward for example allowing people who are successful in an activity to do more of this activity.

One good example of a gamified approach is IGN which uses what it calls viral pay in which a proportion of profit is shared with employees through $1 tokens which can then be distributed throughout the workforce according to the wishes of each employee.  Although distributions are kept secret the company does publish the amount received by the most successful employees, as a way of inspiring other employees.

Also see:

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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Pay Transparency in Talent Management

I posted towards the end of last month about my issues with today's pay differentials, included in the ATD's new Talent Management Handbook (in which I wrote the chapter about Reward).

However changing differentials isn't the only action that's needed, we also need to be more transparent about the differentials we have.

This is particularly relevant in the UK given recent reporting that the gender pay gap for women in full-time senior employment is now higher now than it was in 2005.

It'll be interesting to see whether the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the UK next year will tackle this and even more importantly whether it will start to increase broader transparency at all.

Here is this section from the Handbook...

Increased Pay Transparency

Most organizations encourage people to keep their reward secret as people tend to judge the worth of other people by focusing on what they can see people doing rather than the real challenges in a job which tend to be more intangible, meaning that pay levels can be hard to justify.  However we are living and working in an world where people are easily able to share information with each other and more importantly, there is a greater expectation that things will be shared.  Given this increasing level of transparency, trying to maintain secrecy around reward or anything else is increasingly unsustainable.

Transparency is also increasing externally as well as internally, particularly with the growing popularity of sites like Glassdoor and increasing amounts of legislation  around external pay reporting.

However the main reason that pay transparency may be needed is that it is difficult to ask people to trust pay systems when they are opaque, particularly when trust is already low, and also when pay is going to be increasingly person rather than job based in future.

In any case, pay transparency tends not to be a major issue in countries where all or some of the salaries are made public.  Also we in the HR / Talent Management function already know and accept peoples salaries and there is no good reason to think we can handle this information but that other people cannot.

One of the businesses promoting pay transparency is Buffer which emphasizes how transparency breeds trust and leads to better teamwork.  Supporting its open salaries approach the company has published how it calculates salaries, bonuses and equity payments and also provides the amounts all its staff receive.

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Monday, 30 November 2015

Core Values - Moving from Laminated to Lived

I also had this article published on Workstars blog earlier this year.

These are the five suggestions I make for improving the use of Values in an organisation:
  1. Use the values to integrate management and HR processes
  2. Embed values in development centres
  3. Gain senior level sponsorship
  4. Consider the key moments of truth in the organisation and to ensure these reinforce the values
  5. Make the act of recognition a social activity. 

Details are on the Workstars blog.

I'll be having another couple of articles up there soon too.  So do check out the blog and the recognition system too.

Workstars is a sponsor of my Strategic HCM blog and so you’ll be reading more about them here over the rest of the year.  But in brief:
Workstars' mission is to make your business a better place to work, and crucially, get your business working better. 
Workstars are innovating beyond the very tired, self serving $47 billion reward industry. We are focussed on the future, and the future of employee recognition is social.
A true cloud based business that wraps people services around the market leading employee recognition application, where every line of code is shared by every client, very large or very small.
The first global SME and Enterprise provider to master a free to launch model. Our significant application investment continues to expand our business. We work with HR and when it comes to employee recognition, we are a plug and play innovator.
Workstars bring enterprise level infrastructure and thinking, designed to make managers great and boost engagement across any business.

Also see:

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Happiness, Reward and Work Life Balance

Earlier this month I had some comments published on employment happiness, relating to my comments last week on reward:

“Whilst it’s interesting to see which professions pay the most money, it could be a fruitless goal for those setting out on their career path as there is far more to work than money alone. Much as we want to have a strong standard of living, for many employees a work life balance is far more of a priority. 
Employee reviews on our website show that on average they reported a work life balance satisfaction rating of 3.2 out of five. This has steadily declined from 3.5 in 2009 which isn’t the direction we’d like to see it move in.  
Working 24/7 in high pressured environments is highly rewarding on many levels for some people - but it’s not a one size fits all solution for all. Our research has shown that jobs such as a web developer, commercial manager and a research assistant are rated the highest for work life balance. These jobs might not offer the highest salaries but if it leads to happiness at work it’s priceless.”

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Friday, 27 November 2015

Talent Killers (Speaking in Cyprus and Ukraine)

My main trips for the last two weeks have been to Nicosia and Kiev where I’ve been speaking about talent management.  However I’ve noticed that although much of the focus in the conferences has been around talent, most of the conversation has been around the broader societal factors which constrain or enable talent management.

IMH / PWC - 14th Management & Human Capital Conference

So in Cyprus, a panel following on from my two keynote sessions came up with the problem of what they described as talent killers - cultural practices which stop companies being able to manage talent as they would like.

In Cyprus, the main talent killer was seen to be the family culture of the country.  So it doesn’t matter if a company wants a certain employee to focus on a certain area or work in a certain way, if this doesn’t align with the perspectives and needs of the family it isn’t going to happen.

I enjoyed the conversation, and particularly since my brother in law’s in-laws are Cyrpiot, have some direct experience of the family culture people were discussing.  So I can understand the issue, but still tend to feel there must be some good opportunities for addressing it.  Perhaps by interviewing a candidate together with representatives of the family for example, or by giving a contract to a family unit, reducing emphasis on which member of the family will be delivering it (a bit like McDonalds’ Friends and Family approach built up further for this even more for this more family oriented environment).

Of course you’d also need to avoid any tendency towards nepotism and I’d suggest here more focus on creating the organisation as a complementary family type unit, not to replace the real family but to take on more of its attributes in order to feel more resonant for employees.

PRP / Mondelez - Kyiv Employer Branding and Engagement Forum

Then in Ukraine, the panel following my keynote there seemed to focus heavily on the difficulty getting people to take responsibility for making things happen, especially in government.  One of the panel even suggested the culture seemed almost infantile, with people wanting to have everything taken care of for them.

To an extent that resonated for me too.  Eg I remember when I worked as an HR Director based in Moscow (and covered the Kiev office which I visited several times) that we had a couple of people whose jobs included organising holidays to the Russian sanitariums (and I stayed in one in Sochi myself.)  I always thought that this travel agency function within the HR team, supported by broader Soviet traditions, contributed towards HR being seen in a very administrative sort of way.

Ukraine has clearly developed a lot since I was last there, though there seems still to be quiet a lot which hasn’t, eg there still seemed to be almost as many notary offices around as I remember.  But I can accept a legacy reluctance to accept responsibility could be a significant talent killer there.

I think it’s also a harder killer to deal with than Cyprus’ family culture one.  But I was interested to hear about some of the new leadership schemes operating in the country, taking high potentials away from the broader environment for a year and helping them to develop new values, which it is believed will be maintained through peer pressure as these people progress as business or public leaders within the country.

At home in the UK / in the US etc

These two experiences have got me thinking about the talent killers back at home, and in other Anglo Saxon cultures, too.

I think one of these  is the high pay ratios I posted about yesterday.  (Whilst these are designed to recognise talent I think they play a bigger role in distorting and destroying it.)  

Another is probably a focus on dressing firms up to look more valuable rather than worrying about creating that value in the first place.  The best example at the moment is Pfizer’s planned acquisition of Allergen to enable an inversion into Ireland’s lower tax regime.

Most M&A’s are a diversion away from the true value which could be created by a better focus on talent management.

However Pfizer’s latest transaction doesn’t even try to argue a case for synergies and hence value creation.  As long as we remain more interested in moving bits of business around rather than investing in people and creating new products and services, I think we should expect that talent is going to continue to die.

But moving away from this culture is going to be even harder than addressing Ukraine’s lack of responsibility is going to be.  But perhaps George Osbourne’s new Apprenticeship levy in the UK will be one part of rebalancing the economy in the UK, helping to tilt focus away from easy options to develop the right talent a company needs to build the business for the future?

What about you, what’s the main talent killer where you live, and what needs to be done about it?

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

ATD Talent Management Handbook - Pay Ratios

A new provocative report has been published by the High Pay Centre - Pay Ratios: Just Do It.

The report argues that companies should report the ratio of CEO pay to that of those in the middle of the organisation and that this would help understand their attitudes to pay.

That would seem to be quite important, particularly given John Cryan's remarks that as the CEO of Deutsche Bank he "doesn't understand the way additional excess riches drive people to behave differently".

"I promise you I will not work any harder or any less hard in any year, in any day because someone is going to pay me more or less."

Perhaps Cryan should check out the ATD 's new Talent Management Handbook where my chapter focuses on reward and tries to provide some of the missing understanding.

Here are my comments from the handbook on pay ratios:

Reduced Pay Differentials

Organizations have increasingly recognized the differentiated performance of their employees over the last few decades.  Some organisations suggest that their high performers are worth several tens or even several hundreds of times their low performers.  The result of this is that pay differentials, in Anglo-Saxon cultures at least, have increased substantially. For example FTSE 100 CEOs are now paid around 180 times as much as their average employees.  However, and perhaps because of this, there is also a growing belief, supported by the points raised earlier, that we have gone too far in incentivizing and rewarding talent and high performance and in increasing executive compensation disproportionally compared to other employees.  There are also rising society demands for increased equality and these are likely to grow stronger if we see more pay transparency.

However the most important reason to reduce differentials is that this can improve overall business performance.

High pay differentials make perfect sense from a perspective which emphasizes the contribution of individual employees, which is the case with most talent management practices, particularly those that might be described as being focused on human capital management (HCM) ie which are concerned with creating and accumulating human capital as an outcome of talent management practices.

However these activities can also destroy the social fabric of our organizations.  This can be shown by reviewing one of the other findings  of the Edelman Trust Barometer which suggests that one of the few relationships which has seen an upswing in trust over the last decade is what Edelman call a Person Like Yourself, or PLY.  This is somebody you have a personal connection to that brings you together as humans, for example you come from the same home town, you have a similar taste in music, or you support the same football team.  The concern about high differentials is that if your CEO is paid 180 times as much as you are then you are very unlikely to see them as a PLY and you are less likely to trust them as a result.

Organizations might therefore be much better off with a less well paid CEO even if this person creates less dazzling business strategies since at least people will be more committed to support the strategies they do come up with and a well implemented average strategy is much better than an amazing one which is left on the shelf!

This is the reason that Whole Food Stores limits the reward of its highest paid executive to just 14 times that of its average employee.

It is also why increasingly organizations need to take not just a human capital based perspective to talent management but a social capital based on as well.  In this perspective there is no point undertaking reward or any other talent management process which increases human capital if it destroys social capital in the process.  This does not negate our increasing understanding of a growing gap between the contribution of high and low performers  but recognizes that this difference is often the result of relationships with and the support of other people.

As well as reducing pay differentials I would expect to see the coverage of benefits and share schemes being extended so that all staff including executives are rewarded in the same sorts of ways, even if the proportion of these, compared to other total rewards, varies according to position.

I'll be featuring more comments from my chapter on Reward and reviewing chapters from the rest of the book covering over areas of Talent Management over the next few weeks - check back soon.

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Innovation and the Future of Work - Milan

Last week I was in Milan speaking about HR Innovation:

I shared some examples of innovated practices but also emphasised that innovation generally comes from understanding what we need to within a particular organisation, breaking free of traditional best practices and understanding new best fit opportunities.  Once we have developed this new mindset, it’s generally fairly obvious what we need to innovate.  (Of course coming up with the right innovation is still difficult, but it’d be no fun if it was easy!)

Supporting this idea, we need to get away from the idea that there’s a set and predictable future of work.  For one thing, this would just be replacing one set of best practices with another, and that’s unlikely to be useful.  Secondly, the main shift that’s take place over the last couple of decades is that people are now the main source of competitive success.  This means that we need to create new business strategies based upon our people (not just using our people to execute new business strategies!).  But it also means that we need to differentiate our strategies from our competitors and other organisations since if a strategy isn’t differentiated it’s not really a strategy.  So a strategy that aims at helping us prepare for the future of work isn’t really a strategy either.

So instead of innovating based upon the future of work, we need to understand the tools and approaches which can help us innovate the way we manage people, and perhaps some alternatives which we can pick from or tailor to support what a particular organisation requires.

An example I’ve been thinking about recently relates to the way we respond to digital business and its impact on jobs which I posted about on Friday, and also in this post on Symposium Event’s blog which reviews Tammy Erickson's inputs at the Drucker Forum in Vienna the previous week. 

Erickson also made some observations about how we need to respond to this environment which I thought were quite smart:

  1. Increasing our ability to change organising by tasks and projects rather than individuals in roles - and therefore removing job titles etc.  I don’t completely agree with this - also options for developing around people (creating value)
  2. Enabling us to take action in real-time rather than planning and co-ordinating in advance of actions.  The key for this is understanding humanity (and that real value will only come from discretionary effort from people - the stuff you can’t command them to do) and creating an environment which will stimulate this.
  3. Understanding people and the way they want to relate to work - developing multiple relationships with people in your portfolio, including contingent workers, in a sophisticated way.

These are all good ideas but they’re not the only options, or even the only good options.

Eg organising around tasks makes sense but its not very people centric.  An alternative, and perhaps even better idea is still to organise around people, but to sculpt jobs around the people rather than fit people into existing boxes in the way we tend to do now.  After all, anything which can be organised into standard tasks is going to be better performed by robots.  So the areas that we need to concern ourselves with are those based on relationships, values and change.  And these can all get done best for focusing on the whole person, not just applying part of that person to a specific piece of work.

I think some organisations will want to do this, but many won’t, which is fine.  And it is why innovation always need to be focused on what a particular organisation has to and needs to do.

See my blog post on career partnership.

And also see this post at HR Zone about preparing for the futures.

Sketch notes from SketchandTweet /

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