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Right Person, Right Cost, Right Time, Right Place: Manage Talent as a Human Capital Supply Chain
When your largest and fastest-growing expense is talent and you employ more than 350,000 people, plus another 130,000 contractors like IBM does, it can be a daunting prospect for talent managers to get their arms around. Recently, IBM launched the Workforce Management Initiative (WMI) — "a series of strategies, processes, and tools that enable optimal labor deployment built on a foundation of learning" — which essentially is getting the right person, at the right cost, in the right job, at the right time.
IBM's integrated talent supply chain encompasses vendor management, learning, resource management, talent and mobility. A robust database allows managers to identify employees — anywhere in the world — with the capabilities they need to staff projects with the click of a mouse and the modeling capability to determine if, and to what extent, lower-cost alternatives exist through contracting or offshoring.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) is experimenting with an internal labor market based on project teams for new ideas. Anyone at HP can propose a new project to a team of senior managers — called the VC Café — that acts as a venture capital group by funding those projects it deems viable. Once approval is granted, projects are publicized through the intranet, and any employee can apply to participate on the team.
Companies such as IBM and HP recognize that talent management, and recruiting in particular, requires the same disciplined and rigorous approach in how organizations manage the supply chain for their products and services. And it's not just about cost and efficiency, it's about building quality talent and maximizing the capabilities of that talent.
Invest in and Build Skills for Tomorrow, Not Today
IBM carefully monitors and forecasts hot skills in demand by IBM's businesses. Employees anywhere in the world can view these hot skill areas, create their personal development program to attain needed and marketable skills, and they can take advantage of IBM's $700 million annual investment in upskilling its workforce. Big Blue also identifies what it views as needed skills for the future and works with local schools to develop classes in those areas.
Build Talent Assessments to Identify the Best
It all begins with a Web-based application and test based on biographical and noncognitive factors — something the company calls a managerial situation analysis. If candidates pass the Web-based testing, they schedule a visit online to a testing center near their hometown. If they pass that, candidates then schedule a power day at a Capital One facility where four to five business leaders — not HR staff — conduct structural behavioral interviews and one to two business-case analyses. About 20% of the candidates at this stage receive an offer and more than 85% accept. From the Web site application to this point, Capital One's yield is extremely low — only about 4%, but it ensures the organization gets the best.
Develop Talent Pools to Transcend Job Requisitions and Boundaries
Companies are building talent pools of internal and external workers. One approach is to build communities of passive candidates, individuals who may not be ready to join your organization at the moment, but could be ready in the future. Diversified Brazilian company Semco runs ads even when there are no job openings. The ads ask potential employees to present what they could do for the company. If Semco is impressed, the company creates a new position.
Create a Work Environment Not Just to Accommodate, But to Inspire
Some companies are building work arrangements for a targeted pool of employees. They cater to a segment with the intensity of a targeted marketing campaign and build a mini culture and support network to sustain it. When customers call JetBlue — the innovative, low-fare airline that began in 1999 — to book a flight, the reservation agent will be one of hundreds of housewives working from her Utah home. JetBlue has outsourced its entire reservation system to working moms who take reservations between baby-sitting, household chores and running errands.
Capital One pushes the notion of work environment one step further through its Future of Work pilot located on the sixth floor of the company's McLean, Va., headquarters. Traditional enclosed offices give way to movable workstations and islands of common space to encourage dialogue. Associates can work as residents in one location, as mobile workers moving from space to space or as telecommuters. All are armed with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol software phones and portable printers.
There is no magic bullet for recruiting and retaining the next generation workforce. Still, some companies are taking bold steps by investing in innovative practices for sourcing, recruiting and managing talent. Is your organization ready to do the same?
Excerpted from Talent Management Magazine, 4/08
Life Before the Computer
Memory was something that you lost with age.
Troublemaking Employees: The Sign of a Great Organization
What defines a great organization? For one thing, troublemaking employees are tolerated even when they disobey the boss.
One of the quintessential great companies that Keith R. McFarland writes about is Polaris (NYSE:PII), a manufacturer of snowmobiles, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles based in Medina, Minnesota. The turning point in the company's life came early in the 1980s, when a senior engineer took on the CEO, Hall Wendell Jr., over strategy.
Here's how McFarland tells the story: "In the 1980s, the good news was that Polaris was one of only four surviving manufacturers of snowmobiles in the U.S. The bad news was that even though it had survived, the business was dead last in terms of quality rankings. And at this point, an employee named Chuck Baxter came to Hall Wendell Jr. and said he thought Polaris should make ATVs.
"Wendell thought this was crazy. The company didn't have any money to invest in a new product line. And if it started making ATVs, Polaris would find itself in a new industry that was absolutely dominated by Japanese manufacturers. At the time, everything you read told you that the Japanese model worked and was the way of the future.
"But Chuck wouldn't take no for an answer. He set up shop in a garage that was out in back of Polaris's manufacturing plant and started to make ATVs—basically taking the existing snowmobile design and putting it on four wheels. Wendell thought Chuck was a real pain in the neck, but he didn't stop him. And then a government report came out that showed that existing ATVs—which were three wheelers—were extremely dangerous. So it turned out that Polaris's four-wheel design was actually much better than the Japanese models' in terms of safety. The company got into the market and very quickly became a leading manufacturer of ATVs. If Wendell had shut down Chuck's garage project—and a lot of CEOs would have—then Polaris never would have been able to seize that opportunity. It might still be the fourth-place company in a field of four."
How do YOU rate?
Excerpts from Inc. Magazine 1/08
Training/Conference on a Cruise Ship: One Organization’s Experience
Been thinking of taking your retreat, training, or conference on a cruise? Learn from The Association for Applied & Therapeutic Humor, who just navigated these waters:
What did you ask the cruise line to do to accommodate the conference?
DH:Being a humor group and having several clowns" attending, I informed them that people would be "dressing up in costume. At first, there was a definite "no...it's against policy", then a written statement that we could only have clowns in a certain area. Two weeks before we were to board, another person who was dealing with our main office writes that there are to be no clowns, and when confronted with the previous written statement, then wants a list of WHO will be clowns. A list was given to them on the ship.
ED:I asked the cruise line to do just about everything I would expect a hotel to do. Starting from carrying 20 boxes of supplies from the dock to the staff room on the ship. I was told that the dock workers are union and don’t board the ship. The cruise line doesn’t have porters like hotels have bellhops. I wanted the rooms that we were holding the events in set up a certain way but that was not possible. The rooms that we held the events were either night clubs or theaters. No rearranging the rooms. No wireless microphones. No how, no way! The ship had two easels for us to use. No more, no less. No hanging of banners.
What were the differences in what you wanted and what they could accommodate?
DH:They could not accommodate simple AV requests (wireless microphones), Easels. It seemed there were so many managers, that to find out an answer took longer than expected.
ED:The only thing the cruise line gave in on was getting someone to carry my boxes to the staff room in time for registration. The rest was "take it or leave it". They provided a great cruise rate and they provided dedicated meeting space in the public rooms. They provided all AV equipment at no additional cost. Wireless microphones were unavailable. They also had some restrictions about auctions and selling products.
What did you have to do to change the conference to live within the rules?
DH:I sent out a special letter that specifically dealt with ‘clowns’ and clown dress. We had to makeshift with our Banner, very little display area. Could not have any vendors, people could not sell their own product, had to stop recording in the middle of a session due to captain’s announcements. Ship makes debarkation plans in the middle of our sessions (had to calm our conference attendees that they were not going to miss anything and that we would get the info for them).
JP:Basically everything. We just adopted the philosophy that we would roll with the punches and get through it. We were of the mindset that this was not going to be like a land-based cruise and we made that very clear to the conference attendees.
You said some of the people you tried to work with were less flexible than others and so you went to the flexible ones – how did you do that without irritating the first people, who you’d still have to work with?
DH:If the right hand of the vessel knew what the left hand was saying or doing, then this would be a problem...fortunately one of the main flexible people did know the personality of the most difficult person we had to work with and really tried hard to make up for that person’s poor communication style.
JP:In the beginning I tried to be polite and use my people skills. By the time the cruise came I was at the end of my rope with my primary land based contact. I finally went above her head and didn’t worry about irritating her. I was left little choice.
How did members of the board and staff act throughout al this?
DH:On ship, except for some AV glitches the staff did everything we asked and was very accommodating.
ED:They were great, demonstrating flexibility and patience.
JP:Some were more upset than others. For the most part the board and conference chair trusted me to handle the issues. I could yell and scream at the cruise line but the bottom line was "it is what it is" and we’ll make it through. Guess what? We did!
Once the pre-work was done and you were on the ship – what challenges happened – or did all go as planned?
DH:Once again, AV glitches and perhaps promises were made outside their own personal scope of experience with recording.
ED:Some AV issues and some rooming issues but most were resolved.
JP:Based on my experience with my land based contact, I was very doubtful that things would run smoothly on board the ship. From the pre-conference meeting when we first boarded the ship to the time we walked off the gangplank at the end of the cruise, everything went smoothly. The onboard staff seemed much more eager to please than the land-based crew.
Any other advice to planners of meetings who want use a cruised ship?
DH:Get everything in writing. Talk to others for recommendations of cruise liners. Talk to others that have done this before. Plan for the unplanned. If you have ‘high maintenance’ speakers (thank goodness that was not our case) be careful. If you want audio or visual recordings... talk to someone who has done this before. You are on a moving vessel with lots of noise and movement.. going to the place of destination is often more calm than returning perhaps dealing with speed and boat functions...check this out). Some of our conference attendees got sick. Another never came out of her room. Others literally missed the boat.
ED:Get everything in writing. Recognize that a moving venue has attendant noises and distractions.
JP:Don’t fight it, it won’t matter anyway. Be open minded. Pray for good weather!!
Thanks to Deb Hart, Jerry Packer, and Dr. Ed Dunkelblau!
Tapping the Power of Recognition
In a global economy, employers put technology and unorthodox programs to work as they step up efforts to engage and reward employees.
Every employee has a favorite horror story of recognition gone awry. Chester Elton, senior vice president at recognition provider OC Tanner, likes to tell the tale of one employee who arrived at his desk to find a box containing a gold-and-diamond Rolex—that organization’s highest honor. Only problem was the employee was all alone when he received the gift—no applause, no public adulation. Worse still, beneath the watch was a 1099 form representing the taxes he would have to pay on his "reward."
But not all recognition moments are handled so awkwardly. A handful of companies are leading the charge into a new world of sophisticated strategies and systems working full-blast to give employees the continued will to come to work and even (gasp!) like it. In speaking with a selection of executives from five of the largest recognition providers, HRO Today identified key trends that are driving the business of rewarding and incentivizing employees. Among the themes that dominate are:
• Technology, comprising new and evolving systems and uses;
• Bundling of disparate recognition programs (enabled by technology); and
• Strategy, including a movement away from "buying employees with bling."
If you’ve been reading business magazines in the past few years, you’ll know that many blame Generation Y for a new "neediness" among employees—these kids who apparently expect a standing ovation for having successful arrived at their desks for one more day. But as more companies take an interest in and understand the value behind the topic of engagement, they make the connection between engagement strategies and the role recognition programs can play in delivering on that strategy.
"For us, this means recognition can play a strategic role in a organization," said Derek Irvine, vice president of global marketing and client strategy at outsourced recognition provider Globoforce. "Recognizing employees can have a strategic bottom line impact."
That engagement now takes forms beyond mere tangible gifts—although the mantel clocks and leaf blowers aren’t going away any time soon. According to Peter Hart, president and CEO of Rideau Recognition, a lot of people know about "rewards" but don’t understand "recognition." Rideau conducted research through World at Work (a non-profit association dedicated to knowledge leadership in compensation, benefits, and total rewards), which found 90% of North American companies have recognition programs in place, yet only 60% of employees are feeling the love.
Core Values and Corporate Culture
Michael C. Fina, vice president of the organization of the same name, noted, "If a organization has core values and they’re pushing employees every day to work towards those core values, it would logically not make sense if you did not incentivize those employees for living those core values. If a organization is focused on customer service, why would you not have a way to recognize people who are pushing that core value?" But you have to catch them early, he added.
OC Tanner’s Elton noted that if you give an employee a reward for staying at the organization for five years, the message you send is "Thanks for staying," which is the opposite of turnover. The catch is that most turnover occurs within the first year of service—making your award four years too late.
Elton cited a wealth of positive messaging that can be sent within the first 90 days of on-boarding, noting the "brilliant work" of the Pepsi Bottling Group.
PBG gives each new recruit a key ring and the hope that every time employees drive to work, they will remember that they are what drives the business. Similarly, at the one-year milestone, the organization gives employees a pen with the Pepsi logo, because they "write the organization’s success."
"It’s corny," Elton admitted. "But because it’s corny, it’s memorable."
Globoforce’s Irvine noted that Procter & Gamble, which employs 135,000 people in 80 countries and sells products in 180 nations, runs one recognition program on a Globoforce platform. The "Power of You" program goes back to the core contribution an individual can make to the strategy of the organization. The program provides not only economies of scale but also consistency of messaging and corporate values. But Irvine emphasized that it’s extremely important to keep the program flexible in terms of how people get that "recognition moment."
This means training for managers on the ground in whatever geographies implement the program, so rewards and presentations are suitable for the culture and circumstances. "We have the program translated into all the languages managers could need in the corporation, in French or Japanese or whatever. And when those employees collect their reward, it’s in a local currency," said Irvine.
That also means that if the reward is a gift certificate or something from a catalog, it’s culturally relevant. In India, the top choice of gift is tickets for the latest Bollywood release; for the U.K. or Germany, the most prized reward is something to help with a DIY home improvement project.
According to Paula Godar, director of brand communications at Maritz Motivation, the customization of rewards programs goes beyond cultural differences. Increasingly, she said, it’s being carried to the individual level. Maritz did a study about recognition, and rather than asking about employee preferences for the typical trophies or service anniversary rewards or other tangible items, the survey broke new ground. What struck the most resonant chords with employees were things such as flexible scheduling, the freedom to choose how they achieve their goals, the ability to mentor someone, and other unusual perks. The preferences were as unique as the employees themselves.
"We’re seeing a difference in recognition," said Godar. "We think companies will have more of a need to understand individual preferences and manage those preferences," with a big emphasis on how to get managers to deliver.
Training & Technology
At Globoforce this customization is orchestrated through on-demand software over the Internet, custom-configured for each client in the right language and currency. A series of web interfaces targets managers and facilitates employee nominations. The system can manage budget and approval needs, as well as workflow. Managers can issue rewards to individuals or teams, and employees can visit a site to learn about the values being reinforced, turn the reward into something of genuine interest and value to them, and go shopping.
"Using the system’s dashboards, a recognition manager in Indiana can see what rewarding activity is happening in the organization all over the world, for what reasons, what’s being spent, and what messages are included," said Irvine. Managers can also uncover and adjust the strategy of their recognition programs by tracking the kinds of initiatives being rewarded and whether there’s a link between the amount of recognition and product or service quality.
Whether the tools are technological or psychological, the desired end result is the same: employees who understand the organization’s mission and want to help bring it to life. At OC Tanner, the toolbox is a coordinated suite of programs.
"Where do I touch the employee, and are those ‘message moments’ the same?" asked Elton. Even more, do the moments have synergy? He emphasized the need to coordinate messaging through self-service packages that provide a recognition hub where employees can tap into milestone programs, campaigns for day-to-day recognition, and more.
"You have several tools in the toolbox—it’s very smart thinking," said Elton. "It lets you leverage as much as you can."
From HRO Today magazine, 9/07
May 4-7, 2008
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TIME TO SHINE: 3rd Annual Human Capital Leadership Awards recognize excellence in four categories. Three awards honor exemplary HR departments for Innovative Business Solutions, Competitive Workforce initiatives, and Strategic HR Leadership. The fourth award, the Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award, honors a senior HR leader, http://www.shrm.org/leadershipawards/faq.asp, May 30, 2008 Deadline for Entries.
ASAE’s 2008 Associations Advance America Awards: apply at http://www.asaecenter.org/AAAawards, May 9, 2008 Deadline for Programs Conducted Between January 2007 and April 2008.
CLUTTER FOR A CAUSE
has great tips on green cleaning.
Going Green At Work
B.I.G. ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations. Send email to Steve Frantzich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kicking World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh, that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide hope for children and communities that desperately need it. http://www.firstgiving.com/kickingworldhunger
Charity Navigator (http://charitynavigator.org) is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that aims to encourage "intelligent giving". They rate charities based on their total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give, but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about where your money would go.
Take Pride T-Shirts (http://www.takepride.com) was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it's about acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set a reminder to visit http://www.thebreastcancersite.com daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
volunteermatch.org helps you
find organizations in your area that spark your interest in volunteering.
Freecycle: online community that connects donors with recipients to reduce landfill waste and strengthen communities. You post what you need/have on a listserv, www.freecycle.org
Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Electronics
Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished. http://www.greendisk.comm
Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.
Find local Electronics recyclers at http://www.earth911.org and http://www.ebay.com/rethink
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