Mergers, HR and Social Technologies

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We are heading into another era of M&A activity.  Just look at all the Big Data companies fighting for market share.  For me, feels like Déjà vu from the 1990s and I hear the Pac man chomping up those little fruits, ahem, I mean companies now.

So the question I’m asking myself is, “How many of your People organizations are leveraging the insights from their tools?  How many are taking the talent analytics, performance data and collaboration metrics?”

According to Talent Management Magazine, “Successful companies begin by recognizing that people-related decisions present the most difficult variables in almost any transaction and pose the greatest risks, such as turnover up to 60 percent, or lingering cultural issues that cripple productivity. They beat the odds by carefully managing human capital to transform two groups of people into one functioning company.”

I’ve seen some progressive organizations taking the data from their enterprise systems to help them identify hi potential talent, which is laudable.  Why not take it a step further and allow these same individuals the opportunity to innovate on the merger and acquisition.  It becomes more about mentorship and learning than it is transactional.  Yes, there are financial and transactional tasks that need to be completed, of course.  But with all the human capital work streams and risk, why not invite new thinking to the process versus hiring an external consulting firm for all roles relating to the acquisition?  Fresh approaches can feel risky, but they could also reap big rewards. 

At a minimum, we can find ways to incorporate employees with strong relationships to help request feedback and spread information throughout an organization. 

Declarative Statements as Game Changers

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Ken Pearlman, engagement manager at Kotter International shared an article in Forbes  that inspired us to write more about simple statements that we could make to change the game or create conditions.  He highlighted how when one person stated that we are going to “be doing business differently.” That alone gave people permission to consider thinking differently, acting differently and being open to new ways of working.

Sometimes you just need a little affirmation that taking a new road is okay. 

I’ve often found in teams that most people really do want to make a difference, but they are simply bogged down in all the corporate policy and politics.  What people often want is to be heard, be respected and be given the green light to create something innovative and powerful. 

Of course, it takes more than just words.  It requires courageous leaders who are willing to fund, advocate or move barriers in order to drive something across a finish line.  Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that we as community leaders in our own words can create new conditions. 

In particular, we want to speak to the community leader.  Why?  Because they have learned leadership lessons from playing with Legos, they are tenacious and they know how to be game changers.  All of which are vital to being a strong and successful leader.

Passion, creativity and tenacity are attributes of great community leaders, and what brought you to this extraordinary role in the first place.   You’re in this role because you have an innate ability to connect with people and build relationships that are meaningful to your brand.  Your teams want your input, ideas, and creativity.  If you have a great idea that you believe will have an impact on the company’s’ business goals, you should share it. 

But before you do, be sure you have thought about it thoroughly, from inception to how you will measure its success, so that when you present your idea you’re able to show that not only are you dreaming up great ideas, but how you will go about launching and moving the needle to support the company’s business goals with your new idea.

These days and ages, being bold and brave is what the world needs – and is attracted to.  While not every idea will move the needle, I can promise you that one idea will lead to another brainstorm, individually and together as a team, that will move the needle.  So dare to dream big and share your ideas. 

Lauren Klein and Jenny Berthiaume

Allowing structure to emerge is harder than it sounds

Many of our organizations have enterprise communication and collaboration systems in place.  These systems are evolving and creating new communication possibilities.  Yet, I continue to find education gaps as it relates to leadership, communication and human effectiveness education that is aligned with them.   We are allowing our children to check into online portals to get fast feedback on their ‘tests’ yet we may not teach the foundations of respectful debate and critical thinking.

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I have found the work of Dion Hinchcliffe useful to help people visual the pivot that has been taking place.  He states, ”  The pace of advance today can seem overwhelming.”  I believe, a key thread that we must knit together as community facilitators is to invite individuals, teams, groups and organizations to look at our people, our processes and our technologies without judgment.  We must look at them at be open to throwing out the past and inviting in new futures with brand new approaches, models and methods so that we can navigate our journey.  I have found some people are reluctant to start over or re-invent within organizations.  Perhaps it is too risky?  Not sure, but what I do know is that talent will go to start ups and/or to a competitor in an effort to find a new environment that is more aligned with their preferred interaction style and culture. 

I was inspired to article by John Kotter around change leadership.  He states, “How does culture change? A powerful person at the top, or a large enough group from anywhere in the organization, decides the old ways are not working, figures out a change vision, starts acting differently, and enlists others to act differently.”

 

Business Leader Investing in Social Change and Courageous Leadership

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Sometimes you have those discussions with business leaders who you know just ‘get’ your niche business.  Well, this was the case with Mario Morino and me recently.  Talk about fresh wind.  He is investing in Social Change through helping philanthropy.  So when he launched into discussions around building high performing cultures that innovate, take risks and cultivate courageous leadership, I was all ears.  In fact, he has published a book called Leap of Reason and has a website full of articles, speeches, videos and guides that all build on that book. 

 

He is a visionary around building entrepreneurship, eLearning and business ambassadors.  His no airs style is direct and bursting with prickly truths that are refreshing around constructs such as community leadership, community business models, monetization and community business processes. 

He understands that social business and communities will take decades for us as leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to understand it.  This is a paradigm shift, or as he calls it, “the Manhattan Project all over again.”  We must find wants to truly understand the power of network intelligence.  This is so much more than using #big data construct. 

 

I found his charter at Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) refreshing in how they approach learning with their investment partners and how they realize innovation while strengthening nonprofit organizations.   

Talent Mobility Summer Checklist

Read the Signs

I recently experienced a massive failure in a global talent mobility program. How can this be true you ask when we live in a world where great talent is critical to business success?  Because we get comfortable.  Which is why I encourage fellow talent professionals to consider adding a review of your talent mobility program to your summer checklist?

Often we put away our winter clothes and pull out summer clothes this time of year.  Which is why we absolutely should take the time to pull out all the vendors in our ecosystem to review them as we would our summer wardrobes? 

Ask ourselves the difficult questions: 

Do they still fit my talent acquisition objectives

Are they current with the times? 

Do they allow me to realize goals?    

I know, I know.  You are thinking, oh no, I’ve invested countless hours to establish these relationships, these rates and the overwhelming task of re-establishing them sounds daunting.  Don’t fear.  It may not be necessary to re-establish vendors.  In many cases, it may just require re-negotiations or real time adjustments and feedback sessions that are in alignment with your talent management programs. 

Talent Mobility Checklist

  1. Review quantitative surveys from past 12-18 months from vendors
  2. Review qualitative data
  3. Check in with current mobility clients and ask them about from past 12-18 months from vendors
  4. Reach out to employees who have left the organization in the past 6 months who had mobility packages and interview them yourself or a trusted delegate
  5. Call your mobility coordinators yourself to assess if they pick up the phone and/or how long they take to respond back to you? their experiences to better understand any areas they have opportunities for process or vendor refinement
  6. Review the approach your vendors are taking with issues and their resolution
  7. Check in with spouses or domestic partners of a cohort of recent mobility clients to gather spousal feedback on the programs
  8. Look at industry data and compare against your programs to assess gaps and/or opportunity areas
  9. Review financials with your vendors for the past few years to bench against industry rates to ensure you are in alignment and/or where you see opportunities
  10. Test out a mobility experience yourself from start to finish to live the entire experience as if you were your own talent

Diversity in Social Business Programs and Authentic Leadership

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I’ve seen some great traction over the years to harness the power of new technologies.  Every day I learn about countless new software solutions that my clients can add onto their environment.  Which is why I’m posting this blog, it is time for us in Social to look beyond the tool.  It is time to invest in our people commensurate with our tool development investments.  Chief HR Officer, Douglas Reid has advised me that issues in HR have been fundamentally the same throughout his entire career.  I thought to myself that cannot be?  For we have new generations of talent and tools, right?  This just doesn’t compute for me as I know countless consultants who are brilliant in the areas of Diversity and Inclusion, Change Management, Talent Management, Learning, Human Resources and Organizational Design and Social Business. 

Yet we continue to see pieces like Coffee VLOG which have amazing storytelling potential come across as ethnocentric because the leaders lack authenticity.  I was inspired by the idea; I was inspired by the real people on the video talking to one another.  Many of us working in market know about their organizational acumen.  Yet when the Vice President enunciated poorly CEMEX and interviewees names, I was disappointed.  The Vice President highlighted herself and her degree from Harvard during the piece.  I felt we lost focus on the interviewees and their story.  To be customer centric, we must have that in our titles and in our thoughts throughout the day.  Why not focus entirely on the customer story?  I was inspired enough to share it on my social networks and was surprised to see that the Vice Presidents avatar was featured as the #1 thumbnail when posting the url on Facebook?  I was left wondering why IBM didn’t recognize CEMEX content in the thumbnail. 

Don’t get me wrong – right social storytelling concept. It simply lacked in diversity and inclusive execution and authentic leadership.

Why does this happen?   We need to focus more on creating great organizations, as described in the May HBR article by Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones. We don’t have cross organizational alignment and engagement with our People programs.  We still cannot seem to interlock the People programs with the technology solutions in ways that allow us to harness the talented people’s gifts they have within organizations to allow both parties to ‘sing’.  Although we may have amazing talent, we often can’t figure out how to harness their potential without courageous conversations, courageous conversations, open leadership models and alignment between marketing and technology organizations. 

 

Change Management, a required work stream in Social Business

The Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll
Break through results can only be realized in Communities if your social business strategy approach includes this work stream. Often the time and resources needed to do this right are overlooked or perhaps simply nebulous because we have to deliver on today’s results. It is so hard to insert the argument if your company views the effort as another tool rollout. So, just a few thoughts this morning around key activities in the change management work stream:

1. Do engage with HR to create the conditions or the environment for your program or organization to achieve results. Call it culture change or innovation – but do engage with HR.

2. Share key industry research, white papers or blogs with leadership over time so that they can learn from their peers outside of your organization.

3. Do what your mother told you when you were young – LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Requires a lot of effort, but do work across the organization and departments to encourage cross pollination.

4. Document, post, comment and work out loud in an open forum so that anyone in the organization can find your work at their moment of need. Yes, work out loud.

5. Invite, extend, flex and don’t let the trolls get you down.

As leaders of change programs, we must be continuous learners ourselves. What this means is that we should always ask for feedback, modify, pivot and adjust and adapt along the way. We extend invitations for new conversations and possibilities along the way, while making sure we don’t let any turkeys get us down. Most importantly, work across the organization with your approach so that this new social business program encompasses people, process and technology. If you hire vendors, encourage them to partner alongside the strategy, design, build and engagement work stream so that you can create the conditions that will allow you to realize the business objectives outlined as a part of your effort. And yes do consider thinking about Digital Disruption and Leapfrogging as concepts in your approaches.

HAT Trick for Social Business Strategy

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I grew up in Michigan where hockey dominated every day conversation. It snowed most of the year and as soon as the ice froze, skates were pulled out. Which is why I have drawn the parallel for scoring in social business strategy with hockey?
Certainly being persistent, repeating you and being resilient are characteristics we understand. But what I believe we must embody in our actions and words are:

Honest conversation. From strategy model development conversations to actual community conversation. We look in the mirror through social every day and we must be honest with ourselves, with our words, with our actions and our approaches.

Authenticity. We approach our strategy development and social business validation process with authenticity with our peers, our clients and our ecosystem with that top of mind. A shout out to many great thinkers in this area, including: Joe Pine, Brene Brown, Marcia Reynolds and Sally Helgesen.

Trust. If we do the H and A well in our work, the trust comes later. But it is paramount to successful dialogue, strategy development and conversation to establish trust. By the way, it isn’t monetized yet although people are trying to do so. Trust to me is something that is hard to achieve but easily lost.
Just thought I would take a few moments out of a busy day to share some secret sauce.

Teens rivaling, but in a healthy way for their communities

This time of year people can get lost with wrapping gifts, buying new outfits or planning events.

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I agree for many people, this time brings excitement and joy, but for others in need or without a voice, it can be a difficult, scary and lonely.  Which is why I thought I’d share the story of teenagers in Reno, Nevada, rivaling, but in the good way.

Cyrus Moassessiand Kienan have been holding their annual food drive fundraiser for several years in Reno.  They donate 100% of their proceeds to the Northern Nevada Food Bank.  In fact, their mother, the grateful foodie told me she will go through twenty pounds of flour this year with all her baking.

Isabela and her sister Maya have been fostering kittens with Nevada Humane Society for a few years.  They have seen how these little kittens through love and socialization get nursed back to health and placed quickly into loving homes.  Yet the foster kitten program isn’t without its expenses, which is why Isabela wanted to give back.  In fact, she created a slide show video on her blog to help document her experience and market the event.

Cyrus and Isabela both student leaders and supporters of the American Lung Association have been friends for years.  They have grown up with both allergies and asthma, so they have witnessed how important nonprofits can be to families through their own struggles and advocacy.  Perhaps this is why Isabela decided this year to hold her fundraiser at the same time as Cyrus and Kienan.  Simply put, nothing like good ole rivalry like boys against the girls to raise the stakes, drive more passion and hopefully donations.

As a parent, there is nothing more satisfying than watching your children blessed with life give back to others while having fun.  I thought it was noteworthy to call out these community heroes in order to highlight that rivalry can be fun, if put to good use.

I hope you join me and Caroline by supporting both these fundraisers.  Better yet setup your own stand for another noble cause during this season of giving.

Born Leadership Legacy

Nothing more fulfilling than reading about how universities, organizations and community leaders are seeking out key qualities that resonate with those of us who learned as toddlers, that we MUST share.  It’s no longer just about the test scores, but rather a candidate or talent’s ability to demonstrate:

Passion   Creativity   Accountability   Flexibility   Focus   Resilience Gratitude

In fact, as the first born of two university professors, these were mandatory skills that I had to demonstrate consistently throughout my youth.  Our family structure valued rigor in an approach to education, peppered with the freedom to fail.  All the while, emphasis on re-invention and repetition.

Now several decades later, I’ve found that this foundation was the basis for my career success in that I learned to value active listening, collaborating, risk taking, and persistence.  In fact, I’ve found that through sharing, I personally have more to gain than loose.  Which is what brings me to the following question?  Why are we still talking about embracing business models which encourage enterprise mentoring, collaboration and connections to talent and learning development programs?

Leadership, it boils down to this simple word.  Whether you talk about leadership on the scale of a billion dollar company, or via deep and lasting impacts a home maker / leader has on their brood or a tribal leader.  We in leadership every single day are putting into motion these ‘systems’ through our actions and words.  Which is why we often see much ado about: Amazon, Zappos, Mary McNevin healthcare as the industry sweethearts who are daring to lead, making laudable investments in people, or is charging forward with drastic strategy pivots?

At a cursory level, you can read about handfuls of leaders who have a burning imperative for being performance enablers.  These individuals have clarity of vision and ensure their teams collaborate and have what they need to deliver results.

So don’t be the ‘tractor in the swamp’.  Be bold and take on the wide-ranging malaise surrounding organizational design structures and performance management systems through your born leadership legacy.