How fast is your “world” changing?

The World is changing fast, and in new directions! How about your own world? Is it changing sufficiently fast to keep up with the “surroundings”? And, what should you do to keep it alive and kicking? Honestly, I do not know! However, what I do know it is that stand still in denial will not help you, you need to keep up with change proactively.

Although I have written before about this subject – being the most recent Backwards or Forward? -,  I keep assisting to crucial mistakes, and good companies going out of business. Keeping doing business like you did last century will, sooner than later, putting your company out of the business. Therefore, I insistinnovation, uniqueness, creativity, talent, and diversity are all key words on keeping a company striving and excelling, however, I would like to add alertness, adaptation and adoption to the list; – Please read the article Adopt, Adapt or Adios! by William Powell –  The solution passes by working hard, creating new trends, being unique, and taking advantage of what is happening around you. Ignoring or closing your eyes to changes will lead you nowhere, and only make you lose time and competitiveness.

Some ideas! Stimulate brainstorming around trends inside your company, have a special team working on future trends (even if in part-time), and link them strongly with your R&D and Innovation teams, and try out innovative projects. Ah, and do not afraid new technologies, instead use it at your service! Recruit the talent that makes the difference, people with a vision, eager to learn, and open to change.

Although Innovation is everywhere, also a post I once wrote, you will not be able to do it if you keep exaggerating on your skepticism to change and new trends. Please, do yourself a favor, stay wired to the real world, be inquisitive, and follow what is happening out there.

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How Recruiting can help your Brand!

How about brand your company while hiring talent? I face recruiting as an excellent opportunity to communicate and interact with potential talents, but also with potential and present consumers. Therefore, it is a moment of great opportunity to improve, or create, brand awareness. As a (internal) recruiter you are also brand ambassador, someone that can communicate your company’s brand, or brands. Ah, do not forget that when bringing a third party in to handle the recruitment process, you are hiring not only recruiters but also “brand ambassadors”, and that can harm your brand if not carefully done. Honestly, I must say that too many were the times that while being contacted or contacting a HR department or a third party agency regarding a job ad, I came across with brand damage along the process. Why? Well, I believe that they do not understand what it is at stake, and besides recruiting people and dealing with talent needs, they are not invited nor trained to be official “brand ambassadors”.  In order to have the whole company motivated and aware of their brand duties, you need to create a culture of cross-section sharing and participation among the company. Being the bottom line here the need for a strong synergy between the corporate strategy and marketing department and the HR department. Obviously, I believe that you can extend this to the rest the departments in your company.

Recruiting people is key to a company, firstly because it deals with bringing talented people in and increase the company’s competitiveness. Secondly, because it creates a pool of talent to keep an eye on regarding future needs. And  thirdly, it allows to communicate formal and informally with people that are already interested in your company. Have you ever thought about how many people a recruiter interacts with while recruiting for your company? Yes, I know! A huge figure, isn’t it? And, how many job ads do they post advertising the company’s needs? Yes, I know, also a non negligible figure! Ah, and if you could use these “non negligible” opportunities to communicate not only your recruiting needs, but also your brand? Wasn’t it amazing! Oh, but you can use them!

I believe you can face this channel (recruiting and talent management) as a strong way of branding your company, and creating awareness and loyalty. Although a lot of aspects of your brand can be communicated, you must always be creative and unique while doing it. Brand is uniqueness, and as a brand ambassador you must communicate accordingly. Therefore, you should work closely with your marketing department to align your message with your company’s brand and marketing strategy. Team work the best the best way of bringing in positive synergies between departments and within a company.

Have you ever though about brand your company through your day-to-day routines of recruiting talent? No? How about give it a try? You will not regret!   Good Luck!

 

What “change” has to do with understanding and communication?

I risk saying, everything! Although change is part of life, people keep running away from it, and showing high levels of anxiety and resistance. Why is that so? Well, uncertainty is the answer!

People is highly afraid of uncertainty, and change is all about uncertainty. Unfortunately change can ruin team spirit, impact negatively motivation levels, and risk years of team building. In times of tough competition, and a tight war for talent, having people motivated and working well in teams are a must. I must say that the better companies know how to deal with change, the more prepared they are to face rough times and strong competition.

So, how can anxiety and resistance associated to change be avoided, or at least reduced to manageable levels? My experience tells me that if you are able to reduce uncertainty, you will be able to keep the most adverse effects on the low side. And to reduce uncertainty you need to communicate well with transparency, and show true understanding with all the people involved. By understanding the fears associated with change you will be able to communicate more efficiently avoiding negative behaviors, keeping everybody committed, and on-board.

Reduce uncertainty implies a strong understanding, and clear communication creating a strong sense of community and commitment. However, I must confess that there is no such thing as “the right approach” or “solution”, and that each case needs its own approach. Therefore, if you are in charge of change you need to show true understanding toward the people involved and be able to perform different styles of communication accordingly to the situation at-hand.

Key words in Change management, uncertainty, anxiety, fears, resistance, understanding, communication and transparency. Avoid the first four through the latest three. Your leadership style, the situation at-hand, and your team’s maturity will influence the way you face change. Ah, there is no right or wrong approach, only trial and error and a sensibility! Good luck, though!

Objectives, motivation killers or strong boosters?

Along the years to many were the occasions where I knew beforehand that no matter what the conditions were – team readiness and competences, or corporate culture and organization -, my objectives were impossible to achieve. Why? Because they had been set in such incomprehensible and unrealistic terms that they were completely impossible to achieve. Therefore, I keep wondering, how can unreachable objectives help companies being competitive? Well, I strongly believe that they CANNOT!

Why setting objectives? Answering to this question must be the very first thing to do, immediately followed by answering, “Why these (objectives) and not any other?”.

Objectives must be aligned with the business strategy, execution plan, available resources, and time span. If companies do not take any of this into account, how can they set objectives that make sense? The more randomly objectives are set the more impossible are to achieve them.

So what do you need to know, or have, in order to be able to set relevant and coherent objectives? Objectives must bring value into the company not only in the short but also in the medium and long run. Objectives must be always aligned with business strategy, major goals, and an execution plan. Objectives should not be limited to financial, profit or cash related indicators, they must translate also the company’s “health” in other areas such as operations, sales profitability, innovation, competitiveness, readiness and flexibility toward future challenges, people development and talent management, suppliers quality and capabilities, or customers satisfaction and loyalty. In order to have a strong, complete and cross-section set of objectives and KPIs (key performance indicators) several methodologies can  be used and built. I am particularly fond of the balanced scorecard approach along with a strong mapping of the strategic areas that should be impacting or being impacted by the business strategy. This strategic mapping help defining the strategic objectives that must be monitoring, after that is key to define the way of measuring them and set a target/deadline to be achieved. The important aspect to highlight here is that what ever approach one takes, it must take into account the following aspects: business strategy; strategy execution; top/bottom and bottom/up analysis; cross-section KPIs (include more than just financial, profit and cash related KPIs); KPIs must be set by area only after the integrated analysis (strategic mapping, top/bottom, and bottom/up analysis); resources available and needed; talent and human resources needed; reporting and control system (that helps mitigating risks, taking decisions, and learning).

I see objectives as key to competitiveness! If one does not have a set of KPIs and targets to be achieved, how can this person know if it is working well, evolving, and adding value? In my perspective, well defined objectives are a strong motivational tool. How can companies stay in the market and be competitive if they do not measure their achievements and set targets to be achieved? However, objectives should not be the end goal of a company, but rather a way of knowing if the company is in the right path toward its business strategy and vision. Obviously, business strategy or vision are changeable, though they should be set for a horizon of 4 to 5 years, and not yearly, and be more than just a profit statement. A multi-annual execution plan accommodating objectives for the period must be designed before going setting objectives. Objectives are a too important tool to be misused! Objectives must be a strong motivation booster rather than a motivation killer!

Criticism is good for competitiveness!

Unfortunately, criticism is still not being totally recognized as a powerful tool on helping people, and companies, being more competitive. In times of tight competition and a world that moves at an incredible fast pace, every single tool that can help people, and companies, becoming better prepared for the challenges ahead should be taken into account. And what I am saying here is that criticism, as part of evaluation, is a tool that due to its easiness of use and low need for investment can be highly interesting to SMEs, but not only. Every company interested in gaining competitiveness should invest in human resources, and evaluation (assess competences, criticism and feedback) is a good way of doing it. Well, I must say that only positive criticism is relevant, and that evaluation should be based on factual aspects and real past events, rather than subjective and judgmental aspects. An evaluating system should be based on face-to-face evaluation and 360º assessments, and can be done through formal and informal mechanisms. I believe that even if you do not have a formal evaluation system put in place but you understand the value of having people evaluated, you should start doing it.

What are the key aspects to pay attention to while evaluating? First, define what to aspects must be evaluated and how; Second, define how many times a year and by whom should the team be evaluated; Third, decide what kind of feedback you want to give, when and by whom (do not skip this step because it is key to the whole process); Lastly, inform people of what is the goal, and coach the evaluators on how they should do it. Criticism and feedback are highly important and should contain the future goals to be achieved by each individual.

Evaluation can act as a positive factor to increase motivation and improve competences!

Can Team Spirit Be a Competitive Advantage?

In a world that is changing fast and facing amazing challenges, namely a war for talent or globalization, Team Spirit can work as a Competitive Advantage! I am one of those people that believes that having a strong and engaged team can make the difference. So, I prefer to have a team committed to a common goal, and working together, than a group of amazing stars working individually. When choosing your team members, what kind of people would you like to have? I know that a lot of aspects must be equated before going on choosing members for your team. Nevertheless, I believe that to build a real Team, one needs to have people who are able, and willing, to work above their egos, individual agendas, and anything that inhibits a truly open and sharing environment. I am not saying that you should not have the best of the best (stars) in your teams, or that stars are not able to work as truly team members. What I am saying is that having a team it is much more than having a group of stars. And that team spirit can work as a competitive advantage, helping companies being the leaders of their industries or niches.

In order to ignites team spirit it is important to have a corporate culture that enables openness, sharing, cooperation, recognition, and motivation. Although all of these aspects are important, motivation is specially important to create the right environment and conditions, and contrary to what is believed, it is not only about money! Several studies mention that above a certain wage level, motivation is mainly about challenge, recognition, opportunity to master, ability to share, work-life balance, autonomy and responsibility, rather than cash prizes and bonus. Therefore, I believe that team spirit and corporate culture can have also positive effect on motivation levels.

Having the right people it is not enough, a “head” is needed to coordinate and motivate them. Hence, companies must have more than just talented people with team spirit, they must have a leader to shape them into a team. Stir people toward a common goal and to excel it is not easy but is crucial. If companies do not have the right Leader, they are missing a strong source of competitive advantages, team work.

How many times haven’t your boss asked you: “Hmm, this team of yours is not working! How about changing it?”. Only a couple of months after you have started working with them? Too many, right? Practice it is the last ingredient I would like to mention. By practice I mean routine, time working together, and experience. In order to have the best out of a team time is needed, time to experience, to adapt, to learn how members work, think and behave. Like a sports team, a team needs hours working together to reach their best.

Summing up, Team Spirit can be a competitive advantage! In times of war for talent and highly competitive markets companies cannot forget to keep investing on having people working together. and the why is easy, Teams work better and achieve more than individuals. A company with a culture that stimulates team spirit, people performing at their best and to master, to share and cooperate, are much better prepared to face successfully the 21st century. Although Team Work and motivation are linked and must be seen as the two faces of the same coin, it does not suffice. A company needs to have a corporate culture that helps cooperation and openness, and Leaders to ignite the right behaviors. Last, but not least, “practice” must be also present in order to have a team working at their best and creating real competitive advantages! Teams need time to work together and fine tune internal dynamics.

Are You Ready to Fail?

Are you ready to fail? No? Well, even if you have everything the business manuals say you should have to be a success case – an amazing product/service, a flawless business plan, competitive advantages, and qualified resources -, please, be prepared to fail! When I say this I am not being pessimist, I am rather trying to be ready and keep my alertness levels high. I am convinced that by acknowledging that I might fail, I am being proactive toward trends and challenges, and better prepared to anticipate them with innovative and creative solutions, therefore, keeping, or even improving, my competitive advantages. And I believe that this will help companies staying in business longer and in better shape.

Failure is part of life! Today’s “best” companies can be tomorrow’s failures. It is not because a company it is a “strong” one today that it will stay that way in the future, failure can happen in between. A more proactive behavior regarding failure can bring a higher level of readiness and help facing the challenges ahead. Failure should be more present in the business lexicon, and faced as something that happens!

Be ready to fail, it will help you anticipating changes rather than copping with them. Innovating and creating are key to competitiveness in the 21st century market, and failure is part of both.