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.

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!

Change, the scary word or the ultimate challenge?

My answer is, ‘change is an ultimate challenge’! When coming to keep a company competitive in a fast paced, and highly challenging world, change must be present. I know that It’s not easy to start something related to “change”, though you should do it!

Regardless company and project size, if you have a real leader heading the project (a crucial aspect), a simple 5-step plan would be a good start.

First, I would have a initiation document along with the whole business case explaining whys, whats, hows, whens, resources needed (people and cash), and results to be achieved or delivered.

Second, I would “sell” the project to the Board of directors in order to have the C-level (including CEO, CFO and COO) support and commitment to the success of the change.

Third, I believe that communicating with people is key to the success of any change or even project. And, it’s not the quantity, but rather the quality of what you say that matters. So, I would start by building a strong communication plan where everybody could participate, but also that DOES NOT block or create inertia into the whole process.

Fourth, and almost same time I would design and launch a project with a cross section task force, able to be light, hands-on and with a strong leadership. On top of that, I would need a well delineated scope, deliverables, resources, quality expectations, and deadlines for all the project phases. I would also try to start with quick win-win situations in order to have both the team and sponsors working side-by-side and committed to the success of the project/change.

Fifth, and to finish with, I would also use this opportunity to start a baby-step Culture change. Meaning, I would start a “readiness” task force able to implement key aspects allowing a higher level of readiness, and mental availability to change and face challenges.

Summing Up,

Assumption: you are, or have a real leader heading the project!

1) Strong business case and initiation document explaining everything at a high level; 2) C-level Support & Commitment (CEO, CFO, COO…) 3) Strong Communication Plan (quality and not quantity) 4) Project plan to implement the changes – Road Map with milestones, resources, quality, objectives/deliverables, and deadlines; 5) Start a “readiness” task force in order to improve the way the company deal with change and challenges.

If the change project is headed by a true leader, based on a strong business case and plan, and supported by a strong communication plan, people will understand it and be on board and rowing into the common goal. Ah, never forget the C-level support and commitment.

Good Luck to your future projects!

Other Related Posts: What Complexity Has To Do With Being Competitive? Nothing, I Must Confess!, The Art Of Brainstorming in The 21st Century!Backwards or Forwards?, Decisions: a Headache or an Opportunity?, Vision, Strategy, and Implementation! How about people?, Stop the Routine Before the Routine Stops you!

How Can A Corporate Culture Based on Frugality Save Your Brand?

I strongly believe that a company does not need to spoil resources to have a strong brand or be competitive Yet, we keep seeing companies spending and spoiling more than they can afford. Working for cost sensible companies gave me an insightful position on this matter, but never inhibited me of focusing on quality or brand image. Therefore, I still believe that if a company wants to face successfully the challenges ahead, it needs Leadership not vanity, and a culture of cost sensibility and frugality, instead of one based on waste .

Cost sensible does not mean less quality or weak brands, it means instead a sensible management of expenses. A company does not need to have expensive offices, latest state of the art fleet, or exquisite furniture to run a business successfully! It needs instead an informed and well trained team willing to be creative and innovative without a millionaire budget, and always committed to be lean and customer-oriented. More important, it needs a leader who uses the companies assets wisely and productively.

cost-sensible and frugal culture can work as a way of freeing up resources to invest in new capabilities and gain stronger competitive advantages. Obviously, for this to happen the company must re-invest the freed-up resources in crucial areas such as innovation, creativity, uniqueness, talent management, R&D or other that can add uniqueness and factors of differentiation.

I strongly advocate that a cost-sensible and frugal culture as a competitive advantage factor and a brand saviour.