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Via BizTimes : A comprehensive plan makes workplace change easier

Ease relocation stress by engaging staff in the planning process.

When it’s time to make a significant facility change for your business, whether it’s remodeling or re-locating, setting expectations and controlling perception is key to employee satisfaction with the new environment. Engaging in a detailed information-gathering process that includes listening sessions with employees is a great start to facilitating change and making employees feel valued. Embrace input from employees­—your staff knows what is needed to achieve great results. Engaging your staff early in the planning process is critical to helping them be more accepting of upcoming changes as they transition to a new environment.

Change doesn’t come easy. Humans are creatures of habit and our environment is an important element in our daily routine. A lot of our time is spent at work, an environment we become very familiar with, where we know what to expect. We also know the best route to take to get to work, the time it takes, and where we make stops along the way to manage our life. If you’re relocating, this all changes and creates understandable stress.

Address employee concerns

It’s helpful to work with a consultant that’s experienced in various methods to understand the attitudes and readiness for change within your company. These methods include, among other things, understanding the company vision and mission, employee surveys, an evaluation of current conditions, and pilot programs to test new strategies. The consultant assists in creating an action plan that includes addressing concerns, anxieties and expectations of the people affected. It’s important to focus on what employees gain, not what they will give up. A comprehensive communication plan should be specific and have an honest tone in messaging. It needs to answer who, what, when, where, why, and how.

This is a group effort. You will want to use the influencers within your own organization to help convey the message. Meet with them, explain what you’re trying to accomplish, and ask for help. Company leaders need to model new work behaviors desired in the new environment.

Create an action plan

When it’s time to get ready for a move, you need a comprehensive move plan that addresses phasing and logistics. You will need to identify move champions and coordinate team meetings to define things like how to purge, how to clean, how to pack, and the schedule for everything, including the actual move. It’s important to know the building rules and regulations and check the lease expiration for office equipment and services. There may be long-term storage, disposal or de-commissioning needs as well.

An experienced consultant will provide your team with valuable insight and checklists to guide them through the process and take some of the pressure off key members of your organization, minimizing disruption to normal workflow. The consultant’s expertise will help you increase employee satisfaction, maximizing the return on investment you’ve made for workplace change.

Via New Straits Times : Work, Matters! : Dealing with Change at the Workplace

I write this week’s column after a heady night of tracking the results of Malaysia’s fourteenth general elections.

I reiterate what I declared in my column last week; that I have no desire to influence you in anyway in terms of your inalienable right to make a choice to determine who represents you.

Malaysians have made their choice, and well done everyone, for coming out, and participating in the process of creating your own destiny.

Today, I would like to share a value-added proposition for your career.

Why do people have difficulty in dealing with change?

Change comes in a multitude of shapes, sizes, and under a variety of circumstances. From a workplace stand-point, change is often quite traumatic.

Whether your job has been dis-established, or a competitor has just out-maneuvered you for that position, or the environment has evolved as have the ways you used to do things; your ability to withstand change at the workplace, and to use it to your advantage, will depend on how you choose to recalibrate your thought processes.

As kids, the word “change” is mostly used on us as a form of a caution. My father used to warn me that if I didn’t change my attitude, he’d take some punitive action.

At work, bosses tend to use the word “change” in both explicit and implied terms, as a form of a threat. “If things don’t get better, I am going to make some big changes in our office!”

Perhaps this is why, we avoid change. It’s almost always inconvenient, and difficult.

While there are situations where you have to change because circumstances have changed; like if you face a personal loss, or a health crisis; most workplace changes are necessary because of the lack of results.

It is difficult to embrace change while you get whacked by its effects, but it serves you well to remember that change at work, happens because you are not producing the desired results.

The reality is that change rarely happens when people are happy, and are producing great outcomes.

Through my experiences as a management consultant and leadership coach, I have understood that accepting change is no fun, because everyone likes staying in their comfort zone.

But, it is not a difficult skill to learn. Once you start looking at change as a good thing, you’ll be amazed at some of the benefits that can follow.

Here are some ideas that will help you embrace change at work.

Connect deeply with the notion that change helps you grow. Changes will force you to adapt in ways that you have probably never experienced before. This is a major driver of personal and professional development.

You will find that when you accept that change helps you grow; your opinions and mindset will be challenged. You will realise that you need new ways to articulate who you are, and what you believe in. The idea of repeatedly doing the usual things, will no longer appeal to you. And, you will begin to use different approaches to dealing with your work-life.

Next, embracing change teaches you to be flexible.

Workplace flexibility is about changing or creating modifications in your thought processes to suit the new environment. Creating this personal workplace culture, means that you will be open to new ideas, and you will be able to work independently, or in teams, more effectively.

I can confirm without hesitation that employers are increasingly shifting from single roles to rotating roles, and offering flexible job descriptions. It’s a sought after skill, as it indicates that you can adjust to changing customer needs, and technology trends.

Finally, change offers you tremendous opportunities.

When you alter the way the way you think and work, opportunities will open up. This will have a cascading effect by providing you with more possibilities.

If you are going through a change in circumstance, and you do not waste your time resisting it, you will find that your mind begins to expand in ways that it hadn’t, before. You will be forced to find out about what you can handle, and what you can’t. You will begin to understand your limitations. And this realisation will push you to overcome your limitations.

Learning about yourself, including what you cannot handle, helps you to figure out better ways to manage your work-life. You will become open to the possibility of learning that what you did in the past will not work for your future.

I strongly recommend that you take change into your own hands by embracing it, and understanding how to deal with it, at the work-place.

In the end, you must want your work-life to produce results that add value to yourself, and to others. This will help you achieve that end.

Via Forbes : Workplace Matters: How To Make It Great

Everyone wants a great workplace. An environment where the work is both interesting and challenging. Where people collaborate to promote the worthy cause of terrific products or make-a-difference services. Where careers blossom and the bottom line thrives.

For more than two decades, Great Place to Work has produced annual lists of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. The lists are anything but arbitrary. They’re based on rigorous standards backed up by uncompromising research.

By now you know some of the players: companies like Adobe, Salesforce, Mercedes-Benz, Whole Foods, Marriott, American Express, Hyatt, Mars, Aflac, Nordstrom, FedEx. These and others have earned a coveted spot in the workplace hall of fame.

But as the song lyric says, the times they are a changin’.

The implication of change in the modern workplace is detailed in A Great Place to Work for All, a new book by Michael Bush, CEO of the Great Place to Work organization. He reveals the essential values and behaviors that every organization must follow to thrive in the future.

Rodger Dean Duncan: You begin your book by saying that what was good enough to be “great” 10 or 20 years ago is not good enough now. What has changed?

Michael Bush: It’s no longer good enough to have a great experience for just some of your people.

When I came on as CEO three years ago, I knew people at our 100 Best Companies who weren’t having a great experience. So we dug into our data. We found that even at the best, many people were being left out. They were experiencing a different organization than their colleagues.

We recognized the problem and took an approach to make sure that all people—women, people of color, of different nationalities, of different job levels—worked in a positive environment where they can thrive.

We raised the bar so that a company has to be consistently great. It has to be great not just for some, but for all. We did this not just because it’s the right thing to do. But because when a company is a great place to work for all, it brings out the best in everyone. That’s better for business.

Duncan: After decades of surveying tens of millions of workers in scores of industries, your organization added “maximizing human potential” to your measurement standards. What precipitated that change?

Bush: For one thing, we needed to take stock of the new economic landscape. This is a business climate defined by speed, social technologies and people expecting values besides value. For people to give your organization all of their potential they want respect, fairness, and some form of equity in return. If they aren’t getting these things the organization is getting a suboptimal return. This is the case in the majority of the companies we survey. The organizations that are maximizing this potential grow revenue four times faster than the companies that get less of this potential.

Secondly, we listened to our clients and the Best Workplaces we work with. They made this point too. Cisco’s executive chairman, John Chambers, for example, says the digital revolution requires companies to rely ever more on those on the front line. “Decisions will be made much further down in the organization at a fast pace,” he told us.

Finally, maximizing human potential is great all around. When all employees are at their best at work, it’s better for businesses, better for people and better for the world.

Duncan: There’s no doubt that trust fuels performance. What kind of behaviors build and maintain trust in the workplace?

Bush: Leaders are key. From executives down to front-line managers, leaders need to demonstrate respect, credibility and fairness to employees. Those are the building blocks of trust. Leaders increase trust every time they listen carefully to employees, live up to their word and treat all people in an even-handed way. The very best leaders—what we call “For All” leaders—also cultivate strong bonds with their teams, connect everyone to the mission of the organization, and spotlight team members’ successes.

Another trust-building behavior is providing everyone with opportunities to innovate. A great example is software company Adobe and its “Kickboxes.” These “personal innovation kits” are boxes with guidance inside on developing new ideas, a Starbucks gift card and $1,000 in seed money. Any employee can get one—no questions asked. About 2,000 Kickboxes have been given out in recent years, leading to new products and internal process improvements. Opportunities to innovate boosts your business and shows employees you trust them to do great things.

Duncan: In companies that struggle with negative public relations issues—Uber and Facebook come to mind—what can leaders do to revitalize the confidence of employees?

Bush: They can start by building credibility and respect by sharing the truth of the problem transparently. They can listen to employees’ reactions and possible solutions. They can include these perspectives as a plan is built for the future. And they can uphold values, even when that’s tough.

One example is the way health care system Texas Health Resources handled an Ebola scare several years ago. The hospital involved suffered a drop in patient visits because of public fears of the disease, but Texas Health CEO Barclay Berdan refused to lay off employees. The organization lived up to its “Individuals Caring for Individuals, Together” promise, and revenue recovered by the end of the year.

Duncan: Not surprisingly, your research shows that work experience tends to be more positive at higher levels in organizations. What can be done to boost work satisfaction at lower levels?

Bush: Respect them. The best way to do so doesn’t cost you any money and in fact will increase your revenue: give everyone chances to come up with new and better products, services and processes. Create what we call an “Innovation By All” culture, which taps into the human desire to be creative, to contribute. Our research shows that companies that are most inclusive in their innovation activities grow revenue 5.5 times faster than companies that have the least “By All” culture of innovation.

I mentioned Adobe’s Kickbox program earlier. Another example is hospitality giant Hilton. Hilton has a “Make it Right” mantra, which encourages everyone at all levels to take the initiative to solve problems. Front line workers at Hilton don’t just make it right, they make it better. One housekeeper told us she learned while cleaning a room that a couple was celebrating their anniversary. So she got room service to give them a bottle of wine as a gift. That makes for five-star service and a happy employee.

Duncan: What should a “For All” organization look for when recruiting new employees?

Bush: First, aim to hire a workforce that reflects the make-up of your community. You can’t get the benefits of For All culture—which includes the proven advantages of diverse perspectives—if you don’t have “All” kinds of people there in the first place.

Also, look for people who want to learn, who are open to different perspectives. Great Places to Work For All are dynamic, so employees can expect their roles and responsibilities to change over time. And they need to be comfortable being uncomfortable at times. They must be willing to be challenged by people who have different viewpoints.

Finally, big egos aren’t a positive. You’re looking for people who are driven by a bigger purpose and ready to collaborate to achieve it.

Duncan: In light of your research findings, what kind of questions should today’s job applicants be asking their prospective employers?

Bush: Do they respect employees enough to share information and decision-making? Do they show a commitment to For All by having a diverse set of people in leadership roles? Have they made some tough decisions to stand by their values? Can they tell a story of letting go a top performer who was a cancer on the culture?

Software company Workday did just that. Their CEO, Aneel Bhusri, looked at the data showing that one his lieutenants wasn’t creating the collegial atmosphere the company expects. By ousting this leader, Bhusri showed For All Leadership. I’d ask for a story like this.

Via LiveMint : The workplace of the future

Will the future workplace be ruled by technology or changing demographics? Will we have to be more cognizant about the changes in work culture?

What will the workplace of the future look like? Will it be ruled by technology or changing demographics? Will we have to be more cognizant about the changes in work culture? Will robots, chatbots, and artificial intelligence and virtual reality assistants work alongside the full-time, part-time, contingency, and gig workers?

What should we be prepared for, and what should we be concerned about?

Amid these questions, a certainty looms. Jobs are really not going anywhere. They are just evolving to the next levels. The question is: How high and different are those levels?

It is all about skills, not scale

Clearly, it is not about headcount any more. It is all about skills, not scale. This is the fundamental game changer of the future workplace. Revenue will be linked not to headcount, but to the right skills. The future will be “scale” for such skills. From my experience, I am convinced that clients will be willing to pay for better skills.

Get ready for skills ‘Uberization’

Millennials will rewrite both the demographics and patterns of working. Independent workers will significantly increase in number. In India, the estimated number of freelancers is more than 15 million—about 40% of the world’s freelance jobs.

Skills will be available on demand and connected to organizations by digital platforms. And if reports are to be believed, even CEO skills are set to be “Uberized”.

The World Economic Forum’s prediction in its report Future of Jobs says that 65% of children who enter primary school today will take up jobs that don’t exist yet. Furthermore, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be those that are not considered important today.

Technology will have a profound impact

Undoubtedly, rapidly advancing technologies are opening new windows of opportunity across business lines—robotic process automation, Big Data analytics, internet of things, augmented reality, machine learning, natural language processing, cloud and cybersecurity services. The upshot of this is that the bar on what seems “good enough” will keep constantly rising. In terms of what we call the workplace (where and when we choose to work, who will deliver the work, and how we deliver results), there will be profound changes. Digitalization will spread rapidly, as will automation.

We will continue to lose routine and repetitive jobs to machines—the ones that require no human intelligence and skills. We should be happy to let them go for the sake of increased productivity and efficiency. This is reality and we need to align strategies, business models and resources.

Most important, we should be upskilling our people.

Skill development, a critical imperative

Nasscom asserts that 60-70% of the existing workforce will need to be reskilled to meet future needs. It is heartening to note that as an industry, we are working together to create a comprehensive digital skilling platform to reskill 1.5-2 million people in the next four-five years.

Better collaboration between human resources, procurement, information technology and legal will help organizations to manage a successful blended workforce. Developing leadership skills of employees is equally critical. Organizations need leaders and managers who are ready for the demands of the future.

Work culture, the powerful glue for future workforce

Rewiring the cultural mindset in both organizations and professionals will be an imperative for tomorrow’s workplace. Holacracy (decentralized management) could well be the new operating system to redefine and redistribute control of work practices.

Employees need to be given the leeway to act more like entrepreneurs in self-directing their work. Work-life balance and “work-from-anywhere” are two realities to reckon with. Security teams need to create secure tech environs with advanced security analytics and machine learning—and without privacy conflicts.

In all, exciting times loom ahead. There is uncertainty, and there are challenges, too. But there are more than enough promise and possibilities for the industry to look ahead with confidence to the workplace and workforce of the future.

Via Chief Executive : How CEOs Can Drive Culture Change And Workplace Diversity

A diverse workplace — one that recognizes and respects all unique individuals across the business — is widely accepted as crucial to a successful organization. In its “Why Diversity Matters” report, workplace research firm McKinsey documents the higher financial performance by diverse companies across industries.

Yet, despite recent efforts, diversity remains a much-discussed topic — and not because companies are great at it. Take Google’s data-driven diversity program. It cost $265 million to implement but still failed to significantly change the composition of its workforce.

The critical missing link for many organizations is often strong CEO involvement. By putting their stamp on diversity initiatives as part of a proactive, robust strategy, CEOs can help their business leaders drive change from the top down. Here are four ways to make that happen.

Re-examine the workplace environment

To really tap into the benefits of diversity and inclusion, CEOs can encourage their organizations to look beyond traditional diversity categories. A workplace that fails to adapt to the needs of different age groups, personalities, individual qualities and work styles will likely find efficiency and performance suffer.

For example, many workplace environments are built around eye contact, noisy group work and generally overstimulating settings, from the interview process to long-term decision making. But these traditional workplace environments and routines may not encourage top performance from all types of workers.

If your company features an open plan environment, make sure you offer access to private work spaces, too. Consider how lighting and noisy distractions could impact individuals with autism or hyper-sensitive personalities. Encourage a company culture that values subtle collaborative practices — and be sure you model this behavior across your C-suite, too.

Learn from strengths and weaknesses

By opening the doors to nonlinear thinking, business leaders can maximize employees’ individual strengths and solve difficult problems. If nurtured in the right way, these skills are extremely valuable to a business.

For example, global giant EY implemented a pilot in 2016 to hire individuals with Asperger’s syndrome to help analyze the effectiveness of account operations and determine specific client needs. With a talent for detail-orientated and process-driven work, these employees demonstrated they could deliver results in an innovative and efficient way.

While it’s fine to set individual and highly specialized tasks, it’s still important to keep a collaborative element to roles. Encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback on other workplace projects to ensure everyone feels part of a team and no one becomes too isolated.

Promote flexibility and cater to individuals

Pioneering computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper once said the most dangerous phrase in data processing is “We’ve always done it this way.

The same could be said for any business. Hiding behind bureaucracy to deter employees from making requests for greater flexibility can be a major obstacle to achieving greater inclusion and diversity. And employees say that flexibility is highly important: A study by PGi found 70 percent of employees were more productive, 80 percent had higher morale and 82 percent had lower stress when allowed to telecommute.

Lead the charge to promote flexible policies with work-from-home options and encourage employees to use that time when they need it. This proactively demonstrates your company’s goal of supporting the varied needs of individuals.

Apply that same flexibility to rewarding staff when they excel. Happy hours or golf outings may work well for some employees but will leave others flat. Working parents might not be able to arrange child care after work or on the weekends, for instance. Would your star performer prefer a few bonus days off? Early release days? A team breakfast or lunch?

Test alternative recruiting strategies

The cost of losing an employee can range from thousands of dollars to more than twice the employee’s annual salary. These costs include hiring, training, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover and higher business error rates. That’s why it’s vital to invest in finding the right employees for your company.

However, the personalities of some individuals may run counter to common notions of what makes a good employee. Concentrating only on conventional benchmarks — such as solid communication skills, teamwork and the ability to network — may systematically screen out individuals with unique gifts.

Talk with your HR leaders to discuss ways you can adapt hiring policies to encourage diversity. In some cases, it might be more effective to conduct interviews virtually, since some candidates may interview better in familiar surroundings.

Or as Microsoft found, sometimes it’s better not to hold traditional interviews at all. Adapting the structure of its interview process was a key action the company took in its bid to attract colleagues with autism. Instead of a traditional interviewing process, candidates were invited on campus for two weeks to work on projects, while being casually monitored by managers looking for new team members.

Companies that emphasize a flexible, inclusive workplace culture will find it easier to attract and keep top talent — employees who feel supported to realize their full potential. That ultimately leads to business innovation, growth and profit — top of the wish list for CEOs the world over.