Friday 30 October 2015

#GCETD - Miguel Lobo on Relationships

Human relationships were also a big focus of the Global Conference on Training and Development in Saudi Arabia last week.

I talked about them in my session on talent and noted how bias can lead to poor identification of these people as well as the passing over of those whose contribution is more social in nature, ie though other people rather than directly relating to their own objectives.

George Houston from CCL noted the importance of relationships within the Arab States and Sardeek Love reference the idea of unconditional trust (or love!) which I think is a measure of the quality of relationship.

Arthur Shelley and David Gurteen both talked about the social nature of learning and knowledge management.  I think they made important points but to me, the real value of these social processes is the social outcomes - relationships - they create.

But the most in-depth focus on relationships was provided by Miguel Lobo from.  He suggested that as information, knowledge and coordination all flow through relationships that these are the source of creating value in a complex economy.  We therefore need to talk about intuition and emotion.

The focus on intuition means we need to be careful about our own biases.  Lobo provided some good examples of anchoring bias though to me, it's the way these biases impact on the way we identify and treat particular people which is most interesting and important - see also my recent post on the gender pay gap.

The focus on emotions means that we need to pay attention to people as well as to content eg people will naturally collaborate with people they most like, not with those who have the best ideas.

Whether we like someone is based largely on reciprocity, and on homophily, or 'like of same'.  This doesn't have to mean cloning - a good leader creates new group identities rather than reinforcing existing categories.  Diversity is essential for performance.

Leaders also need to create excitement as the activation of our emotions is more important than their tone.  A positive tone based on homophilly leads to an enjoyable experience but potentially an over confidence bias too, so it doesn't do much for organisational performance.  High excitement predicts whether you'll want to work with someone later on and is much more important for performanve.

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Photo credits: Al Harkan, Aisha Foad, Arthur Shelley

Thursday 29 October 2015

Credible Activist / Friend in Business / HR as Human Relationships

Building on my post on Dave Ulrich's new HR competencies yesterday you might be interested in this recent post on relationships (at Symposium Event's blog) - the core focus of my Friend in Business, or Dave's Credible Activist competency.

Dave is writing a lot about our relationships with our business colleagues at the moment, but as the post suggests, it's the relationships between our business colleagues we need to focus on this most.

It was interesting seeing the above tweet from HR Tech World yesterday as well.  Yes - HR needs to be framed much more about Human Relationships than Human Resources these days.


  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Wednesday 28 October 2015

#HRCS2016 Dave Ulrich HR Competencies for 2016

So after a couple of false starts, Dave Ulrich's new HR competencies are out (presented on a webinar by Dave's son, Mike.)

I was pleased to see, first of all, that the competencies did somewhat resemble my own predictions, made when I had thought Dave was going to presenting on this in Australia.  I don't have anything regarding compliance and he hasn't got anything on organisation design (why not? - wasn't it asked about or has the research shown it not to be impactful?).  But apart from these two competencies the frameworks are very largely the same.

As normal, the competencies seem to do a good job of articulating changes I see taking place in the HR world, although I regret the absence of anything to do with Innovation in the new framework.  Having said that I didn't use the word in my suggestion either.

Other than that, the interesting thing about Dave / Mike's analysis was the difference they have identified between what makes a high performing HR professional and a high performing HR function.

Individual practitioner performance is well explained by their level of competencies:

  • Strategic Positioning provides the main source of value for customers, investors, external communities and regulators but not line managers or employees
  • Credible Activities is the main source of value for these two groups.

Value provided by the HR function is well explained by the activities undertaken but not by individual HR competencies.  But when looking at the competencies:

  • Strategic Positioning is still most important for customers and investors
  • Credible Activist still tops out for employees
  • Line managers are most swayed by Human Capital Curating but there's a negative relationship between this and customers. communities and regulators.  Mike suggested that the problem is you can't differentiate using this competencies - all organisations do it fairly well.  Personally I don't think that's true and put the problem down to Mike's comments at the end of the presentation - that  we're business people in HR, and business drives HR not the other way around.  I think Human Capital Curating needs more ambition than that!
  • Regulators get most value from the Compliance Manager competency which makes good sense.
  • Communities get their value from Total Reward Steward - I've no idea where that comes from.
  • And a couple of other interesting findings - Analytics Designer has a negative impact for investors - why?
  • And Technology Integrator has a negative relationship for line managers and employees.  This I do understand.  These groups believe HR tech is reducing rather than increasing the humanity of HR.

More importantly, the most valuable activities are HR information management and for managers and employees in particular, integrated HR, ideally with all of these based upon the use of organisational capabilities.

So to me, the most interesting issue raised by the research is whether it is worth continuing to review and write about individual HR competencies.  Business leaders care about the effect of the HR team not the performance of individuals.  So perhaps Dave now need to start focusing on high performance HR activities instead?  But that's more difficult if these need to be best fit.

Or perhaps an even more important question is whether it makes any sense to review the performance of an individual HR professional when what matters is their impact on the team, or their contribution to the HR activities delivered by the team?

And actually, extending that up a level, does it make any sense for HR to continue individual performance management as one of these team activities when what matters in other functions is also very likely to be an individual's contribution to their team, and the team's activities, not their own individual competencies? 

Lastly, I think there's going to have to be more thought about the impact of competencies for different stakeholders - eg the importance of HR practitioners and teams about outside in etc.  For example, regulators may care most about compliance but that doesn’t mean it’s a good decision to put HR's main focus on it.

Monday 26 October 2015

Training & Development in Saudi Arabia

I was keynoting at the Global Conference on Training and Development in Riyadh last week.  It was my second conference there this year, this time being at Princess Nourah's womens university - built by a team of 25,000 people over the last two years and occupying a vast campus site towards the edge of Riyadh.   The conference provided another amazing experience with lots of good conversations with (at least the male) delegates and some great inputs from other presenters.

There seemed to be a heavy focus on leadership and talent - which I also presented on - as well as one less expected area, which was the importance of relationships (and which I'll post on again separately.)

On talent, I think I'd have liked Mary Crannell's session but unfortunately was delivering a workshop at the same time.  Plus the women presenters were speaking off stage and though I understand why that was the case within this culture, to me it would have reduced the quality of the learning experience so I traded in most of these sessions for more time sitting by the hotel pool.

I did see Mark Allen speaking about talent and thought he made some great points about some of the challenges and requirements for talent management, particularly the need for capable line managers.  And I think (hope) he was only joking about a 27 box grid!

In my keynote I built upon some of these challenges and added on the issues around bias which I think make it much harder to identify and develop clear and discreet talent groups in the way we sometimes believe.  I mentioned the role of nationals and also of women as talent groups and it was great to have so many women national students and practitioners in the audience.  I hope their learning experience wasn't too badly impacted by sitting so far away from the stage.

I concluded my presenting my recent thinking about talent slicing.  You can find out more by checking out my presentation on Slideshare (below).

You can also check out the slides from my sessions on evaluation, and integration:

 And you may also be interested in my posts from my visit to Saudi Arabia:

Or contact me for more details:

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Photo credit (Talent Slicing): Al Harkan

Saturday 17 October 2015

Gender Pay Gap in Bonuses

I’ve been back on BBC News discussing some of the highlights of Glassdoor’s latest Employee Confidence Survey as well as some earlier research by XpertHR and CMI.

Firstly, the research broadly supports the government’s Labour Market Statistics released this week, with generally very positive employment figures.  Glassdoor’s respondents also seem generally positive although there are concerns about the ability of unemployed people to find work, and of potential redundancies

I talk about these findings in this article in HR Grapevine.

Secondly, the research also supports the LMS findings on pay with the UK receiving a 3% pay rise over the last year as Glassdoor respondents are also generally positive about receiving a pay rise over the next 12 months.  However once again there are concerns as this splits into 44% of men but just 28% of women thinking that they’re going to get a rise.

This quarter, Glassdoor also asked about bonus payments and their seems to be a gender pay gap here too.  44% of men vs just 29% of women have access to a bonus programme and for women 37% of that programme is connected to company vs individual results, as against this being the case for just 27% of men.  Maybe partly because of this only 61% of women think they’ll actually get a bonus payment, compared to 75% of men.

I’m not really very sure what lies behind this.  Is there a stereotyped assumption that men will be more motivated by individually focused bonuses whereas women will be more interested in making broader contributions?  Or do men push harder for more individually focused bonuses? 

There are differences in male and female brains and differences in our expectations of and reactions to bonuses as well as pay rises may be due in some part to our distinct roles as hunters and carers in our evolutionary history.  However the bigger factor is almost certainly the way boys and girls are socialised differently during their development in childhood and beyond.  So even in the working environment, adult women can be seen as pushy if they ask for an individually focused bonus when similar behaviour in men can be labelled more positively as things like ambition or assertiveness.

However this works, it contributes to the broader lack of fairness in pay, and may mean employers are missing out on ways to keep women motivated and perhaps even retained and progressing within their organisations.

I talk about these findings in the BBC interview and my comments about them are also quoted in this article in the Evening Standard.

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Thursday 15 October 2015

CEB #ReimagineHR - Workforce of the Future

The third area addressed at Reimagine HR was the workforce of the future.

This addressed firstly the changing preferences of employees, for example the growing demand for work life balance or at least increased flexibility rather than just compensation.  People increasingly want to work on demand - putting in time when they need or want it.  It’s why Uber drivers prefer this way of working to having a traditional taxi - they work when they want to, when they’ve got time and need some money.  They have flexibility over their life.  They don’t want to work according to a company’s time requirements, to be beholden to them and under their control.

And this is something CEB finds from everybody - not just millennials.  Employers have to respond to this pull from employees.

I liked Rio Tinto Australia’s policy switch of making managers justify why flexible working would not be appropriate in a certain position rather than requiring an employee to have to make a case to ask for it.

This change should work well against a big shift in the way businesses require work to be done.  (The big challenge for me will be finding a way to fit them both together.)

This is the development of spot markets for talent or the packetisation of skills in which we start to focus on skills rather than individuals and applying these skills in more discreet ways.

The change is enabled by technology and Jean gave the example of which can be used during a conference call to flag up the background of all participants so that everyone can help utilise the skills and insights of everybody on the call.

The shift will lead to a further increase in the contract / contingent workforce and was suggested as a model for this type of arrangement.  HR has to change as well as the value it can provide shifts into spotting exactly somebody’s talent and inserting this precisely into the appropriate work streams.  So I think the answer to 'are we there yet?' has to be a resounding no.  HR's only just started to change and there's a long, long way to go.

Jean and Brian referred to this shift as a really liberating idea, and I agree it could be.  But only if it’s used to match more closely with the changing way that people want to do their work.  More likely I’m afraid will be its use to increase the control of the employer, reducing the opportunity for the employee or worker.  (My recent post about zero hour contracts relates to this as well.)

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing 
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD   
  • Contact me to create more value for your business  
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

CEB Reimagine HR - Analytic Transformation of Talent

In the session on CEB’s leadership academy one of their staff suggested that saying we need to do something because we feel we need to is no longer good enough.  I don’t go that far - I think we’ll always need to rely on our intuition too.  It’s certainly what we still do now for most of the decisions we take about our people! - see the slide attached above.

However, we definitely do need to get better at informing the decisions we can inform.

I talked to Brian Kropp and Jean Martin about why HR analytics seems to be behind all the other areas of the business.  Their thinking is that it’s because there’s no GAAP, no defined framework etc and so the increasing interest in this area from investors is useful.  It’s also a reason why SHRM’s attempts at standardisation a few years back failed - their standards didn’t relate closely enough to firms’ operating principles.

There’s still a belief, supported by vendor promises, that providing more predictive value within HR requires something like a physics equation - about laws which are lived the same way every time something happens, but there’s an art to it as well.  It’s about asking the right questions and providing inputs along with others to increase our odds of success.

It’s why to me we need to be careful how we respond to concerns from our business colleagues.  Yes we do need to put more effort into measuring and analysing our data, but we need to address the reasons they’re dissatisfied with it as well.  As Jean suggested, that’s not all about better data and technology, a lot of it is simply helping them understand that not everything can be proven 100% of the time.

I liked CEB’s 3Cs of effective analytics - changing the criticality by shifting the focus of our analytics, developing the capability of teams doing and presenting the analysis and enhancing the credibility of HR data within the business.

The key to this is often realising that less is more - asking punchy questions about the things which provide the largest business impact rather than examining data for the sake of data.  If we ask better questions we’ll get better decisions.

I liked Gap’s method of asking questions of business leaders about what they want insight on.  (However I’d still suggest it’s better still to ask about these insights as part of strategic planning, then the measures and analytics simply drop out of that.)

I also liked Wishbone’s way of presenting their insights back to the business through a ‘Talent P&L’, using business language to present the findings about people - eg:
  • Reduced cost per hire and time to fill lowered overall recruiting expense by $X over one year 
  • Improved quality of hire increased overall performance by Y% 
  • Increased head count led to reduced process times for key activities, lowering operational costs by Z% 

(However, a bit like my comments on collaboration, I still think if things like quality of hire can’t be valued in their own terms we’ve still got a problem that at some point we’re still going to need to address.)

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Wednesday 14 October 2015

CEB #ReimagineHR - The Collaborative Enterprise / Social HR

“To go fast, go alone.  To got far, go together.”  (South African quote shared with us by Brian Kropp.)

The average CEOs tell the investment community that they're going to grow by is 6 to 8%.  The average growth expected in the economy is 2 to 4%.  Where's the difference going to come from?  We need people to go both fast and far.

This means that business is now much more collaborative than it used to be, eg managers are working longer but are spending less time with their direct reports.

For CEB, people generally have the will (unless they do’t like talking to people) and the skill (millennials in particular) to collaborate.   Rather than building new collaboration skills we should focus on helping apply their core skillsets in different ways. 

However people often need to be helped to engage in the behaviours.  Or at least we mustn’t get in the way, as we do when we design our systems and processes for individual performance alone.

This means our (social) HR processes need to built around collaboration too, eg performance management needs to move on from ‘what did I do?’ to ‘what did we do together to achieve outcomes?’

Brian Kropp explained PM system at Herbert Smith Freehills to us (a good example as law firms aren't always the easiest places to get people collaborating).  In this, rather than getting an employee to talk about what they did, they list instead all of the people who helped them.  They also get 10 points which they allocate across these people depending upon the impact of their help.

This means the organisation can add up the number of points each person has been given to quantify the amount of help they’ve provided.  A person’s review therefore provides input to these other people’s ratings rather than of the person who has received the review, reflecting the way in which today’s work gets performed.

HSF also look at the system to see which staff are connecting together eg if white males are only connecting with other white males it would raise warnings.  But the bigger benefit is that this focus on people who have helped them helps to develop a mindset that they didn’t do it all on their own.

CEB think that leaders and employees respond to attempts to improve collaboration in different ways.  It’s also often harder to get leaders to collaborate, as they have loads of responsibility and much of the success in their career to date will normally be down to individual contribution.  Some of CEB’s suggestions for dealing with these people include:
  • Not focusing on collaboration, which is just a tool or method, but on what collaboration is going to achieve.  (Personally I think that’s a mistake.  People are never going to optimise their collaboration unless they value the thing for itself.)
  • Encouraging them to extend their strengths rather than adopt new behaviours, eg don’t say be more collaborative, tell them they’ve been so great at something that you want them to share this with other people.  Ie start with give rather than with take in the give take flywheel.  Appeal to their ego!
  • Talking about improving processes rather than changing people.  And moving from reactive to practice - solving problems before they emerge.  Leaders need self realise the need to change - often when they hit rock bottom unless we can help them do this first.  Eg GE at Crotonville bring in a chamber music group and by having one musician misplay helps people understand the need for everyone to play together.
  • And you may need to pay for it.  Financial rewards do matter for business leaders - for the border workforce intrinsic rewards work better - financial rewards are smaller and employees often feel behavioural changes aren’t worth it.  (I think that's a problem - there needs to be greater commonality between employees and leaders for true collaboration to take place.)

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com

Monday 12 October 2015

Talent Slicing

As I've being noting on this blog, I'm speaking a lot about talent management at the moment.  Which is interesting, as it's a topic that I tend to avoid, mainly because I don't really know what it is.

I know what HCM is - managing people to create human capital.  But even if talent management is managing people to create talent, that still leave me a bit unclear about what we're talking about.

I've got ways around this of course, so if you do ask me to come and talk about talent, there's a number of insightful, provoking sessions I could give!

My second issue with talent management is that I challenge the prevailing approach within the UK and US at least to focus disproportionately on a small group of people who are supposed to have disproportionate impacts in an organisation (eg Ram Charan's suggestion that 2% of people have 98% of the impact on a business).

I think the reason for differences in performance often have much more to do with the other people in the organisation than on those who are supposed to be talented themselves, and there's research to support that perspective too.

I started talking about that in my People Management webinar a couple of weeks ago and felt a bit odd dissing something I think I was probably meant to be supporting.

So before my session in Brussels last week I did a bit more thinking and came up with an idea called talent slicing.

My suggestion here is that a focus on talent management is generally a good thing.  Any workforce segmentation is good, and a segmentation around some group of people who have a particularly important role or some important attributes, makes particularly good sense.

The issue is of course if this ends up as an exclusive approach in which it can do more damage through reduced social cohesion than it can through improvements in the talent / human capital provided by managing these small number of people in a different or better way.

So why not see talent management as a successive series of developments slicing their way through the organisation, one 'talent' group at a time.  Your executive team and their direct reports are important - great - slice.  And emerging high potentials a few years after graduation - fine - another slice.  What about another group of high performers in mid career grades - slice.  And some technical or functional experts - engineers, analysts or sales people perhaps (depending upon your sector and organisation).  But what about women returning from maternity / shared parental leave?  And members of under represented groups?  Etc, etc, etc.  Slice, slice, slice.

The advantage of this approach would be that it's tailored but not exclusive.  It ensures people management can be adapted to the people who will get to use or be impacted by it.  But it doesn't leave anybody out, even if some people benefit more early than others.  And even if some of these probably never actually get talent sliced at least there's no deliberate policy to count them out.  Plus as the slices progress across the organisation, with many of these involving not just differentiated but also generally better approaches to management, it's going to mean that the general management of people across the whole organisation slowly begins to improve too.

Please note this isn't the same as using something like a 4 box / 9 box grid.  Yes, this slices the organisation into multiple segments who can each be treated differently, but it's still only one group of real talent - those with high performance and high potential (or high attitudes).  So it's still only one slice.  Additional slices would focus on other groups of talent, each focusing on the talent not on the people who aren't included in that slice.  So each of the slices are made based upon something positive and important, which I think is a much more compelling concept that simply being put into a box and in which around 8 out of 9 people (actually more than this given the  illusory superiority bias) are going to be told they're not as good as they think they are.

Anyway, it's now something I'm going to be talking quite a bit about in my upcoming talent management talks in Saudi Arabia and Cyprus.

By the way, although this is a new idea for me, other people have probably already thought of it, and it does actually simply reflect what I know a number of organisations are already doing.

But I'd be interested in your thoughts and comments too!

  • Consulting   Research  Speaking  Training  Writing
  • Strategy  - Talent - Engagement  - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com