Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are You Ready to Be a Predator?

Four years.
That’s how long your company has before it’s gobbled up.
If you don’t like that idea, then you better get busy figuring out a way to stop it and become the one doing the gobbling, warns new research.
By 2020, businesses that learn to master digital will become the predator, while those that make minor changes or don’t do anything at all will become digital prey, says Forrester’s Nigel Fenwick.
“To unleash the full potential of digital requires more than adding a new mobile app or website to your existing business,” he warns.
Forrester’s research looks at where companies may stand and whether they can survive the challenge of the next four years. They say companies need to think about whether they are:
  • Digital predators: These companies report 60% or more of their revenue is already influenced by digital activity. They understand how to use digital to create customer value. Their biggest challenge? Learning to scale the business without losing their competitive edge.
  • Digital transformers: By 2020, these companies predict they will shift more than 40% of their revenue to become influenced by digital, or arrive through digital channels.  Such a shift will require “significant transformation to succeed,” the report says.
  • Digital dinosaurs. Leaders in these companies see digital as having less impact on future revenue than do the transformers or predators. This group risks extinction by 2020.
Forrester researchers point out that a company like Tesla Motors is seen as a predator because it understands how to use digital to create value. For example, Tesla pulls out all the stops when it comes to helping their customers. Instead of having to make an appointment for car service updates and then going to a service dealership to have them installed, Tesla provides automatic car system software downloads for its customers.
Further, it’s also important that predators ensure they are sending a strong message to employees and customers about their strategy. For example, once GE CEO Jeff Immelt determined that GE had to make a shift to being an industrial internet leader, he clearly communicated that vision to employees through various sessions and reinforced the message in media interviews. (According to a Forrester online survey, 82% of employees in predator companies say they understand the firm’s strategy and approach to digital business. That compares to 71% in transformer companies and 57% in dinosaur organizations.)
Predators also push the entire organization to use data assets to deliver superior customer experience. In fact, it’s rated as the No. 1 factor for success. “Predators are customer-obsessed, using digital experiences to stand apart from competitors,” the report says.
In contrast, dinosaurs focus more on recruiting the right employees. “Given their lack of digital progress, this is understandable – they need digital talent to move the company off the floor,” the report says.
Why aren’t dinosaurs more compelled to make the digital transformation? The researchers say(read more here)

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Growth of Hidden Job Duties

Usually in an annual performance evaluation session with the boss, you discuss how you are fulfilling your job duties.

But what is often missing from these formal evaluations is all the other stuff you do every day. The stuff that really determines your success or failure in a position.

These are the unassigned duties that fall into your lap from the day you first accept a job, the so-called "hidden" job duties that may lead to a promotion -- or termination.

Has your boss recently talked about everyone being "more innovative" or "more collaborative"? If so, how do you fulfill those expectations successfully?

Those are the directives that add a lot of stress for a worker who is trying to figure out how to do her regular duties every day while also finding time to do the other stuff. For example, she may understand that in order to be more collaborative, she needs to communicate more with others and spend time networking with those in other departments. Or, she may understand that in order to be more innovative, she's going to have to find "thinking time" to trigger more creative thinking.

These hidden job duties often require a lot more time and effort than bosses or organizations may realize. That's why there needs to be a clearer directive on how to support such "hidden" duties.

For example, an introverted employee may need guidance from the boss on how he can communicate effectively with others when in collaborative settings, or an inexperienced employee may need some training about how to generate innovative ideas.

The bottom line is that if leaders assign hidden job duties, then they're going to have to do a much better job of preparing and supporting employees.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Help Employees Not Hate Change

Leaders may get frustrated with employees who are resistant to change, believing the workers are just being obstinate. This may cause leaders to issue “my way or the highway” directives, further alienating employees and delaying the changes that need to be made.
But what leaders need to understand is that humans are wired to look at anything unfamiliar as a threat, even if that doesn’t make much sense to a manager who only wants to change a system or process, says Susan David, a Harvard Medical School psychologist.
“It’s the same reason why someone will take the same route into work, even if there is roadwork,” she says. “It will make them late to work, but they’ll do it even if there is another route.”
There are likely to be a wide range of responses to change, and managers must make the time to deal with each one, David says.
“Managers must realize that people will be anxious when they hear about change. There will be fear, loss and sadness. They will have real concerns about whether they’re going to end up a victim,” she says. “They may already be overloaded with work and this will just add to their stress.”
If managers don’t make time to deal with employees on an individual basis and ignore the undercurrents of stress about change, the failure to support workers can be “huge,” says Catherine Adenle, head of communications for Elsevier in the United Kingdom.
“As an organization while your competition can copy virtually every other advantage you have, they cannot copy your people or the results they achieve for your organization,” Adenle says. “If your employees are supported during change, implementation will be seamless and swift. Remember, organizations don’t change, people do.”
Adenle says the biggest mistake managers make when implementing change is overlooking the readiness of workers for change and not having a system ready that enables the transition.
“Organizations that are clued up about change are aware of the importance of involving and supporting employees during change. In such organizations, usually, they engage employees and other relevant stakeholders (read more here)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Research: Every Team Needs a Devil's Advocate

Isn't it nice when everyone at work seems to get along? Decisions are often made easily and unanimously and life seems to flow smoothly among the cubicles.

But a new study says that such harmony may have a downside. Specifically, researchers found that teams can benefit from a "skewed conflict." While that may sound like another "Divergent" sequel, it means that a small group -- or even just one person -- plays devil's advocate and pokes holes in a team's approach to a problem.

A key finding is that these naysayers need to be constructive with their criticism, and not pummel the team with verbal jabs. Criticism that isn't offered respectfully and in a constructive way only leads to conflict and undermines the effort to search for better answers, researchers say.

This research is important because it's been a challenge to find the right balance in team dynamics. If everyone disagrees, then there is chaos and nothing gets resolved. If everyone agrees, then the answer to a problem may not be the best one because no one pushes for a better way. But having a small group disagree with the larger group seems to strike the right tone and get the best results, researchers say.

The key for managers will be finding the devil' s advocate who can offer constructive criticism and push for better answers without alienating team members.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Action Without Traction" Exhausts Managers

If you spent $15 million at work and had nothing to show for it, would your company be OK with it?
Probably not. No company would put up with that kind of cash outflow and not expect something in return, whether it was a new product, idea or service.
Yet, that’s what is happening as managers struggle to solve a complex problem, and end up spending millions of dollars that bring no solution. They spend the money on surveys, consultants and technology – or fire and hire workers as they look for a way out of a messy situation.
In a new book, “Stop Spending, Start Managing: Strategies to Transform Wasteful Habits,” authors Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson say this “action without traction” is a problem that not only wastes money, but hurts creativity, innovation and productivity.
The authors asked 83 senior executives from a variety of industries to think about their most critical people problem at work, and then estimate the average cost. The results showed an average cost of $15.5 million, along with 5,514 hours dedicated to the problem. In addition, an average of 357 people in the organization were used – employees who could have been doing something else other than dealing with the issue.
The problem-solving approach that was used most often was discussing it in meetings (68%), followed by conducting analyses (43%) and hiring a consultant (36%). Twenty percent admitted to doing nothing.
At the same time, the executives estimated that there was only a 46% chance that these approaches would solve the problem.
“It’s people problems, not technical problems, that exact the greatest toll on productivity,” the authors say.
Menon, an associate professor at Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, says that as companies are under increasing pressure to innovate to keep up with the competition, there is more disagreement among workers on how best to do it. That can lead to endless head-butting among different factions of workers and frustrated managers who are trying to be proactive in solving the problem.
“You may talk to these people over and over and it’s just an endless cycle of the same arguments,” Menon says. “It’s that lack of results that exhaust you. You’re making no progress, and as a manager, that just kills you.”
Managers aren’t spending money to solve the problems because they are wasteful, (read the rest hereA)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Study: Workplace Incivility is Contagious

Every workplace has at least one -- that snarky employee who is rude and has a ready put-down for any colleague unlucky enough to interact with him or her.

But a new study shows that such an employee may be much more than just an annoyance -- he or she can become like a bad flu virus and begin infecting others with  incivility. The result can be a work environment that saps the energy of workers and affects their productivity.

Specifically, while curt remarks and other rude behavior aren't openly hostile acts, such behavior mentally fatigues employees because they are "somewhat ambiguous and require employees to figure out whether there was an abusive intent," says Russell Johnson of Michigan State University, one of the researchers.

The problem is growing. It's estimated that workplace incivility has doubled over the last 20 years and comes at a price: the average annual impact on companies is $14,000 per employee due to loss of production and work time.

It's not that everyone just gives up and decides to be rude. Research shows that there are "incivility spires" when rude behavior spawns more rude behavior. (Such spires were found to be more common in workplaces where politics rules, such as employees looking out for themselves and not the organization.)

"When employees are mentally fatigued, it is more difficult for them to keep their negative impulses and emotions in check, which leads them to be condescending and rude to colleagues,” Johnson says. “This happens even for employees who desire to be agreeable and polite; they simply lack the energy to suppress curt and impatient responses.”

The question now for organizations striving to be more collaborative, innovative and productive is: How to curb such behavior?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Brian Tracy: How Super-Successful People Get It All Done

When you’ve been researching how to work smarter for more than 30 years as productivity expert Brian Tracy has done, you’ve learned a thing or two about how to get the best out of others – and yourself – on the job.
That’s why in his latest book, “Get Smart!: How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field,” Tracy, Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, stresses that employees and leaders have more control over their productivity than they may believe. While they may complain that they’re overloaded with work, the truth is that they’re responsible for overloading themselves. 
Brian Tracy on How to Get Better Team Results Every Day_book cover
For example, while technology came along as a tool to help workers, instead it has become the thing that workers use to distract themselves. Instead of doing important tasks, they’re entertaining themselves with videos and chatting with colleagues for hours. Instead of completing a project, they’re focused on answering emails that could wait or checking out social media sites, he says,
Research has shown that every time a worker checks email or goes online, he or she gets a rush of dopamine,” he says. “They become addicted to the rush and cannot stop. That’s the tragedy of technology.”
Tracy advises your brain will perform much better if you avoid going online except to check email about twice a day. “Turn. It. Off,” he stresses.  “And break the habit of checking it first thing in the morning or you’ll never turn it off and won’t be aware it’s even happening.”
Another way to pump up your brain power is to simply sit quietly, he says.
“Shut off your phone and your computer. You can’t think when you’re running around. But when you sit quietly, you can start to think of the important things,” he says.
Of course, there are times it’s important to interact with colleagues such as when working on a project together, but most teams would benefit if members focused on their most critical tasks and engaged in more “slow thinking,” he says.
Tracy explains that many decisions are made on incomplete information or wrong assumptions. But the (read more here)

Monday, August 8, 2016

2 Words to Help You Retain, Recruit the Best Workers

It can be frustrating as a manager when your best talent walks out the door and you're forced to begin looking for someone to replace him or her.

It also can be expensive -- the Society for Human Resource Management estimates the average cost-per-hire is $4,100 and it takes 42 days to fill a position.

While many employers try to attract and retain workers by having beer pong on Fridays and offering everything from nap rooms to free cookies in the break room, a new study may shed some light on what employees and job candidates really want.


Not the kind of appreciation that comes in the form of a spa day or a bonus, but the kind that comes straight from a manager's mouth: "Thank you."

A recent Appirio survey found:

  • 60% of respondents say when considering a job offer, the most important thing is knowing whether the staff feel appreciated by management. Only 4% ranked knowing how often employees were evaluated for pay raises as the most important.
  • 55% value receiving a "thank you" from their managers for a job well done on a project. Only 8% say they would be disappointed if the same project didn't bring them a cash reward.
So, if you're worried about losing talented staff members to the competition, try saying "thank you" more often. It could just be it will become the biggest retention tool you have -- as well as the most enticing recruitment message you can offer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How to Create an Innovative Culture

When Dr. Amantha Imber first meets with potential new hires for her company, Inventium, one of things she’ll ask is: “What are your favorite apps?”
Imber, a psychologist and the founder of Inventium, an innovation consultancy in Australia, says that the question helps her to get a “quick sense of how tech-savvy and tech aware they are.”
“I often feel there is a bit of a link between someone being tech-savvy and being able to solve those little problems that come up every day at work,” she says.
Imber says that she sees a growing trend in companies – including her own – to let more employees develop their own solutions to help them be more innovative and productive. Technology is certainly part of that equation, allowing workers who are closest to a problem to come up with the right solution when they need it instead of always relying on someone from IT.
She stresses it’s also important that leaders are vocal in supporting such efforts, which helps set the tone that innovation is a critical part of everyone’s job – including the C-suite – and  must be a priority.
“When leaders delegate innovation, it signals to other employees that these leaders are too ‘important’ to be working on innovation, and that it thus has a lower priority than other activities that they don’t decide to delegate,” she says. “We know from research that having a culture that encourages risk-taking and where failure is not thought of as a dirty word is critical for allowing innovation to thrive.”
She says that it’s not only companies like Google that can empower their workers to reach for new ideas. For example, any manager can help individual workers be more innovative, simply by giving (read more here)

Monday, August 1, 2016

3 Ways Bosses Can Boost Productivity of a Team

Companies that don't boot bad bosses to the curb or at least re-train them to be better bosses might want to pay attention to new research that shows good bosses -- unlike bad bosses -- boost productivity.

Kathryn Shaw of the Stanford Graduate School of Business found in a study of technology-based workers that that bosses have a "big effect" on productivity and the good ones keep workers more engaged and productive.

So what makes a good boss? Specifically, a case study of the Royal Bank of Canada found that traits of good bosses include:

1. Setting a vision. Employees understand where they fit in the company and the role they play in success.

2. Driving results. Good bosses ensure that teams and individuals are productive. They do this by teaching, coaching and motivating workers.

3. Managing output. These managers know how to keep daily work flow moving, but also help workers set and achieve career goals.

Finally, the research shows that the impact of good bosses lingers on an employee's performance, even if an employee goes to work for someone less motivating.

"A good boss can help an employee be more productive even after they no longer work for him," Shaw says. "This can be because the employee was taught something they can carry with them to another job."