Labor Law Posters Are Not a Substitute for Mandatory Employee Handouts

Hr Bartender - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 02:57

(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Poster Guard® Compliance Protection, a division of HRdirect and the leading labor law poster service that gets your business up to date with all required federal, state and local labor law postings, and then keeps it that way — for an entire year. Enjoy the article!)

Last month, we discussed the labor law posting requirements for remote workers. After I published that post, it occurred to me that there are other postings organizations might not be aware of…such as employee handouts. According to Ashley Kaplan, Esquire, senior employment attorney for HRdirect, there are two distinct types of mandatory employee notifications: labor law posters and employee handouts.

And because there are two types of mandatory employee communications, it possible that organizations might overlook employee handouts thinking they’ve got it covered with labor law posters. Kaplan says, “there is some overlap with posters, so it can be confusing to employers what’s required at a federal, state and local level.” Let’s take a high-level look at mandatory employee handouts.

4 Things Every Employer Needs to Know about Mandatory Employee Handouts

In a webinar about mandatory employee handouts, Kaplan shared four key things that employers should remember when it comes to required employee communications:

  1. Mandatory handouts are legal notifications, typically issued by government agencies. Common examples are Family and Medical Leave, Workers’ Compensation, and sexual harassment in the workplace. These notifications are required at a federal, state, and local level. In addition, government agencies might require notifications in multiple languages.
  2. Many required handouts are distributed to employees at the time of hire during orientation. However, some handouts are “event driven”, meaning that they must be distributed at the time of the event. For instance, Family and Medical Leave notifications should be provided to the employee when they are requesting leave.
  3. Remember current employees need to be notified as well. When new notifications are required, organizations should start giving new hires those new required notifications, BUT we can’t forget about existing employees. They need to be notified about the new or changed requirements as well. Keep in mind that some government agencies will require that notifications are acknowledged (i.e. signed) by the employee.
  4. And finally, these employee handouts are in addition toany labor law poster requirements for your workplace. Yes, this is what makes mandatory employee notifications so tricky. Kaplan pointed out that some laws require only postings, some require postings and handouts, and others only handouts. It’s important to know the requirements.
In Human Resources, Time is Money

I’ve got some good news and not-so-good news. 

The good news is that some government agencies do offer free downloads of these employee handouts. In those situations, HR can simply download the document. That’s not the issue. 

The not-so-good news is that there’s no government one stop shop that will tell you everything you’re required to do. According to Kaplan, there are “across the nation, more than 400 different federal and state notices that employers must distribute based on different triggering events. In a state like California, there can be up to 32 employee notices issued by up to five different agencies for compliance.”

Let me add that more often than not agencies don’t notify employers of changes. So not only do employers need to know where to look for the legal requirements, they have to regularly go back and double check to ensure they are in compliance.

One more thing. There are instances where government agencies do not offer templates or free downloads. Employers are responsible for creating the handout on their own. And I don’t have to tell you what that means. HR is responsible for everything that comes with designing the new form – researching the legal guidelines, creating the document, getting legal approvals, communicating the change, etc. Oh, and I know I don’t have to tell you (but I’ll say it anyway) that, if an organization is caught being out of compliance, they are subject to fines, penalties, and legal exposure. 

But let me end this section with some more good news. You don’t have do this alone. Our friends at Poster Guard have recently introduced a new Mandatory Employee Handout service. It was developed by their legal team to help businesses comply with all of these handout requirements.

With the service, employers are provided with electronic access to current federal and state handouts, so they can print or email them to employees. Poster Guard takes care of monitoring, so organizations will always have the most up-to-date information to share with employees. AND they’ve also built some templates that you can use to create your own. 

Right now, HRdirect is offering HR Bartender readers a discount to try their Mandatory Employee Handout service. Just use the code SC28549 at checkout to receive 25 percent off the Poster Guard Compliance Protection service. This applies to all three tiers of service offered and the two products they have for remote workers. But don’t delay! The code expires on December 31, 2018.

Notifying Employees is the Right Thing to Do

I understand that compliance isn’t the sexiest part of human resources. But it’s essential to the business and not just from the standpoint of avoiding fines and penalties. 

Telling employees their legal rights is simply the right thing to do. The last thing organizations want is to develop a reputation for being an employer that doesn’t operate in good faith. We don’t do that with our customers and we don’t want to do it with employees. It will impact the company’s ability to hire, engage, and retain the best talent, which ultimately impacts the bottom-line. 

The post Labor Law Posters Are Not a Substitute for Mandatory Employee Handouts appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Research: Hiring Managers Are Biased Against People with Longer Commutes

Harvard business - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 08:00
shanghaiface/Getty Images

Thanks to the résumé, the first things employers learn about job applicants are their names and where they live. Résumés attach a place to a person, and addresses indirectly tell employers something about the applicant’s neighbors, commute, income level, and preferences for neighborhood amenities. This bit of information may influence who employers pick. Can this perception of place perpetuate bias and inequity?

In a forthcoming study, I tested how employers respond to similar applicants who report different residential addresses. I was particularly interested in whether perceptions of place can perpetuate poverty and inequality. So my team of research assistants and I identified a collection of low-wage jobs in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2014. We sent 2260 résumés from fictional people to these jobs.  The applicants varied in their proximity to the job’s location and their neighborhood’s level of affluence. Roughly 4 in 5 applicants received no response, a handful were rejected, and about 1 in 5 received a positive response, such as an invitation to interview.

My results show that applicants living in distant neighborhoods received positive responses from employers less frequently than those living near the workplace. In fact, applicants who lived 5-6 miles farther from the job received about one-third fewer callbacks. The size of this penalty is similar to the penalty for signaling race with a black-indicating name. (For background: Other prominent studies compare employer responses to fictional applicants with names that signal different ethnicities. They provide some of the clearest evidence of significant discrimination in employment and rental housing. Comparing racial discrimination to a penalty for long commutes is complicated for many reasons, not the least of which is that race and place are related in DC.  But the comparison at least provides a benchmark. In my study, an extra six miles of commuting lowers an applicant’s chances by as much as listing a black-indicating name like Jamal or Lakisha.)

In some ways, avoiding applicants with long commutes makes a lot of sense from the employer’s point of view. Low-wage jobs tend to have high turnover and absence rates, which could be exacerbated when the employee has a long ride to work. Recently on a radio show discussing my research, a former suburban hiring manager called in to echo this sentiment: “We had a difficult time finding applicants for our low-level clerical positions because those applicants lived in the city. … We found that we were not able to keep those employees very long because of the long commute. … So, as we were recruiting for employees, we definitely took into account where they lived.” Transportation probably matters most for these for these entry-level employees who are less able to buy stable transportation than their high-wage counterparts.

Of course, real job applicants from distant and nearby neighborhoods differ by more than just their commutes. In D.C., neighborhoods farther from jobs tend to be poorer neighborhoods, and applicants who apply to jobs from those neighborhoods face obstacles due to race, class, and so on. I wanted to understand whether employers care about an address because of proximity or these other factors. It turns out that employers care more about commute distance. When I presented employers with two applicants from neighborhoods with similar levels of affluence but different commute distances, they still preferred the nearby applicant. I also edited all aspects of the fictional person’s name, work history, education, etc., so people from different neighborhoods appeared similar on average. Other factors equal, proximity matters.

And yet even if bias does not drive the commute penalty, picking employees according to distance can drive social inequity. In D.C., census data shows that a black person lives, on average, one mile farther from low-wage jobs than a white person.  In many cities, urban revitalization has also led to increased rents, gentrification, and movement of low-income, minority groups away from jobs. So, when a low-wage employer avoids an employee due to their commute, that penalty disproportionately affects groups facing other disadvantages. A person could move to a distant, low-rent neighborhood because they face a temporary economic difficulty and then become trapped by their address. Explicit bias does not need to be present to reinforce inequity.

So how might employers resolve an apparent tension between a reliable workforce and reinforcing racial inequality and neighborhood poverty? The first step is to simply be aware of the equity implications of apparently neutral practices. A company that considers attributes of a candidate’s home location can cause inequity even if not intentionally redlining entire communities.  Likewise, frequently changing work schedules may disrupt precarious travel arrangements for otherwise productive workers.

Second, improving the extent, quality, and affordability of employees’ transportation can help. Community-wide public transit programs, like recent low-income fare programs, are likely beyond the scope of private businesses. However, some high-wage employers actively work to manage their employees’ transportation. Several tech companies provide dedicated bus service to their Silicon Valley headquarters. These companies clearly believe that the benefits of these services for employee productivity and retention outweigh the significant cost of running a bus system. Are there similar programs that could be developed for lower-wage workers as well? Given the right circumstances, providing employee transportation could help the employer while creating social benefits.

Finally, for a broader range of employers, partnerships with local government or social service providers could meet joint goals of profitability and public good. Some of this is happening already. Local governments and employers in less densely populated places, including in my own city in Indiana, are working together to supplement their low-wage workers’ unpredictable transportation arrangements with ride-sharing services.  Other employers have hired social service organizations to provide on-site services that help employees navigate instability in their lives, including with transportation, that would otherwise drive turnover. While more research is needed to ensure these options are cost-effective, creative partnerships can help navigate an employer’s tension between hiring employees who can reliably arrive at work and reinforcing social inequity.

Categories: Blogs

How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Harvard business - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 07:00
Caiaimage/Andy Roberts/Getty Images

A client (who I’ll call “Alex”) asked me to help him prepare to interview for a CEO role with a start-up. It was the first time he had interviewed for the C-level, and when we met, he was visibly agitated. I asked what was wrong, and he explained that he felt “paralyzed” by his fear of failing at the high-stakes meeting.

Digging deeper, I discovered that Alex’s concern about the quality of his performance stemmed from a “setback” he had experienced and internalized while working at his previous company. As I listened to him describe the situation, it became clear that the failure was related to his company and outside industry factors, rather than to any misstep on his part. Despite that fact, Alex could not shake the perception that he himself had not succeeded, even though there was nothing he could have logically done to anticipate or change this outcome.

People are quick to blame themselves for failure, and companies hedge against it even if they pay lip service to the noble concept of trial and error. What can you do if you, like Alex, want to face your fear of screwing up and push beyond it to success? Here are four steps you can take:

Redefine failure. Behind many fears is worry about doing something wrong, looking foolish, or not meeting expectations — in other words, fear of failure. By framing a situation you’re dreading differently before you attempt it, you may be able to avoid some stress and anxiety.

Let’s go back to Alex as an example of how to execute this. As he thought about his interview, he realized that his initial bar for failing the task — “not being hired for the position” — was perhaps too high given that he’d never been a CEO and had never previously tried for that top job. Even if his interview went flawlessly, other factors might influence the hiring committee’s decision — such as predetermined preferences on the part of board members.

You and Your Team Series Learning

In coaching Alex through this approach, I encouraged him to redefine how he would view his performance in the interview. Was there a way he might interpret it differently from the get-go and be more open to signs of success, even if they were small? Could he, for example, redefine failure as not being able to answer any of the questions posed or receiving specific negative feedback? Could he redefine success as being able to answer each question to the best of his ability and receiving no criticisms about how he interviewed?

As it turned out, Alex did advance to the second round and was complimented on his preparedness. Ultimately, he did not get the job. But because he had shifted his mindset and redefined what constituted failure and success, he was able to absorb the results of the experience more gracefully and with less angst than he had expected.

Set approach goals (not avoidance goals). Goals can be classified as approach goals or avoidance goals based on whether you are motivated by wanting to achieve a positive outcome or avoid an adverse one. Psychologists have found that creating approach goals, or positively reframing avoidance goals, is beneficial for well-being. When you’re dreading a tough task and expect it to be difficult and unpleasant, you may unconsciously set goals around what you don’t want to happen rather than what you do want.

Though nervous about the process, Alex’s desire to become a CEO was an approach goal because it focused on what he wanted to achieve in his career rather than what he hoped to avoid. Although he didn’t land the first CEO job he tried to get, he did not let that fact deter him from keeping that as his objective and getting back out there.

If Alex had instead become discouraged about the outcome of his first C-level interview and decided to actively avoid the pain of rejection by never vying for the top spot again, he would have shifted from approach to avoidance mode. While developing an avoidance goal is a common response to a perceived failure, it’s important to keep in mind the costs of doing so. Research has shown that employees who take on an avoidance focus become twice as mentally fatigued as their approach-focused colleagues.

Create a “fear list.” Author and investor Tim Ferriss recommends “fear-setting,” creating a checklist of what you are afraid to do and what you fear will happen if you do it. In his Ted Talk on the subject, he shares how doing this enabled him to tackle some of his hardest challenges, resulting in some of his biggest successes.

I asked Alex to make three lists:  first, the worst-case scenarios if he bombed the interview; second, things he could do to prevent the failure; and third, in the event the flop occurred, what could he do to repair it. Next, I asked him to write down the benefits of the attempted effort and the cost of inaction. This exercise helped him realize that although he was anxious, walking away from the opportunity would be more harmful to his career in the long run.

Focus on learning. The chips aren’t always going to fall where you want them to — but if you understand that reality going in, you can be prepared to wring the most value out of the experience, no matter the outcome.

To return to Alex, he was able to recognize through the coaching process that being hyper-focused on his previous company’s flop — and overestimating his role in it — caused him to panic about the CEO interview. When he shifted gears to focus not on his potential for failure but on what he would learn from competing at a higher level than he had before, he stopped sweating that first attempt and was able to see it as a steppingstone on a longer journey to the CEO seat. With that mindset, he quickly pivoted away from his disappointment at not getting the offer to quickly planning for the next opportunity to interview for a similar role at another company.

Remember:  it’s when you feel comfortable that you should be fearful, because it’s a sign that you’re not stepping far enough out of your comfort zone to take steps that will help you rise and thrive. By rethinking your fears using the four steps above, you can come to see apprehension as a teacher and guide to help you achieve your most important goals.

Categories: Blogs

What Will It Take to Make Finance More Gender-Balanced?

Harvard business - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 06:05
shutterjack/Getty Images

We overheard male classmates bond with internship interviewers about fantasy football drafts. We were taught that Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham were the best modern investors. We witnessed senior men sexualize younger women employees. It is no wonder we came to fear our gender would keep us from achieving the same level of success as our male peers in finance.

Because one of us (Malin) grew up in Sweden, considered to be one of the most gender-equal countries, with family-friendly policies that emphasize both parents’ responsibility of raising a family, we wondered whether gender equality in the finance industry in Sweden had progressed further than it had in the U.S. – and if there were any lessons to be learned there.

We turned to those most able to effect change in finance: the professionals actively working in the field. We surveyed 60 finance professionals —ranging from partners in top investment banks and senior members of VC firms, to junior traders and entry-level financial consultants—and interviewed 30 in more detail. Our samples were about half men and half women, and about 67% from the U.S. and 33% from Sweden. We asked about gender representation in their firms, and whether they believed they could positively impact gender equality in their workplace (also known as self-efficacy).

Going into the study, we expected to see equal representation of women and men in senior leadership positions in Sweden and higher self-efficacy among professionals in Sweden than in the U.S. We doubted, for example, that we would come across Swedish investment banking teams with under 40% women. Contrary to our expectations, we found that our initial perceptions were incorrect in the more competitive fields of finance, such as venture capital, investment banking, and securities.

Consider investment banking. The Swedish investment bankers we interviewed told us their teams were on average only comprised of 5% to 20% women. Those who responded to our survey also had less confidence than American investment bankers in their own ability to impact gender equality in their firms. And although there were family friendly policies in place in Swedish firms, team members expressed that it was not culturally encouraged to take full use of them.

This made us think that the field you work in can matter as much or more than the country you work in. The more male-dominated fields in finance are also those with the longest working hours (over 60 hours per week), and according to estimates among the employees we interviewed, these fields seem to be comparably unequal (with women making up less than 20% of the workforce) in both the U.S. and Sweden. Family-friendly policies alone may not be enough to drive change in gender equality in finance.

But in fields such as retail banking and corporate finance, where there is higher female representation, our survey respondents and interviewees did suggest that gender equality is greater in Swedish firms than in comparable U.S. firms. Many of the managers in retail and commercial banking we interviewed in Sweden stated that their teams were made up of well over 50% women. Many also had women in senior leadership positions including on boards. The U.S. finance professionals we studied reported lower numbers.

When we asked interviewees why there is a lack of women in their firms, the most common response in both countries was that they believe women are not interested in finance. When pressed further, they identified two reasons: a masculine culture and long working hours.

The long working hours explanation makes sense when you see it as an obstacle to raising a family. The responsibility of raising a family has, in both countries, traditionally fallen more often on women, and prior research has shown that employees who work long hours tend to have a partner that takes on disproportionate responsibility in the home. This was brought up by many of our senior interviewees. Several referred to a discrepancy in “what [men and women] are willing to compromise and give up along the way [for their career],” as stated by a senior U.S. male trader, suggesting that some senior men still believe women are more likely to forego a career in order to raise a family.

But data shows that, at least in the U.S., only 2% of men and 2% of women say they plan to leave the workforce to focus on their families; Sweden’s parental leave policies allude to similar societal views. Although long working hours might have a more negative impact on women than men due to the unequal division of housework and childcare, none of our women interviewees commented that long working hours impact them more negatively than their male colleagues.

More survey respondents and interviewees pointed to a masculine and unwelcoming culture as the main reason for why there weren’t more women in certain fields of finance. Many of the women we interviewed are among the only women at their firms, and they often attributed part of their success to their comfort in a masculine environment. Several described themselves as comfortable in this type of culture, or they were described this way by their colleagues. “I grew up with two brothers, and most of my closest friends are guys… to be honest, it would be more uncomfortable for me to work with a lot of women,” one Swedish female investment banker told us.

It’s not hard to see how this thinking can pressure women to assimilate to the masculine culture to advance in the field, and how this might create a barrier for women, like ourselves, who don’t want to mask our femininity in order to succeed.

We did learn about a few unlikely allies. A number of respondents expressed that their teams strive for more equal gender representation due to external client pressures. To our surprise, respondents told us that clients were one of the main reasons teams kept gender representation in mind. Client-side work is known for harsh hours and a lack of flexibility stemming from unpredictable client demands. But, for better or for worse, many of our female interviewees referenced being invited to meetings because they were women, seeing questions about gender representation in RFPs, and hearing clients explicitly comment on the lack of women on calls.  One woman explained, “[I am] expected to show up to a lot more meetings, because we are often criticized for not bringing along women.”

Although this can encourage representation of women, some interviewees noted that it has increased perceived competition between women in their workplace. If management is incentivized to have a woman in each meeting, women are incentivized to maintain their status as the token woman on the team as a tool for career progression.

Another group of allies? Young people, especially young men, in both countries, with less than four years of work experience after college, were most vocally concerned about the lack of equal gender representation at their firms. This is consistent with other research on male allies in the U.S., finding young men to be the best positioned to advocate for gender equality.

The solution to the lack of female representation in masculine fields of finance may not lay in Sweden as we had hoped, but by the end of our study, we felt somewhat reassured. We learned of grassroots movements at finance firms in both countries to promote gender equality. Several of the firms our respondents worked in have started focus groups and are actively having conversations about what they can do to attract and retain graduating women.

Despite the progress that has been made, we clearly still have a long way to go to reach gender equality in finance. We hope that senior level professionals at finance firms will realize that graduating women like ourselves are aware of these issues and are actively choosing careers at firms that are making concerted efforts to improve. Clients also need to use their position of power to effect positive change in the financial firms that they do business with by making crucial but simple demands for equal representation and inclusion. Future students should not have to worry about their gender being a barrier to their success.

Categories: Blogs

Recruiting Challenges: People and Process Are the Answer

Hr Bartender - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 02:57

Organizations continue to be focused on finding the best talent. Even organizations that have recently announced layoffs and reorganizations are still focused on hiring, engaging, and retaining the best talent. Any time an organization hires someone – even one person – they want that person to be the best. Then they want them to become engaged with their role and stay with the company.

I know many HR departments that are examining their current recruiting processes to see if there are places where they can become more effective and efficient. One way to do that is to think about people and process.

1) Do we have the right people involved in hiring? And have we given them the tools to be successful?

2) Are we using the right processes to source, interview, and select employees?

Here are a few of the popular posts from HR Bartender that you might find useful in evaluating your recruiting processes:

10 Strategies for Recruiting in a Highly Competitive Job Market

Recruiting can be a challenge during normal times. To recruit in a highly competitive job market, consider using some of these proven strategies.

5 Ways to Reinvent the Traditional Job Interview

The job interview has changed a lot over the years. But, has it changed enough to keep up? Here are 5 ways to reinvent the traditional job interview.

Pre-Employment Tests Can Help HR Hire Faster (and Better)

Hiring the right candidate has never been more important. Pre-employment tests can help HR hire faster and better. But you have to find the right tests.

And, when it comes to the people involved in hiring, here are some things to consider:

Your Company Culture is Responsible for Attracting and Retaining Talent

Attracting and retaining employees is more important than ever. Your company culture holds the key. Here are some resources to learn more about culture.

The 10 Skills Every Recruiter Should Have

Every recruiter needs to perform at a high level. Having the right skills is important. Use this list to help develop effective skills in every recruiter.

10 Recruiting Tips for First Time Managers

Knowing how to recruit top talent is important. And new managers need strong recruiting skills. Here are 10 recruiting tips for first time managers.

Before Interviewing, Train Hiring Managers on These 5 Things

Hiring managers have a critical job. You can’t assume they can recruit just because they have a title. First, train your hiring manager on these 5 things.

IMHO, recruiting is one of the HR functions that should be evaluated regularly. Even if no one thinks there’s a problem. It’s important to keep both the processes and individual skills current. That way, organizations can stay ahead of the competition. And isn’t that what finding the best talent is all about?

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Las Vegas, NV

The post Recruiting Challenges: People and Process Are the Answer appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Iconic: How to Attain the Ultimate Level of Distinction

Leadershipnow - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 16:23

S COTT MCKAIN wrote the book on creating distinction in a world of homogenization. In Create Distinction he discusses how we got here and how we can create distinction for ourselves and our organizations. Having passion, product knowledge and commitment is not enough. Are you creating a distinctive story so that those who chose you the first time will come back for more? It’s not just a matter of being different. It’s about being uncommonly excellent.

Creating distinction is based on four cornerstones: clarity (being precise about who you are), creativity (built on clarity, it’s about discovering a different approach—delivering creatively), communication (creating and delivering a compelling story), and customer-experience focus (create distinctive experiences for your clients).

In the years since Create Distinction was published McKain realized there was another place beyond distinction. Becoming iconic. Once you achieve distinction, it’s time to become truly iconic. In Iconic: How Organizations and Leaders Attain, Sustain, and Regain the Highest Level of Distinction, he writes: Iconic organizations and leaders have become such universal symbols of distinction they are not only irresistible to customers in their marketplace, they compel interest and admiration across a wide spectrum.
How do you attain iconic status? How do you maintain and enhance that status once you achieve it? And how do you regain that status if it has eroded in the marketplace? The answers to these questions are explained in detail in this book. Briefly, the process is based on the five factors of iconic performance that take an organization or a leader to a level beyond distinction:

Play Offense. “Every moment you are playing defense against the competition wastes a moment you could be innovating to make them irrelevant.” Play to your strengths and create accountability with clear expectations, measurement, feedback, and consequences. Make it special—leave a trail of tangibles.

Get the Promise and Performance Right. People evaluate us on promise and performance. “The challenge is that customers will always evaluate your performance based on the promise from their point-of-view … not yours.” Performance is in the eye of the beholder. “Iconic companies find a way to accelerate their promises while improving their performance to a public that has already become predisposed to expect their excellence.”

Stop Selling. Build a relationship. “Appeal to the aspirations of your customers and prospects. Then invite them to savor the experience that they desire through your product or service.” Think less like a professional and more like a rapper—let it flow!

Go Negative. This may seem a bit counterintuitive. Know your weaknesses. “Iconic companies are obsessed with learning what they did wrong, so they can change the behavior—or process—that created the unpleasant experience in the first place.” Check your culture. It may be holding you back from iconic status. “Don’t be satisfied with satisfied customers. See to have amazed, thrilled, and overjoyed followers.” Go negative doesn't mean a negative attitude. Instead, develop a defensive pessimism. “Defensive pessimism is examining what has gone—or could go—wrong, so you take the necessary steps to prevent it from occurring.”

Reciprocal Respect. Disrespectful behavior should never be tolerated. “What you tolerate you endorse.” How do you display respect to others? McKain recommends six ways: Don’t just hear—listen. Display open body language. Don’t nitpick. Show how you’re following up. Don’t withhold praise. Treat others equally and with sensitivity.

Obtaining, maintaining, and regaining iconic status requires brutal honesty. Think like a start-up. Have an innovative mindset and look at everything you do from a fresh customer-centric focus.

Again be sure to examine your culture. “Until your culture is right internally—no matter the size of your organization—many of your external efforts won’t help.” Your efforts may just draw attention to what you’re doing wrong in the eyes of your customers. Everyone in the organization needs to be on board with providing an excellent experience. “All components of the company have to be aligned internally before they can expect results externally.”

The examples McKain uses throughout really help to drive the lessons home and trigger the thinking necessary to implement them in your situation.

By the way, McKain has a great set of five short videos on his Instagram page explaining each of the five factors. Here’s #4 on Going Negative.

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Categories: Blogs

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan, and the Need for Stronger Corporate Governance in Japan

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 14:19
Westend61/Getty Images

Carlos Ghosn was widely recognized as a hero in Japan for turning around Nissan when it was on the brink of bankruptcy in 1999. Things couldn’t look more different today. Ghosn was recently arrested for financial misconduct, fired from his position as Nissan’s board chairman, and criticized by Nissan’s Japanese CEO for accumulating too much power.  Without Ghosn, the Nissan-Renault alliance is likely to falter — leaving two small auto manufacturers without competitive economies of scale.

Ghosn’s swift downfall comes as a result of a Japanese criminal case against him for causing Nissan to make incomplete securities disclosures about his deferred compensation. These disclosure problems are rooted in the company’s weak governance procedures, and they offer a lesson to investors in Japan’s other listed companies about the need for much stronger governance protections than those brought about by recent Japanese reforms.

The heart of the legal controversy is whether Nissan violated Japan’s securities laws by not including Ghosn’s deferred compensation in its annual reports over the last eight years. Under Ghosn’s deferred compensation arrangement, he would receive substantial payments from Nissan after his retirement – the equivalent of $44 million. Such payments were not taxable when this arrangement was made, but would become taxable when Ghosn actually received them.

Since 2009, all Japanese listed companies have been required to disclose in their annual reports an executive’s compensation if it exceeded 100 million yen – the equivalent of $800,000.  This rule was pushed through by the new head of Japan’s Financial Services Agency, an outspoken critic of the high pay awarded to corporate executives.

According to this Agency, executive compensation includes retirement bonuses, which must be disclosed once they are fixed in amount.  But a lawyer for Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive who consulted outside experts about Ghosn’s deferred compensation arrangements, said that his client believed that the payments due to Ghosn were not “fixed” in amount and therefore were not disclosable.

Nevertheless, an article in the Nikkei Asian Review stated that Japanese prosecutors had obtained internal Nissan documents allegedly showing that the amounts of the deferred payments to Ghosn were fixed and therefore subject to disclosure. If these documents in fact exist, they raise fundamental questions about the company’s role in any securities violation and the failure of its governance procedures.

These questions should be of concern to all investors in Japanese listed companies, as many Japanese public companies have explored strategies for reducing the amount of CEO pay included in their annual reports. As one accountant based in Japan during 2010, explained, “there was a big rush of inquiries about schemes that might be used either to split out salaries or defer part of it.”

If Nissan’s internal documents show that Ghosn’s deferred compensation was “fixed” in amount, why didn’t the Chief Financial Officer include these payments in its annual reports for eight years? Didn’t Nissan have internal controls designed to assure the accuracy and completeness of its public disclosures? And didn’t Nissan’s independent auditors check the disclosures in its annual report against the compensation records for its highest paid executive?

Let’s start with the last question. The independent auditor of Nissan was the Japanese affiliate of Ernst &Young, which served as the external auditor of two Japanese companies recently involved in major accounting fraud – Olympus and Toshiba.  Nissan does not have an audit committee, which would be required to appoint its independent auditor and reviews its audit procedures under the laws of most advanced industrial countries. Instead, the independent auditor is effectively chosen by the company’s chairman, subject to board approval. As a result, when making close calls on the company’s financial reports, that auditor may be too deferential to Nissan management.

Another problem is Nissan’s board does not have a compensation committee, which would decide the pay of the company’s top executives under the laws of most advanced industrial countries.  Nor does the board issue a compensation report, which explains the rationale and metrics for setting executive compensation. Although Ghosn claimed that the board is “sovereign” on setting his pay, Ghosn had enormous leeway in determining the amount and structure of his compensation. His discretion undermined the connection between company performance and CEO pay that investors want to see.

The Nissan board also has no nominating committee; its chairman chooses the independent directors, subject to the board’s approval. By contrast, the laws of most advanced industrial countries require the board to be composed of a majority of independent directors, who are interviewed and recommended by its nominating committee. The purpose of a nominating committee is to assure that directors are selected on the basis of competence and independence, rather than friendliness to management.

Since 2002, listed Japanese companies were permitted to have three board committees— audit, compensation and nominating. However, my analysis of 3,803 such companies shows that only 22% had an audit committee and less than 1% had all three committees.

In 2015, Japan reformed its corporate governance code to require boards to have at least two independent directors. Nissan was among 11 companies in Japan’s TOPIX 500 to resist this reform. In 2015, Nissan had one outside director, but he was a former Renault executive and not really independent because of the Nissan-Renault alliance. Only in April 2018 did Nissan add two new independent directors, though they both lacked business or management experience — one was a race car driver; the other was a former Japanese bureaucrat — the Chief of the International Trade Policy Bureau.

After the Ghosn investigation began, Nissan did approve the creation of an advisory committee, composed entirely of independent directors. Although such committees have become popular in Japan under its new governance code, they have no real power to make corporate decisions, such as changing Nissan’s board structure.

A final problem for Japanese corporate governance is the extensive cross holdings of shares between companies with close business relationships, such as distributors or suppliers.  These cross holdings make it very difficult for unaffiliated shareholders to hold management accountable for sitting on unproductive piles of cash or subpar financial performance through a proxy contest or takeover bid.

While Ghosn was a vocal critic of Japanese cross holdings, the Nissan-Renault alliance remains a notable example of this practice. Renault holds a 43% voting position in Nissan; in turn, Nissan holds a 15% non-voting position in Renault.  Since Renault has de facto control of Nissan, public shareholders had no effective way to curb misbehavior by Ghosn or other Nissan executives.

The ratio of cross holdings to total shares at Japanese companies (excluding shares held by insurers) has fallen on average from 35% in 1990 to 10% in 2016, according to Nikko Asset Management. On the other hand, the Japanese Pension Association says that at least one third of the shares of Japanese listed companies are held by “allegiant” investors — including insurers and banks as well as corporate parents, founders’ families, and other affiliated firms — who almost always vote with company management.

In June of 2018, the Tokyo Stock Exchange introduced a revised version of the Corporate Governance Code, which strongly encourages Japanese listed companies to reduce their cross holdings. If that happens, it would give shareholders a better chance of holding management accountable for serious executive misconduct or poor company performance.

Whatever the outcome of the criminal investigation of Ghosn, it demonstrates the need for different committee structures at Japanese listed companies. The board of these companies should have a majority of truly independent and qualified directors, who should constitute a majority of its nominating, audit, and compensation committees. The nominating committee should find and recommend new directors; the audit committee should appoint the external auditor and review the company’s internal controls; and the compensation committee should set the criteria for executive pay in advance and explain the results to shareholders. If Nissan’s governance procedures had followed these recommendations, it likely could have avoided the recent scandal.

In short, Japan has taken some significant steps to improving the governance procedures of its listed companies.  But most of these companies still have a way to go to reach the best global practices of corporate governance.

Categories: Blogs

The Growing Business of Helping Customers Slow Down

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:47
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We are living in an age of acceleration. All manner of goods can be ordered online and delivered within hours. The next date is a swipe away. Even exercise and meditation are now accessed via apps and completed in minutes. This constantly increasing rate of technological advancement and social change is speeding up the pace of business and life itself, leaving most of us feeling time-poor.

How are people coping? Increasingly, by seeking out opportunities to slow down. Witness the rising popularity of yoga and wellness retreats (one of fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry), the slow food movement, and the spreading popularity of digital detoxes: time away from tech devices. The former director of BBC News recently launched Tortoise Media, which defines itself as slow news and offers the tagline “slow down, wise up.” And, in South Korea, a decidedly fast-paced, high-tech society, vacations in which burnt out workers spend time in a jail cell, treated like a prisoner, so that they can disconnect and decelerate, have become popular in the past year. This desire to decelerate is a major trend with implications for companies, organizations and society.

To explore why and how people can achieve deceleration, we studied another extreme version of it: we immersed ourselves with people walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, an ancient pilgrimage route that has been drawing ever larger crowds, of varied ages, religious backgrounds and countries of origin, in the past two decades. Through this research, we identified three key dimensions to slowing down:

  1. Embodied deceleration, which is the physical slowing down of the body. In our research, this was achieved via walking on a daily basis rather than using faster forms of transportation.
  2. Technological deceleration, which is not giving up technology, but carefully controlling its use and instead focusing on face-to-face communication. This often stems from the surroundings not allowing for constant connection rather than from self-control. In our study, some respondents left their work phones at home, or they connected to Wi-Fi only in the evenings.
  3. Episodic deceleration, which is engaging in only a few activities per day — in our data, walking, eating, sleeping — and, crucially, reducing the amount of consumption choices to be made.

In general, all three dimensions speak to ideas such as simplicity, de-materialization, and authenticity.

How do these findings translate into business insights? Companies are beginning to provide spaces where consumers can decelerate on all three dimensions. In the retail sector, for example, “slow shopping” the creation of calming, relaxed, private yet interactive experiences that encourage customers to stay (and spend) — has become a long-awaited response to e-commerce and high-tech self-checkouts. As reported here, Origins, a skin-care and make-up brand, redesigned its stores to provide more places for shoppers to sit down, encouraging embodied deceleration. Similarly, in 2013, Selfridges, the high-end British department store, built a quiet room where consumers can relax and engage in both embodied and technological deceleration.

In the tourism sector, while embodied and episodic deceleration has long been encouraged as part of luxury hotels’ wellness focus, we are beginning to see the absence of Wi-Fi marketed as an amenity, for example at Villa Stephanie in Baden-Baden, so guests aren’t posting experiences on Instagram but rather focusing on their holiday.

In fashion, brands such as Patagonia encourage customers toward investment purchases: a few, key sustainable clothing and accessory items kept over longer periods of time, reflecting an emphasis on authenticity and de-materialization via episodic deceleration.

We see the facilitation of deceleration — especially that which factors in all three dimensions — as beneficial for individual well-being, the environment and businesses alike. And we expect interest in such experiences to rise exponentially in coming years. Recognizing our existential need to occasionally slow down can be the basis for winning consumer strategies.

Categories: Blogs

What Multinationals Need to Do to Succeed in Africa

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 08:44
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Africa shows every sign of being the world’s next big growth market. It is home to more fast-growing economies than any other region, hundreds of successful big companies, and an urbanizing consumer market whose spending outstrips that of India. In an aging world, Africa is the exception: half of its people are under 20, and its population is projected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050. Fueling this dynamism, Africa is adopting technology at a furious pace: it will soon have double the number of smartphone connections than North America.

Yet Africa remains a challenging place to do business. Infrastructure is patchy, markets are fragmented, and regulations are complex — and although incomes are rising, poverty remains widespread. For some Western firms, those obstacles are just too daunting.

How can companies navigate Africa’s many challenges and translate its growth trends into profitable, sustainable enterprises? Our research into firms that have succeeded in Africa highlights two essential requirements: the imagination to see the continent’s unmet needs as opportunities for growth, and the long-term commitment to build businesses of meaningful scale.

Further Reading

One compelling case study is that of SABMiller. The beer maker started as South Africa’s national champion, snapped up global brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Miller Lite, and Peroni, and ended up on the London Stock Exchange’s FTSE 100 list before being acquired by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev for $103 billion in late 2016. In large part it was SABMiller’s success across the African continent that made it such a growth star and justified the eye-watering price tag for its takeover. From 2007 to 2016, the brewer saw its African sales outside of South Africa climb from $280 million to $1 billion. By 2016, SABMiller had brewing operations in around forty of Africa’s fifty-four countries.

Mark Bowman was the managing director of SABMiller’s Africa region during that decade. He told us, “We spotted a huge opportunity in Africa’s beer market, and we seized it at the right moment. In the early part of this century, most global firms saw Africa as unattractive, so we had limited competition.” SABMiller knew otherwise. The continent’s young population was expanding much faster than most other regions and its economies were growing — bullish signs for beer consumption. SABMiller’s insight was simple yet powerful: like consumers the world over, Africans like beer. When they can start spending a portion of earnings on nonessentials, one of the first luxuries they turn to is an upgrade from home brews to commercial brands.

To capitalize on that opportunity, SABMiller adopted a bold long-term strategy for Africa. One element was an aggressive program of brewery building across the continent. With its equipment-supplier partners, SABMiller developed a standardized “brewery in a box” that it could quickly assemble. A second element was to hone its marketing insights: using the brand-positioning approach it had developed globally, SABMiller created a diverse portfolio of African brands tailored to local markets.

In Nigeria, for example, SABMiller developed a new brand, Hero. SABMiller wanted the new beer to come across as local, not the product of a multinational. It designed the label with a rising sun, a favorite symbol of the Igbo people, an ethnic group native to Nigeria. And in a country where it can take up to six hours to earn enough to buy a half-liter of beer, SABMiller priced the brew 25 percent below its main competitor. Hero turned out to be one of the company’s most successful brands ever.

That is just one of the success stories we feature in our new book, Africa’s Business Revolution: How to Succeed in the World’s Next Big Growth Market. In it, we distill the insights from over 3,000 McKinsey consulting engagements across Africa, and hone case studies from interviews with dozens of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and development leaders.

Many of those successful firms have created new products and services — and sometimes whole categorie— that are targeted at African needs, tastes, and spending power. They have also innovated to solve the problem of last-mile delivery: Africa is a vast continent with generally poor transport infrastructure and big gaps in communications, where many millions of people lack formal postal addresses or even a street name.

As one example of such innovations, consider the story of Indomie noodles — one of Nigeria’s most successful consumer products. Sold in single-serving packets for less than 20 US cents, the noodles can be cooked in under three minutes and combined with an egg to produce a nutritious, convenient, low-cost meal. Dufil Prima Foods introduced them to Nigeria in 1988. As Deepak Singhal, the company’s CEO, told us: “We created a food that was relevant for Nigeria. And in ten to fifteen years, we became a household name.”

In part that is thanks to Dufil’s innovation of getting Indomie noodles to consumers throughout Nigeria. It has a vast “feet on the street” distribution network of more than 1,000 vehicles including motorcycles, trucks and three-wheelers. When distributors can’t go any further by vehicle, they continue by foot —making sure the noodles are available in the thousands of small, informal outlets that dominate retail in Nigeria.

Western multinationals would do well to learn from the strategies of African champions such as SABMiller and Dufil. US food company Kellogg has done just that — and put its money where its mouth is by investing heavily in Dufil. In 2015 Kellogg ponied up $450 million to acquire a 50 percent stake in the West African sales and distribution arm of Dufil’s parent company, Tolaram Africa. In 2018 it invested a further $420 million for a stake in Tolaram’s food-manufacturing business.

To turn the African growth opportunity into gold, companies must be ready to shape and execute targeted strategies that reinvent products, services, markets, and business models for local needs. Companies like Dufil and SABMiller provide examples that can be an inspiration to others: they have found ways to overcome persistent challenges that limited markets, hampered business growth, and made life harder for ordinary people. Their innovations and investments also create real social impact by providing products that were previously unavailable, boosting productivity and growth, and creating large numbers of jobs.

Categories: Blogs

Precision Medicine Could Have a Major Impact on Healthcare Outcomes and Costs - SPONSOR CONTENT FROM SIEMENS HEALTHINEERS

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 08:30

The transformation of health care continues at a rapid pace, bringing opportunities and challenges for health care providers to deliver improved clinical outcomes at lower costs.

Despite the tidal wave of medical knowledge and digital capabilities, widespread unwarranted variations in clinical practice drive higher costs and result in poorer quality. And many health care systems continue to struggle to reliably deliver evidence-based care.

While progress is clearly being made, as an industry, we still have far to go to consistently deliver on the promise of high-value care through technology and innovation.

In a recent report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, experts analyzed how expanding precision medicine offers health care providers new opportunities to provide high-value care. Their conclusion: the expansion of precision medicine could have a major impact on outcomes and costs.

Why Medicine Needs to Become More Precise
The precision medicine initiative is widely viewed as a way to improve health care because it focuses on diagnosing and treating each individual patient based on his or her genetic characteristics. Some in the medical community believe that definition should be expanded.

“While precision medicine can be seen by some people as genomics-guided treatment, I think this definition is too limiting,” says Dr. Larry Chu, a Stanford professor who advised President Barack Obama on the Precision Medicine Initiative announced in 2015. “I think precision medicine means precisely diagnosing conditions, then integrating all relevant patient data and insights to guide care to the best outcomes. It is about providing the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.”

In the report, the experts agreed that the practice of precision medicine will grow because the benefits to health care organizations, providers, and patients in the form of better outcomes and reduced costs are simply too great to pass up. Research suggests that eliminating unwarranted variations in medical care can reduce the cost of patient management by at least 35 percent.

But while precision medicine is already extending lives and improving the quality of patients’ lives, the experts believe there is much to be done to expand its use. That will require executives of health care providers and the entire medical community to embrace, at scale, four pillars of care. These can be grouped into two broad categories: precision diagnosis and individualized therapy.

Precision Diagnosis
Pillar 1: Improve Diagnostic Accuracy
Improve the accuracy of each diagnosis by treating diagnosis not as a singular event but rather as a precise and systematic process enabled by integrated imaging and laboratory results. Speed, quantification, and accuracy are critical because the diagnosis determines the subsequent path of care for each patient. Leverage technology to allow diagnoses to be made, in many cases, at the initial point of care.

A crucial first step in expanding precision medicine is to improve diagnostic accuracy. As Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen and venture capitalist Spencer Nam, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, wrote in Harvard Health Policy Review, “Precisely understanding the causes and progression of a disease is the fastest and the most economical way to deliver more effective and individualized therapies to each person.”

Pillar 2: Reduce Unwarranted Variations in Diagnoses
Tightly align training, systems, and protocols throughout the medical community to ensure more consistent care and diagnoses, eliminating variations related to the type of imaging or testing performed, who performed it, or who read the results. The goal is to provide consistent medicine, based on evidence, for the patient’s specific medical condition.

Individualized Therapy
Pillar 3: Personalize Care When It Matters
Move beyond treating patients based on which genetic subgroups they fall into, and treat them instead as distinct individuals, taking full advantage of our understanding of each patient’s unique genetic and metabolic makeup—along with the images and lab test results collected over the course of a patient’s treatment. This enables earlier intervention in cases involving patients who do not respond to treatment.

Read More

Pillar 4: Utilize Advanced Therapies
Take advantage of robotics and advanced imaging technology to make greater use of minimally invasive procedures, especially where imaging can be deployed in real time to guide the procedure and thereby optimize its effectiveness, minimize errors, and reduce costs.

By committing to expanding the concept of precision medicine in this fashion, health care providers have a real opportunity to resolve their biggest challenges.

CEOs of health care institutions, who are under increasing pressure to improve patient outcomes and simultaneously reduce costs, have every incentive to embrace these four pillars of care and expand precision medicine not only within their own organizations but also throughout the health care community.

At Siemens Healthineers, we believe health care is on the cusp of realizing the benefits of precision medicine – and this has already been demonstrated by many real-world examples from across the entire health care spectrum.

Download the HBR white paper on the Siemens website.








Categories: Blogs

Making U.S. Fire Departments More Diverse and Inclusive

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 07:00
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Picture a typical firefighter. Who comes to mind? If you imagined a white man, that’s understandable: 96% of U.S. career firefighters are men, and 82% are white. This homogeneity is striking, especially when you compare it to the U.S. military, which is 85% men and 60% white, and local police forces, which are 88% men and 73% white.

Many fire departments recognize that their lack of diversity as a problem and say they’re committed to increasing racial and gender diversity. “We have to diversify, because it actually improves our organization. It helps us address the needs of the public better,” says Derek Alkonis, the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) assistant chief.  Ralph Terrazas, chief of the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD), agrees:  “[We] will provide a higher level of service to the communities we serve when the people of that department respect the culture, language and beliefs of the people within that community.”

But what’s the actual path for departments achieving more diversity? And if they do so, will their members embrace how it improves their organization?

Answering these questions requires a closer look at two factors: what firefighters’ work actually consists of and what departments are currently doing to address diversity in their ranks. The answers suggest we need a new model for leaders.

What firefighters actually do.

Yes, they’re fighting fires, which requires climbing ladders, hauling hoses, and carrying victims from burning buildings. But this is only a small subset of the job. In 2016, only 4% of emergency calls to which U.S. fire departments responded were actually fires. The majority (64%) were medical emergencies.

To succeed as a firefighter, stereotypically masculine traits like brawn and courage are simply not enough. Firefighters also need the intellectual, social, and emotional skills required to deliver medical emergency aid, support each other through traumatic experiences, and engage intimately with the communities they serve. In short, successful firefighters embody a complex mix of skills and traits. And yet, in my research on reducing gender bias and my work conducting training on general diversity and inclusion with fire departments, I find that, when evaluating fit and competence, firefighters tend to default to a reductive set of traits (physical strength evaluated through strict fitness tests, for example) that serve to maintain white men’s dominance in the fire service.

This manifests itself in several ways. A common sentiment I’ve heard many times is, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, female, male, or polka-dot. All I care about is if you can do the job.” But if this performance-based meritocracy were true, getting the job done would encompass a variety of skills and talents at which both men and women and people of all races and ethnicities could potentially excel. However, as Felix Danbold and I explain in our forthcoming research in Organization Science on gender bias in the fire service, “when the topic of female firefighters came up, the importance of physical strength was consistently and spontaneously invoked to justify the relative absence of women in the fire service, but the importance of compassion (a female-stereotyped trait) was rarely, if ever, brought up to argue for bringing more women into the profession.”

We determined that this is because stereotypes about women’s relative lack of physical strength and stamina have led to a widespread belief that departments have lowered their standards to accommodate female firefighters, thus undermining the integrity of the service and posing a threat to their colleagues and communities.

While many women firefighters do have the physical abilities to succeed as firefighters, those who are or have been a part of the LAFD and LACoFD have nonetheless experienced excessive, unrelenting scrutiny and skepticism since being accepted into the ranks in 1983.  We heard comments like “I have to prove myself on every call, every time” and “Everyone expects you to fail.” Women, more than men, reported being repeatedly drilled on the most physically-demanding tasks every time they were assigned to work with a new crew, no matter how many years of experience they had. One male Battalion Chief told us about a recent experience when a woman was assigned to his crew, and all five of the other men on the crew requested transfers the next day.

Black firefighters also have to compensate for stereotyped assumptions of inferior competence. Historically, this was especially true during departments’ legally mandated affirmative action hiring periods. “When I was hired,” said Brent Burton, LACoFD Captain, Recruitment Unit and former president of the Stentorians (the recognized employee group for black firefighters), “people essentially told me ‘you’re an affirmative action guy, you’re not as good.’”  Today, greater representation has reduced some of that performance skepticism, but black firefighters still face challenges with social exclusion and explicit racism.

The fire service’s challenges with diversity go beyond gender and race. Openly gay men are exceedingly rare in the fire service; the few who are out of the closet face severe social exclusion. Cameron Langhans, LAFD Captain I and Paramedic explains, “when I was married to a woman, I had the privilege of being seen as a straight, white man, and I felt the automatic inclusion that comes with those identifiers. Now that I have identified as gay, I have to prove myself all over again.”

Ultimately, most firefighters who are not heterosexual white men must be extremely resilient to overcome relentless scrutiny and exclusion in their careers.

What’s being done to increase diversity?

Many departments and industry groups are proactively trying to diversify and to change their culture to be more inclusive, particularly with respect to recruitment and promotion processes. In the mid-1990s, for example, the Stentorians created a promotion preparation program for its members to offset the insufficient mentoring black firefighters received in the field. “This is one reason why there is relatively equal representation of blacks throughout ranks of the LAFD” compared to the population of Los Angeles County, says LAFD Assistant Chief and former Stentorians’ president Kwame Cooper.

More recently, the LAFD and LACoFD, along with the LA Women in the Fire Service (LAWFS), the local industry group for women, have hosted events to help educate and prepare prospective female firefighters. “We identify women who passed the physical and written entrance tests and are now in the pool of qualified candidates who are waiting to be hired,” says Captain Burton. “Then we have our current women firefighters showing these interested women what the job is really like, and what they need to do to succeed.”

Throughout California, the departments that have most effectively leveraged these kinds of outreach efforts “integrate recruitment and mentoring of women and people of color into subsequent stages of the hiring process,” explains Dave Gillotte, LACoFD Captain and President of the Firefighters IAFF Local 1014. That means, for example, targeting qualified candidates from underrepresented groups to advance through the selection process. This differs from the more traditional method of relying on a random lottery from the general candidate pool, a place where women and people of color are underrepresented and thus have lower odds of being selected.

Together, these important efforts expose members of underrepresented groups to careers in the fire service and gives them helpful training and mentorship opportunities. Many of those who make it on to become firefighters also find a sense of community among members of their own underrepresented groups in organizations like the LAWFS and the Stentorians.

The problem is that none of these programs directly address the challenge of inclusion—that is, of being valued and having a sense of belonging, regardless of who you are. So how can we get more firefighters to recognize members of non-prototypical groups as being equally capable of success in the fire service?

Reframing the firefighter prototype

In my forthcoming research with Felix Danbold, we find that reframing the professional prototype of what it means to be a firefighter to emphasize the importance of legitimate, stereotypically feminine traits, like compassion, has promising effects on creating a more inclusive environment for women.

We had active-duty firefighters and member of the general public watch videos of a white, male fire captain describing the most important traits of a successful modern firefighter. When he listed compassion first, followed by team orientation and physical strength, viewers’ perceptions of female firefighters’ abilities and support for gender diversification policies were much more positive then they were when they watched him present those same traits in reverse order.

This, we believe, is a promising first step in increasing the perception of professional fit of underrepresented or undervalued groups. And we’re starting to learn more about how the research can extend to practice in the form of a general diversity and inclusion training program I developed for fire department leaders that includes education on how biases and stereotypes affect the experiences of firefighters from underrepresented groups. While not revolutionary, these steps are vital. “Biases impact how we think and the decisions we make; we should be aware that they exist and how we manage them,” says LACoFD fire chief Daryl Osby.

To minimize the potential effect of biases, fire service leaders need to convey transparent, consistent expectations and evaluation processes for establishing members’ competence and trustworthiness. For instance, I coach fire captains to not only pre-determine the appropriate drills that all new crew members need to perform, but also how many times each task must be done correctly to be deemed acceptable. This can reduce the risk of shifting standards being applied to people from underrepresented groups about whom there is skepticism.

I also encourage leaders to elevate the value of skills that align with stereotypes about women and minorities through concrete actions. For example, to promote the social and emotional strengths commonly associated with women, one might look for ways to acknowledge and celebrate crew members who demonstrate what we call the “heart and soul” of a firefighter in the station and out in the field. Joviality — defined as “markedly good humor” and one that helps process emotional trauma — is a positive trait associated with black Americans somewhat more than with white Americans, so explaining that a jovial culture can increase enhances crew effectiveness may reduce some of the skepticism about and exclusion of black firefighters. When you hold all department members accountable to excellence along the full spectrum of traits associated with being a successful firefighter, you help firefighters that don’t fit the straight, white, male archetype and create more equal opportunities and inclusion.

To measure the effectiveness of this approach, I surveyed 138 chief officers and 1,096 of their subordinates in the LACoFD before training the chiefs, then followed up with 93 of the chiefs and 1,347 of their subordinates two months later. I found that, after this intervention, chiefs’ were spending more time mentoring team members on social and emotional skills, more strongly endorsed diversity and inclusion, and supported policies to increase representation of women. More compellingly, the subordinates evaluated their chief officers as better leaders following the training. They reported respecting their supervisors more, seeing them as better role models and mentors, and believing that they were more accepting of differences.

However, as L.A. Fire Commissioner Rebecca Ninberg notes, “changing the culture requires a long-term commitment to integrate it into the DNA of the department.” Thus, leadership training is only a first step; real change starts when leaders employ what they learned every single day. “Diversity goal messaging from the fire chief, consistent training, engagement of key department stakeholder groups, and the use of ongoing measurements of progress” are critical, says LAFD Fire Chief Terrazas. This helps the inclusive firefighter prototype spread through the ranks.

Most firefighters are probably unaware of how their status-quo perceptions about their profession reinforce bias and create unequal opportunities for peers from underrepresented groups. My research points to a more inclusive alternative. Hopefully, the departments that have implemented my training approach with will see continued improvement in their efforts to confront the diversity challenges of the fire service, and will serve as examples to others across the country, as well as different types of organizations that would like to become more meaningfully diverse. Perhaps most importantly, it will make a difference in the careers of talented and hardworking firefighters.

Categories: Blogs

Don’t Give Up on a Great Idea Just Because It Seems Obvious

Harvard business - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 06:05
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I spent eight years failing to act on an innovative idea that I knew would work. It was an idea that had not just technological promise but also societal value. It would help people contribute to the most important, impactful charities in the country. But I kept letting it languish.

The biggest reason I held back wasn’t fear, being too busy or lazy, or any of the other natural blockades to entrepreneurship. It was something else.

I didn’t move on this idea because it seemed obvious. It made so much sense to me that I was convinced someone else would do it. So, I assumed it would be a waste of time and energy for me.

I was wrong. And it turns out I would have known better if I had listened to some of the best-known innovators, including Isaac Asimov and Steve Jobs. Obviousness, it turns out, is a common — and even important — part of the creative process. Whether you’re considering the possibility of launching a startup or you want to create change within your organization, learn from my experience. Don’t procrastinate like I did.

For years, I organized charity fundraisers at bars. I’d gather friends together, discuss a cause and present information about an organization helping that cause. I’d show photos, tell stories, and explain how each charity helped.

These crowds included young investment bankers, who often agreed to contribute $500 or $1,000. I’d thank them and ask if they had a check. They’d respond, “A check? No, I’m 25. I don’t use checks.” So, I’d explain that they could contribute to the charity via its website. Asking them to surf to a website on their mobile phones at the bar just didn’t work. Many would say they’d take care of it at home sometime, from a computer. But, despite the best of intentions, most didn’t. The only contributions I’d end up with from these events were in cash, usually a few hundred dollars total in $20 bills from whoever had extra cash on them.

You and Your Team Series Thinking Creatively

Meanwhile, when the bar tab would come at these same events, we’d split it by paying each other through our apps, such as Venmo. That’s when I realized there should be a simple app that allows people to contribute to any U.S. charity.

See? Obvious. So even though I knew I could gather a team to build such a tool, I figured someone else would do it. I let that assumption hold me back. Instead, I should have taken the sense of obviousness as a reason to move forward with the idea.

“When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while,” Steve Jobs told Wired in 1996. “That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Back in 1959, Isaac Asimov wrote about how this same idea applied to “the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.” Both men had traveled, observing the diversity of plant and animal life. Both read Malthus’s Essay on Population and realized how the latter may help explain the former. “Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious,” Asimov wrote. He noted that biologist Thomas H. Huxley “is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, ‘How stupid of me not to have thought of this.’”

A paper from the University of Minnesota argues that the recognition of obviousness is an important part of one of the “five stages of the creative process.”

“In times of clarity, your resolutions appear obvious and simple; but in fact, they appear simple because the illumination has all the parts lining up and shedding light on a resolve,” the paper says.

But there’s also a flip side to this. “Obvious” answers aren’t obvious to most people, partly because most people aren’t thinking about the question.

Ideas only come to those who recognize a problem and look for innovative solutions. As the book How to Think Like Einstein explains, “Even Einstein couldn’t find a solution if he had the wrong problem. You must have an enabling problem, one that allows imaginative solutions different from your original expectations…Finding that great problem requires much thought, especially when the solution seems obvious.”

In the end, I did pursue my idea, co-founding Givz. And this experience helped prepare me for some of the feedback we get from partners and stakeholders. Recently, I found myself having to assuage a representative from a corporation and explain that the idea really is as simple as it sounds.

“Really?” he said. “Then that’s a no-brainer.”


Categories: Blogs

Establishing New Performance Measurements – Friday Distraction

Hr Bartender - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 02:57

Over the past year or so, we’ve talked about using measurements like employee net promoter score (eNPS) to understand employee engagement. I don’t know if it’s directly related to it, but I’m hearing more conversation about human resources professionals being evaluated based on talent acquisition metrics. For example, recruiters being evaluated on the time it takes to reach out to a candidate.

It reminds me of the promises that organizations make to customers. We’ll deliver your pizza within 30 minutes. When I travel home, Delta airlines tells me I will get my luggage within 20 minutes. The idea being that performance promises create a positive customer experience and build brand loyalty.

So, it goes without saying that, if organizations want to create a positive employee experience and build employee loyalty, then measuring HR and payroll response times could be helpful. But to be fair, if organizations are going to hold HR and payroll accountable to this standard, they need to do it the right way.

Hold people accountable for things they can control. I call this the ‘turnover example’. HR cannot be held accountable for the company’s turnover. Because they don’t control all the factors that go into turnover. Yes, HR can be held accountable for human resources department turnover. But not the rest of the company. Turnover belongs to everyone.

Define a realistic standard. Once the company has established a performance standard that payroll or HR can actually accomplish, it’s important to set standards that make sense. Let’s use turnover again. Setting a goal of zero percent turnover is unrealistic. And probably not even advisable. Organizations should want a bit of turnover.

Get buy-in from impacted individuals. If establishing these standards is new for the organization, take time to chat with payroll and HR. Talk about why creating new performance standards is important. Get their buy-in. Managers should let employees know that they feel confident the new standards can be met.

Payroll is important. Through the years, I’ve talked about payroll being one of those functions that should strive for perfection. That being said, in this Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos, payroll should be given realistic performance goals that they can meet. While no one wants to make a payroll mistake and striving for perfection might be a goal, let’s be real and admit that occasionally mistakes are going to happen.

Zero payroll mistakes might not be realistic. That doesn’t mean that payroll and HR can’t have realistic, measurable goals that directly align with the candidate and employee experience.

The post Establishing New Performance Measurements – Friday Distraction appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs

Why Social Entrepreneurs Are So Burned Out

Harvard business - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:32
VisualCommunications/Getty Images

Can entrepreneurs help address the society’s biggest challenges — without burning out?

These are pressing questions. According to Deloitte, private businesses are increasingly expected to help solve the most challenging social problems of our times — health, poverty, and the promotion of sustainable development — in the absence of, or in conjunction with, government action. And many are eager to step into this role: the consultancy’s recent survey of more than 11,000 business and HR leaders worldwide found that almost 80% say “citizenship and social impact” is very important or important today.

But is it reasonable to expect a for-profit enterprise, and its employees, to address large-scale social problems? Helping those most in need and running a commercially viable business at the same time can create conflicting of goals. Our research, which explores how this conflict manifests itself in the lives of entrepreneurs working within for-profit companies, provides the first robust evidence that it can have serious repercussions for their health and wellbeing.

We based our study on original longitudinal survey data gathered from employees and entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. We recruited 1,388 respondents from among 3,525 employees selected randomly from a representative database of the British working age population — a response rate of 39%. This sample was made up of 25% entrepreneurs and 75% employees. Our research focused on the entrepreneur subsample, and we collected over three waves of survey data from this group administered at two-month intervals. We asked questions about prosocial motivation and the desire to help others to gauge the extent to which individual entrepreneurs had such tendencies and interests. We also asked about their ability to control and cope with important things in their lives, and whether they ever felt that difficulties were piling up so high that they could not overcome them. We analyzed the data using statistical techniques that allowed us to identify the causal structure of how the pursuit of social objectives causes stress and ultimately affects health and wellbeing.

Our analysis revealed that, generally, stress is a significant problem for social entrepreneurs. When trying to achieve commercial goals and give back to the community at the same time, these entrepreneurs are likely to overload themselves with too many responsibilities and, consequently, deplete their personal resources. The cost of resource depletion can include reduced time with family and poor sleep quality.

However, we found that social entrepreneurs who enjoy a high degree of autonomy at work are less inclined to experience the same levels of stress. When these entrepreneurs can organize their business so they have control over how, where, and when they help others, they are better able to manage any work overload and stress levels. This autonomy is critical for entrepreneurs to create social impact without their mental and physical health plummeting, but is absent in the lives of many in our study. Specifically, new or smaller enterprises often find themselves dependent on a single client whose organizational procedures dictate when, where, and how entrepreneurs work.

The big question is: Can we help all social entrepreneurs safeguard their autonomy and reduce their stress levels to a manageable level? And how? The answer is important because, even as we recognize the importance of of social enterprises in today’s business world, we might be be encouraging entrepreneurs to jeopardize their health.

While our research doesn’t yet explore which specific interventions might be most helpful for preventing burnout, we do know that leaders promoting social entrepreneurship initiatives within should be aware of possible adverse personal consequences for their employees. They should also help entrepreneurs organize their work to permit personal autonomy whenever possible. Social enterprises cannot continue to deliver sustainable impacts if the people running them are exhausted.

Categories: Blogs

Why Trump and Xi’s 90-Day Trade Truce Is a Step in the Right Direction

Harvard business - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:31
David Madison/Getty Images

The audible, global sigh of relief in the wake of last weekend’s decision by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to negotiate trade war issues over the next 90 days was well justified. The deal is a big step forward for all concerned.

Let’s quickly dispense with the scoffing critique voiced by several professional doubters that little can be accomplished in 90 days and that the agreement therefore is nothing more than an arrangement to kick the can down the road. While it is true that a comprehensive deal is very unlikely to be completed in the next 90 days, it should be obvious that presidents who can agree to talk for the next 90 days can also agree to talk longer if the first 90 days seem to augur something promising. If they don’t, then it probably makes sense to shut the talks down — and at least it will then be clear that we didn’t move rashly ahead to impose massive tariffs without giving negotiations an honest try and will garner more domestic and international support for some form of further trade actions if talks fail.

Indeed, this was the only sensible alternative. It was clear that the Chinese were not immediately going to yield to American requests, and it was equally clear that imposing American sanctions without any further effort at negotiation was likely to be counterproductive.

A second important step forward was the clear designation by President Trump of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as the key leader of the U.S. negotiating team. Because he is known to be a knowledgeable and tough negotiator, the Chinese have tried over the past two years to drive discussions through Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Advisor Larry Kudlow. These two were perceived to be softer, less knowledgeable, more pro-globalization, and more concerned about financial markets than Lighthizer. By specifically pointing to the trade representative as the guy in charge (as his title indicates he should be), Trump made it clear that the United States is serious. Lighthizer knows the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the global trade rules upside down and backward. He is a leading strategist and a seasoned negotiator who knows all the key global players as well as where all the bodies are buried. He won’t be deceived, and he will demand concrete, measurable results.

One of the most interesting statements to come out of the Buenos Aires dinner was President Xi’s comment that Qualcomm’s offer to acquire NXP Semiconductors might now be approved if it were to be proposed again. Qualcomm scrapped the deal in July after the Chinese antitrust regulator didn’t make a ruling by the deadline for consummating the deal. In other words, the Chinese government’s objection had been political rather than legal all along.

Qualcomm quickly stated that there would be no new proposal. But the important point here is that the main U.S. complaint about China’s trade/globalization policies is precisely that Chinese trade and industrial policies are political and lead to government intervention in markets that contradicts China’s stated commitments to the spirit and rules of the WTO and to market-oriented globalization.

This issue is not new to veterans (like Lighthizer) of the U.S.-Japan and U.S.-South Korea trade negotiations of the 1980s and 1990s. The heart of the problems in these cases was the commitment of these countries to equaling and surpassing the capabilities of the United States in targeted industries such as chemicals, steel, autos, semiconductors, aircraft, computers, machine tools, biotech, ship building, and computers. These governments intervened in markets to provide investment guarantees, trade and R&D subsidies, dedicated government procurement, and trade protection, including “buy national” policies.

China has been a careful student of the Japanese and South Korean strategies as well as of those of Taiwan and Singapore. It has adopted the key elements of each and then added its own. Particularly significant has been China’s approach to foreign investment. While Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan largely eschewed foreign investment, China has welcomed and promoted it. But, of course, it has done so on its own terms. So foreign investors have often been required to enter joint ventures and to transfer technology as a condition of being allowed to invest. They were required to export a certain proportion of their production and subject to extensive theft of their intellectual property.

Even in the cases of Japan and South Korea, it was always difficult for foreign companies to have their complaints heard. The biggest problem was that government bureaucrats had extensive informal power. They could wink or nod at corporate leaders and the complaints would be buried. Or they could wink and nod and distributors would suddenly no longer buy foreign products for distribution. They could also impose new testing standards or ignore requests for testing. There were a hundred ways in which the bureaucracy could quietly carve up a company, and the company would have no effective recourse. In China, this situation is even more difficult. There is what is known as the “death of a thousand cuts.” A company may find itself wounded and not have any idea of the source of the cut.

Lighthizer’s task will be to find a way to compel China’s policymakers and bureaucrats to minimize intervention and to conform to the spirit as well as the letter of the WTO’s rules and of the broader free-trade doctrine to which they aver they are dedicated.

It will be no easy task. Lighthizer deserves the support and good wishes or all who hope for a friendly resolution of U.S.-China differences and for the continued success of globalization.

Categories: Blogs

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Harvard business - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 08:30

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Categories: Blogs

The Coalitions That Could Hold the EU Together

Harvard business - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 07:00
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The European Union has experienced a series of disasters over the last 10 years, each one of which has posed a major threat to its stability. First, there was the fallout from the 2008-9 financial crisis and the arguably ill-judged imposition of austerity on the Union’s southern members. Combined with the migration crisis, this encouraged the rise of populist anti-EU movements.  And then, there was the British vote to leave the EU altogether.

That the EU remains largely intact amidst all this is due in no small part to Germany. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has occasionally been willing to bear a disproportionate burden of the costs of crisis management. Even when this was the case, it could not always mobilize support among other member states for its stance on issues such as the refugee crisis. Germany has carried out what economist Charles Kindleberger once memorably described as the “bribery and arm twisting” necessary to keep alliances such as the EU afloat. In short, it has, to a certain extent, become Europe’s hegemon, an ancient Greek term designating the dominant member of an alliance or confederation.

Unfortunately, it’s a role that Germany has had increasingly to shoulder alone – and, as I argue in my recently published book, is unsustainable. As a “first among equals” Germany lacks the dominance or magnitude of advantage that typically exists in hegemonic relationships. Its traditional partner at the EU’s helm, France, has struggled with its own economic problems since 2008 and has taken a back seat in driving EU policy. And even before the Brexit vote, Britain, the EU’s second largest economy, had detached itself from the EU’s inner circle by remaining outside the Eurozone and out of the region of borderless travel known as the Schengen Area.

What’s more, Germany’s reluctance to alleviate the pain of economically-strapped member states aggravated rather than eased the Eurozone crisis, which was ultimately managed by the ECB rather than by Germany. Germany’s failure to consult on migration policy resulted in a number of other EU member states resisting demands to follow its stance during the refugee crisis. Overall, it cannot subordinate its own needs to the group’s needs to the extent necessary for a hegemon to retain its partners’ allegiances.

This means that if the EU is to survive the onset of a new crisis (or the flare up of an existing one) it will need stronger, more inclusive leadership than Germany has provided on its own. Given the absence of a single European country large enough to take on the role of hegemon on its own, it is likely two or more countries will need to come together to form a hegemonic coalition. There are three conceivable options:

A revived Franco German coalition

The resurrection of the EU’s traditional leadership constellation is politically feasible given the election of the Emmanuel Macron as French president in 2017 and the return of the Grand Coalition of German political parties in 2018. Franco-German cooperation can still be a powerful magnetic force in the EU and a bilateral Franco-German bargain can often provide a template for a larger Union agreement. This time around, however, it is likely the traditional roles would be reversed, with Paris looking to accelerate the speed of change, and Germany seeking to slow it down, particularly among those initiatives aimed at raising the volume of financial transfers between Eurozone member states.

A Weimar Coalition

While a rejuvenated Franco-German coalition appears obvious, it may not have the influence to mobilize Central and Eastern European member states, given the vast gap between their vision and that of the Polish and Hungarian governments in particular. An expanded coalition that includes Poland, a nominal partner of France and Germany in the “Weimar Triangle” founded after the end of the Cold War, could have greater legitimacy. However as long as the conservative and Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party remains in office in Poland, such a coalition will not materialize.

A new Hanseatic Coalition

The third conceivable coalition is named after the medieval association of trading cities stretching from the Netherlands in the west to the Baltic Sea in the east. This coalition would include Germany and the eight northern European member states whose finance ministers began to meet in early 2018 to discuss reforming the Eurozone. On monetary, fiscal, and EU budget policies these states are closer to Germany than Germany is to France. However, given their geographical and ideological positions it is unlikely they could integrate and mobilize the support of Southern, Central, and Eastern European members or that Germany would weaken its relationship with France in their favor.

An uncertain future

Whatever its make-up, any new hegemonic coalition will face an uncertain task. The nationalist and Eurosceptic trend which began in the 1990s and gained momentum during the recent refugee crisis amid public opposition to mass integration and long-standing fears about dilution of national identity and globalism, has crystallized into a major political force.

Across Europe, nationalist Eurosceptic parties have made significant electoral gains, in some cases taking office, in others becoming the main voice of the opposition, forcing centrist leaders to adapt their policies to win back conservative votes.  Although there remains strong resistance to far-right parties, as evidenced by Macron’s victory, support in France for the right-wing National Front party is higher than ever. If President Macron fails in his efforts to reform and rejuvenate the French economy, as he well might, the extreme Right is well-placed to benefit from his failure.

The situation in Germany is similar. Last year, the AfD became the first extreme right-wing Eurosceptic party to win seats in Germany’s federal parliament since 1953. Having won 12.6% of the vote, it is now the country’s biggest opposition party putting pressure on center right parties to accommodate Eurosceptic opinions.

Particularly in the wake of Brexit, Europe needs a new champion and without strong support from a politically dominant hegemon or hegemonic coalition, the risk that the Union will fall apart in new crises is very real. And we don’t have much time left for stabilizing hegemonic leadership to develop. Right now, there is a two-to-four-year window – at most – before the next French and German elections. If these countries’ current leaders do not take the opportunity to weld Europe more closely together, then the next big crisis may well signal the beginning of the end to the nearly 70-year-old project that has kept the peace in Western Europe, fostered its democracies, and helped to deliver growth and prosperity by keeping European countries’ economies and societies open to each other.

Categories: Blogs

Why Companies That Wait to Adopt AI May Never Catch Up

Harvard business - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:05
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

While some companies — most large banks, Ford and GM, Pfizer, and virtually all tech firms — are aggressively adopting artificial intelligence, many are not. Instead they are waiting for the technology to mature and for expertise in AI to become more widely available. They are planning to be “fast followers” — a strategy that has worked with most information technologies.

We think this is a bad idea. It’s true that some technologies need further development, but some (like traditional machine learning) are quite mature and have been available in some form for decades. Even more recent technologies like deep learning are based on research that took place in the 1980s. New research is being conducted all the time, but the mathematical and statistical foundations of current AI are well established.

System Development Time

Beyond the technical maturity issue, there are several other problems with the idea that companies will be able to adopt quickly once technologies are more capable. First, there is the time required to develop AI systems. Such systems will probably add little value to your business if they are completely generic, so time is required to tailor and configure them to your business and the specific knowledge domain within it. If the AI you are adopting employs machine learning, you will have to round up a substantial amount of training data. If it manipulates language — as in natural language processing applications — it can be even more difficult to get systems up and running. There is a lot of taxonomy and local knowledge that needs to be incorporated into the AI system —similar to the old “knowledge engineering” activity for expert systems. AI of this type is not just a software coding problem; it is a knowledge coding problem. It takes time to discover, disambiguate, and deploy knowledge.

Particularly if your knowledge domain has not already been modeled by your vendor or consultant, it will typically require many months to architect. This is particularly true for complex knowledge domains. For example, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has been working with IBM to use Watson to treat certain forms of cancer for over six years, and the system still isn’t ready for broad use despite availability of high-quality talent in cancer care and AI. There are several domains and business problems for which the requisite knowledge engineering is available. However, it still needs to be manipulated to a company’s specific business context.

Integration Time

Even once your systems have been built, there is the issue of integrating AI systems into your organization. Unless you are employing some AI capabilities that are embedded within existing packaged application systems that your company already uses (e.g., Salesforce Einstein features within your CRM system) the fit with your business processes and IT architecture will require significant planning and time for adaptation. The transition from pilots and prototypes to production systems for AI can be difficult and time-consuming.

Even if your organization is skilled at moving pilots and prototypes into production, you will also have to re-engineer the business processes to have full impact on your business and industry. In most cases AI supports individual tasks and not entire business processes, so you will have redesign business processes and new human tasks around it. If you want to affect customer engagement, for example, you will need to develop or adapt multiple AI applications and tasks that relate to different aspects of marketing, sales, and service relationships.

Human Interactions with AI Time

Finally, there are the human challenges of AI to overcome. Very few AI systems are fully autonomous, but are rather focused on augmentation of and by human workers. New AI systems typically mean new roles and skills for the humans who work alongside them, and it will typically require considerable time to retrain workers on the new process and system. For example, investment advice companies providing “robo-advice” to their customers have often attempted to get human advisors to shift their focus to “behavioral finance,” or providing advice and “nudges” to encourage wise decisions and actions in investing. But this sort of skill is quite different from providing advice about what stocks and bonds to buy, and will take some time to inculcate.

Even if the goal for an AI system is to be fully autonomous, it is likely that some period of time in augmentation mode will be necessary. During this period, a critical piece of machine learning occurs through interaction between the system and its human users and observers. Called interaction learning, this is a critical step for organizations to understand how the system interacts with its ecosystem. They can often gather new data sets and begin to bake them into algorithms during this period — which often takes months or years.

Governance Time for AI Applications

While AI systems are geared to provide exponential scale and predictions, they will need a much broader governing approach than the classic controls and testing driven approach. The efficacy of AI algorithms decays over time because these are built based on historical data and recent business knowledge. The algorithms can be updated as the machine learns from patterns in new data, but they will need to be monitored by subject matter experts to ensure the machine is interpreting the change in business context correctly. Algorithms will also have to be continuously monitored for bias. For instance, if an AI system is trained to create product recommendations based on customer demographics and the demographics change dramatically in new data, it may provide biased recommendations.

Governance will also include watching for customer fraud. As the systems become smart so will the users. They may try to game the systems with fraudulent data and activities. Monitoring and preventing this will require sophisticated instrumentation and human monitoring in the context of your business.

Winners Take All

It may, then, take a long time to develop and fully implement AI systems, and there are few if any shortcuts to the necessary steps. Once they have been successfully undertaken, scaling —particularly if the company has a plentiful supply of data and the knowledge engineering mastered— can be very rapid. By the time a late adopter has done all the necessary preparation, earlier adopters will have taken considerable market share — they’ll be able to operate at substantially lower costs with better performance. In short, the winners may take all and late adopters may never catch up. Think, for example, of the learning and capability that a company like Pfizer — which has, according to one of the leaders of the company’s Analytics and AI Lab, more than 150 AI projects underway — has already accumulated. Tech companies like Alphabet have even more learning; that company had 2700 AI projects underway as far back as 2015.

Admittedly, some steps can be accelerated by waiting if a company is willing to compromise its unique knowledge and ways of conducting business. Vendors are developing a vast variety of knowledge graphs and models that use techniques ranging from natural language processing, to computer vision. If one exists for your industry or business problem, and you’re willing to adopt it with little modification, that will speed up the process of AI adoption. But you may lose your distinctive competence or competitive advantage if you do not tweak it to fit your context and build everything around it.

The obvious implication is that if you want to be successful with AI and think there may be a threat from AI-driven competitors or new entrants, you should start learning now about how to adapt it to your business across multiple different applications and AI methods. Some leading companies have created a centralized AI group to do this at scale. Such central groups focus on framing the problems, proving out the business hypothesis, modularizing the AI assets for reusability, creating techniques to manage the data pipeline, and training across businesses. One other possibility may be to acquire a startup that has accumulated substantial AI capabilities, but there will still be the need to adapt those capabilities to your business. In short, you should get started now if you haven’t already, and hope that it’s not too late.

Categories: Blogs

New Leadership for a Changing Workforce

Greatleaders hipbydan - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Warren Wright:
If you’re hiring and leading a team of freshly-minted college graduates, you may be noticing some differences in their behavior and preferences compared to previous graduates. That’s because they’re from a new generation—we are calling them Second-Wave Millennials(Second-Wavers). The fact is, they still share many of the same traits as their older counterparts (First-Wave Millennials)—raised to feel special, high achieving, tech-savvy, but Second-Wavers (born 1995 – 2004) have some distinct differences that are making managers sit up and take notice.
Who Are Second-Wavers and How Did They Get That Way
Second-Wavers are mostly children of GenXers, as opposed to First-Wavers who were mostly children of Boomers. Both generations were raised with strong parental guidance and involvement in their lives. But while the Boomer parents were perfecting hovering like a helicopter, GenX parents were more likely to be the lawnmower parents who mowed down every obstacle that lay in their child’s path so a clear and clean path toward their future could be followed.
Furthermore, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 assured that over 70% of Second-Wavers were streaming and chatting from mobile devices before they reached puberty. This brought them the tools to express themselves as individuals and they were exposed to brands that marketed to them as individuals.
This combination of attachment parenting, digital sophistication toward the individual, and placing more value on the importance of social and emotional learning as well as a broad cultural shift toward making a difference in people’s lives has dramatically shifted these Second-Wavers’ priorities.
The Three P’s of Second-Wave Leadership
So, how do leaders practically manage this new batch of workers in the workplace, and what do these Second-Wavers need from an employer? As a GenXer myself, I like to keep things simple and make my recommendations memorable. So, for these Second-Wavers, I’d recommend focusing on the three P’s: Personal Attention, Professional Development, and Purpose.
Personal Attention
From Facebook pages to Twitter handles to Instagram posts, Second-Wavers have always had the tools to create and curate their own brand. Yes, like a snowflake, they are their own person—unique and special. Ironically, they are extremely collaborative, but they still require hands-on individualized attention when it comes to their career path and goals. Consulting form PwC has a unique approach to this issue. They assign every new hire with a team of three different mentor types: An on-boarding ambassador—who gets you up to speed on how things work at the firm, a Relationship Leader—who provides direction in your career, and finally, a Career Coach, who is there to manage you in the moment—they call it managing real-time, or play-by-play. Companies would be well served by following PwC’s lead.
Professional Development
This is a big one. From a very early age, Second-Wavers were conditioned to plan for their future and gaining skills has always been a priority. After all, in video games, they get badges, gold stars, and rewards for getting to the next level! They are hungry for professional development, and in fact, according to Deloitte, the #1 reason they would leave a company is because of lack of professional development.  In my experience, the development they need most is in soft skills, not hard skills. Soft skills like critical thinking, communication, and social interaction—things we older generations take for granted, are simply not taught in college or acculturated at home. 8+ hours of screen time a day has an effect on in-person interaction, and believe it or not, this is area of growth for these Second-Wavers.
After observing focus groups of Second-Wavers, one thing really stands out: They want to know not just what to do and how to do it, but why. I like to say that ‘why’ is the new ‘what’ for Second-Wavers. This is an extremely purpose-driven generation—one that we have not seen since the GI or Greatest Generation who worked on mission-driven projects like saving the world from a fascist scourge. Research consistently shows that this generation is more mindful of the products they buy and services they use gives back to the community. Money is important to them for sure (especially with their high debt load), but mission is still #1.
And not only do they want their work to make a difference to the world, they want to know how their work fits into the bigger workflow picture. For example, if they are updating a database, they want to know—where does their update go? Who uses it next? How does this contribute overall to the company’s mission?
Finally, They’re Worth The Investment
My last point about Second-Wavers is that they bring skills to the workplaces that have been lost by older generations. From an early age, they’ve been immersed in social and emotional learning techniques that, when used properly, can really bring people together into a more effective team dynamic. But you have to give them a chance. They’re smart (best educated generation is US history), they’re techno-gurus who have solutions you have not even thought of, and they are committed and loyal… as long as you are committed and loyal to them. Part of being a great leader is adapting to change. Second-Wavers represent a new shift in behaviors and priorities, so this is a good time to press the reset button on how you lead. 

Warren Wright is author of Second-Wave Millennials: Tapping the Potential of America’s Youth. He is Founder and CEO of Second Wave Learning, a talent development company that helps companies attract and retain newly-hired Millennials in the workplace.
Categories: Blogs

5 Retirement Strategies Companies Need to Start Planning For Now

Hr Bartender - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 02:57

I recently wrote a blog post over on our other blog, Unretirement Project, about the “5 Retirement Strategies that Individuals Need to Start Planning For”. It came from a session that I attended during the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual conference.

But employees aren’t the only ones that need to start thinking about retirement. Organizations do as well. According to Pew Research, approximately 10,000 people each day turn retirement age. That number is expected to last for at least the next decade. Now of course, not all of those people are going to leave the workforce the moment they reach retirement age. In fact, there’s some data to suggest that older workers are trying to stay in the workplace longer (whether that’s simply for the money or because they enjoy working).

My point is that organizations need to think about the growing number of people who are – at some point – going to exit the workplace. And during a period in time when recruitment is tough, it makes sense to have a deliberate strategy for keeping skilled workers. Here are five strategies that come to mind:

  1. Reskilling. Employees need to keep their skills current with the business climate. That includes older workers. Personally, I’m not buying the comments that “older people don’t know squat about technology”. Not from the individuals or the companies they work for. It’s time for organizations to make investments in employee education and training.
  1. Repurposing. Everyone wants to feel that they contribute to the bottom-line of the organization. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to have career advancement goals. Translation: you don’t have to want a promotion to be valuable. Organizations need send the message that everyone can contribute value, even if their goal isn’t to move up the company ladder.
  1. Reducing stress. Burnout and stress are real issues in today’s workplaces. Organizations are doing the right thing by creating wellness programs for employees. Let’s remember that there are some wellness issues that are the same for every age group, there will also be some unique wellness issues for older workers. For example, financial education programs could be tailored for not only saving but retirement.
  1. Reverse mentoring. You guys know I’ve never been a big fan of the term reverse mentoring. I mean, why can’t we just call it mentoring? So, I view this one as both traditional mentoring – where an older worker can share their expertise and knowledge with others AND reverse mentoring – where they can learn from a younger worker. This is great for reskilling and repurposing.
  1. Phased retirement. If you haven’t had a moment to read my interview with Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, I hope you’ll check it out. She shares her transition from full-time to part-time status and the support she received from Kronos along the way. Organizations have a real opportunity to create a win for everyone by supporting employees through a phased retirement plan.

As more employees start eyeing retirement and more organizations continue to struggle finding talent, it only makes sense for both sides to create some mutual wins. It can be done. But it takes open communication, transparency, and planning.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, FL

The post 5 Retirement Strategies Companies Need to Start Planning For Now appeared first on hr bartender.

Categories: Blogs


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