Knowledge When and Where you need it

Join me for Moxie Insight’s complimentary webinars. In September I will be sharing a piece of our research “Knowledge Where and When you Need it.” http://lnkd.in/k4FRYQ

Contingent by Choice: Understanding and Leveraging the New Workforce

Organizations will need to broaden their thinking and apply innovative strategies to attract the talent they need.  One of the talent pools organizations will need to learn how to tap more effectively is the growing pool of virtual talent labeled “contingent.” A 2009 Manpower, Inc. survey on the “Role of Contingent Workers” found that 34% of the 41,000 employers in 35 countries surveyed viewed contingent workers to be a key to the execution of their organizational strategy.  Not only is it strategically important, but the size of the contingent workforce is expected to grow.  Adecco in their 2010 white paper on the “Lessons of the Great Recession” highlighted that the contingent workforce is expected to grow three to four times the rate of traditional workforces, and is expected to eventually make up about 25% of the global workforce.  And according to a recent report from the BLS, contingents are expected to make up 40% of the U.S. workforce by 2019.

 As Daniel Pink pointed out in Free Agent Nation, contingent work has evolved into a deliberately chosen non-traditional employment arrangement.  Contingents may want to acquire new skills, experience different types of work environments, or build resumes using a broad spectrum of assignments.  They may want balance in their work and professional lives. Experienced workers may want positions that have a specific endpoint because they prefer to work only part or the year or a limited number of years in a particular project based assignment.  Younger workers may be using contingency to build a skill portfolio or pursue a personal passion.  The new reality is that contingent work has become a free-form career strategy that stems from an individual’s desire for flexibility, autonomy, and freedom.  Supported by new advances in technology knowledge workers, in particular, see contingency as “Plan A” NOT “Plan B.”     

 To take full advantage of this emerging cadre of workers, employers will need to change the common perception of contingent workers as being less important, less skilled, or less committed than “permanent” employees.  More importantly, they must abandon the idea that contingent workers are simply an economic play to handle temporary swings in employment. Contingent workers bring unique experiences, fresh thinking, and new approaches to problem-solving. Furthermore, research shows that contingents tend to be more satisfied and engaged with the work they do than full-time employees.  Independents recognize that completing the project on time in a successful manner is the key to gaining future assignments. 

 Indeed, organizations will need to change their fundamental mindset about talent to be successful in the future.  As John Boudreau points out in Retooling HR, “the idea that employment is the primary way organizations and their contributions interact is so instinctive that it many blind organizations to an alternative form of engagement.”  The role of contingency in organizations is still being defined and their importance being assessed, but as the numbers grow, employers stand to benefit if they include contingent workers as a permanent part of their overall talent strategy.

Social Media-The Wired In Coexisting with the Clueless

Let me tell you about my niece Kate, she is 13, beautiful and a softball pitcher of local renown!  Recently her team won their championship with her pitching 3 winning games in 2 days!  As the oldest brother to her father, # 6 in line, I wanted to offer my congratulations on her achievement, when I contacted my brother for her e-mail I was told “she only uses Facebook, she sees e-mail as old technology”.

Shortly before this reminder of my dotage, I had visited my daughter and her family inclusive of 9 and 7 year old granddaughters.   When I inquired about how they were enjoying a notebook I had given them for the holidays was working, they referred to it as “too slow”.

I realized the “old and slow” references were more insightful than I deemed, despite prompting my desire to just drive straight to Happy Valley to check myself in

Those of us in our late 50’s, 60’s and older weathered a revolution that candidly we underappreciated.  Communication as we practiced it as people and workers no longer exists. 

The above would have remained intellectual musings absent a venture currently underway at Discussion Partner Collaborative, where we just completed a global survey of 150 CEO’s on their near term Human Capital aspirations.  This is the second year of our survey and the “constructive use of Social Media” rose from #7 to #3. 

When this first surfaced as a finding in 2010 we were surprised.  As we look at the factors of the success of the “Facebook Movie”, the potential IPO value of same, performance of the recent Social Media IPO’s, and the given that global communication is now instantaneous, we are no longer surprised: moreover we are encouraged.

The 2010 survey indicated that CEO’s were concerned about “misuse and abuse” of Social Media to the detriment of their enterprises.  This year, 2011,  their sentiments are focused on constructive endeavors, “communication, research, and collaboration”.

The most recent edition of the Harvard Business Review was principally devoted to Social Media and its power.

It appears that the CSuite is starting to get caught up with Kate and her younger cousins Ada Zane and Zohy Dakota.

The Emerging Role in Human Capital

During our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future is Now, our findings indicated that those in the CSuite want to see a fundamental change in how the most senior leaders are developed at the enterprise level.

 

What became abundantly clear during our research was that the current model for the HR function where Talent Management is at least 2 if not 3 levels down from the CSuite and with enterprise wide role architecture is suboptimal. 

 

This has led the Discussion Partner consultants to the conclusion that the current organization model in Human Resources impairs innovation, accountability, and sustainability for Leadership Effectiveness at the highest level of an organization.

 

To have a dedicated HR function for the most senior levels of an organization is not new.  General Electric and many other organizations have dedicated resources for the “Top 200”.  Essentially this approach focuses mostly on the high potentials possibly to the exclusion of B players, in critical roles or assigned mission essential projects.

 

Our point of view is there needs to be a more generous interpretation of this effort, one that requires a new title, reporting relationship, role architecture, and competency.

 

Our model for consideration aligns in the following way.

 

Title Chief Leadership Effectiveness Officer (CLEO)
Reporting Relationship(s)
  • Direct Line-Board of Directors
  • Dotted Line-CEO

 

Role Architecture
  • Succession Planning Top 3 Levels
  • Recruitment/Replenishment  Top 3 Levels
  • Development Strategy Top 3 Levels
  • Executive Compensation Strategy and Administration Top 3 Levels
  • Workforce/Continuity Planning Enterprise Wide
  • Thought Leadership Facilitated Access-Board, CEO and CEO Direct Reports(facilitate access to thought leaders for education/edification purposes

 

Desired Competencies 1. Strategic Planning Expertise

2. Executive Coaching/Facilitation Experience

3. Leadership Assessment Orientation(not necessarily Practitioner)

4. Working Knowledge of Executive Compensation Strategy and Programs

5. Thought Leadership Credentials(writing, academia, other)

 

 

 

One could reasonable assert the following two viewpoints:

  1. These Positions Exist in HR Already-True….but our point of view as to focus the importance of this effort it should be out of HR for practical reasons
  2. The credentials of this role exist: but among various incumbents-True again….but our point is that having this body of expertise and outlook resident in one senior position optimizes effectiveness

 

The hypothesis of the Discussion Partner consultancy is the time to debate the upgrading of heretofore sub processes into one role is timely.

 

IT Infrastructure Projects and the “Net Gener” Resource

By Michael J. Casey, PMP

Staffing IT infrastructure projects is getting more and more problematic. Demands between system support and specialized technical undertakings have increased, while the pool of talent itself evolves before our eyes. “Infrastructure” efforts – a new data center, upgraded network, installation of servers, and desktops, e-mail and voice systems – require trained staff, pulled between providing ongoing service and episodic – though critical – input to technology efforts. This situation will be more complicated as the talent pool changes and the younger technology savvy worker emerges. Writers in recent years have suggested that – in the digital age – the talent geared to work on these technical projects is maturing in a manner not conducive to effective project planning and tracking.

Development roles generally operate within an adopted System Development Lifecycle – Agile, Waterfall, etc. – for a new software product or release. Companies invest heavily in metrics that are continually refined, in part, to protect investment in talent. This practice reinforces the importance of the software engineer in product development. The infrastructure resource, however, roams in the realm of support (ITIL or company custom version) and is periodically assigned to program management (PMO or variation). Specific skills are required for a short time, with tight interdependencies.  For example, the upgrade to web or database servers is often on the critical path of many enterprise wide initiatives, corporate or commercial.  Product an program managers cast a nervous eye at the Dev or QA “environment” build schedule– an amalgam of expensive network switches, racks, storage devices, and servers that have to be nestled,  IP’d and ready to go to meet a strategic schedule.

But, senior stakeholders, the project manager (PM) and the shared resource, the IT infrastructure engineer, are too often reminded that “production is king” and a key milestone may pass if an engineer is delayed in completing a task in order to address a problem affecting services. Most companies – even in good times – do not devote IT staff specifically to capital projects, observing the adage to “not build a church for Easter Sunday.”

The network engineer or system administrator, consequently, is perceived to be “on loan” for specific tasks on a “best effort” basis. The project is just another form of short term work authorization. The engineer may never even look at the plan; the PM is left to gauge the impact of a build or configuration, if missed, with little or no mitigating options. Many have emphasized the multi-tasking – gaming, internet mastering– capabilities of the Net Gen resource. This adaptability could work to the benefit – or the detriment – of the IT infrastructure project.  With a generally short horizon to realizing the product or service, the resource could embrace the repetitive service based tasks… or reject them entirely.

In managing technical project resources in the coming years, we can make some qualified observations to see if they become trends, with the maturity of Net Gen (aka, Gen Y) talent:

–          The Net Gen resource of “Growing Up Digital” (Tapscot) may embrace the episodic nature of IT project work – multiple projects with different stakeholders – but not the repetitive service oriented tasks themselves. (e.g., Build Server, Test circuit.)

 –  Value expressed through core Systems Assurance and Service Delivery disciplines will likely shift as Net Gen staff rises to prominence in IT and resists traditional adherence to standards.

 –  This value shift – and the need to incorporate Net Gen tendencies in the formulation of IT project tasks and the service catalogue may tax companies, led by traditionalists and boomers, in the coming years.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Daniel Tapscott focused on “bathed in bits” children – those between 2 and 22 in 2000. He favorably characterized them as “tolerant of diversity, self-confident, curious, assertive, self-reliant, contrarian and flexible”. These traits, he points out, are a result of this generation’s exposure to the Net, the fluid interchange of information and interactive modes of communication. In cyberspace, he says, there are no hierarchies and the readily available access to information has created in its young “netizens” the quest to search for and be critical of information.

This portrait, no doubt, is a celebration of emerging individuality, the profile of an engaging, sophisticated generation. However, it does not suggest the discipline and sublimation of self needed to build, for example, a required set of 20 Windows 2008 servers in a three day period. Such work is specialized, repetitive and often tedious. It does not allow for diversity, curiosity and a contrarian spirit.

In his follow-up book, “Grown Up Digital,” Tapscott dedicates a chapter to the “The Net Generation Brain.” Exploring “multi-tasking,” he cites an Oxford Future of the Mind Institute study. Net Geners, 18 -21 years of age performed 10% better than a group aged 35 – 39 (a range which includes many current IT engineers.)  Factoring in interruptions from communication based messages (phone call, call text message, or IM), Net Geners lost their competitive advantage. “The thirtysomethings caught up in speed and accuracy.” Despite thinking quicker (spurred by games and internet paging), the Net Geners are “less effective at recovering from disruption when faced with a complex cognitive task.” This is but one study but the author doesn’t really attempt to refute it expect with references of Net Geners’ focus with games and electronic matters that interest them. Attention deficit traits are not a concern but a choice.

In “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30),” Mark Baurlein presents s different picture. While IQ scores have gone up consistently – 3 points a decade since WWII – he contends that Net Geners are “culturally ignorant” while being “mentally agile.” He feels that they don’t read the great works of literature. The digital age, he feels, is fostering ignorance.

Whether or not one agrees with Tapscott or Baurlien, the underlying concern here is the need to evaluate how the talent in this emerging generation may behave differently in an already underemphasized sphere of work, the IT Infrastructure. The nature of the work, while technical in nature, may not appeal to the curious Net Gener described by Tapscott.

Infrastructure generally isn’t sexy; it’s, at best, reliable. It’s not that infrastructure isn’t noticed – if we were to walk into a room, flip a switch and see that a bulb is out, we might consider Edison. We just don’t consider that his invention is now successfully indivisible, that “light,” is easy enough to engineer and provide, regardless of the function of the room it sheds on.  

Infrastructure staff enjoys a flexible though often secondary role in the business hierarchy. They are often tempered professionals who, after years of repetition and observation, are likely to shake their heads in deference… after completing the task. They would agree, of course, that emphasis should remain with the products and commercial services the company presents.  Studies in recent years suggest that a PM’s ability to effectively manage less compelling or product oriented projects with the “Net Gen” resources may replace rumblings with indifference. 

International organizations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) have taken devoted bodies of knowledge to the fieldof Resource Management.  This orientation includes discussions on functional vs. cross-functional resource allocation; resource management is a key element to activity resource estimating and project human resource management. These components of a comprehensive project plan are recognized and practiced by PMs worldwide. The PMI has promoted “resource leveling,” a technique aimed at smoothing available resources, reducing excesses and shortages. With a goal of 100% utilization, the underlying principle is to invest in resources as stored capabilities, and then unleash the capabilities as demanded.

To the qualified observations, expressed earlier, and whether or not they may lead to trends, one could conclude that the future “stored capability” known as the Net Gener, poised at the technology gate, may not easily lend it to “leveling” or other techniques that promote standardization and uniformity. The IT Project Manager will need to appreciate that the diversity of the stakeholders and interests served may entice interest while the repetitive nature of the tasks may dispel the future worker described by Tapscott.

To maintain the gains in quality and service oriented disciplines of recent decades, senior managers will need to invest effort and skill in evaluating program management options with respect to diversity – and age – of talent in project resource management. The values and inclinations of the Net Gener may not favorably cast them for IT Infrastructure projects.

The Emerging Role in Human Capital

During our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future is Now, our findings indicated that those in the CSuite want to see a fundamental change in how the most senior leaders are developed at the enterprise level.

 

What became abundantly clear during our research was that the current model for the HR function where Talent Management is at least 2 if not 3 levels down from the CSuite and with enterprise wide role architecture is suboptimal. 

 

This has led the Discussion Partner consultants to the conclusion that the current organization model in Human Resources impairs innovation, accountability, and sustainability for Leadership Effectiveness at the highest level of an organization.

 

To have a dedicated HR function for the most senior levels of an organization is not new.  General Electric and many other organizations have dedicated resources for the “Top 200”.  Essentially this approach focuses mostly on the high potentials possibly to the exclusion of B players, in critical roles or assigned mission essential projects.

 

Our point of view is there needs to be a more generous interpretation of this effort, one that requires a new title, reporting relationship, role architecture, and competency.

 

Our model for consideration aligns in the following way.

 

Title-

Chief Leadership Effectiveness Officer (CLEO)

Reporting Relationship(s)-

Direct Line-Board of Directors

                                                Dotted Line-CEO

Role Architecture-

  • Succession Planning Top 3 Levels
  • Recruitment/Replenishment  Top 3 Levels
  • Development Strategy Top 3 Levels
  • Executive Compensation Strategy and Administration Top 3 Levels
  • Workforce/Continuity Planning Enterprise Wide
  • Thought Leadership Facilitated Access-Board, CEO and CEO Direct Reports(facilitate access to thought leaders for education/edification purposes

 

 

 

 

Desired Competencies-

  1. 1.   Strategic Planning Expertise
  2. 2.   Executive Coaching/Facilitation Experience
  3. 3.   Leadership Assessment Orientation(not necessarily Practitioner)
  4. 4.   Working Knowledge of Executive Compensation Strategy and Programs
  5. 5.   Thought Leadership Credentials(writing, academia, other)

 

 

One could reasonable assert the following two viewpoints:

1)   These Positions Exist in HR Already-True….but our point of view as to focus the importance of this effort it should be out of HR for practical reasons

2)   The credentials of this role exist: but among various incumbents-True again….but our point is that having this body of expertise and outlook resident in one senior position optimizes effectiveness

 

The hypothesis of the Discussion Partner consultancy is the time to debate the upgrading of heretofore sub processes into one role is timely.

 

The Globalization Quiz!

During a recent workshop with a group of Human Resources Executives of a Fortune 100 Global Company, we asked the 15 participants the following questions:

 

                             Question                                             Respondents

  1. How many of you were born outside the US?                0
  2. How many of you have had 10 years as an Expat?      0
  3. How many of you have had 5 years as an Expat?        0
  4. How many of you have had 1to2 years as an Expat?  2                
  5. How many of you are fluent in a second language?   3
  6. How many of you spend at least 60 days Int’l travel 5
  7. How many of you like Italian food?                                     13

 

Although the quiz can be construed as tongue in cheek humiliation, it is also a proof point.  As a general rule the HR leadership of US centric “global companies” for the most part is rather parochial we would submit even if they travel extensively outside the US.

 

In our research for the book Talent Readiness-The Future Is Now! we conducted a survey of 150 CEO’s on their aspirational expectations of the Human Capital function. 

Among the top 10 responses was “assist leadership in becoming a truly global enterprise”.  31 of the CEO’s were headquartered outside the US.

 

We are not sure that there is sufficient time for every senior HRM to master the advanced levels of a Rosetta Stone course, or persuade the 2 outliers of the benefits of mozzarella….yet there is a need for the domain to respond to this deficiency in orientation, outlook, in order to satisfy CEO expectations. 

 

There are 5 practices that are emerging that may be useful.

 

1)   90 Day Wonders-It is somewhat of a military model whereby Officer Candidate School is this duration.  Our recommendation is that the most senior HR managers be required to spend at least 90 days on business travel.

2)   Knowledge Transfer-Use of Executive Coaches whom have lived and worked in the regions who can advise executives on mores and approaches for assimilation

3)   Rotation-Reverse the model of sending Americans overseas in favor of having high potential targets coming to the US for semi-permanent placement as part of a longer term HR Succession Plan.  

 

 

 

 

4)   Non Exclusionary Development-Look for opportunities for HRM’s from outside the US to participate in company sponsored events/training in the US even accompanying their cognizant manager vs. relying on them to have knowledge be communicated

5)   Change the Hiring Profile for US HRM’s-Embed into the desired qualifications.  Basically change the game!

 

For a Global HR entity to set as a goal “in five years 50% of our staff to come from outside the US or have an international orientation through their family or education” is ambitious.  Yet compare that to the revenue stream that is expected to be derived from non US operations.  This compare and contrast exercise has its merits.

 

Our research would indicate that the CEO’s do not expect their US centric HR mangers, or we hasten to point out would those CEO’s who were from outside the US, “become global by exporting practices and processes”.

 

One Canadian CEO stated it well “To be Global HR need to Be Global”.