released a report that breaks down their research into the twelve critical traits that make up the DNA of human capital. This covers many areas that I’m seeing challenges as well with the organizations I work with and research I’ve been doing. Debbie McGrath, Chief Instigator and CEO of, and her team did an excellent job.

Five Major Issues I’d add to it:

  1. Teamwork is the most important soft skill, period. It’s the least understood and significantly impacts the bottom line. Poor teamwork is the norm. Most people haven’t really ever been on a really high functioning team with every member having superior teamwork skills. Teamwork needs to be prioritized in the on-boarding process and company-wide.
    • Communication is a critical issue that’s getting much worse. Poor communication costs between $420,000 and $800,000 per year in a company of a 100 people. You can use those ratios to check on how much money it’s costing your organization. Finally, large organizations don’t leverage expertise across groups and geographies very well. Poor teamwork in this area costs hundreds of millions of dollars for a multinational organization.
  2. Lack of trust is a huge problem and tends to be the root cause of almost every problem. Organizations need to tackle issues starting with trust versus skipping over it. For example, in conflict resolution issues the average team of five people wastes 200 to 275 in emotional turmoil, misunderstandings, and miscommunications. The root cause in trust. If you don’t start there, you’ll have a very challenging time resolving the conflict.
  3. Lack of self-awareness is a leadership nightmare. Research shows senior leaders significantly overestimate their abilities compared to what other people rate them in the organization. Their inability to calibrate their skills with how others view them is a huge issue. It causes them to make mistakes, micromanage, misread situations, manage their emotions poorly, miscommunicate and much more.
  4. Employee engagement is dismissal. You can read below. The data is really poor. Sure it’s getting slightly better, but 70% of workers are still disengaged. According to research, only 28% of managers are skilled at. That number seems REALLY high to me. I’d put it as below 10%. The costs are staggering.
  5. Managers are extremely poor in managing their employees. Every client I have mentions that they don’t get enough feedback on their current work and career path from their manager. There is a reason is 100% of people who say that. Managers also have real challenges giving tough feedback in a way that motivates employees and creates behavioral change. These comments are the tip of the iceberg. There is much more on this topic. The twelve DNA traits are below. I’ve revised the titles of each trait (my take):

  1. Master and Improve Analytical Abilities – Smart technologies and analytics are quickly becoming essential. Over three-quarters of HR professionals (78%) indicate that analytical thinking will be the most vital worker capability by 2020.  And alarmingly, only 11% of organizations report they are making good progress building a capable workforce to meet 2020 goals.
  2. Leadership Skills are REALLY Lacking – A well-designed leadership strategy combining diversity, good coaching, and data-driven decisions is imperative for effective future leadership. Only 20% of HR professionals give a high rating (at least 8 out of 10) to their organizations’ leadership skills, and only 17% of HR professionals agree (high/very high extent) that their leaders are effective coaches.
  3. Learning & Development Needs to be Prioritized – Employee development programs are viewed as one of the most crucial HR issues for the coming year, yet only a third of HR professionals feel that learning is embedded in their culture. Moreover, organizations are making slow progress in key areas such as personalization, mobile learning and micro-learning.
  4. Managers Must Improve Their Ability to Develop Employees – Performance management is in need of serious reform.  Management training is inadequate in this area. Just 21% of HR professionals believe (agree/strongly agree) that managers are skilled at performance management. Technologies are also being reformed. In 2019, performance management systems will be among the HR systems most likely to be added, replaced, or modified.
  5. Talent Analytics Provide a Competitive Advantage – Leveraging talent analytics requires new skills, solid technology and, more than anything else, a new mindset. Currently, a majority (59%) of HR professionals do not make use of talent analytics, even though organizations that excel at it report support from management and a noticeable competitive advantage.
  6. Become Much More Skilled in Talent Acquisition – “Recruit talent to support growth” is the most important area of focus for HR departments in 2019, tied with “employee learning and development.” Yet, many companies are failing in this crucial area. In fact, HR professionals regret an average of 31% of new hires. Emerging technologies in the areas of artificial intelligence and recruitment marketing are expected to help.
  7. Must Figure out Diversity and Inclusion – Most organizations have not yet reached a higher maturity level when it comes to diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices. Companies with successful D&I initiatives are more likely to have support from senior leaders, to track metrics in this area, and to require D&I training for their workforce.
  8. Employee Engagement Extremely Poor and Crippling the Bottom Line – Engagement deficits are costing employers a fortune. Continuously measuring and tracking engagement is key, but success requires action based on those metrics.  More than anything else, leadership (77%) and culture (74%) are essential for supporting initiatives and driving employee engagement.
  9. HR and Workforce Technologies is in the Very Early Stages – How companies leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and smart technology will be integral to their performance. Only 10% of companies report making high or very high use of AI for HR, so there’s a long way to go to leverage the benefits of the AI technology.
  10. The HR Skills Gap Increases – HR must prepare for the future by adopting more strategic responsibilities and by acquiring greater knowledge of technologies and analytics. It must, in short, close the skills gaps in its own profession.  
  11. Workforce Planning: Talent Development is Even More Critical – Turning mounds of data into real insights and recommended courses of action will be a challenge but also a necessity.  Companies must devote more resources to career planning and succession planning to ensure workforces have the up-to-date skill sets needed to keep their business moving forward.
  12. The Human Experience is Essential to Success and a Highly Effective People Strategy – Human experience (HX) goes beyond the employee experience when a company can create meaning for their employees at work.  Employees want to reach their full potential, and HR can take the lead on helping employees set and attain goals to maximize employee engagement levels.  

Human resources professionals have an opportunity to transform the workforce over the next five more than ever before. If they focus on the above areas over the next 12 months, they can make significant progress and take their company to the next level of success!

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