Developing a high-performing engaged workplace is changing from the hierarchial, reporting structure (with cross-functional teams as side projects) to viewing a company as a “talent network” where skills and experience are shared. You still have a job/role, but you help others across the business succeed. This is the cutting-edge strategy for talent management and development.
Example: Suppose you need a team to build/market a new global product/service? Can you just “borrow” the experts from other groups to help you accomplish this? Will their managers let them?
“Unilever encourages its teams to create capability through lifelong learning, encouraging people to never stop growing. By accessing the platform, Unilever employees can work on projects for a small or large proportion of time, increase the depth of their expertise of a current skill or build new skills and experiences. Through the power of AI, people are suggested opportunities that match their profile and aspirations, and at the same time, giving full visibility to all opportunities available globally across all areas of the business, ultimately democratising and giving transparency to the way the company develops talent.” (Read more here)
1) Increase retention and engagement
2) Create growth opportunities by increasing their skill sets through new experiences
3) Help others succeed, increase competitiveness and drive key company metrics
4) Increase employee connectedness and belonging (which all goes to employee experience)
5) Increase a new breed of leaders
6) Truly leverage teamwork company-wide
It also solves the problem of having to promote employees. In this model, you reward employees by their skills, problem-solving and successes.
Fantastic time on the HR Social Hour podcast with the incredibly talented Jon Thurmond and Wendy Dailey. We discussed culture, employee experience and engagement, teamwork, team building, building trust, my game Cards Against Mundanity, and much more.
I also shared two HR leaders that you should check out Heather Dulin and Emily Markmann (and I’d in Susan Hamilton Mahaffey who I had a fantastic conversation last week with!).
Excellent post on creating great company values (versus lame ones) & challenges behind “living them” by the Twilio CEO. Encourage you to check out the article below.
“CULTURE is a word that Silicon Valley and startups everywhere toss around all the time,” says Lawson. “What does it really mean and how does it relate to VALUES? What I landed on is that culture is living your values.
Values are written words, and your culture is how you actually live those written words.”
“Our values are in motion, specifically through a three-stage lifecycle that gets us to the next stage of growth. First, we articulate our values, then live them and finally, test them.”
Love these two values the most (see the picture below):
1) “Empower Others: Make Heroes. Unleash the greatness of others inside and outside the company.”
2) “No Shenanigans: Be thoughtful. Always deal in an honest, direct, and transparent way.”
Values are for guiding behaviors and helping people make decisions that everyone will support and feel proud about.
Values are really really hard to get right and usually take iteration. But it’s worth investing in because the positive/negative consequences are massive.
Anthony & I get into a “meaty” conversation on his fantastic human resources podcast (E1B2 Podcast -Employee 1st Business 2nd) on the challenges w/ employee engagement, employee experience, culture building, teamwork, new employee onboarding, & other HR areas.
“In today’s episode, we cover the following topics ( Why teamwork is the most important company asset and least understood. We also discuss why and the cost/impact strategies and tools to build it. We also conduct a deep dive into Why 99% of onboarding is broken and what to do about it; what matters the most as it pertains to onboarding new employees? Finally what brands need to care about the most from a psychological perspective during the onboarding process!)”
Elon Musk sent out an internal email to Tesla employees on what great communication looks like and the chain of communication. I find this a fascinating read and worth discussing. It’s definitely controversial and can be challenging to pull off. Here is his email:
“There are two schools of thought about how information should flow. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it enhances the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.
Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept talks to a person in another dept and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.
Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else’s permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well.”
What’s the main takeaway for me: Managers shouldn’t be bottlenecks, silos and/or “information-stoppers.” Anyone should feel safe, able and comfortable reaching out to anyone else company-wide. It’s completely inefficient to always have to run something through a chain of command instead of problem-solving it yourself.
That being said…
Know your company culture (and values) and what’s acceptable (and what’s not)
Weigh the consequences of going around people
Managers can be very helpful by being a sounding board, “war-gaming” a strategy/plan, being your advocate and much more
Individuals should also go back and loop-in people because excluding them entirely causes its own set of issues
An individual’s skill level on emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, empathy, feedback and more will go a VERY long way to help navigate what Elon Musk mentions
I came across a dozen or so exceptional managers that used different versions of “user manuals” or “how-to-work-with-me-manuals.” They told me they were game-changers for productivity, performance, communication, and teamwork. They minimized and eliminated misunderstandings, biases and much more. What are they? Read on and learn!
“Learning how best to work with others is a huge challenge that often derails and stalls organizations. Over many years I’ve seen tremendously talented and productive teams struggle because of subtle misunderstandings, miscommunications and unspoken conflicts. Most business failures stem from these issues.
Leaders often talk about the importance of teamwork, but they rarely say exactly how to do it.
Here’s one game-changing step your organization and/or team can take: implementing a “How to Work With Me” manual and process. It’s a detailed instruction road map on individual preferences for areas such as communication, trust and pet peeves. It sets clear expectations on how to interact without trying to guess or infer what the other person means. It allows people to be authentic without being misunderstood.
It also instantly increases trust and team chemistry. You’ll see direct bottom-line benefits such as increased performance and fewer conflicts and miscommunications.
No matter how well we think we read people, everyone could use some help. None of us are perfect at it. But we can be much, much better.
We all have different personalities, communication styles, expectations and needs. We’ve been shaped by different experiences and histories. That creates challenging dynamics when you bring together leaders, managers and employees and expect them to accomplish difficult goals.
Organizations throw people together in teams and expect them to “magically” figure out each other’s personalities, preferences and hot buttons through guesswork, mind reading and trial-and-error. It would be similar to having to assemble IKEA’s most complicated piece of furniture without the instructions.
People often end up trying to analyze and predict what others like, hate, need and want, instead of asking them directly. This results in a rollercoaster ride of confusion, miscommunication, misunderstandings, unmet expectations, anxiety, fear and disappointment.
Despite all our best intentions, this process and environment is primed for broken trust, poor relationships and underperforming teams.