Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The End Of An Era

6 years ago I left the world of technology sales to join the “employee recognition” industry. At the time, trophy manufacturers and fulfillment houses were giving prizes to people for their organizational tenure. Much in the way one receives a class ring, employees were rewarded a milestone award that was centric to their company brand. These mementos served as badges of honor to certain employees. Then technology took over.

Things have changed! Adults no longer want prizes.
So, the terminology of Employee Recognition became Employee Engagement. To be merely recognized is no longer enough, we want to engage! Engagement is an active process whereas recognition is synonymous with a stamp on the hand for showing up. Indeed the process has become far more important than the prize.
Nowadays everyone has advice as to how to “build a culture of recognition”. Newsflash: there is no such thing as a culture that is built on recognition. You cannot create transformation from a series of transactions.  
Manufacturers started hiring Marketers to pretend their prizes engaged employees; those-the-wiser yawned. Then there was the trend of assigning the Engagement perspective to a specific function within the organizational hierarchy...
Multiple Choice Quiz:
a.      Engagement is the Executive’s responsibility?

b.      Engagement is the Line Manager’s duty?

c.        Individual contributors determine the level of Engagement?
Extended explanation: there is not a trophy that will intrigue one to care more or less about their company.
1.      It is incumbent upon HR and Line Mangers alike to find extraordinary talent…this is a “word of mouth” exercise. Recruiting is not a process of submitting a resume into an ATS.

2.      Managers should value their employee’s future over their own.

3.      Executives very seldom create culture.
      Talent Matters Most
My friend, Steve Boese, wrote an excellent post the other day equating winning to the caliber of talent. As a person who coaches 5 year old girls soccer – I concur. I can create a game plan and yell all I want, but if the other team has superior talent, we’re toast. This absolutely applies in corporate culture.

The characteristics of supreme individual contributors:
  1. 1. They are self-focused
  2. 2. They always crush their number
      3. Their process is immeasurably awesome

Organizations screw up in three areas when it comes to managing extraordinary talent:
1.      They over-manage superstars

2.      They prop up individual stand outs as organizational leaders

3.      They promote individuals to management positions based only on their results
Your best individual performers will not always be your best managers. So, why do you put them in front of job candidates and pretend they are models of organizational efficiency? Putting an all star candidate in front of  your top sales person does not increase their likelihood of joining your company.
A business development professional who is responsible for 20% of your new business revenue didn’t get there by being nice. They are (understandably) self-centered and they are probably better at promoting themselves than promoting your company.

Action Is Better Than Talk

As we enter 2014, organizations face a certain tragedy:
The first response was having Baby Boomers write and present about the entitlement of Millennials…. another failed HR strategy.
The wave of succession planning is shifting. All star talent is no longer loyal, no one stays with a company for more than 5 years, and a trophy for 18,200 hours of effort is an insult!
The smart line managers are embracing the Millennial lifestyle, not pretending to deter it. 
Things to Consider: 
·         A superstar performer can start her own company for $20,000.

·         Any of your competitors will pay your top performer as much as you are to change companies.

·         Loyalty is dead.
The recession is over, individual contributors have more options than ever. Finding extraordinary talent is now less important than off-boarding dead weight.

The Table is Full!!!

Executives get paid to do many things. Promoting your culture is not at the top of their list. 
Executives are in charge of keeping the doors open, not engaging your employees. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
It’s 2014 and it’s time to grow up:
  • Generations in the workplace are shifting.
  • Technology is streamlining efficiency. 
  • The “talent gap” applies to employees who have outstayed their welcome.
Don’t Forget to Remember!

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