Why don’t people remember…?

Last week a Company Director phoned Assimilating-Talent and was talking to me about his frustration with communicating change to his employees. He told me that “People don’t read stuff”.
Actually his frustration was that his employees seemed not to remember information.

I pointed out that this shouldn’t be a surprise when you look at how information is available and the way people retrieve it. Wikipedia doubling each year, over 200 million searches on “Tax advice” from Google, staff handbooks that run to 100 pages or more, 200 emails a day into their inbox and so on. People don’t need to remember information any more, they just need to know how to retrieve it.

Another result of all this information is that people are reading information differently. They scan for keywords as they hunt for specific topics, they read horizontally dipping in and out of text and store information, without reading it, for later reading.

This has huge implications for how organisations communicate with their people. The frequency of that communication and what people are being asked to look at. Possibly, instead of large memos, a shorter one line asking people to read: ‘“Section 2.4” of the change programme as this has changed‘.

Someone who I follow and talks huge sense on the topic of communication with people and businesses is Chris Street, The Bristol Editor and I would recommend a discussion with him if you want to improve your internal communication

Stephen Harvard Davis

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Generation Y need special care

I was not surprised to recently read that graduates aged around 29 feel unappreciated, unrewarded and unless it changes are about to leave the games field (their current employers) and take their ball with them.

As we know generation Y refers to people born between 1985 and 2000 and if one believes the Great Expectations Report published by ILM and Ashridge Business School their expectations of employment aren’t being met.

They had better get used to it
When I told a friend of this his reply was “Well, they had better get used to it. Who’s expectations are being met in this current business climate” and then went on to talk about the “poor products” that come out of universities and business schools that I thought a bit harsh.

However, the research in the report states that 45% of the group believe their salaries are below expectations. 38% think their career opportunities disappointing and that over one third (40%) will be thinking of leaving their current job within twelve months.

Talent pipeline
Whilst this report shouldn’t be a surprise, as far as my experience goes if you ask any group of employees if they are happy a large proportion won’t be and will be looking for employment elsewhere. However, for businesses trying to create a pipeline of talent able to be the managers of the future the thing I would suggest is not to panic. Some turnover is good and if you’re hanging onto the majority of the employees you find most useful through targeted actions then it’s as good as one can hope for.

Then again there was the useful piece of advice from the ILM Chairman Peter Cheese, “How employee groups are managed is integral to holding onto them.”
Now there’s something new!

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The peril of Ignoring old customs & culture

On Sunday I was invited to brunch by some friends. A real treat, but the topic of conversation was depressing. Two of our party, of six, announced that they were changing jobs. Not because they wanted to but because one felt unappreciated, the other tired of a failing “new hire manager”.

Performance review.
The first, an exceptionally clever person, had just had a performance review where his “new boss” had reduced his performance grade for willingness to undertake overtime and timekeeping because he said that he “Didn’t believe in awards at highest grade…”. The previous year the employee a highest grade for willingness to work overtime at short notice. The reduction would mean a change in salary expectation.

Tired of inefficient management
The second friend, the companies highest producing salesperson, recounted various “New hire ” management decisions that had affected how people were able to perform, ignored previous culture and customs and this was affecting team morale. As a result he was deciding to leave.

I’m not against change but find it difficult to understand when new managers try to create an impression without considering the consequences. Ignoring old customs and culture does no-one any favours. In the end one company might lose an enthusiastic and hard working employee and the other a high performing salesperson.

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Manage Your Talent Like A Restaurant

Yesterday I found myself talking about and writing on how a company should view talent management.
When speaking to Directors and managers I will often make the analogy to a
successful restaurant.

Any restaurant that fills all of its tables every
night and has a diary full of forward bookings will have a capable,
stable and motivated team of chefs in the kitchen. However having a team
of top talent creating the product, in this case food, is not enough.
To provide a great customer eating experience there must be a team
professional front of house and waiting staff to meet, greet and serve
the customers. Other aspects such as décor, entertainment value and ease
of access may play a part but the main success criteria are the people
and the product.

However if that top talent leaves the restaurant this is often
immediately noticeable by regular customers. Either the food or the
service will suffer and customers IMMEDIATELY stay away in droves.

Top Talent from top to bottom

Despite the analogy above too many companies try to attract top talent
to their most senior or important posts whilst “getting someone to fill
the post” for more junior staff.

This positions all the top talent in specific areas of the business
whilst creating a number of inbuilt and preventable weaknesses.
Weaknesses that reduce the potential for profits and future growth.
These weaknesses are most evident when the business wishes to introduce
changes to processes and systems.

With a weak talent pool any change programme tends to be slower to
implement, with the top talent urging the change whilst other groups are
unsure or opposed to the change.

In my experience the problems that poor talent management create are:
Increased costs,

Poor flexibility,

Poor management capability,

Inability to develop robust succession planning,

Difficulty in developing strategic capability

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Is There An Employment Revolution?

This is an answer I made to a question on Linkedin today about the failure of leaders to sack under- performing people. I thought it worthwhile also posting my answer onto my blog so that more of my network could read it.

I believer that business is going through a revolution.

In past credit squeezes firms and Governments would shed talent to reduce costs (the UK Government is about to do this again by reducing civil service personnel by up to 25%). The result was that essential knowledge and skills were lost and recovery took longer as a result.
So, this time round, firms have attempted to retain their talent, even those less productive, as leaders hope for a quick upturn. The problem is that the upturn is slow in the west.

Further problems are that with coming food inflation and possible grain shortages, extended insecurity as the credit crunch continues and Government policy that increases tax whilst reduces spending businesses are now being forced to start to look to their staff costs. This means that some of the “good” people will be shed as well as the “bad” and that the trend is to hire part-time employees.

I suspect that the result is that the “business revolution” will generate a significant percentage of the working population having a number of part-time jobs as opposed to a single full time position. (including professional firms such as lawyers, accountants and financiers)

There is security in this position for employees who may be “shed or fired” in that income is not reliant on one employer and totally and immediately lost on redundancy whilst the employer has a capability of expanding and contracting a workforce more easily.

So, in my opinion, it’s not “under-performers being hired or fired” it’s that we may be witnessing a change in the way employment may work in the future.


Maria askes her team for a quick win!

Maria called her team to a meeting and informed them that the CEO and FD have asked her to find a quick result that would provide a financial saving.

Her team went away and after some discussion between them have suggested that substantial savings could be made by withdrawing free canteen lunches from part-time staff. It was estimated that savings could amount to over £12,000 pa. This was considered an excellent idea and free meals for part time staff were withdrawn.

That night, last Thursday, the CEO returned home to find that his wife, who works part-time in the accounts department, and children were eating but that there was no meal for him. On enquiring why he was told by his wife, “you’re not feeding me at lunch so I’m not feeding you at night”.

Maria has been asked to replace the free meal allowance for all part-time staff. Naturally, she is a bit agrieved at this loss of face and is blaming her team for the suggestion.

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