In this episode, James Brook, Founder and CEO of TalentPredix™, interviews Lisa Farrell, Head of HR at Landmark, about Great Places to Work.
Improve the effectiveness of your team leadership with this high-impact 12-week challenge. The challenge is designed specifically for team leaders and managers to deliver better results, motivation and teamwork.
The world of work is changing dramatically, and the pace of that change is speeding up. Career development is undergoing a similar transformation. There are unprecedented opportunities, including new job types, improved flexibility, and the ability to learn in digitally enhanced ways that are personalized to learner’s diverse preferences. However, there are considerable challenges too. Career pathways are no longer straight lines. Steady progression up the career ladder is being replaced by squiggly career paths that resemble an elaborate climbing wall. There are multiple, ill-defined pathways to achieve your goals and initiative, experimentation and constant learning are essential to find your way. Sideways, diagonal, and even downward moves are common. For example, we saw many employees prioritizing lifestyle over ambition during Covid. They downshifted or took sideways moves to spend more time with their families and on leisure activities. But for many, the promise of career thriving still seems elusive, especially in an economy which is slowing and where bills are rising faster than pay. In this volatile environment, here are 7 principles everyone can apply to achieve greater levels of happiness and fulfillment in their career.
Own your career and success
Too many people end up drifting aimlessly through their careers. To succeed and be happy, you need to exercise choice and responsibility over your career. For example, everyone can take initiative by putting their heart and soul into their job to show up and do their best every day. They can commit to doing 5-10% more than what is expected to stand out and attract better opportunities. They can also be a supportive, likeable, and helpful colleague and team player. Each of us spends around 90,000 at work and how we choose to show up and undertake our work is largely up to us. So too is the legacy and positive difference we create. Of course, we can’t control things outside our control such as our boss’ behaviour, the behaviour of our teammates, or the pay rise we get. However, we can control how we respond to negative circumstances, setbacks, and people we interact with. To get the most from our career, we need to take responsibility for it and influence it to our advantage. So rather than being a passenger on the journey, we need to proactively pilot our careers so that we get greater enjoyment from the journey and end up at a fulfilling, worthwhile destination.
Build your career around your aspirations and values
In the modern workplace, the problem for most is not a shortage of opportunity, it is having too much opportunity. Unfortunately, this opportunity is still unfairly skewed towards those from privileged backgrounds. However, we all have a growing number of ways we can make a living. We no longer need to stick with a job we hate or one that provides little fulfilment. This is why starting your career planning and development early is important. People who clarify their dreams and aspirations early have more focus and time to invest in making their dreams a reality. By clarifying what success looks like for them, they stand out and have more control over their destiny, rather than allowing external factors to determine their fate.
As well as clarifying your aspirations, it is important to understand our values and the role these play in helping us to thrive in our careers. Values are the core beliefs that are important to you and guide your life and career choices. Becoming more aware of your values will help you find roles, career pathways and organizations that are compatible with who you are and what you believe most strongly in. For example, someone with a sustainability/social responsibility value might find it difficult to work for a tobacco firm. Values also help us to navigate career turning points, challenges, and dilemmas more effectively. By staying true to our values, we can maintain our internal balance, authenticity, and sense of fulfilment.
Discover and optimize your strengths
Every successful person builds their career around their strengths. Rather than trying to fit in, they work hard to shine in areas where they can stand out. As the famous management guru, Peter Drucker said “first and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.” Too many people waste their talent and energy trying to be like others or even worse, attempt to become all-rounders. But this is a futile mission. There are no all-rounders in the workplace. Every employee has strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections. Realizing one’s full potential comes from building awareness of your innate talents and taking action to turn these into standout strengths that produce outstanding results. This happens when you put in the hard work and practice to build relevant skill, experience, and agility in your areas of greatest talent. Of course, we must also learn to overcome limiting weaknesses to improve our performance and prevent failure. The strengths approach empowers us to explore creative ways to use our strengths to overcome weaker areas and behaviours that may limit our success. Employing strengths-based thinking also promotes greater collaboration with diverse colleagues who have strengths in areas where we are weaker.
Overcome self-limiting beliefs and assumptions
To be successful and happy, we need to believe in ourselves. However, most of us have inner ‘gremlins’ such as poor self-confidence or imposter syndrome (i.e., where people doubt their competence and past successes and live in fear of being exposed as a fraud) that can limit our progress and success. Author and performance coach, Tim Gallway, explains the origins of these limiting assumptions and belief using the metaphor of an “inner game” playing out in people’s minds. He maintains that for people to perform effectively, they need to learn to silence their inner critic and channel it productively into non-judgemental awareness and learning. The best protection against limiting assumptions and beliefs is awareness. Once we understand how these inner critics limit our success, we can develop strategies to change how we respond to them. For example, I was taught as a young boy that to become successful, one should work independently. This narrative become deeply internalized in my psyche and led to me trying to do too much myself, without calling on the support of others. Through greater self-awareness, feedback and mentoring during my mid 20’s when I become a team leader, I become aware of how much this assumption was limiting my progress. I realised that if I wanted to achieve my aspirations, I would need to build and lead teams of people who were stronger than me in different areas.
Embrace learning and growth
Too many people stall their careers by playing it safe and staying within their comfort zone. Others inhibit their learning and progress by being complacent, resisting change, or getting defensive when they receive feedback.
Today’s fast-changing organizations are looking for people who have a strong growth mindset and are open to learning, upskilling and adaptation. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft refers to these people as “learn it all’s”. One of the keys to career thriving is to develop what Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a “craftsman mindset”. This involves asking the question “what can I offer the world?” and continuously honing your skills and capabilities to create value, stand out and remain relevant.
Improving your ability to learn and adapt involves the following 4 behaviours:
Invest in building a strong support network
Who you surround yourself with really matters to your energy, growth, and ultimate success. As we have seen from the recent Football World Cup, nobody can succeed on their own in a competitive performance environment. Even superstars like Messi and Mbappe need a strong team around them to be at their best.
To achieve success, it is important to build what we refer to in our training as a Personal Career Board. This ‘board’ should ideally comprise a diverse group of people (including your manager, partner, peers, etc.), each of whom plays a different role in helping you achieve your career goals. These people should ideally exemplify the behaviours and qualities you are looking to develop and at least some should be in roles you aspire to hold in future. Key roles people on your board can play include mentor, coach, encourager, confidant, educator, counsellor, therapist, etc. We always recommend that people wanting to accelerate their progression prioritise finding a mentor and coach (if their manager is not an effective coach). While the term “mentoring” and “coaching” are often used interchangeably, there are some differences. A mentor is typically a more experienced person who offers wisdom, guidance, and experience to their protégé in a less formal, structured relationship. Studies show that mentoring can significantly enhance rates of learning and career progression. Investing in a mentor and other relationships will provide you with valuable insights, support, diverse perspectives, encouragement, and feedback. By building strong relationships of trust and respect with these people, they are also more likely to throw in a good word for you which will help increase your visibility.
Manage your energy and stress
One of the biggest happiness traps is overworking. People who are ambitious frequently become overinvolved in their work. They invest a disproportionate amount of time in their career at the expense of investing in relationships and their personal care, including setting aside time for leisure, sport, relaxation, their family, and friends. This can quickly lead to high levels of negative stress, undermine their mental and physical well-being, and in the worst cases, lead to mental exhaustion and burnout. It is easier than ever to become a workaholic in today’s “always-on” work culture. To prevent this, it is important to put in place habits and boundaries to protect your physical and emotional well-being and life outside work. Habits that will help you to maintain your energy at optimal levels include saying “no” to lower priority tasks, getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, regular exercise, eating a balanced, healthy diet, taking regular rest breaks, and reflecting on your successes and good things that have happened at the end of each day. Setting and sticking to boundaries to protect your personal and home life is important to prevent work squeezing out other important aspects of your life, especially in a world where the division between home and work life is becoming blurred because of virtual and hybrid working.
People who take control of their careers and do their best each day to grow their career value are far more likely to thrive at work, and in their personal life. By having a clear sense of purpose and building autonomy, mastery and connectedness with others, you will achieve greater happiness, success, and well-being. You will also build the positive mindset, resilience, and adaptability required to seize new opportunities and successfully navigate a fast-changing world of work.
Is it important to you to attract, retain and develop the talent in your organization? Are you spending this time and energy efficiently? This checklist will help you find out where the gaps may be for your organization in terms of talent management.
How does the checklist work?
Answer yes or no to all 24 questions divided over 2 different sections. Once you’ve checked all the boxes you can check your score by counting all “yeses” per category.
If you have a few too many “noes” you might want to pay some extra attention to our recommendations.
First developed over 20 years ago, strengths-based assessments have been growing in popularity in recent decades among people leaders, coaches, and consultants. This is hardly surprising given the considerable benefits they offer organizations across virtually every stage of the talent lifecycle. Studies show that when organizations incorporate strengths-based assessment and development practices into their people strategy, they can achieve significant gains in both people and business outcomes. The ROI of strengths tests includes improvements in hiring outcomes, performance, engagement and retention, employee development, career progression, teamwork, well-being, and financial results.
Strengths and talent assessments are essentially measuring the same thing. They are both performance-based measures of the underlying qualities that energize people and enable them to do their best work. The main difference is that assessments describing themselves as “talent assessments” recognize an important distinction between talents and strengths that is often overlooked. One’s talents need to be optimized through skill building and experience to deliver value to the organization and be regarded as strengths by others. For example, one of my top 5 talents on the TalentPredix™ profile (which measures 20 critical work-related talents) is Leading. This means I am energized by inspiring and guiding people to achieve shared goals. However, over the years, I have had to develop a lot of skills, behaviours, and agility in the way I use this talent so that it is used effectively, creates a positive impact and is considered a valuable strength by others. At TalentPredix, we therefore talk about strengths being “fully optimized talents”.
Unlike popular personality tests such as MBTI and DISC, strengths-based assessments don’t pigeonhole people into oversimplified, and sometimes imprecise, personality types and categories. Instead, they focus on understanding what’s unique and different about people’s talents and behaviours and how people can bring the best of themselves to their job and career. Even when people have similar talents and strengths, strengths assessments recognize that people will apply them in different ways, depending on their aspirations, motivations, values, and background.
After 2 decades of use around the world by all types of organizations, strengths assessments must now evolve and adapt to the fast-changing needs of a modern workplace. Yet, in recent years, we have seen very little evolution of strengths-based assessments. Like many well-established personality tests, it appears that strengths tests have been slow to adapt and embrace innovation. To move strengths assessments into the new world of work, our team has created a next-generation strengths assessment that examines how combinations of talents, values and motivations can help people achieve higher levels of performance, career thriving and well-being at work. To reflect the fast-changing, volatile world we now live in, one of our four talent zones measures “Navigating Change”, which we define as “navigating and responding effectively to change”. Surprisingly, none of the other strengths assessments on the market today measures this vital strength area in such a targeted way. Uniquely, our assessment also examines the specific behaviours that show up when people overuse their strengths, in other words, when they use them too much or in the wrong way. For example, when one of my strengths, “Creativity”, is overused it can lead to me coming up with ideas that are unrealistic and unworkable
Yet there is plenty of work still to do by strengths test publishers and strengths practitioners to keep these assessments relevant and value-adding in future. Some of the opportunities for further research and innovation include:
There is another important opportunity where we believe strengths-based assessment and development tools could play a vital role in future. We would love to see other strengths test publishers, HR and L&D practitioners, and voluntary sector organizations working more closely together to bring the enormous benefits of this approach to the growing numbers of disadvantaged and marginalized job seekers and employees. A strengths-based hiring and development approach can help these people by empowering them to present their strengths, skills, and other standout qualities to employers in the best possible light. Moreover, by valuing and developing their strengths, disadvantaged job seekers and employees will develop self-confidence, agility and resilience, vital attributes to secure meaningful employment and progression. There are dozens of ways to help these groups. For example, TalentPredix provides significant discounts to companies in the voluntary sector and contributes a percentage of our sales revenue to charities helping disadvantaged job seekers.
Strengths assessments are now widely adopted by organizations in the UK and globally for numerous talent applications, including hiring, employee development, team building, creating great places to work and career progression. However, after two successful decades, strengths test publishers and practitioners need to adapt and innovate their tools and practices to meet the changing needs of the modern workplace.
Click here to discover how we help organizations unleash exceptional talent and thriving workplaces.
We are currently experiencing a crisis of trust in leadership. This is patently obvious in the political arena; however, it is just as apparent in the business world. The decisions leaders take and how they choose to implement them impact the trust relationship with their workforce, not just in the short term, but for months and even years to come.
There are numerous reasons for declining trust in leaders in recent decades including corporate cronyism, offshore tax havens and tax dodging, prioritizing short-term profitability over sustainable growth and environmental responsibility and a growing income disparity between top executive pay and other pay grades.
Shifting demographics and generational differences are also impacting on workplace trust. Millennials and other younger employees aren’t willing to blindly follow and trust leaders anymore. In fact, studies suggest they are developing an ever-growing mistrust of authority figures and trust their peers more than the leaders in their company. This is, at least in part, because of the breakdown of the traditional ‘psychological contract’, or set of beliefs, perceptions, and informal obligations governing the relationship between an employer and an employee. Most employers can no longer offer secure work and career progression, so this ‘contract’ is breaking down. This is likely to be exacerbated in the coming years as the pace and extent of automation and digitization of the workplace accelerates, leaving many people unemployed or having to fight for temporary work as part of the fast-growing “gig economy”. Many millennials have already seen their parents made redundant which has made them wary of giving their unfettered loyalty and trust to organizations and their leaders.
Below are 5 steps leaders can take to strengthen trust with their people:
Pursue a higher purpose beyond profit
Recent history is full of examples where leaders have placed greed and short-term shareholder returns over creating sustainable value for customers, employees, and society. Many companies are still turning a blind eye to the impact of their short-term and exploitative practices, including paying employees (and others in the supply chain) below the minimum wage, using questionable employment practices, and awarding top executives disproportionately high pay increases and bonuses. Awareness of these practices among employees, customers and the public is growing because of increased transparency and growing global connectedness resulting from rapid advances in online media and social networks that bypass traditional borders and boundaries.
To build greater trust, business leaders should invite their people to shape a greater purpose for their organization that contributes to a better and more sustainable future for all. This involves establishing a compelling purpose, ideally one that benefits all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and society. By taking a multi-stakeholder perspective rather than a narrow shareholder one, positive leaders leverage additional perspectives, ideas and commitment for positive change and innovation that benefits everyone, not just the owners and C-suite. There are a growing number of organizations that are seeing the financial and non-financial benefits of building strong purpose-based companies. Most integrate sustainability goals into their purpose, not as a token act of “greenwashing”, but to ensure their business is prepared for the era of green energy and sustainability we are entering. Studies clearly show the value of creating business that are a force for good in the world. Great examples include Unilever, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals and Patagonia.
Ensure transparent and human-centred people practices
Social media has immense power to expose people and companies which are engaging in exploitative, potentially unlawful, or irresponsible behaviour. By ensuring all their actions and decisions are ethical, fit for public scrutiny and transparent, leaders can build a culture of openness, integrity and trust.
When taking a decision that is potentially risky or damaging to one or more groups of stakeholders, leader can ask questions such as: “Would I be happy for my friends and family to see this decision, and the consequences, reported on a major social media platform like Twitter?” As well as measuring themselves against this type of standard, the best leaders ensure their employees are held accountable to similar standards, reducing the risks of unethical behaviour or a poor decision that can undermine trust, reputation, and customer loyalty.
Bridge the gap between words and actions
It is imperative that leaders’ words are matched by consistent and reliable follow-through so people can trust they will do what they say. If leaders don’t follow through on their commitments, people will quickly lose trust and respect in them. Even little discrepancies between promises and actions can undermine trust as it is a fragile bond, especially when a leader is new in role and they are still building up connections and trust with their people.
Tackle misinformation and fake news
One of the downsides of pervasive social media is that it amplifies fake news and misinformation. It is important for leaders to understand and tackle untruths and misinformation decisively by highlighting inaccuracies, especially if they pose a risk to staff or the business. They should ensure people have good access to reliable, fact-checked sources of information they can count on.
Be honest about bad news
Attempting to shield employees from bad news undermines trust and disempowers employees as they can’t help to tackle the problem. It is therefore imperative that leaders speak as much as possible from their heart, adopting an ‘open and honest’ policy when it comes to dealing with negative news such as layoffs, failure to secure additional funding, poor sales performance, etc. In this new digital age, the truth will quickly be outed if leaders try to hide tough messages from staff, as the rumour mill is now super-charged by online communities and social media channels. It is clearly always important to judge the timing of the communication and deliver bad news in a considered and compassionate manner. However, it is vital to be open and honest insofar as possible.
Trust is at the heart of positive leadership. However, in a dynamic, digital world characterized by information overload, misinformation, fake news and growing employee and stakeholder scrutiny, leaders are struggling to build high levels of trust and respect among employees and other stakeholders. By being open, transparent, decisive and collaborative, leaders will build stronger bonds of trust with employees to unlock their engagement, effort, and excellence.
Ask yourself these questions to assess the effectiveness of your transition to a new leader.
1. Do I understand the context and culture of my new team and organization from the perspective of key stakeholders?
2. Do I have a clear plan for the first 100 days identifying my priorities and what I intend to do, communicate, and learn?
3. Am I clear on intended outcomes and how I will measure my success?
4. How will I manage… [Download full version to read more]
The technological revolution and speed of innovation is transforming the workplace at a rapid rate. Within this disruptive landscape, organizations are managing myriad challenges from global supply issues, rising operational costs and inflation to a talent shortage.
1. Facing a talent and skills shortage and an economic crisis
Post-pandemic, there have been record numbers of job vacancies. This has increased competition in the job market for employers, as skilled and experienced workers can be highly selective about their next move. Offering higher pay and benefits is one tactic to secure top talent, however, it is financially unsustainable and could make existing employees feel underpaid. Compensation has a role in talent strategy, but organizations need to use different levers, other than pay to attract and retain talent. One of the most effective incentives is work that offers development and challenge as it increases workers’ value and gives them an opportunity to meaningfully improve their lives at work and beyond.
This approach can also… [Download full version to read more]
As Liz Truss, the UK’s new Prime Minister, starts her challenging role amidst multiple crises, it is worth reflecting on the principles underpinning effective leadership transitions.
Leadership transitions are becoming increasingly common. They occur when executives or leaders move to new jobs in different organizations or when leaders are promoted in their current company. However, in today’s hyper-competitive and volatile environment, successful moves are increasingly challenging, even for the brightest and most experienced leaders. The failure rate of new leaders is high and growing. For example, McKinsey found that 27-46% of executives who transition are regarded as failures or disappointments two years later.
So, what are the key guiding principles behind successful transitions:
Start before the person joins
Onboarding programs vary in scope and effectiveness, but many start the process too late, when the leader has already joined the organization.
To accelerate integration of the leader into the organization, it is advisable to start the process before day one. Steps companies can take to do this include providing new hires with:
A thorough onboarding and transition plan for the first 3-6 months and inviting input from the leader on specific questions they have that they’d like addressed.
Leaders starting a new role, especially those who are external hires, need a clear understanding of what is expected of them by different stakeholders and constituents. To expedite this process, HR departments can provide new leaders with an up-to-date organizational chart and stakeholder map, reflecting other key stakeholders that will be crucial to the leader’s effectiveness. They should also ensure new leaders have an opportunity to meet their superiors, peers, and other key stakeholders as quickly as possible. Ideally, responsibility should be delegated to an executive assistant or senior administrator to arrange these meetings as a matter of priority.
It is also important for HR to include a 1-1 session with the leader in the first week to talk through key HR policies, the employee handbook and any implicit expectations, norms and beliefs related to the company’s culture. This will help the leader understand what is expected of them, including all the unwritten rules and standards that don’t appear in the handbook and policies.
Provide a structured journey to support effective integration
Studies show that ramp-up time for external hires is typically six to nine months. This time can be accelerated with well-designed onboarding and integration programs. But an effective integration program will also reduce costly mistakes and U-turns, minimize staff morale and turnover problems, and promote strong relationships with the leader’s new team and stakeholders. Specific areas that the program should cover are detailed in the diagram below. Key aspects include:
Be clear on the development support and resources available
Together with an attractive remuneration package and supportive boss, access to engaging development and career opportunities is the factor most likely to motivate and retain talented leaders.
It is therefore important to clearly signpost development resources and program that may be of value to the new leader when they join. These should be aligned with their development goals, learning style and career aspirations. During the first 3 months, the leader should have an opportunity to sit down with their boss for a high-quality career dialogue. The purpose of this is to identify specific development goals and a Personal Development Plan to guide their development and growth. The leader should ideally also be offered an internal or external coach and mentor/s to support their development. This highly personalised approach to development has been found to be particularly effective for leaders and executives in transition.
Plan regular check-ins and feedback
It is important to schedule regular HR check-ins with the new leader at least every month to check on progress and share any feedback you and your team are hearing. Similarly, the leader’s line manager should ensure they maintain a cadence of weekly or fortnightly meetings with the new leader to discuss progress, answer any questions they may have and provide appropriate guidance, coaching and feedback.
These check-ins and review points are also a good opportunity to invite feedback from the new leader on their experiences, observations, and feedback, including suggestions to improve the team, business and onboarding process.
Provide expert coaching
New leaders can often feel isolated, and feelings of anxiety, fear and confusion are normal. Expert transition coaches understand these feelings and create a safe space for leaders to reveal their fears, limiting beliefs and vulnerabilities. They can also provide a neutral, non-judgemental sounding board for the new leader to test out ideas and alternative courses of action before taking significant decisions.
By providing a structured process, support, and regular check-ins to discuss progress, organizations will significantly improve success rates for external hires and newly promoted leaders. This will avoid the considerable financial and non-financial costs (including declines in team morale, unwanted turnover, customer losses and reputational damage) associated with transition failures.
If you would like to find out more about our transition support and coaching for new leaders, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org