Monday 16 November 2015

Four Reasons Why Organizations Should Invest In Employee Development

Market pressure and a desire to succeed means that it is only logical that organizations and managers do what they can to deliver results and outperform the competition. So, for some, taking employees away from their workstations for training and development purpose is often perceived as counter-productive.

During my 26 years’ professional experience in corporate life, and 10 years as a transformation coach, I have worked with thousands of successful entrepreneurs, managers, leaders and organizations to help them adopt a positive culture when it comes to employee development.

Throughout this time, I have learned hugely through observing, assessing and interacting with workers at every level and, in this article, I would like to share the four reasons why employee development and training is vitally important to organizational success:

1. The organization will be a talent magnet, attracting the best talent in the market, while, at the same time, retaining the best employees. Replacing a member of staff can, depending on the role, cost the company anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000.

2. Employee development creates a talent pool containing the future leaders of the organization. Adopting a ‘promote-from-within’ culture offers the following advantages:
  •  Boost employee morale and motivation
  • Improve staff retention – ‘60% of employees choose to stay with an employer that invests in their professional development‘ – CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)
  • Avoid burnout and an negative attitude in the workplace.

3. Employee engagement and productivity increases.

4. Generate a positive return on investment – ‘Untrained employees take up to six times longer to perform the same task as trained employees’ – Hewlett Packard

Also – ‘Organizations that invest in staff development outperform the market by 45%’ – ASTD (Association for Talent Development)

Organizations need to see the development of employees as an investment rather than an expense. While some companies might be wary of spending too much on training, in case the employee leaves soon after, the development and training of employees is a huge benefit to companies in the long term. So, perhaps it should be a case of can you afford not to develop your employees.

About the Author: 

Samir Bata
Samir Bata's expertise in Management and Leadership has been built in 26 years in key positions in sales, marketing, general operations management, and business development. In addition to his management and leadership expertise, Samir is also a Senior Associate at MCE. 

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Monday 9 November 2015

"Wicked problems", the most important problems a business has.

Dr. Patricia Seemann is a Swiss surgeon and the founder of The 3am Group, with a specialty like no-one else. Her unique expertise is diagnosing and treating the most complicated and intractable issues that plague large global corporations … the “Wicked Problems” that, left unaddressed, can endanger the entire enterprise. She is a former member of the Group Management Board of a major financial services firm and has 15 years of experience in helping CEO identify and deal with “Wicked Problems.” She will be addressing those issues in a keynote presentation at #MCE55 Event in Brussels in April 2016 (19-20 April 2016).  

MCE: Does EVERYONE, no matter how driven, successful, ruthless, or misunderstood genius they may be, have that 3 a.m. trauma in their make-up? Why ? and what is it ?

Patricia Seemann (PS): Some will claim they don’t. The idea is to project complete command over everything. As one guy told me: If I were losing sleep, it would reflect a lack of competence on my side. Vulnerability isn’t in the make-up of conventional leaders. They don’t know that there is a whole bunch of stuff they don’t know. Which is what makes them so dangerous.

In a recent paper, two journalists interviewed about 60 leaders (government, military, corporate) who all agreed that Leadership is failing because individuals cannot have the answers anymore. The word has become unknowable.
What keeps them awake? Some things never change: where do I get real talent from? How can I get my team to play nice, etc. Today it is also a kind of impostor syndrome, feeling deep down that they aren’t up to the job. The thing is, in a way nobody is.

You can help but helping them acknowledge that having the answer is no longer the requisite or even possible skill. What is critical is the ability to ask the right questions and to draw on the collective intelligence of the firm. That of course predicates a very different leadership model

MCE: Can YOU cure them of these night time bogeymen the “something” lurking in the shadows ?

PS: I don’t know whether curing is possible, but certainly helping the cope, yes.

MCE: Does guilt, unfulfilled dreams, unrequited ambition and the need to be top dog play a key part and should certain behaviours act as a warning flag? Can YOU do anything about it?

PS: Well, Carly Fiorina had a larger-than-life portrait hung in the lobby of HP. I think that is a pretty clear signal that she has a problem. Would I have been able to change that, probably now, because she wouldn’t seek counsel from people like me. Of course all the things you point to can and do play a role. I cannot change deep rooted character traits. But what I can do is show them how working on some of their behaviours is to their advantage.

MCE: We’ve seen a whole slew of M and A’ s seriously derail because tough CEOs want to empire-build to the exclusion of all rationality. Will that always be there, or is it inherent in the “beast” that is the 21st Century CEO?

PS:Certainly! But it is also the inability to think in non-linear, messy ways. People assume that doubling the size of the firm doubles complexity, in fact it increases on a logarhythmic scale. They also rarely understand the notion of company as social systems with deeply tribal characteristics. Tribes really don’t like to be brought together.  Note also the role of the bankers. They can make any deal look compelling good on paper. The numbers are always pretty. But they do not reflect reality, because that is grounded in humanness, not numbers. And finally scale means something very different in a knowledge economy than if you are producing bricks.

MCE: Finally, If you had to say (or gently whisper) one word or phrase to a CEO with his or her eyes wide open at 3 a.m., what would it be?

P S: Build a company that’s smarter than you Then you can rely on it.

Monday 2 November 2015

Leadership in an Age of Convergence

Jens Maier is Lecturer at the University of St. Gallen, Fellow at London Business School (Centre for Management Development) and the Founder of CE Convergence Engineers.

He is the author of “The ambidextrous Organization-exploring the new while exploiting the now”; Palgrave Macmillan; 2015 and will be presenting a keynote session at #MCE55 Event in April (19-20 April 2016). 

Convergence between markets and technologies happens around us. The perfect Storm of ubiquitous Technologies (smartphones, cloud computing, big data, social media and the internet of everything), often characterized as „digitization” is by itself challenging enough. When coupled with a megatrend such as aging population, the implications are felt across most industries.

MCE: You’ve introduced "the ambidextrous leader” as a viable concept and a “must- have” for today’s successful corporation. But doesn’t the evidence indicate that a lot of senior managers can’t use even one hand effectively to steer the corporate boat?

Jens Maier (JM): Sure, there are always exceptions: that individual leaders fail at running the existing business smoothly. However, years of benchmarking, continuous improvement, black belts etc. have helped to raise the professionalism in most industries. Therefore, I have observed that senior managers have become quite proficient at using the hand of “exploiting” the current business.
Now, the perfect storm of technologies such as smartphones, cloud computing, big data, social media and the internet of everything has a huge impact on the future of most existing industries.
This current phenomenon, often summarized as digitalization, creates new competitors in the existing business and is simultaneously offering opportunities for new businesses. Therefore, organizations are challenged to develop the capability of exploration. It is no longer just about playing existing game better, shaping game is now required. In shaping game organizations are fighting for relevance in the next phase of their industry. Witness Nokia and Blackberry fresh in our minds as examples for organizations struggling to move beyond efficiency to stay relevant.
Relevance therefore is the result for an organization’s capability to reconcile exploitation (efficiency in the existing busing business) and successful exploration of new opportunities beyond today’s core business. Organizations have to develop the organizational “bandwidth” to reconcile exploitation and exploration.

MCE: What’s your recipe for getting respect as a leader? What would you mandate/demand that CEOs-in waiting MUST experience, learn, adopt or get enthused about on their way to the top.

JM: Respect is earned and due when a leader can demonstrate both authenticity and adaptability. In the book I use the analogy of the T-model. We find that initially first time team or project leaders tend to repeat the leadership behaviour that brought them success in the previous assignment. If the “hammer” was successful, in the next, larger assignment a bigger “hammer” is being used. This brings leaders success in their functional area of expertise or to stay with the analogy, as long as the challenge presents itself in the shape of a nail... However, we have learned about the high levels of de-railment that take place at the transition from the vertical line of the T-model to the horizontal line, the transition from functional specialist to general manager.
At the level of general management, the CEO role is just the broadest version of general management, a leader has to demonstrate additional competencies such as “influencing”.
This means that the leader has to develop the necessary “bandwidth” of behaviors over and beyond the preference for the “hammer”.

Now, in the current age of “digitization” the need for developing bandwidth in leadership behavior has been added one important new dimension, the requirement to be able to do both “exploitation” and “exploration”.
In their role as leader, individuals are required to prepare their organizations for the future, in short to innovate. Now, as leaders progress in their careers they usually assemble a good track record around exploitation, the continuous improvement of processes and products. However, in the age of digitization, exploration as a key competence has to be acquired. Again the new dimension for increasing personal bandwidth is the competency to do both exploitation and exploration.

MCE: We keep hearing about phrases like soft skills and mindfulness, but it’s a tough, real-world out there. Doesn’t the ambidextrous leader need an iron fist in a velvet glove to gain respect? So how do you reconcile these opposites to be the real leader so many of us want to follow?

JM: This is where the idea of individual bandwidth comes in: There are times when a leader has to apply the iron-fist, or the hammer. This may be necessary to apply exploitation. However, during our times of digitization, when it is important to explore new approaches, the competence to develop a vision, a point of view is also critical. This exploration competence includes winning the hearts and minds of followers, includes influencing inside and outside the organization. This could be described as the velvet glove. This means that leaders have to develop their individual bandwidth to be adaptable to both exploitation and exploration requirements and to stay authentic.

MCE: If you could sum up your book’s message in one phrase that any would-be leaders should keep in mind everyday to repeat as a mantra as they start their day’s work, what would it be?

JM: Ambidexterity is about personal and organizational bandwidth – what do I do today to improve both my personal and our organizational bandwidth.

#MCE55 Event 19-20 April 2016: Accelerated solutions for building organizational relevance and connectivity in a disruptive world.
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