Category Archives: Economy

Talent War… Here it Comes (Again)

I have written about this before and even predicted this but the war for talent has begun. Granted, it is in its infancy and not yet in full swing, but I’ve talked to several recruiting firms and organizations who are beginning to look for talent to fill the void of massive layoffs. In addition, they are searching for meaningful ways to retain existing talent.  Continue reading

Emotional Literacy

I had several interesting conversations last week with folks who are in leadership roles, both at profit and non-profit organizations. All are wonderfully competent human beings and well intentioned, most are challenged by their jobs, and some are very frustrated with the toll of the negativity of the lingering–but hopefully ending–recession. Continue reading

Baby Boomers

This morning, I heard some alarming and troubling statistics; 16% of the baby boomer generation says they are ready for retirement and 43% say they have less than $10K saved for retirement. The recession has delayed the retirement plans of the average baby boomer by about 9 years.  Two thirds of all health care costs are incurred after the age of 60 and health care costs/insurance is the #1 source of financial concern to retirees, despite medicare and medicaid. Continue reading

High Potentials

highpotentialI saw the following from Human Resources Executive Online:

“High performers have been disproportionately affected by organizations’ responses to the recession. The 2009–2010 U.S. Strategic Rewards Survey by Watson Wyatt and WorldatWork found that employee engagement levels for all workers at the surveyed companies have dropped 9% since last year — but the number was nearly 25% for top performers. The number of people who said they would recommend that others accept jobs at their companies declined by nearly 20%.” Continue reading

The AIG Effect

luxury-business-travel_jetThe AIG effect is not a term I coined, but read about in USA Today this weekend.  This article quite effectively captured the current (and foreseeable) trend in how human capital professionals (especially those charged with developing talent) are being impacted with traditional methods. Continue reading

Emotional Safety – Revisited

cubedisengagedA recent study projects a significant shift in the workforce as soon as the economy picks up. Apparently, there are significant numbers of workers greatly dissatisfied with what they do, frustrated by how the tough times were handled, and ready to “go to something else somewhere else.” This is especially true for younger workers who do not share the more traditional values of having to do the same thing for a long time at the same place. There were studies prior to the recession that also showed the highest levels of employee disengagement and apathy in over 6 decades. Continue reading

Corporate Courage & EQ

courageI recently visited a large Fortune 200 company. The purpose of my visit was, in part, to process some challenging negative feedback that many middle managers had for their senior executives during their annual 360 Feedback Surveys. In talking with many of the senior executives, I found that their perspective was they were convinced that managers and leaders want the big title, the big role, the big compensation package, and the big office, but not the accountability that comes with it.  Several examples were given of deadlines and mutually-agreed specific, measurable goals left unmet by the middle managers.  In conversations with the middle managers, however, they provided–as might be expected–a dramatically different perspective. They argued that senior leaders were setting unrealistic goals and they were being forced to achieve the kind of success that would be considered tremendous in times of abundant wealth, resources, and time… but they were asking this of them during these tough times when people are being asked to do more with less and are in a gut-wrenching state of fear of taking risks. Continue reading

Personal Growth

I recently spoke at a SHRM conference on EQ in the workplace and decided to do something different. At one point in the speech, I asked the following: Raise your hand if you wake up every morning and wish for negative experiences to happen to you. I got a chuckle out of that as, obviously, no one raised their hands. I then asked: Raise your hand if you have negative experiences every day from something as mundane as traffic on your way to work to more complex experiences like finding out that your spouse just got laid off. And this time, everyone raised their hands. Continue reading

EQ and Tough Times

Years ago in my Big 4 consulting days, I did a good bit of work in Merger and Acquisitions – specifically in Merger Integration work. I often times led teams in defining the new combined organizational and operational structures which often meant we decided who stayed and who had to go. Once a merger is announced, the only people that get excited are the shareholders and top executives. Employees, middle managers, and even customers tend get worried about how this will impact them. My role was to ease this anxiety and my governing mantra was two fold:

  1. Take very good care of the folks leaving because it sends a powerful message to the folks staying.
  2. Over communicate with those staying. Continue reading

Danger or Opportunity

The chinese symbol for change has two meanings – Danger and Opportunity. Cantonese is a language that has been around for over 2000 years and how apropos in these times when there seems to be bad news at every corner of the day from the media spelling bad news.
Most folks listen or look at bad news and figure out intelligent ways to cope with it and not let it bring them down – personally and professionally. Very few will ask: What is the opportunity here? And the truth of the matter is that there is tremendous opportunity in these times. Yes, I said it…tremendous opportunities. For those of you that have been laid off or have been looking for jobs or have seen your small business significantly constrict over the past 12 months, you’re calling BS on me right now. I know. But hear me out.
  Continue reading

Economic Malaise Driving Fundamental Change

This past week I have connected with several companies in different industries and various geographic regions. Two consistent themes are reappearing in our conversations:

  1. “I need to figure out how to help people do more with less.”
  2. “I need to find cheaper and better ways to develop my talent.”

Unlike the previous three economic slowdowns that I have personally experienced in the past 25 years, there is something alarmingly different about this one. Yes, when budgets get tight and layoffs are occurring, people do think about doing more with less and finding cheaper and better ways. But this time around, the malaise is so communal, affecting most industries, and very personal (who’s retirement did not shrink in half?) that these same two themes have new meaning. This time, it’s for real!

I am convinced that organizations are fundamentally altering the way they will develop their talent in the future…and hopefully as soon as later this year! By fundamentally, I mean, in a paradigm-shifting way. Okay – I used that beat-up 90s term – but it is incredibly apropos. This recession has hit us all so hard that it is making all of us say, ‘let’s not put ourselves in this situation again’. From a organizational perspective, it is even more profound of a resolution. I had one major executive tell me ‘they won’t even let me buy pens!’ 

So the idea of sending managers and leaders off to Orlando or San Diego or some other distant city for a week-long seminar or conference is gone. Off-site learning and development will always exist in some form, but not in the manner to which we’ve been accustomed. Leaders in organizations want to see the tangible ROI – they want to see how that $7500 trip resulted in something clearly beneficial for the individual or the corporation. They also want to be able to track it and explain it. What did they learn in Orlando? How did they transfer new knowledge to the better the organization?

So for those of us in the human capital business, I posit that those that can demonstrate sustainable value for their businesses will do fantastic not just when the economy picks back up, but in 2010 and beyond as well.