Leadership and Culture Change

hands-up-diverseI am a happy subscriber to a newsletter from Peter Koestenbaum, and in a recent message he had this to say about leadership that I thought was quite profound:

WHY LEADERSHIP?

A good executive can precisely diagnose the needs of an organization. Whatever the diagnosis, the solution universally requires leadership. It demands that a critical mass of the organization think and act as leaders do. Leadership is the principal action tool for implementing organizational objectives.

One can ask a company, “What is your problem?” One gets many answers, many different diagnoses, many different problems. Everyone — individuals as well as organizations — has reasons: the need for more decentralization, for flatter organizations, for more product and service quality, for higher productivity, for greater speed and quality decision making. Other reasons: the shifting markets, international competition; the need for continuous innovation, for more creativity, for more personal responsibility, for individual autonomy, for more teamwork, for better strategy, and the wish to correct sluggish profits and planning errors and to temper excessive politics. The concerns are multiple, but the solution is always the same: release, among the members of your team, the power for leadership and creativity, for courage and character.

To teach leadership greatness is to help others learn how to think and act as leaders do. It means to challenge their will, to release people’s latent greatness and to empower teams for extraordinary accomplishments.

His website can be found by clicking here: Philosophy in Business.

Francis
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Networking for HR Professionals

At last week’s HRMAJ conference in Ocho Rios, I had the pleasure of giving a speech on the topic of New Relationships, New Possibilities for Tough Times.

I spoke about the ways in which Human Resource Professionals are forced to do more, with the same or smaller budget, due to the economic times.  They need to find the latest technologies to get things done that allow them to secure their own futures, find the best talent wherever it may reside and take the lead in transforming their companies.

The entire presentation and the audio recording is available for viewing here:  New Relationships, New Possibilities for Tough Times

Francis Wade
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CaribHRForum 2008 Survey Results on Regional HR Conferences

The survey results from the CaribHRForum 2008 survey were recently published.

Over 290 respondents took the time to complete the survey on the topic of the region’s HR conferences.

The link to the final report was published to the CaribHRForum discussion group (which as grown to over 300 members,) and it can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

Click here for the CaribHRForum 2008 Survey Report.

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The Not-So-Diverse Caribbean Workplace

The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for the September issue of FirstCuts, the monthly ezine for Framework Consulting.

The topic surrounds a contentious issue — the diversity of our workplaces with respect to differences in sexual orientation.  The full article, along with public comments, can be found at

http://fwconsulting.blogspot.com/2008/09/not-so-diverse-caribbean-workplace_30.html

Here is an excerpt:

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The Not-So-Diverse Caribbean Workplace
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Global opinion is growing: the Caribbean is increasingly seen as one of the least inclusive, intolerant and unsupportive regions of the world as it relates to the matter of “differences.” The term “difference” is a fairly new one to the Caribbean workplace and it generally applies to obvious aspects such as race, gender, age,
religion, physical ability, etc. However, our international reputation is largely being tainted by our strident relationship to gays and homosexuality.

By extension, Caribbean companies and executives are not exactly seen as world leaders in the context of business tolerance.

The fact is that many of our territories’ populations have relatively little day-to-day exposure to people of other races, nationalities and beliefs. The tendency is to speak single languages as relatively few of our companies conduct business in other countries, even within the region. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few nights in a hotel in the vicinity of Times Square and I was reminded of what it was like to be surrounded by people of backgrounds different from mine and languages from all corners of the globe. We simply don’t have the kind of diversity that is influencing the way the world’s most admired companies relate to people who are “different.”

It might be no mistake that the CEO of Jamaica’s largest company, the Government, recently announced to the international public that he is unwilling to accept gays at the highest levels of his organization.

When asked in a recent BBC interview if he would allow gays to take up senior government positions, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding, replied emphatically, “Not in my cabinet!” I might be wrong in thinking that he is not the only CEO/Prime Minister/Chairman to have these views in the region.
While he may be the only CEO with these views, the effect of his words are far-reaching, as presumably they must have some impact on the entire Government of Jamaica, which coincidentally is the
largest employer in Jamaica. (The link to the interview is given in the next section.)

Clearly, his idea of an inclusive, diverse workplace has its limits.

If he is seen as a typical representative of a “regional CEO,” what are the pros and cons to companies when executives adopt this approach either publicly or privately? What does it mean for business and what is its impact on stock-holders, employees, customers and other stakeholders? Even though the societal
impacts are many, here in FirstCuts I will only focus on the impact his words and our attitudes, may have on the financial success of our corporations.

To read the full article, see http://fwconsulting.blogspot.com/2008/09/not-so-diverse-caribbean-workplace_30.html

Subscriptions are free, and can be initiated with an email to firstcuts@aweber.com

Francis Wade

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How HR Needs to Improve Networking Skills

Caribbean HR professionals are no different from other professionals in the region in their need to expand their networks.

While the needs are similar, the results I have observed are quite different.  Executives and salespeople need no convincing that they need to always be improving their networking skills.  HR professionals, however, are often reluctant as they can’t clearly see how building a network is important to them in their jobs.

The argument I often hear is that salespeople have an external focus, which takes them outside the company, while HR professionals have a focus on the inside.

Yet, HR professionals across the region that don’t develop wide and deep networks often find themselves becoming stale, and increasingly irrelevant to their companies.  The fact is, many HR professionals fall behind on key issues in their companies, and don’t provide the kind of leadership that only they can.  They end up responding to problems and firefighting when they should be anticipating and creating awareness.

Given the importance of human capital to our companies in the region, the cost is tremendous to companies.  They end up floundering because their HR executives and managers aren’t using the latest information, don’t create ideas of value and employ tools that are more about limiting perceived damage, than they are about spurring on creativity and risk-taking at all levels.

They typically don’t have the time or inclination to return to school, and the paucity of practical  research in HR  means that the best ideas often don’t come from academics — instead, they come from fellow practitioners.  Without a deep and rich network, the best ideas that are available remain shared among a small group of people in Bridgetown, Montego Bay and Castries.

Reaching and learning from fellow professional in the region takes an investment.  Very few companies can even afford to send their professionals to more than a single conference per year, and rarely are they allowed to do more than attend something local. The response of too many professionals is, sadly, that they stop trying to expand their network beyond their current, comfortable set of friends and colleagues.

There is an answer, however, as most young professionals and IT-types will tell you.  Instead of getting on a plane, get on the internet, because new technology is providing amazing ways to connect, collaborate and co-create.

Unfortunately, too many HR professionals are not technically savvy enough to take advantage of the most recent tools.

The fact that most of these tools are either free or very cheap only heightens the urgency of the need to learn them from those who have some inkling of how to employ common tools such as VOIP and YouTube.

When HR professionals don’t use the internet and other technology enablers to network, their companies a disservice.  Other professionals in their companies simply don’t learn the key skills that are critical to their success.

To put it another way, the techies in the  IT department should never know more about the latest networking skills than HR professionals, because underneath the technology lies all the same issues with communication that are best understood by those with soft-skill training. While the techies know a lot about installing software, they know nothing about creating a software-driven culture change.

Email is a simple example.

It is an indisputable fact that the ubiquity of email in the professional workplace has changed the culture of every single company that uses it.  It altered communication, relationships, teamwork, conflict resolution and created new issues of trust, privacy and privilege.

As this culture change was underway, I fear that the HR professionals were caught unawares, and were probably among the last to attend the “Intro to Email” class offered in the company.  The poor email and time management skills shared by many HR executives stands testimony to this fact.

A culture change was undertaken without HR’s guidance, knowledge or leadership.

Today, in 2008, that’s just water under the bridge, but it’s not too late for Caribbean HR professionals to grasp the significance of technology and how it can be used to drive a culture change, to improve communication and to network.

P.S. Recently I wrote a book outlining the ways in which Caribbean professionals need to enhance their networking skills. It’s 37 pages long, contains several multimedia links, and it’s currently free to download. Click here to be taken to the download page — as of today, it’s been downloaded or referred at least 400 times.  It’s titled — The New Networking – Caribbean Professionals 2008.

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Harvard Executive HR Summit

Recently, an executive member of CISRHP attended a program that sounds quite interesting.  I am glad that someone from our region could attend, and maybe others should also.

Here is a clip from the newspaper clipping, followed by a link to the article.

Cayman Islands – Cay Compass News Online – Mr. Jackson attends Harvard seminar

Phil Jackson, vice–president of the Cayman Islands HR Society, recently attended an Executive HR Network Summit at Harvard Business School held 10–11 July, which was co–sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management and Harvard Business School Publishing.The seminar was titled ‘Managing Human Capital in the High Performance Organization’ and was taught by Thomas Delong, professor of Management Practice in the Organizational Behaviour area at the Harvard Business School, and Boris Groysberg, assistant professor at Harvard Business School.

Acceptance into the programme was based on merit, explains Lillian McFadden, education analyst at SHRM. “Mr. Jackson, along with 39 other participants, was selected from among 75 applications to this specific programme.

The Executive HR Network Summit is an exclusive programme for senior HR professionals, developed to bring together forward–looking HR leaders from top organisations to address critical issues, exchange ideas and solutions, and interact with renowned experts in leadership, strategy, and management”.

The original article can be found by clicking here.

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Why Did We Ever Go Into HR?

I just read an interesting article in the July-August Harvard Business Review.

The article entitled “Why Did We Ever Go Into HR” is an interview with two recent Harvard Business MBA’s who chose human resources as a career.  Essentially, they make the case that the field of HR is the “next big thing.”

They argue that with the baby boomers nearing retirement and the Millenials bring new expectations to the workplace, the management of talent is going to become increasingly important.  They felt puzzled that CEO’s that came to the business school to speak shared that they spend 10-20% of their time on this part of their job, but shared little about how to actually do it in practice.

It was interesting to hear their observation that there is a shift away from the monetary levels of HR (compensation, benefits, etc) and a move to measuring the “asset value of human capital” as measured by intangibles such as employee engagement.

They also said that they see an undervalued and under-priced asset in the HR function itself, and that they believe that the value of the function is “poised to appreciate significantly.”

This article is worth reading — in my years of reading the Harvard Business Review, it’s the first article that has explicitly mentioned the HR profession as a whole.

Click here to be taken to the article.

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Galba Bright Tribute

galba1.JPGThe bad news has just been shared with me that Galba Bright passed away two days ago. His sudden passing comes as a shock to us all.

Leave a comment to this post if you’d like to write him a tribute to this long-time and very active member of CaribHRForum. Simply click on the word “Comments” at the bottom of this post.

His website is still active: http://tuneupyoureq.com/ and his very last recording, a podcast interview, can be accessed by clicking on the links below. This is an excerpt from this last post to CaribHRForum.

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Anna Farmery, of The Engaging Brand Blog, one of the top 10,000 blogs in the world (out of over 70 million) interviewed me about Emotional Intelligence and Leadership recently.

Listen to Part 1: http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com/the_engaging_brand_/2008/03/show-153—emot.html

Listen to Part 2: http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com/the_engaging_brand_/2008/03/show-154—emot.html

In Part 1 (28 mins) we discuss:

* Why Emotional Intelligence is vital to today’s leaders and the role played by 3 of the 4 Emotional Intelligence competencies:

* Self awareness

* Self management, and

* Social awareness

In Part 2 (28 mins) we discuss:

* Relationship management, the fourth Emotional Intelligence competency.

* How to read and use an Emotional Intelligence assessment.

* Why self awareness is vital to modern leadership.

This interview will help you become a better leader. It can also help you make the case for introducing Emotional Intelligence Learning Programmes to your organisation.

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Click on the word “Comments” below to leave a tribute.

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